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Posts Tagged ‘scilla’

I would like to thank kind readers for sending me a positive flood of potential guest pictures and I have chosen one from Venetia’s African odyssey to start off.  It shows a gemsbok which appealed to me as it appeared in a recent crossword as an answer to a cryptic clue.  It is good to see what one actually looks like.

Oryx aka gemsbok,

We were slightly worried about the weather at the start of the day as Mrs Tootlepedal was due to go to London on family business and the the forecasts regarding Storm Gareth were quite alarming.  As it turned out, we avoided the worst of the overnight weather and things looked like this in Langholm this morning.

quiet after storm

In the event, both bus and train ran to time and Mrs Tootlepedal is safely ensconced in the south as I write this.  Doubtless she is relaxing under a palm tree and enjoying a beaker of the  blushful Hippocrene  with beaded bubbles winking at the brim.  I believe this is the standard practice down there.

After Mrs Tootlepedal left to catch the bus, I went to the dentist on my bike and discovered that I am going to have to have two small fillings.  As I am grateful to still have some teeth to fill, I shall not complain.

On my way home I passed a goosander checking to see what was under the surface.

ducking goosander

It stayed pretty sunny all morning and I was a bit sad that a sore foot kept me housebound, although the strong and chilly wind would have kept me off my bike anyway.

I looked out of the window at the daffodils which have come to join the hellebore under the feeder.

hellebore and daffs

Up above, the was plenty of action.

busy feeder

I made some multicoloured lentil soup for my lunch and I felt strong enough to have a wander round the garden.

The first scillas are in flower…

scilla

…and a couple of frogs had arrived in the pond.

march frog

I was just settling down for a rather boring afternoon when providentially Sandy arrived bringing our shared mount cutter which I will need to prepare pictures for our forthcoming camera club exhibition.  We had a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and then when I expressed a wish for a short outing in the car to at least get out out of the house, Sandy suggested a trip up the hill to see if we could see a wild goat or two.

The sun had gone in and there was a hint of drizzle but the call of the wild was strong.

We actually saw three goats but when we stopped and got out of the car, they scurried over a bridge (no doubt going ‘trip trap’) and made off up the hill.

goat near bridge

This was the bridge that they crossed.

tarras bridge

It has Sandy on top of it and no trolls underneath.

Slightly disappointed with this small sighting, we continued up the road towards the county boundary, seeing no goats as we went along.

Deprived of goats we looked at the Black Grain Burn instead.  It winds its way down the hill beside the road…

copshaw road burn

…making sudden sallies and sparkling among the ferns as it bickers down the valley…

It has a multitude of little cascades of….

small copshaw road waterfall

…various…

middle copshaw road waterfall 2

…sizes.  I took two shots of the middle sized one because I liked the spangled curtain of peaty water.

middle copshaw road waterfall

This was the biggest.

copshaw road burn down

It is a little gem of a place and we intend to come back later in the year when things are greener, the sun is out and a picnic might be in order.

copshaw road burn with tree

It is a magical spot and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it has a bank where the wild thyme grows.

We drove on to the county boundary and saw nothing of interest in the wild life category…well to be truthful, we saw no wildlife at all.

We didn’t stop long as the chilly wind was fairly whistling past us.

We were peacefully driving back down the hill when we were brought to a sudden stop by spotting a good number of goats just by the road.  We must have passed them without seeing them on our way up.

The Langholm Moor feral goats are a fine sight with immensely shaggy coats and notable horns.

solo goat

They got a bit fidgety when we got out of the car and made their down the road ahead of us…

crowd of goats

…but not without a bit of headbutting and prancing on the way.

leaping goat

They stopped soon after and let us take some more pictures.

goat profile head

We took the opportunity gratefully.

goat profile left

The light was fading so we drove on with one last stop to let me take a quick snap from the car of the first lambs that I have seen this year.

first lambs

It was an excellent outing and I was grateful for Sandy for giving me an excuse to get out of the house.

I made an enormous bowl of cauliflower cheese for my tea and surprised myself by eating it all.  I had to let out a notch in my belt afterwards.

In the middle of more parliamentary mayhem in the evening, I listened to a conservative MP talking soberly and sensibly while outlining a perfectly sensible cross party plan of action which as he said would satisfy most of the 52% leave voters without insulting the 48% remain voters.  He was so sane and reasonable that I fear that he has no future in politics.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving the world a sideways look in the morning sun.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a child friendly door that took Mary Jo’s fancy on her visit to Copenhagen.  Clever marketing.

copenhagen door

We could hardly believe it when we got another warm and pleasant day today.  It made cycling to church to sing in the choir a treat and gave us every incentive to get out in the garden when we got back.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent her time productively while I wandered around taking pictures.

