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Posts Tagged ‘oak trees’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture comes from Stephen, my sister Susan’s friend.  He used to live  in New Zealand but has moved to Sydney in Australia where he sees a lot of ibis on his way to the gym.

two ibis

We had another dry day here but there was a cold wind blowing which made it feel far from springlike if you were out and about.

The tulips took the view that staying tucked up was the best policy.

chilly tulips

I had a quiet morning in and even when the sun came out, it was quite cold enough to make me happy to be looking out of the window.

two chaffinches plum blossom

Some goldfinches were concentrating hard on getting lined up correctly for landing…

well aligned goldfinch

…while others were trying to get a perch freed up.

goldfinches fighting

I made some soup for lunch and when Mrs Tootlepedal went off for an embroiderers’ Guild meeting, I thought about a short cycle ride but it was grey and the wind was very mean so I settled for a woolly hat and gloves and went for a short walk instead.

My feet were a bit sore and it was so cold that I almost gave up before I had gone half a mile, but a cheerful bank of daffodils in the park kept me going…

daffs and garlic

..and I soon found myself going along the riverside path among a blanket of wild garlic.  The bench in the picture above will be not for the faint of nose soon.

I could see the garlic buds among the leaves and there were other subdued signs of spring too.

four subdued wild flowers

There was a bit of colour here and there but it was cold enough for the script lichen to be obvious.

anemone. script lichen, dandelion

I plodded on towards Murtholm farm and Skippers Bridge and was rewarded when rather unexpectedly, the sun came out, showing up the yellow algae on a concrete fence post beside the road at Skippers.  It looks as though it should be slimy from a distance but it turns out to be quite fluffy when you look closely.

algae on concrete

I saw the algae when I was climbing over the low fence on my way down to the river bank to enjoy one of my favourite views.

skipers bridge April

The little ripple just above the bridge was looking charming with the water level being as low as it is at the moment.

river esk above skippers

I crossed the road beside the river and climbed up the steps that lead to the old railway and walked along the track below the embankment…

birch wood

…until I got to the gate that leads onto the hill. It was a completely different day by now and as I was sheltered from the malignant breeze, I was very happy that I had kept going.

oak tree in field

I walked up to the Round House, originally built as a gazebo  by a local landowner so that he could enjoy…

approaching round house

…this view of the town and the surrounding hills.

view from round house

From the Round House, I took the track back to the town….

track from round house

…and fell in with three cheery fellows from Hawick who had caught the bus to Langholm and walked nine miles round the back of Whita Hill.  They were pleased to be out of the wind too and looking forward to catching the bus back home.

The Embroiderers’ Guild members  were still meeting as I walked past the Day Centre.  I like their banner which is there to attract any passing needlewomen who might like to drop in.

embroiderers sing

The lonesome gull, who stands on the rock in the river between the bridges, had found a friend.

two gulls

My pocket camera has more menu items than I can possible ever use but I noticed one that offered settings for ‘Sparkling Water’.  There was a river with water and some sunshine so I tried it out.

This was the result.

sparkly water

I don’t know how the camera got that effect and I am amazed that some software engineer thought it was worthwhile to write the code to make the camera do it. It looks like an ad for toothpaste.

I put the camera back on more normal settings and took a picture of the daffodils beside the Wauchope Water along Caroline Street.

daffs along caroline street

They are just beginning to go over so I thought I ought to record them before they are gone.

When I got back to the garden, the sun had been warm enough to persuade some of the tulips to unbutton a bit…

red tulips evening

…but it was still pretty chilly so I didn’t do any gardening but went into to watch the Melrose Sevens on the telly.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and joined me in watching the rugby until it was tea time.

As the evening coincided with the third round of the Masters Golf from Augusta, which is worth watching for the fine grass and lovely flowers alone, the day ended very quietly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, caught in a sunny interval in the morning.

flying chaffinch

The forecast says that it is going to be frosty both tonight and tomorrow night and then it may get warmer.  The tulips and I both think that that would be a good thing.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows that she was in the right place at the right time to catch the sun illuminating a dogwood in Regents Park.

burning bush

December ended as it has been going on recently with a dry, mostly grey and reasonably warm day.  I was taking a break from cycling so I enjoyed the final coffee and scones of 2018 with Dropscone.  He had not lost any of his scone making skill over the holiday period so this was a good way to end the social year.

Along with Dropscone, we were visited by more birds than we have been seeing lately which was also welcome.

Goldfinches were queuing up to get a seat at the table…

many flying goldfinches

…and competing fiercely for the privilege.

flying goldfinches

Sometimes they let their good manners slip in their anxiety to snatch a sunflower heart from the feeder.

stamping goldfinch

And all too frequently, seeds went flying in the midst of all the excitement.

flying bird seed

Although it was pretty grey, it was a pleasant day so after Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk in the woods.  To give ourselves a good start, we drove a mile or so out of the town and parked next to a large fallen tree that had been sawn up and left beside the road.

