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Posts Tagged ‘plum tree’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s Welsh trip.  Having left Chester and climbed Snowdon, he came to rest on Anglesey where he met the sea…and my sister Mary.

mary on anglesey

Our spell of dry weather continued but once again with an east wind to make sure that we didn’t forget that it is still early April.

Dropscone arrived with a surprise in hand.  Instead of his home made scones, he brought  delicious brioche to go with a cup of Colombian coffee so we had an international coffee break after which he disappeared to the golf course and I took myself off to the dentist where I got two small fillings (and a lecture on brushing my teeth more carefully).

I had time before I left to have a quick walk round the garden where flowers were coming in tightly packed clusters…

garden flowers

…and a moment to watch the birds where chaffinches…

chaffinches and goldfinches

…kept coming and going.

chaffinches coming and going

When I got back from the dentist, I thought that the flowers on the plum tree needed looking after….

lots of chaffinches in plum tree

…so I got my pollinating brush out and went round as many flowers as I could easily reach, pretending to be a bee.  With our cold mornings (there was frost on the lawn again today), we are not seeing many bees about yet.

The tadpoles don’t seem to have been harmed by the cold…

two tadpoles

…and it hasn’t been cold enough for the pond to freeze over.   That could still come though, as cold mornings are going to continue for a while.

After lunch, which was late as I had to let my face unfreeze before eating hot soup, I got my bike out and set out to add a few miles to my monthly total.

Some trees are beginning to show a little leafiness…

tree with new leafs

…and it was very pleasant pedalling gently along in the sunshine with a lighter wind than recent days.

I stopped to exchange views with some belted Galloway cattle…

belted galloway

…and stopped again to admire a couple of buzzards circling above me near Canonbie..

two buzzards

There were interesting things to see along the way…

wild flower canonbie

…but not much sign of any leaves when I looked over the bridge at the river at Hollows Mill.

Esk at Hollows

A young larch tree  was the greenest thing that I saw.

new larch

I was hoping to see some oyster catchers  as I came along the riverside when I got back to Langholm but they weren’t in their usual place.  I saw them flying off overhead and had to make do with a look at the Lady’s Smock on the grassy bank instead.

lady's smock bank of esk

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the vegetable garden putting a new edge on the bed in front of the espalier apples….

edged in veg garden

…so I thought that I should do my bit too and got out the petrol driven tiller and gave the new potato bed a going over, covering up the old greenhouse foundation which we had unearthed.

Mrs Tootlepedal finished off the bed with some neat raking.

new potato bed

I had a look at the mystic Van Eijk tulips…

mustic tulip heart

…and checked on the magnolia at the front gate.  Although the flowers have been affected by the cold mornings, the plant seems to be thriving.

magnolia

Altogether, it was a day when it was hard to be gloomy.

lawn in evening light

It was a day to leave political worries alone and cultivate the garden.

I noticed as I was looking at the birds from time to time during the day, that the right hand perch was often vacant when the other three were occupied.  This, I reckoned was because the wind was coming from the right and made landing on that perch more tricky as birds, like aeroplanes, prefer to land into the wind.

three chaffinches approaching from windward

After a shower and our evening meal, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.  Mary, my singing teacher, was there to conduct us, and I tried to put as much of her good advice to use as I could remember.  I certainly enjoyed the singing.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, approaching the feeder downwind.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s colourful guest picture comes from my sister Mary who recently visited the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, London.

isabella plantation

Apart from a couple of brief showers, we had a much better day today.  It wasn’t a lot warmer in theory but a very welcome break from the recent strong winds made it feel a lot warmer in practice.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning of coffee and lunch meetings but managed to get some gardening in before she went out.  Meanwhile, I got the slow bike out and did some slow bicycling down to Canonbie and back.

Before I went, we checked the pond to see if Mrs Tootlepedal’s improvements were still keeping the water in place.

full pond

They were.

