Posts Tagged ‘Shirley poppies’

Today’s guest picture shows Puffin Island off Anglesey.   My brother took the picture on a visit to Anglesey in May.

Puffin Island

We were offered a bright and breezy morning and I took the opportunity to gird up my loins and get out on the fairly speedy bike for the first time in October.  Because it was breezy, because there was always the possibility of rain and because I couldn’t think of anything else, I did three repetitions of the nine mile round trip to Cleughfoot and back.

My internet acquaintance known to me as Quercus pointed out recently that cycling on a familiar route could be considered recycling so I suppose that cycling three times on a familiar route might even be rererecycling.

I had my camera in my back pocket but a brisk wind in my face inclines me to keep my head down and not notice anything and whizzing along when the wind is behind means that I have passed anything interesting before I have registered it.

I did stop, because I had to, at my turning point and couldn’t avoid noticing a brilliant display of haws on a hawthorn…


…and I did notice, because I was specially looking out for them, a really fine crop of healthy sloes on the Cleughfoot road.


I don’t think that I have ever seen such a good crop before.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden when I got back.  She had just moved a delightful orange flowered potentilla with a view to finding a place where it will not be as crowded as it was this year.


I gave it a good watering in and then went to look at the poppies.  They are still very good value…

shirley poppies

…though the rather cold air seemed to have discouraged any bees from visiting today.

My favourite poppy of the day was floating above the pond.


The colours are just as they came out of the camera.  I have not improved them in any way.  Indeed, I think that it might be impossible to improve on such a lovely flower.

The dahlias were worth a look too.


You can see that hoverflies seem to be more weatherproof than honey bees.

We went in for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to do more gardening while I finished the crossword.   I then went out to cut back the blackcurrant bush and when I had shredded the clippings, I went to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was doing.

lawn shifting

She was cutting, shifting and stamping bits of turf at the end of the middle lawn as part of her new project for better beds, better paths, better space and better everything in this area next year.

It is a task that needs a lot of supervision so I selflessly took on the role.

Soon a round corner had become square….

new middle lawn

…and a curved edge had become straight.

new middle lawn

It will all look very neat and tidy by next spring.

(Notice that indispensable tool of the gardener, a piece of string, in action here.)

After the lawn work was finished, I sieved a bucket of compost but finding it a bit soggy after the recent rain, I stopped and wandered round taking pictures.

That great gardener Christopher Lloyd is very dismissive of Leycesteria in his garden shrub guide but I like it a lot even though it is invasive.


We have two sorts of jasmine on the go at the moment.  Winter jasmine and jasmine officinale.


The very last of the geraniums are looking pretty.


A late daisy.


And the sweet rocket has produced a second flowering.

sweet rocket

It was chilly working in the garden and there were one or two feeble efforts at rain over lunchtime but the relatively mild nights are keeping the supply of flowers going in a very satisfactory way.

We were quite ready for a cup of tea by the time that everything was cleared away.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a screening of La Bohème but as Puccini’s music generally leaves me cold, I stayed at home and did the washing up.

While the lawn works were going on, there were several sightings of the gardener’s friend….


…and we were not the only ones interested.



In spite of these two handsome birds, the flying bird of the day is not a bird at all but the sole big bumble bee that I saw today.  It was really getting stuck into the dahlia pollen.

búmble bee

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The guest picture for this post is not a guest picture  and it is not a poppy but a dahlia.  I took it at the same time as I was taking the poppies so I have put it in here regardless.

dahlia with bee

The poppies are attracting a lot of honey bees, the occasional hoverfly and bumble bees as well.  The noise when I went out this morning was startling as the bees competed to get the best pollen.  I snapped away like mad and I am just putting the results in here without further comment.


It was great to have s sunny interval to enjoy them.

I am ending the post as I started with a non poppy just by way of variety.  This is the new clematis.



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Today’s guest picture, from my ex-colleague Ada, shows a passing traveller whom she ran into (but not over)  on the road.


The forecast said that it would start to rain at 3pm today and it was absolutely spot on which made it lucky that I had managed to get my day organised on that basis.

