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Posts Tagged ‘poppies’

Today’s unusual guest picture comes from our friend Gavin.  His son Fraser was putting a new irrigation system in his garden when he discovered a plastic bag and on opening it, he found two hand grenades complete with pins in them.  They were relics of the Korean War.  He was pleased that his children hadn’t found them first.   You might wonder about the thought processes of someone who buries hand grenades in a garden.

bomb squad Fraser

Strangely enough, we had a very similar day today to our previous forty five days.  Those readers wanting exciting developments, foreign travel and adventurous encounters will once again be disappointed.

On the other hand, it wasn’t a bad day at all.

The sun shone and the garden looked cheerful with geums…

garden geum

…and Welsh poppies brightening up my first excursion after breakfast.

welsh poppy set

The Welsh poppies are wearing a fringe of red this year.

tinged welsh poppy

The Icelandic poppies are going all out for orange.

vivid icelandic poppy

Our resident blackbirds built a nest in the hedge beside the road and laid eggs in it and then abandoned it.  We think that they may have started again but no young blackbirds have been seen yet.  They were busy pecking the lawn today.

two blackbirds

The tulips continue to delight…

four tulips panel

…and more and more aquilegias are appearing every day now.

aquilegia

I went in to make coffee and we enjoyed our street coffee morning, with added shortbread, courtesy of Margaret, and the sun providing some real warmth as we sat and chatted.

After coffee, we returned to the garden to do some much needed watering.  In spite of rain in many other places up and down the country, we still remain obstinately dry.   Although we are promised some unseasonably chilly weather on Sunday, we are still not being offered any rain for the next ten days.  This is not good.

I went in after a while and checked on the bird feeder through the window.

A greenfinch and goldfinch seemed to be questioning the quality of the sunflower seed…

greenfinch and goldfinch

…and a sparrow was curious to see what all the grumbling was about.

greenfinch and sparrow

A bright eyed dunnock remained above it all.

dunnock on feeder

When I went out again, I took a picture of this little flower, sprinkled with water from the hose, not the sky.

ranunculus

A look at the dicentra showed that it had big plans.

dicentra letting go

I sat on the bench with Mrs Tootlepedal and she expressed her pleasure at the way that the tulips were blending nicely with the rhododendron on the opposite side of the lawn.

tulips and rhododendron blend

After lunch, I had another go at making date rolls, using more of the dates which Marjorie had kindly given me a few days ago.  I was better prepared for the task this time and managed to get a neater appearance in the finished product…

date rolls

…though when it comes to cutting the rolls to equal sizes, my arithmetic is still not very good.

My internet friend Quercus suggests that I should describe such rough and ready  finished products as ‘artisan’ or ‘rustic’ and pretend that their irregularity is a sign of culinary honesty rather than incompetence.

They taste good and that it what really matters.

Leaving the rolls to cool, I went off for a short cycle ride.  Because I was going round my regular Canonbie circuit, I passed the signpost which appeared on my walking report yesterday.

Yesterday, it had taken me and hour and thirty six minutes to walk back to Langholm downhill and downwind.  Today, it took me twenty eight minutes to pedal uphill and into the wind to the same spot.  Bicycles are a sort of miracle really.

kerr signpost

The track that I had followed yesterday looked inviting but the black clouds in the distance were a bit ominous so I pressed on towards Canonbie.

The clouds kept away and I was able to stop a couple of times to admire some trees, these at Chapelhill….

trees chapelhill

…and these at Grainstonehead.

tees grainstonehead

Some planned planting along a drive nearby provided a good range of colour.

trees woudhouselees

It is good to see trees dressed in their summer clothes.

I got back home in good time for my evening Zoom chat with my brother and sisters, and Mrs Tootlepedal joined in on this occasion.

Later in the evening, we watched the Queen addressing the nation on TV and that rounded off our day.  Unfortunately, although we were both around on the original VE day, we are both too young to remember anything about it.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow giving a goldfinch a hard stare.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz.  She went for a walk in the woods today and got a big surprise.  The wood carver has been at work again.

