Posts Tagged ‘runner beans’

Today’s guest picture comes from my correspondent Elaine who saw the noble fir cones on yesterday’s post and has topped them with this wonderful set of lilac coloured cones which she saw in Half Morton churchyard a month ago.  I think that they may be Korean Fir cones.

Elaine's cones

After some showery days, we had a better day today with little wind so I managed to get out and get going on my bike after breakfast and did the twenty mile Canonbie circuit.

I didn’t stop for a lot of pictures as I was a bit pressed for time but when I had to stop to let traffic past at the end of the bike path, I noted some promising looking blackberries…

brambles on A7

…and a fine thistle.

thistle on A7 bike path

The recent walks have left my legs a little under par and I although I tried quite hard to pedal fast, I actually went round at a slightly slower average speed than I had managed on my much longer ride last Friday.  Such is life.

I still had some energy left though because when I got home, I mowed the front lawn and trimmed another of the box balls.

clipped box ball

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were wondering where the butterflies go when it is wet and windy. Wherever it is, they must be well sheltered because as soon as the sun came out and the wind dropped, they were back in the garden in force today.  The bees made room for them.

butterfly and bee on buddleia

There were small tortoiseshells …

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…red admirals…

red admiral butterfly

…and peacocks…

peacock butterfly

…lots of peacocks…

two peacock butterfly

…but no painted ladies today.

The opium and Shirley poppies are going over but the Icelandic poppies are more durable and go on for ever.

iceland poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with the way that the plants that she has put in round the old chimney pot are doing.

old chimney pot

And we are pleased to see the first sign of the runner beans actually beaning. This is timely, because the broad beans and the peas are just about finished.

small runner beans

The huge crop of plums on the plum tree continues to worry Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is afraid that the crop might break branches.  We have already taken what must be hundreds of plums off the tee and she took another lot off today.  The weight of the plums bends the branches and brings new fruit into the reach of the picker.

redundant plums

There are plenty of plums left!

The hosta was still beckoning bees.

bee approaching hosta

And the silver pear was still acting as a home for sparrows…

sparrows in silver pear

…though one sparrow preferred a lonely perch among the rowan berries.

sparrow in rowan

I didn’t have long to wander about the garden, and I soon went in for a shower, a shave and some soup. Then, as it is a Thursday, we drove off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the train was twenty minute late.

We had a very pleasant visit, and although Matilda had been at a dancing competition in the morning, she was still so full of dancing that she treated me to a comprehensive display of various styles of dance until it was time for our evening meal.

This was a lentil dahl cooked by Alistair and it was delicious.

By the next time we see Matilda, she will have have turned into a schoolchild as she starts school next week.  How the years have flown.

The only sad thing about the day was the discovery that I had lost my old age pensioner’s bus pass somewhere.  I am hoping that it is in Matilda’s house and that it might yet turn up.  Otherwise, I will have to go to get a replacement as a bus pass is a very good thing to have.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird of the day today so a very small insect visiting a dahlia will have to do instead.

hoverfly visiting dahlia

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She has ventured east lately and visited Nuffield House, the home of William Morris, the car manufacturer.  This radiator temperature gauge caught her eye.

Nuffield Place

I note that one of the joys of modern life is not having to worry about your car radiator boiling  every time you come to a steep hill or you get stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day.  Not everything has taken a turn for the worse.

Our weather took a turn for the worse though and it was grey and windy all day. Every now and again, it started to drizzle as well.  I got up late for breakfast and finally got dressed just before midday, having had coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz while I was still in my dressing gown.  Life in the slow lane.

I did go out into the garden just after noon and I had a look around.  I think that I have been a bit too disparaging about the dahlias.  They are trying their best and made a good show amidst the gloom today, both seen from a distance…


…and looked into closely.


The poppies continue to flourish and although we dead head dozens each day, more keep coming.


They were looking a bit subdued in the cloudy weather today

The nasturtium growing up the wall beside the front door is enjoying the weather more than I am…


…but the cosmos are rather unhappy and are being very slow to come out.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s beans are recovering after a slow start….

Climbing French and runner beans

Climbing French and runner beans

…and we had some of both with our evening meal.

I went back inside for more sitting down.

Once indoors, I spent quite a lot of time grappling with an extra difficult prize crossword, though I might have saved some of that time if I had discovered that the enumeration for two of the clues was wrong which accounted for quite a lot of the difficulty as it  made the puzzle impossible to solve.

I finally realised that there must be a mistake, checked on the newspaper’s website and got the correct information which put me on the right track but even then it took some hard work and research to get the thing finished.  Who knew that there was a god called Xipe Chec?

Late in the afternoon, I finally got out into the garden in a useful way and mowed the middle lawn, shredded some rose cuttings and trimmed the second last of the box balls.

The drizzle looked as though it might hold off for a bit more so I went for a walk round Gaskell’s while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked the tea.

It was really far too gloomy to take pictures but naturally I took quite a few.

There are some wild flowers still to be see beside the road and paths…

wild flowers

…and in places, the path can hardly be seen for the vegetation.


I saw one of the many umbellifera showing all three stages on one stem…


…and another plant further on which had got to the final stage.


There were lots of signs of the turning of the year.


A lot of our oak trees in different places seem to have galls on their leafs this year.  I passed more on this walk and I had to look hard to find any acorns.

oak and acorn

It was easier to spot sloes (sloely ripening) and any amount of haws.

sloes and haws

There wasn’t as much fungus about as I had hoped…


Nothing fresh and new

…but there was plenty of lichen.


A little lichen garden on top of a fence post

park wall

A damp spot on the park wall

The park wall had brighter moments with ivy leaved toadflax and a contoneaster.

cotoneaster and ivy leaved toadflax

I had a look at the potentillas along the dam when I got home.  They are still doing well.


My arm is improving slowly which is comforting and there is nothing in life that a week of warm sunny weather wouldn’t cure.

The flying bird of the day is a poppy which had risen above its friends this morning.



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Today’s guest picture shows another fine cycle path found by my brother Andrew, this one going through Alton Station.  He says that he is surrounded by well signposted and maintained tracks.  Lucky chap.

Alton stationIt was still dry but it wasn’t a very inviting day today, grey and rather forbidding.  I took the hint and kept the bicycle locked away while I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, prepared a beef ragu for the slow cooker and did a load of washing.

I also went shopping and in this exciting manner the morning slipped away.  In the afternoon, I gave our friend Jeremy a lift to the Carlisle choir where we had a useful session getting a second look at a couple of potential pieces for forthcoming choir competitions.

In the evening, I ate the ragu with some tagliatelle and that completed my day.  I am looking forward to the return of Mrs Tootlepedal from the deep south tomorrow.

The only other thing of note is that it began to rain in the evening.

During the morning, I watched the birds for a bit.


The robin was back posing but looking a bit grumpy I thought…..


…probably because the feeder was being monopolised by siskins

I have been eating a lot of delicious plums from our tree over recent days but they are coming to an end now.  There are still a few fallen ones for disreputable looking blackbirds to peck at, both on the ground….

blackbird and plum…and in the tree.

blackbird and plumThose ones were just out of my reach!

On the new feeder, small beaks met big seeds.

blue tit and coal titI did take a stroll round the garden before hanging out the washing.  The light was poor but the poppies tempted me all the same.

pink poppy parade

Today’s poppy parade is in the pink


I am very taken by the simplicity of this shallow open flower.


But I like the flashy ones too.

poppy pair

A new outbreak of poppy togetherness


And one still looking very elegant even though it is in decline

I went out for another short look after lunch while I was waiting for Jeremy to come round and managed to look past the poppies for once..


Mixed crocosmia looking good


Mrs Tootlepedal’s sunflower planting came up late but is making up for lost time.

I picked some runner beans and froze them but there are plenty still hanging around….

beans and courgettes…and there will be a courgette to go with them soon.

With the rain tapping on the windows as I write this, it is nice to be sitting in a watertight, warm front room.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother Andrew who was prevented by bad weather from doing anything more interesting than cycling to the shops in Derby but still found time to take this picture of the old A52 Bridge across the Derwent.

The Old A52 Bridge in DerbyWe had a lovely sunny day today but with a distinctly autumnal chill when we got up.  It would have been a good day for a pedal and as I only needed 22 miles to take me to 500 miles for the month, I would have been quite keen to go if I hadn’t had things to do and people to see.

The things to do related to the first meeting of the 2015-16 season of the camera club and the people to see included Dropscone who came for coffee.  He was in cheerful spirits because he won another senior golf competition last week and has ended his season with his handicap lower than when it started, always a satisfactory state of affairs.

To tell the truth, even if I had had nothing to do and no one to see, I wouldn’t have been able to go cycling because I  am suffering from a calf strain.  This was doubtless brought about by staggering from tussock to tussock on our walk yesterday.  I am hoping that sensible behaviour today will sort it out promptly.

I was able to walk gently round the garden where I encountered a patriotic range of colours: red…

fuchsia and poppy

Fuchsia and poppy


phlox and nicotiana

Phlox and nicotiana

and blue….