I am still struggling to persuade my back muscles to relax on a full time basis so I went for a gentle 20 mile circuit of Canonbie on my bike after a leisurely breakfast.  I had time while I was getting mentally and spiritually prepared to pedal to walk round the garden admiring Mrs Tootlepedal’s packets of poppy seeds in action.

shirley poppies

Although she had to re-sow because of the poor weather and thus had to buy a second set of packets of seed, it still looks like good value for £15 (and quite a bit of gardening time) to me.

This was one of the few days when Dr Velo didn’t have a cure for feeling a bit old and tired so I let the wind and the hill discourage me for the first five miles but once I had first gravity and then the breeze helping me, I perked up a bit and got home safely.

I stopped three times, all on the first section of the ride, to take pictures.  The flowers on the rosebay willowherb beside the Wauchope road are going over but its red stems still give it a lot of colour.

rosebay willowherb

I stopped half way up the hill past the Bloch to admire the view….

Wauchope valley

…and the picture reflects the alternating sunshine and clouds that accompanied me on the rest of the trip.

I stopped again at the top of the hill when a mixture of heather and young trees in a replanted wood caught my eye.

heather and young trees

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed that it might be worthwhile to take the car up on to the Langholm Moor to see if we could see birds or goats.

I had a shower and a light lunch and off we went.

We saw lots of birds but no goats.  I had my new lens with me and although the light was quite poor by this time, I made an effort to record a bird we saw hunting near the road.

hen harrier

It was too quick for my trembling hand and the autofocus

hen harrier

I did a bit better when it hovered.

We are not very knowledgeable bird watchers but we think this is a female hen harrier.

After watching the bird for some time, we  drove on up to the county boundary….

County boundary

…which is marked by a fence at this point, in the hope of seeing some goats but there were none to be seen so we turned for home.

We stopped here  and there on the way back for me to enjoy the views and Mrs Tootlepedal to watch raptors through binoculars.

I like the bubbling little burn that runs down the hill beside the road.

Langholm Moor burn

Even though it was a bit gloomy, I could see the Lake District mountains, which I had visited not so long ago, across the other side of the Solway plain.


Nearer to hand, there was plenty of heather in bloom.


And it is always a pleasure to up on the moor.


Especially when there is a nice bridge to be seen on the way.

Tarras Bridge

We stopped to look at gulls on the Kilngreen when we got back to the town…

black headed gull

…and got home shortly before the forecast rain started.

I had time for a quick garden wander.

rambler roses

The very last of the rambler roses on top of the arch

sweet pea

A sweet pea in the cage that is necessary to keep it safe from the sparrows when it is young

two cosmos

The only cosmos in flower yet

I tried to take a picture of one of the cornflowers among the poppies but I got distracted…

Heliophilus pendulas

…by a Heliophilus pendulus, one of the many hoverflies.  It really enjoyed the flower.

Heliophilus pendulus

For once I am fairly sure about the identification (so I am probably wrong).

It didn’t rain very hard and occasionally even gave up in a half hearted sort of way but the afternoon remained dark and gloomy enough to persuade us to find things to do indoors.

Sandy dropped in and kindly collected my entry form and fees to take down to the Canonbie Flower Show secretary.  He has been tiling in his new house and will be pleased when he has finished the job.

The flower of the day is a dahlia with its own internal illumination….


…and the official flying bird of the day is one of the three black headed gulls that we saw on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull



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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her mother, shows the world’s greatest toddler considering hygienic matters.

MatildaJust for the record I note that we had another dry day today with the addition of some welcome sunshine.  It would have been a good day for cycling but there were more important things to think about.

Most of the day was spent taking Mrs Tootlepedal to the hospital in Dumfries where she got a cataract in one of her eyes removed.  Everything went very well and she is wearing a fetching eye patch as I write this and we are looking about for a handy parrot to round off her pirate queen impersonation.

The staff at the hospital could not have been better organised or more helpful and the whole thing was spiritually and physically painless so we were back out in two and half hours and were able to have a late lunch at a garden centre on the way home.

