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Posts Tagged ‘lamium’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend and horticultural adviser Liz.  She went for a paddle on the Union Canal, and knowing that I like bridges, she sent me this.

union canal

After two sunny day, we reverted to a grey and drizzly day again today.  It was an ideal morning for staying indoors so I did just that…

…though I did poke my nose outside in a less drizzly moment to see what was going on.

A bee was trying on a dashing pink hat…

bee on lamium

…and in spite of the gloomy weather, there were quite a few red admiral butterflies around.  I caught one on the buddleia and another one flat out on the sedum, having a snooze.

butterfly on sedum

I checked to see if there were any blackbirds in the rowan tree.  You might think that it would be easier to stand on a twig and peck upwards, but the general trend seems to be to balance carefully and peck downwards.

balckbird diving for berry

I did actually see a blackbird fall off its twig trying this method.   It steadied itself though  and chose a safer spot.

blackbird in rowan tree

After lunch, the drizzle cleared up and the forecast offered some hours of dryish weather in spite of still having quite a lot of rain on its weather map.  I got my bike out and set off to see how far I could get before it started to  rain again.

Farmers have been making good use of the recent sunny days and the number of bales of silage in this field shows just how well the grass has been growing this summer.

silage

I looked down at the wall which you can see at the bottom of the picture above and saw a veritable feast of lichens.

four lichens on wauchope road wall

All these were within a few feet of each other.

I took a little diversion up to Cleuchfoot, and stopped to admire the autumn fruits, sloes and brambles, beside the road.  It looks like being a fruitful season.

sloe and bramble

I got to the top of Callister and as it began to rain lightly, I turned for home.  There was almost no wind today, a very rare thing these days, and it was warm so in spite of the light rain, it was enjoyable to be out and about.

By the time that I had got back to Langholm after 14 miles, the rain had stopped so I didn’t.  I went through the town and out of the other side.  I had to wait at the junction at the bridge to let a small convoy of MGBs through.  They were obviously on a tour and perhaps a reader, looking at the number plate, can tell me where they come from.

MGB

When I had crossed the bridge, I had to stop again on the Kilngreen, because not only could I see Mr Grumpy crouching beside the river…

crouching heron

…but there was a cormorant perched on a rock at the Meeting of the Waters.

comorant

Local fishermen will not be happy.

I pedalled on up the main road for three miles, stopped to admire the view…

near Hoghill

…and pedalled back home again, pleased to have got 21 miles in on a day that had started so miserably.

After a cup of tea (and a biscuit) with Mrs Tootlepedal and our friend Mike who had dropped in, I was sufficiently revived to go out into the garden and mow the front lawn. The grass is growing well in our garden too and the lawns are needing to be mowed every two or three days.

While I was out, I had a look round and was delighted to see a robin.  I hadn’t seen one for some time.

robin on fence

While I was tracking the robin, I nearly trod on this blackbird.  It was very reluctant to move from a spot where it had obviously found something interesting to eat.

young blackbird on ground

When I looked up at the rowan tree, more blackbirds were finding things to eat.

After a good look round, this one….

blackbird eyeing up beries

…took the plunge, grabbed a berry and swallowed it whole.

blackbird eating berries

Berries were going down well…

berry in blackbird beak

…though some were harder to grasp than others.

close up balckbird with berry

The berries will not last long if the blackbirds keep going at this rate.

I left the blackbirds to it, and walked around looking for flowers.  The honeysuckle on the fence is flowering well and still has plenty to come…

honeysuckle

…and Crown Princess Margareta is making a plucky effort to have a late show.

crown princess margareta rose

Then my flute pupil Luke came and showed evidence of practice.  This can only be a good thing.  Both he and I are working on improving our breathing skills and are trying hard to avoid heaving up our shoulders when breathing in, a very bad habit.  Getting rid of bad habits is a lot harder than acquiring good habits so we have some way to go.

