Posts Tagged ‘poppy’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found plenty of sunshine when she went to visit the Limehouse Cut Canal a couple of days ago.

Limehouse Cut canal 27.10.17 008

We had some pleasant sunshine here today as well but as it came with a brisk and chilly north wind, I thought it better to go for walk after making a venison stew for the slow cooker rather than venture out on my bike.  I have had a bit of a froggy throat for a few days and with a choir practice coming up in the afternoon, it seemed more sensible.

After my walk with Sandy up to the monument on Friday, I headed for the opposite side of the valley today and walked up Warbla.

I kept an eye out for fungus and lichen at the start of my walk and saw both.

lichen and fungus

There is some autumn colour left….

Autumn colour

…but there are more leaves on the ground now than on the trees on general.

I wasn’t following a yellow brick road as I climbed up the hill but I did have an emerald green grassy track to guide me to the summit…

warbla track

…and plenty of views if I needed an excuse to catch my breath for a moment.

Becks Farm

It wasn’t as windy and cold as I feared it might be when I got to the top of the hill and I stopped for a while and had a good look around.

Larches lightened up a wood on the far side of the river.

view from Warbla

There was a mixture of sunshine and cloud and I enjoyed this view of the monument just catching a bit of the sunshine.

monument from Warbla

There was a well sheltered spot below.

View from warbla

And the play of light and shade up the Ewes valley was good to see, both in close up…

View from warbla

…and in the wider view.

View from warbla

In spite of the chilly wind, I found myself in company at the top of the hill.

warbla trig point with family

There was no question as to who was the king of the castle but they all had fun.

warbla trig point with family

I left them them to it and walked back down the track until I dropped down the side of the hill and into the Wauchope valley.

Wauchope valley

I often cycle along the road in the picture and you can that it is very well sheltered which is why I use it as my outdoor gym on very windy days.

The hawthorns in the foreground are very bright and cheery with their red berries but as you can see most of the other trees are bare now.

One good thing about this is that it gives me a better chance of taking bridge pictures.

Becks burn bridge

A cow took a dim view of me as I walked past when I got to the road.

wauchope cow

After a last picture….

manse brae hedge

…I arrived home just as Mrs Tootlepedal got back from singing in the church choir.

She got to work on her path and I enjoyed the flowers.



There are fewer every day but the survivors are still looking good.

Then it was time to go in and have lunch and, of course, to set up the camera at the kitchen window.

In spite of the sunshine, or perhaps because of the sunshine, there weren’t many birds about today and they were coming and going to the feeder for very quick visits so I didn’t get much satisfaction.

dunnock, chaffinch and sparrow

A dunnock, chaffinch and sparrow not visiting the feeder.

A neat blue tit did arrive.

blue tit

The blue tits often find the sunflower seeds a bit too much of a mouthful

After lunch there was time for more work on the path and I did a bit of slightly pointless dead heading and was impressed with the hardy nature of a red admiral butterfly which was haunting the dahlias but unfortunately not posing for pictures.

Soon it was time to go to Carlisle and sing.  My croaky throat just lasted the course but I will need to find some soothing mixture for it tomorrow.

The forecast is for slightly frosty weather overnight but then a return to warmer nights again so it will be interesting to see what survives in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, concentrating hard as it approaches the feeder.




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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s trip to Spain.  She passed through El Rocio in Andalucia and discovered that it is the ‘Town of the Horse’.

El Rocio, Andalucia

We had another dry day today, with lighter winds but no sun in the morning.

This made the morning cycle ride round my customary Canonbie circle a slightly chilly affair and I only stopped for one picture.  It shows the end of the road….

Old A7 at Byreburn

…more literally than metaphorically.  It was at this point that a landslip in the early 1980s on what was then the main road between Carlisle and Edinburgh caused the transport authorities to decide to build a new Canonbie by-pass and leave the old road to pedestrians and cyclists.  As a result, 30 years later, I have a quiet route to cycle along.  It is an ill wind….

I was feeling a bit old and tired shortly after I passed the landslip and was struggling to make good speed.  I put it down to old age but stopping to clear the accumulated gunge between the mudguard and my front tyre had a wonderfully rejuvenating effect.  The collection of soggy mud and fallen leaves which I had picked up on my way turned out to be acting as a brake on my progress and clearing it off left me speeding home with a blithe heart.

When I got home, I had a quick look round the garden.

