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Posts Tagged ‘sweet rocket’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She encountered this impressive prancing beast at Covent Garden.  It is doing some serious strutting but as it seems to be standing in the sledge it is supposed to be pulling, it looks like a bit of a freeloader to me.

covent garden

It was cold, grey but dry today and I was happy to have a cup of coffee with Sandy while the thermometer crept up a degree or two but after he left, I stiffened my sinews and summoned up my blood and actually got my bike out and went for a pedal.

There were hints of breaks in the clouds as you can see from this picture of this fine tree near Waterbeck…

tree between the waters

…but the sun remained stubbornly hidden behind a low bank of cloud to the west and I was glad that I had several layers on as a nipping wind blew across me or into my face for most of the thirty miles that I covered.

I stopped for a banana near Kirkpatrick Fleming and looked wistfully at hints of sunshine behind a phone mast…

phone mast KPF

…and with wonder at a tree beside the motorway which was positively dripping with catkins.

vatkins at KPF

I made a final stop with three miles to go to have a drink of water and a wall inspection.

It was a good wall with lots of moss…

irvine house moss

…and more moss with added lichen…

irvine house moss lichen

…and even more moss with added lichen and ferns….

irvine house moss lichen fern

…and there was lots of lichen too….

irvine house falt lichen

…of many different varieties.

irvine house cup lichen

I like walls.  When I was very young, there was a slogan that stated “Walls have ears” to discourage talk that might be useful to an enemy agent during the war.  After several years of close examination of walls, I can safely say that they may have many interesting things on them but I have never seen any ears.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had been cooking some delicious biscuits while I was out pedalling, no weight loss has been involved in today’s activities.

The light wasn’t too bad when I got home and I half thought of adding a walk to the day’s entertainment but cycling in a chilly wind is tiring so I had a look at the birds….

peaceful goldfinches

…where once again goldfinches were ruling the roost…

angry goldfinches…and then I had a short walk round the garden where I noticed the last survivor of the sweet rocket still hanging on….

sweet rocket Dec 12

…and then I went back inside and had a warming bath instead of taking any more exercise.

Mrs Tootlepedal has brought a little bit of the garden inside and one of the geraniums that flowered well outside is now on the windowsill….

geranium indoor

…alongside an African violet, a present from a friend for our wedding anniversary in January, which has been flowering for several months.

indoor plant

In the evening, Luke came round and we played a Loeillet sonata.  We are going to take this sonata seriously and try to put the correct ornaments and playing style into place.  This will require me to do some learning for myself as I have always been a bit hit and miss when it come to trills, turns and mordents.

I spent some time in the evening watching political events unfold and I am very interested to see if the politicians who voted against Mrs May and lost will now take the advice which they have been freely offering to those on the losing side of the recent referendum and respect the fact that they lost the vote and shut up.   It would be a blessing.

I am not holding my breath.

The flying chaffinch of the day is very angry about the whole thing too.

angry flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture come from Venetia’s trip to Toulouse a couple of weeks ago.  She came across this very cheerful lady with a rather macabre exhibit in a local flea market there.

toulouse flea market

Our spell of remarkably fine weather continued with temperatures so far above the seasonal average that we were quite pleased to find them moderated by a brisk wind.

We didn’t have much time to enjoy the sunshine before we went off to sing in the church choir.  The choir sang a short anthem between the bible readings and we were stunned to receive a totally unexpected round of applause from the congregation when we finished.  It might have been sparked off by the visiting minister who was taking the service. I have never encountered this in the middle of a service before but it was very pleasing to be on the receiving end of it.

My throat is not much better but as I was singing bass, I was able to croak my way through without too much trouble.

When we got back to the house, there was a few minutes to look round the garden.  There is a lot to look at as the garden has been transformed in the week that we were away.

There is a good variety of colour ranging from the white of the  clematis round the back door…

clematis

…and a new veronica beside the middle lawn (which Mrs Tootlepedal assures me is blue but it looks dead white to me)…veronica

…and some sweet rocket near the silver pear.

sweet rockety

Slightly more colour can be seen in the pale aquilegias…

aquilegia

…and more still in the potentillas along the back wall of the house beside the dam.

potentilla

This year Mrs Tootlepedal has decided to be pleased by the various Welsh poppies which tend to pop up randomly all over the garden…

welsh poppy

…this one beside a promising looking hosta.

