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Posts Tagged ‘lilac’

Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce’s recent walk.  As well as his uncommunicative stranger, he encountered fifty shades of green.  I don’t think there can be a greener local view than this one.

bruces esk valley view

After the excitements of yesterday, it was back to the well trodden paths of lockdown today.  I rose late, ate a leisurely breakfast, did the crossword and then got up in time to have a walk round the garden before coffee.  Everything was as it should be.

In the garden, alliums are working towards spherical perfection…

allium close up

…and the flowers on the tree peony are looking promising.

potentional peony tree

The downside of the tree peony is that by the time that the flowers come fully out, they are often covered up by the leaves.

I liked the delicate red trim on the petals of the last of the yellow tulips…

tint on yellow tulip

…and the way that the yellow azalea encourages visitors.

yellow azalea stamens

Pollinators have been doing their work in the garden as these potential plums show.

potential plums

I had time to wonder about what had caused the petals on this Icelandic poppy to go white…

tinted poppy

…before it was time for our socially distanced street coffee break.

It was a bit warmer today so we chatted for longer and the world must be a better place as we certainly put it to rights.

After coffee, we went back into the garden and had a wander round before getting down to work.

The peonies are just about ready to burst into flower.

potentional peony bed

This azalea was part of a panel yesterday but it is so rich that I thought that it deserved a place of its own today.

deep red azalea

It was a cool morning again but the sun was warm enough to encourage petals to open generously on tulips….

tulip

…and the lilac.

lilac

Mrs Tootlepedal, being a true artist, is never quite satisfied with the way the garden is, so today’s task was to open up the view from the front door by cutting back the box hedges on each side of the path to the lawn.

I remembered to take a before and after picture for once.  This was the scene at ten to twelve…

P1050992

…and this was a scene an hour later after a lot of hard work had removed four of the little box bushes that make up the edges.

 

hedge trimming start

When I looked at the pictures on the computer in the evening, it became apparent that I had chosen totally the wrong angle for the shot and it doesn’t look as though Attila and her henchman had made much difference at all.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal returned to the task of widening the gap and I went off for a cycle ride.

It was reasonably warm in theory but a cold and blustery wind made picking the right amount of clothes to wear a tricky problem.

I put on too many and since I was feeling a bit tired and grumpy because of the wind, I didn’t enjoy my ride as much as usual and it took me a long time to get round my familiar Canonbie circuit.

It was a pleasant enough day with plenty of sun on my route but I only stopped for two pictures, this one of the big structures which have been put up under the power lines at Canonbie, prior to work on the lines….

canonbie pylons

…and this one at Byreburn where the varied colours caught my eye.

byrebrun houses

When I got home, I took a third picture to show Mrs Tootlepedal’s hedge reducing work in my absence…

hedge trimming

…and she reckons that about six foot of hedging has been removed.  That may not sound much, but she had done an amazing amount of work.

There may be another plant to be removed tomorrow to make the gap exactly equal on each side of the path but the task is almost complete.  Most of the box cuttings have been shredded and some are already back in the garden as mulch round the bottom of another portion of the hedge.

I walked up the road from the front gate to record the first honeysuckle flower in the hedge there.  I had noticed it as I cycled back home.

honeysuckle road

Beside it a viburnum is in flower.

viburnum

This plant comes from a cutting from a plant that came from a cutting that Mrs Tootlepedal took near an underpass while going shopping in Carlisle many years ago.

I looked over the hedge to get a ‘passer by’ look at a colourful corner…

colourful corner from road

…and went in to have a cup of tea and a late look at the bird feeder.

chaffinches and sparrows

Chaffinches and sparrows were stocking up.

In the morning, the postman had delivered a parcel containing no less than  six sorts of tea: Orange Blossom Oolong, Keemun Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong, Nuwara Eliya Black Tea, and Assam Broken Gold Tips Tea ~ GFBOP ~ Summer, so I should be alright for a cuppa for the next few days at least.

In a turn up for the books, we got a little rain this evening, just a little rain to be sure, but very welcome all the same.