Where the trunk had split, it was covered  in white fungus.

rotten tree

We walked up the track past the Longwood fields and passed many trees, some that stood proudly…

Longwood tree

…and some that were curiously knotted and twisted.

twisted tree

When we got to the woods, there was fungus, both big and small to be seen…

fungus in woods

…a dingly dell to cross…

dingly dell

…and a track through the old oak wood to follow.

oak wood

We were only out for a short walk so as soon as we got to the top of the oak wood, we headed back past a river of moss….

river of moss

…and made our return journey downhill through a birch wood that has grown up beside the oaks.

birch wood

We were going to take a diversion on our route back to the car by going along the old railway line, but fallen trees provided an obstacle….

old railway

….that was too low to crawl under and too high to jump over so we retraced our steps and went back by the path along the field.

This gave us the chance to enjoy the sight of a chestnut tree standing in a very neat pool of its own leaves.

chestnut with leaves

When we got back to the road, I took a moment to check out a favourite mossy wall…

mossy wall

…which was rich in interest…

lichen and moss on wall

…for those who like this sort of thing, among whom is numbered yours truly.

We had a walk round our garden when we got home and I was pleased to find that the sweet rocket had managed another flower or two, a single snowdrop was showing a touch of colour and a groundsel was growing in the drive.  The groundsel pleased me for its little patch of colour…

three late flowers

…but Mrs Tootlepedal was not so happy about it and it soon suffered from being comprehensively weeded.

After lunch, the last of the duck soup, a weak sun appeared for a while and illuminated a dove and a pigeon in the plum tree.

dove and pigeon

It also lit up the holly in our neighbour’s garden.

bright holly in garden

I did think of going for another walk to take advantage of the sun but I dithered a bit and by the time that I came to make a decision, the sun had gone and the clouds were grey again.

This was the moment that a robin came out.

robin on chair

I spent so much time thinking of things that I might do in the afternoon and so little time in actually doing anything useful that it was time for the evening meal before I knew it. Still ending the year on a restful note was no bad thing and I should be full of pep when 2019 arrives tomorrow.  Here’s hoping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the patient and forbearing readers of these posts over the past year for their company which makes writing and taking pictures very rewarding.  I would like also to express special gratitude for those who add their many kind, amusing and useful comments.

The honour of being the final flying bird of the year has fallen to this goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

I don’t usually end with a quote but I think think Robert Burns speaks for many when he wrote to the wee. sleekit, timorous mouse words which apply just as well to the politics of 2018 and 2019:

“But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.   He must live in a sunny place now he has moved to his new house because the locals have turned their wellies into a garden.

Welly Boot garden

It was a crisp and bright morning with the thermometer in the car showing 5°C as I took the car to the garage after breakfast to get an intermittent squeal checked.  Intermittent squeals and squeaks are hard to fix so I drove ten miles before dropping the car off to see if I could make the squeal appear.  Of course it didn’t but nevertheless the garage managed to find the root of the problem and sort it out before the day was over.

My next visit was to the health centre to get a blood test to see if taking iron tablets has done me any good.  A visit to the doctor next week will supply the answer to that question.

The next business of the day was to photograph the Lilian Austin rose which had reacted to two days of sunshine by coming out….

Lilan Austin rose

…quite beautifully.

I mowed the greenhouse grass with my second best push mower, one without a roller.

And then diagnosis and cure continued when the telly aerial man arrived to find out why our guest bedroom television was not receiving a signal.  Because the cables from our dish had been run under the roof when our end wall was being rebuilt, diagnosis was fairly easy – the cable under the roof is faulty – but the reason for the fault and the way to cure it was obscure to say the least.  A ‘work round’ was put in place and the television is now receiving a signal and as the job took a lot longer than expected, we have received a bill.  Such is life.

I had soup for lunch and went for my customary 20 mile short pedal down to Canonbie and back.  I had an a appointment later on so I didn’t dilly dally on the way, though I did see a cow which was outstanding in its own field…

cow in field

…as they say in the obituary of eminent scientists.

And I gave three cheers for these hips in a hedge.

three hips

For the second day running Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy painting the new garage doors so she was resting when I got back.

I looked round the garden briefly…

japanese anemone clumphelenium clump

…and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal picked up the car from the garage and went shopping for plants, I went for a walk with Sandy.

We drove a mile out of town and took a triangular walk, up through a birch wood…

birch wood

….along a track…

Walk in the woods

…with helpful signposts…

Langholm Walks pole

Jenny Noble's sign

….through an oak wood….

oak wood

…and back down the hill to where we started.

the hill to the railway

We were hoping to see some fungi as we went along and got quite excited when we saw these just after we had set off from the car….

dark fungus

We have walked this walk before and seen very few fungi but today, we saw more as walked along…

two fungi

…and then more….

four fungi

…and then even more.

dix fungi

We have never seen anything like it.  Conditions must have been perfect this year.

I thought that this one deserved to stand alone.

tall fungus

We looked at other things too.

The horse chestnuts are always the earliest to change colour these days.

horse chestnut

I quote from the Woodland Trust website: The horse chestnut leaf miner can occur on trees in huge numbers, causing the foliage to turn brown and fall early. There is no evidence to suggest this harms the trees, as most of the damage occurs late in the season.

