Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘new bench’

Today’s colourful guest picture comes from my sister Mary who recently visited the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, London.

isabella plantation

Apart from a couple of brief showers, we had a much better day today.  It wasn’t a lot warmer in theory but a very welcome break from the recent strong winds made it feel a lot warmer in practice.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning of coffee and lunch meetings but managed to get some gardening in before she went out.  Meanwhile, I got the slow bike out and did some slow bicycling down to Canonbie and back.

Before I went, we checked the pond to see if Mrs Tootlepedal’s improvements were still keeping the water in place.

full pond

They were.

And I saw a couple more signs of spring.

willow and plum

Willow and plum

Once on the slow bicycle, it was a great relief not to have to battle against the wind for once and I enjoyed myself, although I didn’t try for any speed records.

There is enough grass growing for the farmers to be thinking about silage and I liked the rolled pattern on this field near Canonbie.

field near Canonbie

The dandelions in the verges are showing promise and I hope to be able to show some good clumps soon…

dandelion and bluebell

…and I saw my first bluebells of the year so I hope to see them in quantity soon too.

I stopped on the bridge at Canonbie to see how the ash tree flowers were coming on.

ash tree flowers

I think the branch that I looked at can truly be called an explosion of new growth.

I didn’t have to kid myself to see green leaves on the trees along the Esk at the Hollows today.  Spring is definitely springing…

Esk at Hollows

…although it has a bit to go before it is fully sprung.

When I got home, I found that the tulips were appreciating the better weather.

tulips

The euphorbias seem very popular with flies of various sorts as there is often one about when I try to take a picture of the plants.

fly on euphorbia

This is what the plant looks like when the flies have flown.

euphorbia

I went in to have lunch, soup and one of Matilda’s rolls, and took some time to watch the birds.

The siskins had gone away again so the chaffinches were getting a look at the feeder today.

chaffinches

…but there was still some waiting around on the plum tree to be done.

chaffinch and plum blossom

A goldfinch approached the feeder in the manner of one showing that he wasn’t armed and dangerous.

flying goldfinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal returned and found that our bench builder had arrived to cut an inch or two off the legs of the new bench.  It needed to be shifted back a bit and Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on that.  The result was very satisfactory and when she had finished,  we invited our neighbour Liz (with friend) to come and try it out

Ally and Liz on bench

By this time, as you can see, it was perfect weather for bench testing.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was gardening and working at the bench area, I mowed the front lawn and walked around with my camera.  I had the macro lens on.

white flowers

Tulips are popping up everywhere…

tulip

…and I spotted another colourful corner.

colourful corner

The plants in the foreground are dicentra and they were attracting bumbles bees again.

bee on dicentra

As were the paler variety in the back border.

bee on dicentra

Liz came in for a cup of tea and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal did some more gardening, I stayed inside to get some computer business out of the way.

I took the opportunity to look at last year’s cycling stats and found that I had done 500 miles more by this time last year so it is not surprising, considering the lack of decent cycling weather,  that our spring is quite a bit  later than usual this year.

I hope we get a good summer to make up for it.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable music making session while the other two chatted away.  After playing, Alison and I joined the conversation and Mike, who is a retired doctor, made us all rather gloomy with a very downbeat assessment of the shortage of general practice doctors and hospital consultants in our area.  We will have to try our best to keep ourselves healthy.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from foreign parts.  Dropscone is on holiday in Majorca and was impressed by the efforts to keep the sea at bay there.

majorca

We had another lovely day here.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful because we have enjoyed the spell of good weather immensely but getting it so early in the year, may well mean that we will have to wait a long time for another good spell to come along.  In the meantime we may not be as pleased to see normal late spring weather as we would have been if we hadn’t had this misplaced burst of summer.

Still it is very welcome while it is here.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s river of blue is coming along…

hyacinths

…though it is not easy to capture on camera.  The sharp eyed will just be able to make the hyacinths out in front of the daffs.

The area for the new bench was smartened up and dead on cue the new bench arrived…

new bench

…and by happy coincidence, a lady bearing gifts of plants for Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden  turned up at just the right time to give the new bench a test.