The front lawn was looking very stripy after yesterday’s attack  by the mower….

front lawn

…but you can see the marks where I had to dig my feet in to push the mower over the moss.  It can rest now until spring when the battle to grow a few blades of grass among the moss will begin again.

I have stopped dead heading the poppies but there are still quite a few ready to appear.


The pale poppies with the pink and red fringes are the most striking but I have a great liking for the more sober varieties too.


There was quite a bit of buzzing….

dahlia with bee

…and at the last minute the sun came out and let Crown Princess Margareta really shine.

Crown Princess Margareta

We couldn’t stop to enjoy the sunshine as we had to drive off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents. The drive and the train journey were enhanced by the sun and it was still sunny as we waited for the bus in Edinburgh…


…but I couldn’t help but have a sneaking feeling that all that sunshine was being wasted a bit.

Still, it was delightful to see Matilda and her parents and as we also got a jolly good meal, partly cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal in advance and partly cooked by Clare and Al, we thought the visit was well worth while.

The trip home was uneventful (a good thing) and we arrived home tired but happy.  It was a clear night when we got home and we are looking forward to a rather chilly morning tomorrow.

While I was having lunch before going to Edinburgh, I put the camera up at the kitchen window and waited for  something interesting to arrive.  The tousled blue tit obliged.

blue tit

I got an opportunity to show that it can fly perfectly well.

blue tit

More regulation blue tits were available too.

blue tit

Chaffinches arrived at regular intervals…




…kept on coming…


…though sparrows could be seen deep in thought as well.


I finally caught a chaffinch far enough from the feeder to make it into the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son and shows a pleasant reservoir near Edinburgh round which he walks his dogs.


After yesterday’s warm, calm and sunny weather, today was rather chilly, always grey and sometimes rainy.  It came after yet more heavy rain overnight so everything is decidedly damp.  It got me down a bit and I had a indifferent day, largely wasted.

I did make some soup for lunch but that was the only noticeable activity of the morning apart from a dahlia census….


…which I conducted because Attila the Gardener is threatening to have them all up any day now.

I checked on the poppies too.


Alert readers will realise that one of the poppies is a rose but five is an awkward number for a frame so it got included to make up numbers.

It has been so frost free that odd unseasonal flowers keep on appearing.  Today I noticed two blooms on the Weigela.


I did put the camera up at the kitchen window and there was continuous activity at the seed feeder.

busy feeder

Sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches competed for spare places at the feeder


Leading to some face to face confrontations

sparrow and goldfinches

A sparrow gives a goldfinch a hard stare


Another one actually assaults a fellow sparrow

There were some peaceful moments though.

A chaffinch tries to remember what he came out for.


A collared dove displays very fashionable bootees.

collared dove

A robin practices his “Rod Steiger as Napoleon”  pose


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who is pretty well recovered now, went off for an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I sieved a bit of compost and mowed the drying green.  Both these tasks were made tricky because of the general sogginess so I stopped gardening and rang Sandy to see if he fancied an outing.

He did.

It was really too grey for a proper walk so we went to the bird hide at the Moorland Feeders for a while.  I saw coal tits, blue tits and great tits….

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

…sometimes at the same time.

coal tit and great tit

There were lots and lots of chaffinches too…


….but it was chilly sitting in the hide and no unusual birds turned up so we drove back down the hill, stopping at my favourite spot…

Skippers Bridge

….which was also looking rather grey today.

There is a bit of colour in the trees along the river here….

River Esk at Skippers

…but in general, the trees seem to be losing their leaves without putting on much of a display for us.

We drove on down the river and stopped again.  There were spots of colour to be seen…

autumn colour

…and some impressive roots on a river side tree….

riverside roots

…but there seem to be as many bare trees about as trees with leaves on.faded autumn colour

We might have explored a bit more, as it was the sort of day when fungus might be found but some persistent rain persuaded us that home was the place to be.

Sandy dropped me off and I spent some useful time practising songs for tomorrow’s rehearsal with our Carlisle choir.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting which had been very successful (and well supplied with delicious cakes) and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

In spite of the much heralded arrival in Britain of Storm Brian, the forecast for Langholm tomorrow is quite cheerful.   I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches having an argument.

flying goldfinches


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Today’s guest picture comes from long time reader, Zyriacus from Solingen in Germany.  His peace has been interrupted by the loud calls from some visiting birds, Psittacula krameri, better known here as the green parakeet.

Psittacula krameri

We had a quiet and sunny day today.  It took some getting used to.

