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Posts Tagged ‘plum’

Today’s guest picture is another from a splendid set that my brother sent me after his visit to Shugborough Hall near Stafford a week ago.

shugborough bridge

We awoke to find it was still raining after a night of rain and a check on the scientific rain gauge showed two centimetres had fallen.  This is a fair amount of rain for us and it is an indication of how dry things have been that the garden wasn’t awash with puddles.

It was too wet for gardening though so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then watched the birds for a while.

A rather anxious looking sparrow appeared first.

worried sparrow

It was probably right to be anxious as there was quite a lot of demand for a seat at the table.

chaffinch incoming

incoming sparrow

flying chaffinch

I was pleased to see a blue tit among the sparrows and chaffinches. The sunflower seeds are too big for a blue tit to chew whole so they usually take one off and trap it under their feet on a handy tree nearby while they peck at them….but sometimes they just drop them.

bluetit dropping seed

The rain soon eased off but it was still pretty wet and when I put the camera away, I stayed inside and put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

This took me up to lunchtime and after lunch, I nearly succumbed to the temptation of watching more of the European Championships on the telly but I managed to pull myself together in the nick of time and put on my cycling gear.

I was punished for saying there weren’t many insects about by being bitten by a horsefly when I had stopped for a breather on my bike ride but there are still not many of them in the garden.

I took this one by accident when I was shooting the dahlia of the day while wasting time before cycling…

dahlia

..and zoomed in for a closer look.

hoverfly

There are still geraniums about although they haven’t been at their best this year.

geranium

A close look at a rose mallow revealed a very fluffy interior.

rose mallow

The second flowering of the orange hawkweed goes from strength to strength.

orange hawkweed august

In the end, I stopped looking at flowers in my cycling gear and actually got on my bike.

It was an odd sort of day.  It looked very autumnal, gloomy and  grey and overcast but it felt rather summery with the temperature at a very pleasant 20°C so I  went off wearing shorts but with a rain jacket packed just in case.

After the overnight rain, I checked on the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse and was not surprised to find quite a bit of water splashing over the rocks.

Wauchope cascade

There were a lot of wild flowers growing near the river, some familiar…

wauchope wild flowers

…and one which was quite new to me.  I have no idea what it is.

white wild flower

When I stopped after ten miles to admire the view…gair road

…and have a drink and a nibble of guava jelly, I found that my lost water bottle was back on my bike again.

two water bottles

I had had a reasonable idea of where I had lost it on my previous ride and wondered whether it would be visible today.  It was just resting quietly in the grassy verge on top of Callister.  I took it home with me and though it will have to go in the bin, at least I haven’t left litter beside the road.

There is a stretch of this striking grass beside the road near Springkell and considering how full the seed heads are, I am surprised that I don’t see more of it about.

seedy grass

I saw a bright yellow flower in the verge at one point and wondered what it was.  A closer look makes me think that it is a bird’s foot trefoil but it has come rather late in the season if that is what it is.

trefoil

The weather gods played an amusing game with me over the last ten miles of the trip.  They sent down enough light rain to make me think about stopping and putting my rain jacket on and then, just as I was about to stop, the rain stopped.  And then, of course, a mile or so later, it started again.  This went on for some time and they only got fed up when it became apparent that I wasn’t going to stop even if it rained quite hard  (which it did for a few minutes) and they went off to annoy someone else.

I managed 35 miles at a modest pace and got home in time to have a walk round the garden before tea.

There were pale pink sweet peas to be seen today.

pink sweet peas

I picked a plum from the plum tree (a good place to look for a plum)…

first plum

…and went inside for a shower.  The plum will need to ripen for a day before it is ready to eat.

With more rain forecast for every day next week, I am glad to have got some miles in this weekend.  I still have plenty of archiving work to do so perhaps it will be a case of every cloud having a silver lining, a statement with which I do not agree in general.

