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Posts Tagged ‘hawthorn’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce, who is on the island of Arran where he visited the Blackwater Foot harbour.  A harbour, a bridge and a waterfall in one shot is very good value.

Blackwater foot

We had a lovely sunny morning.  This was a great joy after such a gloomy day yesterday but, as is the way in life, I had to spend it sitting in the Welcome to Langholm office putting data into the Archive Group newspaper database and welcoming only two visitors to the office, both of whom were locals.

As I left to walk home, a light drizzle appeared as if by magic.

Still, it was a lot better than yesterday and the drizzle soon faded away and let me mow the greenhouse grass and Mrs Tootlepedal hang the washing out.  Almost as soon as the washing was on the line, it started to rain again.  How we laughed.

Once again, it was only teasing and the washing dried in time and I was able to finish the mowing and enjoy the garden.

The ornamental strawberry has been flowering for ages.  It is very good value.

strawberry

The return of the sunshine brought a crowd of butterflies with it.

Michaelmas daisies with butterflies

Now that the buddeias are almost over, the Michaelmas daisies are the flower of choice for the discerning Red Admiral.

red admiral butterfly

Butterflies seem to be able to cope with quite a bit of damage to their wings.

The butterflies had to share the Michaelmas daisies with bees and hoverflies and the whole clump was literally buzzing.

bee on Michaelmas daisyhoverfly on Michaelmas daisy

A peacock butterfly was making the most of the very last of the buddleia flowers.

peacock butterfly

At the other end of the garden, different butterflies were to be found on the dahlias.

small tortoiseshell and red admiral butterfly

A small tortoiseshell joins a red admiral

That was the first small tortoiseshell I have seen since one in July and as that was the only other one to visit us this year,  this one was very welcome.

Nearby, a clump of dahlia flowers looked around for customers but only one hoverfly found them attractive..

dahlias

I moved on and admired the poppies….

poppies

…who looked grateful for the sunshine.

After a last look at the tropaeolum, looking redder than ever if that is possible…

tropaeolum

…I went inside to put some cycling gear on….

….and it started to rain.

Once again, it was a tease and by the time that I was ready to go, the rain had stopped again.  Just to make sure that it wouldn’t start up while I was out cycling, I put on a heavy rain jacket and that kept it dry while I cycled 27 miles in my ‘outdoor gym’.

It was pretty windy and I had to battle quite hard to get up the road but, of course, that meant an easy roll back down again.

When it is windy, I tend to keep my head well down to improve the aerodynamics while cycling into the wind so I didn’t see much on the way out and on the way back, I was often going too fast to stop in time when I did notice something so it was a quiet ride photographically.

I did stop to check on the sloes near Cleughfoot which I had seen looking a bit scabby early last month…

sloes

….and they were still looking scabby now….

sloe

…though there was fairly healthy looking fruit as well.

At my turning point, I was pleased to see that the farmer had his barn well stocked….

Cleughfoot

…though less pleased to see the black clouds looming up behind it.

They came to nothing though and the sun continued to do its best….

Glencorf burn

…to help me to ignore the brisk northerly wind.

In May, I had stopped to admire the hawthorn blossom on the road back to Langholm…

hawthorns

…and today, I stopped to admire the berries.

Hawthorn

When I got home, I enjoyed a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit with Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker and then, after a shower, it was time for a visit from Luke for a flute lesson.

He has been practising so the lesson went well.

I hope to be in a better position to make use of a promised sunny morning tomorrow than I was today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who failed to get to a windfall quickly enough.

apple with slug

In spite of a better forecast for the day,  it was raining at breakfast time.  I made good use of the time indoors by making a lamb stew for the slow cooker and by the time that I had finished, it had cleared up outside and we got out into the vegetable patch sooner than had looked likely.

We dug up the rest of our potatoes today and although we got a satisfactory crop, several slugs had got there before us and not all the potatoes will make their way to our table. Still, considering what a very soggy summer it has been, we were quite pleased to find the majority of the crop was untouched.

With the potatoes laid out to dry, there was time for a look round the garden.

poppy

Wet or dry, this is currently my favourite of the poppies

carder bumble bee

I think that this is a carder bumble bee. Its favourite flower today was a dahlia

Then it was indoors for coffee and a quick whizz through a very easy prize crossword before I got the cycling gear on and set out on the fairly speedy bike.  I had waited a bit in the hope that the temperature might rise but it was only a rather cool 14°C when I left the house.  On the plus side, the wind from the north was very gentle.

