Posts Tagged ‘lithodora’

Today’s guest picture is a very nice clematis in Manitoba sent to me from across the pond by Mary Jo.  She tells me that they are expecting snow.  It has not been a good spring here or there.

clematisWe had another fine day today but with a strong and chilly wind still very much in evidence.  I spent most of the day keeping out of the wind.  Dropscone helped me by dropping in for coffee and he was rewarded with several sticks of rhubarb of which is fond.

When he left, I girded up my loins and went outside to mow all three lawns.  I had just finished when I was visited by Mike Tinker, his son -in-law, Lorne and two of his grandchildren.  Sara and William immediately headed for the pond and were delighted to be able to surprise a frog while Mike, Lorne and I considered the state of the world in general and the lawns in particular.  I was bemoaning the fact that I no longer have the capacity to properly spike the lawn when Lorne offered to come down and spike it for me in the autumn.   It would be wonderful if he did.  Having a lawn spiked by someone called Lorne would be a clear case of nominative determination (and jolly useful too).

When they left, I had a wander round the garden.

lithodoraIn spite of things being very backward because of the cool spring, there is colour be seen and my currant favourite is this lithodora.  The blue flowers seem to float above the dark green foliage.

Brasher colours are to be seen too.

king cups and hyacinthSadly a couple of very cold mornings a week or so ago have put paid to two of our azaleas and killed off every bud.

azalea and rhodieSome have survived though and a rhododendron is just about to burst into flames.

After lunch, I spent a little time watching the bird feeders.


A goldfinch is thoroughly disgusted by another goldfinch doing acrobatic tricks with a siskin by perching on its beak.


Two calmer goldfinches itting for their portraits

Then Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Canonbie, where she had one or two items entered in a WRI competition and I went for a walk.  I was looking to see if the bluebells had improved at all but there were many other things to look at on the way.

Murtholm trees

The trees along the Murtholm fields.


Swallows flitting up the Esk. It is amazing what a difference a slight turn of the camera makes to the light.

The bluebells, when I got to them, were good but not great…

bluebellsbluebells…and I thought that the walk along the main road to get to them was just as rewarding visually.

A7I walked back over Skippers Bridge and took the obligatory picture.  This time, I looked downstream.

The EskAnd then I climbed up a path to the old railway line above the river.  There is a handy rail for the convenience of elderly walkers.

Skippers pathI took the path from the railway up towards the Round House…

Path to Round House…and then strolled back down the hill into the town.  Beside the track, I saw the first broom flower that I have seen this year. It was about to open.

broomA few yards further on, I saw two that had opened.

broomFurther on still, I had another look at the flowering nettle which I have photographed before without doing it justice.  This is one of those tiny flowers that you might well pass by without noticing it, if you hadn’t had your eyes opened by walking around with a camera.  I find it hard to capture yellow flowers well but this was my best effort yet.

nettleI went down to the river in the hope of seeing some interesting water birds on my way home but had to make do with some flowers beside the water.

cornflower and pinkbellWhite bluebells are quite common but I don’t think that I have seen a pink one before.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned and I was able to eat a couple of slices of her third-prize winning tea loaf with my refreshing cuppa.  It was delicious.  The first and second prizewinners must have been really good stuff.  I was also pleased to see a bee hard at work among the apple blossom.

bee in apple blossomIn the evening, I went off by myself to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a band called Elbow Jane play.  There was much to admire about them; their sound level was very reasonable, the bass and drum players were efficient and discreet and the three front men were all good musicians.  On the other side of the coin, their set went on too long, and their singing was a bit relentless so in the end it rather felt as though you had been shouted at for two hours.  As well as their own songs, they covered Paul Simon, The Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival and Joni Mitchell which gives a good indication of their influences and although it is music that I like, they never really managed to bring an involuntary smile to my face or get my toe tapping for long.  Still, a live concert 300 metres from your front door is always a bonus and I enjoyed myself.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  The picture shows just how well balanced these birds are in the air while their wings are flapping furiously.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by cyclist Lorne,  shows the results of a piece of well travelled sourdough starter in action.  The starter came to me from Talkin in Cumbria across the border, a gift from my recorder playing friend Sue and I passed some of it on to the clarinet playing mother of infant cyclist Sarah who took it to Linlithgow on Sunday and made this fine loaf with it.


The good spell of blue skies and warm temperatures has come to the end and Dropscone and I went out for the morning run in grey conditions and a thermometer struggling to reach 50°F.  Still, it was dry and the wind was reasonably gentle on us.

The wind gave us a helping hand on our way out but only became a factor in  the last 6 miles on the way home.  We drank our coffee and ate our treacle scones when we got back with a degree of contentment.  Nobody had got a puncture and nobody had fallen off so it had to be counted as one of the better morning runs of late.

The chief business of the day was returning 90 choir books to the public library in Carlisle.  These are heavy books in big boxes but Mrs Tootlepedal had whisked them into the car before I had finished my shower after coffee.   We had an early lunch and drove off with the books.  The library sits in a shopping mall with a multi storey car park beside it.  We phoned the librarian just as we got near and she was waiting for us with a trolley at the back door to the library which leads on to the top floor of the car park.  The transfer was completed in a matter of minutes.  If you want friendly and efficient service, the Carlisle Public Library is the place to go.

