Posts Tagged ‘salvia’

Today’s guest picture comes from Lucie, one of my Canadian correspondents, who took this fine view of  Lake Athapapaskow, a glacial lake in Manitoba, while on holiday.

Lake Athapapaskow

It took us some time to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t raining when we woke up but I recovered from the shock and got the fairly speedy bike out for the first time in September.  I wasn’t sure how my legs would be feeling after a week off and as it was quite breezy with a threat of light rain, I rather cravenly decided to do a turn in my ‘outside gym’ and cycle up and down the four and a bit miles to Cleughfoot three times.  This would give me the chance to bail out if the going got too tough.

It looked like a good decision when it started to rain just as I got to Cleughfoot on the first lap but I decided not to put on my rain jacket as that sort of thing only encourages bad weather and I was rewarded when the rain stopped before I started the second lap.

In the end, I managed the 27 miles quite happily and got home dry.

I didn’t take my pocket camera with me on the bike because of the threat of rain and although I took some pictures with my phone, they came out so badly that I couldn’t use them.  I walked round the garden when I got back to make up for this.

There was plenty to look at.


The nerines were enjoying the drier weather

More big lilies are coming out

More big lilies are coming out


The smaller poppies are surviving the wet weather the best


Though some of the bigger ones were open for business


And some were just open


The Salvia is surviving well


And the late astrantia is doing very well though I haven’t seen many bees on it at all


The clematis in the philadelphus is thriving

I had a shower and some lunch and then we went out into the garden and I mowed the middle lawn but as it had started to rain, this wasn’t as much fun as it might have been and we went back in and sat down to watch a chunk of the Tour of Britain bike race.

When it stopped raining, I went out again and sieved some compost and dead headed some poppies but it started to rain again so I went back in.

After the bike stage finished, I checked the weather and headed out to the riverside for a short walk.

A dipper posed for me on the banks of the Esk…


…and Mr Grumpy gave me a stare at the Meeting of the Waters.


I spotted a goosander among the many ducks on the Ewes Water…..


…and another dipper below the Sawmill Brig.


In between watching all the birds, a good crop on a tree in the Clinthead garden made me stop and look.

Clinthead crop

I don’t know what they are.  Some sort of crab apple perhaps?  I found a variety called Malus Royalty which looked a possibility.

I would have taken many more really interesting pictures if the battery on my Lumix had not given up but I had my phone in my pocket and pointed it hopefully at a few more things as I went along the new path on the Castleholm.

Autumn leave

Early colour


Tiny fungus on a log end


Pretty as a picture


The horse chestnuts seem to change colour earlier than any other trees.

I looked over the hedge into our garden as I got back.  There is still quite a lot of colour but the leaves on the lawn make it look autumnal.

n in September 2017

I had timed my walk well as I just had enough time to dead head the calendula before it started to rain again.

To be fair, the evening cleared up well and the day finished on a thoroughly good note when Mike and Alison appeared and Alison and I had a very cheerful time playing a selection of pieces, several of which sounded as though the composer would have recognised them without any difficulty.

No flying bird of the day or any substitute at all this evening.  I will try to do better tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my daughter’s working trip to Venice.  After the storm had passed, she got a better view out of her office window.


We woke to a brilliantly sunny morning and I got up into my cycle clothes, ready for a pedal in the sun.  A look at the thermometer, which was showing a meagre 7°C, suggested that a leisurely breakfast and a good read of the morning papers might be a good idea.

I did get going when the the thermometer hit 9° but it still seemed quite chilly even in the sun.   I couldn’t complain about the views today though….


…but the one of the locals seemed a bit miffed by me standing in her line of vision.

Bloch cow

I cycled an extended loop, taking in Kirkpatrick Fleming and Gretna on my way to Canonbie.  I didn’t stop too often for photos as I had a busy afternoon in mind but the call of this little stream was too much for me….

The Black Sark

…especially as it had a nice bridge over it with some convenient steps so that an elderly photographer could get down on to its bank with ease and dignity.

Black sark Bridge

Every bridge should have such a set of steps.

Black sark Bridge

The reason for cycling an extended Canonbie loop was twofold, first because it was such a beautiful sunny day, with big blue skies….

Gretna road

…and secondly because the 34 miles took me over 500 miles for the month, a total which I consider a minor triumph these days.  One of the best things about being retired is that I can make good use of whatever sunny moments there are in a day so in spite of the rotten August weather, I managed to get out fifteen times during the month and hardly got rained on at all.

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and she was literally surrounded with butterflies at times.  There must have been more than twenty peacocks and red admirals flitting about and it was a great sight to see them fill the air above the flowers.