On the opposite side of the dam, Kenny’s euphorbia is going from strength to strength.

euphorbia

Stronger shades of colour have cropped up unexpectedly beside the yellow potentilla in the shape of this blue aquilegia which has dropped in from somewhere unknown.  It is very welcome.

aquilegia

In the garden, there was more blue as the first cornflower has come out.

cornflower

But for ‘big colour’, it is hard to beat a peony.  This is the first of the year.

peony

However, all things considered, this azalea does probably carry more zing.

azalea

Mrs Tootlepedal was worried because its leaves were tinged with what looked like an unhealthy colour but as you can see, it is looking very well.

We didn’t have time to do any lawn care or large scale watering as we had to rush off to Carlisle to get to an early start for the last practice of the community choir there before its season ending concert next Sunday.  Our excellent conductor is leaving us to go on to bigger and better things and as he will be sorely missed, the practice was a bitter sweet occasion.

My croaky voice just about stood up to singing the tenor part as luckily, the parts were generally in the lower range of tenor part singing but there were times when it gave up and I was left looking a bit like a beached fish with my mouth opening but nothing coming out.  The conductor has prescribed a week of not talking.  Those who know me will gauge how likely that is to happen.

It was a beautiful evening when we got home and Mrs Tootlepedal rushed to water her seedlings in the greenhouse (the temperature was in the mid twenties) and then she was able to do some useful work in the garden while I took a few more pictures.

The clematis at the back door is at its best when the evening sun lights it up…

clematis

…and the peony looked good too.

peony

Also looking good but not quite so welcome was this striking rhubarb flower.

rhubarb flower

The rhubarb has been neglected while we have been away and may be past its best for eating but there are promising signs of meals to come in the bean department.

broad  beans

The evening light was kind to our white potentilla…

potentilla

…but a new plant, recently purchased by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking good in a shady bed.  It is a Choisya…

choisya

…and a good one as far as I am concerned.

The ornamental strawberries are having a very good year and Mrs Tootlepedal is spreading them about a bit.

ornamental  strawberries

I had no time to linger around at the kitchen window waiting for birds to come to the feeder today…

siskin

…but I did catch a siskin having words with someone.

The best I could do for a flying bird was a couple of shots of an aggressive pigeon trying to get another pigeon to fly away.

pigeons

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken at their home by Irene, my South African correspondent Tom’s wife.  Life is tough there in the autumn but someone has to live it.

Tom's home in SA

Tom rubbed salt in the wound by complaining about their drought when he sent me the picture and it felt especially painful when we woke up here to another day of endless rain and drizzle.

It didn’t matter a lot to me though as my cold had got worse and I wasn’t fit to do much anyway.  It was a day to sit about and consider all the little aches and pains that accumulate with age and to mention them from time to time until advised to knock it off by the long suffering audience.

It was an indoor day with the heating on and Mrs Tootlepedal used it to dismantle and clean her mechanical tiller before sending it off for a service.

digger

She has big plans for it in the remodelling of the middle lawn and flower beds over winter.

I lent her a hand when needed and then went off to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and croak my way through a few of the choir songs.

From time to time, I looked out of the kitchen window but once again there was surprisingly little bird action.  After a very busy start when the feeder went up, things have tailed off.  Perhaps the mixture of frost and wind has discouraged birds from going to far to look for food.

There were a few goldfinches.

goldfinch

Birds are very messy eaters so it is lucky that the cement mixing tray is in place under the feeder.

Sometimes the goldfinches concentrated on eating….

goldfinch

…and sometimes they broke off for some hard staring.

goldfinch

I stared back.

A chaffinch in the plum tree seemed to be huddling for a bit of comfort from the rain.

chaffinch

But another one had had enough and decided that a bit of head banging on the feeder was the way to go.

chaffinch

I sympathised with him.

I found a brief moment when it wasn’t actually raining to get a breath of fresh air and check on the flowers.