While were at the garden centre, several packets of bulbs and some bird food mysteriously fell into a basket which we were carrying around.  I was quite surprised to see a small tortoiseshell butterfly on one of the plants in their outdoor section.

tortoiseshell butterflyYou don’t expect to see real life among the rather artificial looking serried ranks of plants in a garden centre.

We got home safely and Mrs Tootlepedal went for a rest while I spent most of the rest of the afternoon selecting and printing out pictures for the Westerkirk Flower show tomorrow.  I always find it hard to pick show pictures and often end up choosing unsuitable photos even though I know that they won’t do well.  I have done better this time and at least I am entering eight respectable efforts….but there is still no guarantee that any of them will catch the judge’s eye.

In the morning, before we left for Dumfries, I had been very pleased to see a couple of robins in the garden.


This one was not very well drawn


This one was more the complete picture

In between times, I wandered round the garden…


Today’s poppy parade

…and was very pleased to find a butterfly here too.

peacock butterfly

It was a peacock butterfly on the Michaelmas daisies

It flew off before I could get a close up but returned a few minutes later and I was able to get penny plain and tuppence coloured members of the butterfly family.

butterfliesI kept an eye on my new feeder and put some of the new bird food into it.  It is proving a popular eating place among birds of taste and discrimination.

blue tit, great tit, coal tit

The tit family was well represented by blue tit, great tit and coal tit.

robin blue tit and siskin

And there was a robin and a siskin too….and another blue tit, the most frequent visitors.

As I was wandering about, I saw another young robin.

robinOn request, it posed properly.

robinI am not sure if this is the same one that I saw in the morning.  My robin identification skills are not good.

I made some bread and went off to get a pizza for our tea and enjoyed sharing it with Mrs Tootlepedal who seems to be none the worse for her adventure.  We have to go back to the hospital on Monday for a check that all is well.

In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison and Alison and I worked hard at our new Telemann Partita and were rewarded by some quite musical sounds.  Now that the nights are drawing in, I am going to try and be a bit more methodical about practising my flute.  I am never going to be a good player but I certainly have a great deal of scope for getting better.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture shows my friend Bruce’s dog Guthrie relaxing in Sheffield where he is on holiday.  He had two walks yesterday and felt the need of a little lie down.

GuthrieAs my knee was still sore, I was in full Guthrie mode today and did very little of note.  Another cold, windy, grey day helped ease the pain of having to waste time.  I did put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database so that was a plus point.

I set the camera up on the tripod again so I didn’t have to stand around holding it up but the gloomy weather made good bird shots impossible.  I clicked away though.


Siskins in a flap


Sparrows arriving in formation


Greenfinches landing with care.  Or maybe the same one twice.

It was very windy again and the roses and delphiniums are getting a battering but the day lilies are coming out as though there might be going to be no tomorrow.

day liliesI found some sheltered poppies and as always, was interested in the differences between very similar flowers.

poppiesThey all look much the same from the side.  I took another set of shots a little later.

poppiesYou can see that the bees had visited the one on the right.

I tested out the knee with a walk round the back of the house….

Fuchsia crocosmia

A flood of Fuchsia and the first flash of a Crocosmia

alchemilla and potentilla

Alchemilla and Potentilla

It is looking quite colourful along the back wall.

Going back to the front, I had another look at the alstroemeria, which I think are well worth a repeat viewing.

alstroemeriaThe arrival of the Ligularia….

ligularia…and the first phlox of the season….

phlox…is welcome, but these flowers bring a definite late summer air to the garden which is most unsatisfactory because we haven’t had a proper spring yet, let alone early summer.  It feels as though this year is going to be over before it has started.  I shall be interested to see the Met Office statistics when they come out.

After lunch, I tottered up to the High Street, sold a few Archive Group postcards to the paper shop and settled down for two hours of dispensing wise advice to tourists in our new tourist information office, which is ideally situated in the heart of the town.

Had there been any tourists, my advice would have been indispensable but since there weren’t any, it was useless.

The problem of getting tourists to visit this beautiful corner of Scotland seems insoluble.  It would need huge investment to get tourists but without tourists, you can’t get investment.

