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Posts Tagged ‘leycesteria’

Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my Highland correspondent.  We have been having some good sunrises here and may be there is something in the air at the moment because she had a spectacular one too.

Highland Sunrise

It was another cold day with the thermometer hanging about the 5 degree mark at best but a nipping and an eager air made the wind chill factor a neat zero.

Under the circumstances, I was pleased to get out on my bicycle, if not early, then at least before I had sat down to waste time over coffee and a biscuit, my usual delaying tactic.

I took a simple out and back route to avoid any long effort cycling straight into the chilly wind though I did take a short diversion up to Cleuchfoot…

Cleuchfoot glen

…where I stopped to take a picture of a tiny valley that runs down to the road.  It looks as though it might lead somewhere exciting but in fact it only leads out onto a boggy and featureless moor.  Once I was back on the Lockerbie road, I was very pleased to see men and machines hard at work at the site of the recent landslip.

mending the Lockerbie road 2

No one had expected work to start so promptly.

I passed them and cycled on to the top of the hill at Callister where I was passed by half a dozen quarry lorries who were busy at the site of the new wind farm there.  There is no sign of the turbine towers yet so they are either improving the access road or building the bases.

I stopped at the road works on my way back and was very impressed by how well they have sorted the problem.

mending the Lockerbie road 1

I was curious about the black plastic pipes sunk into the surface of the works and one of the men told me that they are going to be holders for the new fence posts. He said that he thought that the repair was sound and would last well and as he turned out to be one of my ex-pupils, I have every confidence that he will be right.

On my return to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out of the other side and since the sun was now fully out, I stopped to record my favourite view up the Ewes valley….

Ewes Valley

…and the neighbouring farmhouse.

Terrona

I clocked up twenty miles and was quite happy to stop before I got chilled.

I had a quick look at the birds and was shocked to see a male chaffinch being beastly to a female…

cahffinch misogyny

…but pleased to see that our lone siskin was back again.

siskin

I made some soup for my lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

Fuelled by the soup and a couple of tomato rolls, I went out for a walk.

I started off along the riverside path and then headed uphill through the Kernigal wood.  There has been a lot of wind blow lately and it was good to see that someone had been out with a saw and done some tidying up.

kernigal wood tidying

Perhaps this is because I was walking along the track you can see on the right of the picture below which is much used by local mountain bikers.

kernigal wood

It is very welcome for walkers as it provides a good path through a tangly bit of forest.

I came out at the top of the wood and walked back down the track towards Skippers Bridge.  I didn’t have my thinking head on when I chose my route and I was rather upset to realise that if I had been walking on the other side of the valley, I would have been enjoying a sunny day.

winter sunshine on whita

In fact when I looked around, I found that almost everywhere was bathed in sunlight except where I was walking.

winter sunshine on Castle Hill

When I got down to the main road, I found that winter had cleared enough foliage away to give me a view of the large bridge for a small stream which almost all motorists probably pass over without noticing as they leave the town for the south.

Culvert at Skippers

I didn’t dilly dally on my way home as it wasn’t getting any warmer but I did stop to check out the black smudge on the fence at Land’s End which turns out to be this very attractive lichen, still in excellent condition…

fungus on fence at lands end

…and to see if the fungus on the tree at the Co-op had survived the cold weather.  It had and was even bigger than when I saw it last…

fungus at Co-op

…and it too looked to be in good condition.

fungus gill

As I walked back along the river bank, a glimpse of brightness among the gloom on the far bank caught my eye.  It was an old friend disguised as a twig.

heron in shadows

Back in the garden, I found a little remaining colour on the leycestaria…

leycesteria

…but there was nothing else of note so I went inside and did the crossword.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had taken our car away and my friend and customary chauffeur Susan was on holiday in Glasgow, I had no way of getting to Carlisle and back for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.  They are kind people though and on the Mohammed and the mountain principle, since I could not get to them, they came out to me and we had a most enjoyable evening of music making.

We were just having our post-playing cup of tea and biscuit when Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely from Edinburgh and that rounded off a cold day very warmly.

