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Posts Tagged ‘magnolia’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s sister, Elizabeth, who took advantage of a recent sunny day to climb up a hill and look down on the town.

Liz's picture of Langholm

Our warm spell continued but in the absence of any sunshine.

I had a busy morning, starting with a trip to the producers’ market to stock up on meat, fish and cheese, which with the help of any amount of good advice from concerned onlookers, I managed to accomplish.

Then there was just time to greet the return of the goldfinches to the feeder after a day off…

goldfinch

…before I got the slow bike out and went for a fifteen mile ride. I had a job to do after lunch so  I had a choice of a shorter ride in the morning or a longer one in the afternoon.  The forecast wasn’t very positive so I chose the short morning ride.

Unlike yesterday there were no views available….

View from Megsfield

….so I kept my eyes down today.  I stopped near the top of Callister on my way out to see what a bit of roadside wall might hold.  It turned out that it held quite a lot.

Every lichen seemed to have a red tip if you looked closely enough, whether it was tall and stringy…

lichen on Callister wall

…or short and fat among the moss…

P1080670

…or so tiny that you could hardly see it all.

lichen on Callister wall

I stopped at the bottom of the hill on my way back when I saw some clumps of wild primroses near the new bridge at Westwater Cottage.

wild primroses

So I had to have a look at the bridge while I was there…

Collin Bridge lichen

…and some very fine lichen on the parapet…

Collin Bridge lichen

…as well as a potential wild flower in the grass verge.

wild flower

My choice of a fifteen mile trip turned out to be well judged as it started to rain just after I got home and it kept raining until seven o’clock in the evening.

I had time to walk round the garden before the rain started and had another go at doing justice to the pulmonaria but the camera always seems more interested in the back of the plant than the front.  I shall keep trying.

pulmonaria

The magnolia was poking its nose out….

magnolia

…and so was a surprise frog in the pond.

frog

I chased after a bumble bee with no success so I took a picture of the developing primula and went in.

primula

Once in, I looked out.

The goldfinches were back in good numbers and blowing each other away in style.

goldfinch

Some, but not many, siskins joined in the fun…

goldfinch and siskin

..and once again, there was always a queue for a perch.

flying goldfinch

…with the chaffinches at the back of it.

_DSC3016

We had the usual suspects, goldfinches, siskins and chaffinches with a couple of redpolls arriving after I had put the camera away but I did see one unusual bird in the plum tree.

At first I thought that it was  a sparrow…

reed bunting

…but that didn’t look quite right so I had a close look when I put the picture on my computer and I think that it is a reed bunting, though I am always open to correction from knowledgeable readers.

reed bunting

It is a pleasure to have new visitors to the garden.

I did my lunchtime task, which was to open the meeting room for the Embroiderers’ Guild in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal and then retired home in heavy rain to waste the rest of the afternoon watching the early stages of the third round of the Masters golf tournament.

I cooked a smoked fish kedgeree for my tea and then went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a concert where I met Sandy.  I was very vexed during the afternoon when a friend rang up to ask if I was going to the party to find that I had inadvertently double booked myself as I was also supposed to be going to a choir member’s birthday do today.

This was embarrassing but as the choice was driving thirty miles in the rain to the party which however enjoyable would go on very well without me or walking 200 yards to the Buccleuch Centre where I had bought an expensive ticket, I chose the short walk.

I just hoped that the concert would make the choice worthwhile.

It did.

It was by YolanDa Brown, a jazz, reggae, soul fusion saxophonist backed by a very well drilled, skilled and creative quartet.  You can find YolanDa on Youtube  and very pretty she sounds but the recording does no justice at all to her live show which was sensational.

It was loud and at times the rhythm was so funky that you risked breaking an ankle if you tried to tap your foot but the flow of inventive music was so overwhelmingly immersive that I came out at half time feeling pretty euphoric.  The whole thing was like being caught in a landslide of joy.

