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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew Gardens.  As well as the glass sculptures, she met this imposing dragon.

dig

The rain stopped on cue over night and we woke up to a calm and sunny day with the dam looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.  All the same, the first business of the day was to ring up the people responsible for the maintenance of the dam and its sluices.  They promised to look into the matter straight away.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off with her committee to visit another group interested in a community buy out and while she was away, I had a busy morning.

I entertained Sandy to coffee.  If all has gone well, he should have acquired an electric bike this evening, so we are planning to go for a pedal tomorrow to see how much faster he will be able to go than me.

Then the dam manager rang up to tell me that the defective sluice should be repaired as soon as possible and the storm wall will be strengthened as soon as conditions allow because they realised that it has cracks in it.  This is quite comforting but we can only hope that there isn’t another testing flood before the work gets done.

When Sandy had gone, I set to work in the garden, anxious to be of use while Mrs Tootlepedal was otherwise engaged.

First I pruned the new growth from the espalier apples…

pruned espalier apples

…which let some sunshine in on the ripening fruit.

apples after pruning 1

The crop on two of the tree bushes is looking promising.

apples after pruning 2

When I had shredded the prunings and added them to the compost, I mowed the two lawns and the greenhouse grass.  They have been neglected during the rainy days.  Amazingly, in spite of a lot of rain, the ground was firm and the grass mowed well.

lawn after rain

It has been pretty warm lately and the rain had not discouraged the grass from growing, so there was a great deal of cuttings to add to the compost.

Then I trimmed the hedge next to our neighbour Betty’s drive…

trimmed hedge

…and this led to more shredding and composting so it was a very productive morning.

I kept an eye out for butterflies while I worked.  There was more than one kind of white butterfly on the buddleia….

two white butterflies

…but only the peacock of the coloured butterflies, though there were plenty of them about.

peacock butterfly after the rain

The big lilies are unperturbed by the weather and keep looking very serene in wet or dry.

lilies after the rain

A rather smart Japanese anemone has arrived to cheer us up…

coloured japanese anemone

…and the zinnias are all smiles.

dazzling zinnia

It was very good to see flowers in the sunshine.

clematis in sun

It was cooler today than it has been, but when the sun was out, it was still pretty warm and the blackbird family was scattered across the lawn dealing with the heat.

panting blackbird on lawn 1

Some better…

panting blackbird on lawn 2

…than others.

panting blackbird on lawn 3

Mrs Tootlepedal  came home, having had a very interesting meeting, and I spent quite a lot of time in the afternoon picking and printing pictures for the Canonbie Flower Show competition this weekend.

I haven’t got the requisite skills to get my printer to print out exactly what I see on the screen, so I wasn’t going to enter any pictures this year until Sandy told me this morning that he had got a good number of pictures to enter.  As a result,  I thought that I better make an effort too.

As always, I found it very hard to choose just a few from the many hundreds of pictures that I have taken in the past year, and once again I feel that my selection is far from ideal.  Still, it is taking part and not winning  that is important….or so I have been told.

I was going to go for a pedal in the afternoon, and I had just changed into my cycling gear when Mike Tinker dropped by for a cup of tea.  He very wisely pointed out that I hadn’t got time to go for a pedal if I was expecting my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  I hadn’t realised that it was so late, and I had forgotten about Luke anyway, so it was just as well that Mike came when he did.

As it started to rain quite heavily soon afterwards, I was doubly grateful to Mike.

Before he came, I had had time for a quick look round the garden and was pleased to have the right camera in my hand to take this shot when the opportunity arrived.

two white spots

It may not look much to you, but it is two white butterflies fluttering by.  This is a very common sight in the garden just now but I have never been able to catch it.    Just to prove it is two butterflies, here is an enlargement.

white butterflies close

It may not be good, but it is the best that I could do.

The rowan tree berries are looking juicier every day….

rown berries

…and the blackbirds are beginning to eye them up.

blackbird among rowans 2

There was more posing than pecking today…

blackbird among 1rowans

…but I hope to get some blackbird berry pecking shots shortly.

Luke came and we enjoyed playing a Haydn sonata that we haven’t played for some time.

We are promised more sunny weather for tomorrow so I hope to get out and about to make use of it.

The flying bird of the day is a very large bumble bee.  It was camera shy and made off as soon as I tried to photograph it so once more I can feature the bum of the flightlebee.

enrmous flying bee

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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 is the last from Dropscone’s highland holiday. It shows the
Whaligoe Steps near Wick, a man-made stairway of 365 steps that descend to what was a naturally formed harbour between two sea cliffs – once a landing place for fishing boats. Crews of women, some in their early seventies, would gut the fish and carry them up the steps in baskets to be taken on foot to be sold in Wick, some 7 to 8 miles away. Dropscone points out that not only did he climb down the steps but he climbed up them again as well, though he wasn’t carrying any fish.

