Posts Tagged ‘jasmine’

Today’s guest picture shows Puffin Island off Anglesey.   My brother took the picture on a visit to Anglesey in May.

Puffin Island

We were offered a bright and breezy morning and I took the opportunity to gird up my loins and get out on the fairly speedy bike for the first time in October.  Because it was breezy, because there was always the possibility of rain and because I couldn’t think of anything else, I did three repetitions of the nine mile round trip to Cleughfoot and back.

My internet acquaintance known to me as Quercus pointed out recently that cycling on a familiar route could be considered recycling so I suppose that cycling three times on a familiar route might even be rererecycling.

I had my camera in my back pocket but a brisk wind in my face inclines me to keep my head down and not notice anything and whizzing along when the wind is behind means that I have passed anything interesting before I have registered it.

I did stop, because I had to, at my turning point and couldn’t avoid noticing a brilliant display of haws on a hawthorn…


…and I did notice, because I was specially looking out for them, a really fine crop of healthy sloes on the Cleughfoot road.


I don’t think that I have ever seen such a good crop before.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden when I got back.  She had just moved a delightful orange flowered potentilla with a view to finding a place where it will not be as crowded as it was this year.


I gave it a good watering in and then went to look at the poppies.  They are still very good value…

shirley poppies

…though the rather cold air seemed to have discouraged any bees from visiting today.

My favourite poppy of the day was floating above the pond.


The colours are just as they came out of the camera.  I have not improved them in any way.  Indeed, I think that it might be impossible to improve on such a lovely flower.

The dahlias were worth a look too.


You can see that hoverflies seem to be more weatherproof than honey bees.

We went in for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to do more gardening while I finished the crossword.   I then went out to cut back the blackcurrant bush and when I had shredded the clippings, I went to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was doing.

lawn shifting

She was cutting, shifting and stamping bits of turf at the end of the middle lawn as part of her new project for better beds, better paths, better space and better everything in this area next year.

It is a task that needs a lot of supervision so I selflessly took on the role.

Soon a round corner had become square….

new middle lawn

…and a curved edge had become straight.

new middle lawn

It will all look very neat and tidy by next spring.

(Notice that indispensable tool of the gardener, a piece of string, in action here.)

After the lawn work was finished, I sieved a bucket of compost but finding it a bit soggy after the recent rain, I stopped and wandered round taking pictures.

That great gardener Christopher Lloyd is very dismissive of Leycesteria in his garden shrub guide but I like it a lot even though it is invasive.


We have two sorts of jasmine on the go at the moment.  Winter jasmine and jasmine officinale.


The very last of the geraniums are looking pretty.


A late daisy.


And the sweet rocket has produced a second flowering.

sweet rocket

It was chilly working in the garden and there were one or two feeble efforts at rain over lunchtime but the relatively mild nights are keeping the supply of flowers going in a very satisfactory way.

We were quite ready for a cup of tea by the time that everything was cleared away.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a screening of La Bohème but as Puccini’s music generally leaves me cold, I stayed at home and did the washing up.

While the lawn works were going on, there were several sightings of the gardener’s friend….


…and we were not the only ones interested.



In spite of these two handsome birds, the flying bird of the day is not a bird at all but the sole big bumble bee that I saw today.  It was really getting stuck into the dahlia pollen.

búmble bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s holiday in the deep south.  He decided to leave the mainland and travel to the Isle of Sheppey across this impressive (but ugly) bridge.

sheppey bridge

I had a discussion with Sandy as we walked along yesterday as to whether the day could properly be described as dreich.  He thought that it could on general grounds of being very grey and misty but I thought that perhaps the lack of rain disqualified it.   Today was even gloomier and I looked up the definition of dreich in a handy on-line dictionary.  It said:

Dreich (Old Scots origin)

A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least four of the above adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich.

There was no question.  Today was truly, truly dreich.

It was far too gloomy for any decent bird pictures so naturally the little blighters queued up to have their pictures taken.

They do it on purpose.

Some were perching….

goldfinches in the drizzle

….in fact, a lot were perching….

goldfinch, robin and siskin

…and some were flying…


…in fact, a lot were flying…


…and all were laughing at me as I put the ISO up higher and higher and still couldn’t get a clean shot.

The drizzle let up enough enough at one point in the morning to allow me nip up to the town to order some more coffee and pop into the chemist to get some Vitamin D tablets to offset the weather.

It was a few degrees above freezing so I did occasionally think of a walk or even a soggy cycle ride but each time that I did so, a fresh gust of wind blew sheets of drizzle across the garden and like King Edward and his army, I thought again.

In desperation, I looked for colour indoors and found that our daughter’s two floral Christmas gifts were earning their keep.


The jasmine is producing a steady trickle of flowers with the promise of lots more


The hyacinth is well on the way to its full glory

I had some soup for my lunch, looked out of the window from time to time….


The robin returned


And siskins kept arriving

There was no doubt that it was a dull day in many ways so I made the best of it by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practising both my flute and choir songs.

Somehow or other, I managed to get to the end of the day without doing anything energetic or very interesting and I am hoping for better weather tomorrow.

