Posts Tagged ‘marigold’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who met this nose diving elephant at a Regent’s Park art fair.

An elephant balancing on its trunk - Frieze scupture Fair - Regent's Park

Unfortunately, it was another fine day today.  I say unfortunately because my back was still giving me trouble and I had to waste it by doing nothing more energetic than wandering about the garden and groaning theatrically from time to time.

The sunshine brought out the best in the poppies.





And once again the bees were very busy.

From the shade of the walnut tree, a blackbird stared at me.


The most striking flower was a pot marigold pretending to be a dahlia.

pot marigold

Though I did like  a modest dahlia against a background of phlox.


My back kindly lets me lean forward without trouble so I got the hedge clipper out and trimmed two of the box balls on the front lawn and I was just about to put the clipper away when I was visited by my South African correspondent Tom, who was returning from a cycle ride.  He is staying with family in Langholm for a few weeks and called in to see how I was going on.

He asked me what pictures I would like him to send and I have requested some South African wild flowers so I will wait with interest for what he sends me. Listening to his tales of a months long drought, thorny bushes and venomous snakes made me grateful for for the gentler surroundings of Langholm even if does rain quite a lot here.

We saw a coloured butterfly, probably a red admiral,  whizz past us as we talked but even though I had several searches later on in  the day, I couldn’t see it in the garden and had to settle for one of the frequent white visitors.

white butterfly

There are a lot of these about

A recent picture of an American spirea in a blog that I was reading made me take a look at one of the bushes in our garden.


It has very tiny flowers

One of the astilbes is in top form.


Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  Sitting in  a train didn’t seem like a good idea to me so I stayed at home.  This turned out to be a very good decision as her train was held up by a broken down train in front and the journey took an hour and a half longer than it should have.

This left me still wandering about the garden as sitting down for long is not an option at the moment.

The first rudbeckia is out…

rudbeckia and clematis

…and the Cherokee or Ooh La La clematis is lasting very well.

The day clouded over in the afternoon and I spent most of it inside relearning and instantly forgetting songs for the Carlisle choir concert in a month or so.

I did go out and look at blackbirds.


Then I set the camera up on a tripod upstairs and looked out of the window to see what the blackbirds were doing.  It mostly seemed to involve sitting on hedges…


…sometimes with friends.

blackbird and sparrows

I feel that there are more blackbirds about in the garden this year than ever before.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s return train journey was more successful than the outward trip and she got back safely.

I did go out on my slow bike to deliver a letter during the afternoon and I passed Mike and Alison hard at work in their garden on my way.  They gave me some sound back treatment advice and although I rather dismissed it at the time, I followed it when I got home and it turned out to be be very good.  It is possibly a sensible idea to take advice when offered from a retired doctor and nurse.

I nearly got a genuine flying bird of the day today.



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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo’s London visit.  She has discovered that she really likes Regent’s Park and I don’t blame her.  It is a lovely park.

regent's park

I spoke too soon about our dry spell of weather because when we woke up this morning, it was raining heavily and it continued to rain while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I made a spaghetti sauce for the slow cooker.

There were moments when there was a hint of a blue sky behind the rain….

chaffinch in the rain

…but they didn’t last and all was soon quite grey again.  Tempers were flaring in the feeder world…


…even though there were spare perches to be had.  Perhaps the birds have been infected by the rank political climate of the times.

I didn’t have long to enjoy staring out of the window at the rain though because as soon as Mrs Tootlepedal got back from church, we headed off to Carlisle to do a little shopping before an extended meeting of our Carlisle choir.

It was a ‘singing day’ when we get some specialist singing help from tutors who come down from Glasgow for the afternoon as well as extended work with our conductor on some of the pieces we are currently singing.  It was tiring but enjoyable and I have made a resolve to try to sing every day so I can put the things that I learned today into practice.

It was still raining when we got home so I don’t think that we missed much fun in Langholm.  The temperatures are much lower than they have been until this week so I shall have to get adjusted to cycling in miserable conditions.  I have been very spoiled lately and am finding it hard to get motivated at the moment.

The flower of the day, taken in the rain, is a marigold….


…and the flying bird, taken in the gloomiest part of the morning, is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

I took so few pictures today that I am taking the liberty of sneaking in one which I took last night after I had posted the blog.   We had no big firework celebration in the town yesterday and this was the only light in the night sky when I looked.


