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Posts Tagged ‘rhododendron’

Today’s guest picture comes from Bill, a blog reader, who was pleased that we enjoyed his creative poppy plantation on our recent walk. Nature got a helping hand! He has sent me this picture of a ceanothus which rivals the cotoneaster as a bee magnet.

Our spell of dry, warm and sunny weather continued today, and it was, if anything, warmer than it was yesterday. On the hand, there was a stronger cooling breeze available so we were all pretty happy.

Our neighbour Margaret, the senior citizen in our socially distanced street coffee morning set, was the beneficiary of the slight loosening of the lockdown when her son and daughter-in-law visited her for coffee today, bringing their own seats with them. Mrs Tootlepedal and our other morning coffee neighbour Liz joined them but I, thinking that five was a crowd, went off to have coffee with Sandy instead.

He had acquired a new cafetiere so we sipped good coffee together and watched a pair of very industrious blue tits bringing food for the family to the nest box on his shed.

Judging from how busy the parents were, there must be quite a few nestlings in the box.

The skies have got busy too lately, and we watched a plane leaving quite a trail as it passed overhead.

Sandy has a handy flight tracking app on his phone and he was able tell me that this was an Airbus jet going from Aberdeen to London.

When I got home, the street coffee morning was just breaking up, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I went into the garden.

There was aerial activity there too, but this time it was two young starlings pestering a fed up parent for food.

A check on a rose that appeared in yesterday’s post showed me that the pink tinge was in fact the proper colour for this rose…

…and it was the early white flowers that were non standard.

Mrs Tootlepedal has discovered a single plum on the plum tree that was not killed by the frost, but we are keeping its location secret for security purposes. She is very pleased to see new shoots on the plum tree after the quite severe pruning we gave it.

I mowed the middle lawn and the weather has been so kind that I was able to run the mower over the grass without using the collecting box. This is good for two reasons, the mowing is quicker and easier and the grass cuttings act as a mulch to improve the health of the lawn.

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, again without the box on, and then we had a sit down on the new bench in the shade.

There was more starling action as a youngster perched hopefully on the top of the holly tree looking this way and that for someone to come and feed it. There were adults about but they didn’t seem interested in helping this particular youngster.

I filled the pond and while it was filling, I checked on the bees on the Limnanthes. They were diving in.

The tadpoles were very happy with the new water level.

The temperature was up to 25°C (77°F) by this time but the breeze was frisky enough to suggest that a walk might be good thing. Mrs Tootlepedal however felt that it was an afternoon for staying in, so I went for a walk round the Pheasant Hatchery by myself.

As I left the house, I noticed that more of the big red poppies had appeared along the dam.

There was a tremendous disturbance when I got to the suspension bridge. It turned out to be oyster catchers objecting to people coming to close to their nest. Further up stream, another oyster catcher was much calmer.

There were more people about than there have been lately, which not surprising considering that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, but it meant that I couldn’t hang about waiting to see wagtails on the Kilngreen and I crossed the Sawmill Brig and headed up the Lodge Walks towards the pheasant hatchery without delay.

The felling of trees along the Lodge Walks in recent years mean that it is no longer quite such an attractive scene for photographers but the trees on the other side of the Castleholm are always a treat at this time of year…

…so I took them instead.

Once I had got round the pheasant hatchery, the walk back along the bank of the Esk was delightful…

…with small pleasures on one side…

…and large ones on the other.

There is a good still pool in the river beneath the Duchess Bridge and I thought that I ought to be able to get a nice reflective shot but the banks are steep and tree lined so I could see half the bridge and half a reflection…

…or more of the bridge and no reflection…

..or more of the reflection and none of the bridge.

It was very frustrating. I needed a drone camera.

The picture above is a bit confusing but I am looking down past a tree straight at the river. You can see the tree and the stones on this side of the river at the bottom of the frame but all the rest is reflections in the water.

In the picture below, you can see the stones on the far bank and trees on the near bank. In between is the river.

It was good to be out on such a day.

I got back in time for a cheerful Zoom meeting with my siblings and after our evening meal (slow cooked stew with spinach from the garden and bubble and squeak on the side), I got a special treat. Mrs Tootlepedal invited me to go with her to collect some horse muck from a stable at the Stubholm.

The temperature was perfect by this point in the day, and while Mrs Tootlepedal collected a couple of buckets of the good stuff, I counted trees.