I didn’t find a moment with both good light and a flying bird in it so that is the reason for a very scrappy flying bird of the day picture.

flying chffainch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited Tamworth recently and found the castle gardens looking well kept.

Tamworth

We had another fine day here today and indeed there was only 1 cm of rain in Mary Jo’s rain gauge when I looked this evening so we have had a pretty dry week.  It has been a windy month though and the wind was nagging away again this morning.  I did get into my cycling gear but some really heavy gusts persuaded me that yesterday’s ride was enough for the time being and I changed back into my lounging around clothes and lounged around in a very professional manner for the rest of morning and a lot of the afternoon.

I roused myself enough to cycle round to the corner shop to get materials to make a sausage stew and then had to rouse myself again to go back and get the sausages which  had forgotten to buy.

I filled the bird feeder and had a brief look at the birds.

chaffinch posing

chaffinch arguing

The women’s race in the cycling world championships gave both Mrs Tootlepedal and me a good excuse to watch others taking exercise but when it finished, we thought that the sunny day made some outdoor activity more or less compulsory.  She did some gardening and I went for a walk after spending a few minutes looking for flowers in the garden.

late september flowers

As long as there are flowers with butterflies in them, I will keep taking their pictures.

buttefly on dahlia

My walk was a short three bridges affair because although it was sunny, there was a distinct nip in the air from the breeze.

I saw two lonely gulls beside the river….

gulls by river

…and an old friend near the Town Bridge.

heron

I looked back as I crossed the bridge….

bewteen the bridges

…and then headed along the Kilngreen and across the Sawmill Brig onto the Castleholm.

I enjoyed the sunny views….

Trees from castleholm

…and the hints of autumn colour….

trees on back of Lodge walks

…which were quite pronounced in a few places.

autumn colour

Sadly this promising spot of colour had been laid low by the recent storm.

fallen tree castleholm

There were several crops of fungus on old tree stumps…

fungus on Duchess Bridge path

…and I wondered if I could see a small gnome glaring at me from the back of this bunch.

fungus on Castleholm

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work and I thought that I ought to try to be useful so I mowed the middle and front lawns with the mower blades set suitably high for a late season cut.  I was surprised how much growth there had been in the grass and was able to add a handy amount to the compost bin.

I had to have a sit down when I had finished.

mown lawn september

The dry week had left the lawns quite easy to mow and although the moss is making a come back, they are looking as well as can be expected at this time of year.

When I was putting the grass in the compost bin, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out how well the leycesteria formosa is doing.

leycestera

It was an uninvited guest but it is looking so good that it may well become part of the new planting scheme at the back of the vegetable garden next year.

I made the sausage stew and ate some of it for my tea.

We have a busy day of singing ahead tomorrow so I have finished my cycling for September.  In spite of some very windy weather, I have managed to keep up to my mileage target for the year although I didn’t get as many miles in as I had hoped.  I will need a kindly October or some very good wet weather clothing to keep me up to scratch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch caught in one of the cloudy moments of an otherwise lovely day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  It shows the Houses of Parliament which is nominally the seat of our government.  Sadly, we are currently not being governed at all.

View from Lambeth Bridge

In a shocking challenge to the established order, it rained today…

wet poppy

…but as it only rained for about five minutes and not very hard at that, it didn’t make any difference and I still had to potter about watering anything I thought might benefit from it.

I also managed some weeding and a little strimming of the paths in the vegeatble garden and I edged the middle lawn.

It was cloudy and definitely a bit cooler than it has been so that was very welcome.  Encouraged by this, I got my bike out after coffee and the crossword and set out to see how my legs were feeling.

They were feeling fine so I did a 32 mile circle of familiar roads at a gentle pace (I was trying hard but the pace was gentle), keeping an eye out for anything interesting.  Once again, I found that if I stopped and looked around, there was usually something to look at.

My first stop was not far from the town.

orchid

There are orchids and red soldier beetles all over the place.

red soldier beetles

I stopped about 2o miles further on to check out a verge.

wild flowers 1

There was a good variety of flowers to be seen.

