Posts Tagged ‘lily of the valley’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who passed the Bridge Inn at Duffield while on a bike ride.  As he had already fuelled up elsewhere, he took the picture and went on his way without calling in to sample the wares.

bridge inn Duffield

I know that I ought to be resting my Achilles tendon but I am feeling really exercise deprived and I might easily have done something inadvisable this morning had not the weather come to my rescue by producing another cold and grey day, ideally suited to sitting in and getting stuff done in the house.

I did stroll round the garden after breakfast.

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought some depressed ranunculus plants in a pot at a garden centre.  She gave them some care, divided them up, planted them out, watered them in and now they are rewarding her with a splendid show.


A berberis in a shady corner caught my eye, with its flowers brightening up a gloomy corner.


A blackbird was quite happy to help with getting the moss out of the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

I opened the greenhouse and was much struck by this handsome Fuchsia inside.

fuchsia in green house

Mrs Tootlepedal bought it recently and put it outside in the warm spell.  Then it got badly hit by the frosty mornings so Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed off the damage and gave it some shelter and now it is looking very well.

Just outside the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is covered in flowers from top to toe.

rosemary bush

I noticed that the geums are coming along nicely….

geum forest

…and then went inside to get warm.

Later on in the morning, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the sparrowhawk resting in the walnut tree after an unsuccessful fly through the garden.  It stayed there long enough for me to get a camera…

sparrowhawk in walnut tree

…but when I went out to see if I could get a closer shot, it flew off in disgust.  It didn’t take the little birds long to come back to the feeders.

siskin eating peanuts

The quarrelling pigeons were back again today and it went beyond hard stares and descended into flapping and waving which led to both birds losing their focus.

flapping pigeons

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and noticed that if you were shopping in Langholm’s High Street in 1899, you could acquire ‘all the latest London novelties’ from Mr Hyslop, the draper, who had just come back from a visit there.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out for an errand on her bicycle in the late afternoon and as the sun was shining, I went out with her and then turned off to do a little three bridges cycle instead of a walk by myself.

The copper beeches at the park bridge are looking good. two copper beeches

I didn’t go into the park but continued down to the waterside, and was happy to catch a glimpse of a grey wagtail at the Sawmill Brig.  It was living up to its name and waggling about a lot so I couldn’t get a very good picture.

grey wagtail

The trees that have been felled along the Lodge Walks have taken some of the magic away from the green tunnel that used to greet walkers…

lodge walks

…and you can see how big the gaps are when you look at the trees from the other side.

rear of lodge walks

The sun was disappearing rapidly behind the clouds by this time and the colours were rather subdued so I headed home (pedalling very gently)…

castleholm with dog walker

…noting this burst of blossom on a tree beside the Jubilee Bridge.

white blossom beside esk

Once back home, I had a last walk round the garden, enjoying the cow parsley above and the sweet woodruff below in the back border.

cow parsley and sweet woodruffe

The yellow azalea is doing its best to come out to join the pink one and the first yellow potentilla flower of the year has appeared nearby.

azalea and potentilla

There had been a light shower of rain earlier, which was welcome, but it had not been hard enough to wet the soil thoroughly.  It did make the lily of the valley shed tears apparently…

lily of the valley weeping

…and of course it gave me an excuse to take a picture of a spirea with droplets, one of my favourite subjects.

spirea with droplets

In between times, I practised choir songs and prepared some music for Luke.  Our wonderful Carlisle choir conductor has gone done in my personal popularity stakes a bit as she is making us learn another song off by heart.   As it is one of those songs where you sing the same words to slightly different notes each time they reappear (and they reappear a lot), so this means a lot of hard practice is required.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty quorn concoction made a welcome return to the tea table in the evening, this time in the guise of a shepherd’s pie.

There are two flying birds for the price of one today with a siskin coming and a goldfinch going.

two just flying birds

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is enjoying good weather in Aberdeenshire near the former fishing village of Collieston.


We had another day today which would have been very welcome in mid summer and it is becoming pretty clear that it will be very unlikely that summer, when it comes, could be any better than late spring has been.  It may well be all downhill from here on when this good spell ends.

Still, we are really enjoying the lovely weather while it lasts even though it does mean that quite a lot of garden watering is going on.

watering the lawn

I have given both lawns a soaking and Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy in the flower beds with hose and watering can.

I should add that we are not at all keen to get one of the torrential downpours which they have been getting in England.  A light shower would do very well.

I had an early look round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I couldn’t get past the best of the rhododendrons without clicking my shutter finger.


