Posts Tagged ‘peonies’

Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.


A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.


Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows one of his dogs relaxing in his garden.  He tells me that he sun (almost) always shines in East Wemyss.


When I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the sun was shining and my feet were not hurting.  Life was good and it got better when I went out into the garden after breakfast and found a painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) sunning itself on a Sweet William.

painted lady on sweet william

Things improved even further when Dropscone arrived for coffee, bringing scones of the highest quality with him.  Add to that a passing visit from our friend Gavin who stayed for a cup of coffee and happiness was to be found all around.

In the garden, when the visitors had departed, there was plenty of cheerfulness too. We have three different astrantias and they are all doing well…

three astrantia

…and the painted lady was back showing both sides of its wings.

painted lady panel

On the feeder, a siskin stood for a moment before getting a seed.  (This is a rare siskin picture for me as it wasn’t taken through a window.)

siskin not through window

Mrs Tootlepedal was doing the garden equivalent of housekeeping after the pole excitements when she found this quite unexpected but very pretty iris in the middle of a bed.  Where it has come from is a mystery, as she didn’t plant it.

new yellow iris

Long established irises should not be overlooked though.

old blue iris

Two days of warm sunshine had brought life to the garden and plants asked to be photographed, both in the form of Jacobite roses…

Jacobite rose

…and the butter and sugar iris.

butter and sugar iris

The painted lady returned to another Sweet William and let me get a close up.

painted lady on sweet william 2

The tropoaeolum has burst into flower as well.

tropaeloum flower out

In between running around snapping at flowers, I mowed the front lawn and lent a hand with the garden tidying until it was time for Mrs Tootlepedal to drive off to Newcastleton for an embroiderers’ lunch.

I made a pan of soup for my lunch, did the crossword and then headed out on my bike to see how my legs were feeling after yesterday’s effort.

I chose a route where the wind would be across and hoped that bends in the road would mean that it would frequently change from hostile to helpful as I went along as I didn’t fancy another long spell of battering into the brisk breeze.

I chose a more hilly route but my legs were unfazed and carried me along without complaint.  My windy plan worked well and I didn’t have any long struggles into the teeth of the breeze, but all the same, I adopted a very gentle pace and stopped to take many pictures as I went along.  Here are a sample.

A mown field and a variety of greens made a interesting picture as I cycled down the hill from Peden’s View.

mowed field

There was a pretty selection of hawkweed and daises at Bentpath village (and another painted lady which didn’t get into the picture).

wild flowers at Bentpath

The Esk looked serene when viewed from the Benty Bridge.

esk from benty bridge

The shadows on the back road past Georgefield look attractive but they are a snare for cyclists as it is hard to spot potholes among them and there are plenty of potholes on this section.

road ar Westerhall

I got through safely though and was able to admire this small prairie of buttercups near Enzieholm Bridge.

filed of buttercups enzieholm

When I looked more closely, I found that below the buttercups, the field was also full of yellow rattle.

sweet ratle in buttercup filed

There was a lot of traffic on the road on my way home…

sheep on Benty road

…but I got back in good spirits after fifteen very pleasant miles.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from her lunch and was busy in the garden again so I joined her in a supervisory role and took more flower pictures from time to time.

six brilliant flowers

It was a perfect day and all the better because we have had so few good days lately.

The only fly in the ointment came in the evening with the news that Scotland had failed to hang on to a three goal lead in a crucial game in the Women’s World Cup football tournament.  I wisely hadn’t watched the game because I wasn’t in the mood for needless suffering.

I didn’t find the necessary time to catch a flying bird today as it wasn’t a good day to spend a lot of time indoors, so a sitting blackbird of the day takes the position instead.

blackbird on fence.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When I looked back at his pictures from Kirkcaldy’s Highland Games on the beach, I saw that as well as cyclists and runners, they had these curious characters too.

beach runners Kirkcaldy

It was the day of the wires in our garden and luckily, the wire hangers had a fine day for their work.  They got prepared and while one man disconnected the power from a neighbouring pole, using a handy bucket, a worker shinned up the new pole in our garden and got ready to remove the wires from the old pole.

new electricty supply 1

The picture on the right in the panel above was taken by Mrs Tootlepedal and as I had to leave the scene, she took all the others of the works too.

