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Posts Tagged ‘lilac’

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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Today’s guest picture is another stunner from one of my sister Mary’s visits to Regent’s park in London.

Regent's Park

I had an up and down experience with the weather and the weather forecast today.  Last night, when Dropscone and I were considering a morning run today, the forecast painted a picture of unrelieved gloom with heavy rain and brisk winds so we decided to give the cycling a miss and stick to scones and coffee.

Mrs Tootlepedal was up early as she was catching the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and it was raining when I woke up.  After Mrs Tootlepedal left, I decided that this would be a good moment for a long hot bath to try to soak some of the aches and pains away.  I was rather upset when I got out of the bath to find  that the sun was shining, the wind had dropped and it would have been a fine morning for a pedal.  The quality of the next day forecast, which is usually quite reliable,  is very variable at the moment and I can only suppose that the present run of weather doesn’t fit the Met Office computer models very well.

I went out to have a look round the garden.  The New Testament instructs us to consider the lilies of the field but I turned my attention to the lily of the valley instead.

Lily of the valley

The hostas come in various styles.

hosta

Our lilac and a neighbour’s cherry made a fine sight, swaying in the breeze.

lilac and cherry

My weather related grumpiness was assuaged by the walk round the garden and the arrival of Dropscone with a large supply of drop scones.  I demolished my share of these with the aid of some home made raspberry jam and the world looked a better place.

Sandy came round just as Dropscone was leaving.  He is not feeling much better at all and is having to go off for more hospital tests next week as a precaution.  We are hoping for a bright spell tomorrow so at least we can have a short walk.

As Sandy left, it started to rain quite heavily so I gave up thoughts of cycling and  settled for indoor tasks.  Bird staring was one of them.

The siskins are very messy eaters at the seed feeder and drop seeds all over the place but here a starling shows how it should be done.

starling

There was plenty of action in the rain.

goldfinches and siskin

A goldfinch makes for safety rather than be the jam in a bird sandwich

redpoll

The ringed redpoll gets as near the seeds as a fierce siskin will allow

Goldfinches

A goldfinches charges head first into a sitting tenant.

Not all behaviour was bad.

chaffinch and greenfinch

A chaffinch politely acknowledges a green finch with a casual wave.

I made a bowl of lentil soup for my lunch and then thought of going for a nuthatch hunt.  The sun shone, I got ready, it started to rain.

I went back in.

The sun shone came out, I got ready, it started to rain.  It was that sort of day.

In the end the sun and I got our act together and I went off on the slow bike to the Castleholm.  I stopped at the Kilngreen on my way.  Two matched ducks were snoozing…

ducks

….and Mr Grumpy was practising a comedy dance routine.

heron

It should be a hit.

Down in the river, a wagtail obligingly hopped close enough for me to get it in the picture.

wagtail

I pedalled on to the Castleholm and parked the bike near the Jubilee Bridge.  I got myself in position to watch the nuthatch nest site….

nuthatch nest

…and it started to rain.

Fortunately there were enough leaves in the tree canopy to keep me almost completely dry while disgruntled and sodden walkers passed me by cursing the weather.

I was distracted by a charming blackbird which perched nervously a few feet away from me….

blackbird

…and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a nuthatch fly straight into the nest before I could get the camera pointed.  I felt that it was going to be one of those days but I persevered as I wasn’t getting too wet for the camera’s safety.

After a good while of nothing happening, I set myself another five minutes before going home.  It was too gloomy for good shots anyway.  The five minutes were up just as the second nuthatch appeared.

nuthtach

It looked as though it was carrying nest material

After looking around for a moment, it knocked on the door.

nuthatch

It’s delivery was accepted and it flew off, followed a moment later by the other bird from the nest.

As it had stopped raining, I thought that this was the moment to go home.  I will return.

When I got home, I was having another go at making some better ginger biscuits when my eye was caught by movement on the lawn outside.  Horror!  It was Mrs Tootlepedal’s worst fear.

rabbit

I dashed out and chased it out of the garden.  Sadly, it is a regular visitor and a pest to the gardener.

The ginger biscuits were an improvement on the first go but were far from perfect, suffering from a little overcooking round the edges.  They tasted all right but as Mrs Tinker sagely said when she looked at them later in the evening, they wouldn’t win a prize in a show.  Practice makes perfect though so I will have another go when I have eaten all this batch.  Actually, I will have to eat some more biscuits as well because Alison kindly brought a packet of’ hand made’ but shop bought ginger biscuits round when she came for our music session, having read of my disappointing first effort.  You can’t have too many ginger biscuits in the house so they will all find a good home.

