Posts Tagged ‘pansy’

Today’s guest picture shows that Mary Jo has not been wasting her entire time in London going to concerts and seeing the sights.  She has looked at interesting things as well.

Mary Jo's moss

We had another grey, cold and windy day today.  To be fair, it has been pretty dry recently and if it hadn’t been for the very chilly wind, we would probably have been celebrating a good spell of weather.

I went up to the Moorland bird hide after breakfast to fill the feeders for Sandy who is still on holiday in the sun and it was so cold that even sitting in the protection of the hide was not much fun.

There weren’t that many birds to take my mind off the chill either.


Different blackbirds were in evidence

robin, tit and siskin

And a shy robin, a bold great tit and a tiny siskin

unknown bird

And this bird, unknown to me, which stopped for a very brief moment.  I welcome identification from knowledgeable readers.  It might be a chiffchaff.


A woodpecker was very busy flitting between trees and feeders…


…until it finally came near to me and made sure that I got its good side.

As I say, I didn’t stop long and was pleased to get back to the town and get a  little shelter from the cruel wind.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden of course so I lent a little hand here and there and wandered around as well.

New flowers are coming out, some from the soil ….


….and some from handy boxes bought from a garden centre to temporarily fill a bare patch in a bed.


Amazingly, there are still one or two daffodils waiting for the moment to burst into flower…

unopened daffodil May

…while others, like these daffodils of the day, are nearing the end of the road.


Dozens and dozens of daffodils have been dead headed already.

There is almost always something to see.  Today it was a pulsatilla, the first of many I hope….


…with some pretty ferns unfolding in the back border….


..near the first Solomon’s seal of the year…

solomon's seal

…and on the other side of the garden, a fuzzy willow bud, defying the cameramen to take a sharp picture.

willow bud

And if there are no bees about, there is usually a fly on the euphorbia,

fly on euphorbia

If you get really fed up with the chilly wind, you can get your camera to take silly pictures…

tulip picture

…and go inside for a cup of coffee.

tulip picture

Once inside, you can look out of the window and see that the goldfinches have taken over the feeder…


…with such total domination that you can see a chaffinch banging its head against the pole in frustration in the picture above.

A pigeon cast a beady eye on proceedings from the plum tree.


When I went out to tell Mrs Tootlepedal that coffee was ready, a blackbird demanded to have its picture taken.


We were rather alarmed to see a man up the telephone pole behind the house as the last time that this happened, he accidentally disconnected our internet.  All was well today though as you can tell from the fact that this post has been posted.

After lunch, we went off to see Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh and had a constructive afternoon making scones, getting nails painted (some of us), playing a very non competitive form of snap and some Pelmanism.

We had a delightful evening meal and tested the scones (very good) before we walked up to the station to catch the train home.  Slightly unnervingly, both the up and down trains were precisely on time.

Mercifully, the forecast says it is going to get warmer over the next few days and as my thumb is now nearly cured and my new bike should appear either tomorrow or Saturday, things are really looking up.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches, losing a bit of seed in its anxiety to shout abuse at a friend.




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Today’s guest picture come from my younger son and has a rather specialist appeal to those who can appreciate the wistful sense of humour of the tradesmen of who superimposed the ‘for sale’ sign on top of the word ‘better’ on the now closed ‘better together’ shopfront.  The scratched out sticker on the lamp-post in the foreground used to say ‘Yes’.

better togetherWe had another in our run of dry days but it was chilly enough in the morning for Dropscone to remark that he wished that he had put on a second layer before bicycling round with some scones to go with the morning coffee.  Sandy joined us, having been up to fill the Moorland bird feeders (and been bitten by midges).

We had all been busy before coffee, as I had put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and Dropscone had been out on his bike for the first time for some weeks.

