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Posts Tagged ‘sunflower’

I am deluged with potential guest pictures at the moment so apologies to anyone who has missed out in the rush.  I am very grateful and I will try to use lots of them in time. 

Today’s comes from my brother who paid a visit to Shugborough Hall and was impressed to discover that they have two differently coloured Chinese bridges in the grounds.

shugborough bridges

I had rather an unexciting morning as it was grey and occasionally very lightly drizzling.  On top of that, I had to wait in for the possible delivery of a parcel as Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out to visit the dentist and the Buccleuch Hall.

I looked at some damp flowers…

wet flowers

…and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  An entertaining crossword helped to pass the time and I looked at the brods whoihc had returned to the feeder.

It took them a bit to arrive and the first visitor was a siskin who posed very soulfully…

siskin posing

..before flying off without feeding.

Others did not hold back.

feeder traffic

I was just taking a studio portrait of a greenfinch enjoying a light snack….

unwitting greenfinch

…when I (and it) was rudely interrupted.

unwitting greenfinch shoved

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, I had an early lunch and set off for a pedal.

It was grey but warm and dry and I even saw a wild flower which had escaped the mowers.

wild flower

A roar of noise while i was looking at the flower made me look up and a convoy of motor cyclists passed me by at speed.

bikes on callister

Mrs Tootlepedal often observes that we very rarely see a lone motor cyclist.  They seem to like to cling together in little social groups.  As a cyclist, I am not very fond of them as they tend to approach from behind without giving an aural hint that they are coming and then roar past me, giving me a nasty turn.

My route took me over Callister and down into the flat lands of the Solway Plain along one road where the verges had been so tightly mowed that they looked as good as a lawn.

View from Chapelknowe road

Somewhere along the way, presumably on one of the many bumpy bits of road, my water bottle must have bounced out of its cage and disappeared without me noticing.  I was probably hanging on for dear life and hoping to avoid hitting a pothole at the time.

It was a water bottle that had been discarded beside the road by a professional cyclist as the peleton passed by on an occasion when the Tour of Britain came through Langholm so it was a good age and had cost me nothing.  I had been thinking of replacing it on health grounds so I didn’t go back to look for it and headed for Longtown and the bike shop there instead…

 

Bike7

…where I bought a new one.  In fact it was so cheap that I bought two.  The new one looks quite smart on my bike…

new bottle

…and picks up the colour of the maker’s name.

A bonus of going to Longtown was the keen following wind that blew me home up the hill at comfortably over 15mph.  Good route choice again.

I had intended to do a few more miles than the 32 that I managed but I didn’t want to go too far when I discovered that I had lost my water bottle and the wind behind me was too tempting not to use straight away once I had a new bottle.

This left me with enough energy to mow the front lawn when I got back and take a view of it from an upstairs window.

front lawn with flowers

After a slow time during the drought, it is much better supplied with flowers round it now.

Some late sunshine had brought both bees and butterflies out.

bee and butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal kindly stood under the very tall sunflower to give a sense of scale.

tall sunflower with Mrs T

Did I mention that it was big?

It was a day for finding flowers in a circle…

flower circles

…and a flower with deep, deep colour…

red dahlia

…and another with virtually no colour at all.  The hosta has the whitest flower in the garden at the moment.

white hosta

In the late afternoon, my neighbour Ken came across and borrowed my slow bike as his is in the bike shop at Longtown not being repaired because they can’t find the correct tool for the job.  In spite of the solid back tyre and the unfamiliar belt drive, he quite enjoyed a leisurely twenty miles on it.

Mrs Tootlepedal made good use of the largest courgette by calling it a marrow, cutting  it into cylindrical sections, stuffing them with cooked mince, topping them off with breadcrumbs and baking them in the oven.  It made a tasty dish.

The chaffinches find it hard to get a seat at the table when the greenfinches are around so by way of an apology, I have made one the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was visiting the Lake District a couple of days ago and enjoyed the same good weather as we have been having.  She took this picture from the top of a double decker bus while she was going from Grasmere to Keswick.

