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Posts Tagged ‘tulips’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward Winter.  He has a fine six inch wide tree peony flower in his garden which he thought that I might appreciate.  I do.

TreePeony2020

It was another grey, blustery and chilly day today here so once again there was no urgency in the getting up department.

Indeed, I got up so late that there was no time for a wander round the garden before our street coffee meeting, and it was only afterwards that I got to check to see if our peonies are out yet.

They are still trying.

peony trying

A quick check on the frost damage revealed that the Japanese azalea may have have enough surviving flowers to make a bit of a show at least.

japanese azalea

And to make up for the lack of azaleas, the first iris has put in a welcome appearance.

first iris

Tulips and poppies make sure that we still have some colour….

tulips and poppy

And thriving Limnanthes and Aquilegia will soon be joined by…

flowers old and new

…other promising flowers.

We are quite blue at the moment….

four blue things in garden

…in a delicate sort of way.

I mowed the front lawn in the hope that we will get some rain and warmer weather to make the grass grow again.  Mrs Tootlepedal got to work improving the soil in one of the beds along the lawn so I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C to give to her to add to the bed.

I didn’t watch the birds on the feeder in the morning as we were busying about but there were birds in the garden who weren’t bothered by us.  The blackbird and the thrush are both feeding young so they are often to be seen about.

blackbird an thrush panel

I did a little shredding of disused box bushes and then went in for lunch.

We had a Carlisle Choir Zoom meeting scheduled for mid afternoon at what would have been our regular choir practice time, so I sneaked out for a short walk after lunch.  It was grey and almost drizzly so I walked on at a brisk pace, hoping to get home before any rain started.

I was pleased to see that the big rhododendrons in the park seemed to have escaped frost damage, but the bluebells are fading away and going over…

rhododendron,bluebells and garlic

…leaving the wild garlic to cover the ground.

I walked along the Murtholm track towards Skippers Bridge, passing quantities of ribwort, lambs and spring things on leaves…

three things at murtholm

…and crosswort…

crosswort full

…at which I took a closer look.

crosswort close

I paused on Skippers Bridge to record just how low the river is.

low water in esk from skippers bridge

It will be interesting to see if we get enough rain to raise the water level noticeably as the ground is so dry that it will surely soak up anything less than a downpour.

I took a picture of this view a few days ago but it is still so beautiful to my mind, that I took it again today.

skippers bridge from north

As I walked along the river bank back to the town, there was plenty to admire.

six things beside the river

I saw two contrasting birds as I got up the suspension bridge, a very noisy thrush singing fit to bust on a rooftop on one side of the river and a very quiet oyster catcher sitting on her nest on the other side.

thrush and oyster catcher

When  I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had just about finished her work on the flower bed.

bed improvement

I like the big red poppy at the back of the house so I went for a look at it…

big red poppy panel

…before getting ready for the Zoom choir meeting.

While I was waiting for the meeting to start, I made a mixture for some chocolate biscuits and put it in the fridge to cool.

When the appointed time came, lots of choir members attempted to join the meeting but unfortunately, there was a glitch in the Zoom technology (not our fault) and the meeting had to be cancelled.  We are going to try again next week,

The fault, which also affected a government briefing later in the day, must have been partial as I had a one to one meeting on Archive website business with my younger son and a family meeting with my siblings later on with no problems at all.

After the failed choir meeting, I baked the biscuits and while they were cooling, our neighbour Liz rang up to say that a starling was feeding its young in her garden if I was interested.

I was interested and went out and leant over her wall to see the group in action.

liz's starlings

I took the biscuits out of the oven and left them to cool and then I had time to watch a blue tit coming to the feeder…

blue tit in garden

…before chatting to my brother and sisters with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We tried the biscuits after our evening meal.  There was an initial shock when they did not taste as we expected them to, but we enjoyed them enough to have another each.

The rain, which finally started shortly after I came home from my walk, has persisted in a mild and desultory way all evening.  There is some more in the forecast over the next two days but as it is only a few millimeters, whether it will be enough to do some good is still a moot point.

All the same, any rain, after two dry months when at times it seemed as though it might never rain again here,  is to be welcomed.

The flying bird of a day is a bee.

flying bee

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  Meeting a stranger while out on a recent walk, he engaged him in polite but socially distanced conversation but found him rather uncommunicative.

bruce's friend

I had a disturbing morning.  We had arranged a visit from our bench supplier to discuss a modification to the new bench and he arrived at nine in the morning.  This seriously upset my normal routine of letting breakfast, the newspapers and the crossword run almost seamlessly into getting dressed just before coffee time.  As a result of being dressed and shaved so promptly, I had two hours of wandering around wondering what I was supposed to do before we even got to coffee.