On my next stop, about 4 miles from home, there was an even greater variety.

There were all these…

wild flowers 3wild flowers 2wild flowers 4

…and many more.

wild flowers 5

Looking at the hedges and verges certainly keeps me occupied while I am pedalling along….and give me a good excuse for stops for a breather.

The light wind and cooler temperature made for very agreeable cycling conditions and I had worked up an appetite for a sardine, lettuce and potato salad for a late lunch when I got home.

I watched the bird feeder while I was in the kitchen.

Two sparrows posed artistically for me.

sparrows

An interesting time trial in the Tour de France gave me a good excuse for a rest after lunch and then a visit from Mike Tinker caused me to stir my stumps and get back out into the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a lovely afternoon.

I mixed a little more watering with some flower watching.

The new iris is adding to its charm…

lily

…and the tall sunflowers are reaching ever higher into the sky.

sunflower

The calendulas don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

calendula 1

…and have a nice assortment of styles.

calendula 2

Then I had to go in and have a shower and get ready for my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  As I hadn’t done any practice for a fortnight, I couldn’t complain too much about his lack of practice.  He has just started his first job so I suppose he has other things to think about at the moment.

I picked some peas and beans for my tea and enjoyed them with some fish cakes and then I had a selection from the cheese board to round off the meal.

One last expedition to the garden for watering followed, where I noticed that a leycesteria has flowered underneath the apple tree….

leycesteria

…checked out another of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new nicotianas…

nicotiana

…and discussed the political situation with a couple of blackbirds.

blackbirds

The flying bird of the day picture is provided by the aerial ballet department.

flying siskin and flying sparrow

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A last look at the Kelpies is Bruce’s guest picture of the day.

Kelpies

We were greeted by another cold and sunny day today but as the temperature had risen a degree or two and the north wind had slacked off a bit, it was a more promising day.

It was still pretty cold in the morning so I was more than happy to sit inside, drinking Ethiopian coffee and easting the traditional Friday treacle scones that Dropscone brought round.

He has been quite pleased that it has been too cold to play golf lately as the state of his game has been giving him no pleasure.  I am hoping that this little break will do his game some good.

Normally, I would spend a fair bit of time on a morning like this glancing out of the kitchen window and enjoying the antics of the finches on the feeder but today the garden went all Rachel Carson and there were no finches to be seen.

Not any?  Not any.

Not any at all? Well hardly any.

Honestly, I only saw three finches all morning…

greenfinch

…and they didn’t stop.  We suspected that a sparrowhawk might be lurking and putting off visitors but on the hedges, under the feeder and in the plum tree, blackbirds…

blackbird

…dunnocks…

dunnock

This one was checking out some apples which I have put on the bench.

…and no less than four robins scampered about very freely.  I know that there were four robins because I saw them all at the same time.  I think that we might have two couples as there was some chasing going on but quite often two robins seem happy to co-exist.

I took a lot of robin pictures but it is hard to tell whether I got shots of four different birds or four shots of the same bird.

robin

It is a real treat to have so many robins about.

I went out into to the garden to see if I could see a sparrowhawk lurking but I only saw a robin sitting on the fence.

robin

There was a sudden rush of finches just after lunch….

BUSY FEEDER

…and a little unpleasantness too among the greenfinches…

greenfinches

..but it was a small rush and it didn’t last long.  We will have to wait until tomorrow to see whether this is a temporary phenomenon or not.    It was quite worrying to see so few birds.

However, it was less worrying to find that the temperature had climbed to a balmy 4.4°C after lunch so I put on a stout jacket and set off for a short pedal on my slow bike to check the state of the roads.  Because of the combination of my prolonged cold and some very unsympathetic weather, I only cycled three times in the whole of November,  totting up the grand total of sixty miles.

The roads proved to be pretty well ice free today, though a little care was needed at some very damp and sheltered corners, and I enjoyed my outing very much.  I was in no hurry and stopped to take pictures as I went along.

The sun brought a little warmth but the hills and fields are looking very wintery now.

