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Today’s guest picture, taken by Dropscone while he was refereeing a golf tournament at Bruntsfield Golf Club last week, shows the trough where the carriages from the big house used to get washed.

coach washing pit

The forecast was unreliable and planning was difficult.  It had said that it was going to rain all day and since we had heard the rain pattering down as we went to bed last night, we feared the worst.

When we woke up though, the rain had stopped but the forecast now said that it was 90% certain to rain heavily at nine o’clock for an hour.

I was getting ready to spend the morning indoors but a quick look at the actual weather rather than the forecast made it plain that it wasn’t raining and didn’t look likely to rain for some time.  I put my cycling gear on and took a walk round the garden before setting off.

The poppies are rather scarce but good looking when they do appear.

red poppy with stamens

This one planted itself and is hidden behind the new bench

poppy behind bench

And this Icelandic poppy came with added insect.

hoverfly on icelandic poppy

It turned out to be an excellent morning for cycling with the temperature in the high teens and very light winds.  As a result, I was able to go round my customary Canonbie circuit in the quickest time of the year without having to try too hard.

I noted the fine heather beside the road at the Kerr Wood.

Kerr heather

And there were quite a lot of these about on that section of the ride too.

white wild flowers

I stopped for a quick breather at Irvine House and looked around.

irvine house wild plants

The view back towards the new road looked quite autumnal as the sky was cloudy but I was still more than happy to be cycling in my summer shorts.

Irvine house view

When I got home, the weather was still holding so I did a bit of dead heading and had another look at the flowers.

The Japanese anemones are starting to flower.

Japanese anemone

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of them off in the winter but she has left a few and more photographs of them will undoubtedly appear as I like them a lot, even if they do spread themselves around uninvited.

More poppies caught my eye.  This was the pick of them.

red poppy

And here is the dahlia of the day.

dahlia

I was trying to take a picture of this dahlia and bee but a little hoverfly got in the way.

fly and bee on dahlia

The most notable feature in the garden was a large flock of sparrows.  They were everywhere, much to Mrs Tootlepedal’s disgust as they eat her vegetables. I think that I can count thirteen of them here in the silver pear tree but there may be more.

sparrows in pear tree

There may have been a lot of sparrows around but once again there were very few coloured butterflies about.

butterflies

Whites are ten a penny.

I did see the first Red Admiral of the year in the garden but it got away before I could digitally immortalise it.

Mrs Tootlepedal made scrambled eggs with new potatoes for lunch and then we scrambled to get the washing in just before a sharp rain shower came on.

I am letting the scientific rain gauge (©MaryJofromManitoba) accumulate at the moment and it was showing 3cm or over an inch by the end of the day.

The rain stopped and I filled the feeder and put out some fat balls and stood back to watch.

The feeder was soon busy.

busy feeder sparrow

And the sparrows went for the fat balls in numbers…

sparrows on fat balls

…leading to some sparrow sparring…

sparring sparrows

…but the arrival of a group of jackdaws soon scattered the sparrows.

jackdaw closeup

The jackdaws very nearly polished off all the fat balls by the end of the day.

In the midst of all this activity, a very calm lone goldfinch arrived for a snack.

goldfinch

I put the bird watching camera away and as this seemed like a good time to be indoors in case the heavy showers returned, I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

The heavy showers did not return but my flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and we battled away at the art of counting and playing at the same time.

We are trying to master the art of not making mistakes in music that we know and should be able to play easily.  I am very aware that I always made mistakes when playing under pressure until I read the book, “The Inner Game of Golf” to try to help my wayward golf game.  It helped my golf quite a bit but it helped my music playing quite a lot more.  This was an unexpected bonus.

After Luke went, I got out a ladder and trimmed the climbing hydrangea which grows on the wall of the house.  It has a tendency to climb under the guttering and onto the roof if not checked each year.

The flying bird of the day might well have been a sparrow as I caught several in action this afternoon but I thought that I might go for a refreshing change.