The oaks appear to be in good health.

three acorns

Ferns are always interesting.  This one seemed to have been decorated  by a careful embroiderer.

sporangi on fern

It was a delightful walk, warm and pleasant in the shelter of the wood and with far too many photo opportunities for us to make full use of them all.

Mrs Tootlepedal had arrived back by the time that I got home and while she prepared a plum crumble and a giant courgette fritter, I mowed the drying green with our hover mower.  I like to have the right mower for the job.

All this took up so much of my time, that iIdidn’t have the opportunity to take a flying bird picture today and as the flower of the day has already appeared, there is no more to say.

Oh alright, here is the fungus of the day.

fungus cluster

You can see Sandy’s excellent pictures from our walk by visiting his blog here.

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows an impasse between dog and grandchild.  The grandchild would like the dog to come in and the dog would like to come in….but only if the excessively affectionate grandchild wasn’t there.

guthrie

I would have liked,  in theory at least, to have gone out cycling today as it was dry, fairly calm and even occasionally sunny.  It wasn’t warm but it wasn’t too cold.  What was there to stop me?

Me.

I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler at the Moorland Feeders for friends who were away from town on grandparenting duties so my first excuse of the day was a visit to the feeders with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had a good time watching buzzards, a hen harrier and a kestrel from the car while I filled the feeders and then sat in the hide.

After seeing very few on my last visit, I hardly saw anything else but chaffinches today.

chaffinches

There were no siskins, no greenfinches, no blue tits, few blackbirds and only one or two great tits…

great tit and woodpecker

…and one woodpecker.

The pheasants have been put out from the hatchery on the Castleholm in readiness for the shooting season so there were a lot of pheasants about.  In fact, I had to be careful not to stand on one of them while I was filling the feeders.

pheasant and feet

One came close to the hide for a drink while I was sitting there.

pheasant

I waited for some time in the hope of seeing something interesting but after a while there must have been a raptor nearby because even the chaffinches made themselves scarce and the glade fell eerily silent.    We went home.

I might have gone cycling when I got home but there was coffee to be drunk, a crossword to be done and many poppies to admire.

poppy

The poppies were not just beautiful to look at but they were also hotching with bees and I took so many pictures of them that I am putting a selection of them into a separate poppy post today and those with an inclination can look at it without everyone having to wade through them all.

There were a great many butterflies about too, enjoying the better weather…

peacock and red admiral butterflies

Peacock and red admiral butterflies

…and as usual, the buddleia was drawing them in.

I am still waiting to see a painted lady or a small tortoiseshell but we have had a good supply of red admirals and peacocks.

I enjoyed a sweet pea which has grown so strongly that it is sticking out of the top of Mrs Tootlepedal’s sweet pea fortress.

sweet pea

And I saw a red admiral sitting on the unopened flower of a lily in the flower garden….

lily and butterfly

A butterfly kiss from the lily. It should look spectacular when (if) it opens

Then  it was time for lunch.

I might have gone cycling after lunch but Sandy suggested a walk at three o’clock and as I wanted to mow the front lawn, there wasn’t time to do both before the walk. I chose the lawn.

Front lawn mowing

You can see the poppies surrounding three side of the lawn.

When Sandy came, we went off in his car along the road to the bird feeders but stopped beside the river at the bottom of the hill and walked up the hill through oak woods and fields to Broomholmshiels before coming back to the car down the road.

It was a short walk but full if interest.

There is a mossy wall beside where we parked the car.

mossy wall

And fine trees in the field at Longwood.

Longwood tree

Longwood tree

The walk through the wood is always a delight but it is even better when the sun comes out for a moment or two.

Oak wood

The oaks here didn’t seem to be suffering from galls in the leaves but only one tree that we saw had any acorns on it…

oak tree

…and we were surprised to see the leaves turning so early on another tree that we passed.

The wood is a sea of green and it is a wonder that the power people have managed to sneak power lines through the heart of it.

oak woods

We saw quite a bit of fungus on our walk, some old and some new.

fungus

The thistles have turned to fluff.

Thistles

Once we were clear of the trees, there were views to enjoy, especially when the sun made one of its brief appearances.

Warbla

Looking over the Esk valley

Whita heather

Patches of heather among the pylons on Whita

There was still time for a cycle ride after the walk but it seemed a good idea to invite Sandy in for a cup of tea and a slice or two of the oat, plum and ginger bake.  We made sure that he didn’t get away without taking several courgettes with him.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s two courgette plants are producing more than we can eat.

There might still have been time for a short pedal after Sandy left but it suddenly started to rain lightly and so I mowed the green house grass and waited to see whether it would stop.  It got heavier and I took the hint and went inside and looked at my pictures.

It brightened up later but by that time, I had lost any inclination to put foot to pedal at all.   I have done 470 miles this month so there is no compulsion to do more in these final two days.  I did a lot of eating instead today.

I did manage to catch a flying chaffinch while I was at the Moorland feeders so there is a rather fuzzy but genuine flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

You can click here for the poppies if you wish.

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