I found a peacock on a calendula….

peacock butterfly on calendula

…and a red admiral on a Michaelmas daisy.

red admiral butterfly

And the shining dahlia had visitors all afternoon.

dahlia with red admiral butterfly

There were poppies and bees again but I noticed a Welsh poppy which I thought compared very well with the Shirley poppies…

Welsh poppy

…and not all the insects were bees.

hoverfly on cosmos

A hoverfly on a cosmos

I do like the Shirley poppies when they have just come out and still have that crumpled paper look.

Shirley poppy

Among the poppies, the cornflowers are a bit overshadowed but they are always well worth a look.


There is a single salvia among the phlox but it is looking better every day.


Oddly, the camera sees it as much more purple and less blue than my eyes sees it but it is still a pretty flower.


Among all the flowers, the seed pods of the tree peony are rather subdued but quite impressive at the same time.

tree peony pods

The main business of the afternoon was a shopping trip to Carlisle, where many necessities were purchased. These included three big bags of farmyard manure, three small bags of coffee beans from around the world (Rwanda, Malabar, Java) and four smaller bags of tea leaves from India and Ceylon.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have different views of what a necessity is.

It is wonderful to get such treats in a very small city tucked into the far north western corner of England but although you may think that Carlisle might be a little provincial and perhaps even dull, I can report that for today at least, it was a very hip place indeed.


Seen beside the road to the station

I had to wait in the car for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal visited a shop, no hardship in a car park with this fine view of the city walls…

City walls and carlisle cathedral

…and I was almost as surprised as she was when she came back to the car and revealed that she had been into a clothes shop and actually bought some clothes.

We rounded off our shopping with a visit to a discount supermarket and arrived home, tired but happy.  For the first time, I used my phone to pay for our parking time in Carlisle and I must say it is a useful thing to know exactly how long you have left on the virtual meter as being even a minute over time can incur a substantial fine in these days of cash strapped councils.

We passed though brief showers of rain both on the way down and the way back but the sun was shining brightly when we got home and the butterflies were still flitting about.

I ignored them though and took a picture of two nicotiana catching the evening rays.


We had a refreshing cup of Broken Orange Pekoe tea when we went in.

My body was somewhat tired by the end of the day but my spirit was refreshed by the sunshine.

No flying bird of the day today but its place is taken by a fine display of rolls made from scratch by my son Tony.  He tells me that they reminded him of the rolls he used to buy from Dropscone’s bakery when he was a boy.

Tony's rolls


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Today’s guest pictures were sent to me by Langholm exile Tom and show that the South Africans are just as good at spoiling beautiful scenery with power lines as we are.


We enjoyed the last day of our good weather today and I had a busy but uneventful time.

It started when Sandy came round to borrow my trimmer to trim his entries for the Canonbie Flower Show (who rather annoyingly use a non standard size for their entries).

Then I popped out for a quick 20 mile bicycle ride (and because of the very light wind, it was quite quick by my standards).

Then there was time to look round the garden and see some of the new flowers which have arrived, some quite routine…



…and others, more exciting.




The first hint of colour in the cardoons

There is a lot of colour in one of the beds along the front lawn.

Special Grandma at her best

Special Grandma at her best



dahlia and astrantia

dahlia and astrantia

There are clematis flowers to be seen elsewhere.  One is a curious green and white affair where it is hard to tell the flowers from the leaves and the other is in the wrong place or so the gardener tells me.


And the Golden Syllabub has finally produced a reasonable bloom.

Golden Syllabub

So in spite of it being the season of berries…


…and seeds….

next years poppies

Next year’s poppies being prepared

…we are still in cheerful mood.

Especially as I ate the first plum of the year today.

The rest of the day was spent going to Edinburgh to visit Matilda, who was in excellent form.


A little football on the lawn revealed that she has an excellent left foot and can shoot straight.

We had a good time playing in her tiny garden and enjoyed a meal of various curries before walking back through the town in a very mellow evening light…

Calton Hill

…and catching the train home again.

Our drive from Lockerbie to Langholm was illuminated by a generous moon and I took a picture of it when we got home.

full moon

In fact, I took two pictures with different exposures and very different results.

Full moon

A tree just got into the picture in this shot.

The flower of the day is one of the prolific poppies (and friend) which brighten our garden up at the moment.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother and shows two of his venerable sisters discussing a very interesting blog over breakfast while they were visiting him.  (This is an entirely spontaneous moment and there is no element of artificial posing in this picture.)

Discussing The BlogOur fine weather took leave of absence for a while today and, after a night of rain, it was still raining in the morning so Dropscone had to drive round with the scones rather than cycle as he usually does.

I spent some time, when not drinking coffee and scoffing scones, preparing some cards for sale for the benefit of the Archive Group funds.  It is amazing how long this takes between printing the pictures, printing the cards and gluing them together and then putting the result into a little pack with an envelope.  I enjoy doing it though and it is always nice when you find that a card has been sold.