Things are coming on.

Old friends are getting better…

cowslip

…and new ones are coming to join them.

primrose

Grape hyacinths are appearing everywhere…

muscari

..and the scillas are bunching up nicely.

scilla

We are getting nearer to peak daffodil each day…

daffodil

…and some flowers which have been modestly out for quite a bit in the chilly weather are throwing out more colour in the warmth.

primrose

primula

There are exciting hints of delights to come (though the magnolia is taking its time).

magnolia and tulip

…and some shrubs are showing colour too, like this spirea.

spirea

I had a lot of choice but this was my daffodil of the day.

daffodil

Putting down my camera, I picked up the lawn mower and gave some moss a fright.

lawn care

This was the first mowing of the reshaped middle lawn.  There is evidence of some grass growing on it which is a relief after a long, cold, damp spell when it looked as though it was going to be totally mossy.  There is a lot of work to be done before that one beautiful week in late June or early July when the currently speckled mossy area will look like a proper grassy lawn.  (It starts to go downhill again shortly afterwards.)

In the afternoon we combined some shopping, including getting some slabs for Mrs Tootlepedal’s new bench area, with singing with our Carlisle choir.  Our musical director, Andrew was back for the first time for a while and it was a treat to get the meticulous attention which he plays both to our singing and to the learning of new songs.

Just so that we didn’t get carried away, it was raining gently when we came out of the practice but it had stopped by the time that we got home and our warmer spell looks set to continue for a while at least.

In the gap between mowing the lawn and going to Carlisle, I had sardines on toast for my lunch and an opportunity to look out of the kitchen window.  The usual suspects were busy…

busy feeder

…and sometimes, very busy.

busy feeder

The redpolls have become a permanent fixture for a while at least, returning every day…

redpoll

…and I was particularly pleased to see a newcomer at the feeder today in the shape of a tree sparrow.

tree sparrow

I had been thinking only a day or two ago that it would be nice to see a tree sparrow and hey presto, one appeared.  Now I am thinking that it would be nice to win the lottery.

Any spare moments during the day were taken up by battling with an intransigent crossword puzzle.  In the end, I had to ring up my sister Mary to share notes on the more convoluted answers and between us we puzzled out the setter’s obscurities to our mutual satisfaction.

The flying bird of the day is one of our standard chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a cheery looking cottage with a rather mournful sign.  My friend Bruce visited it in the village of Eyam in the Derbyshire dales.

plague cottage

Our spell of grey, cold and windy weather continued today and as I woke up with a pain in my side which had come from who knows where and wouldn’t go away, I got progressively gloomier as the day went on.

I started with a stroll round the garden to find the daffodil of the day…

daffodil…and then tested out the ability of the Lumix to take a bird picture through the kitchen window…

goldfinch

…and followed that by brief walk with Patricia to stretch her legs before catching the train back to London.  We walked along the river between the suspension bridge and the town bridge and then walked back along the other side.

I had hoped for some bird life to show our visitor and was pleased to see a dipper flitting about the river.  It did so much flitting that I couldn’t get a picture of it and once again had to settle for a more obliging oyster catcher.

oyster catcher

After coffee, we went off to Carlisle where Patricia caught her London train and Mrs Tootlepedal, after a brief burst of shopping and a light lunch, caught the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  Meanwhile, I visited the bike shop to organise the pedal specification for my new bike (still two weeks away) and then went home, passing the cathedral….

Carlisle cathedral

…and a splendid bank of municipal daffodils on my way back to the car.

carlisle daffs

Once home, I had time for a light lunch of soup and cheese before an old friend came round to get my help in booking flights to and from Barcelona.   As she has no access to a computer, she finds it impossible to do this for herself.   With a bit of a struggle, we managed to find suitable flights and booked them but as I don’t fly, it was all new and sometimes baffling to me.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all turns out right.

I gave my friend a lift home and then took a walk round the garden, looking both down…

scilla

…and up…

forsythia

..and managing to avoid the outstretched grasp of the silver pear in between.

silver pear

I did think about a cycle ride but my ribs were sore and the wind was biting so I went back indoors and watched the birds in a glum sort of way.

Once again, there were plenty to watch in spite of occasional (unsuccessful) fly throughs from the sparrowhawk.

busy feeder

The siskins were not here today but there were a lot of goldfinches so the seed still went down at a good speed…

busy feeder

…and the regular chaffinches were as anxious to make their feelings known as ever…

_DSC3173

…either behind the back or face to face.