Between Grasmere and Keswick - from the top of a double decker bus

After the excitements of the Common Riding, we had a much quieter day today and in this we were greatly helped by some typical Langholm summer weather, namely strong winds and frequent rain.

It came as a bit of a shock after the endless sunshine but it was quite welcome from a gardening point of view….

soggy lawn

…even though the lawn was so dry that the rain just lay on the surface rather than soaking in.

Later in the day, Mrs Tootlepedal found that the soil was still dry just under the surface.  But as I write this post, the rain is beginning to rise up in my scientific rain gauge and since the forecast says that it is going to rain every day for a week, we shouldn’t have to worry about dry soil for too long.

Matilda and her parents stayed for lunch before heading off.  Although Matilda had enjoyed her stay, she didn’t seem to be too unhappy about going back to her own home…

matilda going home

…a feeling I can fully understand.

It has been a treat having her and her parents to stay.

There were odd patches of sunshine during the day…

sunny dahlia

…and I am very pleased to see the Fuchsias doing well as they are my favourite flower.

fuchsia

…but mostly it seemed to be raining.

soggy dahlia

I am hoping that the cosmos will benefit from the celestial watering can…

cosmos

…as there are still a lot which are reluctant to show any flower buds.

The dahlias have been fairly carefully watered and they are producing a new flower every day.

dahlia of the day

The vegetable garden is still working well and Al and Clare were well loaded up with courgettes before they were allowed to leave.

When the visitors had gone, I set the bird watching camera up and watched the birds.  Mrs Tootlepedal rightly pointed out that some of the youngest birds have probably never seen rain before but there was a steady stream of seed seekers.

The strong wind made landing an adventure…

sparrow landing

…and the fact that the feeder was only half full made perches hard to find.

flying greenfinch

A young greenfinch discovered that making faces at a determined sparrow…

sparrow and greenfinch 2

…only leads to violence.

sparrow and greenfinch

In the afternoon, we watched the time trial stage of the Tour de France rather nervously but all was well and our favourite, Geraint Thomas, came through with flying colours and should proceed ceremonially to victory tomorrow.  He has had a lot of bad luck on previous tours though and I wouldn’t put it completely beyond the bounds of possibility that he gets struck by lightning on his way to Paris.  Fingers are firmly crossed.

One good thing about the wet weather was that it let me get another week of the newspaper index entered into the Archive Group database and if the forecast is correct, I soon should be ahead of the game.  Every cloud has a silver lining, they say.

On the down side, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden in the late afternoon and found that the wind had done a lot of damage to our tall sunflowers.

Here she is reflecting on the fate of one of them.

broken sunflower

It is still a spectacular flower but it doesn’t look as good in a vase in the kitchen as it did against the fence in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to Kew.  As well as dragons, she saw this interesting creature.  It is called Gnomus (but I don’t gnow why).

kew creature

The joiners having finished their work, the painter came today and the front of the house is on its way to looking well cared for.  A spanner was cast into the smooth running of the refurbishment when the painter discovered a wasps’ nest in one of the dormers that he was about to paint.

We did consider shinning up two ladders on to the roof in the quiet of the twilight and doing what needed to be done but due consideration of the age of the potential ladder climbers led us to calling out an expert from Carlisle who will come tomorrow.

While the painter was painting, I was wandering around the garden and my attention was directed to this flower….

cosmos

…by Mrs Tootlepedal.  It may not look much but if all goes well it is just the first of dozens and dozens of cosmos which will brighten the August garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal also pointed out that there are in fact five zinnias.  Here is the fifth columnist.

fifth zinnia

The verbascum flowers have nearly climbed to the top of their spires…

verbascum spike

…and I will miss them when they are gone.

moth mullein flower

New dahlias are appearing at the rate of one a day and this was today’s arrival.

dahlia

It was a beautiful day, sunny nearly all day but oddly enough, not too hot.

Almost as cheerful as the sunshine was a clump of nasturtiums…

nasturtiums

…and another bright sunflower.

cheerful sunflower

The sunflowers are being a bit contrary and instead of turning their faces to the sun and our garden, they are mostly turning their backs on us and peering over our neighbour’s fence.