It warmed up a bit as the day went on but I wasn’t tempted out on the bike as I thought that the message from my legs yesterday was clear enough to warrant a day of rest.  My only morning exercise was a little compost sieving and a wander round the garden. It wasn’t sunny but the light was rather sympathetic to the plants and I took far too many pictures which accounts for the composites below.

poppy, geranium and hosta

Poppy, geranium and hosta


Three Astrantia still giving value


Today’s poppy parade

Some flowers earned a solo appearance.


There are a lot of insects about and it was quite hard to find a flower without one on.

I took a portrait of one bug eyed monster and the gorgeous pansy it was sitting on.

insect and pansy

poppy and poppy

I couldn’t resist a second visit to poppy and poppy.

crocosmia and poppies

The yellow crocosmia and colourful poppies finally arrived together when Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t there to see them.

The feeders were as busy as usual but I have confined myself to a single shot of this very neat great tit.

great titI had a leisurely lunch, dallied over the crossword and then got organised to go out for a walk with Sandy.  While I was waiting for him to arrive, I looked at all the insects on the sedum by the feeder again.  It was fairly humming with life but interestingly, the other sedum, in a border behind the middle lawn, was attracting no customers at all.

sedumWhen Sandy came, we drove down to Broomholm, where we parked beside the river and then we walked up through the woods.  There were signs of autumn to be seen.


Both large….

bracken and fungus

…and small

Our walk took us through oak woods…..

Oak wood…and birch woods….

birch wood Jenny Noble's…and Sandy suggested trying a little black and white work so I did.

Black and white wood

Oak in the middle of birch.

We walked up to the Round House and then back down to the road beside the river.  We visited the path that gives what I think is the best view of Skippers Bridge when the water is low and calm.

Skippers BridgeThe view was delightful whichever way you looked.

eskI had hoped for a feast of fungi on our way round but they were few and far between.

fungiAlthough we hadn’t seen anything of startling interest, the woods and the river were so easy on the eye and so peaceful that we both agreed that it had been a top quality short stroll.

We got home in time for me to spot a robin in the plum tree….


….chase off two cats….and catch up on a little business (among the items was writing to my MP to defend the interests of the BBC) and cook and eat my tea before it was time to meet up with Sandy again and go off to the Archive Centre.  The internet connection teased us for a while but finally settled down and let me put another week of the index in while Sandy sorted through some possible pictures for our revolving window display.  (It doesn’t literally revolve but is refreshed from time to time.) After a refreshment at the Eskdale, we retired to rest.

The flying bird of the day is a determined chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me yesterday by Mike Tinker but was taken by him  in New Zealand in March.  It shows a Protea which he saw there.  This is a bit odd as it is a native of South Africa.  Perhaps it was on holiday too.

proteaWe were a bit discombobulated today as it was a pleasant day with light winds from the start.  As result, people were walking around saying, “Well. it’s all right so far….” and there was a general sense of unreality.

In the end though, Mrs Tootlepedal got stuck into the gardening again and I went out to help her.  The general business is tidying up plants that are over, cutting back bushes, digging over the vegetable garden where beds have become free and making the garden look and feel cared for.  She is succeeding in that last aim.

I took some time out to take a picture or two.  A day or two of good weather has perked up the flowers.



The latest clematis to appear, hidden behind the azaleas.


The pansies have lasted brilliantly since they were planted out in the spring.


Varied nasturtiums yawn for the camera


I was following a bee when these Ligularia curlicues caught my eye


The dahlias continue to delight me.


Those who like the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov will recognise that this is the Bum of the Flightlebee

We stopped for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal returned to the fray but I went out on the fairly speedy bike to check out the progress of my injured leg.  It has survived trips of 20 and 25 miles in the last few days so I risked a gentle 30 mile spin today.  Once again, there were no complaints.  I didn’t stop for any photographs as I was concentrating on smooth pedalling and always being in the right gear in order to keep any needless pressure off my joints.

I did stop once to eat a few dates and take a drink when I was about half way round and a burst of bright red rowan berries  across the road was hard to ignore.

rowan berriesAs you can see in the foreground, vetch is prominent in the verges.

vetchThe rowan berries were very pretty but as they are a sign of the approach of autumn, they were not entirely a welcome sight.