Whailigoe steps

I got this story from the great man himself when he appeared at the Information Hub in the Market Place this morning, having safely returned from his trip.  I was there giving out information to visitors and actually had visitors from Colorado and Australia to give information out to.  As they were both looking for the Armstrong Museum and my helpful information was that it is now closed, this wasn’t perhaps my finest hour. Still, it was nice to chat to Dropscone again.

It was another cool but very good day with plenty of sun to go round and when I got home, I nodded to a jackdaw…

jackdaw

..and then I took a walk round the garden.

cosmos and dahlia

Cosmos and dahlia sparkling in the sun

bee and fly on dahlia

A bee and friend visit a dahlia

Lilian Austin

Lilian Austin looking better now than in the summer flowering season

poppies

Just to show that it is not all pink poppies

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I mowed the middle lawn and sieved a little compost, checked on the clematis….

clematis

…and then went upstairs to get changed for a cycle ride.

I made the mistake of lying down on my bed for a quick minute to get my breath back after all that excitement and an hour later I was finally on my way.

I did a regular 20 mile circuit down to Canonbie and back and took my time because although my legs were quite happy to pedal along the flat bits, any small hills brought out a lot of complaints.  It was a lovely day for a pedal though.

Bloch corner

I love a lonesome tree on the horizon. This is one of my favourite corners.

The esk at canonbie

There are autumnal hints beginning to appear

hollows

And some you can’t miss

leaves at hollows

When I got back, I had a last walk round the garden where I looked up to a see a sparrow in the elder.

sparrow

…and over the fence to see a rowan tree in a neighbouring garden with a full complement of berries still on board.

rowan berries

And then it was time for a shower and tea.

After tea, a good day got better.

It turns out that I been totally wasting my life hitherto by not going to see Norma, the opera by Vincenzo Bellini.

Luckily the Buccleuch Centre was showing a screening of a production from Covent Garden tonight and Mrs Tootlepedal and I had decided that it might be worth a visit to see what it was like.

It was heaven.

The lead role was sung by Sonya Yoncheva, who was entirely unknown to us both but who was absolutely made for the part. Bellini’s wonderful music poured out of her in a golden torrent, her tone and vocal control were astonishing, her presence was formidable and her acting was excellent.  I think that she might be the best opera singer that I have ever seen and I have seen a good few famous ones in my younger days.

The tenor lead, Joseph Calleja also sung very well indeed although the fact that he only had one expression, that of a pugnacious bulldog, did marginally lessen the impact of some of the more tender scenes.  The director did his very best to spoil things by a really wrong headed take on the piece and a glacial pace in the second act but even his best endeavours could not put a dampener on our delight.

We have had a wonderful week of performances at the Buccleuch Centre and we never cease to marvel at our good fortune in having such a place within a few minutes walking distance from our door.

The flower of the day is described by Mrs Tootlepedal as “one of those things that you buy for a hanging basket”.  It is in the chimney pot under the feeders.

pot plant

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow on the  up.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce whose wife spotted an interesting creature on their windowsill.  Is it a moth or a butterfly?  I don’t know.

moth

We had a fairly miserable morning as far as the weather went but bang on cue, the day brightened up a lot just after noon and the rest of the day was very pleasant.

This let me get out on the bike for the first time for a fortnight but the dry conditions unfortunately had an added brisk wind mixed in with them which made pedalling very hard.  My legs were not in good condition so I did a dull twenty mile out and back ride and was pleased to get off.

I only stopped once to show a rowan tree along the road which has not been visited by birds yet.

rowan

It has been a very good year for rowan berries

I mowed the drying green and the green house grass when I got back and I am now fully caught up after the holiday.  I also had time to look at the flowers in the garden during the afternoon.

pretty in pink

Pretty in pink

delicate

Delicate

honeysuckle

Honeysuckle

cardoon

The last of the cardoons

The birds at the feeder were the usual suspects…

sparrow and blue tit

..but a young starling and an old jackdaw came too.

young starling

jackdaw

I am sure that this bird was a headmaster in a previous life

In the evening, we went along to the Buccleuch Centre for a jazz concert by a British singer, Tina May and an Italian pianist, Enrico Pieranunzi.

There was a select audience but the performers didn’t stint and gave us a first rate performance.  We are very lucky to be able to listen to such quality so near to home.

The flower of the day is three poppies…

poppies

…and the flying bird of the day is three sparrows.

flying sparrows

Sorry about the rushed blog but it is late and I am tired.  Perhaps this is because I have put additional photographs onto the blog of day four of our holidays in France.  You can see it here.

