Posts Tagged ‘Japanese anemones’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, and shows her very fruitful crab apple tree in all its glory.  Her answer to the question, “How do you like them apples?” is “A lot.”

crab appleIt was a chilly 3°C this morning when we got up, in spite of it being an hour later than it would have been yesterday as our clocks went back during the night.

I was hoping for a cycle ride but 3° is right on the limit of what is safe on a road bike as far as possible icy conditions go so I was pleased to have the legitimate excuse of preparing a lamb stew for the slow cooker to help me pass the time until it got a bit warmer.

A little early sun looked promising….

goldfinch…but it didn’t last.

It was still pretty chilly when the stew was ready so I was happy to let a few more minutes float past the kitchen window while I tried unavailingly to bank a flying bird of the day.

flying bird errorsI was either too soon or too late though.

In the end, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing in the church choir before the thermometer finally hit 6° and I was brave enough to go out.  Luckily, the wind was very light and although it was in my face as I headed down the A7 towards Longtown, it wasn’t brisk enough to provide any noticeable wind chill factor.

I was heading for Smithfield, 16 fairly flat miles away and I was hoping that the light wind, by then behind me, would compensate for having to go uphill for the last few miles to get home.

My hopes were perfectly realised and my outward and return trips differed by less than a minute. With the trip being 32 miles (100000 in binary) and the times being almost equal, I was pleased by the mathematical precision of the ride.

On a less satisfactory note, I was hoping for some sunshine as the colour on the trees was the best yet but the skies remained obstinately cloudy and I didn’t much feel like stopping and getting colder than I was already

I did stop once on my way out though to take a few pictures of and from the bridge over the River Lyne, south of Longtown.

Lyne BridgeI scrambled down the bank to try to get the reflections in the water under an arch.

Lyne BridgeThe water was running very dark indeed but a tree by the bridge was bright enough.

Lyne BridgeWhen I got home, I had time to have a shower, look at some white flowers trying very hard to brighten a dull day….

Japanese anemones and cosmos

Japanese anemones and cosmos in need of dead heading

…and the fine display in front of the kitchen window….

sedum, nerines and lobelia…before having some lentil soup for lunch and getting ready to go to Carlisle for our Carlisle Community Choir practice.

I did spend a moment or two trying to get a decent  image of a pair of coal tits that were flitting about….

coal tits…but they were more interested in eating than posing.  A blue tit was equally disobliging and turned its back on me.

blue titOur choir practice was very enjoyable as we concentrated on two tuneful songs with good tenor parts which were not too difficult.

With clocks going back, it was dark when we left Carlisle to drive home and that certainly brought the shortening of the afternoons very much into focus.  I will have to remember that if I want to get about outdoors, then an early start is essential.

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal made dumplings to go with the lamb stew and the whole thing was so tasty that we had to be quite restrained so as not to eat tomorrow’s meal as well as today’s at one sitting.

I did find one flying bird but it was only a rather blurry standard chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony who must be paying a visit to the Trossachs as he has sent this charming picture of Loch Lubnaig.

Loch LubnaighAfter some beautifully sunny days, the weather was much mores subdued today.  It started misty and ended dull and grey with only the briefest lighter moment between.

I started with a visit to the producer’s market at the Buccleuch Centre where I stocked up on meat, fish, honey and cheese and then got home in time to entertain Dropscone to a cup of coffee or two.

He arrived with a good sized pile of drop scones and explained that he had found that he had a milk surplus at home which accounted for the drop scone mountain.  We managed to render the mountain invisible without too much difficulty and he went on his way with some apples in return.

The chilly weather hadn’t put off the bees, though there weren’t nearly as many today as there had been in the sunshine, but it had encouraged birds to get a good feed…..

chaffinch…in such numbers that I not only refilled the current feeder but put out another one as well.  It got very busy immediately.

feeder queuefeeder queueI was thinking about going out for a cycle ride in the afternoon but a certain lethargy and the dull weather tempted me into watching the World Cup rugby on the telly instead.  The first match, Japan vs Samoa was a great treat as Japan’s only intention seems to be to play rugby as it ought to be played.  The second match, Scotland vs South Africa made me wish that I had gone cycling as South Africa controlled the match from start to finish and Scotland played without inspiration and lost.

