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Today’s guest picture comes from learned reader Edward from Sheffield.  He has tree peonies in his garden with flowers a foot wide.

Edards tree peonies

We had timed our holiday well.  After several dry weeks, the weather turned gloomy today and it rained in the afternoon.  According to the forecast, there is a good deal more rain to come which will be welcome from a gardening point of view.

The morning was dry though and this gave us a chance to get busy in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal doing useful things and I wandering about with a camera in hand.

New flowers have arrived during our absence and there is no shortage of bright colours.

The first iris has come out…

first iris

…and several more geraniums have joined the blue ones which arrived first.

geraniums

They are excellent value and should keep flowering all through the summer.

four geraniums

Lupins have arrived….

first lupins

…and aquilegias are popping up all over the garden.

aquilegias

A favourite flower for peering at closely with the camera is this anemone.  I love its strong colours and busy centre.

anemone close up

But probably, the stars of the show are the red peonies….

two red peonies

…even though they are too red for the camera to really enjoy.

The established flowers are enjoying the weather in spite of the lack of rain…

azaleas and rhodidendrons

…although the azaleas are going over rather quickly.  Perhaps the new rain will help them last.

The clematis at the front and back doors have increased in number while we have been away…

two white clematis

…and the front door variety is fast becoming a favourite of mine.

clematis centre

Potentillas, both salmon pink and yellow are thriving…

yellow and orange flowers

…and the poached egg plant is getting more white edges every day.  The first roses are appearing with the yellow one above joining the the rosa moyesii below.

Our poppies are becoming more international and an oriental poppy has joined the Welsh and Icelandic ones which were out before we left.

four flowrrs

A geum and an astrantia complete today’s collection.

I put down the camera and mowed the middle lawn.  It had been badly pecked while I was away but once I had mowed over the loose moss, I found a lot of reasonably green grass about underneath.  Mrs Tootlepedal intends to carry on a methodical feeding programme so I have every confidence that it will be in good order soon.

I mowed the front lawn too and found that it is still in poor condition, although the feed that I gave it before we went away has encouraged the occasional blade of grass to appear among the moss.  I will keep trying.

As I was working at a very gentle pace, and we took a break to entertain Mike Tinker to a cup of coffee, all this took me up to lunchtime.

I had the opportunity to check on the birds when I got in.  Usual suspects such as siskins and redpolls were in evidence but sparrows are obviously feeding young as they turned up on the seed feeder…

sparrow on feeder

…as well as feeding on peanuts and fat balls as well.

The siskins and redpolls haven’t learned about peaceful coexistence while we have been away.

redpoll being shouted at

Dunnocks were busy on the ground under the feeders.

dunnock

I had a quiet afternoon watching the racing on the telly, a very undemanding activity.  Most of the enjoyment comes from listening to the expert commentators telling us why their chosen horses have not won the race that we have just watched.

I even felt a bit sorry for them when their unanimous pick of a heavily odds-on favourite trotted in third in five horse race.  There was not a lot that they could say.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and when she returned, I roused myself to drink a cup of tea and check the kitchen window again.  A jackdaw, fed up with pecking at my lawn, had come to try the peanuts….

jackdaw on feeder

…and it was joined by a starling…

starling on feeder

…but sadly, it and its friends preferred to start in the lawn pecking business themselves instead of eating bird food.

starlings on lawn

If they are eating leatherjacket grubs though, they are probably doing me a good turn as I read that the grubs eat grass roots and can destroy a lawn.  This may explain why the birds always peck at the worst bit of the lawn and leave the bits with good grass growth alone.

I hope to catch up on my blog reading now that I am home.

Meanwhile, the flying (or perhaps diving) bird of the day is a pigeon.

flying pigeon

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison.  They are on holiday on the shore of Loch Feochan in Argyll and this is the view from their front window.  They have chosen a good week for their trip.