The weather map had shown rain clouds to the east, the west and the south but indicated that there might be a  channel of sunshine to the north so forsaking my usual gentle routes to the west, I set off north towards Eskdalemuir and the hills.

I am not supposed to pedal up steep hills with my tin knee and my chosen route had quite a few today.  I solved the problem by pedalling up any steep hills that I came to so slowly that my knee didn’t notice and I also took the opportunity to stop and admire the view whenever I kneeded to.

The Gates of Eden

My first stop was to admire the Gates of Eden

Whether Eden is on this side of the gates or the other depends on your point of view.  Naturally I think that it is on this side, at least on a relatively sunny day like today.

I stopped again, about an hour later to look across the Esk when I had nearly reached Eskdalemuir.

Esk valley

The fields were gleaming with fresh growth after a crop of silage had recently been taken off them.

Looking north up the Esk valley, I could see the big hills in the background.

Ettrick Pen

At this point, much to my surprise and disappointment, the sun disappeared and it started to rain heavily.  The wind got up and it turned very chilly but luckily I had my rain jacket with me and I soon put it on.  In addition, I was nearly at the turning point of my trip so I shortly had the added advantage of getting the rain on my back and not in my face.  All the same, I was just resigning myself to getting very wet when the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started.

I stopped as well, this time to look back across the river at a stone circle…

stone circle

…or rather, half a stone circle as the rest has been swept away by the river over the years.

With the wind behind and some occasional sun about again, I pedalled south cheerfully, stopping to admire a cascade of crab apples….

crab apples

….a favourite bridge over the Black Esk….

Black Esk bridge

…and a cascade in the Esk below the bridge just after the junction of the Black and White Esks.

Esk cascade

Shortly after climbing the hill away from the river, I came to the precise middle of nowhere…

Bailliehill

…and took the Lockerbie road over the hill and down the valley of the Water of Milk.

It is very pleasant for a cyclist to see windmills turning….

Ewe Hill wind farm

…because at least it lets you know that the wind which might have been holding you back is producing something useful.   I was slightly worried by the dark clouds behind the Ewe Hill Wind Farm as that was the direction that I would soon take.  However, the wind, as well as producing electricity also blew the clouds away before I got there so I felt doubly blessed.

Once I got to Paddockhole, I stopped going towards Lockerbie and headed towards Langholm.  I was on familiar territory and concentrated on pedalling.  Thanks to going at a very steady pace though, I was able to spot an inconspicuous fungus or two beside the road.

fungus

I stopped to take a view of our hills beginning to turn brown but got distracted by the top of a concrete fence post instead.

moss and lichen

Who knew concrete could be so fertile.

And I couldn’t miss a hawthorn with more berries per square inch than any other tree.

hawthorn

I finished my 34 mile journey over some rather wet roads so those clouds had obviously been moved on just in time.  My average speed was low but my tin knee was pain free so that was fair exchange.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting when I got back so I spent time turning the potatoes over to help them dry out and sorting out the slugged ones and then I had a look for butterflies in the sunshine.

They were not hard to see.  The dahlias were a big attraction to them as the buddleias are almost over.

peacock on dahlia

A peacock butterfly with good colour matching skills

peacock on dahlia

It was hard to resist taking pictures of it.

red admirals

A Red Admiral tries the same dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal returned after an enjoyable meeting.  Not only was there a good turn out of regular members but a new member had arrived, having found out about the group at the stitch-in at the Buccleuch Centre last Saturday.  This was very satisfactory.

I will still full of energy after my ride so I got the mower out and mowed the front lawn.  The grass was rather long as it has not been mowed during the recent rainy spell and the going was rather soggy so by the time that I had finished, all my energy had finished too.

We went in for a cup of tea and a slice of bread.

The lamb stew turned out well.  Shoulder of lamb and a slow cooker are made for each other.

The day was rounded off by a double dose of virtual cycling as we watched highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  Our admiration for the bravery and fitness of professional cyclists is unbounded.

The flying bird of the day is a questioning cow.

cow

I append the map of my route today.  You can see from the elevation that it was much more hilly than my customary routes hence the slow speed but it had better views by far.

garmin route 9 Sept 2017Click on the map if you want.