I had planned my route so that I would get blown home by the light breeze and this worked out well.  Mrs Tootlepedal was still out in the garden when I got back, though she told me that she had been in for a rest.

Among other things, she had tidied up the plants along the vegetable garden fence….

clematis and Bobbie James…and I thought that the result looked good.  And so did the runner beans….

runner beans…which will soon be appearing on the tea table.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played some new pieces with difficulty.  At the end we rose from our seats with co-ordinated groans (but perfectly in key of course).

As I started to write this post, the time came for the ISS to pass overhead and we went out to watch it cross the sky.  I didn’t take a picture of it today as I thought readers might still be recovering from the excitement of looking at yesterday’s effort.

In all the business of gardening and cycling, I completely forgot about a flying bird of the day until the light had begun to fade so a fuzzy siskin was the best that I could do.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony, who is having a well earned rest on Cyprus with Marianne.  There they need umbrellas to shelter them from the sun, a novel idea to us.

umbrellas in cyprusWe had a genuinely warm and pleasant day today which was a great treat.  I didn’t make the fullest outdoor use of it because much of the morning was spent being social indoors.  First Dropscone came round with some scones for coffee.  He has been beaten by the gravel on the back roads and has had to alter his usually immutable morning cycle route to avoid the worst patches.  He had already been out for 20 miles by the time he came to see me, putting me to shame.

To be fair, I had walked round the garden.  There is more to see every day just now.


The first peony is nearly out


The first iris is really out.

pink strawberries

Mrs Tootlepedal’s pink strawberries are looking very pink indeed

A very small rose

A very small rose has made an effort

bee on allium

What looks like a honey bee visits an allium


How can Mrs Tootlepedal think that these are dull?

azalea and pansy

A couple of show offs

Mrs Tootlepedal and I have been discussing whether things are blue or violet.  There is nor much doubt about a cornflower and a viola..

cornflower and viola

Blue and violet

…but a polemonium is not so clear.


Is that blue or violet?

After Dropscone left (with a little rhubarb to help us reduce our rhubarb mountain), I had time to watch the birds for a moment….


baby starling

A baby starling arrived and looked round hopefully. No parent came to feed it so it flew off again.

…before the minister arrived.  Scott’s  scone and coffee radar had misfired and Drospcone and I had finished everything off before he came but he took it very well.  He too had been out on his bike so I felt very badly about my lack of exercise. He has been pedalling a lot recently and is going to do a 100km sportive this weekend.  He should be ready for it.

When he left, I went to assist Mrs Tootlepedal who was clearing out some sickly privet in the back bed.  This involved a good deal of shredding and kept me busy until lunchtime.

Usually I find it hard to get out on the bike if I don’t get going in the morning but today I surprised myself a lot by finding myself in cycling gear soon after lunch and then actually getting the fairly speedy bike out and going off on a ride.  Scott, the minister, had told me that he had been round Bailliehill and Paddockhole on his morning ride so I resolved to do the same in the afternoon.

It was a lovely day for cycling and for the first time this year, I went out with only a single jersey on.  I even ventured to expose my new knee to the fresh air and put on a pair of shorts even more stylish than those worn by Stan Warwinka in Paris last week.

I soon passed one sign of the better weather.

silage cutting

A field being cut for silage

I stopped again for a drink and a banana when I reached the top of the climb after eleven miles.  I love this unfenced road snaking across the col between the Esk and the Water of Milk.  It is not very high up but there is a great feeling of being out in the hills as you cycle along it.

BailliehillKeen cycling fans may wonder why I need to stop to eat a banana and have a drink when cyclists eat and drink on the move all the time.  All I can say is that they have much better bike handling skills than me and if I tried to eat a banana while pedalling, I would probably end up in hospital.  I have never been able to ride a bike with ‘no hands’.