Behold, the flying fly of the day.

fly hovering

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from a splendid set that my brother sent me after his visit to Shugborough Hall near Stafford a week ago.

shugborough bridge

We awoke to find it was still raining after a night of rain and a check on the scientific rain gauge showed two centimetres had fallen.  This is a fair amount of rain for us and it is an indication of how dry things have been that the garden wasn’t awash with puddles.

It was too wet for gardening though so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then watched the birds for a while.

A rather anxious looking sparrow appeared first.

worried sparrow

It was probably right to be anxious as there was quite a lot of demand for a seat at the table.

chaffinch incoming

incoming sparrow

flying chaffinch

I was pleased to see a blue tit among the sparrows and chaffinches. The sunflower seeds are too big for a blue tit to chew whole so they usually take one off and trap it under their feet on a handy tree nearby while they peck at them….but sometimes they just drop them.

bluetit dropping seed

The rain soon eased off but it was still pretty wet and when I put the camera away, I stayed inside and put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

This took me up to lunchtime and after lunch, I nearly succumbed to the temptation of watching more of the European Championships on the telly but I managed to pull myself together in the nick of time and put on my cycling gear.

I was punished for saying there weren’t many insects about by being bitten by a horsefly when I had stopped for a breather on my bike ride but there are still not many of them in the garden.

I took this one by accident when I was shooting the dahlia of the day while wasting time before cycling…

dahlia

..and zoomed in for a closer look.

hoverfly

There are still geraniums about although they haven’t been at their best this year.

geranium

A close look at a rose mallow revealed a very fluffy interior.

rose mallow

The second flowering of the orange hawkweed goes from strength to strength.

orange hawkweed august

In the end, I stopped looking at flowers in my cycling gear and actually got on my bike.

It was an odd sort of day.  It looked very autumnal, gloomy and  grey and overcast but it felt rather summery with the temperature at a very pleasant 20°C so I  went off wearing shorts but with a rain jacket packed just in case.

After the overnight rain, I checked on the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse and was not surprised to find quite a bit of water splashing over the rocks.

Wauchope cascade

There were a lot of wild flowers growing near the river, some familiar…

wauchope wild flowers

…and one which was quite new to me.  I have no idea what it is.

white wild flower

When I stopped after ten miles to admire the view…gair road

…and have a drink and a nibble of guava jelly, I found that my lost water bottle was back on my bike again.

two water bottles

I had had a reasonable idea of where I had lost it on my previous ride and wondered whether it would be visible today.  It was just resting quietly in the grassy verge on top of Callister.  I took it home with me and though it will have to go in the bin, at least I haven’t left litter beside the road.

There is a stretch of this striking grass beside the road near Springkell and considering how full the seed heads are, I am surprised that I don’t see more of it about.

seedy grass

I saw a bright yellow flower in the verge at one point and wondered what it was.  A closer look makes me think that it is a bird’s foot trefoil but it has come rather late in the season if that is what it is.

trefoil

The weather gods played an amusing game with me over the last ten miles of the trip.  They sent down enough light rain to make me think about stopping and putting my rain jacket on and then, just as I was about to stop, the rain stopped.  And then, of course, a mile or so later, it started again.  This went on for some time and they only got fed up when it became apparent that I wasn’t going to stop even if it rained quite hard  (which it did for a few minutes) and they went off to annoy someone else.

I managed 35 miles at a modest pace and got home in time to have a walk round the garden before tea.

There were pale pink sweet peas to be seen today.

pink sweet peas

I picked a plum from the plum tree (a good place to look for a plum)…

first plum

…and went inside for a shower.  The plum will need to ripen for a day before it is ready to eat.

With more rain forecast for every day next week, I am glad to have got some miles in this weekend.  I still have plenty of archiving work to do so perhaps it will be a case of every cloud having a silver lining, a statement with which I do not agree in general.

