Posts Tagged ‘oak’

Today’s guest picture of her allotment was sent to me by our daughter Annie, and shows that she takes after her mother…and then some.  She did get some help.

annie's plot

The day started with lovely sunshine and steadily got greyer until it was raining in Edinburgh  when we got there.   We were not complaining as the rain is needed.

I took the car up to the garage to get one of those annoying warning lights that appear on the dashboard checked out and went to get it back after lunch.  There was nothing wrong with it.  Grr.

In between, I did a lot of pottering about the garden.

The strawberries which we moved yesterday, seemed to be quite cheerful about the transplant..

moved strawberries

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has begun to construct a new cage to keep the birds off them.

The rain overnight had been light and the soil was generally quite dry again though it was possible to see that it had rained.

rain on leaves

Mrs Tootlepedal has got her potatoes in, most of them in the new bed which has got the greenhouse foundations under it.


She planted some acorns a couple of years ago and the resultant small oaks have grown to a stage where they need to be planted out,  She and our neighbour Liz are going to find a spot for them.

great oak

There are white bluebells in the back border…

white bluebell

…white drumstick primulas…

drumstick primula

…and beautiful white pear blossom too…

pear blossom

…but in general, we are not short of colour.

The day of the daffodil is done and we are in the time of tulips now.

time of the tulip

Mrs Tootlepedal has some really ‘pinging’ examples about, like these…

four bright tulips

…and this…

bright red tulip

…and there are more to come.

unopened tulip

In the pond, as well as tadpoles and pond skaters, there was a lot of tension.

surface tension in pond

Our neighbour Liz dropped in for coffee and biscuits and while a rook looked on from the plum tree….

rook in plum tree

…we had a very lively but very good natured airing of our different views on the political situation of the day.  There is nothing I like more than a thoroughly good argument and as we rose from the table, we were still arguing but agreeing to differ so it was disappointing to find a partridge outside insisting on sitting on the fence.

partridge on the fence

I watched the birds later in the morning and saw more action in three minutes than I see in the whole day sometimes.

four busy feeder panel

The partridge came off the fence but didn’t linger and soon walked away.

visiting partridge

After lunch, we went to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  She is now five and was busy writing thank you cards for birthday presents.

We were able to admire the many presents she had received and after much conversation and another delightful meal, we made our way home again.

The rain as we drove home was alarmingly heavy at times, severely affecting visibility, but only in short bursts which was a relief.

The forecast is for some typical April showers to come over the next couple of days..

The flying bird of the day is a questing redpoll.

flying redpoll

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has just got round to sorting through some more of his Marseille pictures.  This one shows the village of L’Estaque and a view popular with Braque, Cezanne and other famous painters.


The wind did move round today as forecast but it was neither as strong not brought so much rain as we were told to expect.  And the promised warmer weather didn’t arrive and in the end, we were left with a grey, uninspiring and dull day.

However, the morning was brightened considerable by the arrival of Dropscone tottering under the weight of a huge quantity of drop scones…

drop scones

There may be a baker’s dozen there.

…but we managed to dispose of them in fine style, aided by a little local honey and some Ethiopian coffee.

While we  were sipping and chatting, a sudden and unexpected flash of colour outside the kitchen window caught my eye.  It was a greater spotted woodpecker, a very rare visitor to the garden indeed.  I didn’t have my flying bird camera to hand but snatched up the Lumix, zoomed out to max and shot from where I was sitting at the table.

Greater spotted woodpecker in garden

The result was a tribute to the camera on a gloomy morning.  I got up to get a better look and the bird flew off in an instant, never to return.

When Dropscone had gone home, I got to work sieving some more compost.  Mrs Tootlepedal has used all my previous pile in her flower bed improvement scheme and tells me that she can do with lots more so I will try to keep sieving a little each day.

I had a look at the birds when I went in and while there was no shortage of goldfinches, there always seemed to be one more about than there were perches available.


After lunch, the goldfinches had been replaced by chaffinches.


There was a hint of drizzle in the air but I was up for a short stroll and Mrs Tootlepedal was keen to show me the Roman fort where she had been working with the archaeologist so we drove up the hill and had a wander about.

Regular readers will know that it is against the law to go past Skippers Bridge on a good day without taking a picture so we stopped on our way to the fort to do our duty.

Skippers Bridge in Autumn

Skippers Bridge in Autumn

The fort itself, although quite large, has not got much to show for itself on the surface…

Roman Fort

This is the boundary mound, the most exciting thing on show.

