Posts Tagged ‘rowan berries’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who went to the Taunton Flower Show.  You can read about her adventures here. Sad to say, her favourite arrangement in the ‘At the Garden Gate’ class was disqualified for using artificial grass.

Taunton Flower show

We had quite a lot of rain and wind overnight and it was raining very heavily after breakfast when I had to go up to the Town Hall to inquire about getting a replacement bus pass.  It was a fitful sort of day though, and by the time that I came back, the rain had stopped.  That set the pattern for the day.

Dropscone dropped in with traditional treacle scones to go with a cup or two of coffee. He told me that he had been at a golf tournament earlier in the week and had only managed to get six holes in before the competition was called off because the course was flooded.  The dry spell earlier in the summer seems a distant memory now.

When he left, I looked out of the back door across a rainy garden to see the robin at the far end of the lawn…

sparrow at end of lawn

…and two birds on opposites sides of the great Brexit debate on a neighbour’s rooftop.

two birds not speaking

Badly painted blackbirds are all around…

badly painted blackbird

…though the painter’s work is improving.

better painted blackbird

When the rain stopped, I went out to have a look round and was impressed by Mrs Tootlepedal’s large lily.

bif lily

There are still new flowers coming out and the yellow crocosmia has just started to flower.

yellow crocosmia

The phlox has done so well, undaunted by wind and rain, that Mrs Tootlepedal plans to have even more  next year.  Who could blame her?

fiery phlox

A late honey suckle has come out on the vegetable garden fence.

late honeysuckle

I went back in and made some leek and potato soup for lunch with a leek and potatoes from the garden.  Together with a tomato and feta cheese salad (not from the garden), it made a tasty meal.

After lunch, it looked as though there might be a window in the changeable weather that would allow me to go for a short cycle ride, so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping, I set out to go as far as I could without getting wet.

It was sunny when I started but there was plenty of water running across the road up the Wauchope valley after the morning’s showers, and plenty of water in the little streams rushing down to join the Wauchope Water

bigholms burn

The powers that be have mowed every road verge in the district and there are now no wild flowers to look at, so my camera took a wider view today.

I went to the top of Callister and looked down the other side.

callister panorama

Click for the bigger pic (I may have put this one through a heavy filter.)

The dark clouds coming up from the left told me that it was time to turn and go home.

When I looked back towards the town from the top of the Wauchope Schoolhouse brae, I could see my sunny weather disappearing up the valley

Wauchope view

When I got back to the town, I thought of stopping while the going was good, but it was warm enough and it hadn’t started to rain, so I pressed on and crossed the town bridge and headed north.


three arches flood on Esk

I had walked under the near arch dry shod on Common Riding day when I wanted to cross the road which was full of horses.

I kept thinking of those grey clouds that I had seen on Callister and feeling that it would be wise not to go too far, but the road is well surfaced and it was still dry so I went a few miles up the road….

ewes panorama

Another clickable bigger picture.

…and the view is always worth looking at…

ewes view


…but I left it a fraction too late to turn round and within a mile of home, the heavens opened and I got wet.  As soon as I got home though, the rain stopped again. Those weather gods like a laugh.

The dry spell gave me a chance to have another walk round the garden.  I was hoping to catch a flying bird…

starlings on wire

….but the starlings stayed rooted to the electricity wire while I watched them and then all moved off in a body as soon as I turned my back for a moment.

A young dunnock tried out the fake tree but sat there quietly.

dunnock on fake tree

I gave up and went in to have a shower.

As we sat down for our tea, the sun came out and it was a glorious evening.  We agreed to go for a walk after our meal but of course, it started to rain again when the time came, so we stayed in.  Then the sun came out as the rain continued and to emphasise what a patchy day it was, when I looked out of the window at the back of the house to try to see a rainbow, I found that it wasn’t raining at all on that side of the house.

I went out into the garden and it wasn’t raining as I went out of the door but it was raining quite hard on the lawn only a few yards away.  I don’t think that I have ever seen quite such local rain.

