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Posts Tagged ‘pulsatilla’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who was on one of his outings.  It shows the Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye.

Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye

We had a very pleasant day here today with lots of sunshine but with a wind just brisk enough to make me think of several reasons why going cycling might not be my best option.

It had rained overnight and the plants in the garden were holding on to some of the raindrops.

willow and pulsatilla

Willow and pulsatilla unwilling to let go

There was plenty of buzzing to be heard in the garden…

bees

…and plenty of new flowers for the bees to visit.

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a short trip on our bikes up the Wauchope road might be worth while and so we went off to see the bluebells that I had noticed on my bike ride yesterday.  We left our bikes by the side of the road and walked up the hill.  The view down the valley without the bluebells was very good….

Wauchope valley

…but it was even better with bluebells.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

And there was no shortage of bluebells on the hill side for us to enjoy.

Up…

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…down….

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…and along.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

I could have filled a whole post with bluebells.

There weren’t a lot of other flowers among the bluebells but there were some of these tiny yellow flowers.

yellow wild flowers

As we cycled home, I stopped for a look at some fresh hawthorn blossom…

hawthorn

…and an orange tip butterfly which kindly rested for a moment or two on a bluebell beside the road.

orange tip butterfly

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, chatted to blackbirds…

blackbirds

…who were keen to share the lawn with me, enjoyed a whole hearted tulip…

tulip

…and then went off on an outing with Sandy.

We drove up past the bluebells but the sunlight was in quite the wrong place so we drove back through the town and went to visit the Moorland Project bird hide.  When we arrived, we found that others had beaten us to it so we left the car there and walked down the road…

Rashiel road

…to the banks of the Tarras Water.

Tarras water

We crossed the bridge and walked along the bank of the river for a few hundred yards and stopped to be amazed by a forest of horsetails which Sandy spotted…

horsetails

…growing in a very soggy patch beside the river.

I will have to come back and look at these again as they are interesting plants.

One of them had a friend.

horsetail

We walked back up the hill to the hide and found yet again that someone else had got in before us but this time we went in too and shared the viewing windows.

There was a lot of woodpecker activity and for the first time ever, I saw a woodpecker on the ground pecking away at the grass.  Of course there were plenty of pheasants doing that too.

pheasant and woodpecker

There wasn’t a great deal of other activity so we made for home and had a cup of tea and a couple of mini Jaffa cakes with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sandy went off and I mowed the middle lawn and had a look round the garden.

Alliums

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…

sparrows

One even sat on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bicycle handlebars

…but because the feeders are not up, it was hard to be sharp enough to catch them in the act.

I had a last look round…

Garden

…and went in to practice a few songs and look at the many, many pictures which I had taken on my outings and in the garden.  It is very hard not to take too many pictures in spring time.

I noticed that I had seen quite a lot of unfurling ferns here and there during the day…

unfurling ferns

…so I put some together.

I was feeling pretty tired by now and I let the chance of an evening bike ride slip through my fingers and settled for eating spaghetti with tomato sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and having a little snooze.

It is not a good picture but I feel that a flying bee of the day is the way to end this post.  It was a flying bee sort of day.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture shows another fine waterfall seen by Dropscone on his holiday in Skye.

Skye waterfall

We had the second bright but slightly chilly day in a row and once again, musical activity got in the way of cycling.

I did get out for a morning ride but only after I had put a lamb stew into the slow cooker and time limited by the need to be back in time to go to choir in the afternoon.   I nipped round my standard 20 miles down to Canonbie and back and, as it was London Marathon day, I was pleased that I had managed to go a little bit faster than the elite runners even if I didn’t go quite as far.

I didn’t take my camera but got it out as soon as I got home to celebrate the brilliance of the tulips which were enjoying the sunshine in the garden.

tulips

tulips

tulips

tulips

I think that they were at their best today and as we have a week of chilly weather with north winds to come, I may not see them as generously open again for some time.

tulips

tulips

My favourite tulip of the moment is the Ballerina…..

ballerina tulip

…and they looked so good today that Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to buy some more and plant them out for next year.  I am in favour of that.

The tulips rather overshadowed the other flowers but this little pulsatilla did its best to get into the act.

pulsatilla

I filled the feeders when I got back from my ride and after lunch, I took a moment to watch the birds before we went off to Carlisle.