I didn’t stop for any more photographs as my legs began to get rather competitive and I pedalled round the 26 miles circular route in a time that made me feel quite cheerful.  My knee was a bit sore when I got home but it soon recovered.

I had enough energy left for another walk round the garden when I got back.


This hairy monster will soon turn into a glorious oriental poppy.

shuttlecock fern

The shuttlecock fern unfurls from inside.

The chimney under the feeder has been brightened up a lot recently.

chimneyThen I went in for some bird watching….

Baby sparrow

A baby sparrow’s prayer is answered.

…before joining Mrs Tootlepedal to watch part of a very entertaining Australian production of the Pirates of Penzance on DVD.

Then I had a shower, made some tasty cauliflower cheese for tea and went off to drive Susan to Carlisle for our weekly recorder group meeting.  Our plan to put in some serious work for a forthcoming concert was somewhat dented by the absence of one of our players on account of a family crisis but we had an enjoyable play  and some useful practice all the same.

We are promised an even warmer day tomorrow with even more sun and even less wind.  If that happens, I predict an early return of the stylish shorts.  Sunblock may be involved.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch diving for a perch.


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Today’s guest picture comes from our visitor, Marianne and shows the river Cramond in Edinburgh on a rare sunny day recently.

River CramondWhen I woke up this morning, the wind had dropped, the sun was out, the sky was blue.  It was a day for cycling and I managed to make good use of as much of it as I had available.  I had an early breakfast, packed a banana into my new saddle bag and set off

garmin 23 May 15I left myself a bit of latitude as to the distance but set myself a minimum of thirty miles to take advantage of the good weather.  As time went by, it became obvious that my legs and I were singing off the same hymn sheet so I increased the target to 40 miles and managed to hit the distance exactly with only the smallest extra tour of the new town on my return to Langholm.

The route was largely flat and undemanding and in a helpful way, the light wind increased slightly when it was behind me in the closing stages and helped me whistle up the final two gentle hills in good order.  I didn’t take any pictures as I was concentrating on avoiding potholes in the scenic part of the trip rather than looking at the view or searching for interesting flowers in the verges.

I had just recovered when we were visited by Sandy and his friend Christine who were on their way to enjoy some of the artists’ studios in the town.  The studios are open to visitors over the bank holiday weekend as part of the ‘Spring Fling’, a region wide arts adventure.  With luck, I may be able to visit a studio or two on Monday.

The rest of the day was reserved for the visit of my older son Tony, his partner Marianne and her children Natasha and Dylan who were on a mission to see Granny.  They arrived at lunchtime and we spent the meal and the afternoon deep in conversation.  We did take time out for a walk round the block with Granny.

Tony, marianne, Dylan and Tash with MauriMauri was in good walking form and we went further this year than we did last year.  As you can see, the day stayed very sunny and warm throughout.  As we passed our neighbour Liz’s garden, she suggested that our younger visitors might like a go on the large trampoline she has for her grandson Ben, a competition grade trampolinist, to practice on.  Rather to my surprise, they took her at her word and enjoyed a vigorous but unskilled bounce about.

After more conversation, food and garden wandering, the visiting party left in the early evening.  There were the inevitable photographs of our visitors…

Dylan and Tash

Dylan and Tash, who have turned into two remarkably self assured and grown up young people.

…and photographs of photographers too.

Marianne and Mrs Tootlepedal

Marianne and Mrs Tootlepedal check to see that the results are good.

It had been a real pleasure to see them all.

During the day, I walked round the garden several times to see if the sun had done any good.  I was surprised to see that a few tulips are still going strong.

tulipstulipsMrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the way some bedding pansies that she purchased earlier in the year have come on. They are certainly colourful.

pansiespansiesI like the Welsh and Icelandic poppies because they give us colour in the garden right through the summer.

The Welsh poppies are growing through the slats of a bench.  The Icelandic poppy is the first of the year.

The Welsh poppies are growing through the slats of a bench. The Icelandic poppy is the first of the year.