I did go out and look at flowers.   They were not hard to see.

six flowers

It was another decidedly chilly morning with a brisk wind so although we had our customary socially distanced street coffee morning with ginger biscuits, it didn’t last as long as usual, even in the sunshine.

Someone remarked that our tulips are nearing the end of the road, but they are not going out without a final show.

four old poppies

The droplets on the petals are not rain but more of the endless watering that we are doing every day.

New flowers are coming to replace the tulips so we won’t be wanting for colour.

iris, cornflower, geranium, polemonium

My favourite flower of the moment is the aquilegia.

aquilegia close up

There was plenty of bird action today with the feeder appealing to goldfinches and siskins…

siskins and goldfinches

…and an assortment of other birds posing round the garden.

blackbird, jackdaw, thrush and pigeon

The birds that were making the most noise were baby sparrows clamouring for attention from their parents.

sparrows feeding babies

A young blackbird was less successful.

_20S9629

After lunch, I went for a cycle ride.  This was a surprise to me, as the brisk chilly wind in the morning had been enough to make me think of having a day off.  It had warmed up under the sun though, and the wind had eased off quite a bit by the afternoon with the result that taking a spin up the main road north of the town felt like the right thing to do.

This was a good decision, with the Ewes valley looking at its best…

ewes valley view

…and Ewes Kirk, pretty as a picture when framed by green leaves.

ewes church

I was cycling into the wind so i wasn’t unhappy to pause to enjoy the view…

view from A7

…and I think that you may well agree that there might be worse roads to be cycling up.

A7 near Unthank

There was a bit more traffic than there has been lately but it was still pretty peaceful.

I cycled 15 miles north into the wind, and this brought me to the bottom of the hill that has this strange conical monument to the local poet and minister Henry Scott Riddell on it.

ridell monument

The people who spoil views with power lines have done superb work here!  And yes, that is a gull perching on the very top of the monument.

The return journey, with the wind behind, was glorious.

At one stage I was bicycling up a gentle hill though wooded country at exactly the same speed as the wind was blowing.  There was no a whisper of wind in my ears. The road surface was newly laid and silky smooth.  My bike has a superior hub gear and a belt drive so it has none of that loud clanking that goes with a chain and derailleur gear.  There was no traffic.

The upshot of these happy coincidences was that for a good few hundred yards, I was pedalling along in complete silence, in a world of my own, entirely at peace.

And then there was the rush down hill for the last ten miles of the trip, accomplished in just over half an hour.  What fun for an old man.

After a slightly unsatisfactory Zoom meeting bedevilled by technological mysteries and a very satisfying meal of scrambled eggs, baked beans and fried potatoes, the second shock to my well drilled lockdown life occurred.

The powers that be have decreed that we may now go out more than once a day for exercise, so Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up to the White Yett car park and walked up to the monument.

track to monument

We had coats and gloves with us but while the sun was out, it was warm enough to keep the gloves in our pockets.

Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the moorland for signs of harriers and thought that she could see a couple of them flying in the distance below us…

view of tarras from whita

…but we were totally unprepared to see a bird of prey sitting on a fence not far in front of us.

Although it sat and let us watch it for some time, it was too far away for a definite identification, but looking at the picture when we got home, we think that it was a short eared owl rather than a hen harrier.

short eared owl

When we got to the monument, the view over the town was a reward for the climb…

langholm late evening from whita

…but Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t come up here to see local views.  Her ambition was to take advantage of the currently unpolluted skies to see if she could see the Isle of Man, eighty miles away.

Quite amazingly, she could.  It wasn’t the clearest sighting but with her binoculars, the island could be seen.  She gave me a go, and I could see it too.

My camera was quite a bit less sucessful!!

iom

It’s out there somewhere.

It had better luck looking at the Lake District hills which are a lot closer than the Isle of Man.

lake district

The sun had gone behind clouds by the time that we walked back down the hill and it had got quite chilly.  A sheep suggested that we shouldn’t hang about.

sheep on whita

The shades of night were falling fast as we got back to the car.

evening view from white yett

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we are in constant communication with our families so we will be quite happy to remain very vigilant and homebound for the foreseeable future whatever the government may say.  The second daily outing for exercise will be welcome though.

The flying bird of the day is a lark which we saw on our way down the hill this evening.

lark in sky

You don’t believe me?  Here it is.

lark close up

You can spot it in the middle of the big picture just below the line of blue sky if you look very, very carefully!

