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Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.

oznor

A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.

 

Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce.  He sent me this shot of the three bridges over the Forth as seen from the ship that was about to take him to Sweden.

three forth bridges

We were due to go to Edinburgh today to visit Matilda but I got up early and cycled twenty miles and got home in time to mow the middle lawn, have a cup of coffee and look at a few flowers, including the first orange hawkweed of the year…

Orange hawkweed june

…some Rosa Complicata (a very simple rose as it happens)….

rosa complicata

…one of the Rosa Moyesii which are doing the best of our roses at the moment…

rosa moyesii

…a very bright oriental poppy…

oriental poppy

…some delicate ornamental strawberries with don’t seem to mind the rain at all…

pink strawberries

…and an astrantia, always one of my favourite flowers.

pink astrantia

The cotoneaster still has a good number of bees buzzing about it, so new flowers must be opening every day.

bee on cotoneaster

Jackdaws are very busy at the peanuts these days.

jackdaw on peanuts

And today’s hedge sitter was a young blackbird.

young blackbird on hedge

We went off to Edinburgh earlier than usual as we had a shopping visit on the schedule and this meant driving to Tweedbank to use the Border Railway.  The train was on time and when we got to Edinburgh, we walked down to John Lewis.  As well as doing some successful shopping, we had a cup of coffee in what must be the department store cafe with the best view in Britain.  My phone can’t do it justice at all.

sdr

After we had done our shopping we went to Matilda’s house.  As it was such a sunny day, she was very happy to show us her local park.  It is called Lochend Park and this is the end of the loch in the park.

dav

I didn’t have a good camera with me which was a pity as there were two sorts of geese, gulls, moorhens and ducks to look at, not to mention a fine doocot.  The moorhens put on a fine show of ducking and diving and swimming underwater.  Matilda was impressed.

She was also impressed by the roundabout which turned very smoothly…

dav

…and the intricate web of ropes which gave her an opportunity to show her adventurous nature.

dig

We were impressed by the wild irises growing along the banks of the loch.

dig

We had a very  cheerful time sitting on the benches thoughtfully provided by Edinburgh Corporation for the relief of the elderly while Matilda spun and climbed and slid.

The road to the park from Matilda’s house is called Butterfly Way so we were able to remark (many, many times) that we had had a lovely day on Butterfly Way.

Alistair cooked us a tasty meal involving roast aubergines, cherry tomatoes and rigatoni so we were two happy people as we caught the train home.

Going to Tweedbank, rather then Lockerbie means a much longer drive, but there is still so much novelty in driving the electric car that the time passed quickly enough.  We had done 97 miles since the last charge by the time that we got home and when I plugged the car in, it said that there was just under half the charge left in the battery.  This gives us a very satisfactory range for summer driving although we realise that it will be considerably less in the cold winter months.

The flying birds of the day are a very unsatisfactory phone picture of pigeons returning to the doocot in Lochend Park.  I will take a proper camera next time I visit.

dig

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She visited Minterne gardens and saw a hundred flowers as good as these ones.

Minterne Gardens

We had the option of leaving North Berwick this evening or early tomorrow morning and as Matilda has a busy day in Edinburgh tomorrow and Mrs Tootlepedal has a busy day in Langholm, we opted for the early departure and we are safely home as I write this.

We were perhaps a touch fortunate as regards the safety part of that statement as a motorcyclist with a pillion passenger overdid things round a tight corner and crashed his bike a couple hundred yards in front of us.  If we had been a few seconds earlier, we would not have been able to avoid him.

As it was, the biker and his passenger were shaken but not injured and after some wrestling we got his immobilised bike (180kg!) off the middle of the road and into the verge out of harms way.  They were right beside some houses so after a quarter of an hour, we left them trying to phone someone to come and rescue them and drove quietly off.

The little electric thingy managed 80 miles on half its battery charge, so we thought that that was quite satisfactory.  It was wonderful cruising silently and smoothly across the beautiful countryside on a lovely evening.

It is getting late so I will add the briefest of outlines of our final day.