As a bonus, I was allowed to carry one of the buckets of manure back home. The perfect end to the day.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow heading past the feeder pole with sunflowers seeds in mind.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony in sunny East Wemyss. He passed this delightful garden maintained by OAPs for the benefit of passers by.

We had another lovely day here with the only worry that it might get a bit too hot for us pallid northerners. One sign of the easing of the lockdown was the sight of several aircraft con trails across our otherwise blue skies. Like the increase in traffic, this is an unwelcome side of the return to ‘normality’.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and the crossword had been disposed of, and although there is not much startlingly new to be seen, it is always a pleasure to wander about among the flowers. And a white butterfly shared my enjoyment.

The blue lupins are going from strength to strength each day.

In the absence of the gaudy colour of the frost damaged azaleas, we are appreciating the more subdued corners in the garden.

I went back inside and noticed a goldfinch and a sparrow having a chat on the feeder…

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I started a WhatsApp chat of our own with our son Alistair and our granddaughter Matilda in Edinburgh. Their south facing house is very hot at the moment but they found a cool spot where Matilda could read an amusing story about ‘Mr and Mrs Brown who are upside down’ to us. We also used another app that lets us play games at a distance and we passed a most enjoyable time with them. Alistair revealed that he had used technology to give an online Power Point presentation to 50 of his work colleagues. We were impressed.

After our chat, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then made lentil and bacon soup for our lunch. While it was cooking, I went out for another look round the garden.

Another rhododendron has started to come out in a shady spot in the back border…

…and a pink tinged rose caught my eye in a bush of otherwise white roses.

After lunch, I decided to brave the heat and go for a cycle ride. The temperature had hit 20°C which might have been a bit hot for a walk but cycling brings its own breeze with it. In the event, conditions were kind enough for me to enjoy a 30 mile ride. This was apart from the first five miles, where bad road surfacing had left the tar melting in little bubbles making the road very sticky and hard work. From then on, things improved.

The countryside is looking very green…

…and a calf had found some long grass to rest in.

I didn’t stop a lot as it seemed much warmer as soon as I lost the breeze of my own making. But I did want to record that the damage to beech hedges from the fateful late frost extends far beyond our Langholm.

There were brown patches on almost all the hedges that I passed. But plenty of buttercups in the verges made up for some loss of leaves in the hedges.

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that it would be wise for me to take things slowly in the heat and I had no difficulty in following her advice. My legs were content just to fill up the gap between my shorts and the pedals rather than to give me much help in the pushing department. Still, they have done a fair bit of work over the past few days so I can’t complain.

I got back in good time to join in the daily Zoom chat with my brother and sisters and then I had another chance to watch greenfinches on the feeder…

…and take another walk round the garden while the vegetables were cooking to go with the slow cooked stew.

I like the flowers in the late afternoon/early evening sun. It seems to sharpen them up.

…and bring out the colours better than when the full sun of the day is on them.

Especially on my current favourite lupin.

After our evening meal, we had a special treat, the better side of the easing of the lockdown, when Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit for the first time for many weeks.

As they are not allowed to come into our house yet, there was no music playing, but there was beer and conversation (socially distanced) on the lawn. As it was a beautiful evening, with virtually no breeze, and as it has been too dry for the midges to breed, sitting out in the garden was very acceptable and we enjoyed this slight move back to life as it used to be.

Alison thought that the clematis over the garage was looking well.

The good weather is set to continue but with a bit more breeze and the temperature down a degree or two, it might be a good day for a walk tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from cyclist and Lake District lover Paul. He sent me this picture to show that the sun doesn’t always shine on Buttermere.

The sun certainly shone here in Langholm today, and once again watering was needed in the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted strange goings on on one of the paths off the middle lawn. Liverworts were up to something.

A bit of research told me that these umbrellas are female flowers of the liverwort. They are very tiny and credit goes to Mrs Tootlepedal for spotting them.

I just had time to check that the decking oil on the new bench had dried out over night…

…before it was time to join the street coffee morning. We had a busy time as we were joined by various passers by (at a safe distance) as we sipped and chatted.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went in to do some business on the computer and I had a traditional garden wander.

The usual suspects were enjoying the sunshine….

…and a variegated hosta caught my eye.