I was spoiled for choice as far as flying birds went but the poor light didn’t let me get a very good picture.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who got the chance of a ride in a hot air balloon.  Her picture shows how far I would have gone on the journey before finding something else to do.  I don’t like heights.  She was very brave and has put lots of pictures from her flight on her blog.

filling the balloon

It rained again here….

wet philadelphus

…but once again only very lightly and not enough to register on the scientific rain gauge.

I had time to put in a load of washing and  do a little gardening after breakfast before a visitor arrived.  It was Murray, an old university friend .  His wife was working for the day in Carlisle so he took the opportunity to come up for a coffee.   He brought some very nice biscuits with him and Scott the minister’s finely tuned biscuit radar must have been working well because he  arrived not long afterwards.  As Murray is an ex church organist and from a family of ministers, he and Scott and plenty to talk about.

Scott says that his chickens are enjoying the coconuts and as our birds don’t seem to like them, I think that the coconuts will soon  be returning to the manse.

Murray, who has spent most of his working lifetime in the theatre, went off to inspect the Buccleuch Centre before going back to Carlisle, promising to come again soon when he and his wife return to the area.

I had the bird watching camera up both before and after the visit (but not during it, of course).

The birds got stuck in early today…

chaffinch and siskins

…and were still at it when the evening came…

siskin, greenfinch, sparrow

…though some wasted time in shouting…

siskin shouting

…when they could have been eating.

A sparrow concentrated on the important thing in life.

sparrow on feeder

There were plenty of insects about in the garden, some more welcome than others.

greenfly on cornflower

The stachys is going over but it still has enough flowers to make it attractive…

bee on stachys flower

…to all and sundry.

bee on stachys

There are still no coloured butterflies about but I did catch a moth, which obligingly stopped right in front of me.

moth on hairy leaf

(The general whiskeriness of plants when you look at them closely continues to delight me.)

For a cloudy day, there was plenty of sunshine about…

tall sunflowers

…and the zinnias would brighten any day.

zinnia

After another bowl of nourishing green soup for my lunch, I went to hang out the washing before going cycling and, of course, it started to rain.

However this was another false alarm and it soon stopped and I got the washing hung up and my new bike out.

It was windy again.  The new cooler weather pattern is bringing winds from the Atlantic across the country and while the relative coolness (18°C) was most welcome to me, the wind was less so.

It was strong enough to make me concentrate on cycling so I didn’t stop for many pictures but the mass of meadowsweet near Wauchope Schoolhouse did stop me in my tracks.

meadowsweet at wauchope Schoolhouse

And I like the little carpet of birds foot trefoil beside the cycle track at Hagg on Esk.

birds foot trefoil

I stopped for a breather, a drink and a wildflower check at Irvine House before the final push back to Langholm.

I have passed a lot of these over the past few weeks without recording them.

wild geranium

And I managed to find an umbellifer without a red soldier beetle on it.

hoverfly on umbellifer

We have had another new bench delivered from our local benchmaker and it provided a handy place to sit down and rest when I got back after 32 miles.

post cycling selfie

In  spite of several hundred miles in the sunshine, my legs refuse to acquire a cyclist’s tan and remain as peely-wally as ever.  It is embarrassing.

As the sun had come out by this time and there is still no rain in the forecast, I set about doing as much watering as I could bear before going in to make my tea.

The usual beans were accompanied by fresh carrots today.

carrots and beans

 

I think Mrs Tootlepedal may have won this year’s battle in the eternal war against carrot root fly. (Fingers crossed)

Mrs Tootlepedal returns later this week so some serious time will have to be spent tidying up before she comes, both indoors and in the garden.  You just don’t realise just how fast weeds grow until you are personally responsible for them….and the same applies to piles of dust.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently visited Banwell Castle and sent me this picture of the gatehouse.  I am glad to see that they festoon potential photographic subjects with telephone wires down there as well as up here.