…but it was built on the top of a small hill with splendid views up the Esk and Tarras valleys.

Tarras valley

Looking across the Tarras

Looking up the Esk

Looking up the Esk

The field itself was full of  fungus.

fungus at the fort

We walked round the outside of the fort site and then visited a beautiful old oak wood just below it.

Oak wood

As we walked through the wood, we could hear the regular sounds on acorns falling to the ground.


The trees were covered with acorns and there were many more fungi here too.

fungus and acorns

I’ll have to try to get back on a better day for taking photographs.

While we were in the area, we decided to go the Moorland Feeders bird hide for a while.

We were entertained by the usual crop of small birds and were thinking about going when a woodpecker arrived.  I only had my Lumix with me so I wasn’t have much luck trying to focus the zoom on fidgety birds when the arrival of a bird of prey which flashed through the glade and perched in a tree…

raptor in tree

A fine picture of the tree and a rotten picture of the bird

…gave me some unexpected assistance.

A woodpecker had been nibbling away at the nuts on a feeder, being very careful to keep the feeder between me and it and only giving me occasional glimpses of its back.  The arrival of the bird of prey however made it decide that I was the lesser of two evils and it carefully put the feeder between itself and the perching bird of prey in the tree and sat so still that I could get quite a good picture of it.


It eventually realised that the hawk had left and scurried off up the tree trunk and disappeared.

The pheasants remained very calm during the whole affair and kept picking about for fallen seed from the feeders as usual.


We didn’t stay for too long as it was getting more and more gloomy and got home in nice time for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

We did stop on the way down to record a touch of autumn, looking good even in the gloom.

Esk at Broomholm

After we had both had a busy day yesterday, this quiet day suited us very well and the evening was spent being even more relaxed.

The flower of the day is a clematis which is enjoying our autumn weather a lot…


…and the flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, determined to get to an empty perch before anyone else.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a colourful winter scene from Parliament Hill in London a few days ago and was sent to me by my sister Mary.

Parliament Hill secluded pond

The new year arrived in a more polite and agreeable mood than the old year stamped off in.

A calm and dry day was very welcome but a light covering of ice on the drive persuaded us that there was no rush to go out to greet the glorious morn.

In fact there was plenty of time to watch some birds….


A house sparrow called first


Followed by a gang of chaffinches displaying their usual courtly behaviour

blue tit

And a blue tit looking for seed

Not all the chaffinches were badly behaved and I really enjoyed the style of this one approaching the feeder in the nonchalant manner of Fred Astaire on roller skates.


A pause for a cup of coffee allowed the thermometer to hit 5 degrees C and for most of the ice to disappear and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out on a five mile walk to welcome the New Year in.

Although it was very calm and pleasant for walking, the light was still poor with the low sun covered in clouds so we chose a route for varied interest rather than spectacular views.

I took a shot of some lichen on a tree in the garden as we left as insurance in case we didn’t see anything of interest on our walk.


This was bright yellow a few days ago but has turned green recently

The unseasonably warm and wet weather of the past weeks meant that there was flourishing moss and fungus to be spotted as we walked along the riverside path…

moss and fungus

…though I don’t know how long that will last if it gets a bit colder.

The first puddles we came to were still frozen…


…but luckily, Mrs Tootlepedal found one further along the riverside road that allowed for a good paddle.

We left the river and followed the road up hill…


…where the wall on the right was richly covered with mosses…

broomholm mosses

…and even played host to a foxglove as well.


At the top of the hill, which divides the Esk from the Tarras valley, the moss gave way to lichen…

broomholm lichen

..and we turned off the road to pick up the track back through the woods to Langholm.

The track doesn’t pass through quite as many trees as it used to.

felled trees

The rings on the right show that that tree was just under 40 years old when it was felled and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the vivid pattern is caused by the saw cutting through at the exact spot that branches spread out from the trunk.

The felling of the trees leaves a mess on the ground but reveals a fine view across the Esk that has been hidden for a long time.

View from Broomholm shiels

Our walk took us through mixed oak and birch woods where the oaks are very old….


…and the birches are fairly young.

wood at the round house

It doesn’t look as though the oaks are going to regenerate as they may be too old to bear acorns and anyway, they are being hemmed in by the fast growing birches.

As we got back towards the town, we spotted some more fresh fungus beside the track….


…and a notice that would have told us that we were being watched by neighbours if a tree hadn’t eaten it.

tree eating notice

I wonder how long it will take the tree to swallow the whole thing.