While I was in Carlisle, I took the opportunity to visit a camera shop.  I wasn’t looking for a camera though.  I have become a bit fed up with sitting or standing next to Sandy or Mrs Tootlepedal while they look at distant birds through binoculars and enjoy sights which are mere dots in the sky to me so I was looking for a pair of binoculars suitable for an old man with dodgy eyesight and specs.  They had a pair.  I bought it.   I am looking forward to using them over the weekend.

When we got home, I realised that I hadn’t taken a single photo all day so in spite of the fact that it was raining, I nipped out into the garden.  Some of our tulips are over but there are still many looking very well.


The bergenia is not the most elegant flower but it added a dash of colour to a dull day.


As did a healthy clump of lithodora.


Mrs Tootlepedal intends to divide this up for next year and spread the colour round the garden.

The rain unfortunately had turned the head of this geum towards the ground.


But this newly acquired euphorbia has settled in well and was smiling through its tears.


I didn’t stay out  in the rain for long and was soon inside looking out.

goldfinch action

The goldfinches were busy shouting at each other


Though some took a more detached view of things.


A siskin practises the one wing brush off gesture

I have left two of the perches off the feeder to try to save myself a little money but the birds can get at the seeds without a perch and still eat me out of house and home.


A rather bedraggled goldfinch on one side…


…and a calm redpoll on the other.

In the evening, the Linlithgow breadmaker’s parents arrived for their customary Friday evening visit and while Mike helped Mrs Tootlepedal to effect repairs on a seized up wheelbarrow wheel. Alison and I played a couple of enjoyable Loeillet sonatas for flute and harpsichord.  We were all happy.

The flying bird of the day was shot in rainy and gloomy  circumstances.






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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my son Alistair and shows the little girl that makes Mrs Tootlepedal a grandmother.   Our best wishes go to Alistair and his wife Clare.  We hope to go to visit mother and baby quite soon.


The arrival of our grandchild was a much more complicated affair than we had all hoped for and we are waiting for further reports from the hospital before allowing our joy to be unconfined.

Meanwhile we carried on.

I went out on the morning run with Dropscone but on this occasion we had to call for the assistance of the MTRS (see footnote)  when Dropscone got a puncture at the farthest extent of our circuit.  We have had so few punctures over the years that neither of us was carrying a spare tube on this occasion.  In a heartless way, I left him to wait for the broom wagon and cycled on by myself.  We managed to reassemble just in time for coffee and scones.

The sunny weather was still with us and although the wind was quite brisk, it wasn’t chilly as well and for the first time this year, I was dressed a bit too warmly for the conditions.

While I had a shower after coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a short pedal herself.  She combined this with a bit of roadside litter clearing as she went along.  The appetite of motorists for throwing rubbish out of their windows is insatiable.

A new tulip turned up today to add to the collection.


It was joined b y a very attractive anemone.


The existing tulips weren’t to be outshone though.


I never failed to be amazed by the tremendous variety there is among flowers of the same family.

After lunch, Sandy appeared and we set off in the car with Mrs Tootlepedal to show her one of our favourite walks.  We went to Hagg-on-Esk and walked back along the bank of the River Esk to Irvine House following the fishermen’s path.  Mrs Tootlepedal was captivated by the walk.  Even though most of the trees are not in leaf, the scene was still charming.

Esk near IrvineHouse

Esk near IrvineHouse

Esk near IrvineHouse

We were hoping to see some birds as we went along and we were not disappointed.

There were goosanders swimming…


…goosanders standing…


…and goosanders flying off before I could get a decent shot.


There were dippers standing on rocks beside the river…


…and in the middle of the river…


…and flying off before I could get a decent shot.


Sensible people were using binoculars to enjoy the scene…..

Sandy and Mrs Tootlepedal

Sandy and Mrs Tootlepedal bird watching

…and not trying to take pictures with a lens that is too heavy for hand held shots.  Still, I enjoyed myself a lot while trying.

Part of the paths goes past some well shaded damp rocks and I wondered what this prolific growth on one of the rock faces might be.


We got home tired but happy and had a reviving cup of tea and a biscuit.  (I should mention that the biscuits which often appear in this blog are almost always out of a packet of 600 individually wrapped rather small caramelised biscuits of the sort which you often get given free with a cup of coffee in a cafe.  They stay remarkably crisp in their wrapping for months.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought them for me for my birthday.  A present that keeps on giving)

After Sandy went home, we went out into the garden.

A lithodara has come into bloom and was attracting bees.


I weeded the strawberry bed, added a little growmore and then covered the soil with a mulch of home-made compost.  Mrs Tootlepedal paid a visit to her manure mine and when she returned, she topped the bed off with a light covering of manure.  The gooseberries got some manure too and I am already looking forward to the coming of the soft fruit season.

While we were working, there was a tremendous squabble between three male blackbirds.  It was quite an ongoing feud but as soon as I went in for my camera, they stopped fighting and disappeared.  As soon as I put it away, they came out and started again.

I had to be content with the female of the species in the evening sun.

blackbird on bench

Meanwhile, we are keeping our fingers crossed that Clare makes a swift recovery from her very hard labour and that we can go up and see her, Alistair and the baby in the very near future.

Mrs Tootlepedal had hoped that being a granny would save her from being shoved off any buses but research into the lyrics reveals that she is still in danger.  She is disappointed.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.


*MTRS = The Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service, an invaluable resource for the stranded cyclist.

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