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Today’s guest picture comes from my cycling reader Paul. He lives in Lancashire and he sent me this picture of a reservoir to show that we are not the only ones having a dry time just now.

I am starting today’s post with a picture from yesterday. I almost always only use pictures in a post which I have taken that day as this blog is a daily diary, but I had this one ready to put in yesterday’s post when the new block editor made me forget about it. The blackbird had made such a good effort to pose nicely for me that I thought that it would be a sin not to reward him.

Back to today.

It was another day of wall to wall sunshine but with a brisker breeze to keep things a little cooler.

Neither of us had slept well in the heat last night so we had a quiet start to the day. Then, instead of street coffee, we enjoyed Zoom colour bingo event curated by our granddaughter Matilda. Through the wonders of technology, it involved all four of her grandparents, two of her aunts, a cousin, and her own parents (and three of the four countries of the United Kingdom). The rules were simple enough for even me to grasp and the method ensured the games ended in good time so we had space to chat and catch up as well as play.

After Zooming, we went out into the garden, where Mrs Tootlepedal did useful thinks and I wandered around, a bit at a loss to find something to do. In lieu of anything more productive, I looked at flowers.

There are new arrivals, an orange hawkweed…

…the first of many Sweet Williams…

…a beautifully dark pansy…

…and the first bud on a rose.

I was passing the bird feeder and noticed that a greenfinch was ignoring me. I didn’t ignore it and got the benefit of photographing a bird on the feeder in good light and not through a window.

I was happy even if it it was not.

Our neighbour Kenny, who gardens the far bank of the dam, has produced a really lovely lily there…

We went back in to have lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal took the sensible view that it was a good afternoon to sit quietly indoors out of the heat. I was restless and split my time by being bored indoors and doing nothing useful outdoors. As usual, when left with nothing better to do, I pointed cameras at things. The bright light was a problem so I looked for shady corners with Welsh poppies…

….ranunculus…

…and musk.

And I found an ornamental onion.

At one stage, I went for a shady sit down on our new bench and was joined for some quality time by a blackbird on a nearby hedge.

I checked to see what had captured the bees’ fancy today. It was chive diving.

I went back in to get set up for my second Zoom meeting of the day and while the computer was warming up, I looked out of the back door at the dam to see if any birds were cooling off there. Starlings were making use of the facilities…

…but they flew off in a huff when I got too close.

The afternoon Zoom meeting was the weekly Carlisle Choir virtual rehearsal with our energetic leader Ellen. Once again she was well prepared with a really good grip on the technology. All the same, the current technology will still not let everyone sing at the same time so it was more of a chance to get together and keep the spirit of the choir going than a great singing experience. About 50 members signed in and I enjoyed it.

There was another gap in the day now, with nothing much to do so I made a batch of 30 ginger biscuits as the last lot of 30 biscuits has mysteriously disappeared.

Then I had to time to check to see if there were more birds swimming in the dam. There were none but a white clover by the back door caught my eye instead…

…and I had to look out of the front window to see some birds. The feeder was half full and the bottom layer had been taken over by three greenfinches…

…who weren’t going to let any other bird get a look in. This led to some wistful flying birds, hoping for a perch but not succeeding in dislodging the incumbents.

And then it was time for the third Zoom meeting of the day, the usual get together with my siblings. My brother was absent but my sisters were in good form. I didn’t stay for the whole meeting as I wanted to get out for a cycle ride in the comparative cool of the early evening and still be back in time for our evening meal.

it was 25°C but the sun was down in the sky a bit and a cooling breeze kept conditions ideal for the elderly cyclist. I headed north up the main road out of town, hoping that there would be little traffic on the road and that the wind would be helpful as I headed uphill.

Both hopes were fulfilled. There was hardly any traffic and the wind was not only helpful up the hill but by some fluke of meteorology, helpful to me on the way back down again. As a result, I was home in plenty of time for a delicious meal of liver and onions prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I took two pictures just to show that I had been out. The first was soon after I had set off, and shows the Ewes valley at its best…

…and the second was at the head of the valley as the shadows were closing in on the road to Mosspaul.

