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Posts Tagged ‘slow worm’

Today’s guest picture is the last of the Derby insects sent to me by my brother Andrew.

derby hornet

I am irresistibly reminded of my favourite limerick.  I remember it as:

There was a young man from St Bees,
Who was stung on the knee by a wasp.
When they said, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
Thank goodness it wasn’t a hornet.”

But I see that the original was by W S Gilbert who wrote:

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
But I thought all the while ’twas a Hornet.”

With the greatest respect to WS, I think my version is snappier.

But I digress.

Dropscone recently took a boat trip across the North Sea to Amsterdam, coming back on what should have been the final day before Brexit and he dropped in this morning on his way back from the gym to have a cup of coffee and tell me about it.  His main impression was that Amsterdam is a very easy place in which to get run over by a cyclist.

I had resolved to have a very quiet day today as I was feeling far from my peak so after he left, I constrained my activity to a brief walk round the garden.

The cold and wet weather of the last week has put new growth on the back foot again and there are few developments but some flowers are doing well in spite of frost and rain.

wallflowers, dicentra, cardamine

And the fritillaries are fabulous.

fritillary in sun

There were sunny spells in the morning and these four chaffinches looked very cheerful in one of them.

four happy chaps

The blossom on the plum tree is just waiting for a warmer day to break out fully.

chaffinch in plum buds

The sunshine didn’t keep everyone happy as this study of a lady chaffinch giving a little siskin a kicking shows.

chaffinch kicking siskin

However, the siskin had the last laugh because it stayed in the perch and the chaffinch had to retire in confusion.

For the first time this year, we had several redpolls on the feeder at the same time and although they are small, like the siskins they are tough little birds and not afraid of anything.

three repolls

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off by herself to visit Matilda in Edinburgh (and her other grandparents who are visiting too). Matilda is basking in glory as she came second in her first ever dance competition yesterday and got a medal!

I stayed at home and mooched around in some showery weather until the skies cleared and I thought that my foot might benefit from a little walk.  I don’t want to seize up altogether and I have been severely limiting my exercise for five weeks now so it is important to keep moving, even if very slowly.

I walked up onto the Meikleholm hill and looked back to see the town bathed in sunshine while Whita Hill in the background was still under a cloud.

sunny town cloudy whita

Six minutes later, the town was in shadow and the hill was sunlit.  It was that sort of day, with a very brisk and chilly wind.

sunny whita cloudy town

I had intended to do a Grand Old Duke of York and go to the top of the hill and then come down again but I found a herd of cows in my way and thought better of it and went back down and continued my walk by going along the track to the Becks Burn.

I stopped and had a chat with Stan from the camera club who was walking  his dogs.  He told me that he has already sold a picture from the exhibition at Canonbie so that was good news.

I walked further along the track with one of the smallholders who have fields there.  There was no need to ask which were his sheep because as we approached his field they careered down towards him in the justified hope of some food.  He has already got some traditional spring lambs…

lamb oanel

…and there were other more exotic ones in a neighbouring field.

There were white things to see as I went along…

white things on walk

…and plenty of new growth in the hedgerow when I had crossed the burn and was walking down the road on the other side.

hedge buds

I crossed the Becks Burn again by this bridge which carries the Wauchope road back into the town.

becks bridge at Wauchope

In spite of the recent rain, there is still very little water in the stream after our dry spell in March.

As is so often the case, where there is a bridge and a wall, there is lichen.

Becks bridge lichen

I had thought of a slightly longer walk at this point but my foot put its foot down and told me to go straight home so I did.

When I got to Pool Corner, I lifted up two of the little squares of roofing felt which a nature lover has put there and underneath them, I found two baby slow worms and an adult.

slow worm and mat

Just before I got home, I passed a man with an unusual hedge.

quince fence

It is a quince hedge and he told me that when the fruits come, people pick them and bring him a jar of jelly in return.