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent by our daughter Annie and shows the ‘fruits’ of her labours in her allotment.  She benefits from being 300 miles south of us so she is well ahead in her growing season.

annies veg

After two days of rain, as recorded by our scientific rain gauge….

rain gauge

…we were treated to a pleasantly sunny day today which was very welcome.  Somewhat less welcome was the boisterous wind that came with the sunshine.

As I haven’t cycled at all in June so far, I would have liked to have made use of the sunshine to put a few miles in but just as I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my new knee, it is probably not a good idea to cycle long distances into a very strong wind.  I made the sensible choice and cycled up and down the four miles to Cleuchfoot three times so that I got a break from the wind every four miles.

The wind was gusting at well over 30 mph and I was grateful for the shelter offered by the Wauchope valley but I still had to pay attention, as once or twice I was buffeted by an unexpected gust that threatened to tip me into the gutter.  All the same, it was good to be out on the bike and there were plenty of excuses to stop and take a picture.

Wauchope Water cascade

The Wauchope was in an ebullient mood

Logan water

Its tributary, the Logan Water, was more peaceful

I saw a crop of fungus by a rotten tree branch…

fungus

…and the first signs of wild irises and hedge roses.  There are a lot of thistles around.

iris, rose and thistles

An old friend was once again standing on the sluice for the dam at Pool Corner.

heron

The road to Cleuchfoot is a picture on a day like today.

road to Cleuchfoot

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden when I got back and I walked around to see what there was to see.  The rain and wind had done remarkably little damage but I was grateful for a lost petal on a poppy that gave me a good view of the internal workings of the flower.

poppy

There were quite a lot more bees and hoverflies about today and I spent some time chasing them but the strong wind blowing the flowers about made finding a bee still enough to photograph almost impossible.

There were several tree bumble bees about and I think this is the first year that we have seen them in our garden so I have put them in in spite of being a bit fuzzy.

tree bumble bees

Tree bumble bees in the centre and right hand pictures

I had more luck after lunch with a frog in the pond. (With apologies to my Blackpool reader who really doesn’t like frogs at all.)

frog

I mowed the front and middle lawns and then enjoyed the sight of the orange hawkweeds turning their faces to the sun…

orange hawkweed

…before waving Mrs Tootlepedal goodbye as she went off with an armful of books to visit a friend recovering from  a badly broken leg.

Once she had gone, I got my walking poles out and headed off for a walk to summit of Warbla (275m).

I was walking up the track through the fields at the Stubholm when I was confronted by a small animal standing firmly in the middle of the road giving me  a hard stare.  I got my camera out, fully expecting that it would run away before I could focus and was greatly surprised when it headed straight towards me.

brown hare

It paused for a moment a few yards in front of me to get a proper picture taken and then plopped gently into the bushes beside the track.  I am not an expert on wildlife but I think it was  a young brown hare.

I passed a number of hawthorn bushes on my way to the open hill.  The glorious blossom of a week or so ago has gone but they are still interesting to look at….

hawthorn

…to me at any rate.

I plodded on up the track, greatly aided by my walking poles, and was soon able to look back on some splendid views.  I took a panorama from the summit and those who wish can click on the picture to get a better view.

Warbla panorama

I had a bit of difficulty using the camera as the wind was so brisk that my eyes were perpetually full of tears but I took a more conventional shot as well.

Langholm from Warbla

(I  might have used a filter on that picture.)

I could also make out the oldest graveyard in the town, lying beside the Kirk Wynd (up which the horsemen gallop on Common Riding day).

Auld Kirk Yard

The church (now demolished)  that stood beside the graveyard had no flooring and parishioners who wanted to keep their feet dry on muddy days had to bring their own plank to rest their feet on.

I couldn’t get a very sharp picture of it because although the churchyard wasn’t moving, the strong wind meant that the slightly tottery photographer on the top of the hill was waving about a lot.

The ridge leading from the summit to the west was covered in bog cotton to the extent that it almost looked as though it had snowed.

bog cotton

On my way down, I took a view of the monument on Whita Hill where I had walked last week.

Monument from Warbla

I have ‘disappeared’ the unsightly police mast further along the summit.

I got back just after Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from her sick visit so we had a cup of tea and I finished the crossword.