While I was having my tea, I could hear the beat of the bass drum in the street outside and was reminded that it is the day when the townspeople of Langholm elect a young man to be the cornet who will carry the town standard round the marches on Common Riding Day in July. I went out to see the bands go past on their way to the hall where the election takes place.

pipe and town bands

Langholm has a both a pipe band and a brass band.

I used to vote regularly in the election but now I feel out of the swing of things and leave it to the younger folk to express their opinion on the merits of the candidates.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely from Edinburgh just before Mike and Alison arrived for our usual Friday evening music and conversation.  She  had had a fine grandmotherly time but sadly with no cute pictures to show for it.

I will have to make do with a flying goldfinch in the rain.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the delightful town of Rye.  It is a town which used to be a port and is now several miles from the English Channel coast.  It was sent to me by my brother-in-law Huseyin.

Rye

I couldn’t go for a morning pedal with Dropscone today as Mrs Tootlepedal and I were waiting for a visit from our man of business.  While we were waiting, I had a stroll round the garden.

aquilegia

The first aquilegia of the year.

azalea and rhododendron

A riot of colour

Lilac

The lilac is more subdued

Our man arrived promptly and we had a thorough discussion of our position and when he left we had the feeling that he was working hard to earn his fees.  We just hope that he knows what he is doing.

Dropscone e-mailed me later to say that he had gone out for a solo pedal and had had yet another puncture.  He had been kindly lent a bike to get home but it was rather small and he claimed that  he kept hitting his chin with his knees as he pedalled along.  Still, he got home and his speedy bike is now having two puncture proof tyres fitted.

After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with the driving for the disabled and I had to wait in for another man to arrive.  This time it was a gas engineer, calling to fix our boiler which went on the blink last night.  He too arrived promptly and got the boiler going.  It needs a new heat exchanger and that will arrive next week.

I spent a little time looking out of the window while he was tinkering with the boiler.

siskin and goldfinch

The usual behaviour

goldfinch

Judging distance

sparrow

A house sparrow paid a rare visit to the seeds.

I also had time for another stroll round the garden. There is colour on every side.

spirea

 This is a spirea.

tulip

A tulip going out in style.

ladybird

A bonus on an allium bud

hosta

The hostas are just beginning to look their best

apple blossom

Apple blossom

When the gas man had gone, I got my bike out and got ready for a pedal.  As I left the house, a light rain started so I cycled to the top of Callister and came back to the town not wanting a long wet ride.  The rain stopped as I got back so I pedalled on through the town and up to the White Yett.  This is quite a stiff climb of 1.6 miles and I was interested to see how long it would take me.

It took me a long time and as I am thinking of entering a timed event up this hill next week, I will have to have a couple more practices to see if I can avoid disgracing myself.

I stopped on the way down the hill to admire the range of greens in the trees round the town.

Green

I cycled back through the town and  up to Wauchope School and then home to complete a quite strenuous 24 miles.  Just before I got to the house, I had another look at the giant carpet.  It is getting on well and is being marked out as a football (soccer) pitch with strange additional yellow lines.

artificial pitch

Even greener than the trees

Mrs Tootlepedal returned full of enthusiasm for an electric bike which she had tried at the pony driving.  We both think that one of these will come in very handy when our legs stop being able to take the strain by themselves.

A very energetic neighbour has taken on the task of neatening the edge of the dam at the back of our house.  He is doing a wonderful job.

Dam neatening

He has done about half of the task.

I had time to make some macaroni cheese for our tea, take a picture of the first of the clematis flowers above our back door…

clematis

..and admire a rainbow over Henry Street….

rainbow

…before it was time to go the the Archive Centre.   Sandy and Jean are still both below par so I had a lonely evening putting a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database without even having the reward of a sociable glass of wine and conversation afterwards.

I am rather late posting today’s effort because I spent some time watching a programme on the women’s Tour of Britain cycle race.  The weather in the south was absolutely foul but, according to the commentators, these hardy cyclists averaged over 24 mph all the same.   It was an exciting stage and I am always at a loss to understand the low pulling power of women’s sport in the British media.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin in determined mood.

flying siskin

 

 

 

 

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