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Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who is visiting the north east of England.  He was able to locate a handy cafe at one of his stops by following a cryptic clue.

ornamental teapot

It rained  during the night and when I woke up, there was evidence to be found.

wet lupin leaves

But that was all there had been, some raindrops and not enough to register at all on my scientific rain gauge (the wheelbarrow).  It was welcome all the same but I still had to do some watering.

I was delighted to see a poppy of the right sort in an intended place in a flower bed.

shirley poppy

I hope that there will be more to come.

The Jacobite and moss roses have passed but our aristocratic roses are pressing on.

double queen of denmark

Two Queens

Crown Princess margareta

And a Crown Princess

And the Ooh La la clematis is plugging away too.

Ooh la la clematis wet

I did a little gardening and then went off on a mission.

I had received an email through the Langholm Archive Group account saying:

 “I am a researcher working on behalf of Acker, Merrall & Condit. We are working to acquire images for a commemorative coffee table book celebrating the company’s 200th anniversary. We have found reference to a plaque that was donated to the Thomas Hope Hospital by the founders of the business and were wondering if you could provide any information about it, or might know where it currently is being held.”

There is indeed a Thomas Hope Hospital in the town, founded by a Langholm migrant, Thomas Hope, who had made money as a grocer in New York and left a lot of it to the town to build the hospital.  He also left his business to his staff when he retired.  An unusually good man.

I went up to the Day Centre which has a Thomas Hope Lounge where there is a display of silver and there I was shown a fine tray ….

Thomas Hope Tray

…which had indeed been inscribed by Acker, Merrall & Condit among others in 1858.

Thomas Hope Tray inscription

It was really interesting to see the tray and to know that the business of these three men is still surviving today, described on its web site as America’s oldest wine shop.

However, I don’t think that it was given by the donors to the Hospital at the time that it was inscribed as the hospital wasn’t built until the late 1890s.  I noticed in passing that Thomas Hope may have been a good man but our newspaper stated in 1890 that a report from New York said that the family of Thomas Hope intended to contest his will when they discovered that he had left money to build a hospital in Langholm.  They failed.

I have sent the researcher these two pictures and await her reply.

When I got home, since I had Archive Group business on my mind, I spent an hour putting  another week of the newspaper index into the group’s database.

Then I mowed the middle lawn to celebrate the sprinkling of overnight rain.

Soon it was time for lunch.  I have more peas and beans than I can eat so I picked some courgettes and combined them with peas and beans to create a green soup.  Rather to my surprise, it tasted very good and I will certainly make some more.

I took some time out to watch the birds.  There were compact flying birds coming and going today…

flying siskin compactflyinch chaffinch compact

…and wide open flying birds too.

busy feeder

Inspired by the activity of the birds and fortified by the green soup, I got my new bike out after lunch and went off for a pedal.

The skies were cloudy and there was a spirited wind blowing but as the temperature was 20°C, conditions were pleasant and after a slow start into the wind, I had a good run back home with the wind mostly behind.

The government has been accused of kicking Brexit into the long grass again so I kept my eye open when I passed any long grass to see if I could spot Brexit lurking there.  I saw sheep lurking..

sheep in long grass

…and cows lurking…

cow in long grass

…but no sign of Brexit.

I also saw a patch of what might look like seed heads on reeds at first sight….

great burnet in verge

…but a close look confirmed that the ‘seed heads’ were in fact flowers of Sanguisorba officinalis or great burnet.

great burnet flower

I don’t see them very often but the road junction at Gair seems to be a favourite place for them.

I didn’t have the opportunity for many stops as I had to be back in time to have a shower and be ready for my flute pupil Luke.   I managed 27 miles in the time available which took me over 200 miles for the month.  I noticed, when I looked at my spreadsheet in the evening, that I have done 1088 miles on my new bike since I got it on the 12th of May and every mile that I do on it tells me that I made a good decision when I bought it.

I had time for a quick walk round the garden.