And I saw a couple more signs of spring.

willow and plum

Willow and plum

Once on the slow bicycle, it was a great relief not to have to battle against the wind for once and I enjoyed myself, although I didn’t try for any speed records.

There is enough grass growing for the farmers to be thinking about silage and I liked the rolled pattern on this field near Canonbie.

field near Canonbie

The dandelions in the verges are showing promise and I hope to be able to show some good clumps soon…

dandelion and bluebell

…and I saw my first bluebells of the year so I hope to see them in quantity soon too.

I stopped on the bridge at Canonbie to see how the ash tree flowers were coming on.

ash tree flowers

I think the branch that I looked at can truly be called an explosion of new growth.

I didn’t have to kid myself to see green leaves on the trees along the Esk at the Hollows today.  Spring is definitely springing…

Esk at Hollows

…although it has a bit to go before it is fully sprung.

When I got home, I found that the tulips were appreciating the better weather.

tulips

The euphorbias seem very popular with flies of various sorts as there is often one about when I try to take a picture of the plants.

fly on euphorbia

This is what the plant looks like when the flies have flown.

euphorbia

I went in to have lunch, soup and one of Matilda’s rolls, and took some time to watch the birds.

The siskins had gone away again so the chaffinches were getting a look at the feeder today.

chaffinches

…but there was still some waiting around on the plum tree to be done.

chaffinch and plum blossom

A goldfinch approached the feeder in the manner of one showing that he wasn’t armed and dangerous.

flying goldfinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal returned and found that our bench builder had arrived to cut an inch or two off the legs of the new bench.  It needed to be shifted back a bit and Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on that.  The result was very satisfactory and when she had finished,  we invited our neighbour Liz (with friend) to come and try it out

Ally and Liz on bench

By this time, as you can see, it was perfect weather for bench testing.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was gardening and working at the bench area, I mowed the front lawn and walked around with my camera.  I had the macro lens on.

white flowers

Tulips are popping up everywhere…

tulip

…and I spotted another colourful corner.

colourful corner

The plants in the foreground are dicentra and they were attracting bumbles bees again.

bee on dicentra

As were the paler variety in the back border.

bee on dicentra

Liz came in for a cup of tea and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal did some more gardening, I stayed inside to get some computer business out of the way.

I took the opportunity to look at last year’s cycling stats and found that I had done 500 miles more by this time last year so it is not surprising, considering the lack of decent cycling weather,  that our spring is quite a bit  later than usual this year.

I hope we get a good summer to make up for it.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable music making session while the other two chatted away.  After playing, Alison and I joined the conversation and Mike, who is a retired doctor, made us all rather gloomy with a very downbeat assessment of the shortage of general practice doctors and hospital consultants in our area.  We will have to try our best to keep ourselves healthy.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who saw this copy of the Lamazzu – a winged deity looted from the Iraq Museum – made of empty date syrup cans, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

Our weather descended from the recent summer heights to slightly below the seasonal average, the feeling of slight chilliness compounded by a stiff wind which reminded everyone of the long cold months since Christmas.

The weather in the morning didn’t bother me much as I had to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I caught up on some Archive Group work.  I didn’t do quite as much as I had hoped though as I had to provide a welcome and information to no less than three visitors in the two hours.  I was fairly rushed off my feet.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having reorganised the greenhouse while I was out.  She is planting things out and improving the soil as much as she can so I sieved the last of the compost in Bin D and then set about shifting the contents of Bin C into the now empty Bin D.  I then emptied the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

I know that there is an insatiable desire for compost  pictures among the readers of this blog so here is the result.

compost bin shifting

The picture does show graphically how compost reduces in bulk over time.  The small amount in Bin D was the same size as the current amount in Bin C when it first arrived from Bin B and Bin B was full to the level of six of the wooden frames when it was first filled from Bin A.

This was quite heavy work so it was now time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with a delicious dish of fried eggs and fried cabbage as a reward for compost shifting.

