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Posts Tagged ‘recorder playing’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal who used her new phone to take this handsome group portrait of her brother, sister-in-law, niece and great niece whom she was visiting while on her jaunt to the south.  As she had visited her mother too, she had seen four generations in one day.

mike frankie and manny

Unlike yesterday, when coffee and bun on the bench in the sunshine was the way to go…

iced bun and coffee

…there was no respite from continuous rain all day today.

puddle

It was raining in the morning when I drove down into England for my singing lesson which was enjoyable and useful, and it was raining in the afternoon when Sandy and I drove up to Eskdalemuir to put up our camera club exhibition there.

the hub

It took longer than we expected to hang the 30 odd pictures but the result looked satisfactory and the Hub manager was very pleased with the show.  Seven members of the club are taking part.

It was still raining as we drove back, but things did begin to brighten up a bit until Sandy most unwisely remarked that it was looking better.  At this point it began to rain very heavily.

It was still raining when my flute pupil Luke came.  He showed clear evidence of having practised and played with some very nice tone today.

I had some more sausage stew for my tea and was not surprised to find that it was still raining when the recorder group assembled in the evening for our monthly playing session.  We had a hard working and enjoyable time, but as it was still raining when we had finished, they made tracks for home and I will be forced to eat all the biscuits which I had bought for our post-playing cup of tea.

All in all, in spite of the miserable weather, I had a pretty good day.  Photographically, it was a day for standing in the shelter of the front door to take a flower picture across the drive and luckily, the dahlias didn’t seem to mind the rain…

dahlias in bed

…and at least I got a little sun.

soggy sunflower

It is going to rain again tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows one of the glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly at Kew gardens.

(This is the second of his glass sculptures to appear in the blog as Mary Jo from Manitoba sent me another when she was on her London visit earlier in the  year.)

a glass sculpture by Dale Chiluly

As has frequently been the case lately, the weather here was a good deal better than the forecast and we had another warm and often sunny day today.  It might have been a day for a cycle ride but I had non cycling business in hand and went off to England to have another singing lesson from our ex Langholm Sings conductor, Mary.

She is endlessly patient and helpful as well as being very knowledgeable and I am trying my best to take on board the useful things she tells me, with variable success.  Still, practice makes perfect so I haven’t entirely given up hope yet.

I had time for a walk round the garden before lunch when I got home.

I noticed a bee making itself very much at home in a zinnia…

zinnia with bee

…and after seeing  a good variety of butterflies over the last few days, there were only peacocks today….peacock butterfky

…though there were a lot of them and a lot of whites too who were too flighty to pose for a picture.

Mrs Tootlepedal has put her Abyssinian gladioli out into the flower beds still in their pots as they will need to be taken in over winter, but they seem to be enjoying themselves all the same.

 

abyssinian gladiolus

I was very happy to see a little robin on the lawn, the first that I have seen in the garden for some time.

august robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her shopping bike.  This time she was actually going shopping, though she combined it with some business too.  While she was out, I mowed the front lawn and then attacked the greenhouse grass.  Although it is not cut to the same standard or by the same mower as the front lawn, it provides a cheerfully green welcome to the vegetable garden.

greenhouse grass

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and we had a quick stroll round before it was time for afternoon tea.

The Wren keeps producing flowers in a very satisfactory way…

rose Wren

…but the dahlias haven’t done so well this year yet as something seems to be nibbling at them.  One of the plants is producing flowers but they are hanging their heads.

hangdog dahlia

The Sweet Williams are over and Mrs Tootlepedal has replaced some of them with dianthus which she bought the other day.

new flowers

When the tea and biscuits had gone to a good home, I had to get ready for my flute pupil Luke who was coming to play after taking a short break.  As he came in, I noticed that the white clematis by the front door, which has long been over, had mysteriously produced a lone late flower.

last clematis front door

Luke and I knocked a few cobwebs off our flute playing and when he left, I had a last tour of the garden before our evening meal.

The rowan berries are getting more colourful every day…

rown berries ripening

…and underneath the rowan tree, the snow berries are reminding us of what is to come.

snow berries

A reminder of things past is provided by the lupin next to the greenhouse which has got some side shoots still producing flowers.

late lupin

And the evenings now provide the delightful scent of nicotianas.

nicotiana

The pond has a leak which Mrs Tootlepedal can’t find and so we had to top it up again today but the water lilies don’t seem to mind their up and down existence.

water lily

My recorder playing friends arrived in the evening and the four of us enjoyed a varied evening of music from J S Bach to Scott Joplin.

A brisk wind had been blowing all day so I was quite pleased that I had had good musical excuses not to battle into the breeze on my bike.