The state of the rhododendrons depends on whether they were flowering before the frost came. The pink one has one flower in action for every two or three killed by the frost…

…while the later deep red one, is pretty well untouched.

The less said about the poor azaleas, plums and apples the better. And the walnut tree suffered badly with all the early leaves blackened. We are keeping our fingers crossed that enough late leaves arrive to keep it healthy. (Late news: Mrs Tootlepedal came in this evening saying that she might have seen one surviving plum.)

I was so tired by my wandering in the hot sun, that I sat on the newly oiled bench and admired the view of our shady front door for a while.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted sunflowers on each side of the path. I look forward to photographing them in due course.

I went out to look at the poorly fuchsia against the back wall of the house but my eye was irresistibly drawn to those shocking poppies again.

Our neighbour Charlotte, who was nearby while tending the flowers with which she decorates a bicycle attached to our new bridge, suggested a that a shot of the centre of the flower would be good thing. I am always anxious to please.

After lunch, bacon, tomato and lettuce rolls again, we dealt with the fading fuchsia on the back wall, and nine tenths or more of the bush got the chop, leaving a few promising green shoots to carry on.

In spite of the hot sunshine, Mrs Tootlepedal was happy to go for a walk and we thought that a stroll up the road to the moor might be a good way to spend the afternoon. The thermometer by the house said that it was 66°F in the shade so we dressed appropriately, donned a hat and cap respectively, put a small bottle of water in my bag and set out hoping that we hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew.

We were happy to spot an oyster catcher with its child on a rock in the river…

…surrounded by oddly green water. The river is very low still.

We walked along the Lamb Hill until we came to the Newcastleton road and then headed uphill at a very steady rate, cheered by a gentle cooling breeze as we got higher up the hill.

We passed a group of men erecting large scaffolding structures at each side of the road where the power lines cross it. By the time that we passed them again on our way back down, they had finished the structures and pulled a safety net across the road.

I hope that I am in the right place at the right time when they come to renew the actual power lines themselves.

We took advantage of two handily placed benches beside the road to have sensible rests as we climbed the hill. I liked this view of sinuous walls from the first one.

Although it was a sunny day, it was also a bit hazy and the light wasn’t at all good for taking landscape pictures, being very flat indeed, so although there were good views from the second bench, I didn’t take pictures of my favourite subject, the Ewes Valley.

When we got to the White Yett, we went on a few yards over the summit so that we could look down into the Little Tarras Valley in the hope of seeing interesting birds.

Our hopes were dashed and all we saw was bog cotton waving in the gentle breeze.

At my suggestion, we followed one of the Langholm Walks routes for a few hundred yards up the line of a wall to the north of the road…

…making for a minor summit in the hope of good views along the ridge. We got an interesting and unusual view of the track from the White Yett up to the monument when we looked back…

…but the minor summit proved to be very minor and the only view we got was of the next minor summit just along the ridge.

Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment on a convenient tussock with her binoculars in hand in the hope of seeing interesting birds….

…while I looked in the other direction to see if there was a landscape to be seen in the haze.

There wasn’t a landscape but there was an interesting bird, probably a short eared owl, hunting over the rough ground. Sadly the light was too poor to let my camera get a good focus on the bird against a dull background, however hard I tried…

…but we got a fine flying display for a while before the bird disappeared over the edge of the hill and we started for home.

I did see a more static bird on the way down but it was hiding behind some long grass.

The light breeze kept blowing and the haze thickened as we went back down the hill with the result that it wasn’t nearly as hot as we had feared. All the same, a five mile walk with a bit of climbing on a warm day is still quite hard work so we were more than ready for a cup of tea when we got home.

The most surprising and beautiful thing that we encountered on the walk was this bank of wild flowers beside the path from the Lamb Hill down to the Drove Road.

The yellow and orange colours were provided by Welsh Poppies. The orange ones were very striking…

…and Mrs Tootlepedal pocketed a few seed heads as we went past.

The day seemed to have been too hot for the garden birds and the level of seed in the feeder had hardly gone down at all by the time that we got home but a rook did its best to lower the level later in the evening.

According to the forecast, we are going to have a week more of warm, dry and sunny weather so I watered the front lawn while I was preparing the evening meal. It looks as though this will be a regular task, very unusual for May.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Footnote: While I have been writing this post, the lighting wizards have been lighting up the monument on the top of Whita Hill again. This is their version of clapping for the NHS. They are having fun.