There were more white butterflies all over the place.

white butterfly on flower

And bees too.

bumble bees

I went in for coffee and then did a little shopping.

When I got back, I took the opportunity to mow both the middle and front lawns which are confounding me by growing more grass and if anything, getting greener in spite of the lack of meaningful rain.  We are getting a light dew in the morning which may be helping.

And of course, I had another look round when I had finished.

The melancholy thistle shouldn’t be lonely next year.

melancholy thistle seed ead

And the hostas were playing host to yet more bees.

bee on hosta

The new buddleia had attracted a butterfly but sadly it was just another white one.

white butterfly on buddleia

I made some green soup for lunch with courgettes, spinach and broad beans (with a good quantity of garlic too) and it turned out very well.  I am determined to eat as much of our own veg as I can this year.

After lunch, we were detained by a very exciting stage of the Tour de France and then, inspired by the heroes of the Pyrenees, I put on my cycling gear…

…but not until I had had another walk round the garden.

This time there was a peacock butterfly on the buddleia….

peacock butterfly

…but it stuck to sunning itself on a leaf and wouldn’t come onto a flower.

I turned my attention to a very decorative dicentra which Mrs Tootlepedal recently purchased in Dumfries.

dicentra

In the end, I got my bike out and went round my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  It was still sunny but still not too hot and with a light wind, conditions were delightful.

Kerr

It was quite late on the day and we had some singing to do at the Common Riding Concert so I didn’t stop too often but I couldn’t resist being looked down upon by two cows.

cows on a hill

When I got back, the verbascum was showing that even when it has finished flowering, it will still be catching the evening sunlight and adding interest to the back bed.

verbascum in evening

We went off to sing a couple of songs for the finale of the concert in the Buccleuch Centre. As our church organist Henry had arranged the programme, it was not surprising that he had found a place for his choir in it.  A good number of members turned up and we sang well.

That will be our last choir singing until the next sessions start in September.  It was a good way to finish.

No flying bird of the day today as the painter proved a deterrent to visiting the feeder.  A flying visit from the sparrowhawk may not have encouraged the small birds either.

As a result, I have turned to flowers of the day and these are they:

cornflower and calendula

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my cello playing friend Mike’s trip to the north.  His wife Anne has kindly sent me some pictures which she took on the holiday,  including this one of Abraham in the biblical garden of Elgin Cathedral.

Elgin cathedral

 

It was another pointlessly drizzly morning here today with just enough rain to annoy but not enough to do any good.

wet wedding rose

It was quite warm though so I was happy to get my new bike out after breakfast and go for my regular 20 mile circuit to Canonbie and back.

I had to put my rain jacket on shortly after I left home but I was able to take it off again three miles later, though there wasn’t much opportunity to take shots of the wonderful views while I was stopped because there weren’t any views at all.

Bloch road on wet day

It brightened up a bit as I went round and by the time that I got to Canonbie…

Canonbie Church

…it was a cloudy but pleasant day.  My good mood was greatly enhanced by a friendly wind which let me cover the last fifteen miles of the route in exactly an hour of cycling time.

Steve, the man who makes our benches, has also provided us with a new bridge for the pond.  He delivered it today and Mrs Tootlepedal and I installed it.  I selflessly gave Mrs Tootlepedal the honour of testing it out.

new bridge

It held up very well.

I didn’t have time to do any gardening so after a quick smile from my favourite sunflower…

sunflower

…I picked up my other camera and set off to walk up the Kirk Wynd onto Whita Hill.

There were plenty of wild flowers to give me an excuse for a stop on the way up the hill…

wild flowers kirk wynd

…and I was particularly pleased to see some heather out.

heather

I needed the wildflower stops because, as you can see, it is quite a steep walk up from the town.

Langholm

I wasn’t alone on the hill though, because not long after I found a good place to stand, the cornet and his right and left hand men came cantering up the Kirk Wynd and onto the hill too.