YolanDa is personally very charming as well as being extremely accomplished and she managed without any strain at all to get the entire largely elderly audience on its feet and rocking to a reggae beat.

The second half was better.

I should say that the audience was not large, especially for a band which was on a world tour including, Australia, America, Europe, Morocco and Langholm but the band didn’t stint and obviously loved playing the music as much as the audience enjoyed listening to it.

I walked home a happy man…and the rain had stopped.

The flying bird of the day is one of our loyal band of chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found a heron in Regents Park which has taken to the law.  Well, at least it is sitting on the bench.

Mr G's London cousin 001

In contrast to the yesterday’s gloom, today dawned bight and sunny and the day was made even sunnier when Dropscone arrived with treacle scones for morning coffee.  We were joined briefly by Sandy who came to pick up some parish magazines for processing for the Archive Group website.  We arranged to go for a walk after lunch and he went off leaving Dropscone and me to finish the scones and coffee.

We managed.

Easily.

After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to to have lunch with friends at the Buccleuch centre.

I watched birds…

chaffinch

…and was rather baffled by this chaffinch which looked at first sight as though it had been pumping iron and was auditioning  for a super hero role.

I walked round the garden in the sunshine and enjoyed the snowdrops….

_DSC1209

snowdrops

…and the magnolia by the front gate.

magnolia

In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had sardines for lunch and then went off to pick up Sandy.  We started our outing by visiting the Moorland Feeders by car but although the light was good, interesting birds were scarce.

There were a lot of great, blue and coal tits about…

blue tits and great tits

Great tits and blue tits share the peanuts with a chaffinch.

…and a single pheasant who did some world class strutting.

phreasant

It turned out to be rather chilly sitting in the hide in spite of the sunshine so we didn’t stay long.

Our thoughts turned to snowdrops and we drove down to the Lodge Walks, stopping at the Kilngreen where I failed to take a picture of a flying seagull as they all stuck obstinately to their fence posts.

We left the car and walked through sun dappled woods….

Near Holmhead

…until we got to the snowdrops.  They were worth the walk.

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

P1070192

They are still not fully out so another visit may be in order (if we get another fine day next week).

We walked up through the snowdrops and strolled back to the car by the top path.  This used to run through woods but there has been more felling recently…

felling

…and only a few trees have been left standing.

There are soon going to be more though….

new trees

…as we passed many bags of new trees waiting to be put into the ground.

The top track offers a terrific view of Whita on a fine afternoon…

Whita

…as well as a walk through a delicate tree tunnel…

Path near pathhead

….and a look at the town through the trees.

Town from pathhead

On our  way back down to the car, we passed a splendid mossy wall but my plan to take yet more mossy pictures was sidetracked by an outstanding lichen…

peltigera lichen

…and a pair of ferns on the wall.

ferns

Asplenium scolopendrium, the harts tongue fern and Polypodium vulgare, the common polypody

In spite of the brilliant sunshine, it was exceedingly cold on our walk because the wind was very unforgiving so we were pleased to get back in the car and go to our respective homes.

If you are interested, you can see Sandy’s take on what we saw here.

By this time, the crossword and a cup of tea was all the excitement that I needed, though I did go out with Mrs Tootlepedal to see what all the banging and sawing had been about at the dam bridge.

It was totally shuttered….

dam bridge repairs

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the men are going to pour concrete tomorrow.

While we were looking at the works with our neighbour  Kenny,  something glinting on the exposed bed of the dam caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye and Kenny kindly fished it out.  It turned out to be a 1928 penny….

1928 penny found in dam

…which may well have been lying in the dam for anything up to 90 years.

The channel through the bridge looks rather narrow but the builders say that it is exactly the same size as the previous one.

My Friday night orchestra is visiting her son and his family so there was no traditional evening tootle today and we had a quiet night in.

The flying bird if the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin in America.  He says that he has never been so close to a deer before.

deer

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today, with the wind even stronger than yesterday so that it felt decidedly chilly when the sun wasn’t out.