We have two more days of this sort of weather to come and then, according to a reliable forecast, it is going to get cooler but drier.  It will be nice to be able to plan a day’s activity with confidence.

The flying bird of the day is the dunnock that we saw before.  By the time that I saw it again, it had flown up into the rowan tree.

dunnock in rowan


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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal.  She found a very prominent fairy ring on her brother’s lawn.

fairy ring

Mrs Tootlepedal is still away visiting her mother, whose hundred and first birthday is imminent.  This means that I am having to make up my mind for myself here with no assistance and this is quite wearing.  On top of this, I am getting rather fat because every time I wander into the kitchen to share an interesting thought with Mrs Tootlepedal, she isn’t there and I eat something instead.  Luckily she will be back next week and all will be well.

The forecast offered a dry morning and a wet afternoon so in an ideal world, I would get up promptly and go for a cycle ride and then do useful things indoors in the afternoon.

It turned out to be an ideal world.

I didn’t waste any time in the garden but got on the bike after breakfast and did thirty miles.  I stopped for one picture….

Esk at Hollows

…just to prove that I had been out.  The wind was lighter than of late but the sky was grey so it was not a day for views.

I did notice when I got home that I had a serious outbreak of helmet hair which I have decided to share.  Nervous readers should look away now.

helmet hair

I flattened my hair down and mowed the greenhouse grass, did some poppy dead heading, cut down some plants which were beyond their sell by date and had a walk round the garden.

The poppies had appreciated the dry morning.


This was my favourite poppy of the day.


The should be a mixture of poppies and cornflowers growing round the front lawn but they are both taking their time thanks to the cool weather. Still, there are a few cornflowers about.


As I walked between the flowers and the compost bins during my tidying up, I couldn’t help but enjoy the jumble of white clematis and red rose on the arch through to the veg garden…

clematis and rose

…and the clematis growing along the fence too.


If every flower has the same number of petals, there must be three different clematis growing there as I can see flowers with six, five and four petals in the picture.

I am always interested in fruits and berries and so are the birds.  I am keeping an eye on the plums and the blackbirds are keeping an eye on the rowan berries.

plum and rowan

Those rowan berries are in a neighbour’s garden.  Ours aren’t quite as ripe yet.

My neighbour Liz kindly took a surplus turnip off my hands and I picked some more carrots and beetroot. I am eating the beetroot at golf ball size and they are absolutely delicious as snacks.

After lunch, the forecasters’ predictions arrived in the form of a persistent spell of rain which lasted several hours.   I caught up on my correspondence and packed up the camera lens which I am trading in, having been offered a very fair price by the company which will sell me my new lens.  I then braved the rain and took the parcel up to the post office only to find the that post office was closed.

I brought the parcel home again and did some muttering.

Then I did some ironing …and a bit more muttering until getting a bit of advice from the ‘Call Mrs Tootlepedal Hotline’.

I had corned beef hash for my tea and was pleasantly surprised to find that our new potatoes taste very good when mashed and fried.

Recently I have had a choir to go to on a Wednesday night but that has finished now so finding that the rain had stopped, I filled in the time by wandering aimlessly about.

The bed at the end of the drive gave me a cheerful farewell as I left the garden.

pot marigolds and nasturtiums

For some reason, the rather grey light seem to suit the church so I stopped being aimless and pointed the camera at it as I passed.

Langholm Parish Church

Our usual mallards have been joined by several darker ducks with bright white breasts this summer.

darker duck

A little research tells me that they are probably mallard hybrids rather than anything more exotic.

I exchanged a few words with Mr Grumpy as I walked down to the Kilngeen…


…and thought that a bunch of ragwort on the bank of the Esk just above the Meeting of the Waters added a nice touch to the scene.


I was pleased to find that there was still a banded snail or two on the stump of one of felled trees along the Lodge Walks.


Although the evening was fundamentally grey and it looked as though it might well rain, every now and again a shaft of sunshine illuminated the scene….but always a little bit away from where I was.

sunshine behind trees

Like behind a tree….

sunshine on the Esk

…or round a bend in the river…


…or on top of a hill.

