Posts Tagged ‘nerines’

Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa and, appropriately enough since he is a great rugby man, it shows some springboks.


The first named storm of the year was visiting Britain overnight and we were warned that Aileen would bring heavy and persistent rain overnight and well into the morning so it was no surprise to find the sun shining when we got up.

It turned out that Aileen had stayed well to the south of us.

I went up to the town to do some business and then walked round the garden.  The variety of Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppies never fails to delight me.


And they continue to attract bees in numbers.

poppies with bees

And of course, some of them are simply beautiful.


As well as some good weather, the morning brought Dropscone, complete with a batch of excellent scones for coffee.  He has recently been to Aberdeen on golfing business so it was good to see that he had got back without losing another wheel on the way.  He had crossed over the new Forth bridge on his trip but told us that it was far less exciting to drive over than to look at from a distance as it has tall panels each side of the roadway which severely restrict the driver’s view.

When he left, I got the mower out and mowed the middle lawn.  After the overnight rain, the lawn was fairly squelchy and the mowing involved quite a lot of worm cast squashing as Mrs Tootlepedal kindly pointed out to me when I had finished.  All the same, if you didn’t look too closely, which I didn’t, things looked quite cheerful.

Middle lawn

Rudbeckia, lilies, cosmos, nasturtium and poppies are still giving the lawn a colourful border.

There are three colours of potentilla in the garden.  They are not all flowering freely but if you look hard, you can find them.


All through the day, sudden heavy rain showers interrupted the better weather….


The next shower lining up

…..and the gardening was a very on and off business.  In spite of quite a lot of sunshine, the rain was heavy enough when it came to make the garden soggier at the end of the day than it had been at the start.

Even so, the nerines round the chimney pot are doing very well.


We managed to repair the wires on the espalier apples and turn all the compost from Bin B into Bin C and then from Bin A into Bin B so we are ready to start the whole composting cycle again.

The wet roads and the constant threat of a shower put me off proper cycling but I did go out on the slow bike later in the day to see if I could see a dipper by the river.

I could.


It was on the same rock as last time.

I saw another even more patient bird while I was out.

carved owl

As the rain was holding off, I cycled along to Pool Corner and watched the Wauchope flowing over the caul there.

Pool Corner

It is very soothing watching running water but the road out of the town…..

Pool Corner

…looked inviting so I pedalled up the Manse Brae and along the road at the top….


…just far enough to be able to turn off and get a good view of Warbla and the Auld Stane Brig.


Those are grey clouds and not blue skies behind the hill so I didn’t push my luck and turned and pedalled back down the hill while it was still sunny.  I was not best pleased therefore when it started to rain quite hard out of a blue sky and I scuttled back home as fast as I could.

But……every cloud has a silver lining they say and this rain had a multicoloured bonus for me.

rainbow over Henry Street

I was happy.

After tea, I went off to the first meeting of the new season of the Langholm Community Choir.  There was quite a good turnout and some new music that I liked so it was an enjoyable evening and a good start to the new session.

Instead of a flying bird of the day, I am showing two pictures of butterflies.  There were plenty of them about today between showers.  I don’t know where they go in the rain but it can’t be far away because they appeared almost immediately after the sun came out. It was  day for red admirals.

This one may have been drying its wings after a shower.  The symmetry is astonishing (to me at least).

red admiral

This one was getting stuck in.

red admiral butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  As well as enjoying the delights of Venice lately, she also sampled a beautiful evening at Clapham Junction before she left for the continent

sunset over Clapham Junction

It was another day of variable weather but at least the rain was sporadic rather then persistent which was a relief.

I started the day by going to Longtown in the rain to pick up a new pair of glasses.  The optician has to deal with an extreme difference between my right and left eye and has given me a rather neat bifocal lens which he hopes will let me read with both eyes at the same time.  This will be a novelty if it works.

When I got home, I had time to have a coffee and the last slice of the oat, plum and ginger bake before I had to put on my sombre clothes and go to a funeral.  There was a good attendance as the funeral was for a local hero, Jimmy Maxwell, captain of Langholm Rugby Club in its most successful period ever, a rugby international and the chairman of the Common Riding committee for many years.