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother’s walks in his local area. The farmer has had to work round and old water tower to get his field planted.

There was a lot of noise in the garden this morning although as far as the weather went it was sunny and peaceful day. These tiny flowers were responsible for the racket.

They are on a cotoneaster and they were proving a big draw for bees. I had to crop the picture above just to take a picture of the bush with no bees in it.

I tried to get some decent bee pictures but I had the wrong camera in my hand so I went off to look for flowers instead. The latest rhododendron to flower has the reddest flowers in the garden I think (but see later in the post for a competitor).

There are also red astrantias coming out and doubtless they will soon be buzzing too as the insects like them a lot.

I stopped chasing flowers and went off to have socially distanced coffee with Sandy in his garden. The coffee turned out to be tea as there had been a cafetiere catastrophe earlier in the morning but it went down well as we chatted and watched blue tits busily flying in and out of the nest box on his shed.

Sandy’s foot is slowly improving after his operation and he has managed to go out for some short walks. He still has some way to go before he can go some way but he is feeling much more positive about life.

When I got back home, the street coffee morning was still going so I stopped and chatted there until I was distracted by the poppies beside the dam along the back wall of the house.

They are quite distracting.

There are other less conspicuous flowers along the wall too.

As you can see from the centre picture in the panel above, the fuschia is not in good condition at all but when I looked closely at it, I could see that there were some healthy flowers tucked away in it. A case for some severe pruning perhaps.

I went back into the garden, got out a different camera, and had another go at the cotoneaster. The resulting picture gives an idea of just how small the flowers on the shrub are.

There were so many bees that they were shoving each other out of the way.

Bumble bees were interested too.

I had a wander round, admiring old friends enjoying the sunshine.

New flowers are always arriving and today’s newcomer is an ox-eye daisy, the first of many all over the garden. It couldn’t attract a bee but it did have a small fly in its eye.

Other flowers were attracting other bees.

When I look back on my day today, thanks to a combination of old age and the warm sunshine the chronology has become rather blurred. I know that I mowed the middle lawn, made bacon butties for lunch, mowed the front lawn, edged both lawns and put decking oil on our new bench but I am by no means certain in what order these exciting events took place.

I also looked at our other cotoneaster and found that wasps were into cotoneaster flowers as well as bees.

The clock on my camera tells me that I took the wasp picture before lunch and this one of a young blackbird on our old bench at that time too.

It tells me that it was in the afternoon when I took this picture of the other contender for red flower of the day.

I do know that after all the activity, I sat on a seat to have a rest and was much entertained by a pair of pigeons on our power line. I don’t know much about pigeons but it seemed to me that this display of aerial acrobatics had more to with making love than making war.

It was the way that one of them sidled along the wire towards the other in a hopeful manner before the bursts of flying started that made me think that.

It was such a lovely day that in the end, I couldn’t think of a good excuse not to go for a short cycle ride in spite of feeling a little tired. It was a good decision with light winds and the temperature at 66°F.

The verges were full of cow parsley…

…sometimes mixed with buttercups.

After a couple of energetic days, my legs were not in full working mode today and showed a regrettable Achilles tendency to sulk in their tents instead of joining in the battle. The rest of me was in very good order though so I just pottered slowly along, enjoying the sun on my back and lots of beautiful green trees.

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that May 20th is peak spring so this is just about as good as it gets.

When I got home, I had missed my evening Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters but there is always another day for that.

I put the sprinkler on the middle lawn while we were eating our tea, and then had my first look of the day at the birds on the feeder in the evening light.

They seemed pleased to have a bit of peace after a busy day in the garden.

My twenty mile cycle ride took me over 400 miles for the month. This is a very satisfactory effort for me these days. May has been my best month for distance covered this year and with some good sunny days still to come, I hope to increase the mileage before the thirty-first.

The flying bird of the day is a late evening goldfinch.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who once again managed to extend her permitted walk as far as Regent’s Park where she found a favourite restful corner to enjoy.

It was still grey and drizzly this morning, but the heavy winds of the past two days had eased off a lot and when the drizzle stopped, it was quite a suitable day for wandering round the garden.

I wandered from time to time.

The frost survivors among the rhododendrons and azaleas are still doing their best to cheer us up…

…but the gap that the frost has left in the garden is still hard to bear.