But I got round dry and saw a most unusual thing on my way.


A ragwort plant with no insects on it.

It was nearly seven o’clock by this time so perhaps all the insects had gone home to bed.

My last picture was a pleasing tangle of grasses.


No flying bird of the day but there is a very badly painted blackbird and a splashy sparrow.


sparrow splashing

There were plenty of puddles to choose from.

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Today’s guest picture shows another of the modes of transport that Dropscone encountered on his holiday in Germany.  I don’t think that he travelled on it though.

Paddle steamer in Germany

Our very welcome spell of good weather continued today, helping to dry the garden out after the recent rains.

I didn’t have time to get out before coffee because I had to wait in for a call from a computer company who had promised to sort out some problems arising from my internet provider terminating my email account (for commercial reasons of course).

The firm that has taken over my email hosting had made an appointment to ring me at 10.30 so I was agreeably surprised when they rang at 10.20.  I was even more agreeably surprised when a nice young man solved my problems without any fuss or trying to sell me additional and unwanted services.

The first email that arrived within seconds of the opening of my newly set up mailbox was a bill from my energy supplier but then you can’t have everything.

Over coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, I was able to watch a couple of dunnocks under the feeder.  They are such muted birds that they often look out of focus even when they are quite well shot….


…or that is my excuse anyway.  I am very fond of dunnocks.

After coffee, I went out and did some shredding as Attila the gardener has been busy and there was quite a pile waiting and then I had a walk round the garden.


The poppies and cornflowers continue to bloom but sharp eyed readers will notice a lot of dead heads in the picture above.  The dead heading routine is a bit relentless but I counted about a hundred poppies still waiting to come out so it is worthwhile.  I was not the only one to find the sunflower by the feeder attractive…

sunflower with bee

…and there was a pleasant hum all round the garden.

The dark astrantia is beginning to go over but it has produced some fresh but simplified flowers to keep it looking bright as it goes.


I mowed the grass round the greenhouse and then put the box on the good mower and mowed the middle lawn.  It had been left longer than usual because I had put spot weed killer on some very intrusive weeds with the result that I took five boxes of cut grass off it instead of the usual one or two.

Still, the work was worthwhile as the weeds have been discouraged a fair bit and the grass looks healthy enough.

While I was outside, I did a bit more shredding, pointed the camera at the feeder…

blue tit and chaffinch

The chaffinch was using the sunflower as a jumping off point.

…and did some more dead heading.

After lunch, we went out into the garden again and Mrs Tootlepedal called me over to look at the Michaelmas daisies.   She was amazed by just how many bees there were on the flowers.

Bees on Michaelmas daisies

It is hard to give a really good idea of its how many there were but the sound of buzzing was deafening. I took a closer look.

bees head to head

Mrs Tootlepedal is using up our supply of sieved compost quite quickly so I tested out Bin D to see if it was ready for sieving yet.  I got some usable material but the heap is too soggy after the recent rain for me to get a good return for the effort for the time being.

It was a little cooler than yesterday so I got out the fairly speedy bike and went off for a pedal up the Lockerbie road.  It was lucky that I hadn’t realised how windy it was or I might not have gone.  As it was, the wind blew me merrily along on the outward journey and made the ride home a real battle.  When you are having to pedal full out to go 12 mph down a hill, you know that there is a fresh breeze blowing.

I had noticed that the rowan berries seemed to have been disappearing in a sporadic sort of way lately so I was pleased to catch some of the culprits at it when I got back from my ride.

blackbird in rowan tree

blackbird in rowan tree

There were several blackbirds at work.

blackbird in rowan tree

This one was very busy

There are plenty  of berries left as it has been a spectacular year for rowans.

While I was out blackbird hunting, I cast a few looks back at the feeder.  The sparrows were very busy there.

saprrows on feeder

We are bit short of entertainment at present as all the cycling stage races are over for the year but we were able to drink our afternoon cups of tea out in the garden today and we agreed that sitting in the garden on a sunny afternoon is as good as, if not better than, watching cycle racing on the telly.