I was spoiled for choice as far as flying birds went but the poor light didn’t let me get a very good picture.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s stay in Aberdeenshire.  He visited Lil’ C’s American Diner near Oyne and sent me this picture.  The beer, Doom Bar, had come a long way as it is brewed in Cornwall and Bruce and I had drunk a pint of it ten years ago in a pub in Cornwall when he was acting as driver for the Tootlepedal Lands End to John o’ Groats cycle tour.

doom bar

In an effort to preserve my voice as much as possible, I didn’t go to sing in the church choir today.  While Mrs Tootlepedal went off, I stayed quietly in and cooked a beef stew for the slow cooker and checked out the garden after the overnight rain.

It looked refreshed…

foxglove

hosta with raindrops

…although one of the delicate peony flowers had found it all too much.

peony after rain

A white spirea is just beginning to show the first of its many little flowers…

spirea

…and the mini forest of orange hawkweed is thickening up.

orange hawkweed

As we had a practice in store before the concert itself, we had to leave for Carlisle not long after Mrs Tootlepedal got back from church, packing a snack to fortify ourselves after the practice and before the concert.

We picked up a fellow singer from Canonbie and got to the venue in good time.  We were singing at a new venue for us, St Barnabas Church, and it looked a bit run down as we approached it….

choir church

Inside, it was a different story entirely…

choir church interior

…and I wish that I had had the time and a camera to do it justice.  The church was built in 1936 and has been thoroughly refurbished inside so that it may well be the most cheerful church that I have ever been in.

As is often our custom at concerts, we were joined  by a local primary school.  This has the excellent twin effect of adding variety to the programme and numbers to the audience.  The children sang very well and I was pleased to see several boys in the school choir.  Our choir was about eighty strong and the acoustic was rich so we were able to make a good sound too.

The church was packed when the concert got under way and it went off pretty well and I managed to get through it surprisingly well.   We sang a little tribute to Andrew, our departing conductor, as a final number and he was much touched.  We will miss him.

Our Carlisle concerts are never too long so we got home in good time to eat the slow cooked stew and although it had obviously rained a bit more while we had been away….

pulsatilla

…it was still, warm and pleasant when we arrived back so while we were waiting for the kettle to boil for a refreshing cup of tea, we took a quick stroll round the garden.

The irises are looking well….

blue iris

…and Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the latest arrival, a very dark and attractive variety.

dark iris

The naked eye sees it as almost black.

While we were looking around, a blackbird paused for a moment on its way back to the nest.

blackbird with worms

There will be no worms left in the garden at this rate.

There should be some food for us later though, as the plums are looking promising.

plums

Now the choir season is over, I am hoping for some good weather to get value out of my new bicycle.  The immediate forecast is looking promising.

I didn’t get a chance to catch a flying bird but the feeder was busy while we were outing singing and I had to refill it when we got home.  It was soon in use again.

siskins and goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal.  She found a very prominent fairy ring on her brother’s lawn.

fairy ring

Mrs Tootlepedal is still away visiting her mother, whose hundred and first birthday is imminent.  This means that I am having to make up my mind for myself here with no assistance and this is quite wearing.  On top of this, I am getting rather fat because every time I wander into the kitchen to share an interesting thought with Mrs Tootlepedal, she isn’t there and I eat something instead.  Luckily she will be back next week and all will be well.

The forecast offered a dry morning and a wet afternoon so in an ideal world, I would get up promptly and go for a cycle ride and then do useful things indoors in the afternoon.

It turned out to be an ideal world.

I didn’t waste any time in the garden but got on the bike after breakfast and did thirty miles.  I stopped for one picture….

Esk at Hollows

…just to prove that I had been out.  The wind was lighter than of late but the sky was grey so it was not a day for views.

I did notice when I got home that I had a serious outbreak of helmet hair which I have decided to share.  Nervous readers should look away now.

helmet hair

I flattened my hair down and mowed the greenhouse grass, did some poppy dead heading, cut down some plants which were beyond their sell by date and had a walk round the garden.