I made some cauliflower cheese for our evening meal and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down to the double delight of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.

I didn’t quite catch a flying bird of the day, but this blackbird had to use its wings a lot to steady itself so it gets the title today, whether it was actually flying or not.

flying berry blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal and features one of our plums.

ally's plum

The picture itself might not seem to be earth shattering but the fact that Mrs Tootlepedal took on her new smart phone and emailed it to me, is a giant leap for her into a whole new world of tech.

The acquisition of the new phone was the main business of the morning and involved a trip to Carlisle.  I had tried to get the phone sorted on-line yesterday but it proved an intractable business so we made an appointment to speak to real people in the EE shop in Carlisle.  This proved to be a really good idea, as an admirably competent young lady was able to add the new phone to my account, get Mrs Tootlepedal an excellent bargain for the monthly charge and give me an extra gigabyte of data thrown in.

She told us that the staff in the shop are no longer paid commission for hard selling, and indeed get no bonus for completing a sale at all.  They get their reward if customers speak highly of them when asked their opinion a week after the deal is done.  This is a good idea!

She sold us what we wanted, didn’t try to sell us anything we didn’t want, gave us a tremendous amount of technical help and sent us on our way in a very cheerful state of mind indeed.  We will speak highly of her when we are asked.

While we were in Carlisle, we bought some cheese, visited a bookshop where we had a cup of coffee, and wandered through a market in the middle of the town.  All in all, it was a very satisfactory morning.

When we got home, we had lunch and then we went out into the garden.  It was one of those days when the weather in Carlisle was bright and sunny but the weather in Langholm was grey and gloomy with the clouds down over the hills.

This is a bit hard to bear but I took a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new phlox just for the cheery colour.

phlox

In spite of the cloudy day, it was warm enough and at worst there was only a faint drizzle so we got a lot done.  I mowed the lawns and together we removed and binned what seemed like a hundred or more green plums from the poor old plum tree which is still overloaded with clusters of plums hanging on it like bunches of grapes.  The plums are beginning to ripen and plum jam is in the offing.

After the de-plumming, we sat for a while on the bench while we rested and looked around. Some nicotianas looked back at us from behind the yew.

nicotiana behind yew

On the fence behind the bench, the runner bean flowers made a good show.

runner bean flowers

More actual beans would not go amiss but we had a few with our evening meal.

Across the lawn, a bee visited the lamium…

bee on lamium

…while on the lawn, a harassed mother blackbird fed an ungrateful youngster.

blackbird feeding young

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and then I decided to go for a walk.   I  had only gone a few steps when my feet decided that a ‘bicycle walk’ would be better idea, so I got the slow bike out and cycled round an extended three bridges walk at a very leisurely pace.

You don’t see as much when you are on a  bicycle, no matter how slowly you go but I couldn’t miss the gull on its favourite rock…

gull on rock august

…or Mr Grumpy lurking more inconspicuously a few yards away down the river.

heron beside Elizabeth St

I cycled up the Lodge Walks and took a photograph.  It was a bit dull so I took the liberty of asking my photo editor to put an arty filter on it.  I quite liked the result.

arty Lodge walks

At the side of the road, this massive fungus was easily visible at any speed.

fungus Lodge walks

The sun came out as I pedalled along, and it turned into a very pleasant evening.

pheasant hatchery road

In the low sun, the trees looked delightful both in general…

castleholm trees

…and in particular.

castleholm tree

I would have liked to have been on foot, but I bumped along the track on my bike happily enough.

pheasant hatchery track

I passed the Duchess Bridge but did not cross it…

duchess bridge in shade

…and went on to the Jubilee Bridge and the Scholars’ Field to make my way home.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their usual Friday evening visit, and Alison and I played some very satisfactory duets, including a Telemann Sonata which we haven’t played for some time and which went very well all things considered.