When I got back, I found that there were more redpolls about…

redpoll pair

…and they weren’t averse to trying to establish a pecking order…

redpolls beak to beak

…though the one on the top right seems a bit astonished by the bad behaviour of the other two.

repolls flyting

I was cooking some ginger biscuits when Mike Tinker dropped in and I was more than a bit embarrassed to peer into the oven and to see no biscuits at all.  The little round balls of dough that should have melted out into flat biscuits were still little round balls of dough.  When I took them out of the oven (after Mike had gone), I found that they were dry, tasteless and inedible.

A bit of brain racking ensued (as far as I still have a brain to rack) and a second look at the recipe told me that I must have forgotten to put the sugar in.  I made a second batch, hoping not to miss out some other vital ingredient this time.  I must have got everything in because I got some undeniable biscuits out of the oven and they tasted quite good.  I am going to have one or two with a cup of tea when I finish writing this post.  Or even three.

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a very quiet evening in.

The flying bird of the day is a sunny chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her mother Clare, shows Matilda having fun in the Botanic gardens in Edinburgh this morning.

Matilda in the Botanics

We were promised a wonderful day of sunshine here today but when I set off to fill the Moorland bird feeders after breakfast, the hills were covered with clouds.  By the time that I had got to the bird hide, the clouds were beginning to burn off….

Laverock Hide

…and by the time that I had filled the feeders, it was indeed a lovely day.

Laverock Hide

A pheasant had found a comfortable place on the roof  of the hide to enjoy the sun.

Laverock Hide

I was acting as a substitute feeder filler for Sandy who is on holiday in Greece and I thought that I would spend a little time watching birds while I was at the hide.  Sadly, there were very few birds indeed to watch, just a couple of siskins and a woodpecker.

woodpecker and siskin

I have never seen so few birds there.

I didn’t stay long but an indication of the heat of the sun, even this early in the day, was given by these sheep, wisely seeking the available shade as I went back down the road.

shady sheep

My trip wasn’t wasted though because  I was waylaid by Skippers Bridge on my way home and forced to take a few pictures.

I went from far….

Skippers Bridge

…to middle…

Skippers Bridge

…and finally, to quite close.

Skippers Bridge

I looked downstream before I moved on…

River Esk at Skippers

…and could have stayed much longer if I hadn’t had an appointment at the health centre to get some stitches taken out.

The stitch removal went well and I now look a lot less like Frankenstien’s nephew than I have been lately which is a relief.

I was pottering about in the garden when I got back, getting ready to take a flower picture or two when I was hailed from the road.

“Someone’s here to see your garden,”  came the cry.

It was Glyn, a regular blog reader from Langholm and his wife Liz.  They had a friend from Blackpool with them and Glyn told me that she reads the blog every day.  I think that this must indeed be true because when I invited the party in to see the garden, she knew all about it to the extent of hoping not to see any frogs in the pond (she doesn’t like frogs at all), recognising the well cropped topiary chicken and the garden bench with poppies…

bench with poppies

…and best of all, showing a proper appreciation of the compost bins.  It was a slightly strange experience showing someone who knew the garden so well round it but she said that visiting the real garden was a lot better than just looking at pictures of it so that was very satisfactory.

Her name was Mrs Hendry and by coincidence, it turned out that she had left Langholm at about the same time as we came to live in the town.   I took her picture with Glyn and Liz and Glyn told her that she will now be world famous, which I suppose is true in a certain way of looking at things.

Liz, Glyn and Mrs Hendry

It was a real treat for me to meet such an appreciative reader and garden enthusiast.

When they left to have a coffee in the Buccleuch Centre, I stayed in the garden and looked around.

veronica and azaleas

The sun brought out the best in the veronica and azaleas

geranium and ox eye daisy

A new geranium and the very first ox eye daisy

Rowan tree

The Rowan tree has started to flower

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to buy some garden supplies and I sieved some compost to put on her vegetable beds.

It was well over 20°C by now so I didn’t spend too much time in the garden, though it was very tempting to stay outside on such a lovely day.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit Matilda in Edinburgh and I went off to visit the nuthatches.  They were very busy taking food in and taking the rubbish out when they came to the nest.

nuthatches

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get a good shot from different angles…

nuthatches

…with varying success…

nuthatches

…and found it quite difficult to move away from the nest.  When it is busy as you always feel that as soon as you go, the perfect photo opportunity will arrive behind your back.