I tottered home again, even more slowly than I had come out and watched the Open Golf.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a very productive practice.  He has really got the idea that he needs to work at improving things himself and not rely on me to tell him all the time.  His counting was (almost) flawless this week.

After tea, I went off to play with Mike and Isabel and we had a most enjoyable evening.  I drove up to see how my knee and driving got on together and took another little tour afterwards.  The results were promising and I hope to drive to Lockerbie tomorrow so that I can catch the train to Edinburgh and visit Matilda.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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As the Open Golf Tournament starts tomorrow at St Andrew’s, I thought that it would be appropriate to have another of Dropscone’s east coast golf course pictures as the guest offering today.

craigielawThe title of today’s post, which I stole from Raymond Chandler, explains why I had to get up at four o’clock this morning, a severe shock to my system.  Mrs Tootlepedal was going to Duxford near Cambridge to see her brother fly in a Spitfire.  In order to get there in time, she had to catch a very early train to London and as no buses run at that time in the morning, I drove her into Carlisle.

Her brother is a retired airline pilot and his family have given him a present of this flight in a two seater Spitfire and Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t going to miss the event.  She is going on to stay with her mother for a few days while she is in the south.

If you have to drive to Carlisle at five o’clock in the morning, this was the day to do it.  It was a chilly 6°C when we set off but the sun was coming up as we went and the mist was rising from the river, giving our journey a most romantic feeling.

A Virgin Pendolino at Carlisle Station might not be quite as romantic as the Orient Express but it arrived on time and I waved Mrs Tootlepedal  on her way and drove back home.

I stopped twice on the way, once at the border to take a picture…..

Misty morning…and once at Broomholmshiels to fill the Moorland feeders, as the regular feeder filler was on holiday.  By this time, the mist had nearly gone.

Mist at the feedersI didn’t stop as there was not enough light to photograph birds.

When I got home, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive database and did the crossword.  When I looked at the clock, it was showing my normal breakfast time.  This getting up early certainly allows you to pack a lot into your day but unfortunately, I was so tired that I couldn’t make full use of it.

I did pick myself up though and went outside and mowed  the drying green and the grass round the greenhouse.

The poppies were looking very bright in the morning sun…

poppypoppy…and the Turk’s Cap lilies had their dancing shoes on.

Turks Cap lilySandy arrived for coffee with tales of an interesting fungus outbreak on a pile of wood chippings on the Castleholm which he had seen on an earlier walk.

We went to investigate.


It was an impressive outbreak.

I was taken on by a contrastingly delicate blackberry flower which I saw as we walked back to the car.

brambleI didn’t have much time to admire the fungus, as I had an appointment at the Health Centre for a routine jab.  That passed painlessly and I got home fully intending to go for a cycle ride in the afternoon.  I spent some time first looking at roses.


Some were rather crumpled after the wet weather


But others looked pretty good

I liked the small creamy yellow bud on a Goldfinch….

rose goldfinch…and  I am still trying to work out why they start yellow and end up white.

goldfinch roseIt’s hard to believe that they are the same rose.

As I had the mower out, I was tempted into mowing the front lawn after lunch and then I took the other mower out and mowed the middle lawn too.  It seemed a pity not to take advantage of a dry day to get things done.  Then I started to turn the compost from Bin B into Bin A.  Then I went in and instead of going for a bike ride myself, sat and let the professionals in the Tour de France do the pedalling for me.  It was very relaxing.

When the stage had finished, I went out again and finished turning the compost.  It is rotting down well and turning really helps the process to speed up.   Mrs Tootlepedal’s tidying up has produced a lot of garden material and I needed to get the bin turned before she comes back and starts filling the next one up.

She rang me up from Duxford to let me hear the roar of the Spitfire’s engine over her phone as her brother came down the runway to take off.  The sound took me instantly back to my childhood.  For one reason or another, the flight had been quite delayed and perhaps we didn’t need to have got up quite so early in the morning.