I should have been up early and out on my bike but after getting a bit of a shock cycling in the Saharan dust a couple of days ago, I thought it best to fortify myself with some treacle scones before setting out and luckily Dropscone was available for a cup of coffee and kindly brought some with him.

He had no tales of missed putts or unfortunate adventures among the trees to tell because the golf course is so soggy that he hasn’t been able to play recently.

After he left, I managed to waste a bit more time before getting the fairly speedy bike out.  I had a look at the garden first.  There was nothing much to see as flowers were hanging their heads after heavy overnight rain but the nasturtiums leaves looked quite cheerful in the sunshine.

nasturtium leaves

I took a moment to look at birds sitting in the plum tree….

Birds in the plum tree

…and finally got going.

It was a glorious day for a pedal, reasonably warm for the time of year, pretty calm and sunny for most of the ride.

Autumn is here though as a look back down Wauchopedale showed.


Not to mention several bare trees. This was my favourite today.

Bare tree

I pedalled down to Gretna across country and then came home by main roads, stopping near Canonbie to admire these Highland cattle.

Highland cows at canonbie

The smoke from a cottage chimney at Byreburnfoot underlined the autumnal feeling.


And a look up the River Esk confirmed it.

Esk at Byreburn

I could see a dot in the middle of the river and a closer look showed that it was an angler.

Angler in Esk at Byreburn

A brave man.

The old A7 as I was getting near home was my last photographic stop

Old A7 near Langholm

It was a most enjoyable ride and without trying very hard, I covered the thirty miles at an average speed of about two  miles an hour faster than my dusty pedal on Wednesday.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was still at work in the garden and that was a relief too as it shows that she is getting a little better every day.

I had a look round the garden to see if things had perked up after a sunny day.

They had.

The poppies had their heads up and a bee was busy.

poppy and bee

The Fuchsias continue to delight me.


Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted this fungus on the stump of a cotoneaster.

Fungus on cotoneaster

She almost thinks it must have grown in a day because she doesn’t remember seeing it there yesterday.

Fungus on cotoneaster

I went inside and started to look out of the window while there was still a bit of light left.  The birds didn’t seem to worry about the presence of the gardener still hard at work.

The goldfinches were very put out to find that a greenfinch was in their place on the feeder.

goldfinch and greenfinch

I refilled the feeder and when the goldfinches and greenfinches took a break, the chaffinches came flying in.

flying chaffinches

They were soon followed by more goldfinches and quite a few sparrows too.

flying goldfinch and sparrow

I had a very enjoyable time watching  a good deal of bickering and pushing and shoving as blue tits, greenfinches, goldfinches, sparrows and chaffinches all battled to get a seed or two.

A greenfinch took a dim view of the rowdy behaviour.


The feeding frenzy continued but I retired for a shower and by the time that I came back downstairs, the light had gone.

Our landline is in a very poor state and our phone has given up entirely.  The internet is still going but in an “off and on” sort of way so using the computer requires a good deal of patience but thankfully it has stayed on long enough to get this far on tonight’s post so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will let me publish.

If you don’t get to read these words, you will know that it has failed again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round, having survived  a very wet holiday in Oban, and in spite of missing a week’s practice, Alison and I had a very rewarding time playing Loeillet and Telemann with a bit of Nicolas Chedeville thrown in.

The flying bird of the day is not technically the best flying bird picture that I took today but catching a flying greenfinch is rare for me.

flying greenfinch



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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently visited Banwell Castle and sent me this picture of the gatehouse.  I am glad to see that they festoon potential photographic subjects with telephone wires down there as well as up here.

Banwell castle Gatehouse

The best weather of the day today was in the morning when it was calm and sunny so it was unfortunate that I had agreed to act as a substitute welcomer in the Welcome to Langholm office from 10am to 12 noon.

Still, I got a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and welcomed several visitors and both supplied them with information and extracted a little money for booklets from them so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I looked out through the kitchen window to see if the goldfinches had come back to the feeder.

They had…


…in numbers…


…and in squabbling mood.


They looked even better when the sun came out.


They were joined by sparrows…

sparrow and goldfinch

…and chaffinches, this one wearing a bird ringer’s ring on his leg…


…and blue tits.

blue tit

This is a very satisfactory start for the new feeder season.

After lunch, we went out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not quite back to 100% yet but she was able to do some good work in the garden today.  I had a look round.

