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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s visit to Kedlestone Hall.  Looking over the reflective bridge, he could see the hall itself, as this very fine picture shows.

Keddlestone Hall

We woke to a rather gloomy, occasionally rainy morning but we were able to cycle to church to sing with the choir, although once again, the bike seat needed drying carefully before I could cycle home after the service.

When I got home, I made a venison stew for the slow cooker and then drove off to our local recycling point to get rid of a small mountain of paper and do a little shopping. The weather had taken a turn for the better while I was cooking but by the time that I got back home after shopping, it had started to drizzle again, so I gave up any thought of going for a walk and mooched around drinking coffee and occasionally looking out of the window.

There was quite a bit of traffic out there to catch the eye.

A blue tit….

blue tit on bigus tree

…a goldfinch…

goldfinch

…and a chaffinch all tried the seeds.

chaffinch

It didn’t rain much and I had time for a walk round the garden where I saw the autumn colours of a self seeded rowan tree that is growing near the new bench…

new rowan

…and a selection of good looking black and white berries with some rather tired flowers.

berries and flowers november

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the Community choir.  After the fun of last weekend in Glasgow, it was back to the serious business of singing Christmas songs for our forthcoming concert today.  A potential new tenor had come to try out the choir but at the end of the practice, he told me that he wasn’t coming back as he couldn’t stand all this gloomy Christmas music.

Perhaps it was the way that we were singing them.

After the practice, we scuttled back home and I picked up my camera and walked back to the Langholm Bridge.

A group of enterprising people with the good of the town at heart have raised funds and organised a bonfire and firework display.  I could see that the bonfire was well alight by the time that I got to the bridge….

bonfire from bridge

…and I walked onward to the Kilngreen to enjoy a closer view.  It was an impressive sight.

binfire from kilngreen

A good crowd had assemble to enjoy the fun.

crowd watching fire

Someone told that when the pipe band had led the procession to the bonfire up the High Street to the Kilngreen, the High Street had been full from the bridge right back to the Town Hall.

I took his picture.

big dave at the binfire

After a while, the fireworks began.  At first, a modest display of cheerfully coloured but quiet illuminations set the scene…

first fireworks

…followed by some extravagant gestures…

fireworks 2019 1

…but soon things warmed up with some interesting cross fire…

fireworks 2019 2

…with enough smoke to make me glad to be standing upwind of the explosions.

fireworks 2019 3

The display had an excellent variety of effects from the traditional starbursts…

fireworks 2019 4

…to a loud and noisy section which painted the sky with dazzling flowers of light.

fireworks 2019 5

As well as big bangs and bags of sparkle, there was colour…

fireworks 2019 6

…and fountains…

fireworks 2019 7

…and curious curly whirly things.

fireworks 2019 8

There were trees of light…

fireworks 2019 9

…and spectacular lichens.

fireworks 2019 10

The show seemed to go for ever, though in real life I think that it lasted for about a quarter of an hour.  When it finished, the crowd gave a heartfelt round of applause to the organisers and the display designers.

If the purpose of a festival of fire at this time of year is to lift the spirits as we head into the winter months, this one certainly succeeded and I wish that I could have done it more justice with my camera.  It was a thoroughgoing treat.

Venison stew with boiled potatoes and Brussels sprouts was waiting for me when I got home as Mrs Tootlepedal was not so keen on rushing out to see the fireworks as I was.

The flying bird of the day is a rather impressionistic sparrow taken at the gloomiest part of the morning.

vague flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Camera Club member Simon who was at work in Winson in Germany when he found himself being observed.

simons caterpillar

After a rather wild and wet night while Storm Dorian had its last faint fling over Scotland, we had a generally dry and occasionally sunny day today so we got off pretty lightly.

It was still breezy but that didn’t discourage the birds and the garden was fully occupied by feathered friends all day.

When I went out to have a look around in the morning, I spotted this little dunnock looking askance at a blackbird which was stretching its wings in a flowerbed.

dunnock and blackbird

As well as birds, there was a considerable number of red admiral butterflies about too, and I found one on Michaelmas daisy.  I got too close to it though and it flew off, leaving a bee to enjoy some peace and quiet.

butterfly and bee on daisy

I stood for some time watching stream of blackbirds and some starlings feeding on the rowan berries.

Unlike Mrs Tootlepedal who has picked all the low hanging fruit from the plum tree…

plums in bowl

…the birds have eaten all the topmost berries from the rowan and are now having to look at lower fruit, often on the end of branches.

stretching for a berry

I was surprised to see how often the birds dropped a berry before being able to swallow it, but all the same, a lot of berries went down a lot of throats today.