Loch Feochan

We had a day of perfect weather here too, although there was still some winter chill left in the breeze.  The recent spell of dry weather means that pollen has been very heavy recently and our shiny new car often ends the day covered in a fine film of powder. This doesn’t help my asthma and although it doesn’t leave me gasping in the gutter it may explain why I found myself trying to sing a different hymn from everyone else at one stage during the morning’s church service.  Still, I managed to get home safely after the service and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

Looking out of the kitchen window while I cooked, I watched our siskins monopolising the feeder again.

siskins

…or rather , nearly monopolising it, as the occasional sparrow did sneak in.

sparrow on feeder

I noticed something quite unusual going on beneath the feeder.  A greenfinch was diving in and out of a mini jungle of old daffodil leaves and guddling about furiously.  I don’t know what it was looking for at all.

greenfinch among daffodil leaves

When the stew was on, I had a short walk round the garden.  Pulsatilla Corner was looking quite exciting.

pulsatilla seehead

…and I spent quite a lot of time waiting for a male orange tip butterfly to settle down for long enough to let me take a picture.  It was too restless for me though and I had to make do with a female who did hang around for a few seconds.  Although the females don’t have orange tips to their wings, they are beautifully decorated all the same.

orange tip butterfly female

It was such a pleasant morning that I thought that I would try a little more gentle cycling therapy to stretch my sore ankle and took the slow bike out for a seven mile potter up and down the Wauchope road.

In spite of the efforts of the council to mow down every wild flower in sight, there are some about.

wild flowers up wauchope

And there were any amount of male orange tip butterflies too.  I kept on stopping to try to snap one but they kept on going and once again, I had to make do with more stable female specimens. As they were flying alongside male orange tip butterflies, I naturally assumed that they were females orange tips but when I looked at the shots on the computer, it became plain they they are green-veined white butterflies.

green veined white

This may explain why the male orange tip wasn’t hanging around.

To add insult to injury, a male orange tip actually came right up to my bicycle when I stopped at Wauchope Schoolhouse to take a picture of the locals there…

two bulls at schoolhouse

…and it actually sniffed at my front fork before heading off seconds before I could get my camera to focus on it.  I’ll get one, one of these days.

The trip back to Langholm was very enjoyable with the wind behind and the sun on my back.  I went down to the river before I went home and was happy to see an oyster catcher on the gravel beside the Esk.

oyster catcher by esk

I got back in time to have a plate of soup for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has been doing some heavy spring cleaning over the past two days.  Spring has a lot to answer for.

After lunch we had the pleasure of gliding down to Carlisle in the the zingy little white thingy and in the sunshine, life felt very good.

Our choir practice was good fun.  Our conductor is always cheerful and full of zest but the fine weather had topped up her energy levels to “extra high” and she was on sparkling form and drove us onwards and upwards.  Two of our more senior choir members got married this week and in celebration, they came out to the front and the choir serenaded them with the appropriately entitled “O Love”.  They were much touched.  We were moved too.

The journey home was as enjoyable as the trip down.  For some reason, the air, which has tended to be rather hazy in recent weeks, magically cleared up today and the views were every fine.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back and found flowers old and new enjoying the day.

four eveining light flowers

This is the  first allium to make it to a perfect sphere.

allium sphere

When we had finished disposing of some of the stew with parsnips for our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to spring cleaning and I went for a three bridges ‘walk’ on my slow bicycle to enjoy the evening light.

It certainly was enjoyable.

from Town Bridge evening light

And because the wind had dropped, it was still quite warm.

reflections in Ewes

I met a bunch of cyclists on the Kilngreen.  They were packing their bikes back into cars after a group outing.  They had just completed a hilly 102 mile ride round St Mary’s Loch.  I felt envious but a bit guilty too because we had done pretty well the same trip with Sandy not long ago but had needed a car to get round.

I pedalled gently on and was submerged in a sea of green

trees in spring

It was balm to the soul and banished any negative thoughts from my mind.

trees on Castleholm

I cycled back along the new path and enjoyed the variety of shapes and colours among the pine and fir trees that I passed.