The poppies are continuing to do well and to attract insects.

hoverfly on poppy

I didn’t see the bee creeping up on this one when I took the picture.

bee approaching poppy

Recently there have been several pictures of fuchsias with a pot marigold in the background.  I reversed that today.

pot marigold

I didn’t hang around in the garden though as I wanted to make use of a good afternoon for cycling.

After a few outings on wet roads, my fairly speedy bike needed a wash and lubrication so I was a while before I got going but I got out in plenty of time to do thirty miles or even a bit more.

In the event, perhaps because of the dust from the Sahara which Ophelia brought up with her, thirty miles was quite enough and cycling was a rather weird experience with my brain in turmoil as I tried to sort out what I was actually thinking from snippets of dreams and imagination that confused me as I pedalled along.   There are days when being an asthmatic cyclist is not the best thing to be.  A say with Saharan dust in the air is one of those.

Luckily, my cycling reflexes were in good order and as I went at a very modest average speed, I was able to get along quite safely although my concentration was anywhere but on the road ahead.

I must have been aware of my surroundings a bit though, as I stopped to take a few pictures as I went round.

There were various shades of autumn as I went along.

View of windmills

It was a good day for a pedal although it was one of those days when the wind seemed to be against for an awful lot of the journey.

autumn colour

Hedges have been clipped but the frequent rain showers have swept the roads clean so there were no thorny problems for me to avoid.

clipped hedges

The roads were quiet which was perhaps lucky as I was pedalling in a bit of a dwam.

KPF road

Gilnockie Tower was looking quite crisp as I passed.

Hollows Tower

And the distillery looked very cosy tucked in among the autumn leaves.

Langholm Distillery from skippers bridge

I fear that we are not going to get a really colourful show of autumn colour this year but perhaps there is still time.  I think we need a few cooler mornings to set thing off.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me the work that she had been doing in the garden in my absence.  She has great plans for the autumn and winter so that she will be ready for a bright new gardening year.  I will try to record developments as they happen.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and as there were four tenors and only one bass, I jumped ship and went off to sing bass (with variable success).  It was probably quite a good idea as my voice was suffering a bit from the dusty bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch one while the sun was out.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s sunny visit to Bath.

From canal towpath looking towards the boatyard

We got up to another grey and miserable morning here although once again it was unseasonably mild.

Mrs Tootlepedal is partially recovered but by no means back to full working order.   She is very touched by the good wishes expressed by readers of the blog.

The grey morning was much improved by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee and his already excellent scones were improved in my case by adding some of Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam to them.  In my view, Dropscone’s plain scones and saskatoon jam are a match made in heaven.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about getting to the bottom of whatever it was that had made our phone line go dead and our internet flicker intermittently. By using our powers of deduction and a small screwdriver, we found the problem and cured it, probably just in time for the town’s power supply to be knocked out be the coming storm Ophelia.

Ophelia has been wreaking havoc in Ireland but it was extremely calm here in the morning and early afternoon.   Our neighbour Liz popped into to ask if we had seen the sun.  We went to have a look.

It was very odd.

The camera found it hard to record the clouds and the sun both in the correct shade but this is definitely how the sun looked.

red sun

It kept changing colour as the cloud of dust passed and I had several goes….

red sun

…until finally it got too bright for both me and the camera to look at.

red sun

It was sufficiently striking to make the news later in the day and the experts say that it was either Saharan sand or Portuguese wild fire particles or both that had provided the film of rusty colour.

After lunch, I had a look round the garden.  The light had improved and the bees and hoverflies were back on duty again.

bees and hoverflyhoverfly on poppy

A late astrantia has come out to join the poppies.

astarntia and poppy

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma add a delightful feminine touch.

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to make more of the ornamental strawberry next year.

ornamental strawberry

But the most exciting thing in the garden is the new tray under the bird feeders which means I can start feeding the birds again.

feeder tray

It is a heavy duty plastic cement mixing tray and Mrs Tootlepedal drilled the neat hole in the centre of it to let the feeder pole fit through.

It was warm (66°F) and fairly still so I took the opportunity to go for a short cycle ride in my outdoor gym and stopped for pictures on my way.

It was rather gloomy as I came back to town on my first lap….