I was passed by two cars in the ten miles back home. Cycling heaven.

Looking at my cycling spreadsheet when I got home, I see that I have cycled 15 times this month and covered 450 miles, my best month this year by a good distance. As I have gone for a walk on the other 16 days, it has been an excellent month for exercise.

The flying bird of the day is a duck who was passing over the garden while I was wandering about.

Footnote: As an experiment because I am using the new block editor, I have put the pictures in at a larger size than usual. I don’t know if this will make any difference but if it does for good or bad, I would be grateful for any feedback.

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Today’s guest picture comes from a reader in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Spurred on by my biscuit making efforts, Lisa has produced her own Garibaldi biscuits which are very nicely presented.

It was a day of constant wind here today, often gusting at over 40mph. As a result, apart from going out for a very short street coffee morning, we had a quiet day indoors as there was definite danger of being blown over if you were not paying attention when you were in the garden.

To be truthful, I did spend a few moments in the garden after coffee seeing if I could get plants to stop waving about for long enough for me to get a picture. One or two obliged.

There were dancing feet to be seen on a Jacob’s Ladder….

…and a Veronica.

More flowers that survived the frost are showing which is a cheerful sight.

Old tulips are fading away gracefully while the Welsh poppies are doing their best to fill any gaps

A shy ranunculus has just come up. Its delicate colour is a challenge to my camera but the dull light this morning was helpful.

I couldn’t miss a second flower on the clematis at the front door. The front door variety may not have the huge number of flowers that the back door clematis has but each of its flowers packs a bit of a punch.

It didn’t take me long to get back inside out of the wind and I frittered away much of the rest of the morning reading newspapers, doing the crossword and looking at birds (and occasionally mentioning to Mrs Tootlepedal that there was a bit of a wind out there).

There were plenty of birds to watch. While the feeder was not very full, sparrows congregated on the bottom plate…

…and when I filled it, a siskin sensibly took the high road.

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

We did think about going for a walk after lunch but several punishing gusts of wind in quick succession, persuaded us that the chance of fun was strictly limited and we found more things to do indoors.

I put some accompaniments onto the computer so that I can play trios without breaking any isolating rules.

We have been cooking for ourselves since the lockdown began but following a suggestion from a friend, we applied to a local hotel for a hot meal to be delivered this evening, and bang on schedule delicious portions of fish and chips and vegetarian lasagna arrived from The Douglas, fully as tasty as they would have been if we were eating in their dining room.

However, this was a much more substantial amount of food than we have been used to eating, so afterwards I felt the need to ignore the elements and go for a walk to shake the meal down.

Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun had come out and it was by no means a hardship to do a quick three bridges.

The church was looking good without the trees in front of it…

In spite of an inch of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over recent days, there was still not much water in the river but there were plenty of oyster catchers and a wagtail to be seen.

The nesting mother, the anxious father, and another pair further upstream The wagtail was wagging its tail.

I saw a goosander but as it had its head continuously under water and was trawling at speed, it didn’t offer a photo opportunity.

The brisk wind made things a bit chilly and I didn’t hang about too long as I went round the new path on the Castleholm and crossed the Jubilee Bridge…

…but as always, there were things to see along the way, like a thrush in the Clinthead Garden

It was very tame and hopped about until I had got my picture.

…and some neat planting there….

….trees and flowers on the Castleholm and Scholars’ Field…

…and the the heavily tree lined banks of the Esk as I crossed the bridge.