I started the day off with a visit to the Moorland Feeders with Mrs Tootlepedal.  My plan was to fill the feeders (the usual fillers are on holiday) and then leave Mrs Tootlepedal to scan the skies for raptors while I sat in the hide and took interesting bird pictures.

The plan would have worked well if the hide hadn’t already been filled to bursting with eager schoolchildren having holiday fun with the Moorland Project staff.  I filled the feeders and we drove back through the town and up onto the hill to see if we could see harriers and goats instead.

The hill looked and felt a little bleak as I stood at 1000ft on the county boundary in a whistling wind.

Langholm Moor

…but it was more cheerful when the sun came out as we drove back from the summit.

Langholm Moor

We did see a harrier and a buzzard but they were both too far away to photograph.  We also saw a small flock of goats quite far away on the open hill….

goats

…but they were not the group with kids that we had seen before.

There were two goats nearer the road further down towards the Tarras…

goats

…and I got a hard stare for my impertinence in taking pictures of them.

goats

There were a couple of serious bird watchers looking down the valley so we paused for a while to see if we could see what they were looking at but when we had realised that they weren’t seeing anything at the moment, we left them to it and went home, stopping for a look up the Ewes Valley on our way.

Ewes valley

We had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious gardening while I pottered about doing some dead heading and taking pictures. Things come and go….

daffodils

The very orange trumpets mean that this bunch is nearing the end of its flower time and the flowers will soon be line for dead heading

tulip

A rather striking miniature tulip variety came out today

…and some things keep going.

silver pear

The silver pear is producing ever more blossom

The birds were as busy as ever.

Goldfinches and siskins

Goldfinches and siskins compete for space

redpoll and chaffinch

A redpoll goes to some length to discourage a chaffinch 

In spite of the warm afternoon sun, it was far too windy to contemplate a cycle ride and I got in touch with Sandy and arranged a walk.

While I waited for the appointed time to arrive, I looked at the magnolia…

magnolia

…and came face to face with a rather odd looking chaffinch perched on one of the box balls.

chaffinch

Sandy arrived and we went off to the Kilngreen and the Castleholm.  Our aim was to see wagtails, dippers and nuthatches and we saw them all but as, with the visit to the moor earlier in the day, the photo opportunities were very limited.

The wagtails and the dippers were generally moving too much or a bit too far away for good pictures.

wagtail and dipper

A grey wagtail, a pied wagtail and a pair of dippers

Growing things were easier to catch.

The gardens at Clinthead stayed very still for a portrait.  They are looking very fine at the moment.

linthead garden

And laurel flowers on the bridge let me get very close.

laurel

Trees are looking more springlike by the day…

spring 2017

linthead garden

…and there was even a small clump of bluebells in the wood beside the Lodge Walks.

bluebell

We stopped to have a good look at the nuthatches at the Jubilee bridge but in spite of hearing a lot of rather strident calling going on, we didn’t see much at first.  One appeared for a moment but the reason for all the noise became apparent when we finally saw two nuthatches on two trees shouting at each other  from a range of about five yards.  The shouting got louder and finally three nuthatches whizzed past us as they chased each other round the tree at high speed.  One broke off and sat for moment on a twig near us…

nuthatch

…in a highly indignant state.  I just had time to click the shutter once before it rushed off up a tree where it was able to express some even higher dudgeon.

All this activity was great to watch and to listen to but it didn’t give us much opportunity for taking pictures as the combatants were mostly high up among the branches.

nuthatches

It is not clear what was going on.  Was it two couples both wanting the same nest site or was it a competition between two males for a single female?  We definitely saw three nuthatches at the same time but there might well have been another judging from all the noise.  Another visit will be needed to see how it turns out.