The recent rain has now got up to an inch and half as recorded by Mary Jo’s rain gauge. This is fine for the broad beans which are looking good but the peony and tulips have found it a bit much.

A burst of heavier rain put paid to the morning street coffee meeting and I watched the birds instead.

Greenfinches and sparrows were the flavour of the morning…

…and a sparrow was happy to watch a greenfinch trying the seed before having a go itself.

The rain stopped and we went out into the garden to do useful tasks (Mrs Tootlepedal) and footle about looking for raindrops (me).

The view down the back path is always rich at this time of year.

When I had finished footling about, I went in and did something more purposeful. I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made 30 ginger biscuits. There was a bit of a snack crisis as the boiled cake had been polished off when we drank our coffee earlier in the morning.

After lunch, I went for a short walk to fill in the time before our virtual Carlisle Choir meeting.

I chose a familiar route. After two months of lockdown and about thirty local walks, there is no other option than to choose a familiar route and this makes it harder than usual to try to find something unfamiliar to see as I go along. If the truth be told, I am probably finding it harder to look too as I subconsciously feel that there won’t be anything much new to see even if I did look carefully.

Looking down, I did notice the more noticeable today…

…and looking around, i couldn’t miss the frost damaged trees among the spring greenery.

As I was walking along the Becks track, I was considering whether I would have time to walk up to the track on Warbla on my way home, but a glance across the valley revealed cattle sitting right on the path across the grass that I would use to get up to the track…

…so when I had crossed the Auld Stane Brig…

…I went through the frost damaged trees along Gaskell’s Walk instead.

When I got to the Stubholm, I checked on a blackthorn to see if there are going to be any sloes this year. The signs are good and as a bonus, there was some interesting lichen on the branch that I was inspecting.

Instead of going straight home when I got to the park, I walked down to the Esk to see if the oyster catcher was still on its nest.

It was…

… but a bit further up the river, I found another adult with a very young chick. The adult made it hard for me to see the nipper, and the chick didn’t help by turning its back on me…

…but in the end, they co-operated.

I got home in good time and Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down in front of my laptop to see what a virtual choir practice would be like on Zoom. It was very well organised and well over 50 choir members had logged on to take part. Ellen, our energetic director, had done a lot of preparatory work and everything went very smoothly and we were encouraged to sing, but there is no doubt that singing by ourselves at home while hearing only only one other singer (Ellen at the piano) is not really choral singing. Still, it was fun to see the other choir members and the virtual meeting had the feeling of an occasion, even if not a choral one.

The weather had greatly improved by the time that we emerged into daylight from peering at the computer and I did think of going for a cycle ride but the call of lawn maintenance was strong and I mowed the greenhouse grass, the drying green and the middle lawn instead. We then had our second Zoom meeting of the afternoon when we chatted with my brother, one of his sons and my sisters.

After our evening meal, I went out into the garden to enjoy the sunny evening…

…and the colour matching between car and clematis.

The wind had dropped and I was sorry that the day hadn’t worked out so that I could have enjoyed these ideal conditions, but you can’t have everything.

Not all the colour in the garden is floral…

…but the late evening light was kind to the colours and the bees were really enjoying the cotoneaster on the wall of the house…

…while I enjoyed an Icelandic poppy.

I hope to get back to cycling tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day was not one that the greenfinch approved of.

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Today”s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He saw deer on one of his walks with his dogs.  The deer saw him but didn’t run away at once.

Tony's deer

To say that today was another uneventful day would be rather overstating the excitement.  The recent frost has put a damper on the pleasure of walking round the garden in quite a big way, and as it was another grey morning, there was not a lot of incentive to get up and go.

In the end, I managed to finish the crossword and get up in time for a walk round the garden before coffee.  The only photograph that I took was of these ill matched Icelandic poppies, and I couldn’t get a very good shot of them as they were blowing about in the breeze.

ill matched poppies

I don’t know why some of the orange poppies have white tips this year.

After coffee, I shredded more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s uprooted box bushes and then went inside.

I watched the birds through the window for a moment or two.

A greenfinch felt that I was intruding on its privacy.

sad greenfing

A sparrow watched while another greenfinch and a chaffinch arrived simultaneously, luckily heading for different perches.

greenfinch and chaffinch arriving together

And there was room for two sparrows too.

sparrow joining sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that I might like to try a recipe for a boiled cake.  This sounded very strange to me but on investigation it turned out that only some of the ingredients were boiled and that the cake was actually baked in a standard way, so I gave it a go.