We have a steady supply of redpolls at the moment.

redpolls

This one stared rather haughtily at me when I took its picture but soon went back to eating

redpolls

They had an active day

siskins

As did the siskins

The feeders are always busy at the moment and my supply of seed is disappearing in double quick time.

busy feeder

Representatives of our present customer base, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin and redpoll

The choir rehearsal started badly, as our conductor and our accompanist were delayed on the train again.  The Sunday service from Glasgow is most unreliable.  However, they made up for lost time when they did arrive and we had an extremely brisk practice with a little extra time added on to the end.

We are working on a new modern song and it is one of those, as Mrs Tootlepedal remarked, where if you get to sing a note which is actually on the beat, it comes as a blessed relief.

Because of the extra time taken at the practice, we didn’t stop to take photographic advantage of the sunny evening as we went home but bustled on as quickly as we could and settled down to enjoy the lamb stew from the slow cooker when we got back.

While the potatoes were cooking, I watched some of my lawn care assistants at work on the middle lawn.

jackdaws

There should be no moss left at all soon, thanks to the jackdaws

I have still got a few miles to do on my bike if I am to keep up to my schedule for the month so I am hoping that there are a few kind days left in April.  This month is traditionally supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb but having seen the forecast for next week, I don’t think that this will be a traditional month at all.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for a few calm moments.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch in the best of the sun.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Todays’ guest picture shows the Monteath Mausoleum which overlooks the Lilliardsedge Golf Course where Dropscone was playing at the official opening of the Borders Golf Association season on Sunday.

Monteath Mausoleum

It was another fine day in Langholm but slightly marred by a persistent and chilly wind which made me glad that I had an excuse not to go cycling in the morning.  I was due to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm centre so first I pottered around the garden in the sunshine….

lamium

…where the lamium, after a false start earlier in the year, has got going for real.

It lurks beneath our little silver pear tree which is just starting to blossom.

silver pear

The ‘river of blue’ has not quite swept through the garden with as much force as Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked but it is very pretty in places…

grape hyacinths

…and comes in two shades of blue.

I was pleased to find that all the moss on the middle lawn was of some use to someone.

lawn moss

It had been extensively harvested for nesting material by birds before we got up.

I went off to the tourist office armed with a laptop computer and a week of the newspaper index to enter into the Archive Group database and the combination of a steady trickle of visitors and the archive work kept me fully occupied for the two hours so I hardly minded people coming in and saying what a lovely day it was outside, hardly at all.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden, having had a busy morning catching up with business herself.

I noticed that a new fritillary had come out but it needed a helping hand to show its full colour to the world.

fritillary

A fancy tulip needed no help at all.

tulip

My favourite though was the more modest pulsatilla nearby.

pulsatilla

It packs a lot into a small flower head

However, I stopped watching Mrs Tootlepedal gardening and went composting.  I set about finishing turning the contents of Bin A into Bin B.  When that was done, old Bin A made way for the sparkling new Bin A and with the help of Mrs Tootlepedal it was made level and built up.  Compost City is now complete.

 compost city

The beauty of the system is that Bins A and B are adaptable to the needs of the composter.  At present, as it is in the process of getting filled up with new material, Bin A is kept low to make putting the material as easy as possible.  As it fills up, the extra sections from Bin B can moved to Bin A.  The compost in Bin B will have reduced in volume considerably and the bin can then be lowered layer by layer when the time has come to turn it into Bin C.    The nameless plastic bin on the left can be used for anything that we don’t want to put in the main compost and can be left untouched for as long as is necessary.

I went off to look at the Euphorbias which grow more fantastic every day.

euphorbia

This one is like some crazy hat worn by a fashionable lady on Ladies’ Day at the races.

euphorbia

And this one has stuck all its tongues out

It is hard to imagine the small gains that have led the process of natural selection to come up with these elaborate designs.

Then I went in and had a toasted cheese sandwich for a late lunch.

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to buy a hedge trimmer.  We have been impressed by the new Li-ion batteries so we laid out good money to get a hedge trimmer with one.   On our way there, I went into the bird food place and bought another big bag of birdseed and two new feeders.  On our way back, we went into a garden centre and Mrs Tootlepedal bought a Spirea so we both came home feeling pretty cheerful.

Unlike yesterday, it was a really clear day today and from the garden centre car park, I could see the northern fells very clearly.

Northern Fells

It would have been good to be out among the hills but you can’t do everything.

I tested the bird feeders on the birds when we got back.  The old ones had got rather tatty and battered and have now gone in the dustbin so I hoped that our garden visitors would appreciate some better eating arrangements.