Once the wires had been taken off the old pole, it was carefully lowered down….

new electricty supply 2

…and turned out to fit exactly into the available space.

Our new pole stood alone.

new electricty supply 3

Then new wires were fitted from our neighbour Liz’s house to the new pole at the front gate….

new electricty supply 4

…and connected up by a team of two hanging on the vegetable garden pole which acts as a centre point for all the houses surrounding our garden.

new electricty supply 5

I see that I have put the two pictures in this panel in the wrong way round. 

Mrs Tootlepedal took a picture of a section of one of the old poles showing exactly why it was time for replacements.

new electricty supply rotten old pole

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go to the Buccleuch Centre, where she was helping out at the coffee shop, and it wasn’t long after she got back that the power was restored and she was able to enjoy our new (and doubtless better) electricity as she made herself a cup of tea.

I had had to leave her to be photographer in chief as I wanted to make use of the good weather to get a cycle ride in.  After cycling thirteen miles on Sunday and walking two mile yesterday without any bad effects on my feet, I thought that the time had come to extend my range a little.

Long suffering readers will know that I harbour an ambition to cycle as many miles as I have had birthdays each year and for as many years into the future as possible.  As there was a rock solid guarantee of no rain today, I thought that this might be the day to accomplish the challenge for this year.

Unfortunately, in spite of the sunny conditions, there was still a pretty brisk wind blowing with gusts of up to 25 miles an hour, so I chose a very flat out-and-back route in the hope that the wind would blow me home.

I was not at all confident that I would be up to the task so I made to sure to stop for a minute or so every five miles to have a drink, eat a snack, stretch my legs and take a photo if the opportunity arose.

There were a lot of things to see on my way…

wild flowers on way to Bowness

…but my favourites were the banks of daises that lined the roads in many places.

daisies beside M6 service road

My route took me down to the southern shore of the Solway Firth and along some very flat roads beside the salty marsh there.

This cow crossed the road in front of me at one point and gave me a hard stare before going off to join her pals in the distance.

salt marsh cow

I would have enjoyed the flat road better if I had not been pedalling straight into the wind, working really hard to achieve a measly 10 mph.

I stopped to admire the fortified farmhouse at Drumburgh, built in the 12 century using stones taken from Hadrian’s Wall.

Drumburgh Bastle

For once, the tide was in and the sea was lapping at the shore as I pedalled along.

solway fiorst view

After 40 miles of head and cross winds, I was mighty pleased to find a small shop in a developing holiday complex in Bowness.  I bought an ice cream, a coffee and an alleged Bakewell tart bar and sat in the sun and had a rest while I enjoyed them. (The Bakewell Tart bar tasted surprisingly good but not much like a  Bakewell Tart.)

Bowness cafe

I pedalled along the shore a bit further after my snack and enjoyed the sight of the marsh cattle peacefully grazing.  Across the Firth, I could see Criffel on the Scottish side.

cattle grazing on salt march bowness

I turned for home after 43 miles, and my plan to be blown home by a friendly wind worked out well.  This was lucky as the 43 miles into the wind had been hard work.

I had stopped on the way out to record the Methodist church at Monkhill, and to even things out, I stopped to record the 12th Century Anglican church at Burgh by Sands (also built using stones from Hadrian’s Wall) on the way back.

chapel and church

I had nearly got back to Langholm when I spotted the biggest treat of the day.  The people who mow the verges of our roads had failed in their task of exterminating every possible wild flower on the  A7  and near the end of the Canonbie by-pass I came across a small clump of orchids which had survived the trimming.

orchid beside A7

After 81 miles at a very modest speed, I managed to get home just before Mrs Tootlepedal went out to an evening meeting and was very pleased to find that she had cooked a nourishing meal for me to eat after she had gone.