I was pleased to have taken some exercise, especially as the wind is due to continue for a day or two, so cycling is not on the menu until Monday at the earliest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many sparrows about at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s trip to Sweden and shows the Stockholm’s Gröna Lund amusement park as seen from the water.  With my head for heights, there would be little amusement there for me.

stockholm funfair

We had another fine and sunny day today with light winds, just perfect for cycling.  The day had been provided by those amusing weather gods as they knew perfectly well that I had arranged to take my good bike into the bike shop for its annual service this morning.  I could hear them chuckling as I drove down the road to drop the bike off.

However, I had other things to do in the absence of cycling and having put the bike in for its service, I drove further south and enjoyed an informative and useful singing lesson from Mary, the now ex-musical director of our Langholm choir as she has retired from the post.  She is an excellent teacher and if I keep going, I may even become a singer.  I live in hope.

I got home about lunch time and would have gone to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal if we hadn’t remembered that it is shut on a Monday.  Instead we brought an egg roll from our corner shop and lunched modestly at home.

After lunch, I suggested that Mrs Tootlepedal might enjoy a ten mile cycle ride using the newly repaired Tarras road and was delighted when she agreed.  We set off for a gentle excursion with wild flowers in mind.

It is an undulating route with plenty of slow sections were there is time to scan the verges…

yellow wild flowers tarras road

The hawkweed was very prolific at one point and as it was on the longest of the hills, I was happy to stop and take a picture while Mrs Tootlepedal headed ever upwards.

yellow hawkweed

I caught up with her in time to catch her enjoying the smooth surface on the newly repaired road…

Ally on new road tarras

..and she rolled on down the hill and took a moment to admire the view from the bridge at the bottom.

tarras bridge

This was the view that she was admiring.

tarras cascade

As we went up out of the valley on the other side of the bridge, we were going slowly enough to note tightly wound thistle buds, cheerful daisies, baleful horsetail and a fine grass, possibly Yorkshire Fog.

dull wild flowers

And it was here that we saw the best treat of the day, a lone orchid.

first orchid

When we got to Claygate, we headed on down the hill….

going down to Byreburn

…and did a little gentle off road cycling along the track beside the Byre Burn.

fairy loup track june

Normally it is illegal for a man with a camera to pass the Fairy Loup waterfall, which is beside this track, without stopping to take a picture, but the leaves on the trees are so lush at the moment that I could hear the waterfall but I couldn’t see it at all today.

We got down to the Esk at Hollows and took the old A7 bike route home.  We had passed many wild geraniums on our way and I took this picture to represent them all.

wild gernanium

Before we set out, I had asked Mrs Tootlepedal to keep a special eye out for ragged robin as I thought it was about the right time to see this pretty plant, and she duly spotted a clump near Irvine House.

ragged robin

I was keeping my special eye out for yellow rattle and not far from the ragged robin, I was rewarded with a sighting.

yellow rattle

I looked it up when I got home and can tell you that Rhinanthus minor, the yellow rattle, little yellow rattle, hayrattle or cockscomb, is a flowering plant in the genus Rhinanthus in the family Orobanchaceae, native to Europe, northern North America, and Western Asia.  I thought that you might like to know that.  There is obviously a lot of it about.

yellow rattle (2)

Nearby, a clump of vetch was playing host to a large number of bees.

bees omn vetch

My final picture from the outing was this set of developing larch cones….

three larch cones

…taken just before we joined the main road for the last couple of miles home when we were too busy thinking about passing cars to worry about wild flowers.

Luckily from the point of view of taking pictures of flowers in the verges and not getting too hot while cycling, the sun had retired behind some handy clouds for most of our trip, but it was out and shining again when we got home.  As a result, after I had had a cup of tea, i went out into the garden and scarified the front lawn.

I was rather dashed to find that there were three full wheelbarrows of moss to be cleared when the scarifier had finished its work.  I had hoped that I was winning in the battle against the moss, but it is more like a stalemate at the moment.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we practised a simple arrangement of a Scott Joplin tune which I had acquired from the internet at a modest price.  It is a wonderful world where I can think that I might like to play a piece by Joplin, look on the internet, find a piece, buy it, print it out and be playing it within five minutes of having had the idea.