It was far too windy, with constant gusts of 25 mph and above to think of cycling so after lunch, I went out into the garden with my camera in hand.  Windy weather makes it hard to shoot flowers but I did my best.

white flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is not certain what the pretty white flowers above are but I know what these ones below are.  They are potential plums if everything goes well.

plum flowers

The dog’s tooth violets are springing up all over the place.

dog's tooth violets

This clump of cowslip like things is enjoying the weather whether it is hot or cold and is getting larger all the time.

cowslips

The tree peony is looking very healthy.  Last year its flowers were hidden behind its foliage so we are hoping for a better show this year.

tree peony

The madness of the crab like flowers of the euphorbias is well advanced. I hope for a calmer day to take a better picture.

euphorbia

There is little pool of pale blue in the river of muscari.

muscari

And this is the start of our own clump of marsh marigolds in the pond.

marsh marigold

Once again the cold wind was causing the tulips to purse their lips but there is very promising red one waiting for some sunshine.

tulip

The daffodil of the day is a muted example.

daffodil

I put the camera down and mowed the front lawn with a great deal of huffing and puffing because the lawn is so spongy with moss.  There was a heartening amount of grass to cut even if the end result was a very patchy looking lawn.

Then, since it wasn’t really a very inviting walking day, I finished the composting job by emptying Bin A into Bin B so all is ready for Mrs Tootlepedal to start the process going again by filling up Bin A.  I may even have some grass to add to it myself.

Owing to the need for frequent pauses to admire the work in progress or chat to the gardener, it soon turned out to be time for a cup of tea and a sit down indoors.  This gave me a chance to look at the birds.  As it also started to rain, I was very happy to be inside.

The siskins really seem to have gone elsewhere although there was one on hand to join the queue for a seed today.

queue at the feeder

Mostly it was goldfinches and chaffinches again, with the goldfinches concentrating hard on the job in hand….

goldfinches

…and making sure that incoming chaffinches knew who was boss.

goldfinch and chaffinch

But the goldfinches are no match for a really angry redpoll though.

redpoll

The evening was given over to music when first my flute pupil Luke came and cheered me up by playing very well.  Then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel after tea for what seems the first time for ages.

It was good to get back to playing and our lack of practice didn’t seem to matter as we played some familiar pieces with a good deal of verve, all things considered.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

goldfinch

Strong winds and showers are on the menu for both tomorrow and Wednesday so getting out on my bike to knock off the last few miles of my monthly target may be a bit of a battle.

 

 

 

 

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After yesterday’s railway bridge over the new Borders Railway, Dropscone’s guest picture of the day shows the shiny new railway itself as seen from the bridge.

Borders Railway

It was another fine day today but it was quite crisp in the early morning so I was happy to arrange to have  a cup of coffee with Sandy rather than have to wrap up in many layers and go for a pedal.

While I was waiting, I went to the shop and on my way back, I noticed that the aubretia that overhangs the dam at the back of the house was looking good…

aubretia

….but I was surprised to see that the potentilla beside it had an additional feature…

aubretia

…but at least it wasn’t chasing birds in the garden.

I am finding it very hard at the moment to pass the magnolia at the front gate without my shutter finger twitching.

magnolia

The very first plum blossom is out.

pied wagtail

Sandy arrived and we were joined by our fellow archivist Nancy.  She came round not only for the pleasure of our charming and sophisticated company but also to get a fiver from each of us as we had sponsored her on a recent charity walk.  She raised £100 for the Archive Group so we were very happy to put in our contributions.

After coffee, it had warmed up a bit and in spite of a cool wind, I might have gone for a pedal but Sandy and I went for a walk instead.  He had been asked to provide some shots of efforts to enhance the natural beauty of the town so we focused on daffodils.

We went to see the daffs at Pool Corner first….