When I had eaten, I was recovered enough to go out and mow the middle lawn and take a turn round the garden.

The climbing hydrangea is covered with flowers and bees.

climbing hydrangea with bees

The day of sunshine had brought the coral…

coral peony out

…and the white peonies out…

white peony out

…and the lupins were a joy to look at in the evening light.


But of course, the highlight was the new pole.

new electricty supply final

At the time of writing,  my feet and ankles have survived the slightly longer cycle ride but only tomorrow morning will tell if I was ill advised to take on my age challenge.

I managed to capture a flying siskin of the day after I got home.

flying siskin

I have appended my route map below.  You can see that it was a very flat route.

Those interested can learn more by clicking on the map.

garmin route 18 June 2019


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Tony & Co’s visit to Cephalonia.   They had some high spots in their holiday and this is one of them.


My get up and go had no option but to return today as the first business of the day was to get up and go to Carlisle.   I was acting as chauffeur for Mrs Tootlepedal who was off to spend a day at the Gardeners’ World Flower Show in Birmingham in company with our daughter, who was coming up from London to meet her there.

Everything went well, Mrs Tootlepedal caught her train and I got home safely.   I had a quick walk round the garden before I went in.

The coral peonies were still curled up in the cool of the morning….

curled peonies

… but by the end of a sunny afternoon, it was another story altogether.

uncurled peonies

That’s what I call the wow factor.

The roses are getting better every day.

lilian austin and rosa complicata

Lilian Austin and Rosa Complicata

I looked at the birds when I went in.

busy feeder

They were so busy that I felt quite tired and had to have a sit down.

My morning plan was to drink coffee, do the crossword and watch Scotland beat Japan at rugby on the telly.

It worked well, though the Scotland win was far from convincing and I didn’t finish a rather tricky crossword until later in the day.

After lunch, the weather looked set fair and the wind not too bad so I checked on the tropaeolum….


It was very red.

…and the daisies….


They were very white

…and went off for a pedal.  It is the Muckletoon Adventure Festival this weekend and as part of it, there is a hilly cycle sportive tomorrow so I thought I would see if my legs were in the mood for such a challenge by giving them a gentle run over a flattish route.

I enjoyed my 44 mile ride a lot but my legs let it be known that a longer and hillier ride was not on their to do list so I will have to give it a miss.

Those with time hanging heavy on their hands can see the details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

Garmin route 18 June 16

As you can see, Garmin adds a weather condition to the route details and on this occasion it was pretty inaccurate because it was well above 60°, the sun was shining and the wind was quite brisk at times, especially when I was coming back.  I did the 7 flat miles from Annan to Gretna at an average of 19.5 miles an hour and I certainly couldn’t have done that with a wind of only 3 mph behind me.

I went to Annan through Eaglesfield and came back via Gretna and passed two sources of local employment on my way (note the sunny day).

chapelcross and gretna

Many cross people write to the papers to complain that windmills don’t provide power when the wind doesn’t blow but they seem to forget that the Chapelcross nuclear power station (on the left above) has not been providing any power for several years as it is shut but there is still a large crew working on taking it down and making it safe and they will be working (but not producing any power) for many, many years.  On the other hand there seems to be a never ending supply of people wanting to be married at Gretna.

It was a good day for pedalling and the wind had changed and was coming from the west today which might account for the sunshine after a rather grey spell in recent days with the wind in the east.  The sun had brought the hedge roses out.

hedge roses

One of the things that I like about the back roads on the Solway plain is the way that individual trees in the hedges punctuate the views.

Springfield road

As you can see, the verges are looking very lush with plenty of grasses at the moment and there is some colour among the grass too.