The flying bird of the day is one of the sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this very colourful field on one of his permitted walks.  He can’t say what it is that the farmer is growing.

andrew's red field

My day started with a Zoom visit to Australia. My sister Susan’s friend Stephen has contributed guest pictures to the blog and as she was scheduled to talk him, she thought that I ought to take this opportunity to visit him digitally too.  The technology is amazing and there seems to be no difference at all in talking to someone in Edinburgh or someone in Sydney.  My sister and I had a very enjoyable conversation with Stephen and his wife and I hope to get more guest pictures from him when he is able to get out and about freely again.

It was very cold here today and there had even been a little rain overnight.  A very brisk and cold wind was making an urgent case for a return to winter clothing and this was particularly annoying as it was the 89th birthday of our socially distanced street coffee morning participant Margaret.  We had hoped to give her a socially distant street birthday party.  In the end, it was a rather brief and huddled experience but we sang Happy Birthday and ate cake so we did our best.

All being well, we will have a really good street do for  Margaret’s ninetieth next year.

Although it wasn’t really a day for gardening, some gardening needed to be done.  Things needed watering as the overnight rain was pathetic, and things needed to be propped up and protected from the cold wind, and of course, things needed to be photographed.

I like the contrasts that Mrs Tootlepedal has between the softness of cow parsley and honesty and geums, and the brilliance of hostas and rhododendrons.

rhododendron, wild garden flowers, hosta

And I liked the prospect of lettuce and marmite sandwiches for lunch today and mashed potato in the future.

lettuce and potato

We didn’t stay out for too long and I was soon looking out of the window at the birds on the feeder.

There were contrasts there too, between small greenish birds having a nibble…

greenfinch and siskin

…and very big black birds eating us out of house and home..

rook on feeder

We went back out into the garden to check on a new bench.  It had been delivered with such expert social distancing that we didn’t even realise that it had arrived.

new bench

It will replace an old favourite which unfortunately has started to fall to pieces becuase people will insist on sitting on it.  As this one has been made long enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to stretch out and relax on it during those lazy, hazy days of summer still to come, we think that it might need another plank on the seat to stop her falling through the crack at the back.

While we were out, I noted the first flowers on a Sweet Rocket…

sweet rocket

…more euphorbia madness….

euphorbia

..and some lilac blossom.

lilac blossom

Not everything in the garden is full colour though.  There is always an element of greenness about too.

green garden

Then it was back inside for lunch and another look at the birds.

There was considerable goldfinch and greenfinch traffic…

goldfinches

…and one naughty goldfinch thought that it could hide behind the feeder pole and behave badly undetected.

goldfinches kicking

The forecast had been very gloomy and the morning matched the forecast, but by the afternoon, the sun was shining brightly enough to persuade Mrs Tootlepedal to go out for a walk, ignoring the still very chilly and brisk wind.  As it wasn’t an attractive day for bicycling, I was more than happy to go with her.

We stood on the town bridge and looked down. The rocks appeared under the clear water in the shadow of the bridge and the sun glinted on the ripples beyond giving this curious result.

reflection on bridge

We saw a gull, a small tortoiseshell butterfly and a thrush all enjoying their moment in the sun as we walked along.

gull, small tortoiseshell, thrush

We headed up the hill for the track along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and marvelled at the freshness of the colour…

track abive pathhead

…and the bluebells which were to be seen on every side.

bluebells near north lodge

I showed Mrs Tootlepedal the track above the North Lodge which I had followed for the first time a few weeks ago.  It ended at this beautiful tree.

bright tree

Going along the forestry road at the end of the track, we passed a lot of this lysimachia nemorum or yellow pimpernel.

lysimachia nemorum

I haven’t seen it anywhere else this year, but perhaps I haven’t been looking carefully enough.