The hard working mother blackbird is standing in for the flying bird of the day.

blackbird on lawn

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Today’s guest picture is a wall which Venetia met on her Highland holiday.  She liked its varied colouring.  I like it too.

Highland wall

After two sunny, dry days with quite brisk breezes, we got a less sunny day with an even brisker breeze and occasional showers.  Under the circumstances, I took the opportunity to have a quiet day with nothing more exciting happening than a visit to the dentist to collect a replacement for my recently extracted tooth in the morning and a trip to do some shopping in the afternoon.

Other than that, I managed to do very little for the rest of the day (but I did it very well).

The birds were a lot busier than I was, with a full of house of siskins occasionally threatened by other siskins…

siskins at feeder

…and horizontal and…

horizontal sparrow

…diagonal sparrows.

hopeful sparrow

But mostly it was other siskins.

fierce siskin

The sun shone and I went out into the garden.

The brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky so I had to look in sheltered spots.  This rhododendron has outlasted all the other azaleas and rhododendrons but even it is beginning to look a bit part worn.

long ;asting rhododendron

The alliums are over but Mrs Tootlepedal likes to leave them standing until they fall over of their own accord.  They are still quite decorative.

dead allium

The roses are tending to wait for some better weather to appear but some are doing their best…

red rose

…even if they look a little tired.

yellow rose

After lunch, the sun shone again for a while and I had another look round outside.  The little potted fuchsia which had flowered so brilliantly while it was waiting in the greenhouse…

fuchsia out of greenhouse

This was it at the end of May

…lost all its flowers when it was confronted by the outside world.  Mrs Tootlepedal has planted it out in the chimney pot and it is showing signs of coming again.

fuchsia in chimney buds

The hydrangea on the house wall is a mass of flowers and is loud with bees whenever you walk past it.

bees on hydrangea

The surprise yellow iris is doing well, hidden away in the middle of a clump of daisies.  We are interested to see if it is a singleton or whether others will appear to join it.

new yellow iris wet

One of the flowers which has enjoyed the cooler weather is the lamium.  I don’t think that I have seen it doing better than it is this year.

close lamium

The sun went in and shopping looked like a good way to spend some time so we set off to a garden centre and the Gretna Shopping Village.

The shopping was successful and I came home with another bag of the alleged moss eating lawn food and Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some suitable clothing.

When we got  home, I gave the front lawn a dose of the lawn mixture as there is still plenty of moss there waiting to be eaten.  It had rained on us while we were shopping at Gretna and the rain caught up with us again as I was treating the lawn, so I had to scurry to get it done before getting soaked.

After that, I returned to doing nothing, although I did perk up for long enough to watch Andy Murray’s return to competitive tennis.

We are going to London tomorrow for a few days to see family so I am hoping to post a brief phone blog each day while we are away.  It promises to be quite warm while we are down there, and as we are not used to high temperatures, I hope we survive and don’t melt away.

The flying bird of the day is a welcome sighting of a lone chaffinch which paid us a visit.

flying chaffinch June

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs (rather smokey) heritage trains between Duffield and Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Peak District.  By the way, Henry Ellison was built in 1947 so it may be heritage but it is still younger than me.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Easter Sunday was another day of splendid weather, with sun from dawn till dusk and it would have been possible to sit out in the garden all day if we had wanted to.

But we had other things to do, starting with a visit to church to sing with our choir.

We had some guest singers with us today as we sang the Hallelujah Chorus as our anthem and with six sopranos, five altos, four basses and two tenors we made a very reasonable sound.  We are between ministers at the moment and the services are being run by a sort of works committee.  They are making a very good job of it so it was an excellent start to the day.

We had a cup of coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal planted some potatoes in the new bed.  When she had done that, she set about making a Swiss roll with lemon curd.  My Achilles tendon was still very tender so apart from wandering gently about the garden dead heading daffodils and taking occasional pictures of both delicate…

pulmonaria, lamium

…and ostentatious flowers…

end of drive colour april

…I was happy to have a particularly complicated crossword to spend time puzzling over.