We called in at the Co-op on our way home to buy a newspaper.  A packet of six (very reasonable priced) iced finger buns got accidentally entangled with my hand as I went to pay for the paper so we had to take them home too.  We lived with the pain.

The walk was most enjoyable and the buns soon restored our energy levels to maximum. (Somehow, I needed five of them and Mrs Tootlepedal just one.  It is odd how much more energy I use when we are doing the same walk.)

In the traditional manner,  our neighbour Margaret came to visit for a small sherry and some pancakes to welcome the new year in and Mike Tinker’s cup of tea detecting radar was working so well that he was able to join us and we were a merry company as the light faded.

I hope that a good walk and good company on the first day of the year will set the tone for the rest of it and that there will be many and various (but much sharper) flying birds to follow today’s first flying chaffinch of 2016.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent and shows her daughter Hannah taking part in the Newcastle Vamos festival celebrating Latino music.  What fun.

HannahThe wind was all that was forecast today (40-50mph) and sometimes it felt as though it was even stronger than that and we had worries about trees in the garden but the rain, after a wet start, was not anything like as bad as we feared and although there were showers, there was sunshine too.

The temperature had fallen to a feeble 10 degrees C and in the wind and rain, I had to wrap very well to go to the monthly producers’ market for supplies of fish and cheese.

In lieu of gardening or pedalling, we sat down to watch the tennis over lunch and in the early afternoon and the better conditions let me get out from time to time to see if there was anything new in the garden.

welsh poppy and hellebore

I saw mostly old favourites like the welsh poppy and hellebore which were unbowed by the weather.

rose and euphorbia

The first sighting of a rose and a flourishing euphorbia

In general things were waving about so much that trying to take photos was not much fun so I went back in.

In the end we got bored and seeing a sunny spell, we resolved to go for a walk.  After quite a bit of discussion about where to go to miss the worst of the weather, we settled for a walk along one side of the Tarras and back by the other mostly in woodland.  With typical good timing, no sooner had we driven out of the town to get to our starting point than the heavens opened and rain and wind lashed the car.  We parked at the Moorland feeders and waited for the storm to subside.  It was gloomy.

View of TarrasAfter a while, it did brighten up but Mrs Tootlepedal had lost all confidence in the day and decided to go home.  As the sun was shining when we got back to Langholm, I got her to drop me off at the Kilngreen while she went back to do some decorating.  My plan was to do a two mile walk to take advantage of the sunshine and hide under big trees if it should rain on the way.  This time the plan worked out beautifully and I was just beside some trees that were well supplied with thick foliage when it started to rain heavily.

The shower didn’t last long and I was soon on my way again.

The same tall wild flowers that Sandy and I had seen beside the Esk were growing beside the track today.

wild flowersI don’t know what they are but they obviously like the present conditions as the tallest were nearly up to my head height.

I walked along the top of the woods above the Castleholm….


The bluebells are going over but were still a fine sight.

…and came down at the North Lodge before walking back along the Esk.  When the sun was out, everything was green.

Pheasant hatchery track
Pheasant hatchery trackThe sky was blue but the clouds were racing past at a speed which promised that the next shower would not be far away.

TimpenOn the Castleholm, the trees provided a colourful backdrop to my walk.

Castleholm treesCastleholm treesAll the way round the walk, I was able to admire the fauna as well as the flora.



A rabbit hiding behind a buttercup…not entirely successfully

As well as the bigger picture, there was some detail to enjoy as well.

leaf sproutoak flowersOn the whole, though, I didn’t dawdle too much as the sky clouded over and a few drops of rain added some impetus to my homeward speed.

The walk was a bonus and pretty well sheltered from the wind so in spite of the low temperature, it didn’t feel as cold as I had expected.  Of course, having my big coat and a woolly hat on helped.

There was plenty of starling action again at the garden feeders but I thought that I probably had had enough starling pictures this week so I have put in a sparrow picture to show that there are other birds in the garden too.

starling and sparrow

Oh all right, I did put one starling in as well.

Things are due to calm down a bit meteorologically tomorrow and then get warmer on Monday so I hope that cycling will be back on the agenda soon.  Meanwhile, I am trying with only limited success to learn a song off by heart for tomorrow’s Carlisle choir practice.  Thank goodness the conductor only wants one piece without the music in hand.

Today’s flying bird is an evening greenfinch among the flying insects.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent who met these fearsome beasts on a trip to Wallington, a National Trust property near Morpeth.