There has been tree felling here, and as is often the case, the timber company has left one or two lone trees still standing.

tree above longfauld

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a particularly strong violet and it made the blues of the bluebells and bugleweed look a bit pale in comparison.

bluebell, violet and ajuga

We dropped down through another patch of bluebells…

bluebell woods longfauld

…and joined the track back to the Castleholm, passing any number of lovely trees on the way.

trees on castleholm may

If we had stopped for every photo opportunity on our walk, we would never have got home in time for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit or two.  (I had providentially made the biscuits during the morning.)

The walk was three and a half miles of pure springtime pleasure, and it was all the more enjoyable because we hadn’t expected the weather to let us get out for a walk at all, let alone one that was so sunny and relatively warm (when we were sheltered from the wind).

I had my second Zoom conversation of the day with my brother and sisters and then enjoyed an excellent evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal (I did the washing up).

Looking at the forecast, we are due for another near freezing morning tomorrow but there is still no proper rain in sight so it looks like more watering in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, probably searching for someone to kick.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture has gone all Instagram and shows a rather dainty meal that my two oldest sisters enjoyed on  a bank holiday outing last Monday.  It is only here because I have run out of up to date guest pictures again.  I thank everyone who sent me pictures that I didn’t use because I had too many at the same time and if necessary, I will delve into the archives to retrieve one or two.

sisters' lunch

We had another frosty morning here today but things warmed up quickly and with a light wind and some sunshine, it turned unto a very reasonable day.

I echoed the frosty start by applying a pack of frozen peas to my ankle and this had the effect of enabling me to walk about a bit more comfortably than I had been able to do yesterday evening.

All the same, I kept pretty quiet and cycled very carefully up to town to run a couple of necessary errands.

When I got back, the sun tempted me to walk round the garden.

There are Welsh poppies on every side now…

welsh poppy in sun

…and it is lilac blossom time too.

lilac in shade

Edible and decorative strawberries are showing new flowers…

two straberries

…but the alpine clematis looks as though it has had one too many chilly mornings and seems a bit depressed.

droppy alpine clematis

Generally though, the garden looked a bit more cheerful in the sun and there were more bees about…

three purple flowers

…though not nearly as many as we would like.

The house was in some confusion as we had the joiner in doing repairs but I found a quiet corner to do the crossword and catch up with the news in the paper and when the joiner had finished, I made some lentil soup for lunch.

I wasn’t the only one thinking of food…

jackdaw on peanuts

…but at least I got something to eat unlike the sparrowhawk who flew through without success and turned its back on the feeder in disgust.

back view of sparrowhawk

I don’t know whether this is a young bird but we have have several visits from it without losing any of our smaller friends lately so maybe it needs practice.

After lunch, I had another wander around.  With a forecast of warmer weather to come, perhaps the rhododendrons and azaleas will at last come fully out.  They are ready.

early rhododendron

I lied this composition of straight lines provided by alliums in front of the vegetable garden fence…

starightlines with alliums

…and I was very pleased to see the first pair of Dutchman’s Breeks of the year.

dutchman's trousers

It is also known as Bleeding Heart and I would call it a Dicentra but I see that I should really call it Lamprocapnos spectabilis now.   It is easier to spell Dicentra so I may keep calling it that.

The sun had persuaded the last of our tulips to stop being so straitlaced and relax a bit…

late tulip

…and in the pond, this tiny little creature was whirling round in circles creating waves.

small circulating pond creature

I think it may be the aptly named whirlygig beetle.

With a walk being out of the question, Mrs Tootlepedal came out with me for a short drive.  We started by visiting a very fruitful conifer a little way up the Wauchope road

red cones

It is very colourful sight with its mass of cones, some red and some brown.  I would welcome information from those who know as to whether the red cones are flowers and different from these cones on another branch…

cones in plenty

or whether they just the first stages and in the end they will all look the same.

We turned and drove back through the town and then up the hill onto the moor in the hope of seeing a hen harrier for Mrs Tootlepedal.  And on this occasion, her hopes were fulfilled as she was able to track a harrier flying across the moor and then soaring into the sky.