Banwell castle Gatehouse

The best weather of the day today was in the morning when it was calm and sunny so it was unfortunate that I had agreed to act as a substitute welcomer in the Welcome to Langholm office from 10am to 12 noon.

Still, I got a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and welcomed several visitors and both supplied them with information and extracted a little money for booklets from them so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I looked out through the kitchen window to see if the goldfinches had come back to the feeder.

They had…

goldfinch

…in numbers…

goldfinch

…and in squabbling mood.

goldfinch

They looked even better when the sun came out.

goldfinch

They were joined by sparrows…

sparrow and goldfinch

…and chaffinches, this one wearing a bird ringer’s ring on his leg…

chaffinch

…and blue tits.

blue tit

This is a very satisfactory start for the new feeder season.

After lunch, we went out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not quite back to 100% yet but she was able to do some good work in the garden today.  I had a look round.

The poppies are continuing to do well and to attract insects.

hoverfly on poppy

I didn’t see the bee creeping up on this one when I took the picture.

bee approaching poppy

Recently there have been several pictures of fuchsias with a pot marigold in the background.  I reversed that today.

pot marigold

I didn’t hang around in the garden though as I wanted to make use of a good afternoon for cycling.

After a few outings on wet roads, my fairly speedy bike needed a wash and lubrication so I was a while before I got going but I got out in plenty of time to do thirty miles or even a bit more.

In the event, perhaps because of the dust from the Sahara which Ophelia brought up with her, thirty miles was quite enough and cycling was a rather weird experience with my brain in turmoil as I tried to sort out what I was actually thinking from snippets of dreams and imagination that confused me as I pedalled along.   There are days when being an asthmatic cyclist is not the best thing to be.  A say with Saharan dust in the air is one of those.

Luckily, my cycling reflexes were in good order and as I went at a very modest average speed, I was able to get along quite safely although my concentration was anywhere but on the road ahead.

I must have been aware of my surroundings a bit though, as I stopped to take a few pictures as I went round.

There were various shades of autumn as I went along.

View of windmills

It was a good day for a pedal although it was one of those days when the wind seemed to be against for an awful lot of the journey.

autumn colour

Hedges have been clipped but the frequent rain showers have swept the roads clean so there were no thorny problems for me to avoid.

clipped hedges

The roads were quiet which was perhaps lucky as I was pedalling in a bit of a dwam.

KPF road

Gilnockie Tower was looking quite crisp as I passed.

Hollows Tower

And the distillery looked very cosy tucked in among the autumn leaves.

Langholm Distillery from skippers bridge

I fear that we are not going to get a really colourful show of autumn colour this year but perhaps there is still time.  I think we need a few cooler mornings to set thing off.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me the work that she had been doing in the garden in my absence.  She has great plans for the autumn and winter so that she will be ready for a bright new gardening year.  I will try to record developments as they happen.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and as there were four tenors and only one bass, I jumped ship and went off to sing bass (with variable success).  It was probably quite a good idea as my voice was suffering a bit from the dusty bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch one while the sun was out.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s sunny visit to Bath.

From canal towpath looking towards the boatyard

We got up to another grey and miserable morning here although once again it was unseasonably mild.

Mrs Tootlepedal is partially recovered but by no means back to full working order.   She is very touched by the good wishes expressed by readers of the blog.

The grey morning was much improved by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee and his already excellent scones were improved in my case by adding some of Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam to them.  In my view, Dropscone’s plain scones and saskatoon jam are a match made in heaven.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about getting to the bottom of whatever it was that had made our phone line go dead and our internet flicker intermittently. By using our powers of deduction and a small screwdriver, we found the problem and cured it, probably just in time for the town’s power supply to be knocked out be the coming storm Ophelia.

Ophelia has been wreaking havoc in Ireland but it was extremely calm here in the morning and early afternoon.   Our neighbour Liz popped into to ask if we had seen the sun.  We went to have a look.

It was very odd.