An elaborate candelabra on a pine…

pine candelabra

…and the incipient cones…

noble fir female

…and packed male flowers on the noble firs.

noble fir male

And the best thing of all about the day was the fact that the gentle cycling seems to have eased off my sore ankle a lot.  It is now only mildly painful and quite supple.  If this remains true tomorrow morning, I will be very happy indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, getting ready to kick a friend off the feeder.

flying siskin in attack mode

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows we are not the only people in town to have siskins in the garden.  Our friend and near neighbour Bruce took this picture of one of his visitors.

bruce's siskin

It was another grey and chilly morning here and apart from going out to mow the lawn again to clear up more jackdaw depredations, I had a quiet time of it in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal.

She was up visiting Matilda as she had stayed the night in Edinburgh after going to our young church organist’s degree recital in St Giles.  She had been very impressed by the 32 foot organ stop which had caused the whole building to tremble.

She has been busy recently making a little stump work embroidery of Matilda sitting on our back stairs the last time she visited us.  It is not framed yet but I think it is very charming.

matilda embroidery

The usual birds turned up at the feeder and had the usual conversations.

sikin chaffinch cinverstaion

The greenfinch was back again.  They never look very grateful for the seeds.

greenfinch with seed

A siskin took a rather patrician view of what was going on below.

siskin on pole

The garden is still very much on hold in the cool weather but individual flowers are appearing on the rhododendrons…

three rhododendrons

…and two of the azaleas are trying their best.

two aazaleas

I took a picture of two Welsh poppies and although it didn’t come out at all well, I have put it in anyway just to show you how annoying my pocket camera can be when it wants.

out of ficus poppies

How can it possibly have thought that I didn’t want the two very noticeable poppies to be in focus and what I really wanted to look at was some dull leaves and stones?  I will visit the poppies again tomorrow and try to get it right.

A blackbird appeared on the chimney pot at the feeders.  As it is carrying worms, I hope that this means that we will see little blackbirds soon.

blackbird on chimney

My neighbour Liz tells me that she has blackbirds with young already in her garden.

I set off after lunch to drive to Lockerbie to catch a train to join Mrs Tootlepedal in Edinburgh.  The little electric car behaved very well but when I got to the station, things went downhill.

I had pondered so much on the car before setting off that I had completely forgotten to take my card wallet with me so I had left my railcard and my bus pass behind, not to mention my debit card as well.  I had no money in my pocket as I was expecting to pay for my (cheap) ticket with my car.  Disaster!  Luckily I remembered that I had a secret twenty pound note stashed in a secret pocket in my phone case for just such an emergency so I was able to buy my (expensive) ticket for exactly £20 and catch the train.  It was late again but it was actually running  this week so I was grateful for that.

When I got to Edinburgh, because I didn’t have my bus pass and had spent all my  money, I decided to walk down to Matilda’s house.  Things were going well until just outside the Scottish parliament building, my Achilles tendon gave up almost entirely and I had to limp painfully the rest of the way.

The pain was made worse by the subsequent discovery that I did have enough money in a ‘wrong’ pocket to have bought a bus ticket and saved my ankle.  I shouldn’t really be allowed out by myself.

The visit to Matilda and her parents went well.  We introduced Matilda to the delights of Beggar My Neighbour, a card game, and as she won handsomely, she thought that it was a very good game indeed.

She has birds in her garden too.

sdr

She and Mrs Tootlepedal had spent some of the morning making sticky toffee pudding so together with a delicious pasta dish knocked up by Clare and Al, we had a good evening meal.  As Al then kindly drove us back to the station, our journey home was uneventful.  Of course I had a minder on the way back or who knows what else might have gone wrong.

I was interested to see whether driving home in the dusk with the headlights on would make a big difference to the power drain on the car’s battery but it seemed to take it in its stride.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, not the greatest shot I know, but I put it in to show that it is another ringed bird.  Someone is keeping a good eye on our visitors.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s cycle ride through Duffield.  As well as the pub, he saw a fine bridge over the Derwent  there.

duffield bridge

I had a subdued day today.  I was meaning to take a bit of exercise, but cold wet windy weather once again suggested that more rest for the feet was the best policy.

