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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex-work colleague Ada.  She is in Tours and in spite of seeing a goat and a pink elephant in the street, she assures me that she hardly touched a drop.

Ada in Tours

The day started with some promise as far as the weather went.  There was sunshine as we cycled to church to sing in the choir but by the time that we got home, the sunshine had become fitful and every time that Mrs Tootlepedal hung the washing out, it started to drizzle.

The peonies were happy about what sun there was and made steady progress.

two nearly peonies

After church, we had coffee and I spent a little time watching the birds get through the seed on the feeder at a great rate.  I had filled the feeder before going to church and it was already down to halfway.

I enjoyed seeing a goldfinch and a siskin looking intently in the wrong direction  when it came to impending threats.

misdected siskin

This siskin knew where to direct its attention.

siskin being mean to sparrow

Having seen tow fellow siskins on the top shelf, I reckon this approaching siskin was weighing up its chances of shifting the goldfinch instead.

siskin hexing siskins

With the perches so busy, there was quite a lot of waiting for hungry birds, either on the feeder pole…

sparrow on pole

…or on the sunflower stalk that Mrs Tootlepedal has thoughtfully provided near the feeder.

siskin on new stalk

I went back out into the garden and checked on the fruit and veg.  Mrs Tootlepedal has put down a generous amount of straw for the strawberries and we are just waiting for some better ripening weather now.   The potatoes are producing more flowers every day.

strawberry and potato

Among the flowers, this Sweet William stopped me in my tracks…

sweet william stunner

…and I made a respectful bow as I passed the Queen of Denmark.

queen of denmark rose

Bees were to be seen on many flowers but I was taken by the flying skills that this one showed in reversing out of a foxglove.

bee in foxglove flower

The educated yellow onion is a tricky flower to photograph and this is the best that I have managed so far.

yellow educated onion

I like cornflowers…

conflower bud

…and it was evident today that bees like them too.

two bees on conrflower

There is still only one flower on the purple clematis.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is very early so perhaps this flower mistook the chilly weather for autumn and came out early by accident while the other flwoers knew better.

sole clematis flower

A feverfew has started to produce flowers and it will soon have more than a few by the look of it.

little daisielike plant

Next to the drive, a small forest of orange hawkweed is developing nicely…

sea of hawkweed

…and the climbing hydrangea is producing a positive galaxy of flowers.

hydrangea constellation

I put my camera down and mowed the middle lawn and after a quick check on the birds…

sideways look from greenfinch

…. Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up the road to collect another load of wood chips for the vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t spread them out though because when we got home, it was well past lunch time….and it was raining.

After lunch, the sun came out and I put my cycling gear on and it immediately started to rain again.  I passed some time relaxing in front of the telly until I noticed that the sun had come out again, so I got my bicycle out and set off to do a few miles.

I hadn’t gone much more than half a mile before it started to rain again, but fortunately, I had a rain jacket with me so I put it on and pressed ahead. It continued to rain for an hour by which time I had done thirteen miles and got a bit fed up so I stopped.  I had hoped to take some pictures of sunlit hills while I was out but not only was there no sunlit but there were very few hills to be seen.

I stopped to take this single picture on my way home just to show all the hills that I couldn’t see behind that bank of cloud ahead..

poor view of Whita

Fortunately Mrs Tootlepedal was cooking a very tasty meal of roast chicken with stuffing, roast potatoes with carrots and Brussels sprouts for our evening meal so I was soon warmed up and cheerful.

There is often a sliver lining to a cloud and the enforced rest of the past two days means that my feet don’t hurt at the moment.  Always look on the bright side of life…..de dum…de dum…etc

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, frozen in time.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was hit in the eye by this burst of colour on her morning walk to Kenwood House.

Kenwood colour

After breakfast, I cycled up to the town to do some business including paying in a handsome cheque kindly sent to me by the government.  This was a refund for the very expensive road tax which I had paid on our old car.  One of the benefits of the little white zingy thingy is that it is tax free to put on the road, part of the inducements to go electric.  These benefits will doubtless disappear when more people start buying electric cars but judging by the published figures on the rate of sales, I should be safe for a while yet.

Then  I drove off into England for the third day running, this time to see my singing teacher Mary.  My ambition is to be able to sing a simple song more or less in tune and in a pleasant manner so she has her work cut out on both fronts.  However, she is a first rate teacher and I came away feeling that with work, I might be able to achieve my goal.

An added bonus was being able to watch a small flock of lapwings flying around in the field opposite her house after the lesson.

It was another fine day so when I got home, I took a walk round the garden in the hope that more azaleas would have come out.  They are very reluctant.

not out azalea

This one has been covered with  promising buds for ages but it is still strangely reluctant to burst into flower.  Our warmer weather is set to continue for a day or two so I am keeping my hopes up.

When I went in, I found that Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer and chief data miner for our local newspaper index, had brought round the sheets which will mean when they have been entered into the database that we have reached 1900.  Three cheers to all involved.

It was soon time for lunch and after I had eaten my soup and cheese and done the crossword, the downside of the little white thingy came into play.  The crucial word here is “white” and some pointed remarks from Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to the fact that a white car shows the dirt.  For many years now I have avoided washing our car because in my view, it just encourages more dirt, but even I could see that the new car is going to require regular washing.  Ah well, nothing in the world is quite perfect.

After I had washed to car, the middle lawn called to me.  The moss eating mixture which I applied a few weeks ago seems to have had an effect but there was still a very mossy patch in the middle of the lawn so I got out the scarifier and gave the whole lawn a going over.  When I had collected the moss with the mower, the lawn looked quite potential…

scarified lawn

…though my assistant thought that there was still work to be done.

scarifying assistant

…and to be fair, there is still quite a bit of moss about.

As you can see from the lawn picture, we are between colour at the moment with the tulips and daffodils past but there is a lot of green about…

green garden May

…and there are spots of colour here and there.

The sweet rocket is coming out…

sweet rocket

…the tree peony is very nearly out…

tree peony flower nearly out

…and the Japanese azalea is doing its best too.

japanese azalea

The cow parsley in the back border is beginning to look really impressive…

rampant cow parsley

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has a purple stemmed variety in another bed.

purple stemmed cow parsley

I went round to the back of the house, to check what flowers could be seen along the dam…

flowers along dam may

…and found daisies, potentilla and the first of the aquilegia, one of my favourite flowers.

I came back into the garden and found that the white polemonium…

white polemonium

…had been joined by a blue variety…

blue polemonium

…and the first geraniums have arrived too.

cranesbill

I took a view from an upstairs window which showed that only two of the five azaleas in the bed along the road have come out…

azaleas in sun

…and then went off for another short and gentle therapeutic pedal on the slow bike.

I passed the bluebells on the hill again without walking up to visit them this time.

bluebells on hill

When I had been down in England in the morning, I had noticed that quite a few hawthorns had come out and I was interested to see if ours were out too.  They weren’t….

hawthorn not out

…but they are going to make a good show when they do arrive.

Although most of our trees are now green, the alders along the river sides are still waiting to join in, as this picture of the Glencorf Burn shows.

leafless alders glencorf burn

Normally, if I have a good bike ride, as I did yesterday, I would try to go further the next day but as I had my sensible head on today, I went slightly less far than I did yesterday and my ankle thanked me for it.  I was very happy to find my sensible head as often it is well hidden away.

I didn’t have much to time watch the birds today but I liked the concentration shown by this pigeon…

concentrating pigeon

…and checked out the usual customers on the feeder.

redpoll, siskin, goldfinch

My flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and I was able to use a tip which I had picked up from my singing lesson to help him get over an awkward corner in one of our pieces.

I also introduced him to Scott Joplin as a change from baroque sonatas.

As the sun sank after a full day’s work, I resisted the temptation to take a sunset picture as I already had too many for the post and so all that is left now is the flying bird of the day.  Or rather, in today’s case, the fleeing bird of the day.

fleeing siskins

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo’s visit to Vancouver  and shows that they have silly cars there as well as silly buildings.  By the time that you make a car this small, you would be better off on an electric bicycle.  I might get into such a car but I don’t think that I would ever be able to get out again.

vancouver car

Mrs Tootlepedal was already up and about this morning when I got up but she wasn’t feeling well enough to sing in the church choir so I went off on my own.  Once again we had a very small choir but there were some enjoyable hymns to sing so we did our best.

The forecast had hinted at rain by the time that church was over and there were a few drops but the day stayed largely dry.  I had to fill the feeders as the traffic had been heavy once again and as soon as they were filled, birds started to arrive.

goldfinch and siskin

The arrivals were almost all chaffinches, goldfinches and siskins but it is good to see a busy feeder even if there is not a great variety of different birds.

traffic stacking at feeder

The birds are working on a controlled stacking system copied from Heathrow airport.

My foot was very sore after yesterday’s cycling efforts which was a bit of a disappointment to me as the cycling itself had been very pain free.  As a result, I limited my walking to the garden and didn’t stay out long when I was there.

I prepared a  pot of mince for the slow of cooker and went out when I had finished.

I like this avenue of little daffodils and the sharp eyed will just be able to see the ground level telephone wire going across the grass at the far end.

row of daffs and fallen wire

Signs of things happening are all around.  I saw the first colour in a tulip of the year…

first tulip bud

…and a little cluster of buds on the silver pear.

silver pear buds

When I went back in to make some coffee, I had time to look at the busy feeder again. A siskin was giving a chaffinch a hard time for undue encroachment…

siskins ganging up on chaffinch

…and a female of the species showed that it was deadlier than the male by trampling on an unsuspecting  siskin in return.

stamping chaffinch on siskin

I switched between indoor and outdoor activities and went out to consider the grape hyacinths.  Mrs Tootlepedal is not going for a continuous river of blue this year but she has several promising pools developing.

pool of hyacinths

Back inside again, I saw a chaffinch trying to get organised for a landing…

wonky chaffunch

…and a goldfinch who had safely arrived using a mixed overhand and underhand grip.

secure goldfinch

On my next garden excursion, I walked across the road to talk to our neighbour Liz and in the course of a very interesting conversation about sore feet, I admired her mossy gatepost…

Liz's mossy gatepost

…and she directed my attention to some more moss a bit further along her wall.

Liz's mossy wall

As I went back inside, the sun came out and a goldfinch showed off the pattern on its wings.

flying goldfinch

I had time for one last excursion to the garden where I wondered what had leapt up and taken this chunk out of the trumpet of a daffodil and left the rest untouched….

eaten daffodil

…and was impressed by the growth in the tree peony in the back bed.

tree peony bud

As Mrs Tootlepedal was not feeling at her best, I left her watching Gardeners’ World on the telly and went off after lunch to do some shopping on my way to sing with our Carlisle choir.  As I not only remembered to write a shopping list but I also remembered to take it with me, the shopping was very satisfactory.

The choir was most enjoyable and we had a lot of good singing but as Ellen, our proper conductor,  wasn’t there for the second week running, we didn’t get quite as much done as we should have.  It is interesting to get different conductors and you can always learn something from a new approach but it doesn’t get the songs for our next concert practised as thoroughly as they would be if Ellen was in charge.

It was really good to drive home in broad daylight as the long winter months have finally come to an end.

The slow cooked mince turned out well and we had it with mashed potatoes and spinach for our tea.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been walking on Cocklawburn beach where the sharp eyed may spy very small fossils.

Cocklawburn beach

We had another bright and sunny day here today but out of the sun, it was pretty chilly with the thermometer below zero when we woke up and staying firmly in single figures all day.

I had to go up to the town after breakfast and enjoyed the frost outlined shadows on the suspension bridge…

suspension bridge with ice

…and the two tone moss on the Day Centre car park wall.

icy moss1

The frozen side looked like this on closer inspection.

icy moss2

I visited a friend in the Langholm Reference Library to ask if the library would be happy to take some of the articles that we have collected over the years in the Archive Centre for which we will not have room when we move.  He was quite excited by the possibility and I walked along to the Centre to fetch a couple of sample boxes.

When I got them back to the library, Ron emptied them out and began recording the contents.  “I love doing this sort of thing,” he said to me.  A very useful man to know.

While I was along at the Archive Centre, I popped into the garage next door to pay my bill and stopped on the forecourt on my way out to admire the view.

warbla from the garage

On my way home, I noticed that the copper beeches at the entrance to the park were catching the low sun.

park in November

My  sore leg stood up to the walk and carrying the boxes very well so I hope that yesterday’s incident will not have done any lasting harm. This is a relief.

When I got home, it was time for coffee and a crossword and then I watched the birds for a bit.

I was struck by the resemblance between a pigeon in the plum tree and myself: largely sedentary, rather fat and definitely lacking in a bit of gruntle.

fat pigeon

The feeder was busy, first with chaffinches….

chaffinches on feeder

…and then with greenfinches (no room for chaffinches any more)…

greenfinches and approaching chaffinch

…and then with goldfinches.

three goldfinches

It is entertaining to get a steady changing of the guard.

In the plum tree, one of the blue tits was enjoying pecking at a desiccated plum…

blue tit with old plum

…and among the plants beneath the feeder, I saw one of the blackbirds which have returned to the garden lately.

first autumn blackbird

We get quite a few migrating blackbirds in the garden over the winter.

The goldfinches set about making a fuss at the feeder, sometimes from a distance…

goldfinches at feeder

…and sometimes up close and personal.

goldfinches squabbling

I didn’t want to tax my leg too much so I spent a little time after lunch walking gently round the garden.

The delphinium is still droopy but defiant…

droopy delphinium

…but there are very few flowers left and I had to look at the stem of a tree peony to get some colour…

tree peony

…though the sedums are hanging on.

sedum

And then I went in and took to lurking near my computer for an hour or so until I went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to.

She was busy as always and had piled up stuff ready for shredding.  I sieved some more of the compost in Bin D and then shredded about half of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pile.  The evenings are really drawing in now so between the gathering gloom and the chill, I didn’t stay out long and went in for a cup of tea.

Our neighbour Liz dropped in to say that she had seen some small flocks of starlings gathering at Longtown so maybe we will have to go down to Gretna soon to see if there are enough about for a murmuration. The numbers of starlings have dropped a lot in recent years and I don’t think that we will ever see sights like this one in 2011 again

starlings

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their first traditional Friday night visit for several weeks and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights and caught up on news, Alison and I put rusty fingers into action on flute and keyboard.  It was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to spy an empty perch on a busy feeder day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who saw this copy of the Lamazzu – a winged deity looted from the Iraq Museum – made of empty date syrup cans, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

Our weather descended from the recent summer heights to slightly below the seasonal average, the feeling of slight chilliness compounded by a stiff wind which reminded everyone of the long cold months since Christmas.

The weather in the morning didn’t bother me much as I had to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I caught up on some Archive Group work.  I didn’t do quite as much as I had hoped though as I had to provide a welcome and information to no less than three visitors in the two hours.  I was fairly rushed off my feet.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having reorganised the greenhouse while I was out.  She is planting things out and improving the soil as much as she can so I sieved the last of the compost in Bin D and then set about shifting the contents of Bin C into the now empty Bin D.  I then emptied the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

I know that there is an insatiable desire for compost  pictures among the readers of this blog so here is the result.

compost bin shifting

The picture does show graphically how compost reduces in bulk over time.  The small amount in Bin D was the same size as the current amount in Bin C when it first arrived from Bin B and Bin B was full to the level of six of the wooden frames when it was first filled from Bin A.

This was quite heavy work so it was now time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with a delicious dish of fried eggs and fried cabbage as a reward for compost shifting.

It was far too windy, with constant gusts of 25 mph and above to think of cycling so after lunch, I went out into the garden with my camera in hand.  Windy weather makes it hard to shoot flowers but I did my best.

white flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is not certain what the pretty white flowers above are but I know what these ones below are.  They are potential plums if everything goes well.

plum flowers

The dog’s tooth violets are springing up all over the place.

dog's tooth violets

This clump of cowslip like things is enjoying the weather whether it is hot or cold and is getting larger all the time.

cowslips

The tree peony is looking very healthy.  Last year its flowers were hidden behind its foliage so we are hoping for a better show this year.

tree peony

The madness of the crab like flowers of the euphorbias is well advanced. I hope for a calmer day to take a better picture.

euphorbia

There is little pool of pale blue in the river of muscari.

muscari

And this is the start of our own clump of marsh marigolds in the pond.

marsh marigold

Once again the cold wind was causing the tulips to purse their lips but there is very promising red one waiting for some sunshine.

tulip

The daffodil of the day is a muted example.

daffodil

I put the camera down and mowed the front lawn with a great deal of huffing and puffing because the lawn is so spongy with moss.  There was a heartening amount of grass to cut even if the end result was a very patchy looking lawn.

Then, since it wasn’t really a very inviting walking day, I finished the composting job by emptying Bin A into Bin B so all is ready for Mrs Tootlepedal to start the process going again by filling up Bin A.  I may even have some grass to add to it myself.

Owing to the need for frequent pauses to admire the work in progress or chat to the gardener, it soon turned out to be time for a cup of tea and a sit down indoors.  This gave me a chance to look at the birds.  As it also started to rain, I was very happy to be inside.

The siskins really seem to have gone elsewhere although there was one on hand to join the queue for a seed today.

queue at the feeder

Mostly it was goldfinches and chaffinches again, with the goldfinches concentrating hard on the job in hand….

goldfinches

…and making sure that incoming chaffinches knew who was boss.

goldfinch and chaffinch

But the goldfinches are no match for a really angry redpoll though.

redpoll

The evening was given over to music when first my flute pupil Luke came and cheered me up by playing very well.  Then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel after tea for what seems the first time for ages.

It was good to get back to playing and our lack of practice didn’t seem to matter as we played some familiar pieces with a good deal of verve, all things considered.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

goldfinch

Strong winds and showers are on the menu for both tomorrow and Wednesday so getting out on my bike to knock off the last few miles of my monthly target may be a bit of a battle.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Mary in the Japanese Garden in Holland Park, London, England a few days ago. That is a nice international medley of names to go with a delightful picture taken on a dull day.

Japanese Garden Holland Park

After our very brief burst of springlike weather yesterday, we were back in the groove today with ten tenths cloud, occasional rain and a cold and uncharitable wind blowing.  It was rather disappointing.

However, there was plenty of activity going on to keep my mind off the missing sunshine.

I started with a walk after breakfast and I enjoyed the daffodils along the river bank in Caroline Street.  They brought a welcome touch of colour to a dull day.

daffodils on Wauchope

And for my daffodil of the day, I chose one from the clumps along the banks of the Esk between the bridges.

daffodil

I was hoping to catch the goosanders but had to make do with an oyster catcher again.

oyster catcher

It wasn’t very inviting walking weather so I did more leg stretching than looking around just to keep myself warm but I couldn’t help noticing a rather strange set of fungi on a fallen tree by the river bank.

fungus

They are just normal bracket fungi but the way that they sat on the tree trunk made it look as though they were floating.

I did look to see if there were any more hazel catkins and flowers about but once again I saw few catkins and only two flowers.

hazel catkin and flower

It is hard to say whether more will arrive with some warmer weather or if this is all that there will be in such a miserable spring.

There were occasional signs of life elsewhere among the lichen covered branches of the trees.

lichen and buds

And I passed a party of cheerful Tuesday walkers who had stopped to pay their respects to a small dog.

walkers

I was pleased to get home and a have a cup of coffee but I did take a quick look round the garden first….

tree peony

…where the tree peony is looking healthy and I at last got a half decent picture of the pulmonaria flowers.

pulmonaria

I also took a moment to check on the birds.

There were a lot about.

siskin and greenfinch

A chaffinch needed only a one footed attack to dislodge a fellow from the feeder.

chaffinches

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal, Patricia, our guest, and I went off to Hawick in the car to visit a small exhibition of work there by Mrs Tootlepedal’s Embroiderers’ Guild group.  She hadn’t been able to go to the opening as she was visiting her mother at the time.

The exhibition had been very well mounted…

EG exhibition Hawick

…in a small gallery in the Textile Towerhouse.  It had gone down so well with visitors that a notice pointing out that the exhibits were not for sale had had to be put up.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a couple of old favourite pieces in the show and one of her newer pieces figured on the poster which was pleasing.

P1080773

Stumpwork on the left and the new piece at the bottom right of the poster. 

We had an excellent lunch, rather surprisingly accompanied by live string playing from students of Trinity College, London.

We walked back to car, passing many bridges in the town….

hawick bridge

…both old….

P1080778

…and new…

P1080779

…and then drove home by way of Whitrope Summit and Hermitage, passing another bridge…

Copshaw road bridge

…Hermitage Castle…

Hermitage Castle…and a cottage at the back of beyond.

Hermitage road

In spite of the heavy clouds hanging low on the hills or perhaps even because of them, it was  a peaceful and picturesque drive.

It would have been nice to get out of the car for a walk but it really was cold and unpleasant even though the rain had stopped so we were happy to go straight home.

The birds had been busy and I filled the feeders again as the lowering of the seed level was leading to regrettable behaviour.

chaffinch stamping on goldfinch

I had hoped to go for a cycle ride when we got back from our outing but the wind was far too brisk to make cycling anything else but a chore so I found useful things to do indoors until Patricia kindly took us out for a meal at the Douglas  Hotel in the evening.

The food was excellent as usual.  It is not often that we eat out at all so to get two good meals out on the same day was a great treat.  It hasn’t done my slimming regime any good though.  My new bike when it comes will be a kilogram and a half heavier than the old fairly speedy one so I need to lose a couple of kilograms from my body weight to make up the difference.  This is proving hard in the cold weather when a bit of comfort eating is always likely.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, probably looking for someone to kick.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and shows Great Malvern Priory.  He tells me that when Henry VIII’s men came to sell off Great Malvern Priory, they accepted £20 from the parish for the Priory church (after removing the lead from the roof!)

Great Malvern Priory

We had one of those days which the weather gods must have found very amusing.

In the morning, when I was free to go for a walk and see nuthatches and wonderful wild flowers, it rained persistently.  The rain stopped as we were having lunch and then the day cleared up very nicely just as we had to head off for Carlisle for our weekly choir practice.

It was still very nice when we got back but by that time the light had faded and I was too tired to make any good use of a lovely evening.

The reason that we were both tired was that after whizzing up to Glasgow on the main line (in 90 minutes) late yesterday afternoon and enjoying a wonderful performance of Verdi’s requiem by the Bearsden choir (of well over a hundred singers) and the Orchestra of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with top quality soloists under the direction of our choir conductor Andrew Nunn, we then had to catch a very slow train back to Carlisle.

Nothing condescends to go down the main line on a Saturday night so we found ourselves on a two coach local train which trundled through the wilds of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire at a very sedate pace (150 minutes) and in the end, we got back home at half past one in the morning.

The train was packed with young and youngish people returning home after a good night out in the city and a flavour of the journey can be gathered by the fact at one time, in the midst of some serious unrest, the nice lady sitting next to me leant over and said, “You’ll be all right dear, I’m a trained martial arts instructor.”

This was in fact, very reassuring.

Still it all passed the time well and we got home safely.

So as far as today went, I never got further than the far end of the garden with my camera.

The Japanese azalea is coming out.  It is a wonderful colour.

Japanese azalea

The last of the other azaleas is about to join the party too.

azalea

Geraniums are popping up all over the place but my current two favourites are these ones.

geraniums

I like the detailed work that the designer has put into these flowers.

What is better that one Camassia?  Three Camassias of course…..

camassias

…though I see that from a photographer’s point of view, these are one of those annoying plants that start dying at the bottom before they are finished at the top.  This is definitely one of those cases when you can’t have everything.

It fell to us to pick up Andrew, our conductor and Gillian, our accompanist  from the station in Carlisle today.  They come down from  Glasgow every week for our practice and I must say, Andrew’s energy seems inexhaustible and far from being a mere shadow of himself after last night’s concert, he was in excellent form and put our choir through our paces without flagging.

We are very fortunate to have the services of such an accomplished musician (even if he does give the tenors a hard time).

After the practice, we dropped Andrew and Gillian off at the station and then made our way home.

I had prepared a lamb stew in the morning while Mrs Tootlepedal sang with the church choir and in a moment of supreme efficiency, I had not only put the stew into the slow cooker but I had also turned the slow cooker on  so this week we were able to enjoy a hot meal when we got in.

I had time for a last walk round the garden before we ate.

An aquilegia turned its head and winked at me as I went past.

aquilegia

Our tree peony is thriving but its flowers are deeply and darkly buried among the leaves….

tree peony

…and need a helping hand if they are to be seen.

tree peony

In the vegetable garden the chives are flowering….

chives

…and the rosemary continues to do very well.

rosemary

With a busy day ahead tomorrow, it seems like a good night for an early bed.

No flying bird of the day today but a young sparrow stands in as ‘bathing bird’ of the day.

sparrow in puddle

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