The camera found it hard to record the clouds and the sun both in the correct shade but this is definitely how the sun looked.

red sun

It kept changing colour as the cloud of dust passed and I had several goes….

red sun

…until finally it got too bright for both me and the camera to look at.

red sun

It was sufficiently striking to make the news later in the day and the experts say that it was either Saharan sand or Portuguese wild fire particles or both that had provided the film of rusty colour.

After lunch, I had a look round the garden.  The light had improved and the bees and hoverflies were back on duty again.

bees and hoverflyhoverfly on poppy

A late astrantia has come out to join the poppies.

astarntia and poppy

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma add a delightful feminine touch.

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to make more of the ornamental strawberry next year.

ornamental strawberry

But the most exciting thing in the garden is the new tray under the bird feeders which means I can start feeding the birds again.

feeder tray

It is a heavy duty plastic cement mixing tray and Mrs Tootlepedal drilled the neat hole in the centre of it to let the feeder pole fit through.

It was warm (66°F) and fairly still so I took the opportunity to go for a short cycle ride in my outdoor gym and stopped for pictures on my way.

It was rather gloomy as I came back to town on my first lap….

Manse Brae

…but I headed down to Skippers Bridge to take a couple of pictures because I feared that if the storm is as windy as predicted, there may be few leaves on the trees when it is gone.Skippers BridgeLangholm Distillery

On my second lap, there were a few drops of rain and then the sun came out.Glencorf burnHawthornBlochburnfootAuld Stane Brig

Nowadays, the gloomy predictions of storm and tempest are often worse than the reality so keen are the weathermen for us not to be caught unprepared for bad weather so it will be interesting to see what scenes like these will look like in a couple of day’s time.

I looked round the garden when I got back.  I found some more colour.

charles ross applesclimbing hydrangea

…and then went in to see how Mrs Tootlepedal was.  She had been well enough to do a little work in the garden while I pedalling but she is still a bit fragile.

Although the light was fading, I looked at the bird feeders through the windows.

sparrow and blue tit

A gloomy sparrow and an astonished blue tit consider the sodden pink pellets

blue tit

A blue tit sits and thinks

A sparrowhawk flashed through the garden without it catching anything or me catching it.

It astonishes me how quickly birds find out that food of one sort or another is available.  I said to Mrs Tootlepedal only yesterday that I hadn’t seen a sparrowhawk about for weeks.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive time.  He played at a practice of  our local orchestra yesterday and felt that he had been able to play quite a bit of the music.

In the evening, I went to the Camera Club meeting.  Ten members turned up and we were treated to a very interesting and varied selection of photographs from winter scenes to remind us of what is coming, through stunning local wildlife portraits and action shots and striking black and white studies to a record of a recent African safari, complete with lions, rhinos, hippos and elephants.  We were very well entertained.  One member had brought in some very beautiful large prints which led to a lot of discussion.

The flying bird of the day is having a rest.

chaffinch

It is blowing hard as I write this. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent Mary Jo. She is currently on holiday in England and came across this fine gate in Salisbury.

Mary Jo's gate

Mrs Tootlepedal has been wanting a bit a manure to get her garden off to a good start for the next growing season so she had a word with a friend yesterday and early this morning, this arrived at our front gate…

Manure

…but even with the expert assistance of our neighbour Liz, the tractor was just too big to get itself turned round enough to back the trailer into the drive.

There was no alternative.

manure

What fun.

Luckily, Alasdair who had supplied the muck , was kind enough to stay on to help and with good teamwork….

manure shifting

…with Al and Liz filling barrows at one end of the drive and Mrs Tootlepedal creating an artistic muck heap at the other, the situation was soon saved.

manure shifted

I ran the shuttle service.

It wasn’t done in a few minutes but it was done just before Dropscone arrived for coffee and we sat down to a well earned rest, although some in the party didn’t think that they were getting a fair share of the scones.