There are days when I only see three interesting things and get good pictures of them all and there are days like today when I saw a mass of interesting wildlife and didn’t get one very satisfactory picture.  Still, it was fun trying.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

 

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After yesterday’s railway bridge over the new Borders Railway, Dropscone’s guest picture of the day shows the shiny new railway itself as seen from the bridge.

Borders Railway

It was another fine day today but it was quite crisp in the early morning so I was happy to arrange to have  a cup of coffee with Sandy rather than have to wrap up in many layers and go for a pedal.

While I was waiting, I went to the shop and on my way back, I noticed that the aubretia that overhangs the dam at the back of the house was looking good…

aubretia

….but I was surprised to see that the potentilla beside it had an additional feature…

aubretia

…but at least it wasn’t chasing birds in the garden.

I am finding it very hard at the moment to pass the magnolia at the front gate without my shutter finger twitching.

magnolia

The very first plum blossom is out.

pied wagtail

Sandy arrived and we were joined by our fellow archivist Nancy.  She came round not only for the pleasure of our charming and sophisticated company but also to get a fiver from each of us as we had sponsored her on a recent charity walk.  She raised £100 for the Archive Group so we were very happy to put in our contributions.

After coffee, it had warmed up a bit and in spite of a cool wind, I might have gone for a pedal but Sandy and I went for a walk instead.  He had been asked to provide some shots of efforts to enhance the natural beauty of the town so we focused on daffodils.

We went to see the daffs at Pool Corner first….

Pool Corner daffs

…and on our way we passed some fungus and lichen which detained us for a moment or two…

fungus and lichen

…and while we were there, we checked to see if the slow worms had been attracted by the warmth of the sun.  They had.

slow worm

Pool Corner itself, being well sheltered from the wind, was looking very peaceful.

Pool Corner

Our next stop was the stretch of daffodils along the Wauchope at Caroline Street.

Caroline Street daffodils

Then we walked along the grassy bank beside the Esk.

As well as more daffodils….

Elizabeth Street daffodils

…there were more delicate wild flowers…

cuckoo flower

As far as I am concerned, this was the first cuckoo of spring.

…and a wagtail to see as well.

pied wagtail

Our next stop was the Kilngreen where we met a very grey duck….

kilngreen duck

….though if we could have seen them, it would probably have had red feet like this other duck nearby….

duck feet

…and then we admired more daffodils leading up to the Sawmill Bridge.

duck feet

A dedicated band of volunteers have made great efforts over the years to make the town seem welcoming to visitors and residents alike.

A fine rock garden has been created at Clinthead.

Clinthead gardens

We had nutchtaches at the back of our minds so we walked along the path round the Castleholm, stopping once or twice….

Castleholm things

..or even three times, when things caught our eye.

We didn’t see the nuthatches but as we didn’t wait very long, this was not too surprising.  The call of lunch drove us home.

After lunch, I once again consider a pedal but the call of the front lawn demanded to be answered first…

Front lawn

Who knew that you can get stripes on moss?

…and when I had done that and sieved a little compost too, all thoughts of cycling were subordinated to the pressing need for a cup of tea and a sit down.  Mowing a very mossy lawn with a push mower is hard work.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy in the garden so I was able to do some light supervising after my rest and I combined this with some plant snapping…

euphorbia, dog tooth violet, daffodil

A developing euphorbia, our first dog tooth violet of the year and a smart, daffodil

…mixed in with a bit of bird staring.

chaffinch

Who needs a perch? A chaffinch pays the seed a flying visit.

chaffinch

Goldfinches working on a shift system, one in and one out

busy feeders

The feeders were as busy as ever.

The evenings are drawing out now and there was still plenty of time for a pedal in the early evening but by now, not cycling had become an ingrained habit and I didn’t cycle yet again.

It doesn’t need much of a chilly north westerly breeze to make me find other things to do these days.  I will try to be a bit more courageous tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa.  While he was up near the Orange River, he saw this a tree.  It may not look much but he tells me that  the tree is a Shepherd Tree, the tree of life which is useful for man and beast.  It is probably 3 to 4 hundred years old.