CC Ride-out 8

It was the last Saturday before the last Friday of July so it was the day for the Castle Craigs ride-out.

I liked the fine horse that carried Stuart, the right hand man, up the hill.

CC Ride-out 7

The ‘front three’ were soon joined by other riders….CC Ride-out 5

…and there was a general gathering for a moment’s rest…

CC Ride-out 4

…which gave me an opportunity to admire this beautiful horse…

CC Ride-out 6

…before the cornet led the cavalcade off up the hill…

CC Ride-out 3

…twisting and turning over the many hillocks and dips…

CC Ride-out 2

…before disappearing over the shoulder of the hill on their way to the Castle Craigs and Cronksbank.

CC Ride-out

Other eager pedestrians were following the horses on foot but I had had enough exercise for the day (and no lunch) so I headed back down through the town, got home, collapsed on the sofa…

…and let the heroes of the Tour de France take my exercise for me for the rest of the afternoon.

When the stage had finished, I went out into the garden to find that it was a lovely evening.  I noticed that a professional weeder had been at work…

weedy wheelbarrow

…and my scientific rain gauge had been put to good use.

Mrs Tootlepedal was doing some work in the vegetable garden and was surprised by just how dry the soil in the beds is.  The soil in the top six inches is basically dust if you turn it over and under that, there is a layer of hard, dried, fissured earth.  It is amazing that there any flowers thriving at all.

nasturtium, rose and poppy

But there are.

cornflowers

They must have deep roots.

We were able to supply the evening meal with many good things from the vegetable garden.

There was a scarcity of birds  when I had a moment to look at them and I was rather taken by this siskin which was much more interested in posing for the camera than eating seed,

siskin posing

Both I and Mrs Tootlepedal have been watering and there seems to be no immediate end in sight for this task as we have no rain in the forecast until the last day of the month, ten days away.

We are singing the Hallelujah Chorus in church again tomorrow so I had a final practice before settling down to write this post.  It will be good to have Mrs Tootlepedal back in the choir.

The flying bird of the day is half a chaffinch (the best that I could do)

flying chaffinch mostly

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my eldest sister Susan, an inveterate traveller, who has just come back from Italy.  She saw this handsome church door in Ortesi in the Dolomites.

ortesi door

Like King Lear, I was going to do such things today but also like the King, I didn’t know what they were so in the end, I didn’t do them.  Instead, I took a leaf out of Brer Terrapin’s book and did a lot of lounging about and suffering.

The lounging was serious but the suffering was very slight and was greatly alleviated by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee bearing the traditional Friday treacle scones.

I had done some watering and weeding before he arrived and I did some more afterwards and as always looked at the flowers as I went along.

The first sweet peas are out…

sweet peas

…and ever more lilies appear each day.

lily

Mrs Tootlepedal planted two new roses this year and I saw that one was looking rather dry and droopy a day or two ago so I have watered it carefully and it was looking much more cheerful today.

rose Fru Dagmar Hastrup

The Queen of Denmark has responded to some water too.

Queen of Denmark

And the Common Riding rose is just sensational without any water at all.

rose excelsa

The camera simply can’t do its luxuriant growth justice at all.

While I was having coffee with Dropscone, the phone rang and a mystery voice asked if I was Tom.  I admitted to this and the voice said my wife was having trouble with her mobile phone and since I was the account  holder, he wanted to ask me a few security questions.   This was so obviously a scam that I put the phone down without saying any more.

A moment or two later, Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say it wasn’t a scam and she was having trouble with her phone and I was the account holder for it.  I checked for a reputable number for the phone company, rang it, got a really helpful human on the line with minimum delay, talked the problem through and solved it within minutes.   The shock of getting a sensible and prompt  corporate response was so great that I had to have a sit down to recover.

Then  I watched birds for a bit.

A greenfinch arrived to take advantage of the sunflower seeds.

greenfinch

Greenfinches are a lot bigger than siskins but don’t always get their own way.

siskin and greenfinch

On the ground below the feeder, a blackbird with an elegant grey feather was finding its own food.

blackbird with grey

I had lunch and thought of a walk or a bike ride but actually did some more lounging instead and had to suffer by sitting through much of a Tour de France stage and two simultaneously  never ending tennis matches from Wimbledon.

Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say that although her phone was working, now she was having trouble reading her emails on her tablet although she was properly connected to her brother’s internet router.  This was a puzzle.

I popped out from time to time to do more watering and weeding and dead heading too.

The melancholy thistle is looking more  cheerful every day…

melancholy thistle

..and looming over it, is the prettiest sunflower that I have ever seen.

tall sunflower

In the vegetable garden Mrs Tootlepedal has planted many small sunflowers and they are blooming freely with a great heap of honeysuckle on the fence behind them.

sunflowers and honeysuckle

Also in the veg garden, the French marigolds are thriving and time will tell whether they have helped to keep the carrot root flies of the carrots.  I thinned out a test carrot the other day and it looked straight, clean and promising…

french marigold

…but it was rather small still.

A new potentilla has come out.

new potentilla

In the course of time, I dug up another potato, picked lettuce, peas, beans and gooseberries and a large turnip for my evening meal.

broad beans

There are many more beanfeasts in store

The turnip was so large that I cut it in two and gave half to Mike and Alison when they came round in the evening for their customary Friday night visit.  Alison and I enjoyed some good playing of sonatas by old English masters while Mike, in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to, watched the tennis.

I had further talk with Mrs Tootlepedal on the matter of her internet connection and suggested that although she was connected to the router, maybe the router was not connected to the internet.  This turned out to be the case and the problem was solved by the time honoured method of turning the router off and then on again.  I wish all problems were as simply solved as Mrs Tootlepedal’s technical glitches were today.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  It shows the Houses of Parliament which is nominally the seat of our government.  Sadly, we are currently not being governed at all.

View from Lambeth Bridge

In a shocking challenge to the established order, it rained today…

wet poppy

…but as it only rained for about five minutes and not very hard at that, it didn’t make any difference and I still had to potter about watering anything I thought might benefit from it.

I also managed some weeding and a little strimming of the paths in the vegeatble garden and I edged the middle lawn.

It was cloudy and definitely a bit cooler than it has been so that was very welcome.  Encouraged by this, I got my bike out after coffee and the crossword and set out to see how my legs were feeling.

They were feeling fine so I did a 32 mile circle of familiar roads at a gentle pace (I was trying hard but the pace was gentle), keeping an eye out for anything interesting.  Once again, I found that if I stopped and looked around, there was usually something to look at.

My first stop was not far from the town.

orchid

There are orchids and red soldier beetles all over the place.

red soldier beetles

I stopped about 2o miles further on to check out a verge.

wild flowers 1

There was a good variety of flowers to be seen.

On my next stop, about 4 miles from home, there was an even greater variety.

There were all these…

wild flowers 3wild flowers 2wild flowers 4

…and many more.

wild flowers 5

Looking at the hedges and verges certainly keeps me occupied while I am pedalling along….and give me a good excuse for stops for a breather.

The light wind and cooler temperature made for very agreeable cycling conditions and I had worked up an appetite for a sardine, lettuce and potato salad for a late lunch when I got home.

I watched the bird feeder while I was in the kitchen.

Two sparrows posed artistically for me.

sparrows

An interesting time trial in the Tour de France gave me a good excuse for a rest after lunch and then a visit from Mike Tinker caused me to stir my stumps and get back out into the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a lovely afternoon.

I mixed a little more watering with some flower watching.

The new iris is adding to its charm…

lily

…and the tall sunflowers are reaching ever higher into the sky.

sunflower

The calendulas don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

calendula 1

…and have a nice assortment of styles.

calendula 2

Then I had to go in and have a shower and get ready for my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  As I hadn’t done any practice for a fortnight, I couldn’t complain too much about his lack of practice.  He has just started his first job so I suppose he has other things to think about at the moment.

I picked some peas and beans for my tea and enjoyed them with some fish cakes and then I had a selection from the cheese board to round off the meal.