Liz's monster

We had another lovely day today, but in spite of the sunshine it was still a bit autumnal as far as the temperature went.  I walked up to the town to do some errands in the morning because just as I was cycling out of the gate, I met Mike Tinker so I pushed my bike beside me as we walked companionably up to the paper shop.

I had a couple more things to do while Mike walked back, and I cycled back a little later, deciding that any more serious cycle outing could well wait until the sun had warmed things up a bit.

Between drinking coffee and not finishing the crossword, I walked round the garden.  The pale yellow dahlia looked rather chilly in the shadow of the house….

pale yellow dahlia

…but elsewhere the sun  made everything look very cheerful…

nerine, begonia, euphorbia

…especially the poppies.

bright red poppy

I have been dead heading the Icelandic poppies and they have repaid me with several new flowers.

morning icelandic poppy

I liked this leaf of a variegated dogwood which looks as though nature has been out and about doing some hand quilting.

embroidered leaf

Once again, the most conspicuous element in the garden was the flitting about of butterflies.  There were lots about, including this white on a spirea…

white butterfly on spirea

…and all four of our regular coloured types – the peacock…

peacock butterfly

…the small tortoiseshell…

tortoiseshell butterfly on daglia

…the red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…and the painted lady.

painted lady on sedum

It wasn’t hard to find two or three together, jostling for space on the same flower.

three butterfly pairs

There weren’t as many blackbirds about as there have been, probably because the rowan berries have nearly all been eaten.  This blackbird was reduced to foraging for fallen berries on the ground.

blackbird with scavenged berry

A pale astrantia reached up to the sun.

pale astrantia

After lunch, with the thermometer at a heady 12°C, I got my bike out, spoke severely to my legs and set off to see how far I could go.

For once, the wind had dropped and although there was still a very light breeze, it wasn’t a great help or a great inconvenience.

The good forecast had encouraged farmers to cut more grass.

cut grass mid september

I cycled down to Longtown by back roads and dropped in at the bike shop there.  My bike has had a squeaking problem which had baffled the best brains among the bike shop boffins and although they hadn’t cured it when it was last in the workshop, they had made the bike ride-able again.  When the problem reappeared on a recent ride, I followed up on the mechanic’s suggestion and applied a little WD40 to a crucial point.  This had cured it, so I went to thank the mechanic.

He was very pleased to find the cause of the problem and undertook to provide a more permanent fix next time my bike comes to the workshop.  As it was, I was lucky that I was carrying the WD40 with me because when I went over a very dirty section of the road a few miles further on, the problem raised its ugly head again.  A good squirt cleared things up though, and I was able to pedal on without a problem.

From Longtown, I went past Arthuret Church…

Arthuret Church

…and enjoyed this little carving on a gravestone.

Arthuret Church carving

I then took a short off road section of National Bike Route 7.  It follows an old railway line across the River Lyne on a new bridge which they plunked down on top of the old piers..

NR 7 bike path

Although I had to duck to avoid brambles hanging over the path, and the final section was both muddy and very narrow, I reached the artistic signpost  at the far end of the track safely and rejoined the road gratefully.

I wound my way round the flat roads of North Cumbria, and then headed home past Gretna and through Canonbie

I paused for a drink as I crossed the main railway line near Gretna.  I love the geometry of railway lines.

railway geometry

I didn’t stop a lot to take pictures on my way but there were wild flowers to enjoy when I did stop.

three biking wild flowers

I was hoping to manage 50 miles but I came to a compromise agreement with my legs and settled for 43 miles instead.  The forecast is still good for tomorrow so I didn’t want to discourage my legs by doing too much today.

I had a cup of tea and some toast with plum jam when I got home and then had a last walk round the garden.  The calendulas are hanging on well.

evening icelandic poppy

I am off to see the podiatrist tomorrow to see if I can do something about getting walking comfortably again.  Cycling is all very well but you don’t see anything like as much detail as you do when you are walking.

The non flying bird of the day is a starling, standing fearlessly among the mess of wires on the top of our new electricity pole.

starling among wires

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Today’s unusual guest picture comes from my Australian correspondent Stephen.  He
is currently in Melbourne. Last night he attended an opera performance in the Melbourne Arts Centre – the blue-lit building on the left of his picture. He took the shot while walking back to his hotel after the performance. The shot takes in the Yarra River, and the central city area.

melbourne at night

Since it is a panorama shot, a click on the picture will be rewarding.