A chaffinch gave one a very wary look…

chaffinch new feeder

…but soon both feeders were being fully used.

goldfinches and a chaffinch

goldfinches

A chaffinch gave a slouching goldfinch a lesson in how to sit up straight at the dinner table.

goldfinches and chaffinch

In the absence of siskins, the goldfinches were the biggest users and approached the new feeders with verve.

goldfinches

Though some waited calmly among the plum blossom.

goldfinch

While it was not the most active day that I have ever spent, it was enjoyable and fruitful and it was rounded off by a very good plate of rhubarb crumble and ice cream. Mrs Tootlepedal had forced some rhubarb under a bucket as an experiment and used the resulting crop in her recipe so perhaps this was why the dish tasted so good.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches giving the new feeders a hard stare.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce, who recently met this Glasgow tram at the Crich National Tramway Museum.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going to university’

glasgow tram

We had what is probably the last of our superbly sunny spring spell today.   As is all too common in life, instead of being out in the sun, I had to sit inside the Welcome to Langholm visitor centre for two hours in the morning as it has just opened for the new season.

At least I did get a couple of visitors to welcome and I was able to to spend some useful time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so, although I would have preferred to be out cycling, it wasn’t time wasted.

I was also in a  very good mood as Dropscone had come  round for an early cup of coffee before I went to work, bringing a mountain of drop scones with him.  These disappeared so quickly as we drank our coffee that we could only consider that they must have been of the very top quality.  Naturally, as Dropscone had made them.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having already put an undercoat of paint on another door upstairs.  I got the mower out and finished pressing the moss on the middle lawn and then I had a wander round.

There are a host of daffodils now…

daffs

…and new flowers as well.

bergenia and a mystery flower

A bergenia and a mystery flower. Mrs Tootlepedal can’t remember what it is called.

tulip and magnolia

Hints of things to come

Pulsatilla

A Pulsatilla, our entry into the hairiest plant of the year competition

The pond was alive in the sunshine.

tadpole

A tadpole wriggles away from the heaving mass

frog

A frog thinks of things.

After a late lunch and a quick look out of the window…

chaffinches

A forceful male berates an oncoming female chaffinch

…I did a bit more mowing and sieved some compost and then I got the fairly speedy bike out and went off to stretch my legs.

I went far enough to see how the alder catkins are doing….

alder catkins

…but I didn’t get too far before I remembered that a friend had told me this morning that the wild goats on Langholm Moor were feeding right beside the road and would make a good photo opportunity.  I went back home and picked up Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker and we went off on a goat hunt.

We saw the goats (Mike spotted them) but the phrase ‘beside the road’ did not spring to mind as they were grazing a good distance from us to say the least….

wild goats

…and they had managed to find the only spot on the moor where a photograph might be spoiled by electricity lines.

Even with the zoom at full blast, they were too far away but you could see their fine horns.

wild goats

We couldn’t wait about too long as I had to be home in time for my flute lesson.  We did stop for a moment on the way back because a small group of bird watchers were having a good time watching hen harriers and we wondered if they were in view.  There was only time for the briefest glimpse of a female before we had to move on.

After a glance at my favourite view….

Ewes valley

…and Mike’s cherry tree as we dropped him off…

cherry tree

…we got home in good time for another look round the garden….

aubretia

The first aubretia has appeared

….and for my flute pupil Luke, who came for his lesson.  We are going to concentrate on tone production and technique for a week or two so I will have to practise hard myself if I am to set a good example.

The flower of the day is a scilla.  It is a pity that to get the best view of them, you have to be about three inches tall.

Scilla

The flying bird of the day is a passing chaffinch.

chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a very knobbly tree spotted by my neighbour Liz when she was down near Oundle.

Knobbly tree

Yesterday, the weather forecast had said that it would be fine in the morning and wet in the afternoon today but in the event, the day was wet in the morning and fine in the afternoon.

This would have been very upsetting for my plans if I had made any but as I hadn’t, I kept very calm about the whole thing.  I had hoped to go for a cycle ride but old age and quite a lot of recent activity caught up with me today and I simply couldn’t persuade myself to get into my cycling gear, let alone get on a cycle.

I decided to make the best of things and have a complete day of rest.  I had coffee with my neighbour Liz, did the crossword, ran through the songs we are singing with our Langholm choir at a concert on Friday, pedalled gently up to the town to replenish my stock of coffee beans  and, when the weather permitted, took several leisurely strolls round the garden.