After Luke went, I had a walk round the garden in the evening sun and enjoyed Mrs Tootlepedal’s French rose…

rosarie de

…and a glowing Icelandic poppy (the dead header needs to work harder)….

icelandic poppy

…and the argyranthemums which Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.

argyranthemum in chimney pot

A new clematis has come out near the pond.

purple clematis

Then it was time for tea, a second helping of yesterday’s slow cooked beef stew.

Since it was still a lovely evening after tea, I improved the shining  hour by mowing the middle lawn.  I am definitely winning the battle against the moss there.

In all this activity, I didn’t have any time to spend watching the birds, so there is no flying bird of the day today.  A flower of the day appears in its place,  a case of going from the  sublime sparrow to the ranunculus.

pale ranunculus

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On a recent tour, he stopped at Tewkesbury and took a picture of the bridge there.

bridge

Yesterday’s heavy work on the lawn was an experiment in ‘kill or cure’ and when I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the balance had tipped firmly down on the ‘cure’ side of things.  For the first time for ages, my feet weren’t painfully sore.  I didn’t let my feet go to my head though and took things pretty gently through the day.

I did go out into the garden and look at the flowers.  I liked a vetch which has come up of its own accord.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to leave it where it is as it is popular with bees.

vetch

New white flowers have appeared: Mrs Tootlepedal describes the one on the left as an educated onion and the one on the right is the first of the philadelphus.

four flowers

The Dutchman’s breeks and the Welsh poppies are adding an international air of gaiety to the garden…

…and the light was just right to take a picture of the yellow ranunculus.

yellow ranunculus

I noticed that the plain fuchsia by the back gate is producing flowers but it doesn’t look very well so there may not be the usual waterfall of blossom this year.

old fuchsia

As my back was in such good order, I did some shifting and sifting of compost.  I started to turn Bin C into Bin D but the material had rotted down so well that I was able to sieve a lot of it and just put the remains in Bin D.   I have been trying to layer the compost in Bin A more carefully lately, green and woody in turn, so perhaps this is a reward down the line for good behaviour.

I went in for coffee and watched the birds.  Sparrows were the flavour of the day but redpolls are frequent visitors too.  The goldfinches have almost entirely found a better place to feed.

sparrows and redpoll

The old sunflower stalk continues to provide a useful perch…

sparrow on stalk

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is growing a new sunflower nearby for next year.

We had other visitors.  There were quite a few jackdaws on the peanuts during the day and Mrs Tootlepedal witnessed some angry scenes among them.  I saw this one daring anyone to come and have a go if they are tough enough.

jackdaw going nuts

There are starlings nesting in a neighbour’s tree and one came to the seed feeder today.

starling feeling seedy

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help in the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and I went for a cycle ride.  I had intended to try for some long, slow distance today but the forecast was very uncertain and there had been spots of rain on and off through the morning so I settled for some short, slow distance instead and went round my familiar 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

It wasn’t hard to notice that the hawthorn had come out while we were on holiday.

 

hawthord on hill

And there were wild flowers all the way round.

verhe wild flowers

I took a closer look at the bird’s foot trefoil, a flower that I like a lot, and discovered a tiny creature among the petals.

birdsfoot trefoil

The back roads were lined with cow parsley and on this section it had a hem of buttercups as well.

cow parsley and buttercups

There was a lot of wild geranium to be seen.

wild geranium

I stopped to get a picture of the hawthorns beside the Hollows Tower and found that the managers have erected two flag poles beside the tower.

hollws tower and hawthorn

I was pleased that I had decided on a short ride because there were some very threatening showers further down the road and it rained a bit when I got back.

Back in the garden I found that a Rozeraie de L’hay had managed to survive yesterday’s rain showers.

rose in garden

I was struck by this single aquilegia which had grown through one of the golden box balls.  It looked odd.

aquilegia on box ball

When I had walked round the garden, I went in for  a cup of tea and a shower and then settled down to practice some of the songs for our Carlisle choir concert.