After lunch, it seemed like too good a day to spend at home so we went on a small expedition by bicycle.  Our mission was to see how the repairs on the Tarras road had progressed since we last saw them two months ago, when they looked like  this…

tarras roadworks scene

Our route took us along the bank of the river Esk where we were entertained by a pair of male goosanders on a fishing trip and Mr Grumpy poising on a rock.

goosander and heron

There are definitely less attractive roads to pedal along in springtime than this one.

Broomholm road out

We saw lots of wild flowers on our trip…

violet, anemone, primrose and celandine

…so we had to stop a number of times before we got to the works.  When we finally arrived, it looked as though the re-building of the road was nearly complete…

new tarras road top

…and when we took a closer look, it was plain that a substantial embankment had been built complete with landscaping and drainage and the road put back on top of it.  The workers had been busy and it shouldn’t be too long before the road is surfaced and open to traffic again.

new tarras road banking

Instead of cycling straight home, we turned right past this tree…

tree broomholmshiels

..waved to some Easter lambs…

lambs broomholmshiels

…and puffed up the hill to the Laverock Hide bird feeders which are now being run by a new project called Wild Eskdale.

There wasn’t much wildlife about today though.  Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies in vain for any glimpse of a raptor while I sat in the hide and watched a number of chaffinches and siskins.

I did get one good march past though…

pheasant at laverock hide

…and saw a great tit too.

great tit at laverock hide

I wasn’t complaining though as it was very pleasant just to be sitting there on a beautiful warm day.

I had a look at one of the larches before we set off home.

larch tree at Laverock hide

The trip home, involving some serious downhill work…

Broomholm road back

….was over a good deal more quickly than the trip out and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to a cup of tea and two slices of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Swiss roll which was so delicious that it took iron self control to stop at just two slices.

The six mile cycle ride had actually helped my Achilles tendon problem to ease off a lot and I was able to walk round the garden with no pain at all when I went out to look at the tulips.

pink tulip

Which were well worth a look…

orange tulip sun

…as a little late afternoon sun enhances everything in general but tulips in particular…

red tulip sun

…either singly or in a clump.

cloud of tulips

I admired a bergenia…

bergenia in sun

…and was delighted to note that the first apple blossoms are beginning to come out…

apple blossom

…before picking some rhubarb for stewing and going in to have a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie for my tea, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

As both my feet feel not too bad tonight, I am hoping to get out for some exercise tomorrow but the trick will be to take some but not too much.  The forecast is offering us two more lovely days before rain arrives so I hope to make the best of them that I can.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch approaching the feeder with care and attention.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who met this violinist in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.  The exhibition is called “Too Cute”.

Brum fiddler

I had a restless but inactive day as my dratted foot went from being more or less pain free at breakfast to extremely sore by the end of the day.  I am frustrated.  What is best? Rest? Exercise?  A mixture of both?  I can’t wait to see the doctor on Friday.

Meanwhile a disjointed post will accurately reflect a disjointed day.  The best thing about it was that Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough to go off to an embroidery meeting in Hawick where they combined business with lunch and I have no doubt that the banter had them all in stitches.

I made frequent forays in search of flowers and found a promising tulip…

nearly a tulip

…an actual aubretia…

aubretia

…a dog tooth violet (a candidate for seeing if mirror photography will work)…

dog tooth violet

…and a little lamium.

lamium

Mrs Tootlepedal  is mildly vexed to find that the jackdaws have now removed nearly all of her wool mulch for their nests.

no wool left

It was a warmish day with a bit of chill still in the wind but we were short of sunshine and I had to rely on the daffodils along the back path…

daffodil path

…and some that our neighbour Kenny planted along the dam at the back of the house to bring some brightness into the day.

dam daffodils

Other flowers were available.

cowslippy thing

The magnolia has come out.

open magnolia flower

The birds emptied the feeder again today with siskins and goldfinches the first to get tucked in…

siskin and goldfinch and food

…but with chaffinches arriving to get their share too.

one chaffinche on each side

As the seeds  went down, things got heated.

arguing chaffinches

HEALTH WARNING:

The next part of the post contains composting pictures which those of a nervous disposition may find too exciting for their own good.