The poppies had appreciated the dry morning.

poppies

This was my favourite poppy of the day.

poppy

The should be a mixture of poppies and cornflowers growing round the front lawn but they are both taking their time thanks to the cool weather. Still, there are a few cornflowers about.

cornflower

As I walked between the flowers and the compost bins during my tidying up, I couldn’t help but enjoy the jumble of white clematis and red rose on the arch through to the veg garden…

clematis and rose

…and the clematis growing along the fence too.

clematis

If every flower has the same number of petals, there must be three different clematis growing there as I can see flowers with six, five and four petals in the picture.

I am always interested in fruits and berries and so are the birds.  I am keeping an eye on the plums and the blackbirds are keeping an eye on the rowan berries.

plum and rowan

Those rowan berries are in a neighbour’s garden.  Ours aren’t quite as ripe yet.

My neighbour Liz kindly took a surplus turnip off my hands and I picked some more carrots and beetroot. I am eating the beetroot at golf ball size and they are absolutely delicious as snacks.

After lunch, the forecasters’ predictions arrived in the form of a persistent spell of rain which lasted several hours.   I caught up on my correspondence and packed up the camera lens which I am trading in, having been offered a very fair price by the company which will sell me my new lens.  I then braved the rain and took the parcel up to the post office only to find the that post office was closed.

I brought the parcel home again and did some muttering.

Then I did some ironing …and a bit more muttering until getting a bit of advice from the ‘Call Mrs Tootlepedal Hotline’.

I had corned beef hash for my tea and was pleasantly surprised to find that our new potatoes taste very good when mashed and fried.

Recently I have had a choir to go to on a Wednesday night but that has finished now so finding that the rain had stopped, I filled in the time by wandering aimlessly about.

The bed at the end of the drive gave me a cheerful farewell as I left the garden.

pot marigolds and nasturtiums

For some reason, the rather grey light seem to suit the church so I stopped being aimless and pointed the camera at it as I passed.

Langholm Parish Church

Our usual mallards have been joined by several darker ducks with bright white breasts this summer.

darker duck

A little research tells me that they are probably mallard hybrids rather than anything more exotic.

I exchanged a few words with Mr Grumpy as I walked down to the Kilngeen…

heron

…and thought that a bunch of ragwort on the bank of the Esk just above the Meeting of the Waters added a nice touch to the scene.

ragwort

I was pleased to find that there was still a banded snail or two on the stump of one of felled trees along the Lodge Walks.

snail

Although the evening was fundamentally grey and it looked as though it might well rain, every now and again a shaft of sunshine illuminated the scene….but always a little bit away from where I was.

sunshine behind trees

Like behind a tree….

sunshine on the Esk

…or round a bend in the river…

monument

…or on top of a hill.

But I got round dry and saw a most unusual thing on my way.

ragwort

A ragwort plant with no insects on it.

It was nearly seven o’clock by this time so perhaps all the insects had gone home to bed.

My last picture was a pleasing tangle of grasses.

grasses

No flying bird of the day but there is a very badly painted blackbird and a splashy sparrow.

blackbird

sparrow splashing

There were plenty of puddles to choose from.

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Today’s guest picture shows the railway station from which my brother began his walk up Snowdon earlier this month.  The mountain is in the background.

Rhyd Ddu

We had a traditional Sunday today.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir and I prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

She came back from singing in the church, we had an early lunch and then we went off for an extra long ‘singing day’ (1pm to 6pm) with our Carlisle choir.

We came back from the singing and got ready to eat the stew only to find that although I had put the stew in the slow cooker and switched the slow cooker on, I had not actually managed to switch on the socket in the wall so slow cooking had turned to no cooking.

Traditional methods were applied and we ate the stew an hour and a half later than planned.

Not my finest moment and ironically, Mrs Tootlepedal had remarked as we drove back from Carlisle that it was really good to know that we would be coming back to a ready prepared hot meal.  Ah well.