Mrs Tootlepedal likes ferns and especially the shuttlecock ferns on the right in the picture below.

fernsThings were sticking their tongues out at me.

allium and rhododendronI continue to enjoy the seemingly infinite variety of the euphorbias in the garden.  This is the latest manifestation.

euphorbiaThe sun has brought out the Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and it certainly stood out today.

Ornithogalum umbellatumThere seem to be quite a few frogs in the pond at the moment.  I don’t know whether these are new season frogs or old frogs that are too lazy to move on.

frogI spotted a hedge sparrow on a hedge.

hedge sparrowOwing to visitors’ cars in the drive and constant to-ing and fro-ing in and out of the garden, there wasn’t much opportunity to catch a flying bird.  This was the nearest I got.

sparrowSo instead of a flying bird of the day, I am offering two flying young people.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s recent visit to Wales.  As she was with my sister Susan, a steam railway enthusiast,  it is no surprise to find that they managed to fit in a train trip.

Caernarfon April 2015 041I had hoped to get a decent pedal in before lunch today after being rather short of pedalling over the past few days but although I managed to get going quite smartly after breakfast, I didn’t get very far.   In theory, at 10°C it was quite a pleasant spring day but in practice, a brisk wind from the north ensured that that it was a pretty miserable morning.

Things weren’t helped by some light rain which started as I got up to Mosspaul.  I didn’t have a visor on and my glasses were soon verging on the useless so instead of heading over the hill and down the other side, I cut my losses and turned and headed for home.

The brisk wind meant that I had averaged a measly 10½ mph for the 10½ miles up to the top of the hill but the same wind meant that I came back at 21 mph which made me feel a lot better about the whole outing.

There were no birds at the feeder when I got back so I went on a flower hunt instead.    I found a couple of new ones…

dogs tooth violet

The first of our dog’s tooth violet or Erythronium dens-canis has appeared


A gorgeous pansy

..,.,and enjoyed a couple of old friends.


I like the colour of this dicentra against its foliage


I have been trying to get the right light conditions to show this primula off at its best.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been off to sing with the church choir and when she got back, she busied herself with the task of putting everything back into the upstairs room.  The effort of moving a lot of things out and then having to move them all back again is considerable and the only consolation is that she has been able to throw quite of lot of stuff which she hadn’t realised that we still had.

There is still decorating going on downstairs…

painting… but it is nearly finished.  Then we need the electrician to finish and we will be nearly home.

After lunch, we went off to sing with our Carlisle Choir after its two week Easter break.  The tenor ranks were very depleted by illness and people skiving off to rehearse for a musical that they are performing on Friday and Saturday with the result that myself and two ladies constituted the entire tenor section pitched against about 60 sopranos and altos.

Surprisingly, this turned out to be really good fun, partly because we could hear ourselves sing very clearly and couldn’t get away with anything less than our best and partly because the accompanist felt very sympathetic and gave us some good quality help round a couple of tricky corners.  All in all, we sang fit to bust (but always tastefully of course) and we felt that we had upheld the honour of the tenor section very well.

The weather had taken a turn for the better in the afternoon and it was a lovely evening by the time that we got home.  There were even some birds to watch.  On the feeder….


A visit from a house sparrow.


A pair of goldfinches appeared again.

….in the air…..

chaffinch…and on hedges and bushes all over the garden.

blackbirdsMrs Tootlepedal had put a venison stew into the slow cooker before she went to church and it made for a tasty evening meal.

On an  editorial note I am keenly aware that the building works and my knee operation have meant that we have been very much confined to barracks for the past four months and as a result, my daily life and thus my diary too has been quite circumscribed.  I would like to thank those regular readers who have had the patience to stick with me in these tedious times and all who take the time to make the comments which I enjoy reading.  I hope that as the weather gets better, when the building works finally come to an end and as my knee continues to improve, then we can get out and about a bit more.   I might also be a little less tired so that the quality of the writing, which has been decidedly stodgy of late, may improve too with a bit of luck.

The flying bird of the day was an evening chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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