We woke to a grey and drizzly morning and darkness fell on a grey and drizzly evening.  In between, it was grey and drizzly.

We were not discouraged though and spent most of the morning in the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work and I helped out when I could.

There is no doubt that the garden is past its best, but there is still a lot of colour to be found.  This fine plant was bought as low growing but it must like it here as it has got very tall.

rudbeckia

The verbena behind the bench is rather sparse with well spread out flower heads on spindly stalks so it doesn’t offer much to a photographer as a whole plant, but each head is very attractive.

verbena

And I managed to find another dahlia that hasn’t been nibbled to death.

dahlia

This poppy is the reddest flower in the garden and I was pleased to see that it had a little friend in the damp conditions.

poppy with hoverfly

The delicate honeysuckle on the fence has survived the heavy showers very well…

honeysuckle with stamens

…and the perennial wallflower is living up to its name and providing an endless steam of flowers on the end of ever lengthening stalks.

perennial wallflower

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought a new phlox and has found a home for it.  It looks quite happy there.

new phlox

A variety of colours is available in the bed beside the front lawn.

three bright flowers august

I checked on the dam just in case, but it was still in a very calm mood.

calm dam after storm

While Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed hedges, I trimmed the second box ball at the far end of the front lawn.  In a perfect world, both balls would be the same size and shape but this was the best that I could do.

trimmed box balls

As it happens, the slight imperfection doesn’t matter too much as Mrs Tootlepedal is going to savagely cut them both back later in the year.  They will be reduced to short and stubby twigs, but if the ones at the other end of the lawn are anything to go by, they will soon start growing again.

regrowing bocx balls

These will need clipping quite soon.

I took a picture of the perennial nasturtium that grows on our yew….

tropaeolum

…which was just as well as the yew was next in line for clipping and the nasturtium got short shrift.

trimmed yew

The yew is not yet quite in the shape that we would like it to be but considering that it too got a savage clip a couple of years ago and looked like this….

yew

…it hasn’t done too badly.

There is a clump of poppies beside the bridge over the pond and they looked very dainty and fragile today…

dainty poppies

…but in fact, they are very resilient and are holding up well.

dainty poppy

We dug up some more potatoes and found some that were so large that it was obvious that baked potatoes were just the thing to have for our lunch.

After lunch, Sandy rang up to say that his new electric bike had been delivered.  In spite of the light drizzle, he was keen to give it a go, so not long afterwards he appeared at our house…

Sandy and his bike

…and obligingly posed for a picture before we set off.  Because the weather wasn’t very welcoming, we agreed that a three mile jaunt up the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse would be a good test run and off we went.

My worst fears were realised and as we went up the first hill on leaving the town, Sandy sailed up it serenely and had to wait for some time until I came puffing up to join him.  It is gently uphill to Wauchope Schoolhouse, and pedal as hard as I could, Sandy rolled away from me every time we hit one of the shallow slopes.

Considering that he is not currently able to walk any distance and he hasn’t cycled for quite a long time, it is obvious that an electric bike is a brilliant solution to getting out and about and taking as much as exercise as he wants while he is doing it.

In fact, he enjoyed the outing so much that when we got the Schoolhouse, he suggested going up a couple more hills to the top of Callister.  He gave me a good start and cruised past me on the lower slopes of Callister.  He kindly waited for me at the top.

Now I was in my element as his bike is limited to about 15 mph while using power assistance and I had gravity and a gentle wind to help my legs for the six mile return journey.  Going back down to the town, I had to wait for him a couple of times.  Honour was satisfied.

We had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal when we got back and then Sandy left to see how well his bike would get him up the steep hill back to his house.

I settled down to put another parish magazine onto the Langholm Archive Group’s website and then had a last look round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal has a very fine mint growing beside the greenhouse.

mint

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a very tasty lamb and lentil dal for our tea and that rounded off a day which had been much more enjoyable than the weather.

There is no flying bird today but to take its place, here is Sandy, flying up the Galaside on his way home, as his new bike (and quite a lot of pedalling) whisked him up the hill.