P3150069

My plan for the morning was to get up early, have a nourishing breakfast and then cycle 40 miles and be back before noon.  It was a good plan and it worked.

I chose a very boring route, straight down the main roads and back but it was very satisfying except that my average was 14.99 mph rather than the 15 mph that was in my mind.  You can’t have everything though.

Conditions were perfect and the roads were empty….

A7

…and there is a very convenient bench exactly at the twenty mile turning point where an old man can get a seat for a few minutes and eat his banana.

seat at Newtown

The sharp eyed will notice a pair of thick gloves beside the banana.  It was quite crisp when I started and although it was a lovely day, it never got very warm and I kept the gloves on for the whole ride.

Beside the bench was a gate and a willow tree so that made it an even better place to spend some time.

Newtown

On my way, I passed a large number of people behaving very suspiciously in a field.  It turned out to be a metal detectorists’ rally.    Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked to have been there as she dreams of turning up a Roman coin in our garden.

I got home in plenty of time to make a venison and mushroom stew for the slow cooker, watch the birds for a bit and walk round the garden.

The birds were very active again even though the sparrowhawk is making regular flying visits.

Newtown

It is hard to look really threatening when your mouth is full

redpoll and chaffinch

The little redpoll is not scared of the bigger chaffinch

goldfinch and siskin

A goldfinch and siskin rose to heights of aggression

flying chaffinch

And a chaffinch has had enough of all this and is going home.

In the garden, the tulips are coming on well…

red tulips

..in a good variety of colours.

tulips

The chionodoxas have swiftly passed but the scillas are still very much alive and kicking…

fritillary and scilla

…and they make a dainty contrast to the more sober fritillaries.

The reason that I had to be back from the cycle ride was that it was a choir day so after a shower and some lunch, I went off to Carlisle to have a sing.

There are a lot of very small houses in Carlisle dating from the time when it was a railway centre and had a thriving industrial scene.  This row is right opposite the church where we sing.

Carlisle terrace

There are seven front doors in the picture and severalof the houses are just about as small as a house can be.

We spent the whole practice on one song, a tricky thing for me with a heavily syncopated style and a lot of words in a very short space.  Ominously, the practice went so well that the conductor talked of us be able to learn it off by heart.  This undoubtedly means that he has his heart set on some clapping at the very least and possibly clapping and swaying.  Nightmare!

We should have tried less hard.

I thought about a little sightseeing on my way home but instead settled for the direct route and a walk round the town when I got back.

I passed our magnolia on my way out of the garden and thought that it was worth another look.

Magnolia

My aim was to enjoy the evening light and take a picture of anything that caught my fancy in the course of a half mile stroll.

Parish Church

The Parish Church seen across the Wauchope

Castleholm trees

Trees on the Castleholm, seen across the Esk

But I was distracted by birds.  There were two goosanders again.  The male was floating down the choppy waters of the Esk between the bridges at a great rate…

goosanders

…and I saw the female doing a little fishing in some calmer waters further upstream.

Mr Grumpy must have done something bad because he was behind bars.

heron

Whatever it was, he looked sorry about it.

When I got back, I sieved another modest amount of compost and picked the first rhubarb of the year.  Subsequently, I ate my venison stew and followed it up with some rhubarb and custard.

Mrs Tootlepedal is having a good time with Matilda in Edinburgh but plans to be home some time tomorrow.  I shall be pleased to see her.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother.  He has been a bit unwell lately and unable to go for his customary vigorous walks but he is recovering well and taking pictures in flatter places for the moment.  This is the ferry across Portsmouth harbour.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I took our bikes across on this ferry in 2008.

Gosport ferryThe very encouraging day yesterday turned out to be another false start on the road to warmer weather and we woke up to a familiarly cold, windy, grey day again today.