My flying bird of the day was perhaps the worst actual picture but at least it was a more infrequent visitor so it was the most interesting. It’s a greenfinch…

flying greenfinch

…and it shows the drizzle quite well.

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Today’s striking guest picture comes from my brother who describes it as ‘dusky’.  I think  he must have been in London yesterday evening.

The thames at night

We had summer indoors today and winter outside.  They were brought to us by courtesy of the jasmine family.


A gift from our daughter Annie has come into flower in the sitting room

winter jasmine

Its winter cousin keeps plugging away outside the back door.

In the garden there are now several clumps of promising snowdrops…


…but we are still waiting to see one in full flower.

The rhubarb crumble scenario is developing.


It might have been a suitable day for a cycle ride but a slight drizzle in the morning made me more than content to be sipping coffee with Sandy rather than getting wet.  After he had left, I turned to the main business of the day which was making marmalade.

As those of you who make marmalade in the traditional manner will know, it is a lengthy process.  The oranges have to be squeezed and sliced thinly which takes quite a lot of time in itself and then the resultant juice and fruit mixture needs to be simmered for at least two hours.

When the simmering is done, the sugar needs to be added and the mixture boiled until it is ready to set.  Then it is left to settle for some time and the mixture stirred to distribute the orange peel evenly.

Finally it is put into jars and left to cool before being labelled and covered.

There may be time during the process when a moment can be found to stare out of the window…


…but today as often as not, when that moment came, the birds were lurking round the back of the feeder.

Sometimes a bird obliged though.


A goldfinch is a pretty bird, worth the wait.

As well as the cooking, marmalade makers have to spend what seems like hours throughout the process in  washing their hands to get the stickiness off and then wiping off anything they may have touched while turning on taps, opening cupboards or picking things up and putting them down.

Still when it is all done, the light might have gone for the day but the reward is there for all to see.


If we want enough marmalade to last us for a year. there might have to be another session!

I might have done something useful in the late afternoon but I was foolishly tempted to watch a bit of the Trump inauguration and found myself frozen into immobility as it unfolded and unable to tear myself away.

Finally, pangs of hunger got me out of my chair and I cooked a potato and feta bake for our tea.

It was quite a cooking day as I also made a fruity malt loaf in the breadmaker.

The evening brought sweet music as Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played three familiar pieces which gave us great pleasure and soothed the spirit.

We are promised a sunny day tomorrow which will be most welcome.

I did find a flying bird among the orange peel.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest pictures come from my occasional correspondent and Langholm exile, Irving.  He sees these buzzards regularly in his garden and thought correctly that I might be interested in seeing them too.


There wasn’t much to see in Langholm today, apart from very low cloud and occasional rain.  It was still reasonably warm at 7°C but the dank conditions didn’t make it feel very pleasant.

Dropscone complained about the weather when he came round for coffee but I didn’t complain about the scones that he brought with him as they were very good.

Birds were mostly notable by their absence and often the ones that did come looked a bit miserable to say the least.


Oddly, some goldfinches seemed less bedraggled than others.


Perhaps the one on the right had been sheltering somewhere dry

A small flock of ten goldfinches was the largest crowd of the day and they weren’t very polite if a chaffinch intruded…

goldfinch and chaffinch

…but no one seemed to mind when a lone siskin turned up.


We haven’t seen numbers of siskins in the garden since late summer and I don’t know where they have been.  Mrs Tootlepedal is generally quite happy not to see siskins as they are very messy eaters and this leads to untidiness and odour.

After Dropscone had gone, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took our Christmas tree out and replanted it in the garden.  It was less of of a chore that we thought that it might be and it looks quite happy to be back where it came from in December.

Christmas tree

Nearby, the first shoots of rhubarb could be seen.


Some way to go before we can think of crumble though

When Dropscone and I had been drinking our coffee, we had been reminiscing about cycling in past years and I was reminded that we used to pedal quite often in pretty poor weather conditions.  I have got a lot more picky lately which cuts down cycling opportunities so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe, I thought that I should brave the damp conditions and go for a cycle ride.

The forecast had said that there was a possibility of rain over lunchtime but I hadn’t gone far before the possibility turned into reality and I had a soggy time while I was out.  I was well wrapped up though and with a peak on my helmet to keep the worst of the drizzle off my glasses, I managed a steady 21 miles in relative comfort.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea later and that concluded the excitement for the day.

Well perhaps, not quite because after he had gone, I got the second half of the dough out of the fridge and made another batch of rolls.  In spite of my best efforts, they wouldn’t win any prizes for looks but they cooked perfectly well.

As I am still struggling to throw off my husky throat, I was quite pleased to have had a quiet day.  I am cutting down on cheese for the moment because that has been implicated in throat troubles and I am inhaling salt vapour through a cunning device that my daughter gave me and either  for these reasons or just through the march of time, things are beginning to get a bit better.  Whether cycling twenty miles in a chilly drizzle is part of the cure is perhaps open to question.

The flower of the day is a cheerful winter jasmine to offset the general greyness…

winter jasmine

…and the flying bird is one of the goldfinches, ploughing through the morning drizzle.

flying goldfinch

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