In the evening, our recorder group met for a play and for a change the group assembled at Wauchope Cottage which was very convenient for me.  Because the sun had come out again by the time that they arrived, we had a walk round the garden before we started playing.  We played Handel, Bach, Mozart, Byrd, Purcell, Morley and Scheidt so we had good material to work with.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It was heading back towards the feeders but as it already had a mouthful of seed, I am not sure why it was bothering.

flying siskin

Footnote:  I was speaking to our daughter Annie on the phone today and she put in a  request for some more general pictures of the garden to put my flower pictures in context.  I am always anxious to please so I found a sunny moment late in the afternoon and took a random set of pictures of various borders.  In spite of the many colourful flower pictures which appear on the blog, the predominant colour in the garden is green.

 

garden bed 1garden bed 2garden bed 3garden bed 4garden bed 5garden bed 6garden bed 7garden bed 8garden bed 9garden bed 10

And of all the views, this one, taken from our new bench as the sun goes behind the walnut tree, is my favourite.

.garden bed 11

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who passed the Bridge Inn at Duffield while on a bike ride.  As he had already fuelled up elsewhere, he took the picture and went on his way without calling in to sample the wares.

bridge inn Duffield

I know that I ought to be resting my Achilles tendon but I am feeling really exercise deprived and I might easily have done something inadvisable this morning had not the weather come to my rescue by producing another cold and grey day, ideally suited to sitting in and getting stuff done in the house.

I did stroll round the garden after breakfast.

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought some depressed ranunculus plants in a pot at a garden centre.  She gave them some care, divided them up, planted them out, watered them in and now they are rewarding her with a splendid show.

ranunculus

A berberis in a shady corner caught my eye, with its flowers brightening up a gloomy corner.

berberis

A blackbird was quite happy to help with getting the moss out of the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

I opened the greenhouse and was much struck by this handsome Fuchsia inside.

fuchsia in green house

Mrs Tootlepedal bought it recently and put it outside in the warm spell.  Then it got badly hit by the frosty mornings so Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed off the damage and gave it some shelter and now it is looking very well.

Just outside the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is covered in flowers from top to toe.

rosemary bush

I noticed that the geums are coming along nicely….

geum forest

…and then went inside to get warm.

Later on in the morning, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the sparrowhawk resting in the walnut tree after an unsuccessful fly through the garden.  It stayed there long enough for me to get a camera…

sparrowhawk in walnut tree

…but when I went out to see if I could get a closer shot, it flew off in disgust.  It didn’t take the little birds long to come back to the feeders.

siskin eating peanuts

The quarrelling pigeons were back again today and it went beyond hard stares and descended into flapping and waving which led to both birds losing their focus.

flapping pigeons

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and noticed that if you were shopping in Langholm’s High Street in 1899, you could acquire ‘all the latest London novelties’ from Mr Hyslop, the draper, who had just come back from a visit there.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out for an errand on her bicycle in the late afternoon and as the sun was shining, I went out with her and then turned off to do a little three bridges cycle instead of a walk by myself.

The copper beeches at the park bridge are looking good. two copper beeches

I didn’t go into the park but continued down to the waterside, and was happy to catch a glimpse of a grey wagtail at the Sawmill Brig.  It was living up to its name and waggling about a lot so I couldn’t get a very good picture.

grey wagtail

The trees that have been felled along the Lodge Walks have taken some of the magic away from the green tunnel that used to greet walkers…

lodge walks

…and you can see how big the gaps are when you look at the trees from the other side.

rear of lodge walks

The sun was disappearing rapidly behind the clouds by this time and the colours were rather subdued so I headed home (pedalling very gently)…

castleholm with dog walker

…noting this burst of blossom on a tree beside the Jubilee Bridge.