I was consoled by the arrival of Dropscone with scones warm from the pan to go with morning coffee. We had a short competition to see who was in the worst condition and although it was a close thing, I think that Dropscone just won.  He has got a lot of trouble with a knee.  I easily won the moaning competition though.

When Dropscone left, I did the crossword, lounged around a bit, had some soup and waved Mrs Tootlepedal off on a trip to Edinburgh.  She was going to listen to our church organist’s degree recital in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh along with other supporters from the town.  I would like to have gone too but I felt that I needed to go and sing with my Langholm choir as a concert is looming up.

I did a lot of useful work on the computer during the afternoon but took time out to look at birds.  A greenfinch appeared…

greenfinch may

…and became one of a quartet of four different birds on the feeder…

mixed feedr

…although it wasn’t long before things had reverted to type.

siskin feeder

Siskins were everywhere.

siskin heading for feeder

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have now caught up with my backlog.  I imagine that the data miners will have been busy behind my back though and more sheets will soon arrive.

There is often something interesting in the Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser of 1899 among the reports of temperance meetings and rugby matches.  Today’s nugget was a visit to Langholm by a champion cyclist who was in the process of cycling 100 miles every day for a year.  His name was Teddy Hale and I found this entry in Wikipedia:

On the 30th of July of that year he started a record attempt to ride a 100 miles daily on British roads. This attempt was sponsored by Acatène, a company that produced a shaft-driven bicycle. One year later, at the 31st of July 1900, he completed a total of 32,496 miles with which he set a first mark for this endurance record. Afterwards Hale ended his cycling career. He died in 1911, only 47 years old, leaving behind a wife and five children.

You can find an interesting article about him here if you have time to spare.  He won a big race in America too.

Sometimes, when I am looking out of the kitchen window, my eye is drawn away from the birds towards the flowers round the feeder…

wallflowers through window

…and today they were drawn even further afield by the sight of devastation on the middle lawn.

pecked lawn

Those pesky jackdaws had been at work again.  !!!

I put my jacket on and went out into the garden and though I was delayed by finding a third flower out on the garage clematis…

three clematis flowers

…and a tulip…

ballerina tulip

..or two…

pink tulip

…I managed to get the mower out and combine a quick cut with collecting the pecked moss.

mowed lawn after jackdaws

I mowed the front lawn too.

An hour and half later, I looked out again.

Jackdaws on lawn

!!!!!!

The sparrowhawk might have felt the same when it arrived on a fruitless mission shortly afterwards.

sparrowhawk head

It just couldn’t believe that there were no birds down there.

I am happy to report that at least one pigeon regained its focus today.

focused pigeon

After tea, which consisted of the farewell appearance of Mrs Tootlepedal’s quorn sauce, this time in the guise of a mild curry with rice, I went out to the choir.  In spite of resting pretty seriously for several days, things did not go well on the way.

My feet may be fairly considered to be items of great aesthetic beauty by connoisseurs but as aids to actual walking, they are still pretty hopeless at the moment.  I am confused as to whether rest or exercise is the best thing and I really hope that I get to see the physio soon.

Still, the singing was both enjoyable and useful so I hobbled home cheerfully enough.

The house was rather empty as Mrs Tootlepedal went to stay with Matilda in Edinburgh after the recital.  I will see them both tomorrow if the new car and the trains run as scheduled so that isn’t too bad. And, as a Tottenham Hotspur supporter I was mildly surprised but not entirely displeased with the result of their match against Ajax this evening.  (This an example of litotes.)

!!!!!!!!!!!!! (It was a day of !!!!)

The flying bird of the day is one of those siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who passed the Bridge Inn at Duffield while on a bike ride.  As he had already fuelled up elsewhere, he took the picture and went on his way without calling in to sample the wares.

bridge inn Duffield

I know that I ought to be resting my Achilles tendon but I am feeling really exercise deprived and I might easily have done something inadvisable this morning had not the weather come to my rescue by producing another cold and grey day, ideally suited to sitting in and getting stuff done in the house.

