Posts Tagged ‘Himalayan balsam’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He gets up very early to walk his dogs before going to work and thus can take pictures like this with his phone.


We had yet another day of intermittent showers, some very heavy and almost all quite short.  The shortest lasted about a minute but was quite intense while it was in action.

I started the day by filing down a key.  When we moved the Archive Group to its new premises, we got some keys cut to let members in to work.  Some of the keys fitted the lock but others didn’t and I have been meaning to sort the ill fitting ones out for some time.  Like many of my little plans though, nothing actually happened until I got a call today to do something about it.  Galvanised by this, I got busy with a little file and went up to the office where, rather to me surprise, the key now fitted and opened the door.  I delivered the key to the member who had asked for it, and she was probably even more surprised than I was.

Encouraged by this, I resolved to risk getting wet, and went off for a bike ride.  Once again the wind was very unhelpful and made cycling hard work, so I settled for fifteen miles, making sure that I had the wind behind me on the return journey.   The sun came out as I pedalled home and Wauchopedale looked very inviting.

Wauchopedale view

When I got back, I had a cup of coffee and then walked round the garden.

This poppy had given all it had to give to passing bees…

exhausted poppy

…but the buddleia still has plenty left to attract butterflies….

peacock butterfly

…and the Michaelmas daisies are not short of pull either.

fly on daisy

Sadly, the sweet peas have had their day and I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand as she demolished the imposing structure which had given them support.

Nearby, I admired the fine mint plant next to the greenhouse.  It is, as they say, in mint condition.

mint in mint condition

Round the front lawn, the yellow crocosmias are making a good show.

yellow crocosmia

It was a pleasantly warm day, and after we had finished with the sweet peas, Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat on the new bench and had a rest.  From the bench I could see a good crop of Japanese anemones climbing above a hedge…

Japanese anemone clump

…and a good flock of sparrows clustered on the silver pear.

sparrows in silver pear

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, we went out into the garden again.

When Mrs Tootlepedal had been cutting down the potentillas on the dam side yesterday, I had noticed that the fuchsia further along the house wall was looking good, so I took a picture of it today.

fuschia beside dam

I had also noticed a plant with many tiny white flowers on it and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is lemon balm.

lemon balm

The camera club has had a small exhibition running in the community cafe in Canonbie for some time, but it is coming to an end this week and we are going to take the pictures up to The Hub in Eskdalemuir, where they will be on show during September.  The organiser there had asked me to paint a pen portrait of the camera club and provide a poster for the exhibition, so I went in and did my best to meet her requirements.

Then there was time for another garden check to see if there were any birds wanting to have their picture taken.

A blackbird gave me that fashionable over the shoulder pose…

blackbird back

…and a dunnock tried for the same effect but didn’t quite have the neck and shoulder for it.

dunnock on fence

I took a final picture…

clump of calendula

…and went back in.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I checked over our potato crop fairly carefully to take out any tubers which had been forked or were suffering from slugs.  We put the rest of the crop into storage.  For one reason or another, we had managed to spear quite a lot of potatoes when we were digging them up but the slug damage was very slight so we were pleased to have enough to last for some time.

Although there was a hint of rain in the air when we had finished sorting the potatoes, I went for a short walk.   Along the way, there were unwelcome signs of the turning of the year to be seen.

leaves in puddle

…and unwelcome, although pretty, invasive plants to be found.

himalayan balsam park

And there was a token of how strong the winds have been in the form of a pile of branches beside the path…

fallen oak branch easton's walk

…which turned out to be from a substantial limb which had split from a tree.

fallen oak branch easton's walk 2

I didn’t walk as far as I intended as I fell into conversation with a friend whom I met on the way and we had a lively discussion about life and politics which took some time.  There were a couple of short, sharp showers while we talked but as we were under a well leafed tree, we were unaffected.  In the end, we broke off our debate and walked back together, heeding the call of the evening meal.

No flying bird of the day today, but I felt that the resident dragons in the park were taking a keener interest in me than usual as I walked by them today, so I have put them in to keep them happy.

park monsters

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Today’s guest picture shows a smart locomotive seen by Dropscone, who is visiting friends on the continent.