However, I did move on but I took a picture of the whole tree that the nest is in before I left…

nuthatches tree

It is the one on the right.

…and as I was in tree mode, I took a picture of another impressive tree not far away.

Castleholm tree

Mrs Tootlepedal is very impressed by the inherent strength in trees that enables them to support such heavy branches at such angles.

I pedalled on past the Kilngreen (without seeing any interesting birds) and up to Pool Corner where I checked on the slow worm hotel there…

slow worm

…before heading home for a cup of tea and a bit of cool shade indoors.

While I was inside, and being grateful for the good insulation of our ground floor, I spent a little time putting a week of the newspaper index into the database, a job I usually reserve for wet days.  Then I worked on the music for our concert tomorrow before having a tasty cheese flan which Mrs Tootlepedal had made in the morning and left for my tea.

After tea, Susan turned up and we went off to Carlisle to play with our recorder group. We have decided to play less frequently than we used to as we felt that perhaps we were getting a little stale after many years of playing almost every week.  This turned out to be a good idea as we thoroughly enjoyed our evening of playing….and luckily there were still the usual excellent biscuits to go with our post playing cup of tea.

We have one or two more very hot days to go before the weather is forecast to break and I will doubtless soon be back from complaining that it is too hot to complaining that it is too cold.

I did see a passing gull while I was at the Kilngreen and even though it was passing quite far away, it is the flying bird of the day.

gull

 

 

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After yesterday’s railway bridge over the new Borders Railway, Dropscone’s guest picture of the day shows the shiny new railway itself as seen from the bridge.

Borders Railway

It was another fine day today but it was quite crisp in the early morning so I was happy to arrange to have  a cup of coffee with Sandy rather than have to wrap up in many layers and go for a pedal.

While I was waiting, I went to the shop and on my way back, I noticed that the aubretia that overhangs the dam at the back of the house was looking good…

aubretia

….but I was surprised to see that the potentilla beside it had an additional feature…

aubretia

…but at least it wasn’t chasing birds in the garden.

I am finding it very hard at the moment to pass the magnolia at the front gate without my shutter finger twitching.

magnolia

The very first plum blossom is out.

pied wagtail

Sandy arrived and we were joined by our fellow archivist Nancy.  She came round not only for the pleasure of our charming and sophisticated company but also to get a fiver from each of us as we had sponsored her on a recent charity walk.  She raised £100 for the Archive Group so we were very happy to put in our contributions.

After coffee, it had warmed up a bit and in spite of a cool wind, I might have gone for a pedal but Sandy and I went for a walk instead.  He had been asked to provide some shots of efforts to enhance the natural beauty of the town so we focused on daffodils.

We went to see the daffs at Pool Corner first….

Pool Corner daffs

…and on our way we passed some fungus and lichen which detained us for a moment or two…

fungus and lichen

…and while we were there, we checked to see if the slow worms had been attracted by the warmth of the sun.  They had.

slow worm

Pool Corner itself, being well sheltered from the wind, was looking very peaceful.

Pool Corner

Our next stop was the stretch of daffodils along the Wauchope at Caroline Street.

Caroline Street daffodils

Then we walked along the grassy bank beside the Esk.

As well as more daffodils….

Elizabeth Street daffodils

…there were more delicate wild flowers…

cuckoo flower

As far as I am concerned, this was the first cuckoo of spring.

…and a wagtail to see as well.

pied wagtail

Our next stop was the Kilngreen where we met a very grey duck….

kilngreen duck

….though if we could have seen them, it would probably have had red feet like this other duck nearby….

duck feet

…and then we admired more daffodils leading up to the Sawmill Bridge.

duck feet

A dedicated band of volunteers have made great efforts over the years to make the town seem welcoming to visitors and residents alike.

A fine rock garden has been created at Clinthead.

Clinthead gardens

We had nutchtaches at the back of our minds so we walked along the path round the Castleholm, stopping once or twice….

Castleholm things

..or even three times, when things caught our eye.

We didn’t see the nuthatches but as we didn’t wait very long, this was not too surprising.  The call of lunch drove us home.

