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Posts Tagged ‘nasturtium’

There are two guest pictures from Clare today which show why Matilda was so cheerful yesterday.  She went on a boat trip round the Bass Rock with her aunt and cousin……

Bass Rock Matilda

…and saw lots of gannets. (This one was taken by Clare with her phone while holding Matilda in a rocking boat.  That takes great skill.) …..

gannet

…which is quite enough to make anyone feel cheerful.  I am very envious.

We had one of those days today.  If it was raining, the sun was about to come out and if it was sunny, it was about to rain.

I should have got up earlier because the best sunny spell was before and during breakfast.  The lawn was busy with thrushes and blackbirds.

thrush and blackbird

There were  two thrushes and lots of blackbirds.

blackbirds

I don’t think that we have ever had so many blackbirds in the garden in summer.  I wouldn’t mind but they are eating all my raspberries.

I got up into my cycling gear but wasted a lot of time in sitting and thinking before I finally got going.  There had been a lot of overnight rain and the river was quite full as I cycled over the Hollows Bridge…

River Esk

…but it had obviously been quite local as I passed from dry roads to roads awash with enormous puddles several times.

I was taking things easy again as my back is not quite at 100% yet but managed a few more gentle hills than on my last excursion.  I didn’t take many pictures as it kept on raining and I spent a lot of time putting my rain jacket on and taking it off again.

I did take a picture of the old church at Half Morton, now a family home…

Half Morton church

…and although it was in the sun, you can see the next shower looming up behind it.

On one of the occasions that I stopped for my rain jacket, I saw a fungus by the roadside. ..

fungus

…and I am surprised that I haven’t seen more considering the wet weather.

The rain showers didn’t last long and it was reasonably warm so I enjoyed my ride well enough.  I was rather clammy when I got home though.

I had a late lunch and a shower and then I went out to join Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden.  She was planting out her three new purchases and I hope that they will flower soon so that I can take a picture or two of them.

In the meantime, I sieved a couple of barrows of compost and mowed first the middle lawn and then the front lawn.  Although they were both very soggy at one stage of the day, a brisk wind and a warm sun dried them out just enough to be worth cutting.

I also looked at a flower or two.

sunflower

We may get more sunshine in the garden soon

battered poppy

The weather was too much for the poppies today

Rudbeckia

I had to stand on tiptoe to take this shot of a Rudbeckia. Mrs Tootlepedal has just bought a shorter one.

clematis

The clematis on the fence is battered but (mainly) unbowed. It has its back to the prevailing wind.

With the poppies keeping their heads well down today, dahlias and nasturtiums were the most colourful things on display…

nasturtiumdahlia

…with the exception of the phlox which has been brightening up our dull weather a great deal.

phlox

I even saw a red admiral butterfly on the phlox today but it fluttered off before I could fetch a camera.

More rain showers drove us indoors and we rounded off the day with a meal of lamb garnished with courgettes, spring onions and potatoes from the garden.

It is very difficult to make a good plan when the weather is so changeable but sadly, the forecast for the next few days shows that the cool showery spell is going to continue.

The flying bird of the day is a rather grey cow from my bike ride, not a colour that you often see.

grey cow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a walk on The Edge in Derbyshire which my brother Andrew shared with his walking group….and some cows….and some very nice weather.

The Edge

Our weather improved today but it was still pretty damp in the morning. I didn’t go out to take a flower picture until nearly midday.

poppies

Oddly, many of the poppies were facing the wrong way and I had to go out into the road and look into the garden from over the hedge to see these two pairs.

poppies

Yellow crocosmia have just started to come out and they should blend with the poppies if we get some warmth.  The dahlias also need warmth but the nasturtiums are doing very well in the cool and damp.

crocosmia, nasturtium and dahlia

Along with the weather, my back was quite a lot better too and I was able to trim a box ball and prune the espalier apples…

box and apples

…which are cropping well this year.