The Rosa Moyesii is more modest but very pretty too.

rosa moyesii

I had to admit that I was wrong and Mrs Tootlepedal was right (there’s a surprise) because when I looked really closely at the Veronica, I could see that it is blue after all and not pure white at all.  I had to look pretty hard though.


A blackbird took a good look and agreed that it was blue.


Our walnut tree is almost fully clothed.  It is one of the last trees to get its leaves.


I didn’t have the long to enjoy the morning sunshine as I was doing my very last stint in the Welcome to Langholm Office.  After many years, I have decided to retire as a welcomer.  I had quite a few people to welcome today but I still had enough time to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive database.

While I was at work welcoming people, Mrs Tootlepedal was also doing some welcoming. A friend from the choir and her partner, Anita and Nick who live in Canonbie, had been visiting the dentist in Langholm and took the opportunity to come round and look at our garden which they had seen on this blog.  They gave the new bench a test and declared that it was as good as sitting in a National Trust garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased at such a nice compliment.  Not being a photographer though, this whole event went unrecorded.

I passed a gull as I crossed the suspension bridge on my way home at midday…


…it was probably wondering where all the water has gone, The river is very low.

There was plenty to see in the garden when I got there.

Beside the front door, another clematis has just come out…

clematis front door

…and almost hidden beside it, is a tiny lily of the valley.

Lily of the Valley

Across the drive, Mrs Tootlepedal has some very vigorous variegated hostas.


After lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and then got my cycling gear on and took the new bike out for a spin.  It was really very hot and I was wondering if I would get cooked but luckily,  a surprisingly cool and steady wind kept me at a reasonable temperature and I enjoyed a thirty mile run which brought my total on the new bike up to 250 miles.    I think that I can safely say that it is going to suit me very well.

I wasn’t the only one keeping cool.

bull keeping cool

The verges were full of interest.  I saw these flowers when I stopped for a drink after ten miles.

Gair road wildflowers

And I saw these beside the old A74 near Kirkpatrick Fleming.

Old A74 wildflowers

The dandelions may have gone over but there was ample yellow colour near Sprinkell…

Sprinkell road (2)

…and looking ahead at this point, I think anyone would have to admit that it looks like a good day and place for a pedal (even taking the vast amount of traffic into consideration).

Sprinkell road

When I got back, I had time to admire the Japanese azalea…

Japanese azalea

…before my flute pupil Luke turned up.  We are making steady progress even though wonderfully sunny weather does not make flute practice the first thing one thinks of doing.

After a really nourishing tea of mince and tatties, I went out and sat on the new bench and admired some late colour.

evening colour

Then I mowed the middle lawn and trimmed the edges which was a good way to end the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a baby thrush in the garden while I had been out cycling and when she came out to admire the lawn, she spotted it again.   I fetched my camera and found that it had flown up onto a fence and was making quite a noise.

Baby thrush

Curiously it was joined not by its mother but by a blackbird which was making a noise too.  Then a small flock of sparrows started to join in and I went over to see what the racket was all about.

It was a dratted cat, stalking about among the flowers below, seeing what little birds it could snaffle. In  my view, cat owners should feed their animals so much that they lose their appetite for birds…. or at least keep them in their own gardens.

I shooed the cat away and there were no fatalities.

The mother thrush, flew up to join her infant and she became in that moment, a quite unusual flying bird of the day.

flying thrush



Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows one of the two diesel locomotives that together pulled Dropscone and his daughter Susan to Scarborough on a railway special to celebrate her birthday.  They didn’t have ideal weather for a seaside outing.

diesel loco

We had another pleasant morning and it was further brightened by the arrival of Dropscone bearing traditional Friday treacle scones.

I had enough time for a good look round the garden before he came.  The combination of the Japanese azalea and sweet woodruff is delightful even with the azalea not fully in bloom.

sweet woodruff

New flowers are turning up all the time.  This is Veronica…


…and these are two other white flowers which I haven’t had the time to identify yet.

white flowers

The tulips are going over but they are going out in style…

yellow tulip

red tulip

…and there are still a (very) few lonesome daffodils to be found here and there.

late daffodil

I like an aquilegia and this one caught my eye today.


The garden is well ordered but if you get the right view, it can look quite satisfyingly wild too.

garden in May

When Dropscone came, I got the full story of his trip to Scarborough with Susan.  In spite of some rainy weather, they had enjoyed the outing, although the fact that the weather in Langholm had been very nice in their absence was a little hard to bear.

I cheered him up with some rhubarb and he went off intent on shopping and golf.