A new euphorbia is flowering…

late euphorbia

…and the tropaeolum is  threatening to take over the world.

tropaeolum profusion

The hostas don’t seem to mind the hot weather and are flowering in great profusion.

hosta flowers

I am not a good flute player but teaching Luke is making me improve my own technique as we go along and so we are both getting better as time goes by.  We could both do with practising a little more.

In the evening, I went off to play trios with Isabel and Mike for the first time in what seems like ages and we had an enjoyable time going through some friendly and familiar pieces.

Isabel had been in the congregation when Mike and I were in the choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus on Sunday and she felt that we had done a good job so that was very heartening.

As I left Isabel’s it was raining but once again it was in a very desultory manner and I fear that watering will be needed again tomorrow. After I had written that last sentence, I went out into the garden to see if it was still raining.  The rain had stopped but the garden smelled moist and delicious.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch at feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to Mrs Tootlepedal who passed it on to me.  It shows her brother and his wife (and several family members) roughing it on their holiday on Tresco in the isles of Scilly.

tresco

We can’t run to palm trees in Langholm but we did have another lovely summer day in Langholm and the temperature had got up to 25°C (77°F) before midday.

I did a little gardening after breakfast but I couldn’t spend long because it was soon time to go to church. Our little choir (18 strong) sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah for the anthem today and it went off not too badly.  It was more a rehearsal than anything else as we are singing it again next week at the Common Riding service when the church will be a great deal fuller.  The choir should be a bit larger too.  Our organist and choir master had been among among the riders on the Benty ride-out yesterday but managed to play very well in spite of some aching muscles.

When I got home, I prepared a beef and mushroom stew for the slow cooker and then spent an enjoyable time showing the daughter-in-law of one of our neighbours round Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden.  She has just started a small vegetable garden herself and was impressed by the amount of work that Mrs Tootlepedal puts into her garden.

I did some more gardening when she had left and then retired from the heat for lunch and Tour de France viewing.

After the cycling was over, I didn’t succumb to the temptation to watch more than a bit of Wimbledon or the World Cup final and went out to both water and photograph some flowers.

The zinnia is unfolding more tubes into petals…

zinnia

…but the beautiful moss roses are folding up and I think that these may be the last two flowers of the summer.

moss roses

In spite of some constructive neglect, the nasturtiums at the front door are producing more flowers every day…

nasturtium

…and the clematis beside them is doing the same.

clematis

I watered them both today so they will probably die now.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s stock of miniature nicotiana are continuing to provide some bright colours in pale pink….

pink nicotiana

…lime green…

green nicotiana

…and shocking red.

red nicotiana

The wind had risen a lot during the day as the pressure fell steadily on the barometer but I felt that another day with no cycling would be a bad thing and got my new bike out.

The wind was strong, 16 mph base with gusts of well over 20 mph, but it kept me cool even if it slowed me down a lot.  I took 12 more minutes to go round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit than I did last Thursday.  If I had been in a race with myself, I would have been more than two miles behind.

I stopped to admire the view back towards Langholm from Chapelhill…

view of whita from tarcoon road

All the clouds behind Whita Hill had passed over the town without depositing a drop of rain on us as they passed.

I rather liked the subdued light.

tarcoon road trees

As I approached Canonbie, I nodded at a couple of old friends.

black cowbrown cow

…and stopped to take a picture of one of the many banks of fireweed that are lining  our roads just now.

rosebay willowherb

This weed is one of those photographic oddities where the camera and I see things in a very different shade.  To me it is pink or even red but to the camera is is much more purple.

When I got home, I set the tripod up in the kitchen to keep an eye on the birds and a greenfinch kept an eye on me in return.

greenfinch

We are getting regular visits from greenfinches which is very encouraging.  In recent years, they have been subject to a deadly disease and numbers dropped a lot so it is good to see healthy looking birds back on the feeder.

greenfinches

Once home, I set about eating the stew and doing more watering (not at the same time).  The forecast claims that there is a 75% chance of noticeable rain tonight.  I would be much obliged if this turns out to be true but I am not holding my breath.