This was the sort of thing that we were enjoying

After seeing a bee looking very small on a big sunflower in the morning, I saw another been looking very large on a small cornflower in the afternoon.

bee on cornflower

It may even have been the same bee.

Courgette fritters once again graced the tea table and then while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see a friend acting in a play at the Buccleuch Centre, I went off to our Langholm choir as I need all the singing practice that I can get.

We both enjoyed ourselves.

The flower of the day is a poppy with the added promise of more to come.


And the flying bird is another of the sparring sparrows seen against the background of the house wall instead of the garden.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture shows a gardener hard at work in Queen Mary’s garden in Regent’s Park.  He was spotted by my sister Mary.

Gardener hard at work in Queen Mary's garden

We had another beautiful day today and the present weather has certainly made up for the gloomy spell last week.  Owing to failing to go to bed at a sensible time yesterday, we were both a little tired and took the morning very gently.

I had a chance to look at some pairs of things in the garden, both winged….

bees and butterflies

…and petalled.

poppies and dahlias

There were insects everywhere and especially on the red astrantia.


Mrs Tootlepedal is very happy about the Michaelmas daisies coming out as the cornflowers begin to fade in the bed on the edge of the drying green…..

cornflowers and daisies

…although this was almost by chance rather than deeply planned.

I was very happy to see a blackbird thinking about rowan berries….


..and finally taking a nibble.


Pity about the twig that got in the way of the shot.

Still, another blackbird gave me a second chance.

blackbird with rowan berry

We gathered ourselves together about midday and drove off to Carlisle to do some shopping for things that cannot be found in Langholm.  I packed the fairly speedy bike in the boot and after we had filled the shopping bags, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to drive home via a garden centre and set off to cycle home.  It was a treat not to have to cycle round in a circle as I do when I set off from home.

To make the ride more interesting, I started off by going to the south,  taking the bike path beside the river  down to Dalston.  It is a very pleasant path to ride, with a good surface for almost all of the way.  I feared that it might be a slow business with pedestrians, other cyclists and dog walkers to negotiate but in the event, there were not too many other users and such dogs as I encountered were very well behaved.

From Dalston, I travelled across country, passing the 11th century church of St Giles on my way…

St Giles

… to the Carlisle by-pass.  My eye was caught by some brilliant rose hips at one of the roundabouts.

rose hips

The by-pass has an excellent cycle path alongside it and with the wind mostly behind me, I was soon at the village of Rockcliffe, where I stopped for a moment to walk across a grassy patch to the banks of the River Eden just before it flows into the Solway Firth.

River Eden at Rockliffe

The gap in the trees along the right bank has been made to allow the owners of the house on the bank an uninterrupted view of the river.

This was my view straight across the river.

River Eden at Rockliffe

Looking around me, I could see that the church at Rockliffe has been sensibly placed up on a bank to avoid the possibility of being flooded…


….and the road edge has been marked off with prettily decorated blocks to discourage motorists from driving on to what might be very soggy grass at some times of the year.

This is a spot well used to floods.

I pedalled on to Gretna where I paused for a banana and a look at what wild flowers were still about.

wild flowers near Gretna

As I cycled up the back roads from Longtown to Langholm, I was able to enjoy the early autumnal views of golden fields near Englishtown…

Fields near Englishtown

…and a fine view of a heathery Whita seen from Tarcoon.


It was a grand day to be out but the downside of having the wind mostly behind me was that I wasn’t getting much cooling from the breeze and with the temperature in the sun being in the high 20s, I was well cooked by the time that I got home after 40 miles.

I didn’t have long to recover before it was time for tea.  We have quite a lot of courgettes in the vegetable garden and Mrs Tootlepedal had been able to buy some polenta in Carlisle so she made some courgette fritters with polenta and feta to go with a beef stew which I had made for the slow cooker before we went to Carlisle.  If you have a glut of courgettes, I can thoroughly recommend fritters with polenta and feta as a way of using them up.  They were delicious.