Riley

This was the moment to test whether Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam was the correct additive for a Langholm scone and after eating two of his scones with the jam on, Dropscone agreed that the jam passed the test with honour.  I must say that I thought that it went very well with a scone or two too.

After Liz and Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a happy hour trying to erase any sign of manure other than that in the neat pile at the end of the drive…

manure

…and thanks to expert work by Mrs Tootlepedal with a teaspoon and a toothbrush, things were left looking pretty tidy.  Mrs Tootlepedal is looking forward to spreading the muck about generously in the coming months.

I once gave Mrs Tootlepedal a half load of manure for a Christmas present.  It was a very successful present as it sat outside our kitchen window for some time and Mrs Tootlepedal often remarked that every time that she looked at the great heap of muck, she thought of me.

The garden is still reasonably colourful for the time of year….

garden late Spetember 2107

…and the insects keep coming.

insects on dahlias

The dahlias were very popular today.

hoverfly

It was pleasantly cool while we were muck shifting, which was good, but the sun came out shortly afterwards and it was a great pleasure to be out in the garden.

Special Grandma looked particularly pleased.

special grandma

I made some potato and carrot soup for my lunch and then went off for a quick stroll round Gaskell’s Walk.  It was quite breezy so I was not unhappy to have had too little time for a cycle ride.  September has been a very poor month for cycling with bad weather at the start and too much to do at the end of the month but luckily, I am well ahead of my schedule for the year and with some good weather in October, I should still reach my target by Christmas.

I had very good weather for my stroll and enjoyed the peaceful look of Wauchope Churchyard as I passed.

Wauchope Churchyard

In spite of the sunshine, the brown and swirling waters flowing under the Auld Stane Brig show just how much rain we have had over recent weeks.

Auld Stane Brig

The ground is sodden and the rain showers seem to be very heavy when they come so we may expect a bit of a flood if it rains for a long time soon. All this water came from some rain last night.

I kept my eyes open as I walked and enjoyed this large fungus….

fungus

…and I hope that someone will be able to tell me if the white rim round the edge means that it is still alive and growing.

I did see other fungus and lichen but the light was too poor or too bright so I didn’t get very good pictures.

fungus and lichen

I thought that an oak might be showing autumn colour but it turned out to be caused by the galls on the back of the leaves.  Some of the oaks are covered in these galls.

oak galls

Some peering about on the internet tells me that they may be spangle galls.  If this is true we should be in for a plague of gall wasps as there are hundreds of these galls about.

Some of the oaks are free of them and I liked this perky acorn further along the walk.

acorn

I resisted the temptation to sit on a handy bench provided so that elderly walkers can sit and look back across the river at the Wauchope Churchyard and think dark thoughts about mortality and enjoyed the open views further on instead.

Meiklholm Hill

Grey clouds were looming over Meikleholm Hill.

A curious sheep looked back at me.

stubholm sheep

I didn’t dawdle too much and I just had time to check out a battered butterfly when I got home….

red admiral butterfly

…before jumping into the car with Mrs Tootlepedal and driving off to Eskdalemuir to collect the Camera Club photos which had been on exhibition at The Hub there.

Thanks to the good curation of the exhibition by Sharon and the other volunteers at The Hub, our club members had sold quite a few of the pictures and I was modestly very pleased to find that three of mine were among those that had found buyers.

It had rained a little as we had driven up but we did most of the journey in sunshine and I wish that I could have had time to stop to take a few pictures.  Of course, I would have had to remember to bring my camera with me and as I hadn’t, the lack of time wasn’t quite so painful.

The reason for the rush was a concert at the Buccleuch Centre in the evening.  This was given by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who are absolute masters of the art of providing a congenial evening of traditional music and amusing commentary.   Their musicianship on fiddle and accordion is superb and the commentary in between the numbers can make your ribs hurt at times. Even if a lot of the tunes and stories may have made their appearance in former concerts, you greet them with all the enthusiasm you would greet a much loved old friend who has returned after some time abroad.