Pool Corner daffs

…and on our way we passed some fungus and lichen which detained us for a moment or two…

fungus and lichen

…and while we were there, we checked to see if the slow worms had been attracted by the warmth of the sun.  They had.

slow worm

Pool Corner itself, being well sheltered from the wind, was looking very peaceful.

Pool Corner

Our next stop was the stretch of daffodils along the Wauchope at Caroline Street.

Caroline Street daffodils

Then we walked along the grassy bank beside the Esk.

As well as more daffodils….

Elizabeth Street daffodils

…there were more delicate wild flowers…

cuckoo flower

As far as I am concerned, this was the first cuckoo of spring.

…and a wagtail to see as well.

pied wagtail

Our next stop was the Kilngreen where we met a very grey duck….

kilngreen duck

….though if we could have seen them, it would probably have had red feet like this other duck nearby….

duck feet

…and then we admired more daffodils leading up to the Sawmill Bridge.

duck feet

A dedicated band of volunteers have made great efforts over the years to make the town seem welcoming to visitors and residents alike.

A fine rock garden has been created at Clinthead.

Clinthead gardens

We had nutchtaches at the back of our minds so we walked along the path round the Castleholm, stopping once or twice….

Castleholm things

..or even three times, when things caught our eye.

We didn’t see the nuthatches but as we didn’t wait very long, this was not too surprising.  The call of lunch drove us home.

After lunch, I once again consider a pedal but the call of the front lawn demanded to be answered first…

Front lawn

Who knew that you can get stripes on moss?

…and when I had done that and sieved a little compost too, all thoughts of cycling were subordinated to the pressing need for a cup of tea and a sit down.  Mowing a very mossy lawn with a push mower is hard work.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy in the garden so I was able to do some light supervising after my rest and I combined this with some plant snapping…

euphorbia, dog tooth violet, daffodil

A developing euphorbia, our first dog tooth violet of the year and a smart, daffodil

…mixed in with a bit of bird staring.

chaffinch

Who needs a perch? A chaffinch pays the seed a flying visit.

chaffinch

Goldfinches working on a shift system, one in and one out

busy feeders

The feeders were as busy as ever.

The evenings are drawing out now and there was still plenty of time for a pedal in the early evening but by now, not cycling had become an ingrained habit and I didn’t cycle yet again.

It doesn’t need much of a chilly north westerly breeze to make me find other things to do these days.  I will try to be a bit more courageous tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from ex-archivist Ken who has returned to the north east of England where he was able to take this picture of the Millennium Bridge over the Tyne on a lovely day.Tyne Bridge

Lovely days were in very short supply here which was a disappointment after yesterday’s glorious weather.  The hills were covered in cloud and it was one of those days when if it wasn’t raining, it was just about to rain.

I had noticed a traffic cone in our road when I drove home in the dark last night and my neighbour Liz came round to show me what it was all about.  The bottom had dropped out of our world….or at least a bit of Wauchope Street.

A hole had appeared in the bridge over the dam.

The hole in the road

We had it professionally inspected….

Liz, Riley and the hole

…and later in the morning, two men from the council arrived and put a temporary lid on things.

hole in the road

I had a look under the bridge and I could see that quite a lot of the road is now in the water.

hole in the road

We asked the council men when it might get fixed and there was a good deal of sucking of teeth and mention of tight finances. Liz has been appointed as our official agitator.

This was all very exciting so it was lucky that Dropscone arrived with some soothing treacle scones to have with our coffee.

It was all go today at Wauchope Cottage as on the other side of the house, our neighbour Hector’s fence was going up steadily hour  by hour.  It looked good when it was finished.

Hector's fence

The frogs in the pond kept very calm throughout the various activities.

frogs

D’Artagnan had joined the other three today

After coffee and before the fence was finished, I took a look at the bird feeder and found chaffinches trying to sneak onto a perch unobserved by a sitting goldfinch.

chaffinch

chaffinch

I went outside and found myself in a a dry spell so I set off for a cycle ride on the fairly speedy bike.  Twenty four seconds after I left the house, it started to rain again and for the rest of my twenty mile tour to Canonbie and back, it rained on and off in a drizzly sort of way.