_DSC3172

We have been getting visits from quite a few pigeons lately.  They always seem to have slightly pursed lips and a disapproving air about them.

pigeon

Having discarded thoughts of cycling, my gloomy mood kept me from walking too and I just slouched about the house looking mean, moody but far from magnificent for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, I picked up Susan and we drove to Carlisle where the healing properties of playing recorder music with a sympathetic group came to the fore and cheered me up enormously.

I was cheered even more by going to the station after finishing playing, to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the Edinburgh train before coming back to Langholm

We are going to have a quiet day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin who is making friends with a cactus out in Spain while we shiver here.

cactus

We had some equivalent sunshine at the start of the day….

chaffinch and goldfinch

…but it couldn’t disguise the fact that it was jolly chilly again and I had to put a coat on as I cycled to church to sing in the choir.   As the other two choirs that I sing with are on holiday this week, it was doubly enjoyable to get the chance of a good sing today.

The sun was still out when I got home and I had a wander round the garden to see if there were any developments.

A scilla or two had come out to join the chionodoxa in the very small blue flower department…

chionodoxa and scilla

…and a resilient primrose is producing more flowers…

primrose

…not far from where a fancy daffodil that Mrs Tootlepedal recently purchased is doing its best to defy the cold.

daffodil

But on the whole, we are still waiting for spring, although there are signs.

potential flowers

I went in to make some soup, using some parsnip which Mrs Tootlepedal recently dug up from the vegetable garden.  It has got through the winter well and with the addition of WETILA*, it made for a tasty soup.

I noticed a few greenfinch about as I cooked.

greenfinch

After lunch, I considered my options.  It was still cold, with a sharp but fairly light north easterly wind and the sun had gone in.  It seemed to be dry enough for a cycle ride so I wrapped up well, got the  slow bike and a banana out and went off heading north into the wind and up the main road.

The holiday traffic was light, with very few lorries and a glimpse of sunshine ahead up the Ewes Valley…

Ewes valley

…made the trip look well chosen.

However, although there were fine trees to admire on my way up the valley…

Ewes valley tree

…the combination of the sun going in quite quickly and the arrival of a short but crisp hail shower made me look at things in a different light.

It was a fairly gloomy light, with a covering of snow on the higher hills…

Ewes valley

…and patches still left beside the road.

Mosspaul road

So when I got to the top of the hill at Mosspaul, I didn’t go down the other side as I had vaguely planned to do but instead, turned when I got to this little cottage tucked into a sheltered spot…

P1080565

…and headed back down the road to Langholm and warmth.

Mosspaul road

The eleven miles home, downhill and with the wind behind me, were a pleasure.

Because my ride had been shorter than planned, I still had time for a walk but the afternoon got greyer as it went on and I decided to watch the birds for a bit before deciding what to do.

A chaffinch rudely turned its back on me but at least it gave me a good shot of its colourful wing feathers.

chaffinch

I noticed a small group of jackdaws poking around in a flower bed at the top of the lawn.

jackdaw

Obviously, in spite of the cold weather, nest building was on their minds.

One of them broke away to visit the fat ball feeder and warned the others off with an imperious gesture of the wing…

jackdaw

But it was only a gesture and it was soon seen off by a fiercer bird with a piercing eye.

jackdaw

The jackdaws didn’t stop for long and I gave up the idea of a walk and went out to do some preliminary work on the second of the four new raised beds.

20180401_171148

It is now more or less in position and the new, wider path between the beds is beginning to become obvious.

While I was out in the garden, I was visited by some young friends who were hoping to see frogs in our pond.  Alas, the frogs are gone to wherever it is that our frogs go to.  They had just come back from a holiday in Portugal and their father told me that the whole family was feeling the cold back in Scotland.  That’s the trouble with sunshine holidays in winter.  You have to come home again.

We are forecast a very cold day tomorrow with the possibility of snow but after that things should warm up a little at least.  It can’t come soon enough.

The flying bird of the day is one of the ever reliable chaffinches.

chaffinch

*WETILA:  Whatever Else There Is Lying About,  a very common ingredient in soups.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  A wood pigeon has made a nest in her hornbeam tree and looks quite comfortable there.

pigeon in hornbeam

We had a dry and sunless day and the wind had calmed down a lot so I thought it might be a good day to get out on my bike.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to help sort the choir music out and in her absence, I pleasantly surprised myself by getting my bike out,  then cleaning and lubricating the chain and finally getting on it and actually going for a ride.

Even with the lighter wind, it was still quite chilly so I concentrated on getting round the 20 mile Canonbie route as quickly as possible (not very quickly) and didn’t stop to take any pictures.