A starling posed for me…

blackbird and rown berry

…and any number of blackbirds were too busy eating to mind me pointing a cameras at them.

four berry and blackbird panel

Sometimes when they had pecked a berry off the very end of the branch, gravity was too much for them and they had to fly off with the berry or risk being pushed off by the  next customer.

three blackbirds on rowan

Underneath the rowan tree, a snowberry was a haven of peace for a visiting insect.

snowberry

In the garden, many flowers had survived the night of wind and rain.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes to point out that all the sunflowers in the shot below came from the same packet of seeds, advertised as short sunflowers.  Quality control at the seed merchants looks a bit lax.

contrasting sunflowers

The Japanese anemones are not discouraged by anything.

japanese anemones bunch

In the middle of the day, I made some plum jam with some of the plums that we have picked.  A number of things conspired to make the result unsatisfactory.  The plums were too ripe, it has been raining a lot recently, I didn’t have proper jam sugar, and I was probably too impatient.  As a result, the jam didn’t set properly and I had to give it a squoosh of lemon juice and a second boil later in the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal stewed a lot of the rest of the plums.  They will be frozen.   There may well be more chutney in the offing too.

In the afternoon, I got my bike out, and after having another look at blackbirds in the rowan tree…

shady blackbird in rowan

… I went for a short ride.  There was evidence of the recent rain.

water running on Wauchope road

We had a very good dry spell earlier in the year but the persistent rain has finally got things soggy again and the water is running off the hills and onto the roads in several places.

A cow kept an eye on me as I photographed the puddles.

cow spectator

The forecast was for a gusty wind.  Usually round here it is hard to tell if the wind is gusty because it just blows all the time, but today it really was gusty.  One minute I would be pedalling along merrily, whistling a happy tune, and the next minute I would have my head down, battling to make any progress at all.

Still, I got to the top of Callister and back and stopped as I pedalled through the town to salute our lonely gull on its regular rock.

gull on rock

Although it was not in flood, there was enough water coming down the Esk to create a fine back ripple.

big ripples in Esk

As I crossed the Langholm Bridge, I could see that the cormorant was back at the Meeting of the Waters, so I parked my bike at the Kilngreen and walked along to get a closer look.  It was drying its wings.

cormorant at meeting of the waters

I looked up from watching the cormorant and enjoyed the view of the hills.  The mixture of blue skies and heavy clouds summed up the day.

view of timpen and esk

I only got rained on for a very short time during the ride and got home after 15 miles in good order.  I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.  For the first time for a few months, I thought that the rate of growth in the grass had slowed down.  It has stayed quite warm recently, around 15°C most days, but the shorter days are getting noticeable now.  We are only ten days away from the autumn equinox and facts are facts.

As the flowers and leaves are showing.

creeper and sedum

The starlings were lined up on the electricity wire as I went in to have my evening meal.

starlings on wire

As well as plums, we are beginning to get quite a lot of apples from our espalier trees.  I have been picking up the windfalls and we decided to take a step into the unknown and convert some of them into a Tarte Tatin.  We were handicapped by not having a suitable pan for the job but we battled on and the result was good enough to eat even if it definitely would not have won even second prize in a beauty pageant.  I am going to try again soon.

As the blackbirds had taken my advice to try to pick berries from above their heads rather than below their feet, there was no shortage of flying birds today so here is the genuine flying bird of the day.

flying blackbird

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Today’s guest picture is a second from my brother’s trip to Tamworth.  As well as the colourful gardens, he enjoyed the contrast between the Tamworth’s ancient bridge and the modern buildings behind it.

Tamworth Bridge

We woke up to sunshine.  It was hard to believe but it was undoubtedly there.  After breakfast, I went out into the garden to enjoy it.

The sunflowers looked more cheerful too.

sunflower group

The sedum is getting flushed with pink…

pink sedum

…and the last of the poppies are still hanging on…

deep red poppy

…but a nasturtium, positively sparkling with joy, took the prize.

sparkling nasturtium

There were even a few butterflies about.  The red admirals seem to like resting on hosta leaves to gather warmth.

buttefly on hosta

Sadly, the sunshine didn’t last for long and we were soon back to gusty winds and frequent rain showers.  I made some potato soup for lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a jackdaw making free with our plums.  The miscreant tried to hide behind a leaf when it saw us looking at it, but the well pecked plum in front of it was a giveaway.

jackdaw at the plums

In light of the poor weather, I devoted the afternoon to musical matters until Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea (and the last of the biscuits).

It was still raining off and on when he went, but I was confident that the worst was behind us and I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out for a short walk when it had finally stopped.