One last expedition to the garden for watering followed, where I noticed that a leycesteria has flowered underneath the apple tree….

leycesteria

…checked out another of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new nicotianas…

nicotiana

…and discussed the political situation with a couple of blackbirds.

blackbirds

The flying bird of the day picture is provided by the aerial ballet department.

flying siskin and flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  I walked past the canal at Paddington on my way home from Marlow without taking a picture so she sent me this one taken further along the canal a few days earlier.  I don’t think that she sampled the rum.

canal

In the end, a combination of the heat, an appointment and things to do persuaded me to put off going to see Matilda for a week.  I had planned for a very leisurely day but I kept pottering about for pretty well the whole time and it was just as well that I didn’t try to fit in a  trip to Edinburgh as well.

I had to do quite a lot of dead heading and some watering too and as this involves carrying heavy watering cans about  (we have been asked not to use garden hoses until it rains again), it also involved quite a bit of resting between trips.  I used the breaks to take some pictures of bees.

I was spoiled for choice.

bee visiting red poppy

Every colour was in demand.

bee visiting blue allium

And every size and sort of flower.

bee visiting foxglove

A new pale astrantia has come out and the bees like it as much as the darker ones.

bee on astrantia

The poppies had benefited from the dead heading and replacements had arrived.

poppy

My appointment was to get my three monthly vitamin B12 top up at the health centre and that passed as painlessly as it always does.  Young people won’t realise what a wonderful improvement there has been in needle technology.  Getting injections of any sort when I was a boy was a nightmare and I still have enough needlephobia not to be able to watch an injection when I get one or see one on the telly but actually having an injection nowadays is a breeze and the nurse and I chatted happily about golf while the procedure was performed.

I had a light lunch when I got back and then went out to do some more watering and picture taking.

I think that these are the famous doddering dillies that were on sale at the Church fete.

doddering dillies

They are very pretty but because they dodder about in the lightest breeze, they are not easy to photograph.

There are several sunflowers out in the garden…

small sunflower

…and this is one of the small ones.  I will need a step ladder to take a picture of one of the tall ones.  They are miles above my head now.

We saw a fine example of the Common Riding rose (Excelsa) at the Hampton Court Flower Show but I think that ours is looking every bit as good.

CR rose

CR rose close

Although it only has one flower at the moment, I like one of the new roses that Mrs Tootlepedal planted this year.

Fru Dagmar Hustrup rose

It is called Fru Dagmar Hastrup and I think it is very charming.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes it was a bit more robust.

I went inside to work on the computer to avoid the hottest part of the afternoon and then Mike arrived and I went round to have a cup of tea in his shady garden.  Alison provided the tea and an excellent ginger biscuit and I was so perked up by this that after finishing my computer work and potting out some plants for Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out for a short cycle ride in the relative cool of the evening.

It was a perfect cycling evening and I wished that I had been able to get out for a longer ride.

View from wauchope school brae

I saw a big bunch of bright yellow flowers in the verge so I stopped for a look.  They looked a bit like crosswort at first but it was something different.

yellow verge flowers

I took a close up as best I could while holding up my bike….

yellow wild flower close

…and a shot of a single plant.

yellow wild flower whole

Any help with identification would be welcome.  (My wildflower expert, Mike says that it is Lady’s Bedstraw)

There was plenty of purple around too in the form of thistles….

thistles

…and the first rosebay willowherb of the summer.

rosebay willowherb

I only went twelve miles as it was past my tea time already but I hadn’t quite finished the day yet.

When I got home, I mowed the front lawn.  There will be those who think that it is folly to mow a lawn when the weather is so dry and they may be right but it was a light cut and it made the lawn look better.

front lawn dry

Two beautiful roses lurk behind the box balls at the far end of the lawn but most of the colour was right behind me as I took the picture so I turned round.

colourful corner

On the other side of the garden a new flower has come out.

new red flower

As I am trying to improve the rust content in my diet, I had a good meal of liver with peas, beans, spinach, turnips and potatoes from the garden.

The flying bird of the day is sensibly resting.

blackbird

 

 

 

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