This was not the only disappointment of the day.

It was raining when we got up but by the time that I had prepared the stew, the sun was shining so I went for a walk, hoping to see a wonderful display of bluebells in the woods beside the river.

The park looked very springlike….

Buccleuch park

…and the wild garlic beside the path along the river bank was in fine form, both collectively…

wild garlic

…and individually….

wild garlic

…but the bluebells were a bit underwhelming.  They were there…

bluebells

…and very pretty but in no way forming the complete carpet of the woodland floor which I had hoped for.  The growth looks thin for some reason.  Perhaps the trees came into leaf too soon and stopped the light getting through.  Leaves seem to be coming rather early this year and oak trees and our garden walnut are already out.

I had a last look at the bluebells….

bluebells

…and went back home to have a look round the garden.

There was some good blue there in the shape of the lithodora which is flourishing.

lithodora

And a cornflower too.

cornflower

Mrs Tootlepedal has two cultivated geums.  This is the louder of the two.

geum

It is in competition with one of the azaleas for the loudest orange plant in the garden.

azalea

I was very happy to see quite a few infant plums on the plum tree.

plum

Mrs Tootlepedal picked the first crop of the year from the vegetable garden.

radishes

…and found the first salad leaves of the season to go with the radishes for lunch.

I look forward to having lettuce and marmite sandwiches on the menu soon.

It was such a lovely day that there was still plenty of light when we got back from the choir and I had another look round.

The Japanese azalea is showing its first flowers….

Japanese azalea

…as is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.

fuchsia

Late tulips are still doing well, including some that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick…

tulips

…and some slightly curly yellow ones which were the last to flower.

We have one or two Solomon’s Seals about and they have done well this year…

solomons seal

…and I am keeping a close eye on them (and the gooseberries) for any sign of sawfly.

I had time, while the stew was cooking, to mow the middle and front lawns and the drying green so the slow cooker failure did have an upside.

In the continued absence of any birds, he flower of the day is the clematis at the back door.

solomons seal

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Today was another very grey day here so I looked back for a sunny picture from my sister Mary’s portfolio to brighten things up by way of the guest picture of the day.  It shows the Victoria and Albert Museum with a paddling pool.

The Victoria and Albert Museum inner courtyard with paddling pool

The Victoria and Albert Museum inner courtyard with paddling pool

The forecast was very gloomy for the day but when Sandy and I drove up to Bentpath early in the morning to put our pictures for the show into the tent, it was at least dry.  It started to rain as we drove back home and things looked rather ominous for the show.

After breakfast, I had to go and get petrol as the car had been beeping at me to fill up as we drove down from Bentpath and then I visited the producers’ market to stock up on fish, cheese, honey and venison.  It was lucky that I was in the car as rain lashed down just as it was time for me to go home.

A few minutes later it had stopped and Sandy joined us for a cup of coffee.

This was the pattern for the day as the rain came and went and I got a moment to look round the garden in a dry spell after Sandy had gone home. Unsurprisingly it was still wet out there.

wet poppy

A soggy poppy

sunflowers

Depressed sunflowers

There were bright spots though.

Virginia creeper

Japanese anemones

And there were still plums waiting to be picked.

plum

After lunch, I stayed inside, out of the weather and did a tricky crossword until it was time to put on waterproof trousers and wellies and go back up to the flower show to see how we had done.

I picked Sandy up and we were pleased to see that the weather was looking a tiny bit brighter as we went up the road and for the moment at least there was no sign of rain.

We were greeted at the show field by a fine set of scarecrows….

Benty scarecrows

…one of whom was particularly pleased to see us.

Benty scarecrow

In spite of the gloomy weather the show was in full swing and there were a fair few people in the tents.  We joined them and Sandy was very pleased to see that he had won the cup for most points in the photographic section.  As he had claimed two firsts, four seconds and a third, he had won the cup by an ample margin.

