Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘tree peony’

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

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who was on one of his outings.  It shows the Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye.

Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye

We had a very pleasant day here today with lots of sunshine but with a wind just brisk enough to make me think of several reasons why going cycling might not be my best option.

It had rained overnight and the plants in the garden were holding on to some of the raindrops.

willow and pulsatilla

Willow and pulsatilla unwilling to let go

There was plenty of buzzing to be heard in the garden…

bees

…and plenty of new flowers for the bees to visit.

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a short trip on our bikes up the Wauchope road might be worth while and so we went off to see the bluebells that I had noticed on my bike ride yesterday.  We left our bikes by the side of the road and walked up the hill.  The view down the valley without the bluebells was very good….

Wauchope valley

…but it was even better with bluebells.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

And there was no shortage of bluebells on the hill side for us to enjoy.

Up…

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…down….

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…and along.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

I could have filled a whole post with bluebells.

There weren’t a lot of other flowers among the bluebells but there were some of these tiny yellow flowers.

yellow wild flowers

As we cycled home, I stopped for a look at some fresh hawthorn blossom…

hawthorn

…and an orange tip butterfly which kindly rested for a moment or two on a bluebell beside the road.

orange tip butterfly

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, chatted to blackbirds…

blackbirds

…who were keen to share the lawn with me, enjoyed a whole hearted tulip…

tulip

…and then went off on an outing with Sandy.

We drove up past the bluebells but the sunlight was in quite the wrong place so we drove back through the town and went to visit the Moorland Project bird hide.  When we arrived, we found that others had beaten us to it so we left the car there and walked down the road…

Rashiel road

…to the banks of the Tarras Water.

Tarras water

We crossed the bridge and walked along the bank of the river for a few hundred yards and stopped to be amazed by a forest of horsetails which Sandy spotted…

horsetails

…growing in a very soggy patch beside the river.

I will have to come back and look at these again as they are interesting plants.

One of them had a friend.

horsetail

We walked back up the hill to the hide and found yet again that someone else had got in before us but this time we went in too and shared the viewing windows.

There was a lot of woodpecker activity and for the first time ever, I saw a woodpecker on the ground pecking away at the grass.  Of course there were plenty of pheasants doing that too.

pheasant and woodpecker

There wasn’t a great deal of other activity so we made for home and had a cup of tea and a couple of mini Jaffa cakes with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sandy went off and I mowed the middle lawn and had a look round the garden.

Alliums

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…

sparrows

One even sat on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bicycle handlebars

…but because the feeders are not up, it was hard to be sharp enough to catch them in the act.

I had a last look round…

Garden

…and went in to practice a few songs and look at the many, many pictures which I had taken on my outings and in the garden.  It is very hard not to take too many pictures in spring time.

I noticed that I had seen quite a lot of unfurling ferns here and there during the day…

unfurling ferns

…so I put some together.

I was feeling pretty tired by now and I let the chance of an evening bike ride slip through my fingers and settled for eating spaghetti with tomato sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and having a little snooze.

It is not a good picture but I feel that a flying bee of the day is the way to end this post.  It was a flying bee sort of day.

flying bee

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture come from Mike Tinker.  Knowing my fondness for taking photos of pheasants, he sent me this picture to remind me of how they start out.

pheasant chicks

The planning for the day revolved around someone being at home to greet the gas man when he arrived to give our boiler its annual service.  Since we had been given a six hour window, this entailed quite a lot of hanging around, complicated by Mrs Tootlepedal spending two hours volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre and my anxiety to put a fine day to good use by cycling.

It was sunny but far too cold to cycle after breakfast so I was happy that I had arranged a dentist’s appointment followed by scone sampling with Dropscone over coffee. It had warmed up enough after coffee for Dropscone to go off to play golf while I walked round the garden…

azalea and tree peony

Things are busting out all over.

Elder lichen and moss

A garden in itself on an elder branch.

…and watched the birds.

We started in a yellowish sort of way with  siskins and a goldfinch…

siskin and goldfinch

…and then things got greener when a greenfinch arrived on the scene.

siskins and greenfinch

Greenfinches always look rather imperious even when they are sitting quietly in the plum tree.

greenfinches

Their motto might well be: Wha daur meddle wi’ me

A pair of blackbirds were busy feeding on the ground below the feeders.

blackbirds

They struck some good poses.

There was also a pair of robins and as they weren’t chasing each off the premises, they may be a couple which would be good.  I could only catch one of them at a time though.

robin

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre and I sat beside the phone in case the gasman called.  Some of the sitting was more metaphorical than actual as I made some dough for rolls in the breadmaker, hung out the washing and ate some soup and cheese for my lunch as well.

When Mrs Tootlepedal returned, I was already changed into my cycling gear and after a quick scout round the garden….

crocus and rhubarb

Progress

…I was soon cycling up the Wauchope road in chilly but windless conditions.  The sun was out and how ever much I may have been charmed by the bridges of Manchester, the views of Wauchopedale trumped them by far.

wauchopedale

This picture should enlarge a bit if you click on it.