While waiting for ink and glue to dry, I had time to look out of the window.  Towards lunchtime, the weather brightened up a bit but there were still spots of rain about..


There were lots of sparrows about too.

blue tit

A blue tit enjoying the shelter of the new feeder

blackbirds and plums

The blackbirds kept visiting the plum tree

We are beginning to get regular visits from starlings.


A starling channelling Audrey Hepburn


Working as a team

A single goldfinch appeared with no sign of any youngsters….

goldfinch…and showed good skills in using the feeder hole without a perch.

goldfinchWhen the rain stopped, I ventured out into a rather soggy garden.  I resisted the urge to take pictures of raindrops and roses and settled for raindrops on cobwebs instead.

raindropsThe poppies were either beaten to the ground or hanging their heads and only one little one was left to smile at me.

poppiesThe salvias seem impervious to rain.

salviasAfter lunch, I had time to check out a badly painted robin….

robin…before going off to the High Street to take my turn in the Information Hub there.  It was slightly annoying that it was at this moment that the weather took a decided turn for the better but such is life.

There was an art exhibition by the local art club on display in the hub and although it is not a big room, the display looked very attractive and I hope the camera club will have a show there soon.  I didn’t have many tourists to keep informed (one to be precise) but luckily there was an art club member there so at least I had someone to talk to and this helped to pass the time.

When I shut up, the sun was shining brightly and as I had Pocketcam with me, I decided to take a diversion round the Kilngreen and Castleholm on my way home.

River Esk and Timpen

A perfect early autumn day

I could have waded across the Ewes and got on to the Castleholm through this gate….

Castleholm gate…but I sensibly took the route across the sawmill brig and kept my feet dry.  There was lots to see as I wandered along.

moss and treesCastleholm pathfungus…but I couldn’t dally too long as I had an appointment in Carlisle to keep.

I don’t usually take pictures of other people’s garden as it seems a bit rude to steal their beauty but I felt that Jim’s dahlias deserved a wider audience than just those who walk down Walter Street.

Jim's dahliasA truly stunning display.

After a quick cup of tea, I set off to Carlisle Station for the big event of the day, the return of Mrs Tootlepedal.  She arrived only a few minutes late and we drove home safely and got back in perfect time for a plate of ragu and tagliatelle.

I am a very cheerful person.

The flying bird of the day, caught in the gloomy morning rain, is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture arises from some coloured wools that Dropscone gave to Mrs Tootlepedal.  She converted some of them into a colourful edition of Shaun the Sheep and the picture shows Leo, Dropscone’s grandson, giving Shaun a warm welcome.

Leo and ShaunThere has been some wet and windy weather in Britain over recent days but by and large, we in Langholm have escaped unscathed and today was no exception, with occasional sunshine and light winds.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda and I put the day to good use at home.  I started by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and then went out into the garden to enjoy the pleasant weather.

I stood back from the flowers for a picture or two.


Mrs Tootlepedal has several clumps of Rudbeckia about and they are thriving.


She loves the blue of the salvias

I took closer looks too.

nasturtium and astrantia

A contrast in loud and soft between Nasturtium and Astrantia

I couldn’t go past the poppies.

poppy with astilbe

Poppy with astilbe


And poppy with poppy

I had just gone in again when Dropscone arrived bearing scones.  He has fully recovered from his mountaineering exploits and is back playing golf in good style.  He hasn’t lost his touch with the scones either.

After coffee, he went off to play golf with a friend and I watched the birds for a while.

A coal tit is never absent for long these days.

coal titSometimes they may be seen in concert with a blue tit.

blue tit and coal titOn the old feeder, the traffic was heavy.

Busy feeder

An incoming sparrow considering its options in the face of full perches and combined siskin hostility


A siskin competing with a siskin…

siskin and chaffinch

…and chatting to a chaffinch

I generally take pictures of flying birds on the right hand side of the feeder where there is space.  On the left hand side, careful navigation is necessary.

chaffinchI put down the camera and went out to sieve a little compost and mow the drying green and the grass round the greenhouse.  I should have mowed the middle lawn too but I got distracted by a crossword and then lunch and never got round to it.

The crossword proved quite tricky and it wasn’t until well after lunch that I finally got some cycling gear on and took the fairly speedy bike out for some exercise.

Following my policy of being a bit less timid about my route choice, I cycled over the hill to Newcastleton.  This has an energetic start to a ride with a climb up onto the Langholm moor right at the beginning.  Having climbed up out of the Esk valley, the road promptly drops down to the Tarras valley and then just as promptly climbs up to the county boundary at 1100ft. I started at 250ft in Langholm and the drop into the Tarras valley cost me 250 hard earned feet so the total climb was 1100ft in six miles and I was happy to stop and take a picture or two when I got to the summit.

Langholm Moor

Looking back towards the monument on the horizon.  The hills have turned brown now.


Looking forward into Liddesdale.