I did stroll round the garden after breakfast.

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought some depressed ranunculus plants in a pot at a garden centre.  She gave them some care, divided them up, planted them out, watered them in and now they are rewarding her with a splendid show.

ranunculus

A berberis in a shady corner caught my eye, with its flowers brightening up a gloomy corner.

berberis

A blackbird was quite happy to help with getting the moss out of the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

I opened the greenhouse and was much struck by this handsome Fuchsia inside.

fuchsia in green house

Mrs Tootlepedal bought it recently and put it outside in the warm spell.  Then it got badly hit by the frosty mornings so Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed off the damage and gave it some shelter and now it is looking very well.

Just outside the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is covered in flowers from top to toe.

rosemary bush

I noticed that the geums are coming along nicely….

geum forest

…and then went inside to get warm.

Later on in the morning, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the sparrowhawk resting in the walnut tree after an unsuccessful fly through the garden.  It stayed there long enough for me to get a camera…

sparrowhawk in walnut tree

…but when I went out to see if I could get a closer shot, it flew off in disgust.  It didn’t take the little birds long to come back to the feeders.

siskin eating peanuts

The quarrelling pigeons were back again today and it went beyond hard stares and descended into flapping and waving which led to both birds losing their focus.

flapping pigeons

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and noticed that if you were shopping in Langholm’s High Street in 1899, you could acquire ‘all the latest London novelties’ from Mr Hyslop, the draper, who had just come back from a visit there.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out for an errand on her bicycle in the late afternoon and as the sun was shining, I went out with her and then turned off to do a little three bridges cycle instead of a walk by myself.

The copper beeches at the park bridge are looking good. two copper beeches

I didn’t go into the park but continued down to the waterside, and was happy to catch a glimpse of a grey wagtail at the Sawmill Brig.  It was living up to its name and waggling about a lot so I couldn’t get a very good picture.

grey wagtail

The trees that have been felled along the Lodge Walks have taken some of the magic away from the green tunnel that used to greet walkers…

lodge walks

…and you can see how big the gaps are when you look at the trees from the other side.

rear of lodge walks

The sun was disappearing rapidly behind the clouds by this time and the colours were rather subdued so I headed home (pedalling very gently)…

castleholm with dog walker

…noting this burst of blossom on a tree beside the Jubilee Bridge.

white blossom beside esk

Once back home, I had a last walk round the garden, enjoying the cow parsley above and the sweet woodruff below in the back border.

cow parsley and sweet woodruffe

The yellow azalea is doing its best to come out to join the pink one and the first yellow potentilla flower of the year has appeared nearby.

azalea and potentilla

There had been a light shower of rain earlier, which was welcome, but it had not been hard enough to wet the soil thoroughly.  It did make the lily of the valley shed tears apparently…

lily of the valley weeping

…and of course it gave me an excuse to take a picture of a spirea with droplets, one of my favourite subjects.

spirea with droplets

In between times, I practised choir songs and prepared some music for Luke.  Our wonderful Carlisle choir conductor has gone done in my personal popularity stakes a bit as she is making us learn another song off by heart.   As it is one of those songs where you sing the same words to slightly different notes each time they reappear (and they reappear a lot), so this means a lot of hard practice is required.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty quorn concoction made a welcome return to the tea table in the evening, this time in the guise of a shepherd’s pie.

There are two flying birds for the price of one today with a siskin coming and a goldfinch going.

two just flying birds

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Today’s guest picture is a look back at Venetia’s African trip.  There are so few bees in our garden that I wondered whether a relative of this handsome carmine bee eater might be responsible for the dearth….but it is probably just the cool weather.

carmine bee-eater

A cold and sometimes drizzly day made it easy for me to persuade myself that another more or less complete day of rest might be good for my feet so it was fortunate that we had plenty of visitors to brighten our day.

Our first visitor was Sandy, who came round to enjoy a cup of coffee and some biscuits.  He has been very busy in his garden organising new fencing and a sitting area in front of his garden shed.   He is also about to fly away from our cold climate and visit the Canary Islands with friends.  All in all, he was very cheery as a result.