In the afternoon, while Mrs Tootlepedal was away, I turned my hand to some gentle composting.  I sieved some more of Bin D and finished emptying Bin B into Bin C.

This left Bin C (on the left) and Bin D (on the right) looking like this.

Bin C and Bin D

Bin B is now ready for refilling from Bin A…

Bin B empty

…but as Bin A is only half full….

Bin A half full

…I can take a break from turning compost for a bit.

The end product of the system is this.

two buckets of composy

Mrs Tootlepedal will soon find a home for it in the flower beds and vegetable garden.

Of course, you don’t have to do turning and shifting and sieving as you can just leave your compost in a great heap and let time do its work but where is the fun in that?

I had rung up the phone company in the morning to complain that the fallen telephone wire which is lying across our garden had not been fixed back up again.  The men who came on Friday had promised that someone would come on Monday to do the job.

Rather to my surprise, I got through almost immediately to a very competent and helpful lady in India who told me that the job had been marked as closed for some reason but she said that she would start a new job and get someone round as soon as possible….and with the right ladder!

She gave me a window of 48 hours in which to expect them but she must have added strong words to her case report as no less than three men came round in the afternoon.  I was pleased to hear that they had brought the blue ladder with them too.

Things went downhill a bit after that as having inspected the pole in our garden, they declared that it was so unsafe that they could not lean a ladder against it under any circumstances, blue or not, for fear of knocking the pole and its live wires over.

Of course the pole doesn’t belong to them as it is the property of the energy company so that means more delay.  They did think of taking the phone wire across the garden by a different route but that would have involved using one of their own poles beside the dam and when they looked at it, they found that it was decidedly wonky too, being over 60 years old.

New poles all round seems to be what is needed.

But as we have been waiting for six years to get the pole in our garden replaced, we are not holding our breath.  Something may happen as the phone company men are going to report to the electricity company  men that the pole is dangerous and the  telephone wire is still draped across our garden…

fallen wire with sandbags

..though it does have additional official sandbags on it now.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm Choir and found that we have had a concert arranged for us next Tuesday for which at the time of writing, we have no conductor, no accompanist, not many singers and no music.  It promises to be an interesting event.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch female

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba.  It was sent to her by a friend and was taken by her friend’s nephew, James Greig .  James farms near Melita, MB and is the third generation to work that land.  He has a good eye for a photo and those interested can find a lot more of his work here.

james fieldscape

Thanks to the long spell of good weather, I have got well behind schedule when it comes to putting the data miners’ work into the newspaper index database on the Archive Group website so I am going to have to cut down on words and pictures in the blog posts for a bit while I catch up.  (Enormous sigh of relief, politely masked, from beleaguered blog readers.)

Looking back, it is eight years since I started this on-line diary on June 16th 2010 with a post of 45 words and one picture.  Things have gone downhill since then.  I have had 2921 posts and I think that my sister Susan has read every one!

Anyway, here is briefer than usual summary of my day.

I got up early, had breakfast and got on my bike for the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  I stopped twice.

Canonbie umbellifer

Umbellifer at Canonbie Bridge (Hogweed Heraculeum sphondylium?)

view from hollows bridge

The view from Hollows Bridge

The combination of the early start and a brisk breeze caught my legs napping and I found it hard work but I got home in time for coffee and a walk round the garden.