As you can see, there were some threatening clouds about and I was beginning to worry about the wisdom on my route choice but the next four and a bit miles were 750 feet straight downhill to Newcastleton on a road with a good surface and few bends so I whizzed along hoping to beat any bad weather.  My first six miles took 42 minutes, the next four and a bit took 12.

Once at Newcastleton, I turned south and headed for Canonbie.  This is an undulating road with lots of ups and downs so once again I was happy to stop near a minor summit to take a picture or two.


Large portions of this hill are now lying under the M6 extension from Carlisle to Gretna.  The have chopped the top of the hill right off.

Liddesdale road

I had fortunately left the bad weather behind me.

I was quite enjoying the hilly ride so I turned off just before Canonbie and took the strenuous route home.   At 26 miles. the trip was more or less the same distance as yesterday’s jaunt but the climb was nearly double so I was quite pleased to get home in good order.

I had time to make  a sausage stew and have a shower before Mrs Tootlepedal got home and then we had to get ready to go out again.  This time we were going to Australia….but only via the Buccleuch Centre where they were showing a ‘live’ broadcast of a production of Aida on Sydney Harbour.

I love Verdi’s music and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening out but it was the weirdest production I have ever seen.  The singing was fine but being an outdoor production on a huge stage with a vast audience, it was a bit unrelenting in what should have been the quieter moments.  The big ensembles however were tremendous.  Mrs Tootlepedal was particularly delighted to be treated to real camels in the Grand March but I was disappointed not to get elephants.

The production values were odd.  The costumes were a mixture of kitsch Nazi, ancient Egyptian, modern European and fantasy Ruritanian, with the Ethiopian King looking like a bizarre cross between one of Santa Claus’ elves and Bruce Springsteen.  There was a totally mesmerising appearance of a chorus of disco dancing ladies at one point.

Still, any amount of wide eyed amazement at the production values couldn’t diminish the power of the music.  Some of the staging worked really well and the singing was good enough to get us thoroughly involved in the twists and turns of the plot.  What a treat.

My cycling outing got my total distance for this year up to 2500 miles so what with that and scones, lawn mowing and a Verdi opera, I really couldn’t have asked for a better day…not to mention the sausage stew.

The flying bird is a chaffinch going flat out for a vacant perch.

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 guest picture was sent to me by Tom, my South Africa correspondent.  Having seen some proteas far away in New Zealand in a recent guest picture, he has sent me a picture of some proteas from South Africa itself (with other local flowers).

ProteasOnce I had worked out that it wasn’t Wednesday. a notion which was firmly embedded in my mind when I woke up, Tuesday went quite well.

After breakfast, I cleaned the chain on the fairly speedy bike, purchased two bananas and set off to see how my legs were feeling.  The council has recently resurfaced a short but hilly section of the road to Lockerbie so I thought I would go and give it a test.  It turned out be very good and I was able to get full value from rushing down the hill on the smooth pothole free surface.  This is always a pleasure.  It is very annoying to puff your way to the top of a hill and find that the road is so bad on the downhill side that you have to creep down it with the brakes on.

In the end, I continued on to Lockerbie itself and then came home by way of Kirkpatrick Fleming, a round trip of 43 miles, without any complaint from either leg so the whole journey was most satisfactory.  After a sunny start, it was overcast….

View of Annandale

A view from the hill above Lockerbie looking west

….but warm and with light winds, perfect for cycling.   I took a photograph or two as I went round.


A large mushroom by the roadside. It looks like a field mushroom but I would have to pick it to make sure.

Tundergarth Church

The little church at Tundergarth

mysterious logs

Just south of Lockerbie there is a huge stack of logs in a field.  They have been there for some time.


A dock brightened up a banana stop.

After lunch, I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand in the garden and took a flower picture or two as well.


Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are sneezewort


The salvia seems to get bluer every day.


I like the hand painted look of this dahlia


The most productive of the clematis


A glimpse of sun on a cloudy day


The espalier has been cut back and the fruit revealed

The regal roses are enjoying the better weather.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta

Queen of Denmark

Queen of Denmark

At the moment, you are never far from a blackbird when you walk round the garden.

blackbirdIn the late afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a cycle ride of her own and I finished sieving the compost in Bin D and started the task of turning Bin C into the now vacant Bin D.  It will take a few days as I am careful not to wreck my fragile back by rushing the job.

In the evening, our friend Sue, who used to play with our recorder group, came over and we were joined by Susan for an hour or so of playing recorder trios.  Sue hasn’t played for a year but soon got into the swing of things and we had an most agreeable evening.

After playing, we had a cup of tea and Sue, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent some time enthusing about the joys of composting while Susan looked on quizzically.

All this activity didn’t leave me with much time for bird watching and once again a rather substandard flying bird of the day is the result.

flying chaffinch

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