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Today’s guest picture shows a view of the River Trent near Swarkestone Bridge.  My brother Andrew took the shot while out with his walking group.

River Trent

The wind was in the process of moving round from east to west today but it did it very gently and gave us a wonderfully sunny autumn morning on the way.  It was cool enough to put ice on the car windscreen but not cold enough to produce a ground frost.

It would have been a grand day to be going about taking autumn mist and colour pictures but I didn’t have much time to spare so I rushed out after breakfast and took a few without going far from the house.

suspension bridge

River Esk in langholm


Buccleuch park in autumn

The reason for my haste was the need to be in Carlisle for a rehearsal for our community choir concert in the cathedral.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a prior engagement so I went by myself and arrived in perfect time for the practice.

Because the concert was in the middle of a working day, we were by no means at full strength but all the same we must have been about 60 or 70 strong so even in a venue as grand as the cathedral…

Carlisle Cathedral

…we were fairly squeezed in.

We had our practice and then assembled again for the concert.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that all the available seats in the audience had been taken, especially as there was  small charge for entry and we gave our best effort to the occasion.

A member of the audience, who happens to be a reader of this blog, told me afterwards that she had thoroughly enjoyed the concert so that made the work that went into it worthwhile.

The cathedral itself was positively glowing in the brilliant sunshine when we came out.

Carlisle cathedral

…and I enjoyed the walk back beneath the old city walls….

Carlisle City walls

…to the car park below.

Carlisle City walls

It was a golden day.

I drove home, had a cup of tea and a slice of bread and then got changed as quickly as possible to make some use of such a fine day on my bicycle.  It was unfortunate that such a good cycling day should coincide with a concert but such is life.

I did spend a few minutes looking out of the kitchen window while I was waiting for my tea to cool.

I have put a cage on the fat ball feeder to discourage jackdaws from eating me out of house and home and this makes taking pictures of the birds visiting it a bit tricky…

Two blue birds

…but as it also helps to protect them from any sparrowhawk raids, it is worth it.

The goldfinches were using the sunflower seed feeder.


A goldfinch gets a rude welcome…


…but having landed, starts shouting equally rudely

I went round my Canonbie twenty miler but in the opposite direction to my usual tour.  Considering that it starts and finishes at the same place, the amount of climb and descent must be equal whichever way you go but it seemed much harder going round the ‘wrong’ way and as the sun had gone in and it was feeling quite chilly, I didn’t stop to take any pictures but concentrated on getting home as soon as possible.

Mrs Tootlepedal had come home from her engagement and was busy planting out daffodils and exchanging views on life over the garden hedge with Stan, one of Langholm’s finest photographers.


While we talked, a flurry of excitement from the bird feeder heralded a flying visit from the sparrowhawk but it came and went so swiftly that we couldn’t tell whether it had caught a small bird napping or not.

There wasn’t enough light left to make a walk worthwhile so I had a quick wander round the garden….



…where there was more than enough late October colour to keep an old man happy.




Lilian Austin and Crown Princess Margareta


Yarrow, a gift from our friend Jenny’s garden

We have had a long flowering season after a slow start this year.

Then  it was time for a shower and our evening meal (which featured the third and last appearance of the slow cooked venison stew) and a good sit down.

The wind should  have completed its turn by tomorrow and it is due to be quite brisk so I may have a quiet day and catch up on business.  I have done 400 miles on the bike already this month so I am well up on my schedule.

The flower of the day is a marigold….


…and the flying bird of the day is two goldfinches in combative mood.

flying goldfinches

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Today’s guest picture is a reminder from my sister Mary of sunny days in the South of France, captured when we visited Aix-en-Provence not so long ago.

Aix-en-Provence -Cafe where Cezanne and Zola used to meet - called Les Deux Garcons

Today had two good things about it  and one of them was surprising considering that the forecast had been for rain showers all day when I last looked at it.

The first good thing was the arrival of Dropscone for coffee on a Saturday bringing with him the traditional Friday treacle scones. Freshly cooked too.  While we ate and drank, the rain poured down outside but when it came to be time for Dropscone to leave, the rain had stopped.  It still looked pretty gloomy but I ventured out into the garden after a while.

Of course as soon as I said in yesterday’s post that the blackbirds had gone, they came back today…


…and I saw a goldfinch while we were having coffee too.  When I looked over the back fence, I could see that the blackbirds had been busy eating the rowan berries on the other side of the dam which was probably why I hadn’t been seeing them in the garden.