After our evening meal, we went up to the town to sing with a small choir that has been formed to sing three songs in the Common Riding concert.  Various commitments meant that many prospective members weren’t there but there were enough of us there to have a go and I had the pleasure of singing the bass line for change, as there were no other basses present.  Luckily, it was quite an easy line and didn’t go too low.

The flying bird of the day is a bee leaving a philadelphus.

bee

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Today’s guest picture is another from the treasure trove of lovely pictures that my sister Mary took on her Lake District holiday.  This one was taken while she was having elevenses in Grange.

Having elevenses sitting outside a cafe in Grange

I have gone well over my self imposed picture limit today for which I apologise as I realise that readers are busy people with lives to lead but on this occasion I was overtaken by sunshine and couldn’t help it.

The morning was cool and breezy so I was happy to get up quite early (for me) and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before breakfast.  After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to weed the Kirk bridge with our friend Nancy.

I had a look round the garden after she had gone and spent quite a bit of time trying to get pictures of a bee on the comfrey.

bees

Although it was a rather subdued morning, some plants still managed to produce a bit of  zing.

japanese azalea and rhododendron

candelabra primula

Others were more refined.

lupin

Looking deep into a lupin.

But my favourite shot was this droplet bespangled web between two plants.

raindrops on web

I went down to watch the weeders at work and wielded a hoe myself for a while.  Then it was time to cycle home via the corner shop and make a cup of coffee for Mrs Tootlepedal who soon went off to Hawick for an Embroiderers’ Guild committee meeting.  She knows how to have fun.

After she had gone, I had another look round the garden.

New flowers are arriving and these two show that Mrs Tootlepedal likes flowers that others might keep out of their gardens as weeds.

hawkweed and foxglove

I had my lunch and settled down to some serious music practice.  I must say that trying to get everything sorted for two concerts at the end of the week is making my head hurt a bit but I am sticking in and hope to be reasonably ready when the time comes.

As a break from singing and tootling, I went back into the garden and did some therapeutic mowing, getting the drying green, the greenhouse grass and the front lawn done in one go.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back from Hawick, it was time for a cup of tea and a biscuit and as we drank and nibbled, we were very entertained by family life outside the kitchen window.

A blackbird was having a really hard time trying to feed a worm to a very large youngster.

blackbird feeding young

The youngster kept dropping the worm and after several fruitless attempts, the mother got fed up and flew off, leaving the youngster looking very disgruntled.

young blackbird

There were families of starlings about too.  Some posing prettily in the elder….

starlings

…and others making a mess of my lawn again.

starlings

I liked the sight of the youngster in the middle getting sound pecking advice from its mother.

After a grey day with occasional rain, things had now brightened up to such an extent that I was compelled to go out for a walk up a hill and as you can’t go for a walk up a hill without taking pictures, this accounts for today’s glut of photos.

Mrs Tootlepedal kindly drove along the road to Whitshiels and from there I walked three and a bit miles to the top of Whita Hill and back down to the town.  The first part of the route took me up a track and across fields with a lot to see as I went….

lichen, bugle, tormentil and an a pretty pick flower

The hillside was speckled with tormentil.

I would have stopped and taken some views at this point had it not been for the looming presence of a herd of cows…..

cows

…who looked curiously at me as I skulked round the edge of their pasture but decided that I was not worth a closer look. Phew.

I got much closer to another local resident.

sheep

Once up the track and across the fields, I joined the road and decided not to take advantage of this bench….

Copshaw road bench

…but pressed on to the White Yett and then up the track to the monument.

Monument

From the top of the hill, I phoned Mrs Tootlepedal to let her know that I had reached that point safely and although she was a mile away in the middle of the town….

Langholm

…I jumped about so vigorously that she could pick me out with the naked eye.

It was a good clear day by now and the view from the top is one of my favourites.

Ewes valley

Looking in the other direction, the view down to the Solway is now interrupted by the new windmills at Gretna.

Gretna Windmills

They were earning their keep in the brisk breeze today.

I had my walking poles with me and they were certainly very helpful in pushing me up the hill but they were even more helpful in stopping me falling down the hill. The track down the front of the hill is quite steep in places.

By the time that I had got down  to the golf course, I was back in hawthorn country…

hawthorns

hawthorns

…and they lined the track back to the town.

Kirk Wynd

A little patch of rhododendrons near the second green on the golf course provided a colourful contrast to the hawthorns.