The non flying bird of the day is that robin which appeared again in the early evening.  I hope that it will be a permanent garden resident from now on.

august robin 2

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He has been on a tour of the north east with my sisters Mary and Susan.  They returned home by train today and he drove back to Derby by way of Fountains Abbey.

Fountains Abbey

Mrs Tootlepedal and I also came home today, leaving Evelyn Rose with some sadness but the heat and hurly-burly of London with less regret.  Our train was punctual to the minute and as a result we were able to catch the bus home without delay.

Our first thought was for a reviving cup of tea…

…and our second was to look round the garden.

lawn on return

It had survived without us very well, though as you can see, the grass on the lawn was far too long.

The salvias are glorious and Mrs Tootlepedal is thinking of planting some more for next year (but perhaps not quite so many).

slavia

A lot of poppies needed dead heading but there were a few still in flower…

brilliant poppy

…and the hosta was in ebullient form.

hosta in full flower

There had been no heavy wind or rain to knock the delphinums over…

delphinum ligularia

…and in general, there are still plenty of things to catch the eye.

four lovely flowers

There were not a lot of new flowers about but the first dahlia of the year has appeared.

first dahlia 2019

The roses are enjoying themselves this year and Special Grandma was appropriately well lit up in its shadowy place in its bed.

special grandma lit up

At the other end of the lawn both The Wren…

Rose Wren

…and Lilian Austin were showing different stages of development.

Lilian Austin pair

At the other end of the garden, the Common Riding rose has burst into flower while we were away.

commin riding rose

The call of the lawns was too strong to be resisted so I knuckled down and got the mower out.  The recent feed that I gave the front lawn has been very effective and the grass had grown strongly in the time that we were in London.  I took a wheelbarrow full of grass off it on the first cut and then ran over it again in a different direction to get a smooth finish.

mown front lawn and barrow

Because of the lush growth, it was  hard job job on a warm afternoon, so I had one or two shady and fragrant rests on a handy bench at the end of the lawn while I toiled away.  The shade was provided by the walnut tree and the fragrance was supplied by a combination of privet and honeysuckle.

privet and hioneysuckle

Then I mowed the middle lawn.

mown middle lawn

Although it may look like a bit of a monocultural desert, the middle lawn has a good many weeds in it, including some self heal which  grows so low to the ground that the flowers duck under my mower blades and can still be clearly seen even after this trim..

Elsewhere in the garden, we have clover in the grass.

clover lawn

A good day was rounded off by the arrival of three recorder players after tea and we sat and played recorder quartets both ancient and modern with great enjoyment as the sun set  in the clear sky outside.

As they left, after a cup of tea and a biscuit, we could hear the swifts calling high above the house.

No flying bird of the day today, so one of the many sweet peas that needed picking stands in instead.

sweet pea

We would like to thank everyone who has sent us good wishes on the arrival of our new granddaughter.  We receive them with gratitude and they have been forwarded on to Annie and Joe.

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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 sister Mary who is back from Wales.  She found herself looking across the Thames and reflecting on how enormous the new buildings in London are when compared to the Tower of London which can be seen cowering on the extreme right of her shot.

London skyline

We had another dry day today and it is now so long since it has rained that Mrs Tootlepedal was heard to say (very quietly), “We need a bit of rain.”  She is right as things are starting to dry out too much.  But at least it was slightly warmer today with less bite in the wind and things are forecast to get warmer still over the next few days.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning and afternoon with things to do, including getting her hair cut  and then helping out at the Buccleuch Centre Coffee Shop, followed by doing the front of house duties at a screening of a film about the current big Rembrandt exhibition.

I, in contrast, had a very quiet day involving a crossword, coffee, biscuits and bird watching and two very short spells on the bike to nowhere in the garage.

The birds at first were very excitable…

all action goldfinches

…but getting out a different lens slowed them down a lot until they….

still life goldfinch and chaffinch and siskin

…almost looked as though they were frozen in time.

still life goldfinch and chaffinch

We had another siskin at the feeder today.

sisikin april

In an effort to improve my brain power I had a sardine sandwich for lunch on the grounds that P G Wodehouse always claimed that Jeeves, who was a clever fellow, ate a lot of fish.

Then I went for a gentle walk.

I decided that it was time to go up a hill so I walked up the Kirk Wynd from the middle of the town and took note of some colour on the way.

There was a fancy garden escape just at the entrance to the golf course…

colour on Kirk Wynd april

And a native berry a bit further up but how such a fancy daffodil found its way all by itself even further up the track and far away from a garden is a mystery.

The noise of creaking and groaning as I got to the top of the golf course alerted me to the fact that elderly golfers were playing nearby.

