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Posts Tagged ‘spring colour’

Today’s guest picture shows a great crested grebe, sent by my Glastonbury correspondent Venetia.  It was seen while on a visit to Shapwick Heath nature reserve with my sister Mary.

Great crested grebe

Our dry spell continued with another mostly sunny day here but the cool north easterly wind meant that it wasn’t a day for the natty shorts as yesterday had been.

Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t care because it was quite good enough for her to spend a day in the garden doing useful stuff all over the place.

She started in the greenhouse and I came and sat in the warmth while she potted out seedlings.  I could see the rosemary in flower through the glass and went out to try to get a picture of it.

rosemary

I find it a very difficult plant to capture properly.

While Mrs Tootlepedal toiled, I enjoyed a leisurely morning which was enhanced by the arrival of Dropscone bearing some traditional Friday treacle scones.  After he left, I had space to do the crossword, visit the shop  and make some lentil soup until it was time to eat the soup for lunch.

There were not many birds about and the plum tree was operating a separate gender policy for chaffinches at first….

plum tree

…although shy glances were exchanged later.

chaffinches

A redpoll was in full breeding colour.

redpoll

I had a look at the pond and was impressed by the ripples of agitation which a light footed pond skater created.

pond skater

And Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a rather fancy daffodil which she couldn’t remember buying, let alone planting.

fancy daffodil

During the morning, we got a call from the bike shop in Longtown to say that my slow bike was ready for collection so after lunch we drove down to pick it up.

The slow bike has a belt drive rather than a chain so that it has no chance of getting oil on my trousers when I ride it around the town.  On this occasion I had got the bike shop to make it even more convenient by fitting a solid tyre to the back wheel thus making sure that I could never get a puncture.

solid tyre

Robert William Thomson of Stonehaven patented the pneumatic tyre in 1846 but he was frustrated by the lack of thin rubber and he turned to the development of his solid rubber tyres. It was not until 43 years later that the pneumatic tyre returned, when it was developed as a bicycle tyre by John Boyd Dunlop.  It will be interesting to see if the return of the solid rubber tyre catches on 130 years later.

With its enclosed gears, stand, belt drive, rear view mirror, mudguards and solid tyre, my slow bike should be the perfect vehicle for a leisurely tour through town or country.

I was interested to see how it would ride with the solid tyre fitted so I took it for a spin up the Lodge Walks to check for possible nuthatches while testing it out.

There were no nuthatches to be seen but the trees are beginning to show their springtime green…

Catleholm trees

…the primroses are very fine…

primroses

…and it is always a treat to have an ice cream from the van on the Kilngreen and have a chat with Mr Grumpy at the same time.

heron

The new tyre coped with all the bumps very comfortably and handled well so first impressions were good.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed to an extension of the trial by cycling with me up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.  In spite of the sun, it was chilly enough in the wind to need a coat but it was a beautiful day to be out.

Mrs Tootlepedal cycling

I stopped to record the continuing dilapidation of the cottage across the field from the road…

blochburnfoot cottage

It is picturesque but a sad sight.

…and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the first bluebells of the spring.

first bluebell

Once again, the bike handled well and dealt with any bumps most comfortably.  The rolling resistance seemed very reasonable too so I am quite happy with my new tyre after the initial ten miles.  The bike shop man told me that this was the first solid tyre that he had fitted so he too is interested in how it rides.  The only unanswered question is how durable it will prove to be.  That question will take some time to answer.

I had another walk round the garden in the afternoon.

The euphorbias are enjoying the sunshine a lot…

euphorbias

…and I liked the contrast between a tiny lithodora and an extravagant tulip.

lithospermum and tulip

Later on, Mrs Tootlepedal made the first rhubarb crumble of the year and I enjoyed a generous helping for my tea along with some cauliflower cheese.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a go at a new sonata (for us) by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739).  I had found it in the bottom of a drawer under a pile of other music and it turned out to be very attractive and not too difficult so it will certainly appear on our menu again.