Manse Brae

…but I headed down to Skippers Bridge to take a couple of pictures because I feared that if the storm is as windy as predicted, there may be few leaves on the trees when it is gone.Skippers BridgeLangholm Distillery

On my second lap, there were a few drops of rain and then the sun came out.Glencorf burnHawthornBlochburnfootAuld Stane Brig

Nowadays, the gloomy predictions of storm and tempest are often worse than the reality so keen are the weathermen for us not to be caught unprepared for bad weather so it will be interesting to see what scenes like these will look like in a couple of day’s time.

I looked round the garden when I got back.  I found some more colour.

charles ross applesclimbing hydrangea

…and then went in to see how Mrs Tootlepedal was.  She had been well enough to do a little work in the garden while I pedalling but she is still a bit fragile.

Although the light was fading, I looked at the bird feeders through the windows.

sparrow and blue tit

A gloomy sparrow and an astonished blue tit consider the sodden pink pellets

blue tit

A blue tit sits and thinks

A sparrowhawk flashed through the garden without it catching anything or me catching it.

It astonishes me how quickly birds find out that food of one sort or another is available.  I said to Mrs Tootlepedal only yesterday that I hadn’t seen a sparrowhawk about for weeks.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive time.  He played at a practice of  our local orchestra yesterday and felt that he had been able to play quite a bit of the music.

In the evening, I went to the Camera Club meeting.  Ten members turned up and we were treated to a very interesting and varied selection of photographs from winter scenes to remind us of what is coming, through stunning local wildlife portraits and action shots and striking black and white studies to a record of a recent African safari, complete with lions, rhinos, hippos and elephants.  We were very well entertained.  One member had brought in some very beautiful large prints which led to a lot of discussion.

The flying bird of the day is having a rest.


It is blowing hard as I write this. Fingers crossed.







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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker who is on holiday in Oban.  He found a sunny moment among the clouds to visit Dunstaffnage Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle

We had a reasonable day today, breezy at times but with no rain until late in the evening.  However, we were not able to make the best use of it as Mrs Tootlepedal was struck down by a bug and had to spend the day in bed.

This meant that I thought it best to spend quite a lot of time hovering about trying to look as though I might be useful.

I did get out for a short pedal in the morning and because of a combination of the brisk wind and a desire not to get too far away from the patient, I stuck to my outdoor gym and went three times up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse. This gave me an undemanding twenty one miles without ever being more than three and a bit miles from home.

A break in the clouds let the sun light up a green field as I got near to Wauchope School.

green field

I  kept a fungus eye out as I pedalled and looking at the verges, I saw these…



…and these…


…and this…


…and this…


…and these

They were hard to miss.

On my third go up, I stopped to look at some fence posts, as one does.

fence post lichen

There seemed a lot of interest (to me) on the first one that I looked at so I looked at the next one along too.

fence post lichen

Those little spots of red caught my eye so I looked at the next one along….

fence post lichen

…and it was covered in them.

British soldiers lichen

They look like British soldiers lichen to me, an army of them.

The next post didn’t have any of them on it at all…

fence post lichen

…and the last post was mainly moss.

fence post moss

All this was within ten yards.

I must stop and look at fence post more often.

I was joined by the minister on my second run back to the town.  He had done a longer, hillier circuit and had found the wind very hard work so I was pleased to be skulking about in the valley bottom where the wind was quite strong enough for me.

I made some soup when I got home and had to eat it by myself as Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t in eating mode.

I hung around in the afternoon in case I was needed and fitted in the crossword, some dead heading, some compost sieving and a little bit of Archive database work, topped off with a look at a couple of choir songs.

I did take the camera out into the garden but the wind had got up a bit and it made taking pictures quite tricky.

There was colour to be seen…

rudbeckia, buddleia and orange hawkweed

The last of the rudbeckia, a second bloom on a buddleia and the second flowering of the orange hawkweed

…and the temptation of another fuchsia shot was too great to resist.


The sharp eyed will see a bee on the right hand flower.

It went up there.

bee in fuchsia

There were plenty of poppies to deadhead but there are still many, many more waiting to come out.


They may look a bit fragile but they are obviously pretty tough.

Sadly, the bug meant that Mrs Tootlepdal could not go off to see Matilda, as her custom is on a Thursday but she was well enough to be happy to snooze in bed while I went off to play recorders in Carlisle in the evening.

Susan drove me down and all six of the group were present tonight.  Roy, our librarian, had put together a really good set of six part pieces from his extensive library and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The good weather couldn’t last and it was raining heavily again as Susan drove me home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was slightly better which was heartening although I don’t think she will be running a marathon tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a hoverfly, helophilus pendulus (as far as I can see), on a daisy.




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