I had a first, a second and a third so I was reasonably pleased too but very conscious that having been walloped by Sandy at two shows running, I will have to up my game a bit.  Mind you, Sandy is a good photographer so it is no shame to lag a bit behind him.

The afternoon stayed dry but it was still very dark and gloomy so it was not a day for happy show snaps.  There were only two terriers in the terrier race…

terrier race benty show

…and one was much better at jumping than running so that contest was exactly thrilling.

I had hoped to get some exciting pictures of the trail hounds leaping fences, fording the river and racing to the finish in the show field but the bad weather on the hill tops had obviously put them off severely because they didn’t come down the hill and into the field to complete the trail at all and the owners went off to try to find out where they had got to.

I had to make do with a distant shot of the leading two runners in the fell race reaching the select crowd at the summit before coming back down.

Benty Fell race

A bright spot was the success of one of one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s cardoons in gaining a first prize for a friend who had used it in a flower set piece.

cardoon at Benty

I looked at some machinery that had been lined up for people to guess what the original use was….

machinery at Benty

Your guess is as good as mine

…enjoyed an unusual angle when viewing at the church across the river…

Westerkirk church

…and tried not to slip over in the mud.

All that was left to do was to wait for Sandy to collect his well earned trophy….

Sandy at Benty Show

…and then drive home.  As we left the field, it started to rain again so we felt that we and the show’s organisers had been very lucky with the weather, all things considered.

I had some fish for my tea and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some delicious courgette fritters to go with it so a quiet day ended well.

No flying bird on such a gloomy day but a the brightest bloom I could find in the garden, a rudbeckia, as flower of the day.

Rudbeckia

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Today’s guest picture shows an array of Mr Grumpy’s London cousins lining up on the banks of the Serpentine.  It was taken yesterday by my sister Mary. There is a flourishing herony in the park there.

Hyde park heronsIt didn’t matter what the weather was like here today as I wasn’t going anywhere so I was secretly pleased that it was another chilly and grey day until the late afternoon.  I wouldn’t have been happy to sit with my leg up if it had been a fine cycling day.

I was determined to give my knee a thorough rest and apart from going out to open the greenhouse and water the tomato plant and taking a picture of a new flower….

Alstroemeria

It is an Alstroemeria

…and some plums….

plums

We have plenty of plums but will they ever ripen?

…I managed some pro resting for most of the day.  I limited my standing up and looking out of the kitchen window to a very brief spell but it did include a visit from a crow.

crowIt hung about until it was sure that I had taken a good picture and then flew off without further ado.  The goldfinches have found a better place to go as there are none in the garden at all just now and our feeders are visited by sparrows, siskins and chaffinches with the occasional greenfinch and blue tit for variety.

sparrowsI was fortunate to have chosen a day of rest which was well supplied with mindless sport to watch on the telly with the Tour de France, the Davis Cup and the Open Golf meaning that the only thing that got any exercise today was my channel changing finger.

The brighter weather in the afternoon did tempt me out into the garden just to stretch my legs a little and I took the opportunity to pick some gooseberries and make myself some stewed gooseberries for my tea.  They were delicious.

Our neighbours Liz and Ken came in for a stroll round the garden while I was outside.  I hope she will come and pick some gooseberries too as the bush is loaded down with far more than I can eat and it would be a pity to waste them.

We were looking at the ornamental clover when a bee interrupted us.

bee in cloverThis picture is therefore a visual demonstration of what “being in clover” might be like.

When they left, I stayed out long enough to catch a moss rose glowing gently…

moss rose…and the jungle lily reflecting back the sun.

lily

The sun shone through a geranium.

geranium

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are called Cranesbills because of the seed heads whihc you can see in the picture.

A lot of the hostas are in flower now.

hosta

Their flowers look better in a little low sunshine

I think that the garden looks at its best in a summer evening so I ventured out while I was in the middle of cooking my tea to try to show why.  I couldn’t do it justice but here’s a couple of views.

garden in eveninggarden in eveningFor all the flowers that are about, it is the restful greens of the shrubs, hedges and lawns that give it its tone.