The change in the weather had brought a great tit into the garden, a very occasional visitor.

great titThe chilly wind put paid to any thoughts of a little loosener on the bike and I entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee instead.  When he left, I put a week of the newspaper index into the database and did a bit of much needed flute and singing practice.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s mother is coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks on Sunday so she was very busy making preparations for this big event.

We had time for a brisk and chilly walk round the garden.  I took a couple of pictures of the walking wounded.

tulip and magnolia…and one of a new flower.

alpine clematisThis is an alpine clematis Mrs Tootlepedal tells me.

There were still plenty of blackbirds in the garden but this one didn’t look at his best at all.

blackbird with bare chestI made a bit of soup for lunch and afterwards, while Mrs Tootlepedal set about editing our local paper so that it would be ready tomorrow for the readers who produce an edition for blind subscribers, I went off with Sandy for a drive to Newcastleton with a view to doing a new walk over there.

Our route took us over the Langholm Moor and we were pleased to see plenty of interest including a female hen harrier and a merlin but chiefly a large group of wild goats, unusually close to the road.  We stopped.

wild goatsIt was a family group. Usually they would scatter if we got so close but for some reason they just continued munching away as we took pictures today.

An adult patrolled the skyline.

wild goatsAnd an infant sucked its toe.

wild goatsWe drove on and parked in the village beside the river in Newcastleton.  Our walk took us over the new bridge across the Liddle Water.

bridge at NewcastletonI say ‘new’ bridge but in fact this is the third place in which it has been used.  The idea of a second or third hand bridge is quite strange to me but it kept us up very satisfactorily as we crossed it.

By this time the sun had come out and as long as we were sheltered from the wind, it was reasonably warm.

Newcastleton is one of the 7 Stanes mountain biking centres in the south of Scotland and the route we were following was partly on roads but mostly on specially built cycle tracks.  The road part of our walk was very beautiful, passing through deciduous woodland…

Whithaugh…which was carpeted by wild flowers in places…

wild flowers Whithaugh…and picturesque at other times.

WhithaughThis part of our route took us through an outdoor activity centre with a big climbing wall, archery butts, a permanent orienteering course and a 300m zip wire.  Oh to be young again.

When we left the activity centre, we came to the cycle single tracks and followed the up hill trail.

cycle track 7 StanesA lot of work had obviously gone into building these tracks.  I think the the red dots on the trees in the right hand picture mean that they are due to be felled.  There is a balance to be struck between excitement and safety on these trails.

We were able to look back from time to time and enjoy the view across Liddesdale.

LiddesdaleWe walked about 2 miles from the car to the to the top of a ridge where we were able to look down to another car park beside a stream below us.

7 StanesWe will drive to this car park and start from there next time we come.

Our route back down the hill was on the return trail for the mountain bikers and we were very impressed by the control and daring they need to navigate the twists and turns at speed.

7 Stanes trailLuckily for us, there were no cyclists about or we would have had to look smart to get out of their way.  Mountain biking down these sorts of trails is a young man’s game though and the young men must have all been at work.  You see a lot of old men out riding road bikes but having seen these trails, it will amaze me me if any of these mountain bikers survive to be old men at all.

When  we passed through it on out way down, the adventure centre was in full swing with children abseiling down the climbing wall, trudging up streams while ducking under logs and getting lost on the orienteering course. Our calmer walk back down the hill was soon accomplished and we crossed the Liddle…

Liddle…got in the car, and drove back across the hill to Langholm.

To our surprise, the goats were still beside the road and as this may be the best chance we will ever have to see them so close, we stopped again.

wild goatThe family group were busy feeding in the long grass.

wild goatWe added to our collection of things seen with another merlin and a male hen harrier.  Neither was in photographic range by the time we had stopped and got a camera out but it was good to watch them anyway.