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It was a lovely day in Edinburgh today and Mrs Tootlepedal’s guest picture of the day shows TWGT on Portobello promenade beside the sea.

matilda at PortobelloFor some reason, I felt a touch weary this morning so I let Mrs Tootlepedal go off to Edinburgh by herself.

Because there wasn’t a chilly wind blowing, this felt like the best morning of the year and certainly, the roses were enjoying life.

roses

Lilian Austin, Crown Princess Margareta and the Wren

rose

The Queen of Denmark looking very regal

In spite of the beautiful morning, I started the day by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database as all this cycling has made me slip behind schedule once again.  I had just finished when Dropscone appeared, bearing scones to go with a cup of coffee or two.

He was in cheery mood as his golf game has greatly improved and he has booked a short holiday to go and walk up Ben Nevis.

I had sent a text to Sandy to see what he was up to and he replied that he was in Liverpool and could I fill the feeders for him so after coffee, I got out the slow bike and pedalled the two and a half miles up to the bird feeders.

This was my third visit as a fill-in feeder filler in five days and I feel that I am almost getting to know the birds by name.  It was worth the trip though.

ragwort

Glorious summer at last

The usual suspects were on hand once I had got ensconced in the hide.

woodpeckerchaffinch…but there were some less frequent photo subjects too.  A blackbird and a wren visited the cages.

blackbird and wren

The wren was too quick for me and this was the best shot I could get

The highlight of the visit though was a brief glimpse of a willow warbler.  This was only the third time that I have knowingly seen one.

Willow warbler

It was sharp enough to catch an insect between shots

I had to look this one up when I got home to check and it says in my big book of birds that it easy to confuse the willow warbler with the chiffchaff but I think that I am right.

An umbellifera in front of the hide kept me entertained too.

umbellifera

A different insect every minute

I looked at another one when I went outside.

umbellifera

Even without insects they are beautiful…

umbellifera

…and the insects think so too.

On my way home, the Esk looked so inviting that I stopped to take a picture or two.

Skippers Brig

The standard view of Skippers Brig

Skippers Brig

Stepping back a bit

Skippers Brig

And a bit more

I couldn’t step back any more without falling in the water.

When I got home, it was lunch time. As I had made such a mess of my feeding arrangements while cycling yesterday, I thought I better have some oily fish to improve my brain so I had sardines on toast and very good they were too.

After lunch, I made several forays into the garden in between coming back in and sitting down for a rest.  While I was out there, I turned more of compost Bin C into Bin D (I am about half done) and mowed every blade of grass in the garden that I could see.  I also picked a few more blackcurrants.  I am freezing them in small batches so that I don’t have to pick the whole bush in one go.

When I was inside, I spent a little time looking out of the kitchen window and to make up for yesterday’s lack of a flying bird here are three to go on with today.

flying chaffinchesI enjoyed watching a siskin standing in vain on the back of a sparrow.

siskin trampling The sparrow simply ignored the siskin and after a few seconds, the siskin flew off in disgust.

We had several visits from a bad tempered pigeon which chased off any other pigeons as soon as they arrived.

pigeonMy final visit to the garden gave me the opportunity to catch these rowan berries ripening above the compost bins.

rowanThe safe arrival home of Mrs Tootlepedal made a good afternoon just perfect.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre to do a little necessary housekeeping but in the absence of Sandy, I came home to put another week of the index into the database.

We are promised rain tomorrow but summer has been very welcome while it lasted.

To make up for yesterday’s lapse, here are two contrasting flying birds of the day, one from the morning…

flying chaffinch…and one from the afternoon.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me yesterday by Mike Tinker but was taken by him  in New Zealand in March.  It shows a Protea which he saw there.  This is a bit odd as it is a native of South Africa.  Perhaps it was on holiday too.

proteaWe were a bit discombobulated today as it was a pleasant day with light winds from the start.  As result, people were walking around saying, “Well. it’s all right so far….” and there was a general sense of unreality.

In the end though, Mrs Tootlepedal got stuck into the gardening again and I went out to help her.  The general business is tidying up plants that are over, cutting back bushes, digging over the vegetable garden where beds have become free and making the garden look and feel cared for.  She is succeeding in that last aim.

I took some time out to take a picture or two.  A day or two of good weather has perked up the flowers.

poppies

clematis

The latest clematis to appear, hidden behind the azaleas.

pansies

The pansies have lasted brilliantly since they were planted out in the spring.

nasturtiums

Varied nasturtiums yawn for the camera

Ligularia

I was following a bee when these Ligularia curlicues caught my eye

dahlias

The dahlias continue to delight me.

bee

Those who like the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov will recognise that this is the Bum of the Flightlebee

We stopped for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal returned to the fray but I went out on the fairly speedy bike to check out the progress of my injured leg.  It has survived trips of 20 and 25 miles in the last few days so I risked a gentle 30 mile spin today.  Once again, there were no complaints.  I didn’t stop for any photographs as I was concentrating on smooth pedalling and always being in the right gear in order to keep any needless pressure off my joints.