After lunch I did a bit more work in the garden and admired a hosta and an indefatigable Icelandic poppy which will keep flowering as long as I keep dead heading it.

hosta and poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal spent as much as time in the garden as she could but I went in to give my back a rest and watched a bit of the World Athletic Championships.  I was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal when it started to rain but the rain didn’t last so I went off for a walk to see how my back would hold up.

It held up well as I pottered down to Skippers Bridge and back, a distance of two miles which took me exactly an hour.

It wasn’t sunny but at least I could see the hills today.

Whita

There was plenty more to see on the way.

fruit

Fruits

flowers

Flowers present and past

Garden escapes by the river

Garden escapes by the river

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam

Skippers Bridge was looking as good as ever….

skippers bridge

The recent repair is holding up well at the moment.

I thought that the trees were starting to get an autumnal tint when I looked through the bridge.

skippers bridge

There was enough water coming down the river….

River esk

…to keep me well back from the edge.

On the way back there was more to see.

swallows

I hope that it not time for the swallows to leave already

leaf problems

Problems on the leafs of trees

fly on ragwort

A ragwort with visitors

It was almost sunny as I walked back…

Castle Hill

…and it was a very pleasant evening to be out walking.

I tried a black and white shot of the walnut tree when I got back to the garden….

Walnut tree

…as I liked the pattern of the trunks.

We are promised some sunshine tomorrow and that will be very welcome.  If we get it, I will try my back out on a short bike ride.

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Today’s ‘London Trip’ photograph is a peek into the Pullman coach which featured in yesterday’s post.

Pullman coach

Owing to a miscalculation there are far too many pictures in today’s post but having processed them all, I am too lazy to decide which ones to cut out so they are all here.

For the busy reader here is a synopsis of the day so that reading the rest of the post can be skipped.  Got up, mowed some grass, went for a pedal, went to bed.  Just another day.

For the long suffering and patient reader, here is the fuller version.

It was a dry and pleasantly warm day but the cloud cover never relented until late evening when we had a glimpse of sunshine.

As usual, the first business of the day was a poppy check.

opium poppies

Good

Shirley poppies

Very encouraging

poppies

Who needs sunshine!

Other quieter flowers are available.

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta. I like the pyramid of clematis in the top right frame

Then I had to run an errand for Mrs Tootlepedal and thin out some radishes before any further action could occur but I managed both of these tasks and mowed the drying green and the green house grass and hung out a load of washing.

I needed a bit of sustenance after all that so I had a lettuce and marmite sandwich and I am beginning to realise that too much of my life has been wasted in not eating lettuce and marmite sandwiches.  Of course it helps that Mrs Tootlepedal has provided an endless supply of fresh lettuces.

Coffee and a crossword merged into a healthy lunch of sardines, new potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce and by this time I had eaten so much that a bike ride was essential.

I checked on the birds in the garden first….

sparrows eating peas

This is what drives Mrs Tootlepedal to despair.

blackbird family

After a stand off, a blackbird parent and child meet in the middle for a snack

Then I set off for a gentle, flat ride.  Most unusually, there was hardly a breath of wind so with the sun behind the clouds, it was a prefect day for cycling if not for landscape views.

I was in no hurry and there were plenty of flowers to keep me happy.

orchids and willowherb

The last two orchids along the Wauchope road and a nicely decorated wall up Callister

I took the road to Gair.  This is always a treasure trove of wild flowers.  Today there was a lot of ragwort all along the road.  I stopped because I was hoping to see a cinnabar moth caterpillar which likes ragwort a lot but I had to settle for this…

ragwort

…less colourful visitor.  I checked quite a few ragwort out with no luck.

I stopped further along to see how many flowers I could see within a few yards of my bicycle.

Wild flowers

wild flowers

The raspberry was delicious.  I don’t know what the pink furry flower is but it turns into a doleful looking owl as it goes over.

The butterfly was very annoying. Why my camera wouldn’t focus on it was a mystery.  Still the flower that it was settled on was worth a shot in its own right.

wild flower

On the other side of the road, a bunch of thistles were looking good, some in full flower….

thistle

…and some, like the writer of this piece, gone to seed.

thistle

The most interesting flower than I saw on the Gair road was the great burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis, which grows here every year.  When you first spot it, it looks like the dull head of a plantain but when you get closer it shows up as being a dark red colour and as is so often the case, a closer looks pays dividends.

