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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce who is in the north east of Scotland.  He had a warm and sunny day yesterday when he visited Haddo House, a Scottish stately home located near Tarves in Aberdeenshire.

Haddo House

We had a warm but far from sunny morning here as the rain made its presence felt.

I was happy to stay in out of the rain because I was expecting a call from an engineer who was coming at some time between eight and twelve to install smart meters in the house.  Life likes to play little pranks on unsuspecting old people so when the phone rang and I was expecting the engineer to answer, I was quite surprised to find it was the hospital.  I was even more surprised when after waiting three months for an appointment with the physio, they told me that they had had a cancellation and I could see the physio today.

Oh joy….but then, the appointment was for one o’clock and I couldn’t take it as, with Mrs Tootlepedal away in Edinburgh, I had to be present while the meters were being fitted and I couldn’t guarantee that it would be finished by one o’clock.  The charge for cancelling the meter fitting at short notice was £130.  Oh calamity….and then, the cream of the jest…. when the hospital had rung off, the engineer rang soon afterwards to say that he was on his way and in the end the job was finished before half past ten…but the appointment had gone.  How I laughed.

Still, Dropscone came round for coffee bringing with him a pile of his fine drop scones so life wasn’t all dust and ashes.

After Dropscone left (with added rhubarb), the rain continued and I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group website.  Finally things dried up and after a light lunch, I went up to the Laverock Hide to fill the feeders in my capacity as a fill-in feeder filler for friends who were absent.

I took this shot of the hide with its slightly tousled toupee and its eyes closed as I walked back up to it after filling the feeders.

Laverock Hide

I went in, opened a window and sat down but I might as well have left the window shut for all the birds that I saw.

A blackbird was slipping and sliding about…

blackbird moorland feeders

…and a chaffinch perched for a moment in front of me…

chaffinch moorland feeders

…but that was all the excitement for the day.

A beautiful orchid outside the hide cheered me up as I left.

Orchid laverock Hide

I walked round the garden when I got home, doing a bit of dead heading as I went and enjoying some raindrops caught on a fine web…

droplets on web

…and a very soggy bee hard at work…

soggy bee on knapweed

…and noting that the berries on the tropaeolum are turning blue.

tropaeolum blue berries

It started to rain again, so I went in and watched our own birds.

A greenfinch looked as though it thought very much the same as me about the weather…

glum greenfinch

…while a sparrow just concentrated hard on nailing the landing.

landing concentration

The weather lightened up and a jackdaw arrived to stock of the situation…

jackdaw under feeder

…while I went out into the garden again.

The sweet peas looked…

sweet pea in garden

…very pretty…

looking up to sweet pea

…and the Charles Ross apples are coming on well.

apples getting ready

When the sun came out, I went on a butterfly hunt and spotted a painted lady straight away.

painted lady butterfly on buddleia

If you want to know what a painted lady looks like from straight behind, this is it.

back view of painted lady butterfly

Later on, I had another look and saw a couple more.

painted lady butterfly panel

I even saw a peacock butterfly as well.

peacock butterfly

Then it was time for the main business of the day, a drive to Lockerbie Station to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the Edinburgh train.  My timing was perfect and I walked onto the platform as the train drew in.  Mrs Tootlepedal alighted and we drove home.

She had been watching Matilda dance in a competition in Musselburgh and reported that Matilda had done well.

When we got back, she noticed that the acidanthera which she is growing in pots have also done well and the first flower on one of them had come out while she had been away.  The internet tells me that this delightful flower is also called the Abyssinian gladiolus so it has come a long way.

acidanthera

Our new smart meters seem smart enough to let our electricity and gas keep working so that is a relief.  The little gadget that comes with the meters to let us monitor our consumption in real time doesn’t work yet so they are not that smart.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin threading its way through the rain to the feeder.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s grandfather Francis.  He was there to watch Matilda trying out Mrs Tootlepedal’s restored rocking horse a day or two ago under the watchful eye of her grandmother, Eileen.

(Those wondering about Matilda’s hand gesture are obviously not familiar with Woody from Toy Story.)

dav

We have had several inches of rain this week, either in short, heavy thundery downpours or persistent rain like yesterday’s, so it was good to have a fine and mostly sunny day today.

I went out into the garden after breakfast to find that the bees had been busy visiting our poppies.

opium poppy

It was still very humid and singing in the church choir taxed my breathing skills to the limit so I was glad to have a sit down and a cup of coffee when we got home.

It didn’t take me long to perk up after the coffee and I went out into to the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

I helped her pick the last of our first crop of peas and beans and then I cut as many of the sweet peas as I could before my patience ran out.

Then I had a look round.

Poppies were doing their best to look presentable after yesterday’s soaking…

six pink poppies

…and there is plenty of growth still going on.   Buddleia and rambler roses compete for attention and Mrs Tootlepedal has filled the new bed by the new electricity pole with mustard as green manure again.  I may have remarked before that she is very keen on mustard.

roses, mustard, phlox, sweet peas

The sweet peas are growing faster than I can cut them and we have several vases on the go in the house.  And the phlox is phlourishing.

The garden is full of birds as well as flowers.  We have families of starlings in a neighbour’s holly tree and blackbirds have been nesting in the garden.  This one was standing on our neighbour’s shed roof…

starling and blackbird

…but the biggest gang of birds at the moment is made up of sparrows.

sparrow horde on gfence

After a couple of days of neglect while visitors and rain where about, grass cried out for care so I mowed everything, the front lawn, the middle lawn, the greenhouse grass and the drying green. The combination of warm weather and rain had made the grass grow but it also meant that things looked good when the mowing was finished.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious soup from the peas and beans that we had picked, together with a potato and an onion from the garden, and using some chicken stock that she had made while cooking a meal for our visitors.  This was a meal with food metres rather than food miles.

I had another look round the garden after lunch. I would have liked to go for a walk but my feet are not being very helpful so the garden is the limit for most of my walks at present.

I was pleased to see that the clematis along the back fence is growing well…

clemtais back fence

…and The Wren goes from strength to strength.

wren rose

It was not hard to find butterflies on the two buddleias by the back fence and I was happy to find a couple of peacocks among the small tortoiseshells.

tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies

There were probably more white butterflies flitting about than coloured ones so I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and waited to see if I catch catch one sitting still, or even better, catch one actually flitting about.  Patience paid off.

white butterfly panel

You can never rest on your laurels where grass care is concerned, so after the butterfly capture,  I spread a little of the fertiliser that contains the magic moss eating ingredient on the middle lawn.  I will be most interested to see if I can keep the lawns a bit more moss free over the winter than they were last year.

While I was waiting for the white butterflies to come along, I saw a siskin keeping a wary eye out.

siskin staring

When I went in and looked out, I could see why a wary eye out was probably the thing to keep.  The action was non stop again….

busy siskin panel

…and led one poor sparrow to bang its head against the feeder pole in sheer desparation.

headbanger sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal sat down to watch the final stage of the Tour de France and I went out for a short cycle ride in the real world.  I was a little worried that it might be too hot but luckily the sun went in and my ride was merely warm.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it rained in the garden shortly after I set off, but I missed that and had a dry run.

My cycling camera is playing up a bit but I liked this family cow portrait at the Bloch farm so I have put it in even though the focus isn’t quite right.

staring cows

I don’t think that I have had a picture of my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead on the blog since they got their leaves on.  They always look to me as though they are about to break into a wild dance.

three trees

New and bigger daisies are out on the Canonbie by-pass and ragwort is appearing all over the place.

daisy and ragwort

I pottered round my habitual Canonbie 20 mile circuit, worried about a brisk wind but finding it more across than against or behind for most of the ride so I was able to enjoy myself.

I had a last look round the garden when I got home and noted the first zinnia of the year..

first zinnia

…and a rather lonely fuchsia flower.

first fuchsia

It has not been a good year for our permanent fuchsias.

I was able to have my evening meal and still be in time to watch the very final moments of the final stage of the Tour de France.  It has been one of the best tours to watch for some time and we will miss it now that it has gone.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch which appeared among the clouds of siskins.

flying greenfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  There are caves near his house in East Wemyss which have a rich history dating back to the Picts and some archaeologists are currently having a dig around to find out more.

smacap_Bright

It has been getting steadily warmer here, although nothing like the heatwaves in the USA and mainland Europe and although the morning was grey, it was quite warm enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal to put on her wellies and do some heavy clearing of old plants from the dam behind our house.

I was so busy wheeling barrow loads of soggy stuff round to our compost bins that I forgot to take any pictures of the activity, though when were finishing, I did spot a duck swimming in the part of the dam that our neighbour had previously cleared on the other side of the bridge.

duck on dam

When that task was finished, we had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal set about other garden business while I took a few pictures.

The poppies had perked up after being battered by the wind yesterday…

three poppies

…and I was pleased to find a lot of the taller flowers were still upstanding.

colourful border

A hosta flower stuck out its tongue for me…

hosta stamens

…and the St John’s Wort berries positively gleamed.

st johns wort berries

I was going to sit down on our new bench for a rest when I noticed that a verbena had sneaked though from behind the seat.

verbena and bench

The privet is a hive of activity.  Not only is it filling the garden with its scent, it has a continuous hum as you approach it, so full of bees is it.  I managed to spot a few today (and a butterfly out of the corner of my eye).

privet with bees

The individual flowers are very fancy with their rolled back petals and they cover the ground below the branches like snow when they fall.

Above the privet, the walnut tree is full of nuts again this year.  Whether the weather will be fine enough to ripen them is another question, but they are looking good at the moment.

walnuts

I noted the first crocosmia in the garden…

crocosmia

…and then went in for lunch, having picked masses more sweet peas and some garden peas to add to our summer soup.

As Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out, we could just keep the soup pot going for quite a time by adding more fresh veg every day, but we probably won’t.

I noted a couple of greenfinches had come to join the crowds on the feeder…

two greenfinches

..but once again, the chief seed eaters were siskins.

passing siskin

By the time that lunch was over, the wind had calmed down a lot and there was the promise of sun for the rest of the day.  I was almost waylaid by a stage of the Tour de France but as it was a flat stage with all the excitement in the last twenty seconds and still some hours away, I pulled myself together and went off to do some pedalling myself.

I did have a choice, since it was such a pleasant day, of a more hilly scenic ride or a slightly more boring and flat ride.  Luckily I chose the boring flat ride as it turned out that while my legs were very happy to co-operate while the going was easy, as soon as I hit a rise, they started to grumble tremendously.

There were no interesting views so I stopped occasionally if I saw something interesting in the verge…

wild flower with bee

…like this great burnet or sanguisorba officinalis.  There is a lot of grass about and I had a bit of trouble in finding a burnet flower without some grass in front of it.

great burnet and grass

The grass and its many seeds may be part of the reason that my legs were a bit unhelpful as grass pollen doesn’t help my breathing.

Still, as my route was largely flat after the first eleven miles, I plodded on down into England where I saw just about the most silver silver birch that I have ever seen.

silver birch

Still in England, I stopped beside the River Esk in Longtown to have a honey sandwich and admire the handsome bridge over the river.

Longtown bridge

After the recent rain, there was enough water in the river to to tempt a fisherman to put on his waders and have a go.

fisherman at Longtown

Thanks to adopting a very sensible speed, I managed to do fifty miles exactly before sinking into a chair in the kitchen and having a reviving cup of tea.  At a bit over 20°C (70°F), and with the sun beating down, it was as hot as I can cope with these days so I was pleased to find that the house was quite cool.

When I had finished my tea, I went out into the garden in pursuit of butterflies.  I had seen quite a lot of them on my ride, so I thought that there were bound to be some in the garden.

I was disappointed.

The fancy roses are trying to prove that Mrs Tootlepedal is wrong to think of replacing with them with simpler varieties…

rose in sunshine

…though these little red charmers which live very close to the ground would probably survive a cull anyway.

roses on ground

The astilbes were beautifully back lit.

backlit astilbe

I went in to enjoy a tasty evening meal, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal, and then rather collapsed for the rest of the evening for some incalculable reason.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It must have been feeling the heat too as it needed a friend to blow strongly just to keep it in the air.

flying siskin blown up

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from the camera club visit to Beamish late last month.  Peter took this charming shot.

Peter's Beamish

There was heavy rain overnight but the garden seemed strangely dry when we went out for a look.  Some strong winds had done damage though, and Mrs Tootlepedal had a good deal of propping up and clearing away to do.

I took the opportunity to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive group database and found the first entry regarding a motor car in Langholm that I had come across.  This was 1900 so it must have been an early model.

I went out into the garden to give Mrs Tootlepedal some moral support and the occasional helping hand too.  We picked some peas, beans, turnips and potatoes to make a summer soup and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this moth among the potatoes.

potato moth

She found a home for it and just hoped that it isn’t a dangerous potato eating insect.

I had a look around before going in to cook the soup.  It was rather a dull day and the very brisk wind made getting flower pictures a bit tricky so I was pleased to catch not just one poppy in mid sway…

red poppy grey insides

…but another one as well.

open poppy

I like the different centres that the poppies have just as much as I like the different colours and textures of their petals.

The clematis at the front door is more sheltered and offered less of a problem.  It has come on very well after a slow start and I like its multi coloured petals.

front door clematis lots

While I was in the garden,  I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and got a different angle on the bird feeder.

The siskins were keeping a sharp eye out for competition and a sparrow thought better of trying to get some seed.

siskins keeping eye out

In general, it was a busy scene.

busy feeder from outside

I went down to the river to see if the rain had put some water into it.  It was far from full but there was a lot more flow than we have had recently…

river up

…and all three arches of the Langholm Bridge had been called into action.

three arches Langholm Bridge

The vegetable soup (with added barley) turned out well, with a nice fresh taste.  It went well with some new bread and a selection of cheeses.

I was so perked up by the soup, that after lunch I decided to brave the wind and go off for a cycle ride.  It was tough going into the teeth of a breeze gusting at over 30 mph so I stuck to doing two laps of the seven miles trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, hiding from the wind in the bottom of the valley.  This gave me the chance to visit the little cascade near the schoolhouse…

wauchope schoolhouse cascade

…and to stop and check for riverside birds when I went along the Esk on my way through the town.  There was a small collection of oyster catchers…

Three oyster catchers

…one of whom posed nicely for me…

oyster catcher on rock

…and a dipper living up to its name.

dipper dipping

My legs were quite cheerful so I added a short three mile trip over the bridge and out of the other side of the town after my two laps and ended up with 17 miles more than I had expected to ride when I had read the forecast yesterday.

The seventeen miles were accomplished at a steady pace but they took me up to 270 miles for the month, so although I still can’t walk any distance without upsetting my feet, at least I can keep going on my bike.  Mustn’t grumble.

I  sat down for a cup of tea when I got home and we were joined by Mike Tinker.  Like Mrs Tootlepedal, he had spent quite a bit of time in  his garden repairing the ravages of wind and rain and cutting back excessive growth so we were all pleased to rest a while for refreshment and conversation.

When Mike left, I mowed the two lawns, sieved a bit of compost and had another look round the garden.

I like nasturtiums.

nasturtiums's mouth

This is the very last of the flowers on the rosa complicata.

last rosa complicata

Although some of our heavily petalled roses survived the wind and the rain, like this Wren…

rose Wren

….many were looking rather soggy.  Mrs Tootlepedal gets a bit sad when these roses show the effects of our damp climate and ‘ball up’, so she is thinking of planting more of the simple roses, which are perhaps better suited to our garden.

It was brighter now than it had been earlier in the day, but the sun had not quite come out so I had another go at the white astilbe with better results.

white astilbe

Nearby, a yellow potentilla flower winked at me.

yellow potemtilla

It is impossible to miss the rambler roses which are sensational this year.  We hope that some of them will appear in the rose crown at the Common Riding on Friday but if ours are anything to go by, there should be so many about that the crown builders may not need to come to us at all.

red rambler roses

Later in the evening, I leaned out up of an upstairs window to greet the sun which had finally appeared, and enjoyed a general look over the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been clipping the hedges.

the garden in the evening

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow using every limb available to persuade a siskin to give up its seat at the table.

flying sparrow flailing

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was having a cup of coffee beside the Paddington Canal basin when she was  greeted by an appropriate bear.

Paddington Bear at paddington

The main business of the morning was the Common Riding church service where a presentation was made to our choirmaster and organist Henry, this year’s cornet.  We had a more than adequate replacement in the choir loft and we sang a selection a popular hymns with great gusto, and threw in a three verse introit and an anthem too.

As the congregation was much larger than usual, it would be fair to say that we made a joyful noise today.

The service started later and took longer than usual, so it took up most of the morning but the late start gave me time to wander about the garden before going to church.

It was a cloudy day and the light gave me a chance to get a good look at our St John’s Wort which is thriving uninvited in a patch in the vegetable garden

st johns wort flowers

Its cheerful berries are almost as good as its bright flowers.

st johns wort berries

The Queen of Denmark is lasting very well and adds a touch of class to the garden.

queen of denmark rose

Under the groaning plum tree, the first flowers of alstroemeria are poking their heads out.

alstromeria

…and the purple clematis nearby enjoyed a brief burst of sunshine.

purple clematis

The poppy of the day is one of those that look as though they have been made of crushed tissue paper…

red poppy

…and the white flower behind it is a sort of achillea.

achillea

I have tried and failed to get a good picture of our white astilbe but the camera finds the pink one a little more sympathetic.

pink astilbe

When we came back from church, the skies were very gloomy but Mrs Tootlepedal got busy tidying up the garden, clearing away many of the flowers that are over.  I made myself useful when I could and made a pot of coffee to keep the gardener going.

The forecast was very gloomy with heavy rain promised in the afternoon, so we didn’t make any plans.  Once again an interesting stage of the Tour de France gave us something to watch while the day got gloomier outside.  In the end though, the rain which poured down on the Open Golf in Northern Ireland, must have passed just to the north of us and it remained dry enough outside for me to have gone cycling.   As my feet were feeling the effects of yesterday’s short walk a bit, I was quite happy to put them up, and I didn’t grieve at the lost opportunity too much (or indeed, at all).

I was half thinking of an evening ride but an occasional light drizzle and the need for a visit to the shop put paid to that and day turned out to be a day of rest, very suitable to a Sunday.

The light was so poor that the most interesting thing I saw when I was looking out of the window at the birds was this phlox, growing in the bed in front of the window.

phlox through window

There were a few birds about…

siskin

…but not many.

siskin and sparrow

We are getting regular updates from London and we are very pleased to be told that our new granddaughter Evelyn, is progressing well and all is well with her parents too.

Today’s short post will make up for the excessive length of yesterday’s offering and as tomorrow’s weather seems to have a lot of rain in it, perhaps things will be quiet again.

The nearest that I could get to a flying bird of the day was this collared dove which had been flying shortly before I took its picture.

collared dove on pole

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Today’s fine guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She was luckier than us and was able to enjoy the eclipse of the moon last night.  We were clouded over.

moon eclipse venetia

Although I had promised myself a bike ride in the morning before forecast rain arrived, I was not at my perkiest when I staggered out of bed this morning, and I allowed myself to be persuaded by the Met Office website that the rain would pass and I would get a cycling opportunity in the early evening instead.

It was all too easy then to waste a lot of time doing the crossword, drinking coffee, making a loaf in the bread maker and wandering aimlessly round the garden.   Though to be fair, I did take aim from time to time.

I couldn’t decide whether this was the poppy of the day…

pale poppy

…or this, so I took them both.

red poppy

The salvias look better every day.salvia clump

I like the stachys which are probably the furriest plants in the garden….

stachys

..and the calendulas which are the sunniest.

calendula

The nectaroscordum is going over in a very dignified way, looking like the ruined turrets on some fairyland castle.

nectaroscordum ruins

On the vegetable garden fence, Bobbie James is flourishing…

bobbie james bunch

…and the first of the Ooh La La clematis flowers has appeared.

ooh la la clematis

My neighbour Liz passed the front gate and while I chatted to her, a blue tit rested on the wire cage that Mrs Tootlepedal has put up to protect her plants from marauding pigeons…

blue tit on wire

…while the delphiniums stood up very straight…

delphiniums standing well

…and a bee visited a hosta.

bee on hosta

Mrs Tootlepedal and I took the pea fortress off one of her rows of peas and picked a good handful for our lunch, and then I checked out the ligularia which was sticking its many tongues out at me…

ligularia close up

…and we went in for lunch with peas, beetroot, lettuce and potatoes from the garden on the menu.

And then it started to rain so I watched the birds.

As soon as I topped up the feeder, siskins started to arrive..

five siskins

…but there was a good selection of other birds too, including this chaffinch which missed its footing as it flew in…

chaffinch missing landing

…and a greenfinch being rather careless with its eating habits.

greenfinch

A blue tit looked down on the feeder from above…

blue tit looking down

…and another youngster tried out the nuts.

fluffy blue tit

I put a wet afternoon to some use by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and practising a song that I am trying to learn for my singing teacher.

Then I gave up any pretence of activity and sat down to watch the last 50km of the Tour de France Stage.  It ended in Toulouse, a city through which Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled on our way from St Malo to Carcassone about thirteen years ago.

It is surprising how easily a few drops of light rain can persuade you to watch other people cycling rather than actually going out and pedalling yourself when you reach a certain age.

All the same, my plan was to go for a pedal when the rain stopped, but as it didn’t stop, I didn’t go.

Mrs Tootlepedal picked some carrots and I picked some broad beans and we ate them with a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow. A fortuitous setting of the shutter speed shows just how still a bird can keep its head and body even when its wings are flapping like mad.

flying sparrow

 

 

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