To us, he was the man who as a builder had done many alterations to our house when we first arrived in Langholm and who was responsible later on for putting in the ties that hold the house together and keep a roof over our heads.

Luckily the rain had stopped by the time that we came out of church.

I was sitting in the kitchen after the funeral when a knock on the door heralded the arrival of Sandy with two friends, Fred and Irene, who wanted to look round the garden.

Sandy with Fred and Irene

They are regular blog readers and wanted to to take the chance to measure my pictures against the real thing.  The enjoyed a garden tour and took an apple each with them as they went on their way.  Fred is just off to Africa where doubtless he will find interesting things to photograph.  I noticed as we finished our tour that the nerines beside the bird feeder are beginning to look their best.


Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Annan where she had been receiving treatment for a painful toe and was very pleased with the results.

I had to spend a bit of time getting everything organised for a trip back up to Bentpath in the evening where I was going to give a talk to the Women’s Institute there.

I did think of fitting a short cycle ride in but another heavy shower made me unthink.

There was time to watch the finish of the Tour of Britain stage before I checked on the weather again and went out for a short walk.  My plan was to take a variety of photographs which might help to demonstrate some good and bad  things to do with a camera and which I could use in my talk later on.

I started beside the river.

Langholm bridge

Considering how much it has rained, the river was quite calm as it flowed under Langholm Bridge

The sawmill bridge

The view up stream from the bridge


A local resident getting ready to fly

Then I walked up the Lodge Walks and across the Castleholm

fungus in fence post

I went from broad views to small with this fungus in a gate post

moss in a gate post

And this moss garden on another gate post


I spent some time trying to convey a feel that the trees are just beginning to turn but there wasn’t really quite enough contrast

Oak galls

The selection of oak galls gets ever gaudier

Rosebay willowherb

I was peering at the the final few flowers on the rosebay willowherb….


…when I was joined by a bee and a fly

I left the Castleholm, crossed the Jubilee Bridge and made my way home.

Warbla in evening sun

Warbla looking cheerful in the evening sun

Langholm Primary School

My old school looking a bit neglected. No use has been found for the building since the new school was built across the road.

A hoverfly in Mike and Alison's garden

A hoverfly in Mike and Alison’s garden which kindly opened its wings to make a better picture for me.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal talking to two more garden visitors.  It turned out that our neighbour Isobel had brought ex Langholmite and now Canadian resident and  blog reader Joyce to see the garden in real life too.

Isobel and Joyce

It was very nice to be able to put a face to a long time reader and commenter.

Joyce particularly enjoyed the fabled compost bins and was pleased that I give the credit for the garden to Mrs Tootlepedal, the gardener and don’t pretend that I do all the work myself.

I just had time to make a sausage stew for my tea, cook a batch of rolls which Mrs Tootlepedal had shaped earlier in the afternoon and pack my stuff into the car before it was time to go up the road to Bentpath.  I checked the weather before I left and saw no need for a rain jacket. Needless to say, it was bucketing down when I got to the village hall, a mere six miles north of Langholm and I got quite wet getting the stuff from the car into the hall.

After the ladies had had a business meeting, I got down to business with a run through of various styles of camera and lenses and then a slide show of the pictures that I had taken for the recent flower show competitions with a demonstration of how they had been edited and a run though of the afternoon’s photos from the walk with some explanation of why some had been reasonably successful and why others had been failures.

The talk seemed to hold the interest of the audience…..

Westerkirk WI

…who kindly posed for a mass portrait afterwards.

The possibilities offered by photo editing led to some questions after the talk.

This was followed by an excellent cup of tea, sandwiches and cakes.  Giving a talk to the WI is always a satisfying experience because if anyone is skilled in providing a nice cup of tea and cakes, it is them.

The moon was out as I drove home.

No flying bird of the day as that dratted heron was too quick for me when it took off.

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Today’s guest picture was taken by Bruce on a visit to Sheffield.  He thinks that the car owner may have forgotten where he parked the car.

sheffield carWe had to put up with yet another  boringly fine and dry day today but we bore this with great fortitude and hardly complained at all.