I looked at the forecast when he left and it offered heavy rain by four o’clock so I had a quick lunch, got my fairly speedy bike out and got ready to go for a ride.  My saddle has been making creaking noises recently so I took it off and cleaned and greased the fittings.  This is always a risky business because it is hard to ensure that you put a saddle back in exactly the same position that it was in before.

I set off to see whether I had managed this trick.  It turned out that it was fractionally different but as it now seems to be in a better position when I cycle uphill, I may leave it for a while and see how comfortable it is on a longer ride.

It didn’t get much of a test today because I stopped after 23 miles.  I had intended to go a bit further but I felt good when I started and pedalled harder than I meant to so I stopped before I got too tired.

I only took one photo opportunity as I was busy pedalling.

bull and calves

A bull pretending to be a bush and two of his progeny

The short ride gave me the opportunity to mow the drying green and have a chat over the back fence with a neighbour who has just come back from America.  He said that the temperature had been in the 80s there and he was finding our 50s a little chilly.

I sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal who was planting out a couple of rows of carrots and then had another wander round the garden.  I found another newcomer.

lily of the valley

Lily of the valley


A set of alliums with a decided aversion to growing up straight like a good allium should

The hostas are beginning to put on a show.  I like this variegated variety.


We went in and had a cup of tea and then I put some time into practising both playing and singing.  I wish our conductor wouldn’t make us learn songs off by heart.  It is more trouble than it is worth for me, though I must say that when I do finally get the tenor part of a song confidently off by heart, it does feel like a genuine achievement.

I have always relied on being able to sight read music reasonably well and have never developed a musical memory as I should have.  However, this is a lesson too late to be learned now.

I should say that it rained exactly at four o’clock so the forecast was bang on time today.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable time playing pieces that we know well (but haven’t had to learn by heart).

No flying birds today but some crouching sparrows, house and hedge, on the ground beside the fat ball feeder.


Read Full Post »

Today’s springlike guest picture comes from Sandy, which is to say that I stole it from him when he wasn’t looking.

Sandy's leaves

I did see Sandy himself though when he came round for a cup of coffee after filling the Moorland bird feeders.  He has been doing a lot of gardening lately and took advantage of the situation to have a conference with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I should have been cycling as my mileage for May is very poor but we were waiting for an engineer to come and give our gas boiler its annual check so I used that as an excuse for not going anywhere.

I was a bit rude about the weather forecasters yesterday so it is only fair to point out that they said it would be fine in the morning and start to rain at two o’clock today and they were absolutely right to within five minutes.

I used the dry but overcast morning to mow the front lawn, the middle lawn and the grass round the greenhouse and was pleased to see that the newly sharpened mower was cutting a bit better.

I also took the camera round the garden.  My daughter has complained that in my pursuit of striking flower pictures, I don’t show enough general pictures to convey what the garden actually looks like.  This is a fair point but we are in a state of floral pause at the moment and the general picture is quite dull.  I will be looking for colourful corners quite soon.  In the meantime here are some individual promises of better things to come.

Astrantia and geranium

The first signs of a feast to come

Lily of the valley and solomon's seal

A rather Biblical touch of Lily of the Valley and Solomon’s seal


The promise of gooseberry fool


…and there are still some tulips left

After lunch, I was working away at my computer because I have finally been bullied by Microsoft into upgrading to Windows 10 and there are differences to the filing system for pictures which are giving me some grief when Mike Tinker popped in.

When I went out into the garden with him, it had almost stopped raining so when he left, I decided that a short walk would perk me up and I put my coat on.  By the time that I got out of the house, it had started to rain again so I picked up a stout umbrella and went off regardless.  After a dull half mile pushing up the road into the wind and rain, I turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and with the wind and rain behind me, the rest of the walk was very pleasant.

It wasn’t really a day for taking pictures but I poked my lens out under the umbrella from time to time because it was a beautiful stroll in spite of the conditions.

Bluebells on gaskells

Not long ago, Gaskells Walk ran through a dark and flowerless conifer plantation but these trees were cut down and the bluebells which had been lurking underground for many years have seized their chance and the walk is now lined with them.

There were wild flowers in abundance.

wild flowers

…and I was pleased to see some red campion among the bluebells.

red campion

I walked along the track down towards the Murtholm and the bluebells defied the gloomy weather.



As I walked back along the river side towards the park…

Beechy Plains

I know it’s hard but someone has to walk along this path

….it wasn’t only the sight of wild flowers that caught my attention but the smell too.  The wild garlic was rampant, swirling up the banking…

wild garlic

…and lining the path.

wild garlic

They look as good individually as they do en masse.

garlic and bluebell

My umbrella did its job very well and the temperature was kind enough to make my damp walk a real treat.  A little rain brings out the fresh spell of spring to add to the colours.