Sandy whizzing up galaside

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Today’s guest picture comes from my former colleague Ada and comes as a reminder of the Tour de France.  She tells me that she was sipping coffee in a cafe at the bottom of the mountain when her husband had this picture taken at the top of the Col du Tourmalet.  Hats off to him.

Tourmalet

I didn’t think of cycling in the morning here as it was a grey and drizzly day, and as it wasn’t a day for gardening either, we went off in the car to top up our supplies.

My requirement was for sunflower hearts for the birds as the siskins and sparrows have nearly finished my current stock.  Mrs Tootlepedal was after a little colour for the garden as her Sweet Williams are almost all over now.  Luckily we could combine both needs in a short circular tour and we were back home in time for lunch.

I filled the feeder with the last of the old seed and a sparrow took a very dim view of my camera’s intrusion on his meal.

staring sparrow

It was soon joined by more sparrows and the new seed will obviously be needed soon.

three sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal bought three boxes of flowers, begonias and dianthus, to plant out and left them out until she is ready to stick them in.

new flowers

She was busy in the garden after lunch and I lent a hand where I could and took the occasional picture too.

Another zinnia has come out.

zinnia

…and a new set of privet flowers have appeared.

privet

The first mallow has appeared.

mallow

I took pictures throughout the afternoon of various clematis and you can see that the rain stopped and things dried out as the day progressed.

four clematis

Some flowers seem to retain raindrops longer than others.   I took this poppy at the same time as the mallow above.

spotted poppy

As well as feeding the birds, I gave Zoe a top up feed too.

car with nosebag

There weren’t any tortoiseshell or peacock butterflies about but the garden had plenty of insects buzzing around.

two insects

And a rather scruffy blackbird hopped around while Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the hope of picking up a disturbed worm or two.

spotty blackbird

I went to sit on our new bench for a rest at one point and liked the picture made by a triple shoot of the verbena behind it.

three verbenas

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared some space in a border and planted out a new rose which she had bought in the morning.  This is part of her policy to get some less heavy headed roses into the garden.

two new roses

I was surprised to find runner bean flowers of two different colours on the vegetable garden fence but Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had bought a mixed bag of beans so that explained it.

two beans

The weather gradually improved as the day went on and I took the opportunity to top up my monthly mileage with another twenty miles round my Canonbie circuit.  There was quite a brisk wind and my legs were less keen on the whole topping up  business than I was so I had to work quite hard to get round and mostly kept my camera in my back pocket…

…but I did wonder what the tall tree had said to its friend to make it feel quite so crushed.

distant trees

My legs could have done with a rest but there is rain in the forecast for every day in the week ahead so I thought that I was well advised to take advantage of this dry spell.

I looked for butterflies when I got back but only saw a single white butterfly on the buddleias.  It is a problem of taking pictures with a pocket camera that it sometimes thinks that I am more interested in focussing on the leaves in the background than the glaringly obvious subject of the photo dead centre in the foreground.

out of focus butterfly

A couple of our main crop potato plants looked a bit unwell, so although it was too early, I dug the plants up.  The potatoes seemed sound enough and we had some with lamb mince for our tea.  They had a very acceptable taste.

main potatoes

It was not the most exciting day of the summer but the temperature remained at a perfect level (around 20°C, 70°F) and the rain was very light so we should count ourselves lucky.  All the same, there is no doubt that there is a slight feeling in the air that it is not that long till Christmas now.  Summers fairly whistle by these days.

One of the sparrows is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s grandfather Francis.  He was there to watch Matilda trying out Mrs Tootlepedal’s restored rocking horse a day or two ago under the watchful eye of her grandmother, Eileen.

(Those wondering about Matilda’s hand gesture are obviously not familiar with Woody from Toy Story.)

dav

We have had several inches of rain this week, either in short, heavy thundery downpours or persistent rain like yesterday’s, so it was good to have a fine and mostly sunny day today.

I went out into the garden after breakfast to find that the bees had been busy visiting our poppies.

opium poppy

It was still very humid and singing in the church choir taxed my breathing skills to the limit so I was glad to have a sit down and a cup of coffee when we got home.