Once again it was pretty chilly at breakfast time but at 4°C we were frost free and the garden continues to have some cheerful flowers.

I started the day by going up to fill the Moorland Bird Feeders as a substitute for Sandy who is on holiday in Majorca.

Apart from a large number of pheasants, who nearly knocked me over in their rush to pick up any spilled seed, there were very few birds of any sort about today.

The pheasants are learning new skills.

pheasantsThe females are less gaudy but very charming.

pheasantsI put out some seed on a stump near the hide which attracted a chaffinch…

chaffinch…but that was the limit of my photographic activities.

I got home in nice time to enjoy a scone and coffee session with Dropscone and then I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

The poppies are not at all concerned by the chilly mornings and are looking as good as ever.

poppypoppyI put some of the pink pellets out on the lawn feeder and these two starlings broke all records by landing before I had even got back to the house.

starlingsIt didn’t take long before they were joined by their pals and I must say, there is something about starlings on the feeder which is strongly reminiscent of boozy nights at the pub.

starlingsThey were soon put to flight by a jackdaw.

jackdawAnd in turn, the jackdaws made way for a rook.

rookI like the colourful show on and round the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.

chimney potNext, I did a little shopping that involved milk and honey….and coffee and more pellets.  Unfortunately I was a bit too early and the coffee supplies hadn’t come in but to show you what a great place Langholm is, the kind shop owner called round unprompted while we eating lunch and dropped the coffee off.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off for a cycle outing to Enzieholm Bridge and back.  We stopped at the top of the first steep hill to allow Mrs Tootlepedal to remove a layer of clothing as it wasn’t quite as cool as we had feared.  This gave me a chance to show the autumnal colour on the hillside above the road.

Peden's ViewWe stopped again on the bridge over the Esk at Bentpath to show the interesting planting on the far side of the river.

BentpathThe view upstream from the bridge is one of my favourites.

BentpathWe passed a field with a pig and some alpacas but they were too far away for my phone so we made do with a shot of the newly refurbished bridge at the Glendinning road end.

Meggat water

It spans the Meggat Water

We reached our objective, the bridge at Enzieholm….

Enzieholm Bridge…stopped for a minute and then pedalled back down the other side of the river to Bentpath again.

BentpathBy this time, a large dark cloud had appeared and it looked for a moment as though it might rain.  In the event, we outran the cloud and were soon back in sunshine, looking over the Esk valley as we neared home.

Esk valley at PotholmWe managed our fifteen mile trip in just under two hours and were more than ready for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit when we got back.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made some meringues with some surplus egg white left from a caramel custard so we ate those as well.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a live screening of Hamlet from the Barbican Centre in London.  This was a celebrated production starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the great Dane.

He was very good.  In spite of some cutting and rearranging,  I thoroughly enjoyed the powerful first half of the production which took us up to the point where Hamlet was packed off to England with cracking pace throughout but I was very disappointed with the second half.  Partly this was to do with the excessively gloomy lighting and very bizarre staging and partly because the acting and diction in some of the smaller parts was unintelligible.  It seemed as though the director hadn’t been able to sustain a coherent line of development through the whole play and it ended with a whimper.  Perhaps the cast were just having a bad night.

Still, it was a great treat to be able to see such a prestigious production at all so I shouldn’t grumble too much.

I was tempted to use this strangely headless half-inch as flying bird of the day….

chaffinch…but I plumped for a jackdaw making off with a beakful of  pink pellets instead.


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After a drought, I have now got a flood of guest pictures and will get round to using them in due course. The first is of a preserved railway line near Sheringham in Norfolk which was observed from a strategically placed high viewing platform by Bruce.

sheringham railway

As change from hanging about the house and moaning, I had quite a useful day today.  I have still got the sniffles which are keeping me off the bike but I did go for an outing by car instead.

Before the journey, I had time for a quick skip round the estate to see what was what.

The two roses are ever changing.

Margareta and Lilian

Margareta and Lilian


The begonias in the front bed still have an occasional pansy for company.


Tiny lobelias survive round the chimney pot.


The nerines thrive round the chimney pot.