…and some not patriotic ones too:  violet…

michaelmas daisies

Michaelmas daisies

…and yellow.

yellow flowers

Rudbeckia and sunflower

There was additional white….



…and green….

runner beans

Rampaging runner beans

…and green and white.



Mrs Tootlepedal had been at a church choir practice but she didn’t take long after she came back to get to work in the garden and I tested out the calf strain with some gentle mowing of the drying green and greenhouse grass.  I also had a first go at sieving some of the compost in Bin D and in spite of the material not having been there very long, it yielded some very usable stuff and Mrs Tootlepedal had it dug in almost before I had sieved it.

I couldn’t let a day go by without a parade of poppies….

poppies…and then I went in for lunch.

After lunch, it was time for a visit to the information hub on the High Street and the opportunity to dispense information to any passing tourists.  In fact, quite a lot of the tourists didn’t pass but came in and I was able to sell  both a Langholm Walks leaflet and a booklet with a  brief history of the area as well as give out useful advice on several subjects.   I think the total of ten visitors was my busiest ever day in the tourist information points over the years.

On my way home, I was passing the Health Centre when a strange squeaking made me wonder what they were doing to the patients.  A little investigation led me to this very unexpected sight.

Health centre birds nestTucked up in a corner of the entrance way was the source of the squeaking.  I only had my phone with me but they look like baby swallows.  If they are, they are going to have to grow up quickly if they are going to leave with the others.

When I got home, Mike Tinker visited to tell me that his buddleia was covered in butterflies.  I went round with him, camera in hand, but needless to say, the butterflies had all disappeared by the time that I got there. I shall try again if we get another sunny day.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a cycle ride and I started shifting the compost from Bin A into Bin B.  It had heated up so well in our recent spell of warm weather that there were signs of ash in the centre of the heap.

In the evening, My flute pupil Luke came.  His flute wasn’t working but luckily I was able to diagnose the fault and repair it (a rod had worked loose) and we had a good practice.   He is going to do grade exams with a music teacher at school so I will concentrate on playing duets with him and improving his technique.

I recently bought a new bird feeder and some bird food which promised to attract blue and great tits to the garden.  It seems to be working.

blue tit

A blue tit in the morning

great tit

A great tit in the evening

If we get a coal tit too, I will be a really happy person.

On the old feeder there was business as usual with birds coming from all sides…..

siskin and chaffinch…and chaffinches supervising things…

chaffinch…and a blue tit visited that feeder too….

blue tit…but it was only a flying visit.

The gentle gardening seems to have helped my calf strain and I am hoping to be at full speed again tomorrow.

A few days of kind weather during August helped me to achieve my highest monthly cycling mileage for the year so far and I am keeping my fingers crossed for some calm weather in September to continue this good work.  I am also going to try not to fall into any holes.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s picture shows the cover of the schedule for the Canonbie Flower Show of 2013, perhaps the most eagerly awaited horticultural event of the year so far.

Canonbie Show

I had to get up early as Sandy was coming to drive me down to put our photographs up at Canonbie Hall.  One of our most competitive local photographers had not entered the show this year, due to a disagreement with the organisers over whether it was allowable to print photographs with virtual frames.  This meant that there was plenty of space to display the photos and we were soon finished and on our way home again.

The weather was very gloomy and it seemed unlikely that there would be much to see outside the hall on the playing field in the afternoon so we agreed to return quite late to see how we had done.

This gave me plenty of time to stare out of the window at the usual competitive behaviour….

bird feeder arguments

…and admire the cut sweet peas that Mrs Tootlepedal had brought in….

sweet peas

She tells me that the sweet peas season is almost over.

…and to reflect that perhaps we should have put some of our home produce into the show along with the photos.

Home produce

In truth, the people who enter vegetables in these sorts of shows are wizards of growing and it is no surprise to see carrots two feet long and onions the size of pudding bowls.  Our broad and runner beans might have been competitive.

There wasn’t much chance of walking round the garden….

chaffinch in rain

…so I spent some time putting two editions of the newspaper index into the database and doing some constructive resting.

In the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to pick up Sandy and we drove down to Canonbie to see how we had fared.  In terms of winning trophies, we were trounced and our friend Linda won all three that were going.  Still we both managed to come up with some tickets and I got two firsts and five seconds from my fifteen entries which was a fair return.  As always, the judging is idiosyncratic and the picture that I thought was my best (it looked really crisp in print)….


Maryport Harbour

…didn’t get a prize at all and this one….

racing Canonbie entry

…got a first in quite a large class in spite of having poor contrast between the action and the background.  (It looks better on the computer than in print.)