After lunch, I once again consider a pedal but the call of the front lawn demanded to be answered first…

Front lawn

Who knew that you can get stripes on moss?

…and when I had done that and sieved a little compost too, all thoughts of cycling were subordinated to the pressing need for a cup of tea and a sit down.  Mowing a very mossy lawn with a push mower is hard work.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy in the garden so I was able to do some light supervising after my rest and I combined this with some plant snapping…

euphorbia, dog tooth violet, daffodil

A developing euphorbia, our first dog tooth violet of the year and a smart, daffodil

…mixed in with a bit of bird staring.

chaffinch

Who needs a perch? A chaffinch pays the seed a flying visit.

chaffinch

Goldfinches working on a shift system, one in and one out

busy feeders

The feeders were as busy as ever.

The evenings are drawing out now and there was still plenty of time for a pedal in the early evening but by now, not cycling had become an ingrained habit and I didn’t cycle yet again.

It doesn’t need much of a chilly north westerly breeze to make me find other things to do these days.  I will try to be a bit more courageous tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

 

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pain

Today’s guest picture shows sunset over the Mersey.  My brother is in Liverpool.

sunset over the mersey

It was a calm day with a good forecast so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir, I got the fairly speedy bike out and made good use of some light Sunday traffic by cycling up the main road to Hawick and back again.

There were some rather fierce looking black clouds about which delayed my start a bit but they passed over and by the time that I got to Fiddleton, there were glimpses of sunshine…

Sun at Fiddelton

…and the rest of the ride was mostly sunshine or fluffy clouds.  I was in a bridge sort of mood so I stopped quite a few times to record bridges over the Teviot, the river which I followed down from Mosspaul and into the heart of Hawick.

The main road has meant that some of the Teviot road bridges are quite modern….

Teviot bridge

This is the first one I crossed

Teviot bridge

And this is the second.  It has a plaque saying it was built in the 1930s.

Once I got into the town, I had to get off my bike and walk onto a smart new pedestrian bridge….

Teviot bridge

…to look back on the third bridge that I crossed.

Teviot bridge

The last bridge that I passed…

Teviot bridge

…is now reserved for pedestrians but I wouldn’t have crossed it anyway as I stayed on the left bank of the river and continued pedalling along the river until the road ran out and changed into a rather nice looking pedestrian walk.

Hawick riverside walk

As my bike computer said that I had done more or less exactly 25 miles, I took this as a sign and stopped to eat a roll and a banana and then turned and headed for home on the same route.

There is only one hill between Langholm and Hawick with a summit at Mosspaul but as you can see from the elevation for the ride….elevation for Hawick trip

…it involves a steady 10 mile climb up to Mosspaul and then a longer 15 mile drop into Hawick.  Of course the homeward trip involves the longer and shallower climb first and then a good brisk whirl back into Langholm.

I only stopped once on the way up to Mosspaul on the return journey and this was to admire the little church at Teviothead….

Teviothead church

…and check out the things to be found on the graveyard wall on the other side of the road.

Ivy leaved toadflax and lichens

Ivy leaved toadflax and lichens

…though I did pause for a moment at the Mosspaul summit…

Mosspaul

…to have a banana before dashing gratefully down the hill to Langholm at an average speed of 19mph for these last ten miles.

I had had a light wind in my face on the outward trip and although it was still helping a bit on the return journey, it had died away to almost nothing by the time that I got back to Langholm.  You can’t win them all and at least it hadn’t changed direction.

I got home in perfect time to watch the end of the first stage of the Tour of Britain bike race which finished in Castle Douglas, a town about 55 miles away from us to the west.  It is fun to watch cyclists on familiar roads.   They are setting off from Carlisle tomorrow.

After a shower and a refreshing cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a walk round the garden.

astilbes

She has quite a few astilbes on the go at present

butterfly

A painted lady butterfly I think.  A rarity for us.

…and then she went off to collect some muck from her new manure mine and I set off on the slow bike to check out the riverside bird life.  I covered two miles at an average speed of 6mph and stopped for many photos and a Pelosi’s ice cream on the Kilngreen on my way.