I made up for that when I got home and watched the birds and walked round the garden with camera in hand.

Flowers first:

cowslippy things

A bunch of ‘cowslippy’ things

scilla

The scillas are still looking good

euphorbia

Tiny little flowers have appeared among the crabs claws on the euphorbia

tulip

Some tulips are looking good but there are plenty of tulips still to come

daffodil

My favourite of the day

The birds keep coming…

busy feeder

…from all directions.

And they keep squabbling too.

siskins squabbling

siskins squabbling

While I watched the birds, I made some red soup for lunch (carrots, sweet potato, red peppers…..it was very red) and when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from Carlisle, she had time to have some for her lunch before she went off again, this time to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda…

matilda

…who was enjoying some flowers herself this morning.  (Photo by Dad)

When she had gone, I sieved a little more compost and then put my camera in the slow bike’s back bag and went off to see what i could see beside the river.

There were a lot of grey and pied wagtails flitting about on the rocks in the Esk at the Cogie….

wagtails

…but the light was dull and they were too far away to get good pictures.  I enjoyed sitting on a handy bench and watching them though.

Then I went up to the stretch between the bridges where I had seen the goosanders yesterday but they weren’t there today.

Two oyster catchers kindly stood in for them.

oyster catchers

One looked for food in the pools among the rocks.

oyster catcher

While I was watching the oyster catchers and simultaneously talking to a fellow camera club member and his wife, I was distracted by a low flying object….

goosanders

…which turned out to be the goosanders going up river at speed.

I followed them at a leisurely pace and found them floating about in the Ewes.

goosanders

They did a lot of underwater work but I would need a whole different camera set up to photograph them fishing.

I hoped to catch a dipper too but I only got a fleeting glance of one as it flew off immediately I got near it at the Sawmill Brig.  I didn’t spend time hoping that it would come back but moved on past the tree of the day…

tree with sheep

…which was enhanced by sheep and went on to the Jubilee Bridge in the hope of seeing nuthatches at the nest there.

I was in luck and saw a couple of visits.

nuthatches

I think that the nuthatch was busy making the insert into the nesting hole which makes it as narrow as practicable.

I got home with time to tackle the crossword before settling down to process the day’s pictures and then have a baked potato for my tea.

In the evening, Susan came to pick me up and we went to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  We had an excellent evening of music (and first rate biscuits and tea to follow).   We are going to meet a little less often after many years of trying to meet weekly and our next meeting won’t be until the end of May so it was good that we had such an enjoyable evening of playing to mark the end of an era.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned safely from Matilda, with whom she had played Snap, by the time that I got home.

The flying bird of the day is a serious minded chaffinch, keeping a wary eye out for any unseemly rough behaviour at the feeder.

chaffinch

He has the air of Mrs May about him, I thought.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa.  While he was up near the Orange River, he saw this a tree.  It may not look much but he tells me that  the tree is a Shepherd Tree, the tree of life which is useful for man and beast.  It is probably 3 to 4 hundred years old.

P3150069

My plan for the morning was to get up early, have a nourishing breakfast and then cycle 40 miles and be back before noon.  It was a good plan and it worked.

I chose a very boring route, straight down the main roads and back but it was very satisfying except that my average was 14.99 mph rather than the 15 mph that was in my mind.  You can’t have everything though.

Conditions were perfect and the roads were empty….

A7

…and there is a very convenient bench exactly at the twenty mile turning point where an old man can get a seat for a few minutes and eat his banana.

seat at Newtown

The sharp eyed will notice a pair of thick gloves beside the banana.  It was quite crisp when I started and although it was a lovely day, it never got very warm and I kept the gloves on for the whole ride.

Beside the bench was a gate and a willow tree so that made it an even better place to spend some time.

Newtown

On my way, I passed a large number of people behaving very suspiciously in a field.  It turned out to be a metal detectorists’ rally.    Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked to have been there as she dreams of turning up a Roman coin in our garden.

I got home in plenty of time to make a venison and mushroom stew for the slow cooker, watch the birds for a bit and walk round the garden.

The birds were very active again even though the sparrowhawk is making regular flying visits.

Newtown

It is hard to look really threatening when your mouth is full

redpoll and chaffinch

The little redpoll is not scared of the bigger chaffinch

goldfinch and siskin

A goldfinch and siskin rose to heights of aggression

flying chaffinch

And a chaffinch has had enough of all this and is going home.

In the garden, the tulips are coming on well…

red tulips

..in a good variety of colours.

tulips

The chionodoxas have swiftly passed but the scillas are still very much alive and kicking…

fritillary and scilla

…and they make a dainty contrast to the more sober fritillaries.

