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Posts Tagged ‘oriental poppy’

Today’s guest picture comes from cyclist and Lake District lover Paul. He sent me this picture to show that the sun doesn’t always shine on Buttermere.

The sun certainly shone here in Langholm today, and once again watering was needed in the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted strange goings on on one of the paths off the middle lawn. Liverworts were up to something.

A bit of research told me that these umbrellas are female flowers of the liverwort. They are very tiny and credit goes to Mrs Tootlepedal for spotting them.

I just had time to check that the decking oil on the new bench had dried out over night…

…before it was time to join the street coffee morning. We had a busy time as we were joined by various passers by (at a safe distance) as we sipped and chatted.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went in to do some business on the computer and I had a traditional garden wander.

The usual suspects were enjoying the sunshine….

…and a variegated hosta caught my eye.

The state of the rhododendrons depends on whether they were flowering before the frost came. The pink one has one flower in action for every two or three killed by the frost…

…while the later deep red one, is pretty well untouched.

The less said about the poor azaleas, plums and apples the better. And the walnut tree suffered badly with all the early leaves blackened. We are keeping our fingers crossed that enough late leaves arrive to keep it healthy. (Late news: Mrs Tootlepedal came in this evening saying that she might have seen one surviving plum.)

I was so tired by my wandering in the hot sun, that I sat on the newly oiled bench and admired the view of our shady front door for a while.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted sunflowers on each side of the path. I look forward to photographing them in due course.

I went out to look at the poorly fuchsia against the back wall of the house but my eye was irresistibly drawn to those shocking poppies again.

Our neighbour Charlotte, who was nearby while tending the flowers with which she decorates a bicycle attached to our new bridge, suggested a that a shot of the centre of the flower would be good thing. I am always anxious to please.

After lunch, bacon, tomato and lettuce rolls again, we dealt with the fading fuchsia on the back wall, and nine tenths or more of the bush got the chop, leaving a few promising green shoots to carry on.

In spite of the hot sunshine, Mrs Tootlepedal was happy to go for a walk and we thought that a stroll up the road to the moor might be a good way to spend the afternoon. The thermometer by the house said that it was 66°F in the shade so we dressed appropriately, donned a hat and cap respectively, put a small bottle of water in my bag and set out hoping that we hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew.

We were happy to spot an oyster catcher with its child on a rock in the river…

…surrounded by oddly green water. The river is very low still.

We walked along the Lamb Hill until we came to the Newcastleton road and then headed uphill at a very steady rate, cheered by a gentle cooling breeze as we got higher up the hill.

We passed a group of men erecting large scaffolding structures at each side of the road where the power lines cross it. By the time that we passed them again on our way back down, they had finished the structures and pulled a safety net across the road.

I hope that I am in the right place at the right time when they come to renew the actual power lines themselves.

We took advantage of two handily placed benches beside the road to have sensible rests as we climbed the hill. I liked this view of sinuous walls from the first one.

Although it was a sunny day, it was also a bit hazy and the light wasn’t at all good for taking landscape pictures, being very flat indeed, so although there were good views from the second bench, I didn’t take pictures of my favourite subject, the Ewes Valley.

When we got to the White Yett, we went on a few yards over the summit so that we could look down into the Little Tarras Valley in the hope of seeing interesting birds.

Our hopes were dashed and all we saw was bog cotton waving in the gentle breeze.

At my suggestion, we followed one of the Langholm Walks routes for a few hundred yards up the line of a wall to the north of the road…

…making for a minor summit in the hope of good views along the ridge. We got an interesting and unusual view of the track from the White Yett up to the monument when we looked back…

…but the minor summit proved to be very minor and the only view we got was of the next minor summit just along the ridge.

Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment on a convenient tussock with her binoculars in hand in the hope of seeing interesting birds….

…while I looked in the other direction to see if there was a landscape to be seen in the haze.

There wasn’t a landscape but there was an interesting bird, probably a short eared owl, hunting over the rough ground. Sadly the light was too poor to let my camera get a good focus on the bird against a dull background, however hard I tried…

…but we got a fine flying display for a while before the bird disappeared over the edge of the hill and we started for home.

I did see a more static bird on the way down but it was hiding behind some long grass.