Two shrubs which had Mrs Tootlepedal worried earlier in the year have done better than expected.

weigela

The Weigela is flourishing

cotoneaster

And the Cotoneaster is producing flowers

The bad weather has hit the lupins badly.  They were doing so well in the good weather, it is sad to see them now.

bent lupins

 

There is plenty of white about

jacobite rose

Jacobite rose with visitor.

philadelphus

Yet another Philadelphus coming out

I like this Euphorbia.  It gives me the impression that it is the result of a potato print by a competent child in the school art class.

euphorbia

 

The espalier apples are showing the benefit of some hand pollinating during our cold and beeless spring.

young apples

I went in and made some soup for lunch and watched the birds.

siskin at feeder

A young siskin works out how to land on a perch

goldfinch

It makes a man cry when a fine flying bird of the day hides behind a pole

After lunch, I mowed the middle and front lawns and then gained extra credit with the gardener by going round with the lawn edger.  A little compost sieving followed and that completed the energetic part of the day.  It was really windy which made taking flower pictures difficult and it was grey and chilly which made a walk unattractive so I did what I needed to and went inside and put a week of the newspaper index into the database.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive session.  Onwards and upwards.

I watched the first half of the England world cup football match but watching England trying to play the ball out of defence always makes me nervous so I wrote the blog during the second half.  I noticed that they won so well done England.

The flower of the day is the lamium, which after a slow start, is going great guns.

lamium

And a FBotD too.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the misty mountains of Madeira.

madeira

As I am still resting my singing voice under doctor’s orders, Mrs Tootlepedal went by herself to sing in the church choir while I kept myself busy at home.

I may have occasionally glanced about as I went about my business…

butter and sugar iris

more butter and sugar irises are out

…but there was washing to be hung out….

yellow onion

and a handsome yellow oniony sort of thing has come out too

…lawns to be mowed…

lupins

the kindly weather has meant that the lupins are out from bottom to top of their stems

…and watered…

lupin close up

.and worth a closer look as well

…the car windscreen to be cleared of huge amounts of squashed insects (we had hardly any insects last year bit this year numbers seem to have recovered)….

philadelphus with roses

a large philadelphus with a scattering of roses in the back corner of the front lawn

…a second load of washing to be hung out…

astrantia

a garden in a single flower

…a sausage stew to be prepared for the slow cooker…

foxgloves

foxgloves are popping up everywhere

…and quite a bit of watering to be done too….

spirea bridal wreath

a better look at the tiny spirea flowers

…in spite of a forecast of thunderstorms later in the day (after yesterday’s disappointments, we weren’t taking the forecast seriously)…

lamium

and the lamium has burst in flower too

…so there was hardly any time to look at flowers at all.

hawkweed and white flowers

 

Mrs Tootlepedal is considering scattering more of the white flowers among the orange hawkweed for next year.  I think that that would be a good idea.

I did take a look at the hydrangea on the wall of the house.  Uninstructed people like me might imagine that the big white things are the important part of the flowers….

hydrangea

…but bees know better where the real interest lies.

bee on hydrangea

A blackbird took advantage of the lawn watering to have a quick shower.

blackbird having shower

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and got busy in the garden.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon waiting for the rain to come.  We were entertained by some prolonged rumbles of thunder but the lightning that caused them must have been a good distance away as we saw no evidence of it at all.

monument from garden

In spite of some very dark skies to the north of the town, the monument stayed bathed in sunshine and only a few drops of rain came with the thunder.

I had taken a camera upsatirs in the hope of some lightning shots but had to make do with looking at the birds instead.  They came to the feeder below the window, apparently quite unworried by the rumbling overhead.

goldfinch

goldfinch (2)

Two siskins felt the need to quarrel.

fighting siskins

It did start to rain more heavily eventually and for a while, it looked as though it was going to take things seriously but in the end, we only got a couple of short showers, enough to wet the garden which was welcome but not enough to store up some moisture on the ground for the future.

Now the threat of thunder and lightning has receded, I hope to get out on the bike again next week.

The flower of the day is the  Ooh La La Clematis, a pretty flower with an awful name.

Ooh La La clematis

 

 

 

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