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Today’s guest picture comes from my flute pupil Luke’s mother Sharon.  She has been on Orkney where she visited the chapel built by Italian POWs on the shell of a Nissen hut.

Orkney Chapel

We had a better day today but to make up for the lack of rain, the temperature had dropped a bit and it was still windy.

The cooler weather had not discouraged butterflies and there were several red admirals about…

red admiral september

…and the occasional peacock too.

peacock september

I noticed that one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s runner beans, planted among the flowers along the vegetable garden fence is producing a good crop.

beans on fence

The effort of riding the borrowed bike into a strong wind a couple of days ago had given me a sore knee, a very common complaint when you ride a bike with a slightly different riding position to your normal steed.  The rest yesterday had improved things a lot so I took the opportunity of the dry weather to test my knee with a short ride on my own bike.

Apart from having to battle with a brisk wind again, things went very well, and I managed 10 miles without any knee trouble at all.

I stopped to admire a fungus beside the road, and if you wonder what was admirable about it….

mushroom

…it was the size that attracted my attention.

mushroom and foot

When I got home, I looked longingly at some ripe  plums on a very top branch on the plum tree, well out or reach.  The birds will have to enjoy them.

tall plums

I mowed the front lawn and got a good lot of grass off it.

It has been a good year for grass but the cosmos, which came out just  as the weather turned very wet, have generally  not enjoyed themselves at all.

poor cosmos

The various clematis have had a good year…

clematis on fence

…and crocosmia and poppies are lasting well.

poppies and crocosmialate poppy

After lunch, we went to Edinburgh to visit Matilda, and as well as the usual games, we introduced her to the delights of Clock Patience.  She impressed us by being able to say all the clock face numbers in Gaelic.

We had a lot of fun and the usual excellent meal and came home tired but content.

The flying bird of the day is a bee flitting about among the nicotiana.

bee on nocotiana

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal and features one of our plums.

ally's plum

The picture itself might not seem to be earth shattering but the fact that Mrs Tootlepedal took on her new smart phone and emailed it to me, is a giant leap for her into a whole new world of tech.

The acquisition of the new phone was the main business of the morning and involved a trip to Carlisle.  I had tried to get the phone sorted on-line yesterday but it proved an intractable business so we made an appointment to speak to real people in the EE shop in Carlisle.  This proved to be a really good idea, as an admirably competent young lady was able to add the new phone to my account, get Mrs Tootlepedal an excellent bargain for the monthly charge and give me an extra gigabyte of data thrown in.

She told us that the staff in the shop are no longer paid commission for hard selling, and indeed get no bonus for completing a sale at all.  They get their reward if customers speak highly of them when asked their opinion a week after the deal is done.  This is a good idea!

She sold us what we wanted, didn’t try to sell us anything we didn’t want, gave us a tremendous amount of technical help and sent us on our way in a very cheerful state of mind indeed.  We will speak highly of her when we are asked.

While we were in Carlisle, we bought some cheese, visited a bookshop where we had a cup of coffee, and wandered through a market in the middle of the town.  All in all, it was a very satisfactory morning.

When we got home, we had lunch and then we went out into the garden.  It was one of those days when the weather in Carlisle was bright and sunny but the weather in Langholm was grey and gloomy with the clouds down over the hills.

This is a bit hard to bear but I took a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new phlox just for the cheery colour.

phlox

In spite of the cloudy day, it was warm enough and at worst there was only a faint drizzle so we got a lot done.  I mowed the lawns and together we removed and binned what seemed like a hundred or more green plums from the poor old plum tree which is still overloaded with clusters of plums hanging on it like bunches of grapes.  The plums are beginning to ripen and plum jam is in the offing.

After the de-plumming, we sat for a while on the bench while we rested and looked around. Some nicotianas looked back at us from behind the yew.

nicotiana behind yew

On the fence behind the bench, the runner bean flowers made a good show.

runner bean flowers

More actual beans would not go amiss but we had a few with our evening meal.

Across the lawn, a bee visited the lamium…

bee on lamium

…while on the lawn, a harassed mother blackbird fed an ungrateful youngster.

blackbird feeding young

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and then I decided to go for a walk.   I  had only gone a few steps when my feet decided that a ‘bicycle walk’ would be better idea, so I got the slow bike out and cycled round an extended three bridges walk at a very leisurely pace.

You don’t see as much when you are on a  bicycle, no matter how slowly you go but I couldn’t miss the gull on its favourite rock…

gull on rock august

…or Mr Grumpy lurking more inconspicuously a few yards away down the river.

heron beside Elizabeth St

I cycled up the Lodge Walks and took a photograph.  It was a bit dull so I took the liberty of asking my photo editor to put an arty filter on it.  I quite liked the result.

arty Lodge walks

At the side of the road, this massive fungus was easily visible at any speed.

fungus Lodge walks

The sun came out as I pedalled along, and it turned into a very pleasant evening.

pheasant hatchery road

In the low sun, the trees looked delightful both in general…

castleholm trees

…and in particular.

castleholm tree

I would have liked to have been on foot, but I bumped along the track on my bike happily enough.

pheasant hatchery track

I passed the Duchess Bridge but did not cross it…

duchess bridge in shade

…and went on to the Jubilee Bridge and the Scholars’ Field to make my way home.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their usual Friday evening visit, and Alison and I played some very satisfactory duets, including a Telemann Sonata which we haven’t played for some time and which went very well all things considered.

The hard working mother blackbird is standing in for the flying bird of the day.

blackbird on lawn

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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…

dahlias

…and looked into closely.

dahlia

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

poppies

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…

nasturtium

…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.

Gaskell's

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

umbellifera

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

umbellifer

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

autumn

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…

fungus

Nothing fresh and new

…but there was plenty of lichen.

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.

potentillas

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.

poppy

 

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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.

Robin

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

siskins

…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

poppy

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

poppy

But I like the flashy ones too.

poppy pair

A new outbreak of poppy togetherness

poppy

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..

crocosmia

Mixed crocosmia looking good

sunflowers

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

…white….

phlox and nicotiana

Phlox and nicotiana

and blue….

salvia

Salvia

…and some not patriotic ones too:  violet…

michaelmas daisies

Michaelmas daisies

…and yellow.

yellow flowers

Rudbeckia and sunflower

There was additional white….

hosta

Hosta

…and green….

runner beans

Rampaging runner beans

…and green and white.

clematis

Clematis

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

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.

dahlias

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.

sparrows

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.

clematis

A fairly indestructible clematis.

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

chaffinch

 

 

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