It didn’t take me long to perk up after the coffee and I went out into to the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

I helped her pick the last of our first crop of peas and beans and then I cut as many of the sweet peas as I could before my patience ran out.

Then I had a look round.

Poppies were doing their best to look presentable after yesterday’s soaking…

six pink poppies

…and there is plenty of growth still going on.   Buddleia and rambler roses compete for attention and Mrs Tootlepedal has filled the new bed by the new electricity pole with mustard as green manure again.  I may have remarked before that she is very keen on mustard.

roses, mustard, phlox, sweet peas

The sweet peas are growing faster than I can cut them and we have several vases on the go in the house.  And the phlox is phlourishing.

The garden is full of birds as well as flowers.  We have families of starlings in a neighbour’s holly tree and blackbirds have been nesting in the garden.  This one was standing on our neighbour’s shed roof…

starling and blackbird

…but the biggest gang of birds at the moment is made up of sparrows.

sparrow horde on gfence

After a couple of days of neglect while visitors and rain where about, grass cried out for care so I mowed everything, the front lawn, the middle lawn, the greenhouse grass and the drying green. The combination of warm weather and rain had made the grass grow but it also meant that things looked good when the mowing was finished.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious soup from the peas and beans that we had picked, together with a potato and an onion from the garden, and using some chicken stock that she had made while cooking a meal for our visitors.  This was a meal with food metres rather than food miles.

I had another look round the garden after lunch. I would have liked to go for a walk but my feet are not being very helpful so the garden is the limit for most of my walks at present.

I was pleased to see that the clematis along the back fence is growing well…

clemtais back fence

…and The Wren goes from strength to strength.

wren rose

It was not hard to find butterflies on the two buddleias by the back fence and I was happy to find a couple of peacocks among the small tortoiseshells.

tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies

There were probably more white butterflies flitting about than coloured ones so I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and waited to see if I catch catch one sitting still, or even better, catch one actually flitting about.  Patience paid off.

white butterfly panel

You can never rest on your laurels where grass care is concerned, so after the butterfly capture,  I spread a little of the fertiliser that contains the magic moss eating ingredient on the middle lawn.  I will be most interested to see if I can keep the lawns a bit more moss free over the winter than they were last year.

While I was waiting for the white butterflies to come along, I saw a siskin keeping a wary eye out.

siskin staring

When I went in and looked out, I could see why a wary eye out was probably the thing to keep.  The action was non stop again….

busy siskin panel

…and led one poor sparrow to bang its head against the feeder pole in sheer desparation.

headbanger sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal sat down to watch the final stage of the Tour de France and I went out for a short cycle ride in the real world.  I was a little worried that it might be too hot but luckily the sun went in and my ride was merely warm.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it rained in the garden shortly after I set off, but I missed that and had a dry run.

My cycling camera is playing up a bit but I liked this family cow portrait at the Bloch farm so I have put it in even though the focus isn’t quite right.

staring cows

I don’t think that I have had a picture of my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead on the blog since they got their leaves on.  They always look to me as though they are about to break into a wild dance.

three trees

New and bigger daisies are out on the Canonbie by-pass and ragwort is appearing all over the place.

daisy and ragwort

I pottered round my habitual Canonbie 20 mile circuit, worried about a brisk wind but finding it more across than against or behind for most of the ride so I was able to enjoy myself.

I had a last look round the garden when I got home and noted the first zinnia of the year..

first zinnia

…and a rather lonely fuchsia flower.

first fuchsia

It has not been a good year for our permanent fuchsias.

I was able to have my evening meal and still be in time to watch the very final moments of the final stage of the Tour de France.  It has been one of the best tours to watch for some time and we will miss it now that it has gone.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch which appeared among the clouds of siskins.

flying greenfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s ‘other grandfather’, Francis.  He took this shot of Matilda aboard the good ship Alistair, waiting for the horses to gallop up the Kirk Wynd this morning.

sdr

We were awakened by the beat of the big drum of the flute band pounding round the town at five o’clock in the morning as the band reminded us that it was Langholm’s Great day and called on us to join them in going up the hill to watch the hound trail, an invitation that we ignored and rolled over to go to sleep again.