I saw a single collared dove, and many black headed gulls and wagtails by the waterside.

collared dove, gull and wagtail

I enjoyed the trees on the Castleholm catching the evening sunlight.

Trees on castleholm

…and I rounded off the trip by going to Pool Corner to visit the slow worms.

slow worms

The slow worms enjoy the warmth under the covers on the wall.

There was just time when I got back to mow the front lawn before we sat down to a splendid meal of roast chicken and vegetables from the garden.

The flower of the day is one of the dahlias in the front beds…..

dahlia

…and the flying bird is a herring gull which kindly flew up and down in front of me several times until it was sure that I had got a reasonable shot.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz’s recent jaunt to Spain.  She saw the point.

cactus

The morning radio was full of talk of heat waves and burning sun but when it came to our part of Scotland, low cloud and a pleasant warmth was the order of the day.  As I am not very fond of very hot weather, this was fine by me and I was able to do quite a lot of useful work in the garden after we had had coffee with Liz and Ken and mastered the art of getting Spanish pictures from her phone to mine.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to do some shopping and I turned Bin A into Bin B, edged the lawn, sawed some logs and trimmed the front hedge along the road.  I felt quite good about this and rewarded myself with a tomato and feta cheese salad for my lunch and a good sit down afterwards.

At various times during the morning I wander ed round the garden looking at flowers.  I often concentrate on single poppies and cornflowers so today, I took a more generous view.

poppies

cornflowers

poppies

The perennial nasturtium is going to seed…

perennial nasturtium

…but I like the little green berries as much as the flowers.

I was just enjoying a little snooze (and watching the Tour de France at the same time), when I was disturbed by the phone ringing.  It was a welcome call from my daughter who was sheltering indoors from the fierce heat in London.

I was just settling back when the phone rang again and this time it was an even more welcome call.  What could be more welcome than a call from our daughter? It was the power company ringing up about the Archive Centre electricity supply.  At last, after months of delay, a person who knew what he was talking about to talk to.  This may be connected to the fact that I had told the customer service man last week that I would go to the ombudsman if no one contacted me.

After some conversation, he wiped off the amount that they claimed we owed them, reduced our monthly payments, assured me that our meter was now telling the truth and that readings could  be successfully submitted and promised me that we could go to another supplier without penalty.  Oh frabjous day!  It has only taken since November for this happy state of affairs to come about.  Mind you, I wait for the written confirmation of all this before I open the champagne.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back from Carlisle, she was quite impressed by my industry in her absence except in the matter of edging the lawn.  It turned out that although my lawn trimming looked neat enough, there was still a large fringe of grass overhanging the actual edge and this needed remedial action by an expert.  She did it quickly and efficiently.

The sun had come out by this time but it was still far from unbearably warm so we sat and had a cup of tea under the walnut tree.  I looked at the vibrant honeysuckle behind the bench and the fading euphorbia in front of me.

honeysuckle and euphorbia

I had taken a picture of the Rosa Wren in the morning and looking at the flower as we sat and sipped, I was impressed by how much a good day had brought it on.

Rosa Wren

Six hours work

But not everything had improved in the same time.  I took a picture of a new poppy in the morning and looked in vain for it in the afternoon.

poppy

Not great value. There was a breeze but not a gale.

Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to some pinks that she had been given by our older son Tony and his partner Marianne on Mother’s Day back on May 6th.  They came in a fancy little wicker basket and after keeping them for some time, Mrs Tootlepedal planted them out.  They are doing very well indeed.

pinks

That’s what I call a good present

After the tea had disappeared, I went off on the slow bike to pursue a flying bird.

I passed the oyster catchers in their favourite spot on the bank of the Esk.  They were having their tea too.

oyster catchers

I soon found an obliging gull or two by the Ewes.  Once again they came straight to the point.

gull

I pedalled over the Saw Mill Brig, across the Castleholm and then over the Jubilee Bridge.  I have often mentioned it and I thought it deserved a portrait on such a nice evening.

Jubilee Bridge

The sides really do lean in, it is not a camera aberration.

As I had a little time in hand, I pedalled on up to Pool Corner, which was also looking quite mellow.