The reason that I had to be back from the cycle ride was that it was a choir day so after a shower and some lunch, I went off to Carlisle to have a sing.

There are a lot of very small houses in Carlisle dating from the time when it was a railway centre and had a thriving industrial scene.  This row is right opposite the church where we sing.

Carlisle terrace

There are seven front doors in the picture and severalof the houses are just about as small as a house can be.

We spent the whole practice on one song, a tricky thing for me with a heavily syncopated style and a lot of words in a very short space.  Ominously, the practice went so well that the conductor talked of us be able to learn it off by heart.  This undoubtedly means that he has his heart set on some clapping at the very least and possibly clapping and swaying.  Nightmare!

We should have tried less hard.

I thought about a little sightseeing on my way home but instead settled for the direct route and a walk round the town when I got back.

I passed our magnolia on my way out of the garden and thought that it was worth another look.

Magnolia

My aim was to enjoy the evening light and take a picture of anything that caught my fancy in the course of a half mile stroll.

Parish Church

The Parish Church seen across the Wauchope

Castleholm trees

Trees on the Castleholm, seen across the Esk

But I was distracted by birds.  There were two goosanders again.  The male was floating down the choppy waters of the Esk between the bridges at a great rate…

goosanders

…and I saw the female doing a little fishing in some calmer waters further upstream.

Mr Grumpy must have done something bad because he was behind bars.

heron

Whatever it was, he looked sorry about it.

When I got back, I sieved another modest amount of compost and picked the first rhubarb of the year.  Subsequently, I ate my venison stew and followed it up with some rhubarb and custard.

Mrs Tootlepedal is having a good time with Matilda in Edinburgh but plans to be home some time tomorrow.  I shall be pleased to see her.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce, who recently met this Glasgow tram at the Crich National Tramway Museum.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going to university’

glasgow tram

We had what is probably the last of our superbly sunny spring spell today.   As is all too common in life, instead of being out in the sun, I had to sit inside the Welcome to Langholm visitor centre for two hours in the morning as it has just opened for the new season.

At least I did get a couple of visitors to welcome and I was able to to spend some useful time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so, although I would have preferred to be out cycling, it wasn’t time wasted.

I was also in a  very good mood as Dropscone had come  round for an early cup of coffee before I went to work, bringing a mountain of drop scones with him.  These disappeared so quickly as we drank our coffee that we could only consider that they must have been of the very top quality.  Naturally, as Dropscone had made them.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having already put an undercoat of paint on another door upstairs.  I got the mower out and finished pressing the moss on the middle lawn and then I had a wander round.

There are a host of daffodils now…

daffs

…and new flowers as well.

bergenia and a mystery flower

A bergenia and a mystery flower. Mrs Tootlepedal can’t remember what it is called.

tulip and magnolia

Hints of things to come

Pulsatilla

A Pulsatilla, our entry into the hairiest plant of the year competition

The pond was alive in the sunshine.

tadpole

A tadpole wriggles away from the heaving mass

frog

A frog thinks of things.

After a late lunch and a quick look out of the window…

chaffinches

A forceful male berates an oncoming female chaffinch

…I did a bit more mowing and sieved some compost and then I got the fairly speedy bike out and went off to stretch my legs.

I went far enough to see how the alder catkins are doing….

alder catkins

…but I didn’t get too far before I remembered that a friend had told me this morning that the wild goats on Langholm Moor were feeding right beside the road and would make a good photo opportunity.  I went back home and picked up Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker and we went off on a goat hunt.

We saw the goats (Mike spotted them) but the phrase ‘beside the road’ did not spring to mind as they were grazing a good distance from us to say the least….

wild goats

…and they had managed to find the only spot on the moor where a photograph might be spoiled by electricity lines.

Even with the zoom at full blast, they were too far away but you could see their fine horns.

wild goats

We couldn’t wait about too long as I had to be home in time for my flute lesson.  We did stop for a moment on the way back because a small group of bird watchers were having a good time watching hen harriers and we wondered if they were in view.  There was only time for the briefest glimpse of a female before we had to move on.

After a glance at my favourite view….

Ewes valley

…and Mike’s cherry tree as we dropped him off…

cherry tree

…we got home in good time for another look round the garden….

aubretia

The first aubretia has appeared

….and for my flute pupil Luke, who came for his lesson.  We are going to concentrate on tone production and technique for a week or two so I will have to practise hard myself if I am to set a good example.

The flower of the day is a scilla.  It is a pity that to get the best view of them, you have to be about three inches tall.

Scilla

The flying bird of the day is a passing chaffinch.

chaffinch

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