The light breeze kept blowing and the haze thickened as we went back down the hill with the result that it wasn’t nearly as hot as we had feared. All the same, a five mile walk with a bit of climbing on a warm day is still quite hard work so we were more than ready for a cup of tea when we got home.

The most surprising and beautiful thing that we encountered on the walk was this bank of wild flowers beside the path from the Lamb Hill down to the Drove Road.

The yellow and orange colours were provided by Welsh Poppies. The orange ones were very striking…

…and Mrs Tootlepedal pocketed a few seed heads as we went past.

The day seemed to have been too hot for the garden birds and the level of seed in the feeder had hardly gone down at all by the time that we got home but a rook did its best to lower the level later in the evening.

According to the forecast, we are going to have a week more of warm, dry and sunny weather so I watered the front lawn while I was preparing the evening meal. It looks as though this will be a regular task, very unusual for May.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Footnote: While I have been writing this post, the lighting wizards have been lighting up the monument on the top of Whita Hill again. This is their version of clapping for the NHS. They are having fun.

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother’s walks in his local area. The farmer has had to work round and old water tower to get his field planted.

There was a lot of noise in the garden this morning although as far as the weather went it was sunny and peaceful day. These tiny flowers were responsible for the racket.

They are on a cotoneaster and they were proving a big draw for bees. I had to crop the picture above just to take a picture of the bush with no bees in it.

I tried to get some decent bee pictures but I had the wrong camera in my hand so I went off to look for flowers instead. The latest rhododendron to flower has the reddest flowers in the garden I think (but see later in the post for a competitor).

There are also red astrantias coming out and doubtless they will soon be buzzing too as the insects like them a lot.

I stopped chasing flowers and went off to have socially distanced coffee with Sandy in his garden. The coffee turned out to be tea as there had been a cafetiere catastrophe earlier in the morning but it went down well as we chatted and watched blue tits busily flying in and out of the nest box on his shed.

Sandy’s foot is slowly improving after his operation and he has managed to go out for some short walks. He still has some way to go before he can go some way but he is feeling much more positive about life.

When I got back home, the street coffee morning was still going so I stopped and chatted there until I was distracted by the poppies beside the dam along the back wall of the house.

They are quite distracting.

There are other less conspicuous flowers along the wall too.

As you can see from the centre picture in the panel above, the fuschia is not in good condition at all but when I looked closely at it, I could see that there were some healthy flowers tucked away in it. A case for some severe pruning perhaps.

I went back into the garden, got out a different camera, and had another go at the cotoneaster. The resulting picture gives an idea of just how small the flowers on the shrub are.

There were so many bees that they were shoving each other out of the way.

Bumble bees were interested too.

I had a wander round, admiring old friends enjoying the sunshine.

New flowers are always arriving and today’s newcomer is an ox-eye daisy, the first of many all over the garden. It couldn’t attract a bee but it did have a small fly in its eye.

Other flowers were attracting other bees.

When I look back on my day today, thanks to a combination of old age and the warm sunshine the chronology has become rather blurred. I know that I mowed the middle lawn, made bacon butties for lunch, mowed the front lawn, edged both lawns and put decking oil on our new bench but I am by no means certain in what order these exciting events took place.

I also looked at our other cotoneaster and found that wasps were into cotoneaster flowers as well as bees.

The clock on my camera tells me that I took the wasp picture before lunch and this one of a young blackbird on our old bench at that time too.

It tells me that it was in the afternoon when I took this picture of the other contender for red flower of the day.

I do know that after all the activity, I sat on a seat to have a rest and was much entertained by a pair of pigeons on our power line. I don’t know much about pigeons but it seemed to me that this display of aerial acrobatics had more to with making love than making war.

It was the way that one of them sidled along the wire towards the other in a hopeful manner before the bursts of flying started that made me think that.

It was such a lovely day that in the end, I couldn’t think of a good excuse not to go for a short cycle ride in spite of feeling a little tired. It was a good decision with light winds and the temperature at 66°F.

The verges were full of cow parsley…

…sometimes mixed with buttercups.

After a couple of energetic days, my legs were not in full working mode today and showed a regrettable Achilles tendency to sulk in their tents instead of joining in the battle. The rest of me was in very good order though so I just pottered slowly along, enjoying the sun on my back and lots of beautiful green trees.