I stopped once to catch a bare tree on my phone.

bare tree near Todhillwood

This gives a good impression of the day.  These were the best conditions on the whole tour.

Luckily it was quite warm and the wind was very light so the rain wasn’t as much of a nuisance as it might have been and a plate of leek and potato soup soon put me to rights when I got back.

I had a look for new growth in the garden and was excited to see buds on the plum tree…

plum tree buds

…but the daffs and crocuses were less exciting.

wet daffs and floppy crocuses

Throughout the afternoon, I had occasional peeks at the feeder while wondering if it was going to be nice enough to go for a walk.

The feeder action had livened up.

sisikins

Siskins hanging about again

chaffinches

Brotherly love

chaffinches

A chaffinch tries to fly under the radar

chaffinches

Three’s a crowd

chaffinches

Bending over backwards to be rude

It never seemed bright enough to do more than think about a walk and in the end, I frittered the rest of the afternoon away though I did practise a song for our choir on Sunday and put a dough mix in the breadmaker.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Mike watched the rugby on the telly while Alison and I battled with some sonatas.  The muggy weather doesn’t help my breathing and my brain never got out of second gear so I didn’t play at my best.

When we had finished, we joined Mike and watched the end of quite an exciting game between Wales and Ireland.

The breadmaker (with a little help from me) had made the dough and as we played, the dough was rising and while we watched, I  heated up the oven and  cooked a batch of a dozen rolls which turned out reasonably well.  As I am still by myself, Mike and Alison kindly took some of the rolls home with them.

There is a frog of the day….

frog

…and not one but two flying birds.

flying chaffinches

Just a note for those who got gold stickers for reading all of yesterday’s long post.  There will be a test to check.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who is on an elephant hunt in Sheffield.

Sheffield elephant

We had another lovely day today, with wall to wall sunshine accompanied by gentle temperatures ideal for those who don’t do too well in the heat.  The only fly in the ointment was a brisk and bullying wind  which put any thoughts of cycling out of my mind.

I was quite happy about this in one way, as it let me sample the traditional Friday treacle scone couriered in by Dropscone on his bike while taking a short break from his incessant golfing activity.  He joined me for coffee while we disposed of the scones. They were very good.

When he left, I went out into the garden and enjoyed the sight of butterflies hanging on to wildly waving buddleias for dear life.

peacock and red admiral butterflies

I was amazed that they had the strength to hold on.

After the usual dead heading, I set about compost Bin D with a view to sieving as much of it as I could over today and tomorrow because the constant activity of Attila the Gardener over the past weeks has meant that Bin A is full to overflowing and a transfer process needs to be put into motion very soon.

Luckily, the compost is in good condition and sieves well so I made good progress both before and after lunch.  Our robin took a close interest in the garden activities.

robin

Mrs Tootlepedal dug up a couple of potato plants and the robin took advantage of this…

robin

…checking to see if we had any objection to worm hunting.

After I had done enough sieving, I had a wander round the garden clipping off all the hosta flowers which are now over, leaving just a set of new white ones under the plum tree.

hosta

The plums are looking very good and supplying us with a steady stream of ripe fruit to eat….

plums and golden syllabub rose

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has been cosseting the Golden Syllabub rose with good results.

At the other end of the garden the curiously named lobelia is also doing very well.

lobelia siphilitica

The warm sunshine had encouraged enough grass to grow to make it worth mowing the front and middle lawns for the second day running.  Mrs Tootlepedal was impressed by the amount of grass that came off as she thought that perhaps I was wasting my time. Regular mowing works wonders though and both the lawns are looking good.

We sat for a while on a bench in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and feeling that life wasn’t too bad at all and then after a cup of tea and a biscuit, I went off for a short walk.