In spite of the rain, it was a genuinely warm day today and when the sun came out in the afternoon, it was just perfect for a little outdoor lazing about.

I took my light camera with me as I pottered about.  These first pictures are from the damp morning.

Fly on wet tulip

I caught this fly quite by accident

pulsatilla

A pulsatilla still looking interesting even though it is over

To save the readers some valuable time, I have out the rest of the pictures that I took through the day into matching pairs.

White: The first clematis round the back door and a strawberry full of water.

clematis and strawberry

Yellow: The first Welsh poppy and the last of the tulips to come out.

poppy and tulip

Closely related:  Azalea and Rhododendron

Azalea and rhododendron

Variegated:

variegated leaves

Colourful in their own way: Spirea and Japanese azalea

spirea and Japanese azalea

Curly: Ferns

ferns

Part and whole: Tulips

tulips

It was so nice in the afternoon that I had to tie my leg to the kitchen table to stop myself rushing out and mowing all the grass and sieving a little compost.  These tasks will have to wait for the next good day.  I did allow myself to sharpen the lawn mower and reset the blades and, as always, there was some dead heading to be done.

The rest is letting my thumb improve in a very satisfactory way.

With the bird feeders put away for a while, there was not much bird action to be seen but I did enjoy this siskin trying to pass itself off as a leaf on the plum tree.

siskin in plum tree

The day came to an end with a visit to the last practice of our Langholm choir before the first of two concerts on Friday. Alth0ugh there are those who think that a bad final practice means a good performance, I prefer to have a good practice followed by an even better performance and in general, tonight’s practice was pretty hopeful.

Only a blind  tone deaf optimist could have said that it was perfect but it was a lot better than it might have been and the audience should have an enjoyable experience.

I hope to get out and about a bit more tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture harks back to my siblings’ visit at the start of this month and shows Skelwith Force in the Lake District.  It was taken by my sister Mary.

Skelwith Force

Skelwith Force

We had another day of mixed sunshine and showers here with some impressive cloudscapes.  Plans were once again slightly frustrated but the day worked out well enough in the end.

I was due to fill the Moorland bird feeders for some friends who are on holiday and since the light was good when I went up, I was looking forward to spending some productive time in the bird hide there.

However, when I had almost finished filling the feeders, a minibus full of school children drew up and the project leader told me that it was  a school visit.  Plan A went into the bin.

It was still quite bright when I got home so I decided to convert Plan A into Plan B and go and visit the nuthatches but by the time that I had made a pot of coffee for Mrs Tootlepedal and myself, it had clouded over and started to snow.  Plan B hit the bin too.

Plan C involved crosswords, catching up with business and making soup.  It worked well.

I did find a moment to admire an a gymnastic siskin….

siskin

…and watch a siskin and a redpoll circling warily round each other.

siskin and redpoll

After lunch, the skies had cleared.  Although it was still pretty chilly for April (6.5°C), the wind was much calmer than yesterday so I put on many layers and took my slow bike out to give the solid tyre another test.

Needless to say, it started snowing lightly as soon as I left our front gate but rather than junking Plan D, I kept going and was rewarded by a small pool of sunshine which very politely kept pace with me as I pedalled along.  All around there were showers and looming clouds…

clouds at the Kerr

…but for nine of the fourteen miles of my ride, I managed to keep away from them.

I didn’t stop much because it seemed a pity to risk being caught up by the rain but I did like the sight of this young Belted Galloway who was as curious about me as I was about it.

belted galloway

The weather to one side of the road smiled upon a pleasant prospect…

View at Ryehills

…but on the other side, more black clouds loomed.

Clouds at Ryehills

My luck couldn’t hold out for ever and as I ground up to the highest point of my ride, I was overtaken by a hailstorm.

Fortunately, the hail was the softest and most gentle that I have ever met so I was spared getting painfully pinged and because it was hail rather than snow, I didn’t even get very wet. To make matters better, I soon cycled through it and came out on the other side.

Since the sun was out again, I stopped at my favourite little cascade on the Wauchope to show that although the weather has been very cold lately, we haven’t anything serious in the way of continuous rain for several weeks and the rivers are very low.

Wauchope cascade

This was a different view taken last December after two solid months of downpours.

wauchope cascade

The low water let me get a close shot of the deformed rocks beside the river…

wauchope rocks

…and a look down stream to a more peaceful stretch.