Golf course rhododendrons

I took a picture of the weed free Kirk Bridge as I passed….

Kirk Bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal and Nancy had done good work this morning.

…and arrived home feeling less tired and a lot more cheerful than I had been when i set out.

I did think about going out again after tea because the evening was so lovely….

Walnut tree

The walnut tree in the garden catching the evening sun

…but the call of music and photo editing kept me at home.

The forecast for tomorrow is for a fine, calm day.  I hope that it is right because it is the last day of the month and I would like to add a few miles to my monthly total for May.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has just spent a week in the Lake District and enjoyed some good weather.  On this occasion, she was returning to Grasmere when the sun came out.

Returning to Grasmere as the sun comes out

We were actually quite grateful this morning here when the sun went in as it was still very warm.  I set off for a short cycle ride after breakfast and with a brisk wind blowing and the sun behind thin clouds, the conditions were very tolerable, even if the temperature was still over 20 degrees C.

Verges near Tarcoon

The cow parsley in the verges was blending in with a fresh outbreak of buttercups so in spite of the grey sky, my ride was quite colourful.

I didn’t take my camera with me as the forecast threatened us with thunder and rain and I didn’t want to be caught out in those conditions.  As it happened, the sun came out before the end of my ride and I was pleased to get home before being thoroughly cooked.

The twenty miles took me up to my monthly target of 350 miles and with a few days still left, I may be able to put a few miles in the bank against my annual target.

When I got back, I spent the rest of the morning in the garden watching Mrs Tootlepedal at work planting stuff out.  I looked at flowers, taking in one of my favourites….

aquilegia

….and enjoying the roses which are coming along nicely.

roses

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the candelabra primulas by the pond….

candelabra primulas

…..and I like them too.

I did some butterfly chasing…

sweet rocket and orange tip butterfly

The sweet rocket is a magnet to the orange tip butterfly

…and was yet again amazed by how active butterflies are.  They must fly great distances in a day.

Two strongly coloured flowers caught my eye…

astrantia and geranium

Astrantia and geranium

…but the most eye catching thing in the garden at the moment is probably the white clematis over the back door.

clematis

I think that it is fair to say that it is doing well this year.

I had a quick check on the fruit, both hard…..

plums and apples

The plums are doing quite well but the apples are verily flourishing

…and soft.

strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants

Strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants

Considering that we nearly cut the blackcurrant bush down earlier this spring because it had a bad attack of big bud, it is doing amazingly well as you can see.

After a last look around…

lupin and polemonium

It is surprising how many different shades of white there are in a garden

…we went in.  We had a light lunch and then we came out again as the promised rain had not materialised (except for two or three heavy raindrops) and it was still a very pleasant day.

I mowed the middle lawn and sieved some more compost for Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her first sowing of poppies and cornflowers has suffered badly from unfavourable weather conditions or slugs (or possibly both) and she is having to start again.

I looked closely at a couple of flowers…

allium and iris

Allium and iris

…and then we got into the car and drove a mile or two up the road to let me take  pictures of interesting things that I had passed on my cycle ride in the morning but hadn’t been able to photograph as I hadn’t got a camera with me.

There were plenty of roadside wild flowers….

silverweed and birdsfoot trefoil

Silverweed and birdsfoot trefoil

crosswort and an unidentified pink flower

Crosswort and an unidentified pink flower (with added beetle)

pine flowers and red campion

Pine flowers and red campion

…and a very nice river of bluebells flowing down the hill…

river of bluebells

…but what I had really come to see was the hawthorns.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been impressed by them when she had driven past on Thursday and you can see why, both from close up….

hawthorns

…and from further away.

hawthorns

The bank beside the road is covered with them.

hawthorns

We were only just in time.  As I got back into the car, it started to rain and by the time that we got back to the town is was raining heavily.  Shortly afterwards we were treated to a steady roll of thunder lasting many minutes.  Occasional rather vague flashes of lightning came and went but the thunder stayed rolling for an unusually long time.  I think that the explanation for this would be that the actual storm was some way away from us.

The thunder was accompanied by a really heavy rain and hail storm but it soon ended and all is quiet as I write this later in the evening.

As far as the hawthorns go, I think we can safely say that ‘May is out’ but as far as ‘casting a clout’ goes, the forecast is for temperatures to drop back into much cooler regions next week so I am not packing away my jumper just yet.