After a look back at the park…

Buccleuch Park

It really is that colour.  I haven’t Photoshopped it.

…I headed home for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and settled back down to try to get to grips with Windows 10.  At least I can find my files and all my programs work so I am reasonably content.

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we enjoyed a good selection of music dug out from his vast collection by our librarian Roy.  It is very good to be able to play music with old friends without any of the pressure of preparing for public performance but just for the pleasure of hearing and appreciating the music itself.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my brother Andrew paid to the Spanish port of Santander last month.

There is a little outcrop with lighthouse at the harbour entrance

The weather was good and, importantly, the wind was light so in the absence of Dropscone who golfs on a Wednesday, it seemed like a good day to test out the legs.  I had had a sound night’s sleep and my hip is always improved by a little cycling so I set out to cycle a decent distance, decent being however far I could go before I found that I had gone too far.  In the end an age related 72 miles without any big hills to climb turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

I cycled to Gair first, passing this pretty bluebell wood just outside Waterbeck.

bluebell wood

The scenery got less attractive as I joined the old A74 for the bulk of the ride.  I went north as far as Johnstonebridge where I sat on the parapet of the bridge and ate my lunch.

The view from the bridge was very pretty.

river annan

This is the handsome bridge seen from below.


The old A74 bridge across the River Annan

The old A74 is suitable for cyclists to potter along now as it has been superseded by the new M74and a few yards away from the old bridge where I was eating my egg roll and banana, I could see the constant stream of traffic sweeping across the new bridge.


I found a quiet moment for the picture.

After a short stop, I went back down the road as far as Gretna, where I had another egg roll and a second banana, and then cut across country on narrow lanes…

Near Gretna

..until I arrived home, having enjoyed the last few miles with a helpful wind.

It was not an exciting route choice scenically but it had the benefit of providing long spells of steady pedalling without junctions or steep hills and as this was just what I needed, I was very happy with it.  I was also pleased that I was able to set a tempo that I was able to keep up the whole way round.  I won’t be able to do our local 60 mile hilly sportive on Sunday so this was a satisfactory substitute.

For anyone who is wanting an excuse to delay doing the washing up, the details of the route can be found here.

When I got back, I had a quick walk round the garden before having a shower.

Two new blue flowers have come to join the fun.

Jacob's ladder and Geranium

Jacob’s Ladder and Geranium

And the late yellow tulip has developed a delicate red outline to its petals.

yellow tulip

A reader recently remarked that the Lily of the Valley is her favourite flower and I thought it was looking well today so here it is.

Lily of the valley

The dark pink prunus against the back hedge (possibly a Prunus cerasifera ‘Atropurpurea’ but we are still struggling to pin it down) is producing some lovely blossom.


In spite of this garden colour,  I felt that I had had a rather dull day with my camera so I rang up Sandy and suggested a short excursion to the nuthatch nest by way of the Kilngreen.

Sandy is getting steadily better but is far from being as well as he should be at the moment and he thought a little walk might do him good. Mrs Tootlepedal was too busy in the garden to come with us.

A visit to the Kilngreen showed that the heron has had enough dancing for the time being and is now practising his singing.


We moved on to the nuthatch nest and didn’t have long to wait before one of the pair appeared.


We think that the female must be sitting on the nest as there wasn’t enough activity to suggest that they were feeding youngsters.

We walked back to the car round the new path and enjoyed the fruits of spring as we went.

coniferous tree

coniferous tree

coniferous tree

We were stopped in our tracks by a bunch of threatening sheep….

sheep on castleholm

…but after some negotiation, they let us through.

Just as we got back to the car, a dog entertained us by taking a brisk path in a large puddle.

wet dog

I didn’t have any luck with birds on the feeder today in the short time that I had and this blackbird, looking to see off any rivals, was my only shot of a bird on the feeder…


…but I did catch a shy blue tit in a willow bush.

blue tit in willow

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to a choir session with Langholm Sings.  For a variety of reasons there was a thin turnout but we had an enjoyable sing with a couple of old favourites from our back catalogue, the song for the Commonwealth Games  Baton Relay and the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco.    A good mixture.

The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull.

black headed gull







Read Full Post »

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.


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.


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


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


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…


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


It should be a hit.

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


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….


…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.


It looked as though it was carrying nest material

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


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.


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



Read Full Post »