Inspired by a challenge from one of the blog readers, the sand castle slaves built a bigger and better castle today.

castle stamping 1

(You get some odd results if you leave the camera to do the picture processing.  The two pictures, above and below, were taken within seconds and yards of each other.)

castle stamping 2

No sooner was the castle built than the inevitable occurred.

castle stamping 3castle stamping 4castle stamping 5castle stamping 6

And there was a regrettable tendency among the castle building slaves to join in the fun..

castle stamping 7

…in a very wholehearted way.

castle stamping 8

Soon the castle was completely levelled.

castle stamping 9

And we all went back in, quite satisfied with our work of construction and destruction.

After lunch, we returned to the beach where I admired the vivid green of the sea weed in the rock pools…

green weed NB

…and Matilda got the sea organised.

dav

There was more fun indoors and out before Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a final chance to sit out on the harbour rocks and admire the view.  The sharp eyed will see a little flock of gannets flying low across the sea.

dav

As we ate our final meal, a small flotilla of sailing dinghies lined up on the beach prior to setting out for a late evening sail.

sdr

We were blessed with very reasonable weather for our break, and enjoyed our holiday a lot…..but it is good to be home again.

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the Fife Agricultural Show at the weekend.  It is also the flying bird of the day.

ag show owl

A post of few words today as it was late after a busy day when I sat down to compile this post.

I hired a bike after breakfast and went for a 15 mile bike ride past historic towers…

Fenton Tower

…down long hills in wide open country…

wide open downhill NB

…past a picturesque church at Smeaton…

smeaton church

…and a very woolly sheep..

sheep NB

…and then up even longer hills on the way back…

wide open uphill

…to North Berwick.

It was most enjoyable.

It had rained overnight but in spite of some grey clouds my ride was warm enough for shorts and dry throughout.

The sun was shining on bright green seaweed when I got back to the cottage.

green seaweed NB

Matilda, her mother and grandmother had been been building a smart sandcastle decorated with shells while I was pedalling and I resisted any temptation to stamp on it when I went past it.

After lunch, Matilda, her mother, granny and I went off for a walk.  We saw eider ducks…

eider duck NB

…herring gulls…

gull NB

…while we walked round the concrete barrier which contains some of the receding tide to act as a swimming pool when the tide is out.  In spite of the sunshine, it was too cold for anyone to be enjoying a swim today…

swimming pool NB

…and a different form of paddling was popular.

canoeists NB

We left the beach and walked up through the town…

tree is street NB

…and through the ornamental gardens…

flowers in garden NB

…until we got to the play park where Matilda hung about in a productive manner for a while.

matilda in park NB

…and then we went back through the gardens…

flowers BN

…with their beautifully maintained lawns and beds…

neat beds NB

…and went into the Seabird Centre for a much needed cup of tea and a tea cake.

As we went back to the cottage, I enjoyed this gull swimming in an elaborate cross ripple near the harbour wall.

gull in cross ripple

And we enjoyed an exciting game or two of Go Fish, a new game to me before tea.

After an excellent meal and while Matilda was being put to bed, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a drive in sunshine and rain and if I had had my good camera with me (and a place to park), I would have been able to show you a rainbow rising from the Bass Rock.  It was a wonderful sight.

As it was, we found somewhere to leave the car at a country park near the sea a few miles along the coast.  I took some pictures with my phone in spite of the fading light.

We walked down this very well maintained path with a row of maples along the side providing us with a good umbrella against some light rain.

dav

Then we turned down through one of the most delightful woods I have ever walked through…

dav

…until we came to the sea.  The rain had stopped but there were still dark clouds surrounding the Bass Rock in the distance.

dav

The beach looked so inviting that we hope that we might go there again for a picnic tomorrow.

dav

We just had time for a game of Oh Hell with Matilda’s parents before it was time for bed.

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my Canadian correspondents, Lucie.  She has been visiting relatives in the UK and when she passed through Edinburgh on her way north, she stopped off to check out the view from the castle.

edinburgh castle

We had a warm and sunny day today and with lighter winds, it felt like a good day to discard some layers of clothing at last.

The flowers in the garden enjoyed the warmth too and my favourite tulip was looking at its best….

lovely tulip

…though the same could not be said for a very ragged anemone which has not enjoyed the cold while waiting to spread its wings.

grotty anemone

I had to go to the doctor to discuss the x-ray and the state of my foot.  The gel insoles are continuing to help and the lack of serious pain after my cycle ride yesterday is also encouraging so the policy is ‘steady as you go’ and to fix an appointment with a physio to see how much my back is contributing to the problem.