My mood was as subdued as the weather.  I wasn’t made much more cheerful by a phone call telling me that my bid to become conductor of the Brampton Community Choir had fallen on stony ground and failed.  To tell you the truth, I wasn’t as gloomy about this as I might have been, as the choir meets on the same night as our Langholm Choir which I would have had to give up.  I think, having met the Brampton committee and the choir, I might have found the post quite stressful. and since the Langholm choir has acquired a very competent conductor, I will happily continue to sing with them.

A passing butterfly brightened my day a bit….


I caught this one in the rare sunny moment

…and I cheered myself up a bit more by sieving some excellent quality compost.

I looked at the flowers while the day was bright.


The reliable poppies were there

Lilian Austin

Lilian Austin was smiling

Japanese anemones

And the Japanese anemones were celebrating a fine rugby win.

I have purchased a new feeder pole and my plan is to move it round the middle lawn during the autumn and winter months so that the lawn beneath it will get regularly fertilized by visiting birds.  It is a bit exposed for small birds but, after keeping a watching brief for a while…

starlings…the starlings soon tried it out.

starlings at new feederMore and more arrived….

starlings….and more and more and more…..


Those little red pellets are a great draw.

Larger birds arrived incognito.

jackdawSo the day wasn’t entirely without incident.

The flying bird of the day turned out to be a jackdaw when the incognito was revealed.


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Today’s guest picture shows the world’s greatest baby looking amazed at what fun it is to have an aunt to bounce on.

MatildaI took advantage of a perfect cycling day to nip out for an out and back 50km pedal I (I think that sounds more impressive than a 32 mile pedal) while Mrs Tootlepedal was warbling in the church choir.  It was 15°C, dry but overcast and with a light wind, not conditions that we commonly associate with the autumn equinox period when equinoctial gales and heavy rain are our usual fare.

I pedalled south down the main road as traffic is very light on a Sunday.  My only excitement was being passed by a string of thirty motorcyclists at one point.  The light wind was blowing from the south which meant that I was able to come back faster than I went out which is always morale boosting.

I got back from cycling and Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her church choir at more or less the same time.  We took a walk round the garden.

Rose The Wren

The Wren was looking gorgeous.

The day had brightened up a bit and the flowers were attracting insects.

Japanese anemone

Japanese anemone

Michaelmas daisy

Michaelmas daisy

The macro lens shows that there is a good variety of hoverflies even in one garden.

Two long flowering plants are still providing colour.

Welsh poppy and crocosmia

Welsh poppy and crocosmia

Crown Princess Margareta was looking very regal.

Crown Princess MargaretaWe had a coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal went out to slave in the garden, continuing her grand plan of soil improvement while I picked some raspberries.  Our autumn fruiting rasps are loving the weather and I am having a really hard time eating them all…

raspberries…though I find that the application of ample supplies of double cream ease the pain a bit.

Then while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved on, I went off to lie in a relaxing bath.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal retired for a quick snooze and I wandered around the garden again. The sun had come out and The Wren looked so lovely that I took another picture of it.

rose The WrenOwing to a slight miscalculation with my camera settings, I took a rather moodier set of pictures of the astrantia than I meant to but they came out so well (in my opinion at least) that I have put two of them in here because I couldn’t choose between them.

astrantiaastrantiaThere were a couple of red admiral butterflies fluttering about….

red admiral…but I haven’t seen a small tortoiseshell recently which is a surprise.

Then it was time to go off to Carlisle to sing with our choir there.  Our musical director was back and we had an excellent practice.  He is very good at pushing us as far as we can go without making us hate either him or singing and he was trying to get us to sing perfectly in tune today.  This may be a step too far but we are giving it our best shot,  At least we have made that important first step of realising that we may not be singing in tune even if we think we are.

The nights are drawing in and there was no time for more adventures once we got home.  Feeling that two hours cycling and two hours singing deserved a reward, I treated myself to a large poke of chips and a tub of curry sauce from our local chop shop for my tea while  Mrs Tootlepedal nibbled on a salad leaf or two.

We rounded off a good day by watching the highlights of the final singles matches of the Ryder Cup (a golf competition between Europe and the USA for those who don’t recognise the name).  It was played in Scotland which made it more than usually interesting for us.

The birds were still conspicuous by their absence today and I had no chance to catch a flying bird so a perching blue tit will have to stand in.

blue tit.

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