P1090174

It was decided that it was a fraction too high and the bench maker promised to return and cut a bit off the bottom of the legs.

All the same, it was quite suitable for Mrs Tootlepedal and I to sit on while we drank our morning coffee and I was pleased to see that the dicentra beside the bench was acting as a bee magnet.

bee on dicentra

It had attracted a very big bumble bee.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy in the garden and I found that she had planted out one of the corydalis from the pots by the greenhouse.  She had found a good spot.

corydalis

The sun has brought on the tulips and there is colour on all sides.

tulips

tulips

This was my daff of the day.

daffodils

I had a look for tadpoles in the pond and for life on the dam and found both.

tadpole and water boatman

A little pond skater cast a big shadow!

On the front lawn, a blackbird found a juicy worm…

blackbird

…and having found it, disappeared into our holly bush.  As it went in, another came out and the in and out traffic continued so it looks as though there must be a nest in there.  We await developments.

I took advantage of the dry conditions to mow the middle lawn again and the battle against the moss is progressing quite well but as rain is forecast for tomorrow, I am not counting any chickens yet.

With all the action in the garden, there was not much time to watch the birds and there weren’t many birds to watch but I was pleased to see a goldfinch in the plum tree…

goldfinch

…not least because I could see some growth on the plum tree too.

In the garden, I sieved a little compost and I am now getting near the end of the material in Bin D so another compost shifting process will start soon.

After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I put the last of the new veg beds into place. Some delicate work with the spirit level was required.

veg beds

The slightly narrower beds and the consequently wider path between them should makes things easier for the gardener.

After we had finished the bed, we sat on the bench again and I felt bold and thirsty enough to try drinking a mug of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ginger and ginseng infusion which comes in a standard teabag.

After drinking it, I found myself strangely serene and at the same time somewhat stimulated but curiously with no great desire to try the stuff again.

Under the influence of the concoction,  I put on my cycling shorts for the first time for many months and went off for a gentle pedal round my customary Canonbie circuit.  It was so warm and sunny by this point that I had to apply some sun blocker to my peely-wally limbs before setting out and I certainly needed it, as it was pretty warm in the sun. I had to keep drinking even on a short ride.

As the forecast suggests that the temperature is going to drop ten degrees and it it is going to rain at some point in every day to the end of the month, I enjoyed the warm  sunshine today a lot.

I was in no hurry.  Indeed my legs made it plain that I couldn’t have hurried even if I had wanted to so I had time to stop and look around.

I had noticed on a previous ride that if the sun was in the right place, it picked out the house beyond the central arch of the Liddle Viaduct and so it proved today.

Liddle viaduct

Yesterday it was celandines and today it was anemones.

anemones

I stopped on Canonbie Bridge to see how the willow flowers were getting on.  They were pretty well over but beside them, a new flower was sprouting.   I think that this is an ash tree.

canonbie tree flowers

I stopped on Hollows Bridge to see if I could persuade myself that I could see green leaves on the trees beside the river.

Esk at Hollows

Hmm.

I could see some green leaves further on though.  What I think might be a  beech at Irvine House and what is definitely a bramble at the end of the bike track.

beech and bramble

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to leave the garden for a while and come with me for a walk. She had been working hard all day so she cycled along beside me while I walked with cameras in hand.

I was hoping for riverside bird life but we only saw a lone oyster catcher and a distant grey wagtail.

wagtail and oyster catcher

There were plenty of people about and even one hardy young lad swimming in what must have been pretty chilly water so it was no surprise that there weren’t many birds about too.

The walk had its compensations though.

Ewes with daffs

Lodge Walks

And when we got home I found that the reason that I hadn’t seen any honey bees in the garden today was probably because they were all visiting my neighbour Hector’s currants.

bee on currant

On consulting my spreadsheet, I find that my afternoon ride, though short, still brought up the 1000 miles for the year so far.  I am still behind schedule but making progress.

I didn’t have time to spend waiting for a good flying bird to turn up so this is the best that I could do for flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Irving who has been fishing in the Highlands.  He doesn’t tell me if he caught any fish but at least he made this very nice capture of the old bridge over the River Oykel.

oykel bridge

I had a varied day today including cycling, walking and singing and among the skills required was an ability to work out when it was going to rain and then to avoid being caught out when it had started.