In the evening, we went to see our local youth theatre group perform Bugsy Malone at the Buccleuch Centre.   We are very fortunate that this group has worked hard at producing a steady stream of local youngster who can sing and act remarkably well and they made a very good effort at trying to make us forget the film.

The flower of the day is the lobelia which looks better all the time….


…and I even found a rather fuzzy flying bird in the garden when a sparrow flew off a compost bin to join the rest of its family on a nearby shed roof.

flying sparrow




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Today’s guest picture is a sculpture in Melbourne which my brother passed on his way to New Zealand last month.

Melbourne, Australia July 2014 - 19

We spent the day wrapped in the coat tails of downgraded tropical storm Bertha.  It was raining when we got up and whenever I looked out of the window, which was infrequently, it still seemed to be raining.   It is raining as I write this in the evening.

I improved the morning by putting a a cassoulet into the slow cooker and retiring for a bath.  When I got out, not only had Mrs Tootlepedal returned from singing in the church choir but a magical plate of drop scones, a tin of sardines and a packet of tea from Sri Lanka had appeared on the kitchen table.

Upon enquiry however, it turned out that Dropscone himself rather than any magic had provided the treats.  His youngest son had just returned from Sri Lanka and this explained the Broken Orange Pekoe.  Dropscone had poked his head round the door but on getting no response, had left his presents and retired without even getting a cup of coffee.

The drop scones came in handy as we had a visit from a man who we hope is going to sort out our leaking end wall problems and we were able to entertain him in good style.

We had intended to bicycle across to Middlebie where the villagers are offering cream teas on Sundays in August but the weather was against us and we sat down to watch cycling instead of doing it.   Luckily the Ride London road race was exciting enough to help us pass the afternoon quite contentedly.

I did look out of the kitchen windows once.  Young sparrows were sparring.



And a moment later, they were joined by a blue tit, a siskin and a chaffinch.

bird feeder

This was too much excitement for me and I had to go back and sit down again.

I did go out into the garden once, when the rain had subsided to a mere drizzle, and was pleased to find a splash of colour on a grey day.




And that was that.  A dull day in more ways than one.  My hip was on the whole, grateful for a little dullness.

I did catch a flying bird of the day in my one look out of the window.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guests picture, sent by my sister Susan, shows a colourful bench in London which celebrates Jeeves and Wooster from the works of P G Wodehouse.  I don’t know what it would be like to sit on.


The forecast offered us a greater than ninety percent chance of rain all day and it was pretty well right.  Mrs Tootlepedal is back in the cycling groove (especially if she can collect a bucket of manure at the same time) and she seized the opportunity of the other five percent to get out for a quick pedal after coffee when it was dry.  I went with her and when she turned back to collect the manure, I went on for a couple more miles.  I might have been tempted go a bit further but it started to rain and I took that as hint not to overwork my hip and went home.

The weather gods obviously thought that I had done the right thing as it soon stopped raining and I had a pleasant pedal back.

I walked round the garden when I got in.

poppies and crocosmia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new border is nearly there.


Another cheerful pair.

Lilian Austin

The roses are really over but Lilian Austin is having a last fling

rowan berries

The rowan berries are turning with the season…

Virginia Creeper

…as is the Virginia Creeper

Somehow, summer seems to have suddenly slipped away after a few glorious weeks of sunshine and heat and an erratic jet stream is giving us very changeable cool, wet and windy weather.  It is not too late to get some good weather but there is no sign of it at the moment.  The clematis on the archway into the vegetable garden doesn’t seem to mind though.


It soon started to rain so after lunch I had a bath and a good snooze and when I woke up, my hip was painless for the first time for weeks.  The  the sun came out.   Things were looking up.  Then the sun went in and rumbles of thunder filled the air.

Although my hip was aching by the end of the day, the spell of pain free walking about the house was very encouraging.  I am optimistic.

The combination of the dull weather and my lack of mobility are making for dull posts for which I apologise but as this is a diary which should reflect my daily  life and as my life is a bit dull at the moment, this is only to be expected.

The young sparrows continue to offer a bit of action…


…and I did manage to catch a flying bird of the day.

flying bird


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