Wauchope below Bessie Bells

The birds had been very busy at the garden feeders and I had to fill them when I got home.

As well as a bird on every perch and more waiting on the pole and in the plum tree, there was a huge squad of scavengers on the ground too.

scavenging birds

I can count thirty birds here.  There were often more than fifty in the garden at once

The garden was very pleasant, sheltered from the wind and bathed in occasional sunshine.

Flowers competed for attention.

pulsatilla

A pulsatilla

Drumstick primulas

Drumstick primulas

Mrs Tootlepedal had painted our back stairs in the morning and was busy in the garden in the afternoon so she was quite ready for a cup of tea after I had had a shower.

Dr Tinker, whose tea detecting system was working perfectly, arrived just in time to join us.  He is going to look after Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse plants next week while we are taking a short break from Langholm life.

As we sipped, we looked out of the window and saw some quite heavy snow so I was pleased with the timing of my ride.  The ground is warm enough and the snow showers short enough that we haven’t had problems with snow settling.

The sun was soon out again and when I was upstairs, I took the opportunity to lean out of an upper window and get a different angle on the birds.

goldfinches and siskins

I suppose that I was having a bird’s eye view from up above.

goldfinches and siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out her onions and is protecting them against the inclement weather with a row of cloches.  I could see them out of my window too.

onion cloches

In the evening, we went to sing with our Langholm choir and  had a good time getting some polish on pieces which we are going to sing in two concerts next month.

With four choral engagements, two with the Langholm choir and two with the Carlisle choir, in the next two months, we have plenty of homework to do.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches that I looked down on.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

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Talking of wild flowers, today’s guest picture was taken by my daughter Annie in a man made wild flower area in her local park in the middle of London.

Brixton meadowWe got the cold and windy weather today, a day late after some overnight rain, but it was not as bad as it might have been and the garden was still looking well.  A pulsatilla held evidence of the overnight rain…

pulsatilla…but there was plenty of colour to be seen.

pansy and primulaA new, rather sombre rhododendron has come into flower and at the other end of the scale, the first philadelphus flower of the year made its appearance today.

philadelphus and rhodieThere is potential to be seen as well.

apple and roseIt looks as though we should get a bumper apple crop.

On the bird feeder front, it was nice to see two chaffinches in balletic mood as they have been very quiet lately.

chaffinchesThe main business of the day was an afternoon trip to Carlisle to sing in the end of season concert with our Carlisle Community Choir.  I am rather ambivalent about singing in concerts  as you have all the pleasure during the practices of getting tricky music right and all the danger in concerts of getting it wrong.

However,  things went pretty well and thanks to the cunning use of a local primary school choir as guest artists, the church where we sang was full and the audience gave every appearance of enjoying our singing.

The down side is that we have to wait until September before both our choirs get going again.  Mrs Tootlepadal will keep her hand in at the Church choir though.

By the time the concert had finished, the sun had come out and it was a beautiful day.  Interestingly, to me at least, in spite of the sunshine, the temperature on the car thermometer was exactly ten degrees C less than it was when we drove back from Carlisle on Friday after our cycle ride.

It was nice enough or a walk after tea so I strolled down Caroline Street (though I had to put a jacket on for comfort)….

Church…and round the Kilngreen and Castleholm.

Langholm Castle

Langholm Castle is not the best preserved old building in the country

A flash of red in a tree caught my eye…..

red flowered treeI don’t know what sort of tree this is. The flowers look a bit like a chestnut…

chestnut…but the leaves don’t.  Any suggestions?

I looked across the cricket pitch towards the clubhouse and the hill behind.

cricket clubA flock of chattering jackdaws lifted off from a riverside tree as I went past.

jackdawsI crossed the Jubilee Bridge and noticed a bright white flower among some red campion.

white flowerWe saw some yesterday too and Mrs Tootlepedal wondered if they were just a white version so of red campion.  Once again, I am open to help as I don’t think that they look quite the same.

Coming back to the house, I noticed two flowers which are more easily seen from the road than from in the garden at present.

Rosa Moyesii

Rosa Moyesii

honeysuckle

Honeysuckle

Our spell of warm weather seems to have come to an end so I shall look back on the past week with pleasure that I made the most of it both from a cycling point of view and in the garden and because it ended literally on a high note (a top G, the last note of our final piece this afternoon).

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow,

flying sparrow

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