The flying bird picture of the day shows that even if they are flapping their wings furiously, siskins keep their heads very still as they approach the feeder.

flying siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my eldest sister Susan, an inveterate traveller, who has just come back from Italy.  She saw this handsome church door in Ortesi in the Dolomites.

ortesi door

Like King Lear, I was going to do such things today but also like the King, I didn’t know what they were so in the end, I didn’t do them.  Instead, I took a leaf out of Brer Terrapin’s book and did a lot of lounging about and suffering.

The lounging was serious but the suffering was very slight and was greatly alleviated by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee bearing the traditional Friday treacle scones.

I had done some watering and weeding before he arrived and I did some more afterwards and as always looked at the flowers as I went along.

The first sweet peas are out…

sweet peas

…and ever more lilies appear each day.

lily

Mrs Tootlepedal planted two new roses this year and I saw that one was looking rather dry and droopy a day or two ago so I have watered it carefully and it was looking much more cheerful today.

rose Fru Dagmar Hastrup

The Queen of Denmark has responded to some water too.

Queen of Denmark

And the Common Riding rose is just sensational without any water at all.

rose excelsa

The camera simply can’t do its luxuriant growth justice at all.

While I was having coffee with Dropscone, the phone rang and a mystery voice asked if I was Tom.  I admitted to this and the voice said my wife was having trouble with her mobile phone and since I was the account  holder, he wanted to ask me a few security questions.   This was so obviously a scam that I put the phone down without saying any more.

A moment or two later, Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say it wasn’t a scam and she was having trouble with her phone and I was the account holder for it.  I checked for a reputable number for the phone company, rang it, got a really helpful human on the line with minimum delay, talked the problem through and solved it within minutes.   The shock of getting a sensible and prompt  corporate response was so great that I had to have a sit down to recover.

Then  I watched birds for a bit.

A greenfinch arrived to take advantage of the sunflower seeds.

greenfinch

Greenfinches are a lot bigger than siskins but don’t always get their own way.

siskin and greenfinch

On the ground below the feeder, a blackbird with an elegant grey feather was finding its own food.

blackbird with grey

I had lunch and thought of a walk or a bike ride but actually did some more lounging instead and had to suffer by sitting through much of a Tour de France stage and two simultaneously  never ending tennis matches from Wimbledon.

Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say that although her phone was working, now she was having trouble reading her emails on her tablet although she was properly connected to her brother’s internet router.  This was a puzzle.

I popped out from time to time to do more watering and weeding and dead heading too.

The melancholy thistle is looking more  cheerful every day…

melancholy thistle

..and looming over it, is the prettiest sunflower that I have ever seen.

tall sunflower

In the vegetable garden Mrs Tootlepedal has planted many small sunflowers and they are blooming freely with a great heap of honeysuckle on the fence behind them.

sunflowers and honeysuckle

Also in the veg garden, the French marigolds are thriving and time will tell whether they have helped to keep the carrot root flies of the carrots.  I thinned out a test carrot the other day and it looked straight, clean and promising…

french marigold

…but it was rather small still.

A new potentilla has come out.

new potentilla

In the course of time, I dug up another potato, picked lettuce, peas, beans and gooseberries and a large turnip for my evening meal.

broad beans

There are many more beanfeasts in store

The turnip was so large that I cut it in two and gave half to Mike and Alison when they came round in the evening for their customary Friday night visit.  Alison and I enjoyed some good playing of sonatas by old English masters while Mike, in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to, watched the tennis.

I had further talk with Mrs Tootlepedal on the matter of her internet connection and suggested that although she was connected to the router, maybe the router was not connected to the internet.  This turned out to be the case and the problem was solved by the time honoured method of turning the router off and then on again.  I wish all problems were as simply solved as Mrs Tootlepedal’s technical glitches were today.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who stopped on Wetherby on a trip and enjoyed the colonnaded market there.  The street sign says ‘The Shambles’ suggesting it was a place for butchers at one time.

the shambles, Wetherby

I got up early and went for a cycle ride straight after breakfast, pleasantly surprising myself.