I carried an umbrella just in case but I had no need for it, as the evening turned out to be much like the early morning.

We passed a large number of ducks on the banks of the Ewes Water as we went along the Kilngreen…

ducks on kilngreen

…and there was an old friend there too.

heron on kilngreen

We walked across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm.  It was looking lush and green…

view of castleholm

…and the Lodge Walks had a refreshed look about them too.

lodge walks september

The gaps along the side of the Walks, where trees have been taken out, have made room for wild saplings to spring up.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this is an ash.

new ash tree

Even when the mature trees are still there, views can be gained by peering through the branches.

warbla from Lodge walks

We were passed by some traffic and looking back as it passed us, I wondered of whom it reminded me.  But there were too many choices so I stopped wondering and walked on.

horse rider

We went past the Lodge and came back down the other side of the Castleholm.  One of my favourite trees looks at its best at this time on a sunny evening.

pine tree castleholm

Looking across at the trees that line the Lodge walks, it was apparent that autumn is on its way as the leaves are just starting to lose a little colour here and there.

back of lodge walks

In the shade beside the paths on our way home, I could see red campion…

red campion

…and snowberries.

snowberry

After the gloom of the last few days, a sunny walk was most welcome and we had worked up an appetite for the rest of the sausage stew and some courgette fritters for our tea.  They went down well.

No flying bird of the day today.  Indeed this bird looks as though it has hardly got a feather to fly with.

moulting blackbird

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The guest picture of the day is another teapot spotted by my brother Andrew.  He has a knack for finding big teapots although he tells me that he thinks that this one is a bit of a Mickey Mouse affair.

teapot

My day can be summed up very simply: got up, saw a butterfly, went for a cycle ride, saw another butterfly, mowed the lawns, had tea, went to bed.

I saw two butterflies after breakfast.

two spot white butterflymorning peacock butterfly

The buddleia is working hard.

As you can see, the sun was shining and as the forecast suggested a dry day, I left the butterflies behind and headed westward into the wind.  The first twenty five miles took me two hours and eight minutes.  The next thirty took me two hours and three minutes.

The verge mowers have been everywhere so I didn’t stop for a picture until I came across a patch of yellow flowers that are not dandelions.  Each one came with its own insect.

insects on wildflowers

As I was on a longish ride, I stopped frequently for a stretch and a drink but wild flowers were hard to find so I settled for a lichen encrusted twig instead.

yellow lichen on twig

I took a picture of the old main road near Lockerbie to show the state of the verges.

old A74 near Lockerbie

Very neatly mowed!  The white line on the left marks off a cycle lane.  As you can see, on a Saturday this is a pretty quiet road considering it used to be the main western  road between England and Scotland but it is busier on a weekday and the cycle lane is welcome.

I was stopped in my tracks by this bright red burst of berries, sticking out of a hedge all by themselves.

red berries

I crossed the River Annan twice but waited until I got to the town of Annan itself before taking a picture of a bridge.

Annan bridge

A party of goosanders was cruising up the river nearby.

goosanders

Passing through Annan, I stopped a few miles later for a fruit scone and a coffee at a museum in Eastriggs.

devil's porridge

It celebrates the story of the largest munitions factory in the world  during the First World war.  They manufactured cordite there and this accounted for the size of the factory which was spread over several miles of deserted sea coast. (You can find out more by clicking this link.)

I didn’t go into the museum but had my coffee outside beside an impressive flower pot.

When I got to Gretna, I was going to go down to the sea shore to take exciting pictures but when I looked…

Solway at Gretna

…I saw that the sea was out so I turned and headed for home.

My route was planned to make the most of a friendly wind on my way back westwards and you may be able to tell that all the leaves on these trees have their backs to me…

Glenzier road at KPF

…so the plan worked out well.

I did worry for a moment when some threatening clouds loomed up when I was about ten miles from home…

 

dark clouds

…but they blew away and the sun was out when I got back to the garden.

And so were the butterflies.

I only saw peacock butterflies today but there were a lot about…

afternoon peacock butterfly

…and the buddleia was heaving with them.

pair of peacock butterfly

I mowed both lawns and then, since I thought that they were looking quite neat, I went round the edges with the strimmer too.

Next, while Mrs Tootlepedal did some ‘neatening up’ in the vegetable garden, I dead headed poppies, mallow and calendula and took a few pictures.