They have played together for forty years and have supreme and justified confidence in their own ability so they have no need to pester us with questions about whether we are having a good time or to play very loudly or to jump around and stamp to prove that they are trying.  They just sit there quietly and pour out a stream of magic and we are grateful.

The flying bird of the day is sitting on the hedge prior to taking off.

blackbird

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to Arran where he visited the Machrie Moor Stone Circles.

Machrie Standing Stones

Just to put it on the record, we had a day without rain today. We were pathetically grateful.

I started the day off with a cycle ride.  This would have been quite a bit longer if I had been a bit more gung-ho about getting up, getting breakfast and getting going.  Leisurely was a more appropriate word than gung-ho to describe my activities but I got out before coffee time at least.

I was just pedalling up one of the early hills when my neighbour Ken whizzed past me.  As he is the same age and same weight as me, the only way he can cycle faster than me is by trying harder so I was stimulated into trying harder than I usually do myself and I kept him in sight until he stopped for a drink near Canonbie.  I stopped too and we had a chat…

Ken

I wouldn’t have caught him up if he hadn’t been feeling his back a bit but he was very cheerful all the same.

…and then set off on the road back to Langholm…

Woodhouselees road

It was a lovely day for a cycle ride

….with one or other of us setting the pace.  As a result, I managed a much better speed than I would have done if I had been on my own but I was also quite a bit more puffed out when we finished.

We were going to see Matilda in Edinburgh in the afternoon but I had time to look round the garden after the pedal.  The sun was really trying its best and the white flowers glowed.

Cosmos and Japanese anemone

Cosmos and Japanese anemone

poppies with hoverflies

The poppies were popular with hoverflies today

poppy

After all the pale flowers, I couldn’t pass the pink poppies without my finger clicking!

poppies

There really were hoverflies, flies and bees everywhere, enjoying the sunshine just as much as I was.

daisy with flies

Some ox eye daisies drew the flies

dahlia with hoverflies

A dahlia had pulled in hoverflies with another coming up to join in

bees on the Michaelmas daisies

There were three sorts of bees on the Michaelmas daisies

I had a close look at a bee.

bee on Michaelmas daisy

And an even closer look at another.

bee on Michaelmas daisy

I keep on resolving to get my tripod out and use a little patience on these close up shots but I keep on taking hand held ones and then doing something else so this may be the best that I will get.

The something else that I did today was to go to look for a butterfly…

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…and I am glad that I did because it is a treat to see a small tortoiseshell butterfly.

I had to go inside in the end and have a shower and some lunch and then we drove off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was such a good day that the town hall at Lockerbie looked like a Disney castle when we got there.

Lockerbie Town hall

On the down side, the train was late yet again.  It is a most unreliable service.

We got to Edinburgh a quarter of an hour late and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to buy some lampshades, I caught the bus to Matilda’s.  Because of roadworks my bus was diverted and I got a much better view from its window than I expected.

Arthur's seat chapel

Matilda was baking a cake when I arrived presumably because she knew that we were coming.

I read a book with Matilda until Mrs Tootlepedal arrived and then we sat and chatted and played until it was time for tea.  We enjoyed a pizza with trimmings and then we got to eat the cake made by Matilda and her dad and enhanced with some jam and cream by her mother, so a proper family affair.  It was delicious, a credit to then all.  We were allowed to take some home with us in a box.

All too soon it was the moment for Matilda to go to her bath and for us to catch the bus back to the station.  The train was on time and we got home safely.

We looked up at the sky when we got out of the car and for once, we could see the stars very clearly in spite of the street lights all around.  This was tempting so I got my camera out, stuck it on a tripod and pointed it hopefully at the sky.  I was impressed by how many more stars it could see than I could with my naked eye.

stars

stars

If we get another clear night, I will go out of town to find a darker spot and have another go.  There are obviously a lot of stars to photograph out there.

The flying bird of the day is a sweet pea ignoring the recent rains and reaching for the sky.

sweet pea

 

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