We got up at a more normal time and Matilda greeted me from an upstairs window as I checked on the weather.

matilda at window

We were joined by Francis and Eileen, Matilda’s other grandparents who had being staying in Canonbie, and after a light breakfast, we all went along the road to see the procession of emblem bearers, the Town Band, the cornet and his mounted followers come down Thomas Telford Road to ceremonially circle the old pump there.

CR 2019 a

The Town band members go on foot…

CR 2019 b

…and the cornet and his followers on horseback by a slightly more circuitous route.

CR 2019 c

Once round the pump, the front three waited for the road to clear…

CR 2019 d

…and led the procession back towards the Old Town…

CR 2019 e

…crossing the river on their way.

CR 2019 f

I had lingered behind the rest of the party to take pictures and when I got to the far side of the bridge, I came up with Alistair and Matilda who were standing on the steps of the old church counting the number of horses.

Al and Matilda CR 2019

There was some argument about the exact number but it was as near 150 as made no difference.

Our party headed to the top of the Kirk Wynd to watch the cornet lead the gallop up out of the town and I left them there while I walked a little further up the wynd to make sure that I could get a clear shot of the riders without a hundred heads in between me and them.

I had time to admire the view of a rather misty but dry and warm day….

view CR 2019

…and count the blades of grass beside me…

grass CR 2019

…before the cornet and his right and left hand men appeared.  Henry was proudly flourishing the town’s standard.

CR 2019 g

Shortly afterwards the other 147 (approximately) riders came along too….

CR 2019 h

…and they were soon streaming out onto the hill, where they would visit the Castle Craigs and the Monument before descending back to the town.

CR 2019 i

I left them to it and went straight back to the town myself where I joined the townspeople and visitors in walking along the traffic free High Street (watching where we were treading with great care).

CR 2019 j

When our party assembled at home, we had a delicious brunch prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.  In a normal year, we might have gone back to the High Street to hear the fair crying or gone to the Kilngreen to watch the crossing of the water, but this year dancing was the major business of the afternoon.  Matilda’s cousin Lola had arrived with her mother Cathy, and Matilda and Lola were due to start dancing at one o’clock so as soon as brunch was over, we headed to the Castleholm where the dancing takes place.

Matilda and Lola looked as smart as paint in their Highland dancing costumes.

 

lola and matilda clare

Photo kindly contributed by Clare, Matilda’s mother.

Before the dancing started, we had time to watch the two entrants in the pony race whizz round the track in fine style.

CR 2019 pony race

And then I went to see the start of the 90m open sprint race.  These are top athletes and nine seconds later, the man nearest to us, far from landing flat on his face as might seem likely from this picture, had dashed down the track and was £500 pound richer.

CR 2019 sprint start

The foot races continued all afternoon, hotly contested…

CR 2019 sprint finish

…by athletes of all ages and both sexes.

CR 2019 sprint juniors

Owing to getting my camera settings very wrong, I totally failed to get a usable picture of Matilda  actually dancing.  In fact photographing the highland dancers is a tricky business as they spend most of their time facing the judges and with their backs to the audience, so you will have to taken my word that this is Lola at work getting some good height.

CR 2019 lola dancing

In between the dances, I was able to watch more handicap foot races…

CR 2019 athletics

…and enjoy the thrill of being close to horses and jockeys racing at a fearsome pace round the sharp corners of the track on the Castleholm.

CR 2019 racing a

There were good fields in all the races that I watched today.

CR 2019 racing b

I didn’t see Matilda dance but I did see her in the line up at the end of her classes (she is second from the left with her back to us of course) getting a presentation from the organisers.

matilda CR 2019 line up

I went right round to the other side of the dancing arena and peered over the judges’ shoulders to get a view of Lola in her next dance…

loca dancing CR 2019

…before going off to watch the start of the big race of the day, a hotly contested event with a first prize of £2000 pounds…

CR 2019 racing c

…which this horse won, having stolen a march on the rest of the field up the back straight…

CR 2019 racing f

…and hanging on as they chased him home.

CR 2019 racing g

While the horses had been racing, Alistair had bought Matilda a unicorn balloon.