In the end, it was not the early rise or the second walk that was the biggest surprise of the day.  It was putting that failed picture of the view towards the Isle of Man into the photo editor and finding out what the camera had really seen.

iom contrast

Now that was a surprise.

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I have had a rush of good guest pictures sent to me recently but I thought that the most appropriate one to celebrate the warmest day of the year here in Langholm today would be this one from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  It shows her weather today.  She is a bit fed up to say the least.

Mary jo may snow

Apart from the absence of a friendly shower of rain, it was another perfect day here.  There were a few fluffy clouds about in the sky but it was genuinely warm and the socially distanced street coffee morning nearly had to be cut short because we were too hot from sitting in the sun rather than too cold from a nippy east wind.

Before coffee, I had had a look at the back of the house and found plenty of colour looking in both directions along the dam from our new bridge.  Only the blue aquilegia is ours, the other fine plants are the work of neighbouring gardeners.

three damside flowers

Back in the garden, yellow was the centre of attraction.  I was pleased to see some white on the poached egg plant flowers.

three yellow flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal had kindly given me a haircut after breakfast so I was looking very spruce at coffee time.

After coffee, we went back into the garden and there was once again a good deal of watering to be done, this time mostly in the vegetable garden.

I mowed the drying green and the green house grass and did some garden wandering too.

Another ornamental strawberry flower has come out to join a new and fancy dicentra, while our lone pulsatilla flower tries to keep our attention with its seed head.

three garden flowers

Tulips and primroses represent the old guard while allium and aquilegia are the coming generation.

four garden foiwers

A friend came round with his camera, complaining that it was habitually overexposing his pictures and wondering if I could help.  Greatly to my surprise, I was able to help while keeping our social distance and not even having to handle the camera.  He went off very cheerfully.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  Mrs Tootlepedal considered coming with me but thought that it was probably too hot for comfort and stayed at home to do some useful gardening and enjoy some of the wonderful flood of arts programmes appearing on YouTube during the lockdown.

As far as I could, I chose a shady route and after passing Skippers Bridge, which was looking almost overcome by springtime…

skippers brdge from garage

…I strolled along shady lanes beside the river…

penton road

…and up the hill out of the Esk Valley…

road to broomholm

…and I walked down into the Tarras water valley.

The water was low and just trickling over the characteristic little steps in the river bed as i crossed the bridge and walked along the river bank on the far side.

tarras bridge

As I walked along the track beside the river, I could see a good example of where those little steps in the river bed come from.

seams tarras water

It is fascinating to reflect on the different conditions which led to these strata being laid down perhaps 350 million years ago when this part of the world lay around the equator.  (I may not be totally accurate about this as one of the many things that I wish I knew a lot more about is geology.)  It does make you feel that we are only very temporary visitors when we tread upon the earth’s surface.

Still, I was very happy treading on the earth’s surface today as it was a beautiful day, the surface was dry underfoot and the woods were delightful….

tarras walk track

…totally delightful.

tarras walk

I was heading for the next road bridge over the Tarras to make my return journey so I didn’t cross this footbridge when I came to it…

 

footbridge tarras

…nor did I attempt any bungee jumping.  I can never quite make up my mind whether the person who affixed the notice (inset) to the bridge had a great sense of humour or absolutely none at all.

The track between the two road bridges is of very variable quality and in normal times would require boots or even wellies to negotiate the many boggy bits along the way.

Today, I could bound over dried up bogs and skip merrily over trickling streamlets.

wall and ford near rashiel bridge

Near the second bridge, there is an impressive stand of reeds and a large spread of wild iris.

reeds and irises tarras

I hope to come back and see the irises when they are in flower.  In a good year, they are a spectacular sight.

I was welcomed by a spread of speedwell and some bristly crosswort when I got to the road.

violet and crosswort

I crossed the river and began the walk up the road towards the now unused bird hide.  Out in the open, the sun was beating down and I got good views across the trees towards the Lake District hills.

lake district from bird hide

I took the track from Broomholmshiels back to Langholm and in spite of the brilliance of a new broom flower…

broom flower

…and the glory of the view over the oaks towards Warbla…oak wood

…I was very pleased to be back in the shade again.

jenny noble's path

I sat for a moment on the bench at the Round House and enjoyed the view over the town while I had a drink of water and a revitalising date.

view of Langholm from round house bench

Thus refreshed, I pottered home, stopping only to note an oyster catcher in the river below the Suspension Bridge when I got back to the town.

oyster