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Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Fountains Abbey.  As well as some impressive ruins, it has a lovely garden.

Fountains Abbey garden

We had a very nice summer day here today, warm and calm and often sunny.  It might well have been a good day for a pedal but the recent travelling about and some  emotional expense around the arrival of a new granddaughter led me to think that a quiet day at home might be the thing.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busier than me with the business of the proposed community buy out of our local moor giving her a lot to do, but I had a quiet day.  I started with a walk round the garden to see if the dead heading of poppies yesterday had encouraged growth today.

It had, and this was my pick as poppy of the day.

poppy of the day

New flowers have appeared including the first phlox (the phirst flox?)…

phlox

…and a pollen laden lily.

lily pollen

In the shade behind the greenhouse, a hosta dangled flowers like jewels from a necklace…

hosta jewels

…and nearby, the orange hawkweed looked as though it might be reaching the end of the line.

ornge hawkweed seed

In fact, when Mrs Tootlepedal started some gardening later in the day, the orange hawkweed did indeed meet the end of the line.

cut orange hawkweed

Meanwhile, I sat outside the kitchen window on a handy bench and watched the birds.

The siskins were are disagreeable as ever…

sparrow shouted at by siskin

…with this one actually taking to the air in mid nibble to make its point to a slightly shattered sparrow.

flying siskins

Another siskin used the old sunflower stalk as a staging post on its way to the seed…

siskin on sunflower stalk

…and I am happy to say that Mrs Tootlepedal has a new one growing nearby for next year.

new sunflower

I was happy to welcome another visitor to the garden when Sandy came for coffee.

sandy arriving

He told me that his feet were still stopping him from going for walks but he is hoping that an operation in October will sort his problem out.  I hope so too as I have missed our walks this year.  On the other hand, he has tried out a friend’s electric bicycle and was so taken by the experience that he is thinking of getting one himself.  That would mean that we might substitute cycle outings for walks which would be fun….though he would have to learn to wait for me at the top of every hill of course.

When he left, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and did some light work.  This included more dead heading and picking the enormous number of sweet peas that had appeared overnight.

I also kept an eye on a family of young blackbirds which were lurking near the compost bins…

two young blackbirds

…while trying to catch a swirling flock of swifts circling over head.

two swifts

Two of our buddleias have come out and I kept an eye on them to see if any butterflies were attracted by their flowers.

Several small tortoiseshells arrived on cue.

small tortoiseshell butterfly 1

The two different plants were both in the butterfly magnet business.

small tortoiseshell butterfly 2`

We dug up another of our early potatoes and were very pleased to find that it had produced 17 new potatoes, a very good return  we thought.  We ate several of them, along with some lettuce from the garden for our lunchtime salad.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a meeting and I didn’t go for a cycle ride.  I thought about it quite a lot, but that was as far as  got.  I did do some compost sieving and greenhouse grass mowing instead but I did quite a lot of sitting down as well.

I admired the roses on the fence…

rambler rose on fance

…and the berries that have appeared on the tropaeolum flowers…

tropaeolum berries

…and I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal when she got back from her meeting and then, finally, I got so embarrassed about wasting such a glorious day that I did get my bike out at last and cycled 14 miles.

By this time the wind had got a bit frisky and I did the first five miles up the gentle hill and into the wind at 9 miles an hour and then did the second five miles down the gentle hill and with the wind behind me at 19 miles an hour.  I might have gone a little faster if a lad driving a tractor while talking on his mobile phone hadn’t driven out of a side road in front of me and forced me to a halt.  He gave me a cheery wave though.

My route took me out of the town past some hawkweed rich verges…

hawkweed beside road

…with a lot of bird’s foot trefoil about…

bird's foot trefoil

…until I got to the top of the first straight on Callister after five miles…

callister with verges

…where I turned round and cycled back through the town and then went for two miles out of the other side…

ewes valley in evening

It was tempting to go further on such a lovely evening, but the evening meal was waiting

…before heading for home.

Some more of our home grown potatoes went into one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fine fish pies for our tea.  It was garnished with turnips from the garden and followed by rhubarb and custard for a pudding.

As we also had picked, cooked and eaten some beetroot, it was a good garden-to-mouth day.

The weather looks as though it might be a bit more changeable over the next few days  so I might regret my poor cycling efforts today but it can’t be helped, I just didn’t have the get up and go.

The flying bird of the day is a bee.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from camera club member Peter who not only helped with serving the cream teas at Waterbeck yesterday but also kindly sent me this picture from our camera club trip  to Beamish last week.

Peter's beamish

The forecast seems to be pretty certain that it will rain all day tomorrow so I was very happy to make good use of another fine and warm day today.

I started with a look round the garden after breakfast where flowers seemed to be singing in trios…

four triple flowers

…and then I drove south into England where I saw this fine display of rosebay willowherb…

rosebaywillowherb

…and had a very satisfactory singing lesson.  I have reached the stage where I can now sing well enough for my teacher to be able to tell me that I am singing badly.  This may sound paradoxical but good teachers will know that you never tell a pupil who is doing something badly that they are doing it badly as that only discourages them.  You tell them that they are doing very well.  You only tell them that they are doing something badly if they are actually doing it quite well and can improve.  I was very encouraged.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz setting the world to rights from the comfort of our garden bench.

Mrs T and Liz on bench

Appropriately enough, since they are both grandmothers, not far away I could see that the Special Grandma rose has come out.

special grandma

When Liz left, I had a walk round and was pleased to see the first flowers on one of our buddleias.  I hope that it will soon attract butterflies.

buddleia

It was a good day for some hard work in the garden so I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with the settling in of the second of our new garden beds to replace the one crushed by the digger when the electricity pole was put in.

We are very pleased with our shiny new electricity pole but we are even more pleased with the new beds.

new veg beds

After lunch, I did the crossword and then set off to pedal a few miles on my bike.  Mostly I pedal very gently and even on long rides, I eat enough so that I weigh the same when I get home as when I set off.  However, the energetic pedal on Saturday had had the pleasing effect of causing me to lose a little weight so I resolved to get my head down and pedal as hard as I could today.  This meant only two stops for pictures, one of the broad road….

Old A7 Granstonehead

…and one of a narrow path.

bike path with daisies

It is good to see unmown verges and flowery banks.

The effort put into the ride was very worth while as I enjoyed the pedal down to Canonbie and back and sweated off a little more weight.

When I got home, I had time to have a shower and then my flute pupil Luke came for the last lesson before a summer break.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I dug up another of our early potatoes.  They are producing an excellent clean crop which is not helping my weight loss programme at all but they were very delicious with an otherwise cold meal for our tea.  While they were cooking, I mowed both the front and middle lawns, a task which by happy coincidence takes just the same amount of time as new potatoes take to boil.

It was a pity that such a good day was then spoiled by the extremely capricious behaviour of my computer.  It thought it would be amusing if it took several minutes to complete each and every operation so that the preparation of pictures for this post took me longer than my twenty mile bicycle ride had taken,  Far longer.  It was most annoying but at least it has spared the weary reader yet another picture of the salvia, as I had lost patience long before I came to it.

During the afternoon, I found a moment to watch sparring siskins at the feeder…

arguing siskins

…and had another go at taking a picture of St John’s Wort.  The camera just doesn’t like them at all.

st john's wort

As well as potatoes, we should be getting to eat peas and beans in the not too distant future.

pea and bean

And there were roses looking as close to perfection as a gardener could wish.

four roses

If it does rain tomorrow, the garden will be grateful even if I will be a bit morose.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin intent on higher things.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on the Isle of Arran.  Unlike me, he saw a squirrel at breakfast time.

Arran squirrel

Our spell of good weather continued with a pleasantly warm and often sunny day.  At the moment we are getting some sunny days without it getting too hot for comfort and the only thing lacking to make things perfect is a few overnight showers to save the need for watering the vegetables.

I had time before going to sing in church to have a quick walk round the garden.  It was worth it.

poppy, lily, courgette

Perhaps the biggest and most flamboyant flower in the garden at the moment is in the vegetable patch but the courgette (bottom left in the panel above) looks quite at home.

We have got some very nice white foxgloves on the go among all the colour.

whiute foxglove

The hostas are covered with flowers,  They are doing well this year.

hosta with flowers

Our church organist has been elected cornet so he has been very busy attending common ridings in neighbouring towns lately, but he found time to come and play for us today and it was good to have him at the organ.

After church, there was time for another garden wander and some dead heading.  I noticed the last of our lupins…

new lupin

..and took a general view of the borders on the front lawn.

front lawn border

The front lawn is much better than it was, but it is still a bit patchy.  I did think about photoshopping the brown patches out but restrained myself.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys a bright red perlagonium which she rescued from a ‘past its best’ tray at a garden centre last year.  It has repaid her care.  I like it too, but it is so bright that it frightens the camera.

geraniums red

I went inside to have coffee and had a look at the birds.

There is a lot of blackbird activity in the garden and this looks like a growing youngster.

young blackbird

A siskin looked as though it was being distracted by an arriving sparrow from the threat from another siskin behind it.

sparrow landing

Later on, two siskins got very up close and personal.

mixed siskins

After lunch, we went off for a cycle ride.

During the ‘sit and stitch’ session at the producers’ market yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal had been reminded by one of her embroidering friends that members of the Waterbeck village hall committee serve cream teas every Sunday afternoon in July.  Waterbeck is ten miles away from Langholm so a ten mile bike ride seemed a good way to work up an appetite and the ten miles back seemed like a good way to work off the calories acquired.

We went at a leisurely pace and kept an eye out for orchids.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted some on the way out and some more on the way back…

two orchids

…and in the end, she saw so many that she stopped pointing them out.

As well as wild flowers, we saw animals pondering on life…

three bulls

…and a busy sand martins’ nesting site…

sand martin nests

…though my pocket camera couldn’t capture any of the sand martins which were flitting in and out of the nest holes.

The verges have not been mown recently and are very lush with waving grasses.

waving grasses

We encountered a small stream of old cars on a group outing but I only managed to get my camera out of my pocket by the time that they had almost all passed us.  This was the last in the queue (with a modern car behind it).

old car

We arrived safely at the hall and enjoyed an excellent cup of tea, a cream and strawberry scone and a delightful plate of cakes as well.  I would have shown you the scones but they had all mysteriously disappeared in no time at all.

waterbeck cream tea table

There was a light breeze in our faces on the way home and the hills are steeper going towards Langholm than on the way out, so we didn’t rush back in spite of being well fuelled with scones and cake.  We had time to stop and look at more flowers.

The vetch and the yellow bedstraw were very striking…

four wauchope wild flowers

…but the more subdued meadowsweet and two active red soldier beetles also provided photo opportunities.

The most surprising stop of the trip was to photograph a hare on the top of Callister.  It thought that the best way of hiding from me was to stand very still in full view.

hare on Callister

More animals should adopt this scheme.

We made a judicious pause half way up the steepest hill to admire the view.

view from Callister

Mrs Tootlepedal did the trip on her shopping bike.  It is the one that has been recently serviced and now has a fully functioning ‘granny gear’ on it.   The hills gave it a good test and it passed well.

An evening meal consisting of a fry-up of liver, bacon, egg and mushroom rounded off a very satisfactory day and we sat down to watch a recording of the team time trial stage of the Tour de France after we had had one last walk round the garden.

The evening light was delightful.

poppy bobbie james delphinium philadelphus

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that one of the many Iceland poppies which spring up in the garden had developed some rather fancy petals.

ragged iceland poppy

I liked the steely gaze of the delphiniums.

delphinium

According to the forecast, we have one more good day to go before the weather changes and it starts to rain for several days, so I am pleased to have had the opportunity to cycle a few miles and have had so many pretty flowers to look at during this past week.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch heading up to the feeder.

chaffinch flying

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sue, who lives at the bottom of the town, and sees interesting things in her garden.

sue's squirrel

Just because Sue sees more interesting things in her garden than we do in ours, she kindly invited me (and my camera) down to see what we could see this morning, so after breakfast, I cycled down with hope in my heart.  When I sat in her kitchen and saw her feeder set up through the window…

sue's feeders

…I was bowled over and I got out my camera and waited.

She told me that she had already seen nuthatches before i arrived and that this was the usual time for the squirrel to call so I sat filled with the keenest anticipation.

I saw a jackdaw….

jackdaw sue

…and several families of sparrows…

sparrows sue

…and a selection of tits…

coal tit sue

…one of which had a good stretch out for the squirrel food…

great tit sue

…and even a pair of robins…

robins sue

…all of which were were very welcome but did not include a nuthatch, woodpecker or squirrel which I had hoped to see.  Sue gave me a cup of coffee and we waited for a while but in the end, I left with that familiar feeling that many interesting things would happen as soon as I left.

Some interesting things had happened in the town over night and as I passed the Co-operative Store, I could see that it had been ringed around with crime scene tape….

co-op raid 1

…and a closer inspection revealed that the store had been the victim of a determined attack.

co-op raid 2

It turned out that overnight there had been an attempt to ram the doors with a vehicle and steal the cash machine.  The doors had suffered but the cash machine had remained in place.  Some time ago, a gang had managed to prise the cash machine out of the wall with a digger and carry it off, but obviously security has improved since then and this attempt failed.

Still, it is not the sort of thing that we see every day in Langholm so it was a shock.

I have noticed that men have been out and about trimming banks and mowing things so I took this picture of the flowery bank of the Esk as I cycled home in case it disappears soon.

flowery bank Esk

I hadn’t been home long before Sue sent me a message to say that a nuthatch and a woodpecker had appeared almost as soon as I had left and she was watching a squirrel as she typed the message.  Such is life.  I hope to get the opportunity to try again soon.

I had time for a walk round the garden before Dropscone arrived with the traditional Friday treacle scones at coffee time.

The salvias are going to make a splash when they all come fully out.

colourful corner with salvias

Although the roses have been catching my eye most lately, the peonies are still very good value.

oink peony July

I like the way that clematis flowers seem to come with wildly different numbers of petals on the same plant.  Here is one with six and one with four side by side.

two clematis with differnet petals

I was pleased to see a young blue tit on the peanuts at our feeders as I passed.  It wasn’t frightened of me at all.

bue tit on nuts 1

Dropscone arrived and we ate his scones cheerfully while he drank coffee and I had a cup of tea since I had already had a coffee.

Dropscone has almost recovered from his broken ribs, although he is taking good care not to sneeze still, and is back to playing full rounds of golf.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I made two new surrounds for raised beds in the vegetable garden.  These were to replace the beds which the digger had squashed while the new electricity pole was being put in.  The power company had given us enough wood for the job and with me on the saw and Mrs Tootlepedal on the tape measure and hammer, the new beds were made by lunchtime.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw that the blue tit was back.

bue tit on nuts 2

After lunch, I mowed the grass round the greenhouse in a free and easy way.  I have had to be careful over recent weeks because of our neighbour’s telephone wire running along the ground, but it now back attached to the new pole, so it was a relief just to be able to swing the hover mower about without worrying.

I then went in to do crossword.

While I was inside, Mrs Tootlepedal placed the smaller of the two beds in position and sorted out the soil.

new veg beds

The larger bed will have to wait until time and energy are available as there is quite a lot of work to be done before it can be lowered into position.

I had thought of going cycling but the day got very gloomy and there was a hint of drizzle so I had a walk round the garden instead.

The geraniums are going on strongly…

geranium clump

…as are the Sweet Williams.

vivid sweet william

The melancholy thistles are beginning to go to seed…

melacholy thistle seeds

…but the ligularias are just joining the party.

P1030461

I sieved a lot of compost to fill our store bucket because Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot recently and thought about mowing some lawns but went inside and had a quiet sit down instead.

In the evening, we dug up another potato from the potato patch and were very pleasantly surprised at how productive it was and how clean and slug free the crop was.  As a result we had plenty of new potatoes to go with a second helping of mince for our tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed getting back to playing flute and keyboard duets.  For one reason or another, we haven’t played for some time, so it was a treat to get back to music making.

The flying bird of the day is one of our own garden siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland jaunt.  They went on a boat trip and saw eagles fishing.  He took this picture with his phone.

oznor

We had a better day today.  I managed to get up and stay up and Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold was much improved.

She had another very busy day in connection with the plans to try to get a community buy out going for part of the Langholm moor which our local duke is selling.  She is part of a steering group which is considering possibilities and encouraging local interest.  Part of her day involved a visit to the moor with our local expert and as she saw stonechats, meadow pipits, wild goats and a hen harrier in flight, she felt very happy about her day’s work.

I took things more easily and spent a lot of time doing some desultory weeding and dead heading, before some compost sieving.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot of our home made compost recently.

Among this, there was plenty of time to look at flowers both old and new.

It was a day for new poppies to pop up.  Expect many more poppy portraits in the days to come.

three new poppies

Owing to having a very twitchy shutter finger in the sunshine, flowers will appear in mostly colour coded panels.

four pale flowers

From top left clockwise: Ginger syllabub, peony, campanula and water lily

four roses

From top left clockwise: Queen of Denmark, Lilian Austin, Goldfinch, and unknown to me.

four reddish flowers

From top left clockwise: Frau Dagmar Hastrup, wiegela, nasturtium (first of year), spirea

four blueish flowers

From top left clockwise: Delphinium, iris, clematis and clematis

My neighbour Liz called in and was much struck by the beauty of the rosa complicata in the front bed which she said looked exactly like a rose should look like.  Who could disagree with her?

pretty rosa complicata

 

Not all he flowers in the garden stand out.  I had to peer through the tree peony to find this new lily which is blushing unseen.

hidden lily

Among all the other colour, the little forest of orange hawkweed is still one of the best things in the garden at the moment.

orange hawkweed

I sat down for long enough to do the crossword and watch the birds.  A goldfinch had an interesting slant on things…

slanted goldfinch

…while a sparrow clutched at straws (or in this case, the old sunflower stalk).

sparrow on stalk

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal appeared in time to have a bowl too.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn.  The moss eating treatment seems to be working but I applied the mixture, which also contains buck-u-uppo, with such a free hand that the grass is growing at a furious rate.

Then, since it was a fine day and my back and feet were not complaining too much, I went out for a cycle ride.  As the wind was gusting at 25mph, it was quite a short ride because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my legs.

I was keeping an eye out for orchids and when a flash of colour appeared in the verge, I stopped to investigate.  It turned out to be vetch but still well worth a look, I thought.

vetch

I pottered along and turned at this gate on Callister.  Like the photographer, it is a bit past its best.

overrun gate at callister

With the wind behind me, I whistled back to the town and out of the other side until I had got far enough to get a view up the Ewes Valley which the low cloud had denied us yesterday.

view of ewes with wild flowers

Satisfied, I pedalled home and clocked up 16 miles.  At least I had started the new month with something.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out when I got home.  She had been off doing more moorland business while I was pedalling but she soon returned and she noticed this strange object on a nettle  while she was getting the washing in.

thing on nettle

A search on the internet tells me that it may be a fungal gall caused by rust.

We had a discussion as to whether it was time to try digging up an early potato.  After some debate, we resolved to give it a go.

It turned out to be a reasonable decision and we ate a lot of them with our evening meal.

new potatoes 2019

My flute pupil Luke came and I was rustier than him as I hadn’t played a note for two weeks.  I will have to put in some practice.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.  I was hoping to see something to photograph and she was hoping to nab a few more townspeople to sign her petition regarding the moorland purchase.

She added two more to her total as we crossed the suspension bridge, and I enjoyed the wild flowers beside the Esk.  For reasons that may have more to do with economy than deliberate planning, the usual strimming of the banks has not taken place and although many townspeople like the banks to look neat and tidy, I prefer the wildflowers.

daisy on river esk bank

The view upriver looked like a painting.

view of Langholm Bridge sunny evening

We walked round the new path on the Castleholm and were impressed by the huge size of the cones on the noble fir.

noble fir cones

There were insects to be seen on the umbellifers beside the path.

insects on umbellifer

And the path itself was treat on a summer evening like this.

new path in shadows

Mrs Tootlepedal added another four names to her petition as we walked along Douglas Terrace and then we dropped in on Mike and Alison (another signature added) where I enjoyed a beer before finally getting home.  Mike and Alison’s garden is looking very fine.

I felt better at the end of the day than I did at the beginning and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin with its mouth full, byt still going back for more.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother Andrew’s wife’s Australian cousin Janet who found Andrew hard at work on his son’s mower making hay  while the sun shone.

andrew making hay

After yesterday’s outing to Beamish, I had a plan for today: in the morning I would put the pictures from Beamish on the blog, mow a few lawns, make soup for lunch and then in the afternoon, I would go for a cycle ride.

Everything went entirely to plan until I got up.  Shortly afterwards, I went back to bed again with a very sore back and an outbreak of being strangely tired.  As I didn’t get up until noon, the morning part of the plan was shot.

I took a quick look at the garden flowers when I had risen and found a lot of Sweet William that I thought was worth recording.

six sweet williams

The first day lilies have arrived.

day lily

And ever more irises are appearing.

two irises

I like the last of the lupins to join the garden show.

new lupin

I found another Philadelphus flower.

single philadelphus

And my favourite rose, Lilian Austin was looking at her best.

lilian austin

She has been joined by a burst of moss roses.

three moss roses

Then I went in and watched the birds for a while.

Although the weather was good, it was pretty breezy and birds had to hang on to the feeder.

sparrow hanging on

And when they did get settled, it wasn’t long before someone else came along and booted them off.

threatening siskin

I had a cheese and tomato toastie for lunch and fortified by this, I went out and mowed the lawns.  This was a bit of a kill or cure experiment with my back and I am happy to say that the result tended much more to cure than kill and I felt a bit better for the rest of the day.

I noticed a flash of colour and dashed in for my camera and for once a butterfly kindly stayed in place for long enough for me to get a picture.  It was a red admiral, the first that i have seen in the garden this year.

red admiral butterfly

Looking around, now that I had my camera with me, I was impressed by the growth on the delphiniums…

delphinium

…and by the pertinacity of the aquilegia which are still growing through a box ball.

two aquilegia on box

I spotted the first calendula of the year…

calendula

…and enjoyed the dancing feet of the martagon lilies in the sun.

martagon lilies

The two clematis on either side of the front door are at very different stages of development.

two front door clematis

Mrs Tootlepedal has a bit of a cold and had had a very busy morning, so while I was pootling about in the garden, she wisely had a siesta.  When she came downstairs, we decided to go up to the Langholm Moor and look for interesting bird life.

Our timing was off.  The sun had gone and light rain and low clouds had beaten us to the top of the hill.

moor in mist

The wind was strong too and the bog cotton and grasses were being blown about.

bog cotton

Altogether it wasn’t the best day for watching birds on the hill.   Still, it is always a pleasure to be out and about and the roadsides were full of wild flowers…

moor road with wildflowers

…including a large patch of orchids.

moor orchids

However, it was too wet and windy to take satisfactory pictures or see much so we didn’t stay out long and came back to the garden where I spotted a new clematis in the drizzle.

new clematis by old feeder

Although we welcomed the rain from a gardening point of view as things were a bit dry, the birds didn’t look very happy, either up above…

cross starling

…or down below.

soggy blackbird

Our fake tree of twigs nailed onto a fence post is a popular stopping off point for birds on the way to the feeder.

two siskin on fake tree in rain

The rain and the brisk wind put paid to any idea of cycling, though I did put in a few minutes on the bike to nowhere in the garage just to get my legs moving.  Then I buckled down and put 90 odd pictures into a post about the trip to Beamish yesterday.   (Sandy has put some of the ones that he took on his blog too and those interested can see them here.)

All this took some time and although there was a glimpse of sun later in the evening, my day had ground to halt by then and I ate a meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal and watched Countryfile on the telly.

I hope that my back and the weather are more co-operative tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin in the queue for the feeder.

siskin in queue

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who said that he was quite surprised to find any group of people pulling together in these divided times.

Andrew's rowers

We left the kind hospitality of my sisters behind after breakfast and set off to catch an underground train to Euston Station.  It was still the busy period as people headed for work and we had to let three terrifically crowded trains go past until we found one with enough space to let us squeeze aboard with our cases.  In the days when I was a regular commuter in London 60 years ago, I used to love the hurly-burly and pushing and shoving of city life but now I am not at all anxious to be treated like cattle just to get on a train.

Anyway, we still arrived at the station in plenty of time and were pleased to find that heavy rain showers in the night had not affected our line, although other lines from London had been affected.

Our train left smoothly for the north, but thanks to a signal problem along the way, it arrived in Carlisle just after our bus to Langholm had departed.  With an hour to wait, we were fortunate to find a good quality cream tea at a modest price in the M&S cafe to assuage our grief and pass the hour until the next bus arrived on time and took us home.

When we got off the train at Carlisle Station, I had noticed this reminder of times past waiting on another line.   Heritage railway excursions have become very popular lately.

sdr

It was good to get home and have a walk round the garden and while we were strolling about, we were joined  by our neighbour Liz.  She had also been away and had missed the same bus as us.  She had found a different way to get to Langholm though and we exchanged notes over a restorative cup of tea.

I walked out into the garden with Liz when she left and noticed a great pile of pollen on the ground under the hydrangea on our house wall.  The hydrangea is totally covered with flowers and, naturally enough, bees too.

bee on hydrangea

I checked on Mrs Tootlepedal’s carefully constructed anti bird defences in the vegetable garden.  They had obviously been working well while we had been away, and there were signs of promising fruits…

strawberry

…and flowers to come.

sweet pea

I had a check for new roses and was very pleased to find that Lilian Austin….

Lilian Austin

…Crown Princess Margareta…

crown princess

…and Ginger Syllabub…

ginger syllabub

…had all appeared since we went away.

In the pond, the first water lily was shyly peeping out from behind a leaf.

water lily

Other new flowers were out.  A Dutch iris…

dutch iris

…a handsome stand of Campanula…

camanula

…and the very first flowers on the Delphiniums.

delphinium

We still have things to come though.

salvia

The weather must have been good while we were away, because the peonies were looking very smart indeed…

pink peony

…in a variety of colours…

coral peony out

…shapes…

coral peony

…and sizes.

white peony out

The daises and geraniums are standing up very well.

daisies and geraniums

It was very good to visit the big city and between us see eleven of our extended family while we were there but it is equally nice to be back among the comforts of our own home again (even though it was quite chilly).

And a siskin was there to welcome us back.

siskin posing

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