She followed it with binoculars but it was too far away for a photograph so I settled for a scenic view instead.

view up Tarras valley from Whita

The moor is not being grazed by sheep at the moment and this has led to young trees being able to take root and grow without being nibbled and I liked the symbolism of fresh trees growing in a disused sheep pen down in the valley below.

sheep pen on moor

Driving our new electric car is a roller coaster experience and as we went up the hill, the gauge which shows how many theoretical miles we have left dropped like a stone and we lost many more miles than we actually travelled.  However, as we came gently back down the hill, the gauge rose like a lark and we got back all our lost miles.  From a purely driving point of view, the car floats up the hill effortlessly.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike discussed gardening, Alison and I played a few sonatas.  We haven’t played for a bit and I found my fingers were very rusty but we had an enjoyable time nevertheless.

It was election night in Langholm, the time for the townspeople to chose the young man who will be cornet and carry the town’s standard at the Common Riding in July.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I had cycled along to vote earlier and as Alison and I played, the Town Band marched past our window, leading latecomers to the ballot box.  As they weren’t playing at the time, I didn’t notice them until they had gone past.

election night

I didn’t find a flying bird today and I name the guilty (but hungry) party.

sparrowhawk on garden chair

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Today’s guest picture is a second one from my brother Andrew’s recent walk in the Peak District.  He enjoyed this fine view of Wetton Hill from a nearby peak.

wetton hill

My feet were giving me some grief this morning so I had a very quiet time, rising late and doing no more than a little light mowing and some garden wandering.

A few new flowers were to be seen.  This is a polemonium or Jacob’s Ladder…

polemonium

…and this is the first of dozens, if not hundreds of clematis flowers on the plant that surrounds the garage door,

first garage clematis

Although parts of the garden are very neat and ordered, the back border has a more natural look.

back border

I was pleased to see that at least one of the poached egg flowers has developed a little white to go with a big yolk.

poached egg flower

The Charles Ross apple has so many blossoms that I thought that there wasn’t room for any more but a closer look showed that there are still a lot of buds waiting to open.

very blossomy charles ross apple

As there were no bees about, I went around with my little pollinating brush, buzzing in an encouraging way as I dusted the flowers.

A euphorbia won the prize as the greenest thing in the garden today.

green euphorbia

The birds were hard at work and the feeder was half empty by lunchtime, leading to vigorous competition for places.

goldfinch and siskin in a scrap

Doubtless correctly worried by the possibility of being caught by a passing sparrowhawk, most birds are unwilling to risk sticking their necks out, but this goldfinch plunged right in.

goldfinch tucking head in

I filled the feeder though before we left to drive to Lockerbie in the new little white thingy to catch the train to Edinburgh.

Mrs Tootlepedal drove, her first go at driving an electric car any distance.  Like me, she found it very easy to drive, light on its feet and very responsive.  We arrived safely and made our way to the station where everything went wrong.  Our train wasn’t just late as usual, it was cancelled entirely.   They offered us the chance to wait for an hour and catch a train to Glasgow and then change to a train to Edinburgh.   As this would have got us to Matilda’s with roughly an hour in hand to talk, play, eat before leaving to catch our train home (if there was one), we declined the offer gracefully and went back to the car.  What made the whole thing worse was that Mrs Tootlepedal had made sticky toffee pudding especially.

It tuned out to be the fault of a signal failure somewhere up the line.

To cheer ourselves up, we extended our trip home to include a garden centre where we had a modest cream tea and Mrs Tootlepedal bought some stout garden string.  Not an entirely wasted outing then.

The sun was out and the first azalea of the year was enjoying itself.

red azalea

With the lilac and other azaleas on the way in and the tulips on the way out, there is plenty of colour about.

lilac, tulip, azalea

It was even warm enough for a blackbird to do a little sunbathing on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.

blackbirds on betty's garage

A lone bee was doing its best among the apple blossom…

bee with full sacs

…and I thought about a short cycle ride until I looked up and saw some very threatening clouds massing over the town….

clouds over holmwood

…so I went in and read the papers….and looked out of the window from time to time.

partridge and pigeon

Once I had decided to not to go for a bike ride, the clouds drifted off and the bird action continued.  Siskins are equal opportunity bullies and will attack anyone, friend or foe.

two fierce siskins

We were forced to have big helpings of sticky toffee pudding after our evening meal.  Ah well, it’s an ill wind…

According to the forecast, we are in for a week of much chillier weather starting tomorrow, with some early morning temperatures drifting down towards freezing again.  The cycling shorts are going back in the draw and we will welcome the return of the winter vests.