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that May 20th is peak spring so this is just about as good as it gets.

When I got home, I had missed my evening Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters but there is always another day for that.

I put the sprinkler on the middle lawn while we were eating our tea, and then had my first look of the day at the birds on the feeder in the evening light.

They seemed pleased to have a bit of peace after a busy day in the garden.

My twenty mile cycle ride took me over 400 miles for the month. This is a very satisfactory effort for me these days. May has been my best month for distance covered this year and with some good sunny days still to come, I hope to increase the mileage before the thirty-first.

The flying bird of the day is a late evening goldfinch.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward Winter.  He has a fine six inch wide tree peony flower in his garden which he thought that I might appreciate.  I do.

TreePeony2020

It was another grey, blustery and chilly day today here so once again there was no urgency in the getting up department.

Indeed, I got up so late that there was no time for a wander round the garden before our street coffee meeting, and it was only afterwards that I got to check to see if our peonies are out yet.

They are still trying.

peony trying

A quick check on the frost damage revealed that the Japanese azalea may have have enough surviving flowers to make a bit of a show at least.

japanese azalea

And to make up for the lack of azaleas, the first iris has put in a welcome appearance.

first iris

Tulips and poppies make sure that we still have some colour….

tulips and poppy

And thriving Limnanthes and Aquilegia will soon be joined by…

flowers old and new

…other promising flowers.

We are quite blue at the moment….

four blue things in garden

…in a delicate sort of way.

I mowed the front lawn in the hope that we will get some rain and warmer weather to make the grass grow again.  Mrs Tootlepedal got to work improving the soil in one of the beds along the lawn so I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C to give to her to add to the bed.

I didn’t watch the birds on the feeder in the morning as we were busying about but there were birds in the garden who weren’t bothered by us.  The blackbird and the thrush are both feeding young so they are often to be seen about.

blackbird an thrush panel

I did a little shredding of disused box bushes and then went in for lunch.

We had a Carlisle Choir Zoom meeting scheduled for mid afternoon at what would have been our regular choir practice time, so I sneaked out for a short walk after lunch.  It was grey and almost drizzly so I walked on at a brisk pace, hoping to get home before any rain started.

I was pleased to see that the big rhododendrons in the park seemed to have escaped frost damage, but the bluebells are fading away and going over…

rhododendron,bluebells and garlic

…leaving the wild garlic to cover the ground.

I walked along the Murtholm track towards Skippers Bridge, passing quantities of ribwort, lambs and spring things on leaves…

three things at murtholm

…and crosswort…

crosswort full

…at which I took a closer look.

crosswort close

I paused on Skippers Bridge to record just how low the river is.

low water in esk from skippers bridge

It will be interesting to see if we get enough rain to raise the water level noticeably as the ground is so dry that it will surely soak up anything less than a downpour.

I took a picture of this view a few days ago but it is still so beautiful to my mind, that I took it again today.

skippers bridge from north

As I walked along the river bank back to the town, there was plenty to admire.

six things beside the river

I saw two contrasting birds as I got up the suspension bridge, a very noisy thrush singing fit to bust on a rooftop on one side of the river and a very quiet oyster catcher sitting on her nest on the other side.

thrush and oyster catcher

When  I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had just about finished her work on the flower bed.

bed improvement

I like the big red poppy at the back of the house so I went for a look at it…

big red poppy panel

…before getting ready for the Zoom choir meeting.

While I was waiting for the meeting to start, I made a mixture for some chocolate biscuits and put it in the fridge to cool.

When the appointed time came, lots of choir members attempted to join the meeting but unfortunately, there was a glitch in the Zoom technology (not our fault) and the meeting had to be cancelled.  We are going to try again next week,

The fault, which also affected a government briefing later in the day, must have been partial as I had a one to one meeting on Archive website business with my younger son and a family meeting with my siblings later on with no problems at all.

After the failed choir meeting, I baked the biscuits and while they were cooling, our neighbour Liz rang up to say that a starling was feeding its young in her garden if I was interested.

I was interested and went out and leant over her wall to see the group in action.

liz's starlings

I took the biscuits out of the oven and left them to cool and then I had time to watch a blue tit coming to the feeder…

blue tit in garden

…before chatting to my brother and sisters with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We tried the biscuits after our evening meal.  There was an initial shock when they did not taste as we expected them to, but we enjoyed them enough to have another each.