CR 2019 matilda and balloon

She showed it to Francis.

CR 2019 matilda and balloon and Francis

Lola had magically transformed from Highland Dancer to Hello Sailor and was now performing a hornpipe with great gusto.

CR 2019 lola hornpipe

After the last dance, there was a chance to see one more horse race..

CR 2019 racing h

…and once again to admire the skill and courage of both horses and riders…

CR 2019 racing i

…before it was time to head for home and a cup of tea.   Then Lola and Cathy drove back to Edinburgh where they had another social engagement and the rest of us had a family meal.   After the meal, Francis and Eileen also drove off to Edinburgh and we were left to have a sit down to recover from the day.

Matilda and her parents go home tomorrow and we shall be very quiet when everyone has gone.

The Common Riding colours were pink this year so it is fitting to end this post not with a flying bird of the day but with six fine pink poppies in the garden this morning.

pink poppies

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Today’s guest picture comes from camera club member Peter who not only helped with serving the cream teas at Waterbeck yesterday but also kindly sent me this picture from our camera club trip  to Beamish last week.

Peter's beamish

The forecast seems to be pretty certain that it will rain all day tomorrow so I was very happy to make good use of another fine and warm day today.

I started with a look round the garden after breakfast where flowers seemed to be singing in trios…

four triple flowers

…and then I drove south into England where I saw this fine display of rosebay willowherb…

rosebaywillowherb

…and had a very satisfactory singing lesson.  I have reached the stage where I can now sing well enough for my teacher to be able to tell me that I am singing badly.  This may sound paradoxical but good teachers will know that you never tell a pupil who is doing something badly that they are doing it badly as that only discourages them.  You tell them that they are doing very well.  You only tell them that they are doing something badly if they are actually doing it quite well and can improve.  I was very encouraged.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz setting the world to rights from the comfort of our garden bench.

Mrs T and Liz on bench

Appropriately enough, since they are both grandmothers, not far away I could see that the Special Grandma rose has come out.

special grandma

When Liz left, I had a walk round and was pleased to see the first flowers on one of our buddleias.  I hope that it will soon attract butterflies.

buddleia

It was a good day for some hard work in the garden so I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with the settling in of the second of our new garden beds to replace the one crushed by the digger when the electricity pole was put in.

We are very pleased with our shiny new electricity pole but we are even more pleased with the new beds.

new veg beds

After lunch, I did the crossword and then set off to pedal a few miles on my bike.  Mostly I pedal very gently and even on long rides, I eat enough so that I weigh the same when I get home as when I set off.  However, the energetic pedal on Saturday had had the pleasing effect of causing me to lose a little weight so I resolved to get my head down and pedal as hard as I could today.  This meant only two stops for pictures, one of the broad road….

Old A7 Granstonehead

…and one of a narrow path.

bike path with daisies

It is good to see unmown verges and flowery banks.

The effort put into the ride was very worth while as I enjoyed the pedal down to Canonbie and back and sweated off a little more weight.

When I got home, I had time to have a shower and then my flute pupil Luke came for the last lesson before a summer break.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I dug up another of our early potatoes.  They are producing an excellent clean crop which is not helping my weight loss programme at all but they were very delicious with an otherwise cold meal for our tea.  While they were cooking, I mowed both the front and middle lawns, a task which by happy coincidence takes just the same amount of time as new potatoes take to boil.

It was a pity that such a good day was then spoiled by the extremely capricious behaviour of my computer.  It thought it would be amusing if it took several minutes to complete each and every operation so that the preparation of pictures for this post took me longer than my twenty mile bicycle ride had taken,  Far longer.  It was most annoying but at least it has spared the weary reader yet another picture of the salvia, as I had lost patience long before I came to it.

During the afternoon, I found a moment to watch sparring siskins at the feeder…

arguing siskins

…and had another go at taking a picture of St John’s Wort.  The camera just doesn’t like them at all.

st john's wort

As well as potatoes, we should be getting to eat peas and beans in the not too distant future.

pea and bean

And there were roses looking as close to perfection as a gardener could wish.

four roses

If it does rain tomorrow, the garden will be grateful even if I will be a bit morose.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin intent on higher things.

flying siskin

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