The flying bird of the day is a redpoll.  I see that it has been ringed so I wonder where it has come from.

flying redpoll

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Today’s guest picture shows an old bridge with more arches than water.  It came from my brother Andrew.  He tells me that it is the Segovia bridge in Madrid, over the river Manzanares. Completed in 1584, it is the oldest bridge in the city – the architect was ‎Juan de Herrera

bridge

The over night rain had stopped by the morning and I was able to get out for a standard twenty mile pedal down to Canonbie and back.  I hope that this will be the last on my slow bike for some time.

I wasn’t going to stop but my legs had other ideas so you can thank them for this view of bluebells in a roadside wood…

bluebells

…and the first look at some wild geums and a marigold which was playing host to a lot of insects.

geum and marigold

I had a choice between a chilly early start and a warmer windier later one and chose the windier option which resulted in a very slow bike ride indeed.  Still, I was pleased to get again as it meant that my hand is not suffering because of cycling.  I don’t know what set it off last week but I hope that it doesn’t do it again.

When I got home, I found that our friends Bob and Nancy were helping to reduce Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure mountain by taking some of it away to their allotment.  That is what friends are for.

I went upstairs and looked out of the window.

front lawn may

The daffodils have almost disappeared and we are relying on tulips for colour until the azaleas and alliums come out.

middle lawn may

I took this picture of the veg garden before cycling.  It is looking well organised.

veg garden may

More is getting planted out in it every day.

The tulips are holding up well…

tulips

…though the very earliest to come out are now over.

Other things are coming along nicely.

lilac and solomons seal

It is nearly lilac blossom time.

Some flowers are so small that the camera finds it hard to pick them out.  This is berberis and rosemary.

small flowers

There was plenty of evidence of yesterday’s rain.

P1090843

I had a few moments to watch the birds.  This sunny moment was before breakfast.

GOLDFINCHES

After my cycling, siskins arrived in force.

flying siskin

busy feeder

I had to refill the feeder before we went to Edinburgh.

After lunch, we set off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It rained on us as we drove across but the sun shone for our train journey and our stay in the city.

Matilda was in good form and came out to play in the garden.  Alistair had mowed the pocket handkerchief sized lawn just as we arrived and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to smarten up the edges while I played with Matilda and her mother Clare and snipped away at protruding meadow grasses with some shears.  Both the gardening and the playing were most enjoyable in the warm sunshine and we looked back down on the lawn as we went in for tea with some satisfaction.

Al's lawn

Apart from Matilda being offended when I remarked that she was a small person  (“I am not small.  I am four!”), the visit went well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked back to Waverley Station in beautiful early evening sunshine.

Arthurs seat

I hadn’t noticed before that the architect of the Scottish parliament building had intentionally or unintentionally echoed the line of the Salisbury Crags with his roof.

salisbury crag and parliament

Mrs Tootlepedal’s wildlife detector was working well and she spotted this rabbit in the gardens beside the road.

edinburgh rabbit

I like the way that this old churchyard has survived in a valuable piece of real estate…

Edinburgh graveyard

…but as in all the cities we visit, the cranes were very busy.  These ones were a few yards up the road.

Edinburgh cranes

Our journey home was smooth and uneventful and as a mark of the passing of the months, we got home in the remains of daylight for the first time this year.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a room with a view.  It was captured by Venetia while on holiday in Corrèze. She seems to have had plenty of interesting things to look at while she was inn France.

CorrezeWe had sunny spells and brisk winds again today but we were spared any showers which was a relief.  Once again though,  I failed to get out on my bike for one reason or another.