As I cycled over the suspension bridge on my way to the doctor, I noticed that the poplar trees beside the church are going green.poplars in leaf

Back in the garden, I checked out more flowers and found a fancy tulip not looking at its best…

twisted poppy

…but the brunnera is doing very well.

brunnera

I discovered that some of the newest flowers on the magnolia have no brown tips on their petals as they missed the frosty mornings…

untouched magnolia bloom

…and that the drumstick primulas are doing superbly, regardless of the weather.

nearly a sphere primula

Things have been both cold and dry and some of the tulips are beginning to look a little tired…

blowsy pink tulips

…even some of the ones that have come out most recently.

three yelow tulips

I don’t know where the siskins have been for the last few days, but they came back here today and there were a good number of them about.

four siskins

They are very much the same size and shape as the redpolls though siskins like to perch head down more than the redpolls.

redpoll and siskin

There is so much blossom on the plum tree that it is sometimes hard to see the birds so it was good of this chaffinch to find a space to perch where I could see him clearly.

chaffinch among the blossom

After lunch, we went off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her family.  There are great plans afoot to improve Waverley Station but I hope that they are not going to improve out this fine ceiling in the main waiting room.

station ceiling

When we got to Matilda’s new house, we found the last blossom still on the tree which the builders kindly planted in their garden…

Ediburgh blossom

…and we found Matilda in the garden too.

Here she is having a rest after playing ball with her grandfather.

Matilda in the sun

We had a good time mowing the new lawn and gathering up the grass and after some indoor games too, we had a delicious mixed bean chilli cooked by Alistair, Matilda’s father which we ate in the company of Matilda’s other grandparents and an aunt so it was a thoroughly convivial occasion.

The journey home was uneventful and we look forward to seeing Matilda, Al and Clare getting settled into their new home over the next few weeks.

I didn’t have time to hang about for a flying bird to day so the best I could do was a rather vague siskin in the background.

distant flying siskin

 

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After my brother Andrew’s artistic nut weevil yesterday, today’s guest picture from Venetia’s African adventure shows the real thing, dung beetles on elephant droppings.  You can hardly get more down to earth than that.

dung beetles

We had a busy day.  We just had time for a cup of coffee and a quick wave at the birds on our feeder…

four bords at feeder

…before setting off to drive the 40 miles to Tweedbank to catch the train to Edinburgh with my sister Susan.  It is her 85th birthday tomorrow and she was anxious to celebrate this auspicious occasion a day early by meeting our two sons and their partners and especially Matilda whom she has never met.

We managed to combine this with some cultural activity and as soon as we had got off the train, we visited the City Art Centre which is conveniently right next to the station.  Here we had some nourishing soup and sourdough bread in the cafe and then went to explore an exhibition of Edinburgh street photography of the 1950s and 1960s by Robert Blomfield, a medical student and later a doctor in the city.

We had been advised to see this exhibition by Sandy and his advice was very sound.  It turned out to be wonderful.   You can get a taste of what we saw here, though the website’s images don’t convey the full power of the prints that we saw.

After we had visited the exhibition, we were joined at the art gallery’s cafe by our son Tony and his partner Marianne who came from their work to see us. We had an hour of good conversation, tea and a fancy cake with them. I congratulated Tony on the many excellent photographs which he has taken while walking his dogs and whihc I have used as guest pictures of the day.  When it was time for them to go home (to walk their dogs), we walked along the road a few hundred yards, crossing over the railway station and heading for the National Gallery under which the trains disappear.

nat gallery from waverley

On our way along Princes Street, I was struck by these hard working little fellows holding the world on their shoulders.

princes street

The Scottish National Gallery is not particularly large but it holds a delightful selection of works and I recorded some of my favourites on my phone as we went along.

burst

dav

dav

This still life was painted in oils on copper and it gave it a tremendously vivid quality.

dav

Some of us needed a moment to recover from the sensory overload.

susan napping 85th

We left the gallery and walked past the Scottish Academy….

scottish academy

…back down to Princes Street where we caught a bus which took us down Leith Walk where we met Matilda, who had kindly brought our son Alistair and his wife Clare to have a meal with us at an Italian restaurant.