Just as we had finished the coffee pot, Scott our ex minister turned up with his wife Jane.  Obviously living in a big city has slightly blunted his coffee radar but it was easy enough to brew another pot and we sat and caught up with their doings.

While we were sipping and  chatting, the third visitor of the morning arrived in the plum tree.

rook peering

It was a rook demanding attention.

rook shouting

Always eager to please, I picked up my camera and took two profiles…

rook right profile

…showing the rook as both sensitive and serious….

rook left profile

…and then, happy with the result, the rook flew off, leaving the centre of attention to a blackbird.pecking blackbird

When Scott and Jane left, I took a moment to wander round the garden. There is little novelty at the moment because of the cold mornings and grey afternoons.

Such tulips as are still around are in a state of suspended animation…

 

thin tulip

…and only one more flower has appeared on the garage clematis.

two white clematis flowers

I went back in and when I looked out of the kitchen window, I saw the power of a pigeon’s stare.  The one on the left had caused the one on the right to completely lose its focus.

hard stare pigeon

A chaffinch, though larger than  the tiny siskin, still thought it wise to nip round the back of the feeder rather than try to oust the sitting tenant.

chaffinch nipping round the back

I made some vegetable soup, with added turmeric which is rumoured to benefit arthritic joints, for our lunch, and having eaten some, I went out and mowed the middle lawn in a very gentle way.  While I was out, I noticed that the very first astrantia of the year had appeared.

first astrantia

Regular readers will know that they can expect many more shots of this flower before summer is over.

I went in and put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.  I am a bit behind the data miners and will have to find time to put in more weeks soon.

When the week was entered, I went out to see what Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing in the garden all afternoon.  She had done a lot of tidying up of the early spring growth and is busy getting ready for the next stage.  Because of the stop start nature of the weather, the first azalea is now nearing its full glory before the others have hardly produced ten flowers between them.

red azalea out

It will be a pity if it goes over before the rest have come out as it will spoil the picture which the gardener has designed.

The marsh marigolds in the pond are out of my reach and so escape dead heading but the seed heads look quite pretty in their own right.

marsh marigold

The bergenias are reaching up and still putting out new flowers…

bergenia

…but this is just about the last of the trout lilies which have come and gone quite quickly this year.

last trout lily

I was just looking at a sturdy row of pea shoots growing in an old gutter in the green house…

prize peas

…..when our fourth visitor of the day arrived.  This was Mike Tinker and as it was four o’clock, we went in for a cup of tea and some ginger biscuits.

I am adding the shreddings and sawdust from his felled cherry tree to compost bin A in judicious amounts with other materials to try to get the perfect combination of green and woody layers which will result in rich compost later in the year.

After Mike left, the fifth visitor of the day was my flute pupil Luke.

We have been working hard on improving his breath control and today I finally managed to get my thoughts about this into an order which made sense to him and we made good progress.  It is always useful for a teacher to remember that if a pupil isn’t learning something which has been explained clearly to him, then it is the fault of the teacher and the explanation not the pupil.  Don’t just say the same thing again, try something different.  This is sometimes a hard lesson for a teacher to learn.

Mrs Tootlepedal has a way with quorn mince that makes it very tasty so we enjoyed a good meal to round off an interesting day.

I did spend a few minutes before tea on the bike to nowhere in the garage just to make sure that my legs won’t drop off entirely from inactivity.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, one of our most frequent visitors of the day.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine display of wisteria spotted by my sister Susan on her way to catch a bus.

london wisteria

We had a frosty morning here, followed by a fine but chilly day with a brisk  and biting north wind.  If you were out of the wind, everything in the garden was lovely and if you weren’t, you got out of it as soon as you could.