I did manage to some useful work in the garden instead.  I mowed the middle lawn and the grass paths on the front lawn too.  Then I raked one of the potential wild flower areas in the front lawn to try to get rid of as much moss as possible.

Having cast a critical eye on the state of health of the middle lawn, I gave the more pathetic parts of it a dose of liquid fertiliser.  I don’t expect to see much growth though until we get some warm weather.

I moved a couple more barrowfuls of compost from Bin A to Bin C but I have not included a photograph of this to avoid excessive excitement among the readership.

I ended the work with a good session of shredding of Mrs Tootlepedal’s spring prunings.

I wouldn’t like to pretend that this was continuous work as it was interrupted by periods of contemplation, crossword solving, sitting and thinking, lunch and sitting without thinking…..and taking a few pictures in the garden.

daisy and lilac

Two flowers coming out just in time to greet June

daffs

The last two daffodils which sadly are not quite going to make the first of June after all.

azaleas

Two lonely flowers on azaleas surrounded by unopened petals

plum tree

It looks as though we may get some plums this year but the late frost has seen to at least  half of the flowers.

clematis

And only half of the clematis above the back door has come out so far.

Still, there are bees about which is encouraging.

bee

A bee ranging over the lithodora

bee

And finally finding the one it wants.

Because of the work in the garden, there were not a great many birds to be seen today but the usual suspects were about.

starling and chaffinch

A starling gives a chaffinch a curious look.

chaffinches

One chaffinch comes as another goes

During the day, Mrs Tootlepedal moved the old feeder from the elder to protect her flowerbed underneath and put it back on the pole outside the kitchen window.  This didn’t discourage the goldfinches.

goldfinchesThey may prefer it to the new feeder which some of them find a little awkward to land on.

goldfinchThough it is no problem to the blue tits.

blue titA well judged combination of gardening and idling filled the day and in the early evening, we drove up to Eskdalemuir to the new Hub which has been set up in the old school there.

The school lies across the road from the river Esk…

River Esk at eskdalemuirBoth Mrs Tootlepedal and I remarked that on a pleasant evening at this time of year, Eskdalemuir can easily be mistaken for Shangri-la.  It is a different matter though in the midst of winter when the winds are raging and the snow is falling.  Then it can be mistaken for hell.

The managers of the Hub had organised a day of music and I was there to contribute a little by playing some simple duets with my flute pupil Luke.  Luke was in very good form and not least because we adopted very sensible tempos, we played our pieces well and got rewarded with a warm round of applause.  I was very pleased for Luke who had practised hard and was touched to see that his playing had moved his proud grandmother, who was in the audience, to tears.

We didn’t stay to listen to more music but drove gently home by the road down the other bank of the river.  It is one of the benefits of living in a  less prosperous area of the country that we didn’t meet a single car on our 26 mile round trip.  In fact, I was able to sop in the middle of the road near Hopsrig and take a couple of pictures on our way home.

yellow flowers

Bright yellow flowers among the debris left by tree felling

bluebells at Hopsrig

Bluebells among the few remaining trees.

We will have a busy day of singing tomorrow with a rehearsal for our Carlisle choir and the second concert with our Langholm choir.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  It is not a good picture but I have used it anyway because I love the arc that a goldfinch’s wings make when they are fully extended.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent trip to Spain.  Santillana Del Mar is a Spanish village 20 kilometres from the Bay of Biscay, which has scarcely changed from Medieval times.

Santillana Del Mar

After the thunderstorm overnight, today was sunny and much brighter as the haze had been swept away by the rain.  It would have been good to have had this bright weather for our trip yesterday but we made the best of it today.

Dropscone was busy and the wind was very brisk so I took the opportunity to give my legs a rest.  After a leisurely breakfast, I went up to the town to do some business.  This would have been more useful if the shop that I was going to visit had been open and the person whom I wanted to see had been in.

I spent a lot of time walking round the garden at various times during the day.