One of the new lilies looks right at home among the phlox, zinnias and mallow.

lily with zinnia, phlox and mallow

The buddleia may attract butterflies but the dahlias are a treat for the bees and it is rare to pass them without finding a bee about.

dahlia with bee

And I like the poppies.

pink poppy

I was taking the dead headings to the compost bin when I noticed that the snow berry which grows behind the bins is out.  It is a bit of a pest but I like it.

snowberry

If the blog stops appearing and there is no sign to be seen of the Tootlepedals, it is most likely that we will be found buried under a great heap of courgettes.  The supply is never ending at the moment.

courgettes

I had courgette soup with potatoes for my tea.

I sadly neglected to take any bird pictures today so the flying bird of the day is the giant flower pot at the Devil’s Porridge Museum.

giant flowerpot

 

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Today’s guest picture is a reminder from my sister Mary of sunny days in the South of France, captured when we visited Aix-en-Provence not so long ago.

Aix-en-Provence -Cafe where Cezanne and Zola used to meet - called Les Deux Garcons

Today had two good things about it  and one of them was surprising considering that the forecast had been for rain showers all day when I last looked at it.

The first good thing was the arrival of Dropscone for coffee on a Saturday bringing with him the traditional Friday treacle scones. Freshly cooked too.  While we ate and drank, the rain poured down outside but when it came to be time for Dropscone to leave, the rain had stopped.  It still looked pretty gloomy but I ventured out into the garden after a while.

Of course as soon as I said in yesterday’s post that the blackbirds had gone, they came back today…

blackbird

…and I saw a goldfinch while we were having coffee too.  When I looked over the back fence, I could see that the blackbirds had been busy eating the rowan berries on the other side of the dam which was probably why I hadn’t been seeing them in the garden.

As soon as I got my camera out though, they all flew off leaving a starling to take the rap.

starling with rowan berry

I enjoyed watching some sparrows bathing in the dam while I waited for the blackbirds to come back…

sparrows bathing in dam

…but the blackbirds were camera shy so I gave up and went in and had lunch.

I took a couple of pictures on my way in.

snowberry

A single snowberry

marigolds

A lot of marigolds (and some nicotiana and nasturtiums)

While I was preparing lunch, I was entertained by a pair of blue tits on the feeder.

Blue tits

The second good thing about the day was that when I checked the forecast again, it said that it would be dry, possibly sunny later and almost windless in the afternoon.  It was a bit hard to believe after the poor forecast yesterday and the morning rain shower but I put on my cycling gear and ventured tentatively out, ready to turn for  home at a moment’s notice.

It was windless so I pedalled on and although it was grey and autumnal…

Sprinkell road

The road near Sprinkell

…it was good cycling weather.

I stopped for a bridge near Eaglesfield….

Eaglesfield bridge

…with the merest hint of blue sky off to my right.  By the time that I had got to Gretna, the blue sky had become a fixture and the bridge over the Sark was glowing in the sunshine.

Sark Bridge, Gretna

I leant my bike against the parapet and enjoyed a banana while viewing Gretna’s answer to the Rio Grande.

Sark

Scotland to the left and England to the right.

I had started out with twenty miles in mind and as I had done twenty five by this time, I headed straight up the main roads back to Langholm with the gentlest of breezes helping me on my way.  It had become a perfect day for a pedal in every way.

I made a little deviation off the A7 to visit Hollows Bridge…

Hollows Bridge

…and see my favourite fiery tree…

fiery tree Hollows

…before stopping off to admire  Hollows Tower.

Hollows Tower

Mrs Tootlepedal was at home by this time after a full day learning about Japanese quilting at an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting so I stopped pootering about and put my head down for the last few miles home.

It was lucky that I did have my head down as I noticed something unusual in the verge as I passed the Middleholms road end.

mushroom

I stopped and looked around.

Ink Cap

It was a bunch of common ink cap mushrooms at various stages of development

I took the opportunity, since I had already stopped, to cross the road and look across the Esk to where I had lately been taking pictures from the other side.

Broomholm

I managed the distance neatly so that I arrived home bang on 40 miles.  This was very pleasing for a decimally inclined chap like myself.  Then I enjoyed a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  We both felt that we had had a good day out.

There was enough light left to watch a coal tit on the feeder….

coal tit

…before I went off to have a shower.

I had put a beef and vegetable stew into the slow cooker in the morning so all that was needed for the complete evening meal was some courgette fritters and Mrs Tootlepedal came up trumps on that front.

Being Saturday, we settled down to enjoy our weekly dose of Strictly Come dancing as we ate our meal and we hope that this week, the worst dancer will get eliminated, something which often doesn’t happen owing to a misplaced sense of irony in the voting audience.

My flower of the day is the Fuschia on the back wall by the dam which I noticed while I was stalking berry eating blackbirds….

Fuchsia

…and the flying bird is a berry eating blackbird which flew off before I could photograph it.

flying blackbird

 

 

 

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