There are plenty of calendulas with a bit of life left…

calendula

…and the cornflowers have outlasted the poppies.

cornflower

The Nicotiana have lasted well but there haven’t been many calm, dry evenings when we have been able to go out and enjoy their fragrance.

nicotiana

The most amazing of the survivors is the clump of sweet rocket which is undaunted by frost, wind and rain.

sweet rocket

The camera makes it look a much nicer day than it actually was, though by the time that the evening came, the rain had stopped and it had got quite warm.

I am hoping that a day of doing nothing and an early bed will settle my chest down a bit and stop the irritating coughing and from the forecast, it looks as though tomorrow might well be another good day to do nothing much.

On a brighter note, I did get a better flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

 

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

Puffin Island

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

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

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

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

haws

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

sloes

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

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

Potentilla

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

shirley poppies

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

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

poppy

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

The dahlias were worth a look too.

dahlia

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

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

lawn shifting

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

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

Soon a round corner had become square….

new middle lawn

…and a curved edge had become straight.

new middle lawn

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

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

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

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

Leycesteria

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

jasmine

The very last of the geraniums are looking pretty.

geranium

A late daisy.

daisy

And the sweet rocket has produced a second flowering.

sweet rocket

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

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

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

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

earthworm

…and we were not the only ones interested.

blackbird

Robin

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

búmble bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who had occasion to be in Kent recently and took this picture of Hever Castle just to show that there are castles there too.

Hever castle

We chose the right day to leave North Berwick as it was either raining or just going to rain as we packed up and left after breakfast.  Matilda went back to Edinburgh to a packed social day of dancing and parties so I expect that she will sleep well tonight.

  We had really enjoyed our holiday with her and her parents.

We pottered home cross country in our newly repaired car, hoping that it would last the distance.  In spite f passing through a torrential downpour near Selkirk, the car lasted the distance and we arrived back in time for lunch.  It was raining  lightly but that didn’t discourage us from having a quick look round the garden to see how things had gone during our absence.

The lawn wrecking crew had been hard at work.

pecked lawn

You would think that there must come a time when there are no more insects to peck down there.

The rhododendrons and azaleas are coming into their time…

azalea and rhododendron

…and several azaleas which Mrs Tootlepedal moved late last year seem to have survived the ordeal very well.

The path along the back of the garden is looking very promising.

back path

The rain let up a little in the afternoon so I went out and did a lot of tulip deadheading.  Most of the tulips looked a bit like this…

tulip head

…but in sheltered places, the later tulips were still looking good.

tulips

tulips

There is no shortage of replacements for the tulips.

The first of the geraniums were ignoring the rain.

geraniums

There is a regiment of alliums ready to burst into action and the advance party is out.

allium

The clematis over the back door is looking very healthy after the mild winter.

clematis

Sweet rocket….

sweet rocket

…and cow parsley…

cow parsley…add a little wild flower touch to the back path.

In the vegetable garden, the gooseberries and strawberries will soon need protecting from hungry birds and the Christmas tree has survived being dug up, sat inside and then replanted and should be bigger and better when required next winter.

Christmas Tree

The pulsatillas have finished flowering but are still very decorative, especially on a damp and soggy day like today.

pulsatilla

Altogether, it was a good welcome home.

There has been some small bird disease about so I am not putting any seed in the seed feeders for a while so the flying bird of the day will have to make way for a flower of the day for the next week or so unless I get a lucky shot of a passing starling.

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In answer to my plea for some guest pictures, my friend Liz, whose official status is Dropscone’s sister, sent me this picture which she took of a modern grotesque, carved during some restoration work at Lincoln cathedral.  She notes that it was made during the great banking crisis.

Lincoln Feb 2015 097It was another glorious day, although a drift of light cloud towards the evening heralded a coming change in the weather tomorrow.  At 18°C in the middle of the morning, it was at my perfect temperature but at 24° in the early afternoon, it was too hot for me. Tomorrow it will be too cold again.  I am never happy.

Dropscone came round for coffee, having had his morning pedal.  He was quite pleased because recently he has been steadily improving his cadence (the speed at which his legs go round when he pedals) and today, he achieved a new record.  His scones were very good too.