The conditions were good and having been a bit depressed by how slow I have been on recent rides, I stopped trying to blame old age today and just tried harder.  This worked well.  You can almost always cycle faster than you are going at any given time, the only question being how long you can keep it up.

I found it necessary to stop for a wild flower inspection after about 16 miles!

I was just too late to get the best of this thistle…

thistle

…but there were plenty of docks in fine fettle.

dock

Some umbellifers are already going to seed….

umbellifer seeds

…but once again there were plenty playing host to the ubiquitous red soldier beetles.

red soldier beetle

I liked this tree in a neighbouring field which seemed to be having difficulty in deciding whether to grow up or down.

irvine house tree

I caught up on a little computer work when I got home but not before I had had a watering wander round the garden.

The was enough sunshine to bring out the colour in the calendulas…

calendula

…and the rose mallows.

rose mallow

The ligularias are building up a bit each day….

ligularia

…and the doddering dillies (Sunday name Breza Media or common quaking grass) are doddering all over the place.

doddering dillies

I like this combination of delphinium and phlox beside the front lawn.

delphinium and phlox

I only shot a few bird pictures…

siskin

A regal looking siskin was the best of them

….as I didn’t have long to hang about before I went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  I got there in plenty of time so naturally the train was a quarter of an hour late.

When I got to Matilda’s, I only had a moment to wave at her before her father took me off to visit the site where the family are going to buy a new house.  It is in the process of being built but as it is exactly the same as the show house on the site, I was able to get a good idea of what it will be like.  It looks ideal so I hope that everything goes well with the build and the purchase.

It is only a few hundred yards away from their present house so it wasn’t long before I was back playing with Matilda and then watching a first class dance routine from her followed by the usual excellent evening meal.

After some unpleasantly hot days in Edinburgh, it was much cooler and I walked back to the station keeping my eye out for things of interest on the way.

I passed a queue of runners descending from Salisbury Crags…

runners on Salisbury Crags

…and a squirrel not descending a tree.

Edinburgh squirrel

After a momentary pause to look at the old town across the roof of Waverley Station…

Waverley

I went down and caught the train home.  It was late too (but not very).

The drive home was illuminated by a sensational sunset which I was rather sad to see.  We had come through some heavy rain at Beattock on the way down in the train and I was hoping that the clouds would stretch all the way to Langholm.  They didn’t.  More watering tomorrow.

The best I could do in the way of a flying bird, since most of my intended subjects today either hid…

sparrow behind pole

…or flew off before I could catch them, was this rather curious two headed, four footed sparrow.

two sparrows

 

 

 

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You may think that I have been going on too much about the lack of rain but today’s guest picture of one of our town bowling greens is worth a thousand words.  It was taken by our friend Bruce.

New town bowling green drought

It was pleasantly cool at breakfast time but even with the sky covered in high clouds, there was no sign of any rain so I pottered about watering, weeding and dead heading.

I even went as far as mowing the drying green and the greenhouse grass to make things look a little tidier.  I am trying my best to keep the garden in a state where Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t actually burst into tears when she comes homes and sees it.

There is plenty to enjoy at the moment.  The bees were very busy today.

bees

The roses are still the pick of the crop but I focussed on blue.

cornflower

geranium

delphiniums

The delphiniums have never looked better and I had a closer peer at them.

delphinium closer

It almost looked as though they were peering back at me from under their eyelashes.

It was cool enough in the house for me to spend an hour putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.  I have slipped behind schedule and all the time the data miners are piling up more work.  Must try harder.

After lunch, I gave up the chance to lounge about watching the Tour de France and went for a bike ride instead.