Jim and George were basking in the glory of having won prizes in the winter competition which has just ended.

two old golfers

I went through the gate at the top of the track and walked on to the open hill.  It was rather misty so there was not much in the way of views but there was sea of gorse…

sea of gorse whita well

…and trees…

two trees above hillhead

…. silhouetted against the misty hills.

conifer above hillhead

These three trees are remarkable in that a closer look will show…

three trees whitshiels track

…just how slimly attached to reality they are.

wholly holey tree

I had crossed the Newcastleton road and I made my way back down into the valley by way of these sheep pens.

 

bw sheep pens

I walked back to the Sawmill Brig where I saw a dipper again.  It flitted away before  could catch it so I walked on round the bottom of the Castleholm on the new path.

There was plenty of variety in the conifers beside the track.

conifers blooming

And plenty of signs of life on all sides.

spring growth

I enjoyed the sight of this tree plainly stretching its back beside the river.

stretching tree

I know just how it feels.

I waited for a while on the Jubilee Bridge to see if a nuthatch might be using the nest site in the big tree there.  In the end, I was disappointed to see a blue tit popping in instead.

blue tit at nest

I met Mike Tinker and Mrs Tootlepedal when I was nearly home.  They were admiring Mike’s handsome new fence.  I walked home with Mrs Tootlepedal and we enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea and a biscuit or two.

Because I was going out in the evening, I put my pictures onto the computer straight away and then made a shepherd’s pie for tea.

While it was cooking, I walked round the garden and took a final picture.

yellow and orange tulip

After tea, I picked up my friend Susan and we went off to play recorders with our group in Carlisle.  I had missed last month’s meeting because of a clash of dates so it seemed a long time since I had last played.  As a result, the music was even more welcome than usual and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time puffing away on the bass recorder while Jenny, Sue and Susan played the more elaborate upper parts.  We had a good selection of music and some excellent biscuits to go with the after-playing cup of tea so the evening could hardly have been better.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch in full aerodynamic mode, heading into the wind.

determined flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Canada.  Lucie, who sent it to me, is scratching her head as to why she can’t find people anxious to share a cup of tea with her on her patio when there are such comfortable looking cushions to sit on.

Lucie's snowy pergola

At least Lucie has had some sunshine.  We got another grey day today but not as windy as it has been for which we were grateful.

The sunshine in my life was metaphorical in the form of Sandy who came round for a coffee in a very cheerful mood.  His foot is a lot less sore and he has been sleeping exceptionally well so no wonder he was smiling.

As well as Sandy, we had plenty of other visitors today and I had to fill the feeder twice, a rare occurrence this year.

The siskins have wasted no time in making their presence felt as can be seen by this picture of a diminutive siskin blowing an incoming chaffinch away.

chaffinch blown away by siskin

A chaffinch did manage an unimpeded landing a little while later.

elgant chaffinch

Meanwhile the siskins took to creeping round the feeder to surprise goldfinches.

siskin sneaking past feeder

After Sandy left, I decided to go for a cycle ride as the forecast offered a few dry hours before the rain came.   It was still pretty breezy with gusts of up to 20 mph so I took things easy as I went round my customary Canonbie 20 mile circuit and kept my eyes open for things to photograph…

…like trees shaped by the prevailing wind…

bare tree chapelhill

…and more trees with some branched pruned by the passing winds…

bare tree Canonbie road

…and even more trees, this time standing in a relatively sheltered spot.

bare tree neat Canonbie

When I came to bridges, I stopped.

This is the Canonbie Bridge, low and wide…

Canonbie bridge

…and this is the Hollows bridge a mile or two up the road, high and handsome.

hollows bridge arch

Landowners grossly neglect their responsibility to provide uninterrupted views of river bridges for passing photographers as you can see from the Hollows bridge and this picture of another good looking bridge, a mile or two up the road which is almost submerged in trees and bushes, whereas….

old A7 bridge

…this ugly road bridge a few yards away is as clean as a whistle (and they have been cutting down more trees near it).road bridge

There is no justice….

…and bridges are not the only cause of photographic dissatisfaction.  Road furniture is a pest too as you can see from the junction at Canonbie where a lovely bank of snowdrops has been overwhelmed by clutter.

snowdrops and road signs

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy helping out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop so I took a look around and noticed that she has got the Christmas tree out of the greenhouse and is getting it acclimatised for life in the garden.

christmas tree in garden

In the ‘signs of spring category’, new life on a rose was encouraging.

rose leaf

I went inside where I had a late lunch, battled with the crossword and did a little bird watching.