We both agreed that it had been an excellent outing.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Ewes for a WRI meeting and Sandy and I met again and went to the Archive Centre.  While I had a successful time with an excellent internet connection at putting the newspaper index into the database, the other computer, which Sandy uses, seems to have died and he had a rather frustrating evening not getting his tasks done.

We consoled him with a glass of wine.

Mrs Tootlepedal and her colleagues had entertained the WRI meeting with their prizewinning radio presentation and she came home with the handsome trophy which she will hold for a while before passing it on to another team member.

The flying bird of the day is a rather token view of the female hen harrier which we saw as we went over the hill to Newcastleton.

female hen harrier

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Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been forced to go and work in Malta for a while and is having to put up with surroundings like these.

MaltaWe had another lovely day here today, genuinely warm and with gentle winds.  I would like to have used it to go cycling but the pressing need to have a lie in wasted the early part of the morning and then the pleasure of entertaining Dropscone, who was also recovering from yesterday’s efforts, took up the next hour.  This was followed by a visit to the health centre for some regular maintenance and before I knew it, the morning had gone.

After lunch, my plan was to have a quick visit to the Moorland bird feeders and follow that with a bike ride.  As a plan, it wasn’t one of my most successful.

When I got to the road to the bird feeders, I found that teams of pothole fillers were hard at work and while this is a very welcome activity, it put paid to my scheme for a little bird watching.  Watching men filling potholes is not so much fun as spotting woodpeckers so I came home.

Once home, something in the air got my asthma interested and far from cycling, I needed a quick sit down.  This was enhanced by a good snooze and the desire for a pedal had evaporated by the time that I woke up.  I was some what recovered though and managed to mow the middle lawn and sieve a little compost so the day wasn’t entirely wasted.

In the absence of any adventures, my exploring was limited to the garden.  There was enough there to keep me fully entertained.

pink and yellow tulips

Multicoloured tulips are brightening the garden up.

tulips

Plainer ones still have plenty of ping.

tulip

Plenty of ping.

There was activity in the pond.

pond skater and frogAnd in the dam at the back of the house.

little fish in dam

I was surprised to see a shoal of tiny fish there.  Perhaps some expert can tell me what they are.

aubretia

And delighted to see the flourishing aubretia.

I always keep an eye for new flowers and although I am not entirely happy to see them in the middle of the front lawn, these daises looked very cheery.

daisiesThe marsh marigold in the pond was more suitably placed.

marsh marigoldAmong the established plants, the pulsatillas are going great guns….

pulsatillas…and the magnolia is looking better every day.

magnoliaAlthough we always nervous about late frosts, it was very pleasing to spot the first plum blossoms on the year…

plum blossoms….and even more pleasing to hear the buzzing of many bees in the garden.  They were very keen on the hyacinths today.

bees on hyacinthsbees on hyacinthsOther insects could be seen too.  Although they didn’t seem ready to spread their wings open and enjoy a little basking, I did see both a peacock and a small tortoiseshell butterfly.

butterfliesSo in spite of not getting much accomplished, I was able to enjoy the sunshine and not dwell on missed pedalling opportunities too much.

In the evening I went off to our local choir practice and had a most enjoyable sing.  Mrs Tootlepedal spent almost the whole day working on the floor in the front room and was still working in the evening and as a result, she missed the choir.  Still, her work is paying off and the floor is going to look very good when she has finished.

The only fly in the ointment of the end wall development is to be found in one of the old sandstone blocks which we saved from the old fireplace and re-used in the new one.  The plaster beside it is not drying and when our project manager came round with his nifty damp-meter, the reason for this became clear.  The old block is still very wet after years in a leaking end wall.  We will just have to be patient while it dries out but it does mean that the decorating won’t be finally finished for quite a bit yet.  The room will be quite usable though and Mrs Tootlepedal plans to start moving the furniture back in tomorrow.

Mr reason for wanting to visit the Moorland bird feeders was the lack of birds in our own garden but I did manage to find a flying bird of the day as the shadows lengthened in the evening.

flying chaffinch

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