Pool Corner

I checked to see if the slow worms were in their warm spots.

slow worms

They are very companionable animals. Youngsters on the left and adults on the right.

The phlox was looking very fine when I returned.

phlox

It has stood up well this year.

When I got home, I heated up yesterday’s chicken in a gravy with mushrooms and peppers and it went down very well with another of our large new potatoes.  There was some gooseberry fool left for afters.

In the evening, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and we had a good time playing sonatas by Boismortier, J C Schickardt and Telemann.  There isn’t a large repertoire of pieces for flute, cello and piano so we have to play the same pieces several times over the year.  Tonight we felt that we might actually have played one or two of them better than ever before.  There may well be room for more improvement though.

The flower of the day is a day lily…

day lily

…and the flying bird is a young black headed gull.

blackheaded gull

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine boat on the Trent and Mersey Canal.  It was encountered by my brother Andrew as he was cycling along the tow path.

Trent and mersey canalIt was a rather disappointing morning as we woke up to be greeted by yet more rain.  Instead of cycling, I did useful things like putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and finishing off the fund raising cards.  This took me neatly up to the moment when Dropscone arrived bearing scones.  He had been even more active than I had been and had already visited Carlisle on an errand.

By the time that he left, the day had taken a distinct turn for the better and I was able to walk up to the town to deliver the cards and order fresh supplies of coffee without any need for a coat at all.

After lunch the sun came out and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with the driving for the disabled, I watched the birds for a while…..

chaffinch and blue tit

The birds come in all shapes and sizes

siskin and chaffinch

This siskin stood patiently waiting on the back of the chaffinch for quite a few seconds until it flew off.

…and then took a walk round the garden.

Special Grandma and a day lily

Special Grandma and a day lily are not bothered by a little rain.

There were others interested in the flowers too.

beesI took the opportunity to sieve a little compost.

A cycle ride seemed in order but a brisk wind had arrived with the sunshine and not wanting to tax my legs too much, I got the slow bike out, loaded up the cameras and set for a gentle pedal-an-shoot outing up the Wauchope road.

It took me well over an hour to do the eight miles to Cleuchfoot and back but I did leave the bike at the roadside while I wandered about on several occasions.  The slow pace suited my knees, which were mumbling and grumbling about doing any cycling at all.

I stopped at Pool Corner to admire a great heap of slow worms…

slow worms…which had arranged themselves very artistically.

There was quite a lot of water coming down the Wauchope so I thought that a visit to my favourite cascade might be a good idea.  It was a very good idea for me but the light was in the wrong place for my camera and I couldn’t capture the scene at all well.

Wauchope cascadeI tried again at a little cascade further upstream.

Wauchope cascade

The light was better here because the sun had gone in for a moment or two.

Wauchope cascade

The bigger picture

There were plenty of flowers to look at as I went along.

wild flowersMany of them had accompanying wild life.

insectsThe road up to Cleuchfoot is very pastoral

Cleuchfoot..and has an excellent surface!

The celestial artist had been dipping into his palette to paint a splendid variety of lichens onto the stone walls.

lichens

All within ten yards of each other

Some trees were so covered in lichens that the pine needles had to fight to get through.

lichen covered treeAs we get towards the end of summer, the brackens start to take over the world, reaching out ever further.

brackenI got home before Mrs Tootlepedal and was enjoying listening to a startling test cricket match on the radio when she arrived.  She wasted no time in getting on with the gardening and I went out to help her dig up another row or two of potatoes.  They are continuing to look healthy and slug free and should keep us going for some time.

We had some of them in a feta, tomato and potato bake which I made for our tea.

While I was out I had a look at some flowers.

astrantia and tropaeolum

The better light let me get sharper pictures than usual of astrantia and tropaeolum

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted that the first calendula of the year had come out.

calendula

A tiny fly had spotted it too.

The wind had dropped and it was lovely wandering around the garden on a warm summer evening though it did give us a slight sense of loss for all the warm summer evenings that there haven’t been this year.  Still, one is better than none.