The rain, which finally started shortly after I came home from my walk, has persisted in a mild and desultory way all evening.  There is some more in the forecast over the next two days but as it is only a few millimeters, whether it will be enough to do some good is still a moot point.

All the same, any rain, after two dry months when at times it seemed as though it might never rain again here,  is to be welcomed.

The flying bird of a day is a bee.

flying bee

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan, who while having a cup of coffee with my sister Mary beside the canal at King’s Place, was entertained by two swans.

King's Place Swans

We spent a lot of the day waiting for it to rain.  It is very rare to find Mrs Tootlepedal roaming the garden saying, “Come on, rain!”  Usually she is to be found indoors looking out of the window saying, “Please stop raining.”  It has been a very unusual spell of weather.

We started the morning by going to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre.  It was enhanced by people selling plants today and while I bought fish and meat, Mrs Tootlepedal bought a meconopsis and two geums.

Then we went home and waited for the promised rain.  We put in a lot of work while we were waiting.  Mrs Tootlepedal did planting out of her purchases and other seedlings from the greenhouse, some weeding and endless improvements to the soil.  I mowed the middle lawn and edged it too.  Then  I sieved some compost….

sieved compost

…which finally cleared out Bin D.  Then, in an exciting development, I shifted the material in Bin C into Bin D.  I must say that the weather has been kind to the compost and it doesn’t look as though I will have to wait long before starting to sieve the new intake.

Compost Bins C and D

I also took time off from these labours to wander around taking pictures.

We are not short of strong colours…

azaleas and rhodie

aquilegia

icelandic poppy

…but there are more delicate shades to be seen too.

lupin

chives

astrantia

I really feel grateful to my camera for making me look closely at flowers that might only have merited a swift glance from me not so long ago.  I would never have realised how intricate a lupin flower is and how beautiful an astrantia can be….and a bunch of chives would just have been a bunch of chives and not a carpet of jewels.

I stepped out of the front gate and went round to the dam.  A party of sparrows was enjoying a swimming outing.

sparrows on dam

A second oriental poppy has come out.  It is hard to beat for sheer impact on the eye.

oriental poppy

At the corner of the house, a fuchsia has been flowering for many years.  It got a bit sick last year and I wondered if it had come to the end of the road.  However, although it is not looking fully fit, it has got a lot of flowers on it once again.

Fuchsia

We think the the blackbirds might be starting a second family as they seem to be busy.

blackbirds

The clematis round the back door is at its peak…

back door clematis

…but splendid as it is, I am tending to appreciate the more modest front door clematis even more.

front door clematis

We are getting into the rose season and the Rosa Moyesii has been joined by Roseraie de l’Hay, newly purchased this year by the head gardener.

Rosa Moyesii and Roseraie de l'Hay

From time to time, I needed a quiet sit on the new bench and this gave me a chance to consider the curiosities of perspective.

P1100811

The green patch in the foreground on the lawn has been created by Mrs Tootlepedal who who is employing little by little stealth fertilising tactics behind my  back.

The rain finally arrived in the afternoon, starting so weakly that we thought that it would come to nothing.  But as time went by, the intensity increased and by tea time, we were enjoying exactly the steady light watering that we would have ordered.  The forecast says that it should rain gently for most of tonight and tomorrow and then we should return to fine dry weather.  The garden will be most grateful if this is true.

The rain will do no harm at all to the fruit and veg which has been enjoying the warmth..

apple, blackcurrant, gooseberry and peas

The blackcurrants are looking very perky and Mrs Tootlepedal’s pea fortress has successfully kept the sparrows at bay.  The apples are looking good and the gooseberry hasn’t got the sawfly yet.  What could possibly go wrong?

While it was just gently drizzling, I went upstairs and took some general views of the garden as I know some readers like to see these as the seasons change.  I took the three ‘rooms’ from left to right.

Front lawn from above

Left: The front garden, home to the azaleas

Middle lawn from above

Centre: The middle garden with the new bench

Veg garden from above

Right: The vegetable garden looking busy.

Because the plum tree obscures some of the middle garden, I took a picture of the hedge that divides the two rooms from a different angle.  Ally’s Allium Alley runs along behind the back hedge past the rhododendrons.