As soon as I got my camera out though, they all flew off leaving a starling to take the rap.

starling with rowan berry

I enjoyed watching some sparrows bathing in the dam while I waited for the blackbirds to come back…

sparrows bathing in dam

…but the blackbirds were camera shy so I gave up and went in and had lunch.

I took a couple of pictures on my way in.


A single snowberry


A lot of marigolds (and some nicotiana and nasturtiums)

While I was preparing lunch, I was entertained by a pair of blue tits on the feeder.

Blue tits

The second good thing about the day was that when I checked the forecast again, it said that it would be dry, possibly sunny later and almost windless in the afternoon.  It was a bit hard to believe after the poor forecast yesterday and the morning rain shower but I put on my cycling gear and ventured tentatively out, ready to turn for  home at a moment’s notice.

It was windless so I pedalled on and although it was grey and autumnal…

Sprinkell road

The road near Sprinkell

…it was good cycling weather.

I stopped for a bridge near Eaglesfield….

Eaglesfield bridge

…with the merest hint of blue sky off to my right.  By the time that I had got to Gretna, the blue sky had become a fixture and the bridge over the Sark was glowing in the sunshine.

Sark Bridge, Gretna

I leant my bike against the parapet and enjoyed a banana while viewing Gretna’s answer to the Rio Grande.


Scotland to the left and England to the right.

I had started out with twenty miles in mind and as I had done twenty five by this time, I headed straight up the main roads back to Langholm with the gentlest of breezes helping me on my way.  It had become a perfect day for a pedal in every way.

I made a little deviation off the A7 to visit Hollows Bridge…

Hollows Bridge

…and see my favourite fiery tree…

fiery tree Hollows

…before stopping off to admire  Hollows Tower.

Hollows Tower

Mrs Tootlepedal was at home by this time after a full day learning about Japanese quilting at an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting so I stopped pootering about and put my head down for the last few miles home.

It was lucky that I did have my head down as I noticed something unusual in the verge as I passed the Middleholms road end.


I stopped and looked around.

Ink Cap

It was a bunch of common ink cap mushrooms at various stages of development

I took the opportunity, since I had already stopped, to cross the road and look across the Esk to where I had lately been taking pictures from the other side.


I managed the distance neatly so that I arrived home bang on 40 miles.  This was very pleasing for a decimally inclined chap like myself.  Then I enjoyed a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  We both felt that we had had a good day out.

There was enough light left to watch a coal tit on the feeder….

coal tit

…before I went off to have a shower.

I had put a beef and vegetable stew into the slow cooker in the morning so all that was needed for the complete evening meal was some courgette fritters and Mrs Tootlepedal came up trumps on that front.

Being Saturday, we settled down to enjoy our weekly dose of Strictly Come dancing as we ate our meal and we hope that this week, the worst dancer will get eliminated, something which often doesn’t happen owing to a misplaced sense of irony in the voting audience.

My flower of the day is the Fuschia on the back wall by the dam which I noticed while I was stalking berry eating blackbirds….


…and the flying bird is a berry eating blackbird which flew off before I could photograph it.

flying blackbird




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No guest picture of the day today but a picture of the road where I was staying as a guest of my sister Susan overnight before our journey back to Langholm.

Kentish Town

It was a warm morning in Kentish Town in North London but somehow, although it was sunny and however quiet and tree lined the road was as I went to buy a pint of milk for our breakfast, it didn’t quite have the allure and sparkle of Marseille.

Susan lives in a quiet corner of the busy city and I like this elegant way of stopping cars driving past a primary school near her house.

school bollards Kentish Town

Mrs Tootlepedal was staying with my sister Mary a few hundred yards away and we met up after breakfast and after a restful pause we caught the bus down to Euston and the train up to Carlisle.

We met a friend on the train and when we found that we had some time to spare before we could catch the bus to complete the last leg of our journey, we went into a Mexican restaurant with him and had a cup of coffee along with some with French fries with a sour cream dip, as one does in Carlisle, before finally getting home.

The garden looked surprisingly well.


The dahlias were surviving, although a lot of dead heading is needed.


And the usual suspects were also doing not too badly.




There were a number of blackbirds about…


…looking quite well fed.  This may explain where almost all of the rowan berries have gone during our absence.