A sitting bird of the day today.

blackbird

 

 

 

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I found today’s guest picture while looking at last month’s files.  It shows two pelicans which my sister Mary met in St James’ Park in April and it should have appeared before now. She describes the pelicans as “resting from their ‘amusing the tourists’ activities.”

Pelicans resting from their 'amusing the tourists' activities

After the slightly cool air yesterday, today was back to early summer warmth and at 19°C, it was at the perfect temperature for me as I don’t like it when it gets too hot.

I had to start the day with a trip to the garage to get a new spare tyre fitted to the spare wheel as the one we have had on since we bought the car has mysteriously got a spilt in the side wall and was irreparable.

Then I mowed the middle lawn without finding very much grass on it and followed that by going on a nuthatch hunt by bike accompanied by Mrs Tootlepedal.

We passed a large bank full of ribwort on our way to the Jubilee Bridge.

ribwort

The nuthatches were very busy going to and fro to the nest with food when we got there.

nuthatches

I like they way that they always have a cautious peer out of the nest hole before emerging.

nuthatches

Mrs Tootlepedal kept an eye out for tree creepers but although she saw one, I couldn’t get the camera into action quickly enough.

She doesn’t entirely share my enthusiasm for hanging around for yet another few minutes to see if I can get a better nuthatch shot so we set off across the Castleholm to see what we could see.

There was no shortage of treats.

red horse chestnut

This is an example of the Aesculus × carnea, or red horse-chestnut an artificial hybrid between A. pavia (red buckeye) and A. hippocastanum (horse-chestnut).   I thought that you would like to know that.

hawthorn

Could this tree have tried any harder?

conifer

Or this one.

My favourites were the pair of Noble Firs on the corner of the new path,  They have more going on than most trees.

Noble Fir

We went back by the Jubilee Bridge and I stopped for another look at the busy nuthatches….

nuthatches

…while Mrs Tootlepedal went home for a cup of coffee and some gardening.

While I watched the nuthatches, a blue tit and a wood pigeon watched me.

blue tit and wood pigeon

On my way home, I passed a very furry flower.

furry flower

When I got back, I had a cup of coffee and got on with some gardening too.  I mowed the front lawn and then sieved some compost.  Mrs Tootlepedal is busy planting things out from the greenhouse and compost is always welcome.

While I was mowing the lawn, a neighbour called by and said that she had just been trapped in her house for twenty minutes by a huge swarm of bees in her garden and had only got out when the bees had moved next door.  She asked my advice as to her best plan of action.

Feeling that, “Run like the clappers!” was probably not the most useful answer, I suggested telephoning the council and she said that she would do that.  I went to warn my neighbour Liz of the possibility of a swarm of bees but when we went round to check, there was no sign of them at all.  They must have swarmed off somewhere else.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had noticed a sparrow disappearing into a crack in Liz’s wall…

sparrow in Liz's wall

…but when Liz investigated, there was not enough room for a nest and the sparrow must just have been enjoying the shade.

In between mowing and having lunch, I took the chance to look at flowers.

peony

A peony was almost out.

Ranunculus

A new purchase which Mrs Tootlepedal describes as a ‘fancy buttercup’. Money well spent in my view.

Rosa Moyesii

The first flower on the Rosa Moyesii

Mrs Tootlepedal was glad to see the rose in flower has she had feared for the health of the plant earlier in the spring.

I was pleased to see more aquilegias.

aquilegia

As it was still a wonderful day after lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and felt very virtuous for having completed a clean sweep of the grass during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was making a splendid job of edging the middle lawn with shears so I set about neatening the front edge of the same lawn with a spade and then edging the front lawn with the strimmer.  Though I say so myself, by the time we had both finished, the lawns looked quite neat.

Front lawn

The front lawn with azaleas

middle lawn

The middle lawn. Sparkling edge work from Mrs Tootlepedal

It is a pity that the plum tree in the foreground hides the rhododendrons which frame the top corner of the middle lawn.

In the course of the afternoon, the other two tenors from our Langholm choir came round for a practice as we have a concert this Friday.  It was one of those practices which leave you with the feeling that what you really need is some practice.

Later in the afternoon, I went up to collect the spare wheel with its new tyre and I sincerely hope that I have spent money on something that I will never use.