Once again, we enjoyed good conversation while we ate.  The restaurant is very well adjusted to coping with children and gives them a sheet of puzzles and some crayons to pass the time while their elders chatter on.  Here we can see Matilda explaining the finer points of one of the puzzles to her mother.

mde

After we finished the meal and before we parted company, Matilda showed us her latest dance routine in the street while her father moved along beside her, playing the music from his phone.

mde

She is going to her first dancing competition next month and has learned her routine very well already.

As she danced off to go to bed, we caught a bus back to the railway station, jumped on the train back to Tweedbank with a minute to spare and enjoyed a trouble free journey home to round off a most satisfactory day where everything ran like clockwork for once.

We have to thank my sister Susan for suggesting such a good way to spend a day.

Today’s flying bird is having a quiet moment of peace as it wonders if there is a screw loose somewhere.

siskin

 

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Today’s just picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother, Mike.  He planted some daffodils to brighten the road verge opposite his house and is pleased that his work has born fruit.  Being 300 miles south of Langholm, his daffodils are already out.

Mike daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle after an early breakfast to help sort out the music library for  our Carlisle choir.  This is a big job with 130 copies of every piece of music we sing needing to be sorted and stored.

While she was gone I looked out into the garden on another grey day.

The feeder was busy…

busy feeder

…and on the mossy lawn, a pigeon was putting its best foot forward.

pigeon on lawn

I had put out some fat balls and they had attracted jackdaws.

jackdaws on feeder

There was no shortage of flying birds to be seen even if there was a bit of a shortage of light to see them by.

flying chaffinches and goldfinches

Sandy came round for coffee.  He was in an exceptionally good mood because he had just enjoyed a thoroughly good night’s sleep, a thing so rare as to be be priced above pearls.

While we sipped and chatted, we were joined by some greenfinches…

flying greenfinches

…and a very unusually marked jackdaw.  I have never seen one like this before.

speckled jackdaw

After coffee, we went up to visit the Moorland project feeders in the glade at the Laverock hide as it was Sandy’s day to act as feeder filler.  After filling the feeders, we lurked in the hide for a while.  There were plenty of birds about, mostly chaffinches but with a good number of great and blue tits too.

blue and great tits Laverock

As with my garden, there were no winter visitors to be seen at all.  This is a bit worrying as there seems to be no reason not see our usual migrants.  I hope it is a one off and  not a sign of things to come.

We didn’t stay too long and when Sandy stopped at the Co-op on our way back to buy a local paper (full of articles by Dropscone this week), I took the opportunity to get out too and walk home along the river in the hope of seeing something interesting.

The hope was amply fulfilled as I saw a goosander…

goosander

…two oyster catchers…

two oyster catchers

…three dippers…

dippers in esk

…and a single white duck.

white duck

It was still pretty grey and most of the birds were a bit too far away from the bank for good pictures but it was encouraging to see them.  I snapped the church too while I was passing…

church on a grey day

…and a bit of typical Langholm street life.  Dog walking is a popular activity in our town.

alan and dogs

When I got home, I made some soup and then dashed out into the garden when the sun came out.

sunny crocuses

I didn’t have time to enjoy the sunshine and go for a walk or a pedal though as I had to go off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was a day of sophisticated travel arrangements as Matilda and her family were flying back from a family party in Dublin over lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal planned to catch the train from Carlisle that I was aiming to catch 20 minutes later in Lockerbie.  It is on days like this that the mobile phone really comes into is own and the flight and train journey went smoothly as planned and we all met in Edinburgh on schedule.

Matilda then took Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a walk in the woods.  We scaled the heights…

sdr

…passed all sorts of interesting plants like this St John’s Wort…

dav

…and came out at the top of a small hill from which we could see Edinburgh Castle in the distance  over the roofs.

dig

The rest of the afternoon was spent in catching up on news of the trip to Ireland, being coached by Matilda in the proper use of the alphabet, watching clips from Matilda’s dancing school’s annual show on DVD and eating another tasty meal.

We got safely back to Lockerbie on the train and drove home as the temperature dropped back to freezing again.

It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow after a chilly start.  I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is one of the oyster catchers making off down river.

flying oyster catcher

 

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