And the arrival of a new flower oddly shows the end of summer.  A winter jasmine has burst into life at the back door.

winter jasmine

Then i had a visitor.  Dropscone’s sister Liz has fairly recently taken up painting and has been asked to contribute ten pictures to an exhibition.  As a result, she has asked me if I would put nine of them into mounts and frames for her.  On the basis that she feels that her work is not yet to the standard that requires fully professional presentation and that she knows that I have never mounted and framed a painting before, I agreed and as a result we had to pay a visit to some art places in Carlisle to seek out reasonably priced frames and mounting board.  We were unable to find the exact mounting board that we wanted but time is pressing so we picked out the best of what was there.

I should make it clear that I think that her paintings are very nice and they are a pleasure to work with and makes me a bit nervous about my ability to do them justice.

All this took up the morning and a bit of the early afternoon too, possibly because as well as visiting two art places, we squeezed in a visit to Sainsbury’s for Liz to stock up her larder, empty after a recent trip away from home, and for me to stock up on coffee beans, fish and fancy butter.  I don’t like to waste a visit to the big city.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was taking advantage of a good day to work in the garden.

Mrs tootlepedal at work

I asked what she was doing and she told that she was ‘taking things out’.  It’s a hard life being a gardener.  You spend half the year putting things in and the other half taking things out.

I had a slice of bread and honey and a delicious Charles Ross apple for my late lunch.  There is little to compare with the pleasure of an apple straight from the tree when it is ripe.  Then I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and I mowed the front lawn.

I didn’t stay out long as I wanted to try to frame one of the paintings.  Liz came round to see the result and we agreed on what she wanted.  It means a lot of very accurate measuring and cutting so I have to hope that the cold goes away very soon as my brain is far from having the level of concentration required at the moment.  Dropscone tells me that he is bringing treacle scones round for coffee tomorrow so that should help.

In between times, I peered out of the window.  It was an almost totally chaffinch day at the feeder.  They came from all angles.

chaffinch approaching the feeder

chaffinch approaching the feeder

Though sometimes they found that someone else was already there.

chaffinch recoiling

I had the fish which I had bought in Carlisle for my tea and then went off to the Archive Centre with Sandy and Jean.  Jean and I combined putting a week of the newspaper index into the database with copying  three discs of moorland bird activity onto 40 DVDs for Dr Barlow and her Moorland Project with our nifty multi disc copying machine.

All in all then, a much more productive day than recently and I hope this progress will continue tomorrow.

It will come as no surprise that the flying bird of the day is one of those pervasive chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce who is obviously still  having a good time in Norfolk..  He found this friendly cafe in Wells-next-the Sea.

dog cafe

I made a serious effort not to do anything to make my cold worse today.  The very strong wind may also have helped me to avoid the temptation to go cycling.  This gave me no excuse to put off entering a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database so after some classic avoiding action, I settled down and did it.

This has hardly made a dent in the backlog so perhaps a continued spell of the cold would be no bad thing.

I did spend a little time staring out of the window and there was a lot of busy birds visiting the feeder to be seen.


I managed to squeeze three flying birds of that one shot.






Straight ahead

It’s not often that you can get three flying birds with one shot.

Overseeing all this action was a sceptical chaffinch in the plum tree.


The lawns could have done with a mow but following my resting policy, I left them to grow unimpeded.

Mrs Tootlepedal flitted in and out of the house during the day, going to work in the morning and the dentist in the afternoon and managing to get in a little gardening later on.  I picked a few raspberries and some brambles and she made another delicious mixed fruit crumble for our tea.  My  scientific diet programme insists that cream is compulsory when eating crumble so it was lucky that we had some in the fridge.

To give myself a break from sitting in front of the computer, I popped out on flower hunts from time to time.


Shy primroses in a late show


Hard to miss rudbeckia

Little blue flower

You can tell that time was hanging on my hands as I used a filter to turn this nameless little blue flower into an ersatz art work.

Little blue flower


These nerines look better every day

virginia creeper

The colour in the Virginia creeper doesn’t last long

Throughout the day chaffinches were trying to make flying bird of the day.  I ignored them.