My raspberry jam deserved nothing and got nothing in a keenly contested class.

Jam corner

Jam corner

If I am going to enter these classes, I must take things more seriously.  I like making jam so I think that I might get hold of some good quality fruit next year and have a real go at the jam classes as well as the photos.  I could do with thinking a bit more carefully about my photo entries too.  It’s no good putting in entries that amuse yourself when you know that the judge won’t like them.

There were plenty of great vegetables and stunning flowers to look at.


The work that goes into producing these blooms to this standard on a specific day regardless of the weather is mind boggling.

There was plenty of chat….

Sandy and Linda

Sandy with prize winner Linda

…a nice cup of tea with cakes and then a long wait while many trophies were given out and the raffle was drawn before it was time to take the pictures down and go home.

By the time we got home, the rain had stopped and Mrs Tootlepedal went out to dig up two plants from a bunch of a traditional/heritage main crop potatoes she has grown.  The first dig was very disappointing but the second  produced a reasonable amount.

Yetholm Gypsy

Yetholm Gypsy, a striking purple skinned variety.

I had that one with my mince for tea and it was very tasty.

I was able to catch a couple of perching sparrows before it got too dark.


I also took a picture of the first of some white flowers which are appearing on a couple of hosta plants just as the pink ones on the other plants have gone over.

White hosta

The garden has taken a bit of a battering from some very heavy showers over the last few days so we are hoping for a spell of better weather to let it recover a bit.

As a footnote, I took a couple of pictures yesterday of two plants which are doing well in spite of the weather and then I forgot to put them in the post so here they are a day late.

rampaging runner beans

Rampaging runner beans, well over head height.


A fairly indestructible clematis.

I just managed to catch a flying bird in all the gloom.




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Today’s picture is a detail from a very nice photo of a dragonfly which Gavin kindly sent to me.


After several weeks of fine weather, the rain arrived today.  In fact it had rained all through the night as well but so dry has the garden been that it soaked all the water up without complaint.  The rain persisted throughout the morning  in that annoying way of seeming to stop and then as soon as you go out, starting again. 

I did manage to sneak out without it noticing long enough to take a picture of an apple.


Looking good.

Mrs Tootlepedal also got out for long enough to wonder how she is going to pick the runner beans that have climbed up the telegraph pole.

runner beans

We are wondering if this another case of runners on performance enhancing substances.

Mostly I stayed indoors and looked out of the window at birds both small….


…and large….

starling and blackbird

…and, of course, in argumentative mood as usual.

siskin and sparrow

A siskin and sparrow contest the same space.

siskin and greenfinch

A greenfinch rises above siskin provocation

The forecast said that after lunch the rain would subside so Mrs Tootlepedal had a cycle trip planned.  I checked the forecast map on the internet and it gave us the all clear so we got the bikes out and…..it started to rain heavily.  I went back and checked the map again and they had changed it from fine to heavy rain during the five minutes that we were getting ready.  We sulked.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not easily put off though once she has made a plan so as soon as the rain looked like letting up, we set off again.

The results of the prolonged rain could be heard and seen in the rivers and streams that we passed.


The Wauchope flowing strongly

We  were pedalling into a stiff breeze and up some steep hills but Mrs Tootlepedal was undaunted.  Could this have had anything to do with it?


It had.  This was our destination.  The congregation of the church at Waterbeck were running a fund raising cream tea event and very well attended it was too. The village hall was full and tea and cakes were disappearing at a great rate.  We did our part and had plenty of conversation as well as munching as we knew quite a number of the tea drinkers in the hall.

I was very pleased to be there, apart from the fancy cakes of course, because my great uncle John had been a minister in the church for a number of years in the 1930s.  We went to look at the church and I was able to find his picture on the walls among all the other ministers of recent times.  The church, which was formerly a UP congregation, is now independent of the Church of Scotland which tried to close it and is being being well looked after by the present congregation.

Waterbeck Church

Great Uncle John is the top right minister in the frame.  He died in Carlisle shortly before I was born.

The pleasure of this little bit of family history and the excellent cream tea was enhanced by the fact that the brisk wind was behind us on the way home and the sun came up too.  here we can see Mrs Tootlepedal going over Callister in the style of Alberto Contador.


I had stopped to take a picture of some of the roadside flowers that brightened our route.  The blue flowers are harebells and the yellow flowers are either trefoil or vetch.

hare bells and yellow flower

Later on the way home, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out some orchids in the verge.