I varied my route and took the main road out of the town to the north.  I hoped that the traffic would not be too bad and it turned out that my hope was justified and I had a very peaceful ride considering that the A7 is a trunk road.  The benefit of riding up a main road is that the maintenance is carried out by a national government agency and not our local council.  As it is government policy to starve local councils of money and keep it all for themselves, this means that main roads tend not to have any potholes.  The road contractors have been hard at work recently doing some resurfacing so for much of the ride, the going was extremely good.

The views aren’t bad either.

Ewes valley

The skies were cloudy but the wind was light and at 20°C, conditions were near perfect for pedalling.

The hills ought to be at their greenest just now but they too are feeling the drought.The dark green patches are bracken.

top of ewes valley

There is a lot of meadowsweet around and I liked this pool of plants nearly smothering a wall at Mosspaul.

meadowsweet at Mosspaul

I left the main road for a very small diversion to Carlenrig where Johnnie Armstrong met his end.  He was either a great local hero or a notorious gangster, depending on your point of view.  A rather gloomy notice board is to be found…

johnnie armstrong

…where a stone marks the spot.

johnnie armstrong grave
Nearby is a little church…

Carlenrig church

I took another little side road for about a mile and came to an attractive ford…

ford

…with an alternative bridge if the ford is running too high.

ford footbridge

I didn’t cross the ford or bridge and turned for home down the main road back along the flat bottomed Ewes valley…

looking down ewes valley

…and by this time, the skies had cleared a little and it was another beautiful day.

I took the picture above while I was beside an interestingly named farmhouse.

Unthank

Unlike the farm, I was very thankful for the good weather and the light breeze that blew me home.

It was a most enjoyable 30 mile outing.

I got back in time to do a little more watering and gooseberry picking before it was the moment for tea.

I watched the birds as I prepared my meal.

siskin, greenfinch and chaffinch

The scruffy blue tit was back again.

blue tit and siskin

And I noticed that one of the siskin visitors had been ringed.

ringed siskin

If no birds arrived at the feeder, I looked at poppies instead.

poppies

After tea, I managed to get the best of both worlds by watching the end of the Tour stage on the evening highlights programme and then wasted an hour watching the second half of the France/Belgium semi final in the world cup.   There was plenty of skill on show but not as much excitement as I would have liked.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  It shows the Houses of Parliament which is nominally the seat of our government.  Sadly, we are currently not being governed at all.

View from Lambeth Bridge

In a shocking challenge to the established order, it rained today…

wet poppy

…but as it only rained for about five minutes and not very hard at that, it didn’t make any difference and I still had to potter about watering anything I thought might benefit from it.

I also managed some weeding and a little strimming of the paths in the vegeatble garden and I edged the middle lawn.

It was cloudy and definitely a bit cooler than it has been so that was very welcome.  Encouraged by this, I got my bike out after coffee and the crossword and set out to see how my legs were feeling.

They were feeling fine so I did a 32 mile circle of familiar roads at a gentle pace (I was trying hard but the pace was gentle), keeping an eye out for anything interesting.  Once again, I found that if I stopped and looked around, there was usually something to look at.

My first stop was not far from the town.

orchid

There are orchids and red soldier beetles all over the place.

red soldier beetles

I stopped about 2o miles further on to check out a verge.

wild flowers 1

There was a good variety of flowers to be seen.

On my next stop, about 4 miles from home, there was an even greater variety.

There were all these…

wild flowers 3wild flowers 2wild flowers 4

…and many more.

wild flowers 5

Looking at the hedges and verges certainly keeps me occupied while I am pedalling along….and give me a good excuse for stops for a breather.

The light wind and cooler temperature made for very agreeable cycling conditions and I had worked up an appetite for a sardine, lettuce and potato salad for a late lunch when I got home.

I watched the bird feeder while I was in the kitchen.

Two sparrows posed artistically for me.

sparrows

An interesting time trial in the Tour de France gave me a good excuse for a rest after lunch and then a visit from Mike Tinker caused me to stir my stumps and get back out into the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a lovely afternoon.