After tea,  Sandy and I went up to the Archive Centre but the internet connection was on a go slow so we didn’t get as much work done as we would have liked.  We consoled ourselves with a refreshment at the Eskdale.

Just as I typed the last few words of this post, the international Space Station flew over Langholm.  Mrs Tootlepedal gets regular emails tellingnher  when to expect to see  it and it is very punctual.  We had a cloudless sky and for once I was prepared, with the camera on a tripod and the correct settings in place.  I didn’t have a remote control so there was a slight wobble when I pressed the 13 second shutter release but this is probably the steadiest picture of something travelling at 17,000 mph that I am ever going to get.

International Space StationI calculate that it travelled 61 miles while the photograph was being taken.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  These seem to have returned to the garden in good numbers after a short absence.

chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent by my sister Mary, shows Mr Grumpy’s London cousin trying to pass himself off as a swan or goose at the Serpentine.

Mr Grumpy's cousin, pretending to be a swan or goose.We were threatened with rain today but in the end it didn’t arrive until the evening and we had a dry, cool day instead.  I had to begin the day with business relating to the photo exhibition and that took me until coffee time,

After coffee, I did a little bird watching.  The bright but sunless day made the light ideal for portraits both on the feeder…

sparrow and goldfinch…and in the plum tree.

blackbird and dunnockA blackbird posed on the chimney pot.

blackbirdSoon though, Mrs Tootlepedal, our daughter Annie and I set off for the Moorland bird hide in the hope of seeing some interesting birds and its living roof.  We saw the roof….

Laverock bird hide

Tricky to get a mower up there.

….but we hardly saw any birds let alone any interesting ones.  My daughter took a picture of the bug hide….

Annie…as she is going to build one in London.

We stopped looking for birds and explored some of the other things to see near the hide.

slow worm

A slow worm

tiny plant

A tiny plant, possibly some sort of nettle.

orchids

And a really good show of orchids.

We decided to go along the road a bit further and see if the wild irises were out in the marshy meadow beside the Tarras Water.

MeadowThere were very few irises to be seen and the ones that were there were too far into the boggy bits for us to get near.  There was plenty of other interest though, as we walked through the long grass.

There was the grass itself….

long grass…ragged robin….

ragged robin…more orchids…

orchids…and quite a lot of hard to shoot butterflies.

butterfliesI finally got a better shot of one of the butterflies just as we got back to the car.

ringlet butterfly

It is a ringlet butterfly

We paused at the bird hide on the way back and were pleased to get a passing glimpse of a woodpecker.  In spite of the lack of interesting birds, the walk through the meadow and been quite good enough to make the outing a success.

We got back in time for lunch and a walk round the garden.

The Wren and Lilian Austin, one on each side of the path at the back of the front lawn, compete to see which is the most beautiful.

Lilian Austin, The WrenThe bees found the Gallica Complicata more attractive than either.

bee on rose

For lovers of Edith Piaf’s music, there might be an echo in the thought of a bee on rose.

A fresh rose, Rosa Mundi has come to join the gang.

rosamundiI like the Goldfinch because it starts out white and turns yellow giving me two roses for the price of one.

rosa GoldfinchThe clematis which I showed gently unfurling recently, has now completed the job.

clematis

It was worth the wait.

The afternoon drifted away with Mrs Tootlepedal cooking and me watching the tennis with Annie. I stirred myself up enough to mow the middle lawn and sieve some compost and then my flute pupil Luke came.  I had worried about his ability to count the beats well after last week’s lesson and had spoken sternly to him about the need to do something about this.  He had done something and amazingly (and very satisfactorily) came back this week with his foot tapping in rhythm and the notes played in the right place and at the right pace.  He must have practised really well.

My friend Mike, the usual Monday night cellist in our trio, had other business tonight so after tea, Annie and I packed up a couple of recorders and three trio sonatas by Boismortier, Daniel Purcell and William  Williams and went off to play with Isabel.  Annie hasn’t played for some time but we puffed away while Isabel sight read the keyboard parts and had a delightful time.  We kept the tempos steady and by and large not only started at the the same time but finished at the same time too.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch keeping its hands where we can see them.

flying goldfinch

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