I left Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden when I got back and went in to make a belated cup of tea and I was rather surprised when she came in behind me in a great rush shutting the door firmly as she came.  The swarm of bees was back and in our garden.

However, by the time that I had picked up a camera and gone to have a peer through the glass in the back door, they had already moved on and were swirling about above our neighbour Irving’s roof.

bees swarming

A few minutes later and they were gone.  They seem to be on a tour of the New Town.  We are assuming that they are honey bees but we don’t know where they have come from as we don’t think that anyone nearby has a hive.

After tea, I went off to the final practice of our Langholm choir before the concert and my feeling that more practice was required turned out to be fully justified.  I will have to find some time to go over the music tomorrow.  It is unfortunate that both the choirs that I sing in are having concerts at pretty well the same time.  Being a very rough and ready singer, I am rather overwhelmed by the number of songs that need to be mastered.

My ideal choir would sing interesting music every week but never have a concert.

No bird of the day today but the flower of the day is the peony which finally came out fully in the afternoon.  It was well worth the wait I thought.

peony

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Friday orchestra, Alison and comes from her recent trip to NZ.  It shows the dawn over Nelson.

nelson

We certainly had a brighter dawn here than we had yesterday and as a result, I was much cheerier all day.  Sandy came round for coffee and while we were sipping and nibbling tasty biscuits, chaffinches flitted to and fro outside.

chaffinches

There were moments when the sun even threatened to come out.

A look at the weather forecast gave grounds for more optimism in the afternoon so after Sandy left, I pedalled down to the Co-op to do a little shopping, made a light lunch and occasionally looked out of the window at visitors while I waited for the sun to come out.

starling

A starling was easily spotted

dove

There was a dove from above

greenfinch

And a lone greenfinch put in an appearance

A sparrow showed off a nonchalant one handed landing technique….

sparrow

…and a goldfinch flew in…..

goldfinch flying

…to a most unfriendly reception.

goldfinches

The sparrow did a very passable imitation of Fred Astaire.

sparrow

The cheerful forecast proved to be a bit of a swindle and if anything, the afternoon became duller rather than brighter.  Still, it was very warm for the time of year at 9°C so I went out for a walk up a hill.

I chose Warbla as my target and my first steps took me along the wall beside the park.

Park Wall

I like this wall a lot as it is always bursting with things to look at.

A single stone may have a whole world of interest on it.

lichen on park wall

There were some surprises as I went up the hill.

December plants

A sign of spring, a reminder of autumn and a very hardy clump of fungus

Why that one tree should have retained its berries when all around were bare is a mystery.  Why a fungus halfway up a tree stump should be thriving after several frosts is another.

I followed the track up the hill as far as this tree….

Warbla track

…and then cut straight up the hill to the left until I came to the summit.  The going underfoot was very good which was lucky as I was only wearing a pair of slip on shoes.

The view from the top however was not very exciting….

View from Warbla

…as the cloud was creeping down onto the surrounding hills.

With no views to capture, I took the opportunity of testing the abilty of my mobile phone to remotely operate the camera.  I connected the camera and phone wirelessly,  put the camera on the trig point, walked away and used my phone to trigger the shutter.

remote camera operation Warbla

It worked.  I shall have to try to find a more productive use for this function.

You can see how warm it was for December.  It won’t be often that you could stand up there with no hat or gloves in a steady breeze at this time of year and not feel the cold.

I took the same route back down to the track and then left the track again after a while and went straight down to the the gate onto the road at the Auld Stane Brig.

gate at Gaskells

I sometimes wonder if the whole world would fall apart if it wasn’t for binder twine.

I took the chance to admire the wonderful complexity of the branch system of a tree on the hill just before the gate as I came down to it.

Tree on Warbla

I was standing on the bridge, trying in vain to spot a very vocal bird when I was joined by an ex work colleague of Mrs Tootlepedal and we walked back along the road together which made a very pleasant end to an enjoyable walk.

It had got quite dark by the time that I got home so I had a cup of tea and then settled down to go through the eleven songs that I will be singing in the Carlisle Community Choir end of term concert tomorrow.    It has been a busy time for song practice lately.

The garden picture of the day is neither flower nor leaf but it does have a bit of colour about it.

Elder lichen

And the flying bird of the day is one of the reliable hovering chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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