Azaleas from above

And I looked down on the little flower garden round the chimney pot where the bird feeder is.

 

sundial garden from above

The sharp eyed will be able to spot the new bright red geum that Mrs Tootlepedal bought this morning just in front of the green box ball.

This is a good time of year.

We both had to spend some time looking at the songs for the summer concert of the Carlisle Community Choir which takes place tomorrow.  This will be the final time that we will be taken by our excellent conductor Andrew, who is moving on. As a farewell gift, he is making us do four of the songs from memory. …with gratuitous clapping in two of them.

I did find time to catch a flying bird of the day but as the light wasn’t very good by the time that I came indoors and set the camera up, it is a rather fuzzy siksin.

flying siskin

 

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The guest picture of the day was sent to me by my older son, Tony.  He was much impressed by this robot lawn mower mowing a public space in Edinburgh.  I was too so although it is not the sharpest photo, I have used it.

robot mower

We had another day of incessant sunshine and I was pleased to have been able to get up, eat breakfast and get out for a 25 mile cycle ride by half past seven in the morning.  The temperature was perfect when I started off but it was already getting too warm for comfort by the time that I finished.

I took a picture with my phone to give a general impression of the ride…

sunny day at Glenzier

…and was pleased to find an early silverweed flower at my foot.

silverweed

They seem to like the salt that gets put on the roads in winter.

Apart from avoiding the worst of the heat, my early start allowed me to be home in time for coffee with Dropscone and since it was Friday today, this involved treacle scones.  He had laid out some of his cash on a better quality bag of flour and this had paid off as the scones were first class.

While I was awaiting for him to come, I killed a little time chasing butterflies in the garden.

female orange tip butterfly

This is a female orange tip butterfly

small white butterfly and bee

I don’t what type this very plain white butterfly is. I liked the neat pollen bucket on the bee nearby.

I couldn’t help noticing a few flowers too.  Some were big and brash….

oriental poppy

Our first oriental poppy of the year

peony

Several peony flowers are on the go now.

Some were more delicate….

Welsh poppies

A floating cloud of Welsh poppies

Welsh poppy

A near perfect one

And the sunshine made for a couple of quite classy close ups.

Welsh poppy

Dancing feet

astrantia

Delicate petals

It was good though to get back into the cool indoors out of the sun and enjoy the coffee and scones.

After Dropscone left, with a few sticks of rather weedy looking rhubarb in a bag, I thought about mowing a lawn but decided that discretion was the better part of valour today and went back in and did the crossword instead.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been having coffee with ex work colleagues at the Buccleuch Centre but after lunch, she got busy in the garden and I went out to supervise.  I did manage to sieve another bucket or two of compost for dressing the vegetable beds and we put some netting on the strawberry beds,  but mostly I drifted about, trying not to get too hot.

I noticed the first yellow rose of the year…

Scotch Rose

…and enjoyed peering into an allium.

allium

Whenever I did get too hot, I went indoors and practised songs and/or flute and recorder pieces for the concert in the evening.

While I was out in the garden at one point, a tremendous racket announced the arrival of a bunch of starlings which sat on the electricity wires and chatted.

starlings

starling

They didn’t stay long though and were soon off in search of food for the youngsters elsewhere.

Other birds were available.

sparrows

Sparrows checking out some red pellets

I noticed that a blue polemonium had come out…

polemonium

…and the lupins are now going strong.

lupins

I went back in and made a feta, tomato and potato bake for our tea and then we picked up another choir member and set off for Newcastleton where our choir concert was being held in the church.

The thermometer in the car said 30°C when we got in and even driving along with the windows open didn’t cool us down at all.  I was hoping that when we got there, the church would be dark and cool but it was just as warm inside as the day was outside and by the time that the choir and a very satisfactorily large audience had piled in, it was a bit like a furnace.

The heat didn’t affect the singing too much but playing instruments when your hand is hot and sticky is not quite what you want so although the recorder piece went not too badly, the flute accompaniment was rather streaky.  The pianist complained that he too was making mistakes because his hands were slipping off the keys.

The audience seemed to thoroughly enjoy the concert.  As well as the choir, there were poems, solo songs and a terrific contribution by three of our conductor’s students from Carlisle who sang songs from musicals and some crisp close harmony work as well.