Wauchope field

One of my favourite trees near the Bigholms.

Wauchope field

The wide blue yonder.  I turned for home at the end of the straight.

callister

Brown is the predominate colour now.

wauchope view

I was surprised to see this little crop of fungus looking quite healthy beside the road.

fungus

The sun was still out when I got home so after taking a picture of a Leycesteria in the garden which has obstinately remained out….

leycesteria

…..I took the opportunity to walk round my Langholm, Sawmill and Jubilee Bridges short walk in the hope of catching a flying gull.

There were gulls about….

black headed gulls

…but they obstinately refused to leave their posts….

black headed gulls

…so I had to make do with some late afternoon sunshine on the Kilngreen…

Kiln Green

…some trees silhouetted against the sinking sun…

bare trees

…and any amount of interesting lichen.

lichenlichenlichen

It was just about dark by the time that I got home so I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been test driving the cooking of a vegetarian recipe while I had been out.

In the evening, having eaten the vegetarian meal, we were delighted to welcome Mike and Alison for the first Friday evening visit for some weeks.  What pleased me most about the visit was that it meant that there was Friday evening music again after quite a gap.

Alison and I played Telemann, Loeillet, Rameau and Marcello and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these old musical friends.  If we weren’t exactly note perfect after the lay off. we hit enough right notes to keep us happy.

And of course the playing and cycling made for a Tootlepedalling day and filled a cold winter’s day with warm feelings.

The flying bird of the day is not a good picture but i felt that since the robins had stayed while the finches had deserted us, one of them deserved the accolade.

flying robin

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Today’s guest picture was sent by Mary Jo from Manitoba to contrast with her recent snowy scene at home.  It shows England in the summer, taken when she visited Salisbury earlier this year.

salisbury

A very brief post today as we didn’t get back from Edinburgh until nearly eleven o’clock.

I still have the cold so I went for a short walk in the morning.

The larches are still golden.

lartches

The hardy cattle are out on the hill, impervious to frost and rain.

hillcattle

The bare trees let me look at the Wauchope Water.

wauchope water

I was very surprised to find this leycesteria beside the path.  I have never noticed it before.

leycesteria

I was less surprised to find lichen on the park wall among the moss.

lichen

When I got home and checked, I found that our leycesteria was doing very well too.

leycesteria

There was just time for an early lunch when I got back and then we drove off to Tweedbank to catch the slow train to Edinburgh.

When we got there, Mrs Tootlepedal had a bit of shopping for winter clothes to do and while she went inside, I stayed outside and took a look at Sir Walter sitting underneath his monument and some very brave souls who had climbed the many stairs to peer out at the world from the highest turret above his head.

Scott Monument

Shopping done, we caught the bus to Matilda’s and found that her father had an even worse cold than mine.

We had hours of fun with Matilda including football in the garden.  Not only is she developing some fancy footwork….

Matilda in garden

…but she shows a pleasing willingness to track back when necessary, an example to some of our highly paid professionals.

Matilda in garden

Mrs Tootlepedal also passed on some gardening skills.

Matilda in garden

We went in for Snap and Pelmanism and many good games involving Dr Matilda and her patients.

We left before tea today as we had arranged to meet our other son Tony with his partner Marianne and her children Dylan and Tash for a meal to celebrate Marianne’s recent birthday.

We chatted so pleasantly that we missed the five to eight train home but we were not worried as we knew that the trains go every half hour…..or, as we found out when we got to the station after passing under this elegant archway…

Waverley archway

…. every half hour until eight o’clock….and then every hour.

As a result, we spent some time having a cup of hot chocolate in a cafe and arrived home a bit later than planned.  Nevertheless, it had been a good family day all round.

I only had time for a single non flying bird of the day today.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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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…

haws

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

sloes

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.

Potentilla

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.

poppy

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.

dahlia

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.

Leycesteria

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

jasmine

The very last of the geraniums are looking pretty.

geranium

A late daisy.

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….

earthworm

…and we were not the only ones interested.

blackbird

Robin

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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