By the time we got home, after an enjoyable 20 mile trip, it was such a lovely evening that I rang up Sandy and suggested an excursion to the sand martin colony at Canonbie.  He agreed and after a short drive, we were soon walking past the churchyard by the River Esk.

grave yard at Canonbie

The new and old burial grounds.


Canonbie church

The church seen from the river bank.

We strolled along the bank of the Esk enjoying the scenery.

Esk at Canonbie

It wasn’t hard to spot the sand martins as there were a great many going to and from their nests.  They nest in holes in the sandy bank above the river just below where the sheep are grazing.

Sand martin nest site

They move very quickly and it would take more time and care than we had available to take good pictures of them but it was very agreeable just to stand and watch them flitting across the river. I did try to take some pictures.

sand martin

Just as we were leaving, a goosander landed with a splash.


When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had kindly cooked my tea fro me.  A day that had started rather gloomily thus ended very cheerfully.

Unsurprisingly, the flying bird of the day is a sand martin.

sand martin
















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Today’s picture, sent to me by Dropscone’s niece, shows her daughter thoroughly enjoying the Monticello Trail.

monticello trail

After the excitement of Langholm’s Great Day yesterday, I was in relaxed mood and spent the morning in idle pleasure, wandering around the garden and sitting down in equal proportions once I had visited our local producer’s market to get some provisions.

Although the garden is on the turn, it still has many treats for a man with a camera.


An entry from a newly flowering clematis in the world’s dullest flower competition.

Shirley poppy

An elegantly simple Shirley poppy has arrived too.


This bee preferred one of the older poppies


A very richly coloured cosmos

Mrs Tootlepedal’s row of sunflowers is coming along nicely but they are annoying her by resolutely refusing to turn their faces to the sun in the approved manner.


They are supposed to be visible from the road but keep facing east.  I’m enjoying them, even if passers by are getting no benefit.

The warm weather has kept the delphiniums going at full blast…


…and the runner beans are growing at such a rate that a steeplejack will be required when it is time to pick them.

runner beans

They are already well above my head.

I picked the gooseberries which have produced a modest crop.  They are very delicious to eat (luckily Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t care for raw gooseberries)  and those too small or too unripe will shortly be making an appearance in a dish of gooseberry fool.

The rambler roses continue to delight the eye.

rambler rose

We were visited by a jackdaw which made a good contrast to our smaller regulars.


The general supply of garden birds is much reduced and I am only having to fill the feeder once a day and sometimes not even that.

After lunch, I pulled myself together and got the speedy bike out.  After a lovely sunny morning, the clouds were looking threatening and heavy rain was forecast so I contented myself with a 3 x 7 mile dash up and down the road to Wauchope School and back.  I took my little camera but I concentrated so hard on the pedalling that I forgot to use it.

When I got back, Sandy came round and we went up to the Moorland Bird Feeders to see what we could see.  The moorland is showing a rich range of yellow, brown and green colours at the moment.


We didn’t have to wait long for the inevitable woodpecker to put in an appearance….


…and we also didn’t have to wait long before it started to rain.  It looked very gloomy and  we packed up and headed back to the town.  By the time we got there, the rain had stopped (of course) so we drove through the town and up on to the moor to see if any harriers were about.

They appeared even more promptly than the woodpecker and this time, the rain held off so we enjoyed half an hour of harrier watching.


As far as I could see, the birds were mostly the young from the nearby nest site and didn’t venture very high into the sky.  I wasn’t able to get very good shots but I’ve included a small set of pictures just to record their presence.  The birds rose and fell from behind the crest of the ridge, sometimes singly…


…but more often in groups of two or three or more.


The moorland managers are putting out food for the harriers and we could see them swoop down to pick it from the feeding posts and take it back up with them.  This was too indistinct for my camera to pick out and I had to wait until they were up in the sky.


Since the rain was holding off, the call of the lawn mower became too loud to ignore and we waved goodbye to the birds…


…and headed for home.

There I mowed the drying green and the grass round the greenhouse.  I have been looking at this grass for some days and wondering why Mrs Tootlepedal was letting it grow so long and it turned out that she has been looking at it and wondering the same about me.  The result was that it was extremely hard work to cut and I had to leave the middle lawn for another day.  I might have gone out later to do it but it started to rain which gave me a good excuse for doing the crossword instead.

We had the first carrots of the season, along with turnips, beans and potatoes from the garden for our tea.  Looking at other people’s gardens and allotments, we will not be the only ones enjoying a bit of home food at the moment in this fine spell of weather.  The food tastes all the sweeter after the two horrible summers we have had previously when home grown produce was hard to find.

The flying bird of the day was a domestic chaffinch in the morning sunshine.








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