I spent some time on preparing the pictures for the last cycling day (day 5) of our recent  tour of the Languedoc and they can be found  here.  You can jump to a particular day by clicking on the links at the top of the page.    Our visit to the famous aqueduct at Pont-du-Gard was the highlight of the whole trip from a sightseeing point of view.

I was just getting ready to go to Carlisle to play with the recorder group in the evening when I fortunately remembered in the nick of time that it had been cancelled.  This saved me having a bad conscience as I probably shouldn’t have been going there and spreading germs about in the first place.

The flying bird of the day was a greenfinch.










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Today’s picture comes from Switzerland courtesy of Dropscone’s sister Elizabeth.  The police think that this cow may be a ringer.

Zurich Sept 2013 016

We were welcomed back to reality with a cloudy day in Langholm and a temperature about 14 degrees C lower than Nimes but for all the contrast with our recent holiday, it was still quite a pleasant day for late September in southern Scotland and notably calm in the wind department.  Sadly I couldn’t take advantage of the good cycling conditions as I had to visit the health centre and the dentist straight after breakfast.

When I got back from these visits, there were lawns to be mown and flowers to be dead headed so I got busy.  Meanwhile, Mrs Tootlepedal was ploughing through a mountain of washing up.

Although autumn has definitely arrived there is still plenty to look at in the garden.  There are a few new flowers still to appear.  the latest are some nerines which arrived while we were away.


Plenty of old favourites are still around.


Some looking better than others.


A contrast in clematis

The Shirley poppies are still looking wonderful in spite of strong winds and rain when we went away which you might have thought would have wrecked them.

Shirley poppy

Signs of autumn are all around, some unwelcome such as worm casts on the lawn which leave ugly splodges when I mow over them but some more welcome like this Virginia creeper.

Virginia creeper

The sedum are gloriously red but there are no butterflies to be seen.  This has been a bad year for coloured butterflies in our garden but a very good year for bumble bees…

bee on sedum

…and I expect that bees are more useful to the gardener than butterflies.

In between lawn care and taking flower pictures, I picked some blackberries and raspberries and collected up a lot of windfall apples.   With this haul, I made two jars of raspberry jam and provided a delightful bramble and apple base for a fruit crumble which Mrs Tootlepedal made.  We have more apples than we can eat so I think that Mrs Tootlepedal is considering apple chutney.

After lunch, I selected some pictures for entering into the Langholm Agricultural Show this weekend and printed them out.  I am not going to be at the show but Sandy has offered to take the photos up for me.  I still have a lot more to pick and print but as I have to wait in for the gas man tomorrow afternoon, this will give me something useful to do.

I was happy to see that the birds have been well looked after by Alison Tinker in my absence and enjoyed having them to look at in the intervals between making bread and making jam.

blue tit and coal tit

A blue tit and a coal tit consider the feeder situation

chaffinch and goldfinch

A chaffinch and a goldfinch in possession

I like the tiny coal tits so I took another picture of one.

coal tit

In the afternoon, Sandy came round as it was his day off work and we went for a short walk.  The light wasn’t very good so we did more chatting than looking for photo subjects.

We did record the first signs of the autumn leaves turning on the trees.


On the Castleholm preparations were under way for the show on Saturday.

show preparations

I had enjoyed the vineyards and olive orchards of the south of France in the sunshine last week but I also enjoyed the green hills and pastures of the borders even though the sun was not shining.

green hills

After our walk, we were enjoying a cup of tea when we were joined by Dropscone who had kindly brought me a present from his recent holiday in Kent.  In return, I gave him a copy of Sean Yates’ biography which both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had read with great enjoyment while on holiday.  As we had been given the book by Gerry in the first place, Dropscone scored more points for thoughtfulness and generosity than I did.  He was in a good mood because he had been part of a six man Langholm golf team that had won a prestigious golf competition at the weekend.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to our usual choir meeting which was well attended.  I sang a wide selection of notes for the first half (some of them right) and waved my arms about and shouted for the second half and enjoyed both activities a lot.

The unusual flying bird of the day has flown all the way up to us from Kent thanks to Dropscone.

metal bird

I am looking through the pictures that I took in France and I have posted some from our first day in Nimes with a bit of narrative on the page headed French Trip.  I will post a bit more every day for those who are interested.








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