When he left, I had a walk round the garden.   It was almost too bright to take pictures but a geranium cried out for a portrait.

geraniumThe sunshine picked out the iridescent colours of a starling’s plumage.

starlingBelow the feeder, a young blackbird hoped for a generous parent…

blackbird…but was disappointed and soon flew off.

I mixed sitting in the cool indoors with sawing up the rest of Dropscone’s tree and Mrs Tootlepedal’s privet, both of which are now safely in the log pile ready for next winter.  I also sieved a little compost from Bin D.  It is still a little soggy from the recent  rain but it is drying out well.

Mrs Tootlepedal was keen for a cycle ride and as she likes to pedal different routes rather than just up and down out local roads, we decided to go to Carlisle and pedal along the Caldew cycleway to Dalston and back.  We cycled this five mile trail shortly after it opened a few years ago and enjoyed it but it had some niggly bits along it.  However, we have been told that it was much improved so we thought that we would go down and see of this was indeed true.

We waited until we hoped that the heat of the day might have dropped a bit before setting off but the temperature gauge in the car, which was standing in the sun,  still said 31°C when we got in.  Mercifully, it went down to 23° as we drove along.

We parked beside the railway in Carlisle and started our ride by pedalling under the tracks.

English Damside

The sign on the left points to Dropscone’s favourite shop.

We soon found the route had indeed been greatly improved and cruised along smooth surfaces beside the river Caldew.

New trackWhen we got to a substantial weir on the river, there were plenty of people paddling in the river and a group of bold young people were standing on top of the weir and leaping off from time to time.

Caldew weirThere was a thin layer of cloud by this time and we were grateful to be protected from the direct rays of the sun and with the gentle wind whihc we created while pedalling, it was a perfect day for a ride.  Sadly, the same could not be said for photography and my little Pocketcam positively hated the diffuse light so the pictures don’t do justice to the views we saw as we passed at all.  Still, I took plenty.

Thanks to the excellent trail, we were soon out of the town and into the country.  Everything was as green as it could be, except where it was dotted with a rich tapestry of wild flowers.

Caldew CyclewayCaldew CyclewayThere were several footbridges across the river along the route and this more impressive railway bridge too.

Although the trail passes a mill and a Nestle factory, it is never far from the river bank….

Caldew….and always a pleasure to be on.  The highlight of the day was a profusion of sweet rocket all along the way.

sweet rocket Caldew CyclewayI was delighted to be passed  by a train as we rode along the railway line…

railway …but it was by us before I could get Pocketcam into action.

Just before we got to Dalston, I stopped to take a close up of a bunch of sweet rocket.

sweet rocketWe have never seen such a display as we saw today.

We cycled through the village and crossed the Caldew on a foot and cycle bridge.  There were plenty of people enjoying putting a toe in the water along with their friends.

Caldew at DalstonWe made a modest circuit which took us through the wonderfully named Buckabank and then popped into a pub in the centre of the village for a refreshing half pint.

The pub had a little garden at the back with some pretty flowers and a shady spot to sit.

Pub at dalstonBehind the pub was a charmingly restored old courtyard.

Courtyard dalstonMrs Tootlepedal pointed out that it wouldn’t have looked so elegant when it was a proper working environment.

We rejoined the trail for the homeward leg and I couldn’t resist having another shot of the sweet rocket.

sweet rocketI think that we might have been on the trail on the best day of the year as far as wild flowers went.

All too soon we were back in Carlisle, passing under a main road on an old railway line beside the river….

Our final bridge…and in the car park ready to pack up the bikes and head for Langholm.

Car park carlisleYou can just see two of the most important things about Carlisle in the picture, the cathedral looming over the trees and a train sneaking through them.  At one time, seven different railway companies ran trains in and out of Carlisle.

I don’t think that there can be many better short, flat cycle rides than this one, especially at this time of year and on such a perfect cycling day.

There was still enough light for us to be impressed by a flag iris when we got home.

flag iris

Mrs Tootlepedal did some much needed watering before coming in.

The flying bird of the day is a little siskin.

siskin

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