I took a familiar route down by the river and enjoyed the large number of wagtails that were flitting about over the water or standing on rocks on the shore.

wagtails

I crossed the Town Bridge and came upon bigger birds flying along the Ewes Water at the Kilngreen.

herring gull

A herring gull going

Black headed gull

A black headed gull arriving

I looked in vain for any oyster catchers but they seem to have moved on, probably fed up by being harassed by paparazzi.

I walked over the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks, keeping an eye out for fungus.  One of the conifers that is being felled had many fungi growing in its cracks and crevices.

fungus on Lodge Walks conifer

I think that perhaps the number of trees that blew over in last winter’s gales have made the estate keep a close eye on the health of their woodlands.  The Lodge Walks are much used by both cars and walkers and although only the Sawmill Bridge got slightly damaged by falling trees last winter, there might easily have been a worse outcome.

Felled tree on castleholm

In the picture above you can see the remains of another felled tree on the Castleholm but there are also several little fenced enclosures where new trees have been planted to replace the ones that are gone.  The enclosure will protect the trees from grazing sheep.

As I strolled on, I stopped to take pictures of the three different heads on a single umbellifer…

umbellifer

…a selection of berries….

snowberry and hawthorn

…and another set of aged fungus high in a tree.

fungus at the Lodge

It was a beautiful evening and the wind had begun to calm down a bit so it was a great pleasure to be out and about.

View from the Lodge

At one stage, I thought that the path I was following was covered by a thick carpet of fallen leaves.  This seemed strange as the trees round about still had leaves on them but a close look revealed that they were not leaves at all but probably the wings of lime trees carrying the seeds to the ground.

lime tree wings

I got home to be greeted by a trio of starlings sitting on the wires above the garden.

starlings

Considering that they were within a few feet of each other and I stood in the same place to take all three pictures, it is odd how different the sky looks in each portrait.

Mrs Tootlepedal made good use of the plum tree’s bounty for tea and we enjoyed a pudding of baked plums on toast, glazed with sugar and butter, made in the oven and topped off with some custard.  Delicious.

In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison and Alison and I enjoyed ourselves playing flute and keyboard pieces in a somewhat haphazard but always enjoyable manner.

The flower of the day is a very fine small fuchsia which Mrs Tootlepedal bought for me at the Gardener’s World show in Birmingham earlier this summer…

Fuchsia

…and the flying bird is a black headed gull.

black headed gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce who has just visited the new Devil’s Porridge visitor centre at Eastriggs.  It tells the story of the greatest factory on earth and the munitions workers who came to Gretna from throughout the Empire to support the war effort in the First World War.  The devil’s porridge was cordite.

devil's porridgeA very brief post today as we have visitors in and I am neglecting them while I write this.

The visitors:

Mrs Tootlepedal with her sister in law Frankie

Mrs Tootlepedal with her sister in law Frankie

Mike and Granny

Her brother Mike and their mother, Mauri

Mike and Frankie are going off to the north tomorrow and Granny is staying with us while they are gone.

The rest of the day can be briefly described.   The morning was spent tidying up for the visitors and staring out of the window between times.  I had no desire to go cycling because the wind was even stronger than usual.

The plum tree made a fine perch in the sunshine.

goldfinchchaffinchchaffinchSome birds left the tree to come to the feeder.

goldfinchAfter an early lunch, I got a lift from fellow member Jeremy to go to a singing day with our Carlisle choir.  A singing day is a four and half hour session in which detailed practice of some of our concert songs is mixed with sectional and small group sessions with a singing teacher.  Our excellent teacher gave the tenors and basses some very good posture, breathing and warm up work and then, when I was in with a small group of three, some individual pointers.

The whole things was both enjoyable and educational and a mark of how seriously our conductor takes his work with the choir.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared a feast for our visitors who had arrived while I was away singing, and this rounded off one of the days which are definitely on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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