After two sunny days, it was too much to hope for another one and we duly got a dull, occasionally drizzly but still very warm day for the time of year.

After wasting two good mowing days by cycling and sight seeing, I had hoped to get some serious grass cutting done today but things were so soggy that I only managed the drying green.

I was cheered up by the robin….


… and the number of flowers that had a friend.

flowers and insects

The fat balls continue to attract small birds and I even saw a young dunnock have a go at clinging onto the feeder but it was not a skill it had mastered so it retreated to a nearby bench.


I went up to the Archive Centre and collected some weeks of the newspaper index which I will enter into the database.    There were two data miners hard at work at the microfiche readers producing more stuff so I will have to buckle down and help Sandy who has been doing most of the work recently.

Sandy came round for coffee  and we made arrangements for the  first camera club meeting of the season.  Sadly I will have to miss it as I will be on holiday.

I had one of those rare moments after coffee when I rang up a computer service provider, got connected after only a short delay and was provided with exactly the service that I needed promptly and courteously.    I had to have a little sit down to recover.

I had arranged with Sandy to do some bird food shopping after lunch and to combine this with a walk along the river at Longtown if the weather permitted.  The weather did permit so we bought some bird food and we went for our walk.

We weren’t short of things to eat oursleves on the way.

ripe blackberries

We saw some late summer colour….

Longtown flowers

….but the path we walked along was mostly lined with Himalayan Balsam, which is very pretty but a great pest.  It was attracting a good deal of insect interest and whatever the insects were, they seemed unusually white.

White insects

We got to the open ground round the ponds and looked around hopefully.

Longtown ponds

Longtown ponds

There are ponds the other side of the river which are covered in swans and geese and ducks but for some reason these ponds are always very quiet.  They are very peaceful and charming to look at at so the circular walk round them was a pleasure even if it didn’t provide much photo fodder.

Though I did like this colour combination beside one of the ponds.

Longtown berries

When we got back to the river, I was hoping to be able to spot some wagtails but a party of very noisy fisherman put paid to that and we had a last look back at one of the ponds instead.  There was some life there.

two herons

Not one but two herons crouched in the distance

And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.

And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.

When we got to the balsam lined path, we had a closer look at the flowers….

balsam and lasybird

That might be a 24 spot ladybird on the left

Looking at the right hand picture, we thought that perhaps the white insects were just ordinary bees or wasps covered with white pollen from the balsam flowers.  The insects certainly dived right into the hollow in the centre of the petals and there seems to be a bit pointing down which might deposit white powder on the backs of the insects.  I have never seen this before so I don’t know if I am right.

The balsam has exploding seed pods and Sandy and I amused ourselves by touching them very gently and watching them shoot out seeds in all directions.  It is no wonder that the plants are such a pest.  Sandy gave me a hand in trying to catch a seed explosion.

Balsam seed pod

When we got back to the town, we spent a little time on the banks of the Esk near the fine bridge which carries the main road across it.

Esk bridge at Longtown

The bridge, like our own bridge at Skippers, has been widened to allow two way traffic.

Longtown bridge

We walked under it on a handy path and came up to the main road on the other side.

Longtown bridge

Although it was overcast, it was a very warm and muggy day so I was pleased to get a blast of cool air from the car’s air conditioning as we drove home.  They say that it will be even warmer tomorrow but I hope that it will be a little less humid.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and showed the results of doing some practising. This was encouraging for both him and me.

After tea, I went off to play with Mike and Isabel and we had quite a struggle to get to grips with some new music which I had recently bought so it was a relief to finish the evening with a little tried and tested Mozart.

The flower of the day is one of the smallest of Mrs Tootlepedal’s dahlias….


…and the flying bird of the day is an obliging cormorant which flew up and down the river in front of us at the Longtown bridge until it was certain that I had got a reasonable shot of it.




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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit that my brother paid to Sheffield.  It shows the Victoria Quay.