It tuned out that it makes a small cake and the process was quite simple (which is probably why Mrs Tootlepedal suggested it).  You take butter, syrup, sugar and water, melt them together and add currants and sultanas and then boil this mixture very gently for a few minutes.  This is cooled and then added to flour and spices with a beaten egg and the whole thing is poured into a cake tin and baked.

Some time later, it comes out like this:

boiled cake

While it was baking, I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we had time to eat the soup before the cake came out of the oven.

After lunch, I had another walk round the garden and found a rhododendron flower which looks as though it might have survived the frost.

surviving rhododendron bud

The tree peony and the standard peonies in the flower beds are in a race to see which comes fully out first and at the moment, the tree peony is the slight favourite.

tree peony almost out

The alliums, unaffected by the frost, are going global.

global allium

In the absence of azaleas, I am probably going to spend more time looking at Welsh poppies than usual.  They have acquired some pinkish tinges this year, another mystery but quite pretty.

Sometimes the tinge is in the middle…

welsh poppy red middle

…sometimes in a line across the petals…

welsh poppy red stripe

…and sometimes round the edge.

welsh poppy red edge

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is damage of some sort.

She has completed her hedge cut back and you can see the more open view of the house that this provides.

hedge clipped

I will be interested to see how the planting changes to reflect the new vista.

There was a tremendous racket in the garden caused by baby sparrows demanding to be fed by their long suffering parents and this blackbird in the plum tree was joining in with gusto.

hopeful blackbird

It looks a little old to be needing to be fed but it wasn’t getting any attention and that didn’t suit it at all.

A starling had been doing some successful foraging.starling with food

I went in to change into my cycling gear and then went off for a short cycle ride.  Mrs Tootlepedal had looked at the clouds and brought the washing in ‘just in case’, but the forecast hadn’t got any rain in it so I set off with confidence of a dry trip round Canonbie.

My confidence was well founded and with the wind coming from a generally helpful direction, I enjoyed my ride and went a bit more quickly than recent efforts.

After taking far too many pictures in recent days, I resolved not to take too many today and was reasonably successful.  The theme of the ride was hedges and wild flowers.

The cow parsley is coming on well along the Tarcoon road…

cow parsely tarcoon

…and the tree over the hedge is now fully clothed.

tree tarcoon

A little further on, I was happy to find a beech hedge in very good condition.  My friend Nancy had sent me pictures yesterday of a beech hedge badly affected by the frost but this one was untouched.

beech hedge tarcoon

I stopped at Canonbie Bridge for a conversation with Simon, a Camera Club member who was out for a walk.  His normal work involves sporting events and international travel so he currently stacking shelves for supermarkets instead.   He doesn’t know when he will be able to go back to his real job.

When I got nearer Langholm, I found that the Pyrenean Valerian is beginning to line the roadsides.

pyrenean valerian clump

The boiled cake went down very well with a cup of tea on my return and the normal sibling Zoom and an excellent pasta dish for our evening meal rounded off another routine day of lockdown.

Looking at the forecast, I see that things are going to warm up a bit and there may even be a bit of rain in the next day or two but the promise of very high temperatures next week seems to have faded away, for which I am grateful as I don’t like it when it gets too warm.

We will believe in the rain when we feel it actually falling on our heads.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder.  It avoided the pole.

flying greenfinch

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

bomb squad Fraser

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

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

The sun shone and the garden looked cheerful with geums…

garden geum

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

welsh poppy set

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

tinged welsh poppy

The Icelandic poppies are going all out for orange.

vivid icelandic poppy

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

two blackbirds

The tulips continue to delight…

four tulips panel

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

aquilegia

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

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

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

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

greenfinch and goldfinch

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

greenfinch and sparrow

A bright eyed dunnock remained above it all.

dunnock on feeder

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

ranunculus

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

dicentra letting go

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

tulips and rhododendron blend

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

date rolls

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

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

They taste good and that it what really matters.

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

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

kerr signpost

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

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

trees chapelhill

…and these at Grainstonehead.

tees grainstonehead

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

trees woudhouselees

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

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

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

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

flying sparrow

 

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