I haven’t made the best use of the recent sunny weather for taking the flying birds of the day but there haven’t been many birds about and I have had plenty of other things to do so once again, the flying bird of the day is not of top quality and I apologise.

chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a very nice clematis in Manitoba sent to me from across the pond by Mary Jo.  She tells me that they are expecting snow.  It has not been a good spring here or there.

clematisWe had another fine day today but with a strong and chilly wind still very much in evidence.  I spent most of the day keeping out of the wind.  Dropscone helped me by dropping in for coffee and he was rewarded with several sticks of rhubarb of which is fond.

When he left, I girded up my loins and went outside to mow all three lawns.  I had just finished when I was visited by Mike Tinker, his son -in-law, Lorne and two of his grandchildren.  Sara and William immediately headed for the pond and were delighted to be able to surprise a frog while Mike, Lorne and I considered the state of the world in general and the lawns in particular.  I was bemoaning the fact that I no longer have the capacity to properly spike the lawn when Lorne offered to come down and spike it for me in the autumn.   It would be wonderful if he did.  Having a lawn spiked by someone called Lorne would be a clear case of nominative determination (and jolly useful too).

When they left, I had a wander round the garden.

lithodoraIn spite of things being very backward because of the cool spring, there is colour be seen and my currant favourite is this lithodora.  The blue flowers seem to float above the dark green foliage.

Brasher colours are to be seen too.

king cups and hyacinthSadly a couple of very cold mornings a week or so ago have put paid to two of our azaleas and killed off every bud.

azalea and rhodieSome have survived though and a rhododendron is just about to burst into flames.

After lunch, I spent a little time watching the bird feeders.

goldfinch

A goldfinch is thoroughly disgusted by another goldfinch doing acrobatic tricks with a siskin by perching on its beak.

goldfinches

Two calmer goldfinches itting for their portraits

Then Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Canonbie, where she had one or two items entered in a WRI competition and I went for a walk.  I was looking to see if the bluebells had improved at all but there were many other things to look at on the way.

Murtholm trees

The trees along the Murtholm fields.

swallows

Swallows flitting up the Esk. It is amazing what a difference a slight turn of the camera makes to the light.

The bluebells, when I got to them, were good but not great…

bluebellsbluebells…and I thought that the walk along the main road to get to them was just as rewarding visually.

A7I walked back over Skippers Bridge and took the obligatory picture.  This time, I looked downstream.

The EskAnd then I climbed up a path to the old railway line above the river.  There is a handy rail for the convenience of elderly walkers.

Skippers pathI took the path from the railway up towards the Round House…

Path to Round House…and then strolled back down the hill into the town.  Beside the track, I saw the first broom flower that I have seen this year. It was about to open.

broomA few yards further on, I saw two that had opened.

broomFurther on still, I had another look at the flowering nettle which I have photographed before without doing it justice.  This is one of those tiny flowers that you might well pass by without noticing it, if you hadn’t had your eyes opened by walking around with a camera.  I find it hard to capture yellow flowers well but this was my best effort yet.

nettleI went down to the river in the hope of seeing some interesting water birds on my way home but had to make do with some flowers beside the water.

cornflower and pinkbellWhite bluebells are quite common but I don’t think that I have seen a pink one before.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned and I was able to eat a couple of slices of her third-prize winning tea loaf with my refreshing cuppa.  It was delicious.  The first and second prizewinners must have been really good stuff.  I was also pleased to see a bee hard at work among the apple blossom.

bee in apple blossomIn the evening, I went off by myself to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a band called Elbow Jane play.  There was much to admire about them; their sound level was very reasonable, the bass and drum players were efficient and discreet and the three front men were all good musicians.  On the other side of the coin, their set went on too long, and their singing was a bit relentless so in the end it rather felt as though you had been shouted at for two hours.  As well as their own songs, they covered Paul Simon, The Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival and Joni Mitchell which gives a good indication of their influences and although it is music that I like, they never really managed to bring an involuntary smile to my face or get my toe tapping for long.  Still, a live concert 300 metres from your front door is always a bonus and I enjoyed myself.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  The picture shows just how well balanced these birds are in the air while their wings are flapping furiously.

flying goldfinch

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