Not many left

The lawns needed mowing but I left that that for tomorrow and after we had unpacked, we had a meal of baked potatoes followed by baked apples, both from the garden.  If you can’t be sitting out in the evening sunshine beside the old port in Marseille eating fish, sitting in and eating food from your own garden is a good substitute.

For each of the next few days,  I am going to fill out one of the brief reports which I posted from my phone while we were away, adding photos that I took with my Lumix.  Those who would like to see more details of our French holiday can start with the first day post by clicking on this link: Marseille:Day One.

The flower of the day is one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite dahlias.


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Today’s guest picture shows Inverary Castle in spring this year.  It was sent to me by ‘Garden Tour’ Nancy from Washington State, USA.  She met us in May with her husband Phil when they stopped at Langholm on a tour of Britain  before going on to the Highlands.

Inverary castle

We enjoyed, if that is the right word, another miserable, grey, drizzly and often windy day.  It was only suitable for eating treacle scones so it was lucky that it was Friday and Dropscone arrived with a good supply.  We shared them with Sandy who joined us for coffee.

After they left,  I had a quick whizz round the garden to do some dead heading and take some snaps.  The light was too poor for good flower pictures even at midday.  The only colour in the day was courtesy of Mrs Tootlepedal.


Mobs of marigolds.  One of these may not be a marigold.


Flocks of phlox. One of these may not be phlox.

Both sides of the drive

Both sides of the drive

Once again, the authorities, anxious to keep us happy, had provided a never ending flow of Olympic events to keep us happy while we kept out of the drizzle.  A steady supply of medals of various colours for our contenders kept us entertained royally.

I did feel the need for a little exercise after several hours of sofa surfing so I braved the drizzle and went for a walk in the afternoon.

There were no views to be had…


…but I had chosen a sheltered route….

Gaskell's walk

…so it wasn’t too bad.

There was plenty to look at even if taking pictures in the wind and the rain was a bit tricky.

wild flowers

The heather is coming out which always brightens this time of year up and the convolvulus is looking very perky too.

Convolvulus and heather

It is the season of berries.

raspberries and tree berry

I ate some of them.

The drizzle was quite gentle and I was going to extend my walk until the wind got up again and the drizzle turned to sheets of rain for a while and so I turned for home.  I passed a bracket fungus.

bracket fungus

…nodded at the fine potentilla along the dam…


…and crashed back onto the sofa for the rest of the day.  The weather should get a bit better from tomorrow.

There is no flying bird or flower of the day today but as we have a new family of young blackbirds in the garden at present, here is the perching bird of the day.


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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the sort of food he had to put up with on his recent holiday abroad.


Standing in a gale looking at wild flowers for several hours yesterday proved to be curiously tiring and when I woke up this morning, I felt very much like having a quiet day.

I had a very quiet day.

I was helped to avoid any temptation to do something energetic by a strong wind and occasional rain showers.

I pottered around the garden, enjoying the colours on a grey day…


The mixed packet of cornflower seeds is still providing good value.


Marigolds have joined the garden colour scheme

Sweet William

The Sweet William cheer up the gloomiest days

I thought about mowing some grass.

But I didn’t.

I went inside and did a crossword and looked out of the window.  It was a day when there was always a siskin behind you.

following siskins

I had another garden potter.

The bees were busy.  Every Astrantia seemed to have one (or two).

astrantia with bee

We have sea holly in the garden under its Sunday name of Eryngium.


I went back in and made some carrot and lentil soup for lunch and then settled down to watch the Tour De France on the telly.  Watching cycle racing on the telly is very peaceful for the most part, though the final kilometres usually provide great excitement and that was the pattern today.

When it was over, I added a little tennis to my viewing diet but Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to the garden.  After a while, I went out to see what she was up to.

Attila the gardener was slashing hedges and demolishing box balls…

Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden

…in order to provide a more generous vista at the end of the back path.  She always has a new plan just in case she isn’t doing enough work in the garden already.  I helped by shredding the clippings.

When she had finished, I had a final wander round.


The cardoons are getting taller and wider all the time. Soon they will rule the world.

I found a late iris and a new courgette.

courgette and iris

A Verbascum took the prize for the tallest flower of the day.


After tea, the day floated gently to its end and I am hoping that such a peaceful time will lead to the restoration of full power tomorrow.

The flower of the day is a dahlia…


..and the flying bird is a fuzzy chaffinch (the light wasn’t very good).


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