I started the day with some shopping at our producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where the essentials of life such as honey, cheese, haggis and fish were popped into my Canadian (courtesy of Mary Jo of Manitoba) shopping bag.  Then after another excursion to top up supplies from our corner shop, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to visit our friends Mike and Alison.  Their daughter Liz had arrived with her chainsaw to help Mike cut down the cherry tree at the front gate which had grown too big for its situation and which is due to replaced by a rowan.  They were making a good job of it but kindly broke off for long enough for Alison to offer us coffee and ginger biscuits (and a potted plant to take home with us)..

Later in the day, three bags of shreddings and sawdust arrived in our garden for which we will find very good uses.

When we got back, I took a walk round the garden in the sunshine.  A bee which should have been busy on the apple blossom was wasting its time on a dicentra, a new ranunculus, one of batch purchased at a very advantageous price by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking sublime and one of the last of the tulips was trying to open wide.

dicentra, ranunculus tulip

It has been an odd year, and I noticed when I looked back at a blog of a year ago, that we still had lots of daffodils out and the tulips were at the peak on this day then.

Now almost all the daffodils are gone and most of the tulips too.  We are in a pause, waiting for azaleas and alliums to appear.  I saw a very fine spider’s web, the sole rhododendron flower that is fully out, a hosta that is developing well and some mustard grown for green manure whihc is coming up in the vegetable garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal is very keen on mustard.

hosta mustard web and rhodie

In the absence of much bright colour, the greens are doing their best to keep me entertained.

fern and euphorbia

A pair of blackbirds appeared on the front lawn…

blackbird pair on lawn

…and a pond skater stopped skating for long enough for me to take its picture.

pond skater

Although my feet are still not co-operating properly, I felt it was too cold and windy for a pleasant cycle ride so I went for a walk after lunch.

There was plenty to take my mind off my feet as I went along.  Daisies and cherry blossom lined my walk along the bank of the Esk between the bridges.

daisies and cherries beside esk

And a pair of oyster catchers looked as though they might be setting up home on the gravel bank above the town bridge.

oyster catchers on gravel

In spite of the chilly wind, a cricket match on the Castleholm pitch reminded me that it is May and the season has well and truly got under way.

langholm cricket club

Sound defence with a straight bat was the order of the day.

LCC match

I walked on up the Lodge Walks with any amount of flowers to keep me company.

lodge walk wild flowers

I had met my friend Nancy as I was crossing the Langhom Bridge and she told me that she was going to check out the bluebells in the woods above the Lodge Walks because she is leading a visiting group of walkers on a bluebell hunt next week.  Taking the hint, I walked up a path through the wood.  She will have plenty of bluebells to show the visitors.

bluebells in lodge walk wood

It has been a good spring for bluebells.

bluebells above holmhead

As I went along the path at the top of the wood, I could see more bluebells mixed in with other wild flowers.

six lodge walk wild flowers

I came back down to the waterside and walked back along the bank of the Esk.  The paths are at their best.

two castleholm paths

Looking across the field, I saw the sun pick out a small tree surrounded by larger specimens.  I liked the way that grazing cattle have kept the bottom of the tree looking so neatly trimmed…

castlholm tree

…and looking around, I saw that it was not the only one.

cattle cropped trees

I came back to the cricket ground to find the game still going on and watched a fielder at long leg doing what cricketers do a lot of, standing around.  He had found a good spot for standing around though, surrounded by fine trees and with the ruins of Langholm castle in the background.  He had plenty to look at if the game got boring.

outfileder and castle

A dandelion clock told me that time was getting on so I headed for home…

dandelion clock

…passing my favourite sight of the whole walk.  It was almost as though nature had taken up flower arranging.

saplings scholars

The wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field has a good crop of flowers growing out of cracks and crevices.  I saw ivy leaved toadflax, wild strawberries and corydalis.

wall flowers

I was ready for a cup of tea when I got home and then we got into our new little car and went off to collect some more wood chips.  On our return, we put the wood chips onto one of the paths in the remodelled part of the vegetable garden…

chipped paths

…and parked the little white thingy.  It hadn’t gone far enough to need charging.

renault

We had fish for our tea and I made some chips (potato not wood) to go with my helping. We finished the meal with the last of the lonely sticky toffee pudding.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin flaps down

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