I cycled to the top of Callister but didn’t want to get too far from home while the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service was waiting for the gasman so I turned, appropriately enough, at an entrance to one of the valves on the main natural gas pipeline into our town…

gas valve puddle

…which pretty accurately reflected our recent changeable weather.

Having climbed Callister to get to my turning point, I now had the pleasure of the gravity assisted return journey….

Callister

…back down the hill.

I stopped to admire the lichen on a concrete fence post beside the road a little further on.  It was glowing in the sunshine.

concrete lichen

I had done 15 miles by the time that I got back to Langholm and seeing that the gasman had arrived and was at work, I nipped back up the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse to add another six miles to my total.

I stopped on the way back to add to my collection of winter trees….

tree

…though at not much more than three metres in height, this one may be regarded as more of a bush than a tree perhaps.

On the other side of the road, the afternoon sun provided a very mellow gate scene for me.

Wauchope road gate

There was still enough light when I got home for Mrs Tootlepedal to point out first a robin and then a dunnock, both perching on a bush outside the kitchen window.

robin and dunnock

Although they were only a small distance apart on the same bush at the same time, the double portrait above shows them in typically contrasting style.  The robin likes to survey the world from on high while the dunnock likes to peer at it cautiously from a bit of cover.

I was just shaping the bread roll dough into rolls when Mike Tinker dropped by to see how we had done in the singing competition.  He stopped for a cup of tea while I went off for a relaxing soak in the bathtub.

As I looked out of my bedroom window, I could see some lovely evening light on Whita so I opened the Velux window and took a picture of the hill and the monument over the roofs of Henry Street.  Quite by accident, I included the window as well and rather liked the result.

reflections of henry street and whita

Since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea and when the rolls had risen and been baked,  the day came to a very satisfactory end.

The morning scones with the conversation and coffee had all been interesting, the washing had dried in the sun, the rolls had come out round and brown, the pancakes had been flat and tasty and the cycling had been most enjoyable and on top of all that, the gas boiler had survived for another year in fine condition.  All is good.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

My Glastonbury correspondent, Venetia, sent me today’s guest picture.  It is a sign of the times, being a mock funeral procession to mourn the closure of the last bank branch in the town earlier this month.  Glastonbury bank closure

After several chilly and rather grey days of north easterly winds, the wind completely changed and blew from the west…and we got another chilly, grey day….but dry so mustn’t grumble (much).

It wasn’t as cold overnight as they had suggested that it might be so there was no danger of icy roads but the cold wind was more than enough to keep me happily occupied in making a spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker and then enjoying a cup of coffee before going out on my bike.

It was still only a miserable 5°C but I was well wrapped up so I was warm enough.  I managed to find a circular 20 mile ride which avoided most of the potholes and enjoyed it in a gentle way.  I stopped on the Hollows Bridge when I saw what might have been a suspicion of green in the trees beside the river.

Esk at Hollows

The bright green on the left is the Mill’s Archimedes screw, turning merrily and providing pollution free power.  Every home should have one.

I didn’t have much time when I got home because Sunday is Carlisle choir day and we had pencilled in a shopping trip on the way.  I had a quick walk round the garden.

The euphorbias are thriving.  I love their little crab’s claws…

euphorbia

…and often wonder what evolutionary advantage they brought.

euphorbia

The chilly weather is holding back new arrivals but I was pleased to see that it hasn’t affected the health of the fritillary.

fritillary

A dogwood showed a little tightly wrapped parcel of future cheer…

dogwood

…and a tree peony also seems to be going in the right direction.

tree peony

While I made and ate a jam sandwich or two for my lunch, I was able to stare out of the window.  Sometimes it was all siskins….

siskins

…and sometimes it was all goldfinches…

goldfinches

…and sometimes it was  multicultural.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

I feel rather sorry for the chaffinches which had the almost uninterrupted use of the feeders over the winter but have been pushed out by the newcomers more recently.  They had a small fightback today.

chaffinches

…but they haven’t learnt the value of co-operation even now.

chaffinches

We duly went off and did our shopping and singing.  The shopping was very successful but the singing had a double handicap as our substitute conductor had nearly lost her voice and our accompanist’s train was late for the second week running (or not running in this case).

However we all tried our best, a microphone was found for the conductor, the accompanist turned up and we started to learn a new song so the time wasn’t wasted.

I got yet another opportunity to photogrpah my new friend when we got home.

sparrowhawk

There were some birds down there a minute ago!

It posed before it went off disappointed.

sparrowhawk

I am fairly sure that this is an adult male bird

The spaghetti sauce from the slow cooker turned out to be quite tasty  so a grey and chilly day was not so bad as it might have been.  The forecast says that it might get a little warmer for the next few days.  That would be very nice.

I had two choices of flying goldfinches as flying bird of the day but it seemed unfair to pick one over the other so I have put them both in.

flying goldfinches

Read Full Post »