Victoria Quay SheffieldMrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh after breakfast and the brisk winds and heavy rain that she left behind made me quite happy to settle down to putting some weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  The good weather of the past few days had once again left me well behind in my schedule so this was not before time.

I interrupted the work once to investigate getting my new phone to work,  This turned out to be relatively painless.

I discovered that I could ‘chat’ on-line with a disembodied being and he/she revealed that I needed to wait twenty four hours after putting in the sim card before it would work.  It was as simple as that and I wondered why the email saying that my phone was ‘ready to go’ hadn’t revealed this but I assume that they think that everyone knows this already.  Anyway, on the stroke of the twenty four hours, my phone worked.  Hooray.  Now there are just the 129 pages to read.

My other pause was to entertain Dropscone to a cup of coffee.  He was in cheerful mood as he had played a good game if golf in windy conditions yesterday at a seniors tournament on a tricky course.  His scones were good too.

I completed a couple of weeks of the index before lunch and finally the rain relented enough for me to get my camera out and walk round the garden…


The palest poppy that I have ever seen has come out.

…but it was too windy to spend time on flowers so I set the camera up to watch birds for a while instead.

chaffinches on the feeder

At one moment it was all chaffinches….

siskins on the feeder

…and a few minutes later it was totally siskins.

Variety is the spice of life.

The young blackbirds were lurking about the garden again today.

young blackbirdAt lunchtime, my new phone burst into life with a query from Sandy as to  whether I was up for an outing.  The forecast looked reasonable and the rain had almost stopped so we agreed on an excursion to Longtown for a walk along the river and round the ponds.

By the time that Sandy arrived (bringing a very nice home made carrot cake with him), the weather was looking up and we set off for Longtown in good spirits.

By the time Sandy had parked the car at Longtown…

Longtown…and we had got down to the river, the sun had come out to match the flowers and we had a very pleasant if breezy stroll.

When we started our walk, we met a striking yellow flower on the banks of the Esk…

Golden RodI think it might be Golden Rod but as always, I am open to correction.

There were signs of the turning of the season though.

seed heads and convolvulusThe most common sight on our walk was fluffy seed heads and actual flowers like this convolvulus were few and far between.

The exception was a burst of Himalayan balsam….

Himalayan balsam…which is pretty but rather invasive and so is not very welcome.

There was plenty of water going down the Esk after the rain….

River esk in spate..but the ponds were as peaceful as ever.

Longtown pondsOur plan was to to walk round the ponds but this was thwarted by an outbreak of cows…

cows…who had had the same idea.

They are very handsome animals….

cows…but we didn’t feel like testing their good nature as they grazed on the path we were intending to use.

We settled for walking along the river bank and back.

Esk at Longtown

There are worse places to walk.

Although we didn’t see anything particularly exciting, the walk itself was a great pleasure and the chance to stretch our legs after a morning of miserable weather was much appreciated.  As always at a sunny moment, the bridge over the Esk looked wonderful.

Bridge at LongtownIn spite of the lure of birds and flowers in a sunlit garden,  I settled down to put a third week of the newspaper index into the database when I got home.

During the day, my new phone had brought me the exciting news that Mrs Tootlepedal and Clare had taken Matilda for a walk.  This, to coin a phrase, is a great step forward.  This was not just a few faltering footsteps but a genuine adventure involving going up the street and down another one and across…and down…and up the street again.  This was a journey of about 400 yards and from there to the World Championships can only be a matter of time now.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had to stand on her way to Edinburgh because the train was so full (we blame the Edinburgh Festival) but she got a seat on the way back and arrived home safely.

In the evening, I met Sandy again and we went to the Archive Centre.  Sandy changed the window display (we show a selection of photographs from our archives for the interest of passers by) while I put the fourth week of the day into the database.  This was a hard work for me as my typing is very erratic and I have to do endless corrections as I go along but it didn’t get me much further as the data miners had prepared another four weeks for me to take away so I was back where I had started after breakfast.

Still my new phone is working and I used it to take some of the pictures in today’s post so I am very content.