It looked as though a morning bike ride would be best so I set off to go round my familiar Canonbie twenty mile route while hoping for the best.  It was not warm at about 6°C and a brisk north westerly wind made it feel cooler still but I was well wrapped up and enjoyed the ride, especially the bit that was downhill with the wind behind.

While I was at the highest point of the circuit, I remembered that my neighbour Liz had seen a ditch full of frog spawn on the hill while she was on one of her recent morning walks so I stopped to look at a water filled ditch beside the road and found that this too was filled with frog spawn.

frogs spawn

Sadly for the prospect of tadpoles, it looked as though the morning frosts may have been too harsh but there were certainly a lot of possibilities as the ditch was full of spawn for about twenty yards.

I didn’t stop again until my legs called for a break at Irvine House.  Cycling downhill and downwind may be fun but the reverse is hard work.

I had time to admire the walls on both sides of the road while I got my breath back.

mossmoss

Once I got home, I wasn’t surprised to find Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on her new bench area project and after a quick look at some cheerful flowers…

bright flowers

…I made a record of the work in progress.

new bench

Over lunch, I had a look for some bird action but there wasn’t a lot going on and this blackbird was the only good shot that I had.

blackbird

Rain showers came and went and then it seemed dry enough to go out so Mrs Tootlepedal went back to the bench project and I took a little walk to look for riverside birds.

Almost as soon as I had set out, the clouds thickened and light rain appeared as if by magic so although I could see the welcome sight of the first daffodils along the river bank…

daffs by Esk

…the fidgety ducks, gulls and oyster catchers didn’t make good subjects and I had to look for something that was closer and standing still.  Regular readers will know that I find it hard to walk past a wall.

spleenwort

moss

I walked up to the Lodge and was impressed as I always am by this fine hedge.

Robbie's hedge

 

The rain had stopped but it was still cloudy although there was some sun catching a hill over there…

sun on Clark Fell

…and catching a branch down there…

mossy branch

…but not where I was walking.

The path along the river to the north looked deceptively inviting with the promise of sunshine…

Pheasant hatchery path

…but I went the other way into the clouds because I was on a mission to look for these….

hazel catkin

…and having found them to look for these too.

hazel flower

This is a female hazel flower and it is tiny so I was pleased to see not one but two…

hazel flower

…but these were the only two that I could find.  There are very few catkins at the moment so maybe there won’t be many flowers this year either.

It soon started raining again and I found a damp blackbird looking a bit fed up when I got back to the house.

wet blackbird

As it was raining, even Mrs Tootlepedal could be tempted into the house for a cup of tea and a biscuit and while we were inside, I set up the camera at the kitchen window.  The RSPB had published the results of their garden bird watch this morning and there had been a lot of talk about how well goldfinches had done in the count as they have become adept at using garden feeders.  I was therefore hoping to some on our garden today and I wasn’t disappointed.

goldfinch

They were not backward in coming forward to have words with any siskins in their way…

goldfinch and siskin

…but a siskin doesn’t take kindly to this sort of thing…

goldfinch and siskin

…and one of them soon resorted to violence to make the point.

goldfinch and siskin

The rain stopped and Mrs Tootlepedal went out again and not ,long afterwards, I went out too to record very satisfactory progress.

new bench

This is only a preliminary sketch as the paving has to be completed and a new bench is on order to replace the old one which has come to the end of its time.  All we will need then is some good weather to let us sit out on the bench and look at the garden.

I had an appointment at the health centre and it rather summed up the day that I cycled up to the town in bright sunshine and cycled back in a combination of bright sunshine and quite heavy rain.

And there was no rainbow.

In the evening I went to a Langholm Sings practice and had a very enjoyable time going over some familiar songs which we are digging  out for our summer concerts.

It wasn’t raining as I walked up and it wasn’t raining as I walked back but the oyster catchers who had been too quick for me in the afternoon were flying overhead and laughing loudly at me.

The flying bird of the day is not a goldfinch but a chaffinch wearing an identification ring.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »