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Posts Tagged ‘sloe’

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working hard in Zurich at the moment but found time to admire this trio of trees ageing differentially.

Zurich trees

Yesterday we had a sunny morning and a grey afternoon (and by the time that we went to bed, the inevitable rain had returned).  Today we had a grey and drizzly morning which was extremely depressing but by the afternoon, the clouds had broken and a cheerful sun appeared.

As a result, we spent a quiet morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal engaged in domestic tasks while I went off to the producers’ market and made some judicious purchases of fish, honey and a variety of beef, lamb and venison for slow cooked stews over the next month.

To hold my purchases, I had taken along a very stout store bag which Mary Jo from Manitoba had given to us when we met in London and I was quite surprised when a lady at the venison stall said, “I know where that comes from.”  And even more surprised when it turned out that she did know where it came from as she had spent time in Canada and in Manitoba itself.  It’s a small world, as they say.

I put the bad weather to good use when I got home by practising choir songs and putting another one into the computer.  Because I don’t play the piano, the computer gives me a lot of help when I meet a new song.

We had a good lunch and then, as the day had brightened, we went out into the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal set about improving her new path and I did some dead heading and shredding before I got my camera out.

bees on dahlia

The honey lady at the producers’ market had told me that the bees are very hungry at the moment and they were tucking in at the dahlias as soon as the sun came out.

The poppies and cornflowers were quieter.

poppy and cornflower

The absence of really cold mornings has allowed the cream coloured potentilla in the garden to keep flowering and has encouraged the Ooh La La Clematis to have a second go.

clematis and potentilla

A butterfly was to be seen clinging to the back of a dahlia, presumably to get some sun on its wings.

red admiral

It was looking in good condition

The weather seemed to be set fair so I got my cycling gear on and set off up the Wauchope road on the fairly speedy bike.

My confidence in the steady state of the weather turned out to be misplaced and I soon found myself pedalling through a curtain of drizzle.  There was still plenty of sunshine about though and I had the wit to stop and look behind me.

rainbow over wauchopedale

The rain subsided and I pedalled on until I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse where I considered my options.  I had planned to do a triple Cleughfoot recycling route and the weather looking back to Langholm appeared fair enough…

Wauchope Schoolhouse looking east

…but behind Cleughfoot things looked very threatening.

black clouds

I decided to risk sticking to my plan and pedalled as  fast as I could uphill and into the wind towards the black clouds, stopping briefly to admire a combination of sloes and haws….

sloes and haws

…before turning at the top of the road and whizzing back downhill and downwind as fast as I could, hoping to outrun any rain.

The sloe photo opportunity proved my downfall though as I was caught by the shower and had to stop to put my rain jacket on to protect my camera.  Still, it was only just the edge of the rain and I was soon back in sunshine and when I got to Langholm, I stopped in our garden where Mrs Tootlepedal said it had hardly rained at all.

I decided to let the shower get well past before going up the road again and this gave me a chance to admire the nasturtiums and calendula at the end of the drive….

nasturtiums and calendula

…and an unusually dark solo nasturtium flower beside the new path.

nasturtium

The sedum shone so brightly…

sedum

…that it seemed to be giving me the all clear so I set off on my second lap.  In spite of some gloomy looking clouds, it stayed dry and I was enjoying myself when I went over a slight bump in the road and my water bottle fell out of its cage.

I had to stop and retrieve the bottle from the verge and when I realised that I was within a few yards of my favourite cascade, I took this as a sign and clambered down the bank to have a look.

Wauchope cascade

There was not as much water going down the river as I had expected but it is still a lovely spot.

Because I had been delayed by the rain, I was a bit behind schedule so I abandoned the third repetition and only did enough to bring up twenty miles.  I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine to go for a walk so I got changed quickly and set off to walk round the Becks before the sun went down.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had done a hard couple of hours work on the path, thought that a cup of tea was a better option so I went by myself.

The difference between the miserable morning and the sunlit late afternoon was chalk and cheese.

Whita Hill

It was a pleasure to be out and about.

Becks track

Warbla

I walked down through the woods and across the Becks Burn, keeping an eye for fungus in dark places.  I saw this crop of tiny fungi on a dead branch.

Becks fungi

They were smaller than my fingernail

I was pleased to come out into the sunshine though as it was muddy underfoot in the woods and there were many opportunities to put a foot wrong and end in an undignified position.

As I walked down the hill towards the Wauchope road, the Auld Stane Brig caught the last of the sunshine.

Auld Stane Brig

I was very surprised to see an umbellifer in flower as I walked along the road, but bearing in mind the hunger of the bees, I was less surprised to see that they had spotted it too.

umbellifer with bees

The bee keeping lady told me that the bees are waiting for the ivy flowers to come out to provide them with a last big feed before shutting down for winter.

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t really approve of garden owners who let their plants impinge on the public highway but there can’t be any objection when it is a magnificent fuchsia like this one.

fuchsia

There was just enough light left when I got home to let me enjoy a last look at the spiky dahlias.

spiky dahlias

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to volunteer at a concert in the Buccleuch Centre and I sat down and watched Strictly Come Dancing and admired the relentless energy of the professional dancers.

I am hoping that the weather is kind and that it will let me out for a morning ride tomorrow.  A ride tomorrow would make this a good week for cycling and go some way to making up for my poor efforts in September.

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

Puffin Island

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

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

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

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

haws

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

sloes

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

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

Potentilla

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

shirley poppies

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

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

poppy

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

The dahlias were worth a look too.

dahlia

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

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

lawn shifting

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

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

Soon a round corner had become square….

new middle lawn

…and a curved edge had become straight.

new middle lawn

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

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

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

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

Leycesteria

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

jasmine

The very last of the geraniums are looking pretty.

geranium

A late daisy.

daisy

And the sweet rocket has produced a second flowering.

sweet rocket

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

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

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

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

earthworm

…and we were not the only ones interested.

blackbird

Robin

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

búmble bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She has ventured east lately and visited Nuffield House, the home of William Morris, the car manufacturer.  This radiator temperature gauge caught her eye.

Nuffield Place

I note that one of the joys of modern life is not having to worry about your car radiator boiling  every time you come to a steep hill or you get stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day.  Not everything has taken a turn for the worse.

Our weather took a turn for the worse though and it was grey and windy all day. Every now and again, it started to drizzle as well.  I got up late for breakfast and finally got dressed just before midday, having had coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz while I was still in my dressing gown.  Life in the slow lane.

I did go out into the garden just after noon and I had a look around.  I think that I have been a bit too disparaging about the dahlias.  They are trying their best and made a good show amidst the gloom today, both seen from a distance…

dahlias

…and looked into closely.

dahlia

The poppies continue to flourish and although we dead head dozens each day, more keep coming.

poppies

They were looking a bit subdued in the cloudy weather today

The nasturtium growing up the wall beside the front door is enjoying the weather more than I am…

nasturtium

…but the cosmos are rather unhappy and are being very slow to come out.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s beans are recovering after a slow start….

Climbing French and runner beans

Climbing French and runner beans

…and we had some of both with our evening meal.

I went back inside for more sitting down.

Once indoors, I spent quite a lot of time grappling with an extra difficult prize crossword, though I might have saved some of that time if I had discovered that the enumeration for two of the clues was wrong which accounted for quite a lot of the difficulty as it  made the puzzle impossible to solve.

I finally realised that there must be a mistake, checked on the newspaper’s website and got the correct information which put me on the right track but even then it took some hard work and research to get the thing finished.  Who knew that there was a god called Xipe Chec?

Late in the afternoon, I finally got out into the garden in a useful way and mowed the middle lawn, shredded some rose cuttings and trimmed the second last of the box balls.

The drizzle looked as though it might hold off for a bit more so I went for a walk round Gaskell’s while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked the tea.

It was really far too gloomy to take pictures but naturally I took quite a few.

There are some wild flowers still to be see beside the road and paths…

wild flowers

…and in places, the path can hardly be seen for the vegetation.

Gaskell's

I saw one of the many umbellifera showing all three stages on one stem…

umbellifera

…and another plant further on which had got to the final stage.

umbellifer

There were lots of signs of the turning of the year.

autumn

A lot of our oak trees in different places seem to have galls on their leafs this year.  I passed more on this walk and I had to look hard to find any acorns.

oak and acorn

It was easier to spot sloes (sloely ripening) and any amount of haws.

sloes and haws

There wasn’t as much fungus about as I had hoped…

fungus

Nothing fresh and new

…but there was plenty of lichen.

lichen

A little lichen garden on top of a fence post

park wall

A damp spot on the park wall

The park wall had brighter moments with ivy leaved toadflax and a contoneaster.

cotoneaster and ivy leaved toadflax

I had a look at the potentillas along the dam when I got home.  They are still doing well.

potentillas

My arm is improving slowly which is comforting and there is nothing in life that a week of warm sunny weather wouldn’t cure.

The flying bird of the day is a poppy which had risen above its friends this morning.

poppy

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my son Tony.  He is the one on the hindmost of the two greys galloping along at the Lauder Common Riding. The photo was taken by ‘Lord Spencer-Taylor’, aka Robbie

Tony Galloping

We were expecting guests in the early evening so the morning was spent making ready for their arrival and after a fortnight of my solo housekeeping there was plenty for Mrs Tootlepedal to do.  I offered a hand where it was helpful but also found time to mow the drying green and greenhouse grass between showers.

We got a load of washing out onto the whirlygig in perfect time to catch a shower but the gap before the next one was long enough to get everything dry.

The flowers are still playing catch up as when the sun is not out between showers, it is still rather cool.

dahlias

Not all the dahlias have been nibbled

poppies

And the poppies are still attractive

There are lots of different shades to be seen…

hosta and ligularia

…even when the flowers are finished.

I found a rather unusually elongated radish and the first plum of the season.

radish and plum

I had the radish with my lunch but the plum has not been eaten yet.

I put the mixture for some soft baps into the breadmaker after lunch and went off for a pedal.  Mrs Tootlepedal was going to take the dough and shape the baps for me but my dérailleur malfunctioned and I had to make a repair stop at home after eight miles which coincided nicely with the moment to take the dough out of the machine.

With the baps rising, I went out again for another eight miles and stopped to take a picture or two on the way.

There was a pretty outbreak of ‘bonnie purple heather’ beside the road…

heather

…and plenty of yarrow to go with it.

yarrow

I went up the little road to Cleughfoot….

Cleughfoot road

…and stopped to check on the sloes.

sloes

The crop looks very good but a closer look…

sloes

…revealed ominous looking scabs on some of the berries.  I don’t know what has caused this but I hope it doesn’t spread.

I got home before the next rain shower and had time to look round the garden again.  It looked all white to me….

hosta

water lily

the first cosmos of the season

The bright berries if the rowan in the sunshine over the garden made a contrast with the grey clouds in the background…

rowan

…but luckily our visitors arrived before the rain did.

We had a cup of tea and then Sara and Janet agreed to stretch their legs before our evening meal.

They had had a very wet visit indeed to the celebrated garden at Glenwhan in the west of our region yesterday so they weren’t at all discouraged by another shower as we walked along the banks of all three of our rivers.

We nodded to Mr Grumpy as we crossed the town bridge…

heron

…and crossed the Sawmill Brig and the Jubilee Bridge before posing for a picture on the Duchess Bridge, the oldest cast iron bridge in Scotland.

Sara and Janet

Sara and Janet suitably dressed for high summer in Langholm

It wasn’t really a day for hanging about looking for photo opportunities but a bunch of fungus on a tree stump couldn’t be ignored.

fungus

The rain stopped before we got back and we were soon seated round the kitchen table enjoying an excellent meal, courtesy of Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sara sings with an Edinburgh community choir and we were able to sample some of their work very professionally presented on YouTube.  They sing unaccompanied which is very impressive but I think it would be too hard for me.

The flying bird of the day is an insect visiting the raspberries.  It looks a bit like a wasp to me.

insect

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a cabbage from our daughter Annie’s allotment.  Possibly the best cabbage ever, I think that you will agree.

cabbage

We had a forecast of persistent rain all day so I resolved to put the day to good use by doing things that needed to be done.

It was indeed raining when we got up.

I started off by grasping my umbrella and setting off to the town, taking some of the Archive Group postcards to the paper shop where they kindly sell them for our funds and following that up by a visit to the Archive Centre to collect some more weeks of the data miners’ work.  Then I went down to the Langholm Initiative office to put in a bill for sales of Langholm Archive stuff at Welcome to Langholm.  Here my busy morning was somewhat waylaid by meeting an old friend, Dr Barlow from the Moorland project, whom I hadn’t seen for some time and having a cup of tea and a chat with her.

This meant that the morning was quite well advanced by the time that I got home.  The rain, on the other hand, had retired and it was now a pleasant morning so I walked round the garden.

Both day lilies and lilies that last more than a day are  doing very well.

lilies

New hosta flowers and old lupins added a bit of delicacy.

lupin and hosta

The blackbirds were no more cheerful than they were yesterday.

blackbirds

I walked round to the back of the house and looked at the splendid set of flowers along the dam.

Damside flowers

potentillas and crocosmia

Potentillas and crocosmia

Somehow lunch time slipped past without much happening and I went out to help Mrs Tootlepedal who was attacking the yew with her new secateurs.

They yew is on one side of the pond and she thought that she might have disturbed a frog.  Sometime later I looked at a curious brown spot on the box ball on the other side of the pond.

box ball with frog

She definitely had disturbed a frog.

box ball with frog

I have heard about a bird in the bush but I have never seen a frog in a bush before.

I spent quite a lot of time during the day mounting and framing some photos for a friend in preparation for a camera club exhibition later this month and followed that by selecting and printing a few of my own pictures for the show.

This is a tedious business because trying to pick six or eight pictures out of several hundreds is very hard and when you have picked one, it never seems to print out just as you would like.

And then there was tennis to watch. To celebrate Andy Murray’s victory, Mrs Tootlepedal made some scones and we had them with strawberry jam and some cream, which appeared as if by magic.  Mike Tinker’s scone radar was working well and he arrived in time to have one too.

It is annoying when the forecast rain doesn’t appear after you have made plans for a rainy day but it was a pleasantly warm and still day in the garden so I picked another pound of blackcurrants and took a picture of a rain battered poppy….

poppy

…which still looked quite exciting.

In the evening, as it seemed that the rain had gone for good, I went for a walk round Gaskell’s.

There was loosestrife and a hint of a good blackberry crop to come at Pool Corner…

loosestrife and bramble

…and a beckoning hand to encourage me up the Manse Brae.

willowherb

The verges on the way to the Auld Stane Brig were alive with red campion…

red campion

…and the path through the woods was lined with this flower….

blue flower

…whose name I have forgotten.

I do know that this is St John’s Wort…

St John's Wort

…because kind readers told me so when I saw it on my last walk round Gaskell’s.

But I don’t know what this is…

yellow wildflower

…but I thought that it was well worth a closer look.

yellow wildflower

It looks a bit like birds foot trefoil but it was growing on the end of quite a long stalk.  It might be a yellow vetch of some sort, I suppose.

The willowherb is coming along nicely and the path should soon be ablaze with it.

willowherb

A foxglove did its best to stop me in my tracks.

foxglove

…but I sneaked past.

I was hoping to see some fresh fungi but had to settle for some fine old specimens.

fungi

Gin drinkers will be encouraged to see that it looks as though we should have a good crop of sloes this year.

sloe

When I got back, we had mince and tatties for our tea.  This was made extra good because the tatties were from the garden and they were accompanied by some tiny carrots and three small beetroot from the same source.

Rather unexpectedly, there was still tennis to watch after tea, as the last set of an exciting match between Muller and Nadal went on for over two hours.

We are promised a warm, still and dry day for tomorrow.  I hope that the good forecast for tomorrow is more accurate than the bad forecast for today was, as I intend to go bicycling.

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