The stalk of the sunflower makes a convenient stopping place for birds waiting for a vacant perch on the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

Some birds didn’t wait but made straight for the feeder…

horizontal chaffinch

…while others did their best to remove those who had got there first.

chaffinchs attack

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from a very busy session at the coffee shop and had a restorative cup of tea.  It must have been strong tea because as soon as she had downed it, we went off for a short expedition by car to the White Yett and then by foot up the track to the Monument.

Even on a dull day, the Ewes Valley is worth a look…

ewes valley

…and on any day at all, the lichens on the boulders beside the track and what I think is algae on the monument itself are very eye catching.

lichen and algae

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought her binoculars with her and took a moment at the summit to scan the skies for interesting birds…

Mrs T bird watching on whita

…in vain.

I looked down on the town, eight hundred feet below…

Langholm from Whita

…and then we went back down the track to the car before we got caught in the rain which was threatening to arrive.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of a performance of Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet company while my friend Susan arrived to take me to Carlisle where we had an excellent evening of tootling.  The ballet was very good too, Mrs tootlepedal reported.

It was raining lightly as Susan and I drove down to Carlisle and it was very wet as we drove home so I was lucky to get my cycle and walk in before the rain arrived.  Sometimes the weather goods relent and give a man a break.  However, it does say that it is going to rain all day tomorrow so it was just a small break.

Another horizontal chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tony.  He was impressed by the power of some ivy which he found eating a castle turret.

ivy covered turret

I had a day neatly divided into three parts with a wide variety of weather to experience.

My day started when I crossed the suspension bridge in grey, slightly misty conditions.

suspension bridge

I had a bit of business to do in the town but it didn’t take long and I was soon on my way for a three  bridges walk.

When I got to the Kilngreen, the gulls were have a bath…

gulls in water

…and the rooks were looking for food in the grass.

rook kilngreen

At 4°C it was cool but there was little wind so it was a good day for a walk.

After seeing some very interesting moss on my walk yesterday, I had another look at moss on a wall today but found nothing unusual.

moss ewesbank

I did find an interesting lichen though.

lichen lodge walks

It was my intention to walk round the pheasant hatchery and I made good progress along the road beside the field, noticing this device for tightening fence wire…

fence gadget

…and wondering whether a black and white setting would give a truer picture of the day than colour as my camera always tries its best to make the colour look as colourful as possible.

bandw phesant hatchery road

I had just got to the top of the pheasant hatchery and was considering this old tree surrounded by potential youngsters in tubes…

old tree and new trees

…when a cacophony of whistles and banging made me aware of the presence of a group of people who had arrived to reverse the production of pheasants by shooting them.

This is not the sort of shooting that I am comfortable with so I took myself and my camera back the way that I had come, crossed the Duchess Bridge out of range of the guns and waited until I had got home before doing some of my own shooting of birds in the garden.

plum chaffinch crop

A stout sparrow took the chair…

sparrow taking the chair

…while stupid chaffinches wasted time and effort arguing when there were free perches available for all.

quarrelling chaffinches

I made some lentil soup for lunch and and ate it.  After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I went for a bicycle ride.

The temperature was still only 5°C but the sun had come out and the day was transformed from dull grey to full colour as this view over the Bloch shows.

sunny view from bloch

Sadly, it only took about another two miles for the weather to revert to grey as the sun slipped behind a bank of cloud and mist rose up from the valley.

misty clouds

I was going round my Canonbie circuit and coming up the Esk through the village, I began to wonder if the mist would get so thick that cycling might be dangerous.  However,  as I left the village and began the gentle climb up to Langholm, the mist thinned out and I could see Hollows Tower clearly, although the trees behind were still rather vague.

hollows tower

Looking up the road, the low mist was still lying but there was plenty of blue sky up above…

misty hollows road

…and by the time that I got back to Langholm, I was in full sunshine again.  I pedalled on through the town and up the A7, hoping to get a sunny view up the Ewes valley but that bank of cloud got in the way again and only the hills at the top of the valley were clear with mist rising from the fields again.

misty ewes valley from a7

I turned and cycled home in the gathering gloom….

misty warbla

…and got there not a moment too soon as within half and hour, the mist was so thick that I couldn’t see past the end of our road.

I made myself a sausage, onion and leek stew for my tea and then my friend Susan kindly appeared to give me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle.  I was worried that thick mist might make the journey uncomfortable but it had thinned out and we drove down without too much difficulty.

We enjoyed a good tootle (and excellent biscuits) with the group and found that the mist had cleared away before our return to Langholm, where I found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her trip to Edinburgh.

In between all this, I had a go at the ‘blowing down a straw into water’ recommended by my speech therapist.  It was noisy and splashy and fun so it won’t be hard to remember to do it twice daily for the next seven weeks.  After that, I hope to be able to sing like a bird…

…though I probably still won’t qualify as the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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