Euphorbias

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different varieties of Euphorbia in different places.

astrantia and aquilegia

I like this colour combination, probably a happy accident.

Dicentra, lilac and anemone

Dicentra, lilac and anemone all enjoying the sun

The back path

The back path, a riot of growth.

Walnut tree

The leaves are just coming out on the walnut, one of the last trees to come into leaf.

We are too far north to get a crop of walnuts but there is at least one flower  this year as you can see.

The number of visitors to the feeder has gone down sharply and if this continues, I may even stop putting food out this year though I generally feed right through the summer.  Looking out of the kitchen window is less of a full time occupation as a result but I still take the occasional peek.

two sparrows

Two sparrows

redpoll and goldfinch

Redpoll and goldfinch

I am still in the process of turning the compost heap into a new bin, doing a couple of wheelbarrow loads at a time to try to preserve my joints.  We have a small shredder which works very well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I try to shred as much of the garden waste as we can with the result that the compost rots down very quickly and takes up less space than a conventional three year system.  Mind you, we still have ten compost bins  dotted about the vegetable garden.

After lunch, we went out to make good use of the sunshine.  We started with a visit to the Langholm Moor and we were lucky to see a hen harrier fly past.  It was too far away for the camera but well in range of my new binoculars.  The were several other people out with binoculars in hand as well as us.  As an added bonus we were serenaded by larks as we sat and watched.  We moved on in search of wild goats and soon saw some not far from the road.

Wild goats

They were near some of the peat banks which locals still use to cut fuel for their fires.

peat bank

The peats are laid out to be dried after cutting.

The banks are cut and the top layer is replaced behind the cutting so that the trench advances across the moor by a metre or so each year, leaving a reinstated surface behind it.

Two peat cutters arrived while I was watching the goats and set to work.

peat cutters

After drying flat, the peats are tipped up into little pyramids to dry further.  Peat cutting is very hard work and my back is still suffering from my efforts cutting peat nearly forty years ago.

I took two pictures of the Tarras valley before we headed back to Langholm.  The hills are just beginning to ‘green up’ after the winter months.

Tarras

Looking up the Tarras valley

Tarras wood

Looking across the river.

When we got back to Langholm, we went in search of a nuthatch.  We didn’t have to look hard because there was a nuthatch hanging at the entrance to the nest when we arrived. There was no shortage of photo opportunities in the next few minutes.

nuthatches

We didn’t stay too long as the garden was calling to Mrs Tootlepedal and walked back across the Castleholm to the car, enjoying the beautiful day as we went.

Timpen Hill

Castleholm trees

Lodge walks

The Lodge Walks

We had to watch ourselves as we crossed the race track as a sheep race was in progress.

sheep on race track

Mrs Tootlepedal kindly allowed me time to stop at the Kilngreen on the way back to the garden.  We enjoyed an ice cream from the Pelosi’s van there and I strolled along the waterside.

The heron was posing for the camera beside the car park….

Heron

… but obligingly flew off to a more photogenic spot after a while.

heron

Beside the Ewes, a little wagtail was leaping up into the air to catch insects.  I managed to get a quick shot of it before it shot off to feed its young.

wagtail

Once back in the garden, we turned our attention to mending the main compost bin which was made out of the old surrounds for small raised beds and like its owners, is showing the ravages of time.   With a bit of skilled bashing of three inch nails, it should now last for another few years.

I shifted another two barrowfuls of compost and then  retired indoors for a cup of tea and a snooze while the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal  worked away outside.

I am getting trigger happy on the camera these days and had to throw away a lot of pictures but even so I have put more than my daily ration into this post for which I apologise.

In the evening we went to our Langholm Sings choir practice and had to put up with an AGM for half the practice.  AGM are necessary evils but they aren’t half as much fun as singing.  Ominously, we were bitten by midges as we came out.   If there is one drawback to life in Langholm it is the midges.  Last year was very midge free after the severe winter.  This year’s mild and wet winter may make for a very midgy summer.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, snatching a seed and making off at speed.

blue tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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