WallingtonI didn’t take the opportunity to go for a morning pedal with Dropscone today and I am very happy about this as he tells me that he had a ride that can best be described as interesting.  He went round his preferred route for a morning run.  He had to get off and carry his bike over fallen branches, get off his bike and hide in a hedge as a log lorry came past on a single track road, do the same thing again for a milk tanker on the same road, clamp on his brakes in hurry when he met an unexpected car and dodge half a mile of hedge clippings.  It is hard for me to say why he prefers that route.

I took a different line and had a lie in, a late breakfast and a gentle run up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back three times.  This gave me the same distance as Dropscone but a lot less harassment.  It suits me on a windy day as there is little climb, a good deal of shelter and plenty of room for me and any passing traffic. Chacun à son goût as they say.

Although it rained for some of the time that I was out, it was reasonably warm and I was dressed for inclement weather so I didn’t mind.  It stopped about halfway through my trip and I was dry by the time that I got home.

I did have to apply my brakes once when I was getting close to the auld stane brig while homeward bound  on my second lap.  I was delighted to see a deer leap the fence and cross the road a few yards in front of me but surprised when it was followed by another.  I slowed down just in case there was a third and saw two young deer waiting to jump.  Seeing me, they held back and were still munching away beside the fence when I came back on my third lap.  They had disappeared by the time I came past again.  I have occasionally seen a single deer at this point on the road as I think they may cross the road to drink from the river but I have never seen a family before.

The garden was inviting when I got home.

While Crown Princess Margarita was  able to withstand the wind and rain, the late flowering delphinium had been snapped off and lay on the bare soil in a depressed way.

rose and delphiniumWe are getting ever nearer the last poppy but the nasturtiums don’t mind the weather.

poppy and nasturtiumSpecial Grandma positively loves these conditions and is putting out more flowers every day.  In a more modest way, a blue clematis is also thriving.

special grandma clematisThe light was not at all bad by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had had a cup of coffee so after my shower, I went back up the Wauchope road in the car with my cameras.  I had seen some autumn colour when I was biking but I hadn’t taken a camera with me because of the rain.

BlochburnfootThere was a mixture of trees, some already bare, some still green and some turning yellow.

autumn colour up Wauchope

…and coniferous trees as a backdrop


I won a prize with a picture of this bull at a summer show so I went to congratulate him today.  He was very happy.


A feeble  sun came out just in time to highlight this river of bracken flowing down the hillside.


My favourite ruined cottage is getting ever more dilapidated.

bramble leaf

A bramble leaf offering the most vivid touch of colour that I saw all day.

autumn colour up wauchope

Nearly home.

In between these excursions, I started off a sourdough loaf with my friend Sue’s excellent starter and as that takes some time to appear, I made a fruity malt loaf in the bread machine as well.  While half a loaf is better than no bread, two loaves are definitely better still.

As the weather was holding up well, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took the car a mile or so out of town and went for a short circular walk via Jenny Noble’s Gill and Broomholmshiels.  I snapped away as we went round.



Oak tree

One of the old oak trees in the wood we walked through.


The bracken is over for the year


Looking back at the wood when we had left it.


We kept an eye out for fungus but these were the only ones we saw.

We saw a late thistle and the groundwork being laid for next year's crop beside it/

We saw a very late thistle and the groundwork being laid for next year’s crop beside it.


This magnificent tup gave us a hard stare as we passed.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it might be a Texel and I agree.

cow parsley

We noticed more late flowers, cow parsley in this case,  as we came back down the road.

fern and moss

And my favourite wall was as full of life as ever.

With impeccable timing we arrived home bang on four o’clock. just in time for a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

I had time to look out of the window from time to time during the day.  The feeders were busy and offered a constantly changing cast of characters.


I very much like the greenfinch auditioning for the part of Homer Simpson in the left hand frame.

A chaffinch and a greenfinch bring a very different attitude to posing.

chaffinch and greenfinchWe are promised strong winds tomorrow as part of the second hand hurricane Gonzalo which the Americans have kindly posted on to us so it was extra pleasing to have got a good day today.   That accounts for the above ration numbers of pictures today for which I apologise. I know that readers are busy people.

I had a visit from my flute pupil Luke in the evening and we are still battling to install that mental metronome in his head while he plays.  He has started practising some grade three pieces which will be well within his capability.

To round off a good day, the sourdough loaf, made using a banneton, came out of the oven almost perfectly.

Once again, a chaffinch has pipped all others to the coveted title of flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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