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Posts Tagged ‘sweet william’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair, and shows his daughter Matilda in the nice new dress which her Granny has made for her.

Matilda in Mrs T's dress

No prizes for guessing the theme of the performance.

We had much better weather today which was very welcome, but it turned out that I had lost a filling from my sore tooth so I had a quiet morning entertaining Dropscone to coffee while Mrs Tootlepedal went to off to Hawick on business.  Our local duke is selling the Langholm moor and there is interest in a community buy out for at least some of the land and Mrs Tootlepedal was meeting an expert in community land matters.

Dropscone had brought treacle scones so I was happy to stay at home and eat them (carefully).  Following his golf buggy accident, it turns out that Dropscone has broken three ribs so he was taking things quietly too and trying not to laugh too much.

Before he came, I had walked round the garden to see what was going on and I couldn’t ignore Mrs Tootlepedal’s Sweet Williams which are strategically placed all round the place.

four sweet william

They are all pretty peppy but this is the peppiest.

vivid sweet willieam

The bees are still very busy on the chives which must provide an endless stock of pollen for them.

three bees on chives

Away from the flower garden, I was interested to see the first flowers on the potatoes…

first potato flowers 2019

…and some promising looking beans.

beans flowers

After Dropscone left, with a little rhubarb to speed him on his way,  I settled down for a rest and the crossword, keeping my free hand on the remote lead for the camera on its tripod at the window.

Siskins were about, eating messily and scattering good seed on the ground.

siskin chewing

Sometimes they waited in the wings…

siskin waiting in wings

…and sometimes they got impatient…

siskins squabbling nf

…but the sparrows paid them no heed.

siskin and sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Hawick, full of good advice, and I made some soup for lunch.

After lunch, I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C and put the residue into Bin D.  Then, as I was in full composting mode, I turned the contents of Bin A ,which was full, into Bin B, which was empty.  The opposite is now the case…

empty bin A

…although a morsel of green waste found its way into Bin A later on.

When I was finished, I had a look around and found the the sunnier day had opened out an anemone which had been shut up against the rain and cold for the last few days.

anemone open

A bee was trying to cheer up a melancholy thistle.

melancholy thistle and friend

A Rodgersia has come out in the back border.

rogersii

And the roses were appreciating the dry, warmer weather as much as we were.

three happy roses

Men are coming to replace our aged and decrepit electricity pole next week so I helped Mrs Tootlepedal move a rose which had been growing up the stay wire for the pole.  We stuck a temporary pole in the flower bed, untied the stem from the stay and bent it back and tied it to the new pole.

rebent rose elec pole

We hope that there will be a new stay to tie it back onto when the pole work is finished.

The red peonies are almost over but the white and pink ones are still refusing to show themselves, perhaps as baffled by the odd weather as we are, but there are signs of hope.

potential peony

I had a last check on the lupins and found another busy bee there…

bee on lupin

…and then went off to the dentist.

My usual dentist doesn’t work on a Friday so I was seen by the other dentist in our surgery, a very nice lady whom I had not met before.  I had been able to get an emergency appointment and I was hoping that she would give me a temporary filling for my tooth until I could see my regular man.

Things didn’t quite turn out like that though.  She peered at my tooth and whistled gently in a concerned sort of way, and then suggested that I might like her to extract it.   She had such a kindly manner that I agreed and before I knew it, I was a tooth short.  Modern dentistry means that tooth extraction is a painless and relatively swift affair but even modern dentistry can’t stop your face hurting as the anaesthetic wears off so I spent the next few hours being very quiet.

Things are still a bit sore as I write this in the evening but I am hoping that all will be well by tomorrow morning and I will be able to get out on my fully serviced bike for a ride.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, rushing to get into the frame on time.  It nearly made it.

young flying sparrow rushing in

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The guest picture of the day comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She recently took a break in the Highlands of Scotland where she saw this lovely little tree creeper.

tree creeper

The forecast was for sunshine and light winds in the morning and rain and strong wind in the afternoon.  As I was hoping to have coffee with Dropscone to find out about the state of his health, this meant that I would have to be up early and be well organised to get a bike ride in before coffee time.

To my own astonishment, I managed it.

It was a lovely morning for a pedal…

Chapelhill road

…but as I didn’t have a lot of time in hand, I pressed on without looking for cows or wild flowers in the verges to photograph.   I couldn’t miss Canonbie Church though.,..

Canonbie Church june

…or the ‘leaping poodle’ tree…

laughing poodle tree

…and the beauty of the River Esk at Irvine House called me to a halt too.

river esk at Irvine hiuse june

I got back after twenty miles in good time to get changed and grind the coffee before Dropscone arrived.

He has been given the all clear by the hospital after his golf buggy accident, but he will have to take things easily for a couple of weeks.  As he had just got his golf game working well after some months of poor form, he feels the accident was very badly timed but he is bearing up well and went off with some of Mrs Tootlepedal’s surplus runner beans to plant.

When he went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a walk round the garden.  Just as the sensational white clematis flowers to the left of the front door are fading away, a new set of blue ones has arrived to the right of the door.

two front door clematis

Elsewhere in the garden, the flowers were reflecting the sunshine with bright colours…

four bright flowers

…and more subdued ones too.

four yellow flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the first of our melancholy thistles…

melancholy thistle june

…and it was hard to miss the bright Sweet Williams which are beginning to make a splash.

early sweet williams

Other flowers were to be seen…

four garden flowers

…and once again, there were a lot of bees about.

I put down the camera and got to work mowing the front and middle lawns.  As I was able to do this without having to use the box to collect the grass cuttings, it was an easy and pleasant task.  Cutting lawns every day or every other day is the secret of a happy life….and leads to good looking lawns.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy clearing nerines away from the base of the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.  Now that the bird feeder has been moved, she has plans for creating a little colourful spot to please the eye of the cook or washer up when he or she looks out of the window.

At the moment it is a blank canvas.

cleaned up sundial

I dug holes ready for her to plant the nerines in a different bed and then edged both lawns, shredded some hedge cuttings and sieved some compost.

By this time, we were both ready for some lunch and a sit down!

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who had had a very heavy morning in the garden, went off for a siesta and I did the crossword and then looked at the weather.

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t look as though it was going to rain so I went for a walk.  I have cycled 100 miles in five lots of twenty gentle miles over the week and my feet and Achilles tendon have survived very well so I thought that I would see if some pedestrian exercise would help too and went for a two mile walk ’round the Becks’.

I went up the road first and passed under this very interesting tree with leaves within leaves.

varied leaf

As I was going slowly enough to stop easily, I kept my eye out for wild flowers…

four wild flowers

…but to tell the truth, I didn’t have to look very hard to find  them….

lots of wild of flowers

…as they lined my whole route from start to finish.

four more wild flowers

It was good to be out and about after not doing much walking at all for a month and I enjoyed the views even if the sun had gone in and the blue sky was disappearing.

view of whita from becks road

I crossed the Becks bridge when I came to it…

becks bridge june

…and very much enjoyed the little sunken buttercup meadow on the far side.

buttercup meadow becks

I haven’t had a good gate on the blog for some time so I thought that i ought tor repair that omission today.

gate june

I could have stopped for a picture very few yards but I didn’t want to get caught in the rain so I pushed on as fast as my feet would let me.  All the same, there were things to see on every side, slow worms at Pool Corner, moss recovering after the dry spell….

slow worm, hedge rose, moss and hawthorn

…hawthorn flowers turning pink as they go over and the first hedge roses of the year.

Two miles was as far as my feet would let me go, but the walk doesn’t seem to have made them worse and rest doesn’t seem to make them, better so I will try walking again as soon as weather permits.   The hills beckon.

When I got home, I had a look at the feeder in its new position.  Business was quiet with just a few sparrows coming and going…

sparrows coming and going

…so I went off to practise the songs for our forthcoming choir concert and the hymns for church on Sunday.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round.  They had brought a bottle of white wine with them and this provided fine lubrication for music and conversation.

Altogether, it was a full day, both useful and enjoyable.  The forecast is for a mixture of sunshine and showers in the week to come so I hope to be able to keep cycling and walking if my feet permit.

The flying bird of the day, taken when the sun was long gone, is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba.  She thinks that I ought to raise my lawn care ambitions a bit.

big lawn machine

It was grey,  windy and sometimes wet when I went up to the fill the feeders at the Moorland Project’s Laverock Hide.  Sandy is away in very distant parts on holiday so I am taking on his duties for a while.

As usual after filling the feeders, I had a sit down in the hide under the shelter of its fine natural roof…

laverock hide roof

…to watch the birds for a while.  It was very gloomy and my camera could only just pick out a woodpecker on the far side of the glade.

woodpecker

It had better luck with the birds just outside the hide.

There were industrial quantities of chaffinches about…

chaffinch on stump

…happy to share with the occasional coal tit.

chaffinch and coal tit on stump

A great tit….

great tit

…and a greenfinch visited the peanuts…

goldfinch at laverock

…and there were several pheasants in various states of scruffiness about as well.

pheasant bedraggled

When I got home, I had a quick look at our own feeders…

busy feeder

…and a stroll round the garden.

late sweet william

Late sweet williams have appeared.

new clematis oct

And a brand new clematis flower on a plant that has not looked promising so far

old clematis oct

There are still old clematis  flowers hanging on here and there.

The chief business of the day was a visit to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  When we got to Lockerbie station there was a great air of excitement about as it seemed that the  train would be on time today, an historic occasion.

It arrived on time, left on time and got to Edinburgh on time too.  It was surreal experience.

We walked down the hill and met Matilda and her parents just as they got back to their house in another outbreak of good timing.   We spent some happy hours being entertained by Matilda and then eating an excellent evening meal of green soup (a household speciality cooked by Clare), linguine with asparagus with garlic bread (cooked by Al) followed by a sticky toffee pudding (made by Mrs Tootlepedal and carried up with us on the train). We left to catch the train home in a very contented frame of mind as it is hard to beat the combination of good food and good company.

I apologise for the brief report today but we have to get up early tomorrow and there are still things to be done.

The flying bird of the day is one of our own chaffinches.

close up flying chaffinch (more…)

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Anne, wife of my cello playing friend Mike and shows the tall tower of Elgin cathedral….

Mike and Alex at very top of Elgin Cathedral tower

…and if you look very carefully, you can see Mike and a grandchild peering over the very top of the tower.

image1(1)Mike and Alex at very top of Elgin Cathedral tower close up

I had a kind of slow motion day today in which nothing much happened very slowly.

In the morning, I pottered around the garden weeding, watering and dead heading, did a little compost sieving and mowed the front lawn.

I took a few pictures as I went along.

A gardening friend gave Mrs Tootlepedal a verbascum in the spring and it has come on really well.  The white flowers look a little dull until you have a closer look, when as so often…

new flower

… a little nosiness is rewarded.

new flower closer

The astilbe is flourishing without any watering from me…

astilbe

…and the bees love the privet which has just come out.   I could hear them buzzing all around me but couldn’t see one so here is a bee-less picture.

privet

I couldn’t miss the bees on the poppies though….

bee on poppy

…they were filling their pollen sacs at both varieties.

another bee on poppy

The most surprising thing in the garden to catch my eye today was  a walnut…or to be precise lots of walnuts.

walnuts

We are generally too far north to expect a lot of walnuts on our tree, although we always get some, but this year the conditions  are obviously favourable because there were clusters of well developed nuts on many branches.  I hope the weather stays good enough for them to ripen properly.

The Sweet Williams are doing well without much watering from me…

sweet william

…and the lily in the back border seems to add another open flower each day.

lily

But the star of that part of the garden for me is the moss rose.

moss roses

I have never seen it looking better.

The forecast held out a strong possibility of rain later which was why I mowed the front lawn.  It had much more grass on it than I had expected and I had to work hard to get the mower through it in places.  I did a lot of watering of the lawns as soon as the dry spell started and this seems to have paid off.

The rain however turned out to be a figment of the forecasters’ imagination and we had a cheerful sunny day from dawn until dusk.

Every time I look at the forecast, it says rain tomorrow but I fear rain tomorrow may turn out to be like jam tomorrow.

The supply of beetroot in the veg garden is very good this year so I had a beetroot and sardine salad with leaves for my lunch.

In the afternoon I went to the Health Centre for my regular asthma check up and as a sensible move to cut down prescribing costs, they are trying different treatment.  Since it will cut down my present two puffers to one, I hope it works.  The less puffers you puff, the better your throat is and anything that saves the NHS money is to be welcomed.

While I was on my way back home, I took a look at the Langholm Bridge.  The powers that be have cleared away the tree that had floated down against the bridge but today the bridge hardly needed one arch, let alone three so low was the flow.

Langholm Bridge

I cycled along the road beside the river to see if the oyster catcher family was still in residence.

It was.

oyster catcher family

The slightly darker beaks show two youngsters.  The other parent was out in the middle of the river keeping an eye on things.

oyster catcher

When I got home, I did think about a cycle ride but energy levels were low so I did some more pottering in the garden and then retired to watch the end of the Tour de France stage, followed by some Wimbledon.

I did watch some birds too.

greenfinch

A greenfinch wondered if this was its best side.

I picked a turnip from the veg garden and had that for my tea with yet more peas and beans and potatoes from the garden.  There is no danger of me losing any weight at the moment.

After tea, I went off to church for a church choir practice which was most enjoyable.  There is a special service for the Common Riding in a couple of weeks time and we are singing the Hallelujah  Chorus as the anthem.  As our choir is rather small even with a few reinforcements, this is going to be a challenge but we are up for it.

I got back in time to view the national tragedy that was the second half of the World Cup semi-final and was sorry to see ‘our boys’ going out as they had played and behaved well during the tournament.

The flying bird of the day is a semi circular chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa and shows the calm before the storm.

Tom's calm before the storm

I managed to get up quite promptly and had time for a quick look round the garden after breakfast…

lilian austin group

All four stages of the development of a Lilian Austin rose on one stem

the wren rose

And it is hard to believe that the young Wren rose….

the wren rose older

…will very soon look like this

sweet william close up

A Sweet William repaid a close look

…and then I  got going on my new bike before it got too hot (it was a mere 73°F when I started) and went round my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  With a light wind again, it was a good day for a pedal  and my legs were recovered from Tuesdays efforts.  I didn’t have a lot of time to spare so I only stopped twice for pictures.

The first time was for this wonderful stand of long grass, rising to well over the top of my head in height.

tall grass

It was covered with seed when I took a closer look.

tall grass seed

(Feeble joke alert) I had a quick look to see if there were any brexit plans hidden here which the government had kicked into the long grass but I couldn’t see any. This was not entirely a surprise as nobody has been able to see any government brexit plans in or out of the long grass.

Further along, I stopped for a fine display of knapweed.

knapweed

This ride, though short was significant as it took me over 2000 miles for the year and over 500 miles for the month, the longest distance for a single month for me since September 2014.  It is amazing what a spell of good weather can do.

There was just time for another look round the garden when I got back…

lamium

The lamiums are in good shape

butter and sugar iris

The last of the butter and sugar irises

pale astrantia

A third variety of astrantia has joined the show

pink sweet william

And I looked closely at another Sweet William

feverfew

Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine clump of feverfew in one of her old chimney pots.

another philadelphus

And yet another Philadelphus

…before it was time for lunch, a quick look at a beady eyed goldfinch…

goldfinch

….and then a trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

There had been some trouble on the West Coast line yesterday because of rails bending in the hot weather so we drove to Tweedbank to catch the train to Edinburgh from there and were pleased to find ourselves on one of their newer trains.

The journey, passing through lovely countryside, was a treat and we had a thoroughly good time with Matilda and her family and Rosa, a nursery friend of Matilda, who was visiting.

After a good meal, we went back to the station and saw that many of the trains were delayed by speed limits on overheated tracks.  We found our train, took our seats and were just congratulating ourselves on our acumen  when the announcer came on and told us that although the train was ready, the driver had been held up on one of the delayed trains on other parts of the network and we would therefore have to get out of our train and go and catch the next one which would leave in half an hour from a different platform.

Luckily it was one of the new ones too so our anguish was somewhat assuaged.

We got home safely and I was able to catch a flying bird (or two) as the rooks fidgeted around above their roost at Holmwood before settling down for the night.

rooks at sunset

Note: The train that we would normally have caught was indeed delayed…but only by seven minutes.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s trip to Madeira.

madeira

The forecasters are having a hard time at present getting the details of the weather correct, largely I suspect because the weather is so unusual these days that their computer models are not provided with enough helpful historic data.  All the same, various forecasts were pretty sure that we were going to get rain and possibly thunderstorms in the afternoon today.

We spent the day waiting…..in vain.

Partly as a result of this and partly because I didn’t feel at my best, I had a slightly wasted day and hardly did anything useful or interesting.  I had a moment of helpfulness when we got the petrol driven soil cultivator out and used it to to improve the paths between the new beds in the veg garden.  And I mowed some of the greenhouse grass.  But that was it.

I had time hanging heavy on my hands so I took a lot of flower pictures.

If you want white then the bridal wreath spirea is the plant for you.

spirea

It has a lot of little flowers per every square inch.

The first pink was out today and it is very white too.

pink

I went in search of bright colour and found it behind the house where the oriental poppies are enormous.

oriental poppyoriental poppy

A new rose has arrived.

rosa complicata

And I found a bee on a lily leaf in the pond.  Perhaps it had been having a swim or a drink.

bee in pond

After a while with few bees, it is good to see and hear numbers of both honey and bumble bees about.  Now I am waiting for some more butterflies to turn up.

I made some soup for lunch and then we were delighted to welcome a few drops of rain but they turned out to be a false alarm and soon gave up.  There were rumbles of thunder and dark clouds but these too were to produce nothing though I heard later that there was a storm in Hawick, 20 miles up the road.

In desperation, I went for a walk, reckoning that this would be bound to make it rain.

I saw the oyster catchers beside the Esk and noted that they had two youngsters with them.  I managed to catch one each of the parents and children.

oyster catcher with young

I crossed the Langholm Bridge, bought an ice cream from the van and spent some time watching pied and grey wagtails flitting about.  It looked as though the grey wagtails might be feeding young in a nest on the bank.

grey wagtail

Looking back at the town bridge, I saw its railings reflected in the trickle of water going down the river below.

Langholm Bridge

Just below the Sawmill Brig, there is a fine display of knapweed on a stony island in the Ewes Water (though it wasn’t an island today as the water was so low).

knapweed

We are in a very green season as a stroll up the Lodge Walks….

Lodge Walks

…and across the Castleholm showed.

Castleholm

I walked across to a favourite tree, a red horse-chestnut…

red chestnut

…and took a closer look at the flowers which are just going over.

red chestnut

The racecourse was a sea of buttercups….

race course castleholm with buttercups

…which may account for the state of my shoes when I got home.

shoes with buttercup dust

There was no trouble in finding grasses, nettles and plantains on my way.

wild grasses and nettle

My favourite wild thing though was the corydalis that lives on the wall at the top of the Scholars’ Field.

corydalis

Far from making it rain, my walk made the sun come out….

clouds

…and all the big clouds slipped past the town.  Ironically, as soon as the sun came out, it also started to rain but this was another half hearted effort and Mrs Tootlepedal had to water the vegetable garden again.  I watered the gooseberries, strawberries and sunflowers.

I had another look for new flowers and found a pretty Sweet William…

Sweet william

I was feeling far from my peak by this time but fortunately, Mrs Tootlepedal whipped up a wonderfully tasty meal of Eggs Florentine (spinach from the garden) followed by delicious Scottish strawberries on a meringue base topped with whipped cream.

The whole thing was a taste sensation and an outright indulgence and it was just what the doctor ordered as after I had eaten, I suddenly felt perky enough to get out the new bike and enjoy 16 miles in the late evening sunshine.  The meal and the unexpected bike ride made an otherwise rather dull  day seem quite cheerful in the end.

Now if it would just rain overnight….

They say that there is a chance of rain tomorrow but we will believe when we see it.

The flower of the day is a Butter and Sugar Iris.

butter and sugar irisbutter and sugar iris

A wonderful plant which managed to capture about ten of the raindrops that fell today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my my friend Marjorie.  She is on holiday in the Highlands and sent me this picture of the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge.  She knew it would interest me as Mrs Tootlepedal and I lived not far from the memorial when we first got married.

Commando memorial, Spean Bridge

The house is very quiet as I write this short post as Matilda and her parents are back home 70 miles to the north and Mrs Tootlepedal is still visiting her mother 300 miles away to the south.

We had a morning of fun with Matilda before she left, including another go of Grandmother’s Footsteps and an adventurous external tour of the house. This entailed a daring  crossing of the dam using the stepping stone.

stepping stone Matilda

Safely on….

stepping stone Matilda

…and safely off again. One small step for Daddy but one giant leap for Matilda.

Peas and beans were picked and apples admired and then it was time for lunch and the journey back to Edinburgh.

We hope to have another visit from Matilda before too long, preferably with better weather.

The afternoon was mostly dry and I did think about going for a pedal to test out my new cycle mirror which has arrived through the post but a combination of a very brisk wind and the chance to watch the Surrey Classic bike race on the telly proved too much for my rather feeble resolution and I succumbed to sofa torpor.

I was so well planted that I failed to rise and offer Mike Tinker a cup of tea when he came round.  He took this in good part.

After the race finished, I went out into the garden but the strong wind made taking flower pictures very difficult and the possibility of rain made a walk unattractive.

I did take a couple of low lying Sweet Williams.

Sweet Williams

The Sweet Williams have been very colourful for several weeks but are just coming to an end now.

The bees don’t seem to have been too discouraged by the chilly weather and the Lamb’s Ear had several customers buzzing round it.  It is very annoying when you point a camera at a bee and it focusses perfectly on the leaves behind it but I have put the pictures in anyway for illustrative purposes, as they say.

bees on lamb's ear

The delicate lupin in the shelter of the hedge has still got a few side shoots flowering…

lupin

…and the  very loud pot marigolds near the green house are defying the weather in style.

marigolds

The weather forecast says that it going to rain at some time on every one of the next eight days and the temperature is not going to get above 16 degrees so it appears that autumn might have come before summer this year!

No flying bird of any sort today but as I am ordering a new lens for my DSLR camera (if I can get a good trade in on my old lens),  I hope to be able to take some good bird shots with it when it comes.  Meanwhile, I will be looking out my waterproof cycling gear.

After all the fun of three days of playing with Matilda and being head cook and bottle washer, I am off to an early bed tonight.

 

 

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