All in all, the audience got quite good value for their entrance money, though there was enough scope  for improvement in the choir to warrant a another practice before we repeat the concert in another church next week.

The almost flying bird of the day is one of the starlings.

starling

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Today’s guest picture shows the sea front at Ullapool where Sandy is spending a few days with friends.  When the weather is like this, it is hard to find anywhere more beautiful than the north west coast of Scotland.

Ullapool

We had another fine day here today but it was, if anything, a little too fine.  The wind had gone round to the south west and had little or no intention of cooling anyone down.   The temperature was up to 24°C by lunch and the humidity had gone up for most of the day.  The result was a series of thunder rumbles in the afternoon but at the time of writing, no actual thunderstorms.

All this made for a rather heavy day and although I thought of cycling,  I also thought about melting tar, recent gravelling and potential heatstroke so I didn’t go out.

I did pop out into the garden at regular intervals both to do useful things….

hedge trimming

Our neighbour Betty and I co-operatively trimmed our joint hedge.

…like hedge trimming and lawn mowing and weed killing.

The warm weather has brought on a host of weeds in the middle lawn.  Usually I don’t weed kill because it means that you have to collect and throw away the grass trimmings but there were places where the weeds were threatening to overwhelm the grass so there was no choice.

These things were interspersed with spells indoors.  Our house is quite cool in these conditions so I adhered to the golden rule: If you can’t stand the heat, go into the kitchen.

I also took the camera out from time to time but very bright sunshine is not ideal for flower photography (some people are never happy) so the results were a bit mixed.  Strangely there was no sign of the painted lady or any of his/her friends today.

poppy

There was large strident colour…

cow parsley

…and delicate tracery

There were new reds….

Sweet William, potentilla and a rose

Sweet William, potentilla and a rose

…and old and new yellows.

Welsh poppy, rose and musk

Welsh poppy, rose and musk

And lovely smells on every side.

There were comings and goings.

azalea and weigela

The very last blossom on the yellow Azalea and the first on the Weigela

The Astrantias are coming along nicely.

astrantia

And the lupins are almost at their peak.

lupins

Recently we have been visited by what sometimes seems like an army of sparrows and there were plenty to more to watch today.  The reason for the great number is some very successful breeding.  Little sparrows flapping their wings in a pleading way are to be seen on all sides.

baby sparrow

At first there was one….

baby sparrow

…and then there two…..

baby sparrow

…who looked really hopeful…..and then they all flew away and one lucky child got special treatment later.

baby sparrow

I saw the first goldfinch for several days.  They have become very scarce and there are more redpolls than goldfinches at the moment.

redpoll and goldfinch

 One of our residents is getting more and more shy.

heron

It got hotter and hotter as the day went on but Mrs Tootlepedal had plants that badly needed planting out so she kept busy.  She was putting in cosmos plants and the weather has been so good lately, that some of them are in flower before they have been put in the beds.

cosmos

I sieved a little compost.  The dry weather has made this task very easy but I needed to put some water on the heap in bin C as it was in danger of drying out completely.

In a quiet moment, I had a word with the power company about my outstanding unresolved complaint with regard to the supply to the Archive Centre and unintelligible billing.  They are a month late in a promised reply.  It turned out that this was because the complaint had been marked as resolved.  How could this be when I haven’t been spoken or written to?   The answer came: “The computer has done it.”  I intimated that this was not and entirely satisfactory response and that I hoped the matter might be resolved before my death.  The customer service operative made no promises.

I was cheered up when my flute pupil Luke came in the evening and we started work on a duet for two flutes in canon by Telemann, which will be an enjoyable challenge for us. His music reading is improving all the time so we don’t need to spend nearly as much time as we used to in getting familiar with a piece and can get down to playing it seriously much sooner.

In the evening, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and there were moments after such a hot day, when my music reading left a little to be desired but we had another enjoyable evening of music all the same.

There are two flying birds of the day today, a standard siskin….

flying siskin

…and a snatched shot of a swift disappearing as it swooped over the garden in the morning.

swift

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Gavin.  It shows him in front of an enormous hedge in the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh yesterday.  By coincidence, Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda were there too yesterday but they didn’t meet Gavin. Perhaps they were on the other side of the hedge.

gavin and hedge

I had a wonderful plan to leap up early and pedal 40 miles in the early morning sunshine before breakfast.  The alarm went off on cue, I woke up, the sun was shining, I rolled over and went back to sleep again.  Sometimes, as Robert Burns said, the best laid plans….