My new keyboard has arrived and I am using it to type this post.  It lets me sit in a better position than using the laptop does and it has the letters clearly marked on the keys which is very helpful but, sadly, I still seem to produce a lot of typos.   It will take time to get used to it.

I have also connected my laptop to a better screen so that I can look up rather than down when I am processing the pictures.

The screen is very good but saturates the colours on my photos a lot more than the laptop does so I have no idea what they will look like to the readers.  I would be very interested if you can see a difference from previous posts and, if you can see a difference, whether you think is an improvement or not.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from our visitor, Marianne and shows the river Cramond in Edinburgh on a rare sunny day recently.

River CramondWhen I woke up this morning, the wind had dropped, the sun was out, the sky was blue.  It was a day for cycling and I managed to make good use of as much of it as I had available.  I had an early breakfast, packed a banana into my new saddle bag and set off

garmin 23 May 15I left myself a bit of latitude as to the distance but set myself a minimum of thirty miles to take advantage of the good weather.  As time went by, it became obvious that my legs and I were singing off the same hymn sheet so I increased the target to 40 miles and managed to hit the distance exactly with only the smallest extra tour of the new town on my return to Langholm.

The route was largely flat and undemanding and in a helpful way, the light wind increased slightly when it was behind me in the closing stages and helped me whistle up the final two gentle hills in good order.  I didn’t take any pictures as I was concentrating on avoiding potholes in the scenic part of the trip rather than looking at the view or searching for interesting flowers in the verges.

I had just recovered when we were visited by Sandy and his friend Christine who were on their way to enjoy some of the artists’ studios in the town.  The studios are open to visitors over the bank holiday weekend as part of the ‘Spring Fling’, a region wide arts adventure.  With luck, I may be able to visit a studio or two on Monday.

The rest of the day was reserved for the visit of my older son Tony, his partner Marianne and her children Natasha and Dylan who were on a mission to see Granny.  They arrived at lunchtime and we spent the meal and the afternoon deep in conversation.  We did take time out for a walk round the block with Granny.

Tony, marianne, Dylan and Tash with MauriMauri was in good walking form and we went further this year than we did last year.  As you can see, the day stayed very sunny and warm throughout.  As we passed our neighbour Liz’s garden, she suggested that our younger visitors might like a go on the large trampoline she has for her grandson Ben, a competition grade trampolinist, to practice on.  Rather to my surprise, they took her at her word and enjoyed a vigorous but unskilled bounce about.

After more conversation, food and garden wandering, the visiting party left in the early evening.  There were the inevitable photographs of our visitors…

Dylan and Tash

Dylan and Tash, who have turned into two remarkably self assured and grown up young people.

…and photographs of photographers too.

Marianne and Mrs Tootlepedal

Marianne and Mrs Tootlepedal check to see that the results are good.

It had been a real pleasure to see them all.

During the day, I walked round the garden several times to see if the sun had done any good.  I was surprised to see that a few tulips are still going strong.

tulipstulipsMrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the way some bedding pansies that she purchased earlier in the year have come on. They are certainly colourful.

pansiespansiesI like the Welsh and Icelandic poppies because they give us colour in the garden right through the summer.

The Welsh poppies are growing through the slats of a bench.  The Icelandic poppy is the first of the year.

The Welsh poppies are growing through the slats of a bench. The Icelandic poppy is the first of the year.

Mrs Tootlepedal likes ferns and especially the shuttlecock ferns on the right in the picture below.

fernsThings were sticking their tongues out at me.

allium and rhododendronI continue to enjoy the seemingly infinite variety of the euphorbias in the garden.  This is the latest manifestation.

euphorbiaThe sun has brought out the Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and it certainly stood out today.

Ornithogalum umbellatumThere seem to be quite a few frogs in the pond at the moment.  I don’t know whether these are new season frogs or old frogs that are too lazy to move on.

frogI spotted a hedge sparrow on a hedge.

hedge sparrowOwing to visitors’ cars in the drive and constant to-ing and fro-ing in and out of the garden, there wasn’t much opportunity to catch a flying bird.  This was the nearest I got.

sparrowSo instead of a flying bird of the day, I am offering two flying young people.


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