I mixed a little more watering with some flower watching.

The new iris is adding to its charm…

lily

…and the tall sunflowers are reaching ever higher into the sky.

sunflower

The calendulas don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

calendula 1

…and have a nice assortment of styles.

calendula 2

Then I had to go in and have a shower and get ready for my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  As I hadn’t done any practice for a fortnight, I couldn’t complain too much about his lack of practice.  He has just started his first job so I suppose he has other things to think about at the moment.

I picked some peas and beans for my tea and enjoyed them with some fish cakes and then I had a selection from the cheese board to round off the meal.

One last expedition to the garden for watering followed, where I noticed that a leycesteria has flowered underneath the apple tree….

leycesteria

…checked out another of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new nicotianas…

nicotiana

…and discussed the political situation with a couple of blackbirds.

blackbirds

The flying bird of the day picture is provided by the aerial ballet department.

flying siskin and flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Gavin who is over on the east coast on a walking holiday.  He passed this little memento of the war near Craster.

craster war hut

Mrs Tootlepedal spent most of the day embroidering in Hawick so I had a quiet day to myself.

It was another dry day so I had the opportunity to look at flowers in the garden though the brisk wind meant that I had to try to find the ones that were in a bit of shelter.

I didn’t have to look far to find some good colour.

rose

peony

sweet william

Mrs Tootlepedal introduced two Gauras into the garden this year, one white and one red.  The white one fell victim to the strong winds but the red one has survived.

gaura

The campanulas are getting a bit battered by the persistent breezes but some are keeping their heads up.

campanula

And the Martagon lily has got its dancing shoes on.

martagon lily

After a wander about, I went inside to drink, coffee, read the papers, do the crossword and keep an eye on the birds.

The blackbirds have been very busy and look as though they are starting another brood even though there are several developing young birds about.   I like the way that they go black from back to front as they grow up.

young blackbird

The feeder was busy with sparrows, goldfinches, chaffinches and siskins all competing for a place on a perch…

busy feeder

…leading to some unfortunate outbreaks of hooliganism.

stamping siskin

In the case, the chaffinch shrugged off the siskin and kept her place at the feeder.

After a good lunch of sardine and lettuce sandwiches, I got myself organised and went out for a cycle ride. The wind was gusty so I settled for a gentle 30 mile circuit and was happy to be blown home so that the return journey uphill was considerably faster than the outward journey downhill.

Did I mention that everything is growing?

springfield road

There was only just room for the road between these lush verges near Gretna Green and I had to stop a little further on to let a rush of traffic go by.

pony trap

I stopped for a drink and half a banana after twenty miles and admired the ferns beside the road.

fernfern

I am trying not to take too many pictures but when I got home, the sun came out and so did my camera.

I am cycling slowly but consistently as my trip today was within half an hour

Mrs Tootlepedal’s orange geums are lasting well….

geum

…and the melancholy thistle looked positively cheerful today.

melancholy thistle

Rosa Wren, probably my favourite rose in the garden has produced its first flower…

rosa wren

…and the giant ornamental clover has come out too.

giant clover

I like to see the perennial nasturtium so I was pleased to see that it has survived the severe clipping that the yew it lives on got last year and has come back fighting.

tropaeolum

Mrs Tootlepedal was back from Hawick when I got back from cycling and she was soon hard at work in the garden while I mowed the front lawn and put the sprinkler on the middle lawn.  There is no rain in the forecast for the next ten days and with the temperature set to rise, I want to avoid the lawns drying out.

Following the doctors’ advice to get more iron into my diet, we had liver for tea for the second time in a few days.  As I am eating plenty of greens as well, I will so full of metal that I will be liable to set of security scanners just by walking past them soon.

We had a sporting evening watching bits of football and rugby matches on the telly.

There is not just one flying chaffinch of the day today but three of them.

flying chaffinches

 

 

 

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