I did stop once to eat a few dates and take a drink when I was about half way round and a burst of bright red rowan berries  across the road was hard to ignore.

rowan berriesAs you can see in the foreground, vetch is prominent in the verges.

vetchThe rowan berries were very pretty but as they are a sign of the approach of autumn, they were not entirely a welcome sight.

I had planned my route so that I would get blown home by the light breeze and this worked out well.  Mrs Tootlepedal was still out in the garden when I got back, though she told me that she had been in for a rest.

Among other things, she had tidied up the plants along the vegetable garden fence….

clematis and Bobbie James…and I thought that the result looked good.  And so did the runner beans….

runner beans…which will soon be appearing on the tea table.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played some new pieces with difficulty.  At the end we rose from our seats with co-ordinated groans (but perfectly in key of course).

As I started to write this post, the time came for the ISS to pass overhead and we went out to watch it cross the sky.  I didn’t take a picture of it today as I thought readers might still be recovering from the excitement of looking at yesterday’s effort.

In all the business of gardening and cycling, I completely forgot about a flying bird of the day until the light had begun to fade so a fuzzy siskin was the best that I could do.

siskin

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Today’s guest picture, sent on to me by the kind offices of my sister Susan, appears as a reminder from my sister Caroline, another special grandma, that there is more than one world’s greatest baby about.  This is her grandson Jamie with his yet to be named brand new sister,  daughter of Jem and Lotti.  The baby is my great niece and of course the greatest baby on the world.

Baby with her Brother Jamie_2_22072014

The day was another hot and sunny day at the start but by evening time the weather had broken and a light and welcome rain is falling as I write this.  We are promised cooler weather for the next few days which will be a relief for those of us who don’t do too well above 25C.

When we got up, Mrs Tootlepedal directed my attention to the excellent display of Shirley poppies in the border beside the front lawn.

Shirley poppies

This is a new scheme and the poppies are designed to be set off by some yellow crocosmia.   It is not easy to get everything to come out exactly at the right time and we are still waiting for the crocosmia to join in.  They are nearly out though.

The picture above shows the difference between looking and shooting.  When I looked out of the upstairs window, all I saw was eleven lovely poppies but when the camera looked, all it saw was a mass of green stuff with a few red spots.  You’ll have to take my word for the fact that the poppies looked outstanding.

There were two significant points in the day.  One was the moment when Mrs Tootlepedal went off with Al, Clare and Matilda to put them on the train home to Edinburgh (sad) and the other when I felt that my hip was well enough for me to mow the middle lawn (happy).

As a result of my programme of unusually sensible behaviour, I spent the day doing nothing much and continued to see improvement in my ability to walk around without crying.   I accomplished the lawn mowing by doing one or two strips at a time and having a sit down in between.

I was thinking about a short and gentle cycle ride to see if that would be therapeutic but by the time that the the opportunity had arisen so had the wind so discretion was the better part of valour and I watched the Tour de France instead and got my pedalling in vicariously.

During the day I had plenty of  time to stroll round the garden.

sunflower

An unusual sunflower from Mrs Tootlepedal’s packet of assorted sunflower seeds.

cosmos

A new colour of cosmos has turned up

cosmos

The ones that have been out for a bit are looking well.

perennial nasturtium

The berries on the perennial nasturtium come in surprisingly different colours

shirley poppy

Currently my favourite shade of Shirley poppy

The recent spell of hot weather reminded me that I had a small ice cream making machine in the house so after Matilda had gone, I set about making an ice cream custard and then put it into the mixer to get chilled and beaten.  The result was extremely tasty.  It’s just a pity that I hadn’t thought about the machine a few days earlier when we really needed cooling down.

The side effect of making the ice cream is that you get left with a lot of egg whites so I made some meringues too.  Someone is going to have to eat all this stuff over the next few days but I expect that I will be up to the task.

There is an old saying that plenty of berries on the rowan trees mean a hard winter is coming.

rowan tree

I think that it is more likely to mean that we have just had a mild winter and a good summer.

Among the flowers, I was pleased to note a tortoiseshell butterfly.

butterfly

I had time to look out of the window today too and the birds were a bit more active than they have been lately.

chaffinch

A chaffinch looking a bit the worse for wear

chaffinch

Another chaffinch looking rather debonair

chaffinch

And a third chaffinch arriving for a feed.

Sparrows and siskins are always around at the moment.

sparrow and siskin

And always squabbling.

sparrow and siskin

I am keeping and eye out for diseased birds and washing and changing my feeder regularly.  The birds seem healthy enough at the moment.

I am hoping to get out for a short cycle ride tomorrow to test how things are going.

The flying bird of the day was yet another chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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