The only bad thing about this very restful Sunday is that my knee was no better at the end of the day than it was at the start.  (For joint pain enthusiasts, I can report that it isn’t swollen, it isn’t hot and I can bend and straighten my leg freely without pain.  It is just mysteriously sore, especially when I walk but even when I am resting it.  I may have to seek medical advice if it doesn’t go away soon.)

I did get one flying bird but it was no better than my knee.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture shows the elegant ceiling of Bath Abbey.  Venetia took the picture when she was there with my sister Mary recently. I always think that these places must take a lot of dusting to keep them clean.

Bath AbbeyIt was a day of questions.

Would I do anything useful after breakfast?  Yes, a little dusting and cleaning.

Would Dropscone come round for coffee?  Yes.  Hooray.

Did he bring any scones?  No.  Boo hoo.

Was there anything new to see in the garden?  Yes.

Berberis and peony

Berberis and peony flowering

Were there any other plants worth a look?  I thought so.

rhododendron

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new rhododendron is as red as red can be.

Nectaroscordum

Allium bulgaricum also known as Nectaroscordum siculum var. bulgaricum.

Are we going to get anything to eat?  Yes.

apple, bean and plumAny interesting birds about?  Not many, just a dunnock.

dunnockThis questioning mood was brought on by having to prepare a quiz for the choir social in the evening.  It is amazing how much time writing sevehty questions takes.  It is not just thinking up (or stealing) questions and answers, there is worrying about whether they are too hard or too easy and considering whether the questions are interesting in themselves.  And then there are the questions to which you think you know the answer but because it is a quiz, you have to double check,

Still, it got done in time for me to sieve a little compost, shred some prunings and go out with Mrs Tootlepedal for a bicycle ride after lunch.  It was only eleven miles long but it is probably the most interesting short ride round here.  There was one question left.  Was it going to rain?  The forecast said that there was a 50% probability of rain but luckily we got the other half and it stayed dry.

The route starts by going up to Wauchope School but then it veers off up a little valley.  The last time we cycled this, the road to the farm at Cleuchfoot was in terrible condition and full of enormous potholes.  Today we found that the council have been busy and it is now as smooth as a baby’s bottom…

The road to Cleuchfoot

The road to Cleuchfoot with a perfect surface.

…and a pleasure to ride on.

Once through the farm, the valley gets narrower and the road rougher….

Arrisgill…but it too has been repaired so there were no potholes….and there were floral consolations.

ArrisgillThen the route turns and leaves the valley floor, following a timber lorry trail over the shoulder of the hill.

The timber trailThis road was also in good repair and we were soon able to look back to the road that we had come along.

CleuchfootWith one last push…

Timber trail…Mrs Tootlepedal floated over the summit and we looked down the long (and bumpy) straight on the other side.

Timber trailThere were floral delights here too.

clover

One of a very bright bunch of red clover that caught my eye.

We got back to the Wauchope road and stopped for a moment at the new bridge at Westwater.  It seems no time at all since it was built but already the bare banks of the burn below are getting blanketed by a meadow…

Collin Bridge…and on the bridge itself, the shiny new sandstone parapet is covered in a ghostly pattern of lichen.

lichenThe journey home was aided by a brisk following wind and as a result of the new and improved surfaces and the push home, we were very pleased by the whole outing.

The hawthorns are just turning a little pink along the road side.

hawthornThere wasn’t a lot of time after we got home before we were on the go again, this time off to the Cricket Club for the choir social.  There was a smaller than hoped for turnout of members but there were enough to make for a convivial evening.  The quiz was received in a good spirit and the scores were very close.  There was a good spread to follow (Mrs Tootlepedal’s contribution was a tasty flapjack)  and then we had a little singsong to round the evening off.

Now we wait for September to start another  choral year all over again.

The final question of the day: could we get home without getting bitten by midges?  Just.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

chaffinch

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