Although there was a moment on our walk when it looked as though we might have any amount of flying birds to photograph…

gulls at Longtown…they flew off before we could get near and so I found a flying chaffinch to be FBotD.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is the result of the purchase by my younger son of a 50mm prime lens for his camera with his birthday money.  When he told me about it, I assumed that he was going to be taking striking street photographs of Edinburgh but oddly enough, he had a different aim in mind.   The lens looks promising.

MatildaAfter the cycling and motoring treats in yesterday’s fine weather, today arrived in marked contrast with strong winds and frequent showers.

Unfortunately for Mrs Tootlepedal, she was off to attend a ‘fun day’ with her driving for the disabled group.  Things started badly for her when a lorry accident closed the road just a couple of miles before her destination, leaving her with a circuitous diversion on narrow roads to get there.  When she did get there, the rain was not in a forgiving mood and as her job when the driving events were going on entailed standing in the middle of a field where umbrellas were banned in case they spooked the ponies, the fun was strictly rationed.

She is a hardy soul though and came home soaked but pretty cheerful in the circumstances.

Fortunately for me, I had nothing to do in the morning and took the sensible course of retiring back to bed after breakfast and indulging in some world class relaxation while the rain hammered on the windows.

When I did get up, the rain had stopped for a moment and the sun had come out.

I looked out of the kitchen window.


At full speed, the birds look relaxed as they land on the feeder but the camera shows that it takes a lot of concentration.

I ventured out.


The marigolds glowed in gratitude for a little sunshine.

One marigold was very cautious about opening fully out in case of more rain.

marigoldI don’t blame it as it soon started to rain again.

One of the astrantias is having a late burst.

astrantiaI had lunch and caught another sunny moment through the kitchen window.  You wouldn’t think that such a dainty perching bird ….

siskin….could turn into this a moment or two later.

siskinThere was no shortage of flying birds today and several shots were spoiled by unwanted extra fliers.

flying birdsI hate filling in forms but as a trustee of the Langholm Archive Group, which is a registered charity, I have to complete an annual return to OSCR, the charities regulator and finally, a month after the due date, I managed to pluck up enough energy to do it and post it off.  It will probably come back with a rebuke for errors and omissions but at least I have got it out there.

I celebrated by waiting for a heavy shower of rain to pass over and then going out for a quick walk.  It was warm and sunny but I didn’t dally because there was no way of knowing when the next shower would arrive,  Nevertheless, I took a picture or two as I went round Gaskell’s Walk.

I liked the waterfall effect of plants over the wall at the top of the Manse Brae.

manse braeAnd I stopped to admire my favourite fence post.  It has a little garden of various lichens its top.

fence post lichenI am amazed by how many different sorts of lichen grow in such a small area.  There are even more striking ones on the same post.

fence post lichensOn the stones of the old bridge, a sheet of white lichen was being gently coloured in.

lichenFurther on, I came across a little fungus too.

fungusI might have seen more but someone had been along the path with a strimmer.  This made it very satisfactory for me as  a walker keeping his feet dry but not so good for me as a snapper hoping to see interesting things at the path edge.

Gaskell's Walk

You wouldn’t think that it had been lashing with rain half an hour earlier.

I pushed on, hoping that the sun would stay out while I walked.  There was an excellent view of Whita from Stubholm.

WhitaWhen I got down to the path beside the park, a clump of Himalayan basalm towered over my head. It is generally regarded as a pest in spite of its pretty flowers.  It certainly takes a hold when it is established.

himalayan balsamOn the other side of the path, the wall beside the park is another garden in itself.

Park wallYou could hardly guess that there is a stone wall behind all that growth.

In the end, it turned out that I could have taken my time on my walk as it was still sunny long after I had got home.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre by myself.  Sandy is on holiday and Jean is still in hospital.  I called in to see her on my way but she was too tired to receive visitors as she has not been very well lately.

I managed to concentrate enough to put two weeks of the index into the database but I am still a bit behind the data miners and will have to pull up my socks if I am to catch up with them.

In one of the short sunny spells, I did manage to catch a chaffinch on its own as flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch





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