I was wandering round the garden after a late breakfast, taking pictures of a fine oriental poppy…

oriental poppy

…when who should appear on a bicycle but Dropscone.  He wasn’t cycling far though, merely crossing the town to pay a bill. Having discharged this obligation, he returned for a cup of coffee and a dainty biscuit.

He has been away for a few days acting as a golf referee at an international children’s golf tournament near Edinburgh.  He would have had a better time if he hadn’t had to spent eleven hours on the course in pouring rain and lashing wind on Wednesday.  He was very cheerful all the same.

When he left, I completed my tour of the garden.

rosa moyesii

The Rosa Moyesii is looking better by the day.

nectaroscordum

I would have to lie on my back to see the colour in these Nectaroscordum

allium and insect

I am not sue what sort of insect this is on an Allium

Burnet roses or Scotch briar

These are Burnet roses or Scotch briars

When I finished my tour,  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland bird feeders, as I had been asked to fill them today in the absence of the regular volunteer.  Mrs Tootlepedal was armed with binoculars and was hoping for a sight of a hen harrier on the moor behind the feeders.

She didn’t see a harrier but I was happy enough with a woodpecker and some spring cones.

woodpecker

I also liked this view of the woods on the other side of the Tarras valley.

Tarras woodland

We couldn’t stay long as I had an appointment to meet a lady from our camera club in Newcastleton who was bringing over some pictures for our photo exhibition which starts next week.  I just had time to mow the middle lawn before going up to find her. She was on time and will come over again next week to see the exhibition.

After lunch, I looked at another fallen walnut tree branch which Mrs Tootlepedal had tidied up in the garden.  The yellow lichen seems to like walnut…

lichen

…and then we put our bikes in the back of the car and drove the eleven miles down to Longtown.

The attraction of Longtown, an otherwise unremarkable town, to Mrs Tootlepedal is that it lies in the middle of the Solway Plain, a very flat piece of country.  We intended to ride a gentle fourteen mile  route but thanks to missing a poorly signposted turn, we managed to achieve a fifteen mile circle.  In the beautiful sunny weather, with a light breeze to keep us cool, we didn’t mind the extra mile at all.

I stopped from time to time to take a picture as we went along.

Longtown pines

There are some very striking pine trees in this part of Cumbria

buttercups verges

Many of the verges were lined with buttercups

The sharp eyed will have observed Mrs Tootlepedal disappearing into the distance in the two shots above.  She was in fine fettle and we kept our average above 10 mph for the journey.

Road side spectators watched us whoosh past with barely concealed amazement.

pony near Longtown

Near the end of our journey, we passed one of my favourite buildings, Arthuret Church, and I added yet another shot of this impressive edifice to my collection.

Arthuret Church

When we got home, we had a cup of tea by way of refreshment and Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do those things that a gardener does in the back border….

gardening

…while I mowed the front lawn.  Luckily, the two forms of physical exercise which I enjoy most, cycling and lawn mowing, are not much affected by my sciatica.  Leaning forward and taking your weight on your arms must be the secret.

I had another look round when I had finished mowing.

astrantia

The Astrantia is a treat whichever way you look at it.

Primula

The Primula by the pond was worth looking down on too.

Flag Iris

The Flag Iris at the end of the drive was in full flower after a sunny day

It was such a lovely evening that we decided to drive up onto the Langholm Moor and have another look for hen harriers.  This time Mrs Tootlepedal saw a male flying low over the hill as soon as we stopped and we had an entertaining time watching it swoop along the ridge.  It was well in binocular range but a little too far away for my camera.  At one moment we saw what looked like both a male and a female together.

harriers

I had time to look at Tinnis, my favourite hill….

Tinnis

…before we headed home for tea.

In the evening, I updated my cycling stats and found that this year I have done more miles by the end of May than I had by the end of June last year.  This is very satisfactory but may also explain why I feel a bit tired.  I am still working my way back to full fitness after the illness that laid me low two years ago and have to be careful not to overdo things.

The non flying flower of the day is another view of that pond-side Primula.

Primula

 

 

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