white blossom beside esk

Once back home, I had a last walk round the garden, enjoying the cow parsley above and the sweet woodruff below in the back border.

cow parsley and sweet woodruffe

The yellow azalea is doing its best to come out to join the pink one and the first yellow potentilla flower of the year has appeared nearby.

azalea and potentilla

There had been a light shower of rain earlier, which was welcome, but it had not been hard enough to wet the soil thoroughly.  It did make the lily of the valley shed tears apparently…

lily of the valley weeping

…and of course it gave me an excuse to take a picture of a spirea with droplets, one of my favourite subjects.

spirea with droplets

In between times, I practised choir songs and prepared some music for Luke.  Our wonderful Carlisle choir conductor has gone done in my personal popularity stakes a bit as she is making us learn another song off by heart.   As it is one of those songs where you sing the same words to slightly different notes each time they reappear (and they reappear a lot), so this means a lot of hard practice is required.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty quorn concoction made a welcome return to the tea table in the evening, this time in the guise of a shepherd’s pie.

There are two flying birds for the price of one today with a siskin coming and a goldfinch going.

two just flying birds

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who is very proud of her pond’s first crop of tadpoles.  She sent me a video of them wriggling  but I thought it would be too exciting for the readers.

tadpolesAfter yesterday’s busy day, I took things quietly today.  I was helped by a very windy day which discouraged any thought of cycling and I managed a morning without doing anything more strenuous than drinking coffee with Sandy and Dropscone and putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

It was very gloomy and drizzly at breakfast time so I cheered myself up by snapping some pretty flowers which my daughter Annie had sent Mrs Tootlepedal for Mothering Sunday.  They have lasted very well.

mother's day flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the yellow flower is a fancy buttercup.

I did look out of the window from time to time.

blackbird and dove

A blackbird and a dove were lurking among the flowers.

We had quite a bit of rain overnight and this had encouraged a quite a few birds to visit the feeder.  Some were the usual suspects.

robinAmong the visitors once the sun came out was one goldfinch which defied the windy conditions and took the topmost perch in the plum tree.

goldfinchIt couldn’t hang on for long and soon sought a more stable base…

goldfinch…before popping onto the feeder….

goldfinch…and snarling at any other bird which came in range.

goldfinch and chaffinchI did get out as far as the pond….

frogsMrs Tootlepedal had driven off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  When she got there, she found that a broken down goods train had closed the line for an indefinite time so she decided reluctantly to come home again.  As she managed to fit in a useful visit to a retail outlet on her way, she was less disappointed than she might have been.

She is working hard with a home made poultice to draw the ingrained soot residues out of our sandstone fireplace lintel. After lunch,  I left her to this and went for a well sheltered walk round the Pheasant Hatchery and the Kilngreen.   This modest two mile sunny but windy walk took me nearly two hours and it wasn’t because I was stopping to take a lot of pictures on the way.

I had my cameras with me but nothing much caught my eye which I hadn’t taken before.  A recent post by the New Hampshire Gardener made me keep a look out for lichen on trees  as well as my usual walls.

tree lichenThere trees themselves were a treat to look at, both singly in the middle of a field…

pine…and in groups along my path.

treesI saw a quick movement by the fence that you can see beside the path and peering into a bush, I saw a thrush.

thrushWhen I got to the Kilngreen, I was hoping to nod to Mr Grumpy but he was elsewhere.  A pair of ducks flew off and disappeared into the blue before I could get a good shot of them flying….

flying ducks…but too my surprise, they circled round and swooped low across the car park before landing back in the river.  I just caught one of them.

duck in car parkI was strangely tired by the time that I got home and a plan to go up to the moor and watch owls died a silent death in the face of some concentrated inertia.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre with Sandy and was pleasantly surprised to find that our internet connection was working very well.  In fact it was working so well that Sandy and I put two weeks of the newspaper index into the database in double quick time.  It helped that they were fairly light weeks as far as items of news were concerned.

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

goldfinch

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