I stopped to eat a final banana at Tarcoon and enjoyed this mother and child gathering there with the Whita Hill and the  Monument in the background.

cows at Tarcoon

While I was nibbling, I took a look back down the road that I had just come up and you may see why I thought this was a good spot to stop for a moment or two.


I soon got going again but I was stopped in my tracks further on by this belted Galloway’s hard stare.

Belted galloway

When I got home, I had time to finish the crossword, have  a shower,  look at the peonies, make a loaf of bread and cook and eat my tea before I had to go back to Carlisle to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up off the train on her return from Birmingham.  She and Annie had had a very enjoyable outing among the flowers but she was pleased to be back home when we got there.

I hope to have some pictures of the event to show here soon.

The flying bird of the day is a composite of two siskins and a sparrow.

sparrow and two siskins flying



Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s adventures in the Highlands.  She went out on a boat and saw these bottle nosed dolphins disporting themselves.

bottle nosed dolphins

I had another quiet morning with high quality idling only interrupted by the need to mow the middle lawn and the desire to capture the continuing beauty of the peonies as they develop.


More roses are arriving too.

Lilian Austin and Rosa Complicata

Lilian Austin and Rosa Complicata

Mrs Tootlepedal has some Alchemilla growing under the espalier apples and it is another of those fairly dull looking flowers until you peer more closely.


The garden is full of sparrows and there were always a handful round the feeder when I looked out of the kitchen window.


They got a bit impatient from time to time and didn’t necessarily wait for the a perch to become clear before getting a seed.


It was a grey but dry and reasonably warm day and after lunch Sandy came round by arrangement, as we were planning a walk.  He had realised though that he had forgotten that it was his day to refill the Moorland Feeders and so instead of walking, we drove up to the feeding station and did the job.

We decided that a short sit in the hide might be a good way to spend some time and settled down to see what arrived on the feeders.

The short sit stretched out to an hour and we had plenty to entertain us.

It started with a pheasant.


…and continued with a steady stream of siskins.


There are a good number of woodpeckers in the surrounding woods and there were never less than three to be seen today, often chasing each other around the tree trunks.

The clouds were fairly thick so it wasn’t the best day for taking pictures of birds at a distance but the woodpeckers are irresistible.


A woodpecker pecking wood

I spotted a jay but the arrival of a minibus with a group of nature loving children in it caused the bird to fly off.  Luckily the children went away on a bug hunt and the sharp eyed Sandy noticed that the jay had retuned.


The children came back to the hide so Sandy and I drove off homewards.  We were brought to a sudden halt a few hundred yards down the road by the sight of a very large fungus on an oak tree.

oak fungus

My fungus book says that this might be an example of Laetioporus sulphureous and says it is edible.  Indeed if it is Laetioporus sulphureous, it is also known as the ‘chicken of the woods’.  It was certainly big enough to provide a meal for a large family but I would have to have a lot more knowledge before I would risk eating it.

It was very striking, especially growing on the trunk of an oak tree in full leaf.

fungus on oak tree

The leaves of the tree were covered with a sticky substance so I don’t know whether the appearance of the fungus is a sign of illness in the tree.

We drove on and decided to have a shorter version of our original planned walk.  This took us up through a beautiful oak wood and then back down Jenny Noble’s Gill.  It is a favourite walk for both Sandy and me…

Oak wood

…and it is not hard to see why.

The bracken is just coming out and the tips of the plants were very decorative.



We kept our eyes open for interesting things and I noticed another sort of fungus while Sandy spotted a beetle on a leaf…

fungus and beetle

…but it was hard to take your eyes of the oak trees themselves.


Our route took us across an old railway line and I used the black and white capability of the Lumix to take this picture of one of the old stiles which walkers had to use in days gone by.


We walked through the open gate today.  Between the birds at the feeder and the bracken among the oaks, we reckoned that we had spent the afternoon very well.

In the evening, Susan kindly drove me down to Carlisle for a meeting of our recorder group and we puffed away merrily when we got there.

The flying bird of the day is the jay.

flying jay



Read Full Post »