Sanguisorba officinalis

I cycled on until I came to the Old A74, passing this hedge dripping with honeysuckle…..

honeysuckle

…on my way.

When I got to Gretna, I saw a most unusual sight.  As you can see from the photo, it was so still that the windmills were not going round at all.

Gretna Windmills

Not contributing to the grid today.

I was so excited at taking this rare picture that I stepped back and stood on the mirror on my bike and broke it.   I can’t turn my head round while cycling without falling off my bike and  I hadn’t realised just how much I depend upon the use of a mirror to cycle safely.

I pedalled bravely on though, passing pretty but less welcome flowers in the verge.

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam, an invasive pest.

As I was coming towards the border near Englishtown, I heard a great chattering and saw that the starlings have begun to gather.

Starlings

I hope that we get a good murmuration this winter.

I saw a lot of this peeping out of hedges on my trip.

blue vetch

Cow or blue vetch

…but my camera is reluctant to let me get a close up of it so this group shot will have to do.

I couldn’t miss the daises on the Canonbie bypass.

daisies on the by pass

I met my neighbour Ken out on his bike near Canonbie and we cycled along together for a while.  When we came to a little hill, I had to let him go on as he is a much quicker cyclist than I am.  Uphill is my downfall as a cyclist.

When I got home, I walked round the garden and found that the early potato haulms were looking very sad and collapsed so I thought it best to dig the last six plants up.  They hadn’t fallen on stony ground!

early potatoes

I left them to dry for an hour (they were pretty dry when I dug them out) and then boxed them up.  My diet will have a lot  of potatoes in it over the next few weeks.

I picked and ate raw some of the peas which the sparrows hadn’t got at and then had a last walk round the garden.

There is no shortage of colour.

Crocosmia

A Crocosmia reaches the end of the line.

Fuchsia

A Fuchsia puts its dancing shoes on

Nasturtium

Shy Nasturtium

Phlox

Phlox contrast

The last flower of the day is a nicotiana…

nicotiana

…and it is right that is should be last as it only produces its delightful smell in the cool of the evening.

It was a delight to stand in the garden after my tea, with the scent of the nicotiana, the colour of the flowers all around and not a breath of wind.  I made the most of it as the forecast for the next few days is not very promising.

The non flying bird of the day, perhaps because it seems to have lost its tail a bit, is a very doleful sparrow indeed.

doleful sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture shows Justin half way up the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District  yesterday.  He was accompanying my brother Andrew to the summit and had paused to admire the view.  My brother took the picture.

Old Man of Coniston

I am going to break with habit and start today’s post with a picture that I took last night after I had posted yesterday’s offering.  Clear nights have been  a rarity lately so this view of the moon just breaking free of a layer of thin cloud was very welcome.

Moon

I have not been sleeping as well as I would like recently so it took me some time to get up and have a late breakfast this morning and Mrs Tootlepedal had long departed to sing with the church choir before I managed to get the fairly speedy bike out and set off for a traditional Sunday morning 40 mile run down the flat roads to Newtown and back.

I was very pleased to see that although Genghis the Grasscutter…

Canonbie by pass

…had slaughtered most of the orchids along the Canonbie by-pass, a few….

orchids

…had escaped his vengeful blades.

There was a westerly wind blowing with quite a bit of bite in it so I had to pay attention to my bicycling and didn’t stop to take any pictures until I paused for a breather and a banana on the bridge at Longtown on my way home.

The River Esk at Longtown

The River Esk at Longtown

When Mrs Tootlepedal and I had driven to Carlisle yesterday, we had noticed that the knapweed on the banks of Aucherivock diversion were beginning to make a show so I stopped just before I got to Langholm today to show the knapweed in action.

knapweed

Auchenrivock diversion wild flowers

Thanks to the hedges on the Brampton road sheltering me from the worst of the crosswind and the kindly wind helping me up the hill on my way home, I managed to knock a few minutes off last Sunday’s time for the same journey and averaged just under 16 mph for the trip, a very good speed for me these days.

When I got home, I took a look round the garden.

blackbird

It seemed to be full of blackbirds.

The roses were as gorgeous as ever…

roses

…and they have been joined by a buddleia…

buddleia

…which I am hoping will attract hordes of butterflies into the garden.

The poppies come and go quickly…

poppy seed head

…but I think that this new pretty little Fuchsia will last a bit longer.

Fuchsia

I went in to have a cup of tea and watch some of a very exciting stage of the Tour de France.  It got a bit too exciting and the strain of watching it got too much for me so I went back out into the garden for another look round and to pick some more blackcurrants.  I am hoping to make blackcurrant jelly if I have the patience to pick enough of them.

Mrs Tootlepedal has a red flowering potentilla which has been a bit disappointing after some early promise but it has just started to flower again.

potentilla

I hope that it continues to make progress.

The nasturtiums need no encouragement.

nasturtiums

More roses caught my eye.

roses

Lilian Austin and the revived Ginger Syllabub

I went back inside just in time to watch a most horrendous crash in the tour as the leaders whizzed down a hill.   They were going down a narrow and twisty road at 70 kph.  On my own ride earlier on I had gone down a wide and straight road at 50 kph and I thought that that was quite scary enough.  These tour cyclists are  very brave men.

I append a quote from Cycling News that gives you an idea of just how hard these fellows are.

 

“X-rays confirmed a non-displaced right clavicle fracture and a non-displaced right acetabulum fracture. Richie also suffered extensive superficial abrasions involving the right side of his body. At this stage, the injuries will not require surgery. The plan is to re-evaluate Richie tomorrow morning and confirm that he is stable enough to be transferred home.”

While the crash was dramatic and the injuries fairly serious, the team remains hopeful that Porte can be back in action before the season is over. If all things go to plan, then they say that he could be racing again by August.

The other person involved in the crash, got back on his bike and finished the race.  When he was asked if he was hurting at all, he replied that he couldn’t tell yet.

I take my hat off to them.

After the stage was over, I went back out to pick a few more blackcurrants and have a last look round the garden.

new white flowers

Two new white flowers

clematis

A clematis with a big smile

astrantia

A fly turning its back on the beautiful centre of an astrantia

bee on ligularia

A bee among the twists and turns of the ligularia

I didn’t have long to look around as it was soon time to get showered and changed, ready to go out for a meal with the ‘old man’ of the Coniston climb, my brother Andrew.  He is on a touring holiday with his wife’s nephew Justin who comes from New Zealand and he kindly took the three of us out to the Douglas Hotel for an excellent meal.    We enjoyed good food and stimulating conversation.  It was interesting to get a New Zealand perspective on our present political situation in the UK.

The non flying bird of the day is one of our resident blackbirds, taking a dim view of life this afternoon.

blackbird

Note: I wish that I had had my flying bird camera to hand during the afternoon when I saw a sparrowhawk arrive in the garden, do a handbrake turn and disappear into the middle of our neighbour’s holly tree.  A very large number of starlings made a hasty exit from the tree in short order.  It was an unusual sight as mostly the sparrowhawks swoop down and pluck their prey  off a feeder, a branch or the ground.  I have never seen one fly into the middle of a thickly leaved tree before.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture come all the way from Las Vegas  where Sandy is on holiday.  The architects there seemingly need a little more practice.

Las Vegas

It was a day of this and that today.  This was beautiful blue skies and sunshine and that was sub zero temperatures in the morning.  The prospect in the garden was chilly…

Frosty lawn

…and the flowers had taken a battering.

special grandma

Iced rose

It was a very still day and as I walked through the garden, I could hear the plink plonk as individual leaves fell off the walnut tree.  There was still beauty to be seen….

azalea leaf

…but most of the flowers may be gone beyond repair.

The birds must have got cold feet on the frosty feeder…

goldfinch

…and on the frosty bench….

dunnock

The dunnock had picked up some of the extra food that I had put out.

great tit

The great tit was making its mind up between fat balls and sunflower seeds

The cold weather had brought a large number of blackbirds back into the garden.

blackbird

I easily resisted any temptation to go out cycling at 3°C, even though the sun was shining brightly and wisely stayed inside until coffee time when Dropscone arrived bearing scones.  After tasting, the scones were graded A1 and soon disappeared.  Dropscone had had a very busy Sunday driving up to Glasgow and back to deliver some spare keys to his younger daughter who had locked herself out of her flat.  He took it well.

Apart from sweeping up some of the leaves in the garden after Dropscone had gone on his way, the only other activity of note was a trip to our corner shop to get some milk.  Even in the sun, a very short trip on a bike felt too cold for fun.

A robin was waiting for me when I got home.

robin

It was a grand day for a walk though and after lunch, with the thermometer showing a heady 5°C, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out to get a view.

I was momentarily detained by a chaffinch before we left…

chaffinch dropping seed

Small birds are very messy eaters.

…and then by a huge amount of fungus shortly after we crossed the Park Bridge.

fungus

Although the fungus was quite widespread, it might all have stemmed from this old tree stump’s roots.

tree stump with fungus

The stump has the biggest bracket fungus on it that I have ever seen.

We left the park and climbed up the track to the Stubholm.  It was so covered with fallen leaves…

fallen leaves

…that we were amazed to find so many still on the trees when we got to the road at the top.

Stubholm road

After one more stop to admire more fungus on a dead tree….

Stubholm fungus

…we finally got among the views.

View from Warbla

We walked up the grassy track, peering into the sun…

Warbla track

…until we came to the final gate and stile…

Warbla stile

The stile was built before it was felt necessary to put easier access gates on our local walks.

…and rested at the summit.

Mrs Tootlepedal on Warbla

Mrs Tootlepedal contemplates the view of England

I looked down to the town bridge a mile below us…

Langholm Bridge from Warbla

…and admired the view up the valley beyond the town.

Ewes valley

Warbla gives the walker an excellent 360 degree view but the bright sun meant that only 180° of it was available to the camera today.

On one side I could see this charming cameo…

View from warbla

…and on the other, the two new windmills on the Craig wind farm which were now both up (but not running yet).

Craig windfarm

Even though it was a very calm day, there was still enough wind to keep the old turbines turning.

The top of Warbla is home to a fine array of communication devices…

warbla mast

…which I thought might look good in monochrome…

…and I still had the camera on that setting when I had another look at the view on our way back down the hill.

The esk valley

If I hadn’t already put in too many pictures from the walk, I might have shown you this  sunlit horse….

stubholm horse

…and a fine selection of more fungi and lichen…

fungus and lichen

The two bottom frames show a tree stump in front of the church  surrounded by a sea of fungus.

…but as I haven’t got room, I’ll leave them out.

For a three mile walk on an easy track with about 700ft of climbing, the walk to the top of Warbla and back is great value on a day like today when the sun is shining.

We certainly enjoyed every minute of it.

After tea, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings, our local choir.  Although we haven’t got a lot of members this year, those that come do work very hard and the choir generally makes a good sound so it was another enjoyable evening.

We have a cold and wet day forecast for tomorrow so patient readers may finally get a break from the seemingly endless autumn colour at last.  From my point of view, it has been very good while it lasted and it has lasted a long time since we last had rain.

The flower of the day is a nasturtium, tucked against the wall of the house, which survived the frost very well…

nasturtium

…and the flying bird is a chaffinch wondering just how cold his feet are going to feel when he lands on the feeder.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who met this fine swan on one of his recent golfing adventures.

swan

We had a beautifully sunny day today but paid for it with a drop of a few degrees on the thermometer.  It was above freezing but decidedly chilly when I cycled up to the town to see if I had left my mobile phone in the tourist office yesterday.  Greatly to my relief, I found it neatly tucked away in a draw there.  Once I had it back in my pocket, I returned home and began thinking about a cycle ride to celebrate the first day of November.

Unlike the get up and go of the past couple of days, I had to make quite an effort to get going today.  I was hoping for the temperature to rise a bit before I set off so I put in some time by cleaning my chain and then put in some more by having a cup of coffee.  In the end though, there was nothing for it but to go cycling so off I went.

There was no doubt that it was beautiful day…

Wauchopedale

…but a light north wind made me grateful for every layer of clothing that I had on.

I stopped a few times to take pictures as I went across country towards the River Annan but I only used this one.

road from Ecclefechan

This natural arch was on the road from Ecclefechan to Hoddom

Whenever I crossed a river, I tried to get a reflection.  This one in the River Annan is from Hoddom Bridge.

River Annan at Hoddom

And this is the wooded slope above the river.

Hoddom

If I had stopped to take a picture of every good view, I would never have got home.

I stopped on the bridge at Annan to have a snack but couldn’t find a reflection worth showing and I was heading on towards Canonbie from Kirkpatrick Fleming when a flash of colour in the verge caught my eye.  I was past it before I realised what it was and although I don’t usually turn the bike round and go back to take a picture, I did on this occasion.

fungus

A good crop of fungus

fungus

A very autumnal picture

The two blokes sitting in the cab of a lorry in a lay-by just down the road must have wondered what I was doing.

I took the same road from Canonbie to Hollows that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had walked along yesterday but I (just) resisted the temptation to take all the same shots again as I went along.  It did give a me a very good view up the Esk valley just before I dropped down to the Hollows.

Esk valley from Hollows

And it also gave me the chance to take an autumnal shot of Hollows Tower as I passed.

Hollows Tower in autumn

I had a final go at a reflection when I crossed Skippers Bridge just before getting home.

Esk at Skippers

I had covered 44 miles by the time that I got back.  My speed was very modest because if you are trying too hard, you tend to miss the best views and you also get reluctant to spoil your momentum by stopping all the time.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day getting manure and spreading it about in the garden as well as shifting a buddleia and generally continuing to tidy things up for the winter.

I filled up the feeder…

feeder

…and had a cup of tea.

We were both feeling that we had done quite a bit already during the day but it was such a lovely afternoon that we went out on our bikes for a very short run to the Kilngreen and the Castleholm and then back over the Jubilee Bridge.  It was well worth the effort.

We paused for a moment on the Kilngreen so that I could watch a goosander in the river….

goosander

…and the gulls flying past…

black headed gulls

…and then we cycled up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge walks

Mrs Tootlepedal was very interested to see the trees that had been felled for safety reasons.  The beech tree stumps were still surrounded by fungi…

fungus

…and there were all sorts of interesting things on bits of one of the hollow conifers.

fungus and mold

Having cycled up the Lodge Walks as far as the Lodge, we turned and cycled back down.

Lodge walks

It was just as pretty in either direction.

When we crossed the Jubilee Bridge, we were in the shade for a while and it began to feel very much like November.

Back in the garden, I finished picking the Charles Ross apples.  This was just in time because the birds have discovered them and two or three had been  pecked so thoroughly that I left them there for the birds to enjoy the rest.  I searched for the last few raspberries and enjoyed some of them more than others as the flavour was very variable.

We are promised a cold night tonight and we were expecting a frost but I see that the latest forecast only goes as low as 3°C so we may escape.  Just in case though, I went round the garden taking pictures of some of our floral survivors.

poppies and dahlias

The poppies and dahlias have been brilliant this year.

nasturtium and fuchsia

The nasturtiums against the house wall may well survive but the fuchsia is more delicate.

The fuchsia is going to be moved anyway but it has given us its best display ever so we can only hope that it will like its new spot next year.

Although there is some rain coming on Thursday and Friday, the forecast is showing a lot of sunshine over the next week or so and this autumn must be going to be one of the kindest that we have had for many years.

The flower of the day is a lone knapweed, flowering long after its due date….

knapweed

…and the flying bird of the day is a black headed gull, shining in the afternoon sun.

black headed gull

For those interested in that sort of thing, details of my ride today can be found by clicking on the map below.

garmin-route-1-nov-2016

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He likes to find interesting places to walk and this shows the Manifold River valley with a secluded magnate’s estate, seen from Ecton Hill in the Staffordshire Peak District.

Manifold valley

We had a much brighter morning than yesterday and I got out into the garden to sieve some compost and dead head some flowers.    With no frost forecast for the next few days, we are hoping to have quite a bit of garden colour still showing in November which will be a treat.

I was spoiled for choice when I fetched the camera out.

natsurtiums

nicotiana and cosmos

Fuschsia, clematis and sedum

I looked at the birds when I came in.

plum tree

The plum tree was a popular spot for perching

goldfinch, great tit and greenfinch

It was a good day for birds beginning with ‘G’ – goldfinch, great tit and greenfinch

I didn’t go out on my bicycle because we had visitors, Melanie and Bill, who came for coffee and lunch.   Melanie sits beside Mrs Tootlepedal among the sopranos in our Carlisle choir and her husband Bill is intending to cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats next year with Melanie driving their camper van as the support team.  As we did the same trip a few years ago, they came out to us to look at the route which we took and to see if we had any observations which might be helpful.

We had coffee while we talked over the route and the roads and then we sat down to a good lunch and put the world to rights.  The lunch was rounded off by an excellent apple cake which Melanie provided and we very much enjoyed the visit.  Bill is a keen cyclist and is expecting to do the journey in a week less than we took.

After they had left, I took a moment to have another look at the birds out of the kitchen window.  They were in a sideways sort of mood.

blue tit goldfinch and coal tit

Then we decided to make good use of a calm, dry afternoon by going for a short walk.  The days are drawing in now and the light was already beginning to fade but I took a camera or two with me in the hope of seeing something interesting on our way.

We drove up to Whitshiels and walked up the track through the woods and fields, went across the moor and then came back down the road.

Track from Whitshiels

The larches along the track gave our walk a golden tinge.

I did see things which I thought were interesting…

dsc_3446

Stagshorn fungus and British Soldier lichen

…and with the sharp eyes of Mrs Tootlepedal beside me, there was plenty to look at.

fungus

Although it was quite gloomy by this time, it was still a pleasure to look back as we climbed up the track.

Whitshiels view

As we looked at the hill on the far right in the background, we noticed something strange about the four windmills of the Craig wind farm….

Craig Wind farm

…and when we counted, it was because there are now five and a half turbines and a crane, presumably waiting to put the blades on to the sixth tower.

Wind farm development is proceeding on several hills round us at the moment and it has to be said that there is plenty of wind to go around.

As we got to the sheep fold at the top of the track, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a pheasant talking to a passing twig.

pheasant

The track across the rough pasture was pretty firm after the recent dry spell but there was some colourful sphagnum moss beside it.

sphagnum moss

I had to use a flash for that shot which made the moss look paler than it really is so I had another go with the Lumix to try get truer colours.

sphagnum moss

We had a last look back….

Langholm in autumn

…before we went round the top of the wood and took the road back down to the car.

I really like the mixed colours which arrive in the planted woods when the larches turn and the spruces stay green, especially if there is some deciduous colour as well.  Even though the light was pretty poor as we walked up the hill and  came back down the road, the views were still a joy to the eye.

Behind Langholm Mill

We had time to note a very large set of polypore fungi and and a vibrant bramble stem…

polypore and bramble

…before we drove home.

There is only one more day to go before the clocks go back and walking in the afternoons will be severely curtailed so I was very happy to have had the friendly weather for such a pleasant stroll in such good company.

I looked at the Met Office website this evening and saw that the humidity for today was well over 90% (it is going to be 95% tomorrow) so it is no surprise that the flower of the day,  a delicate pink tinged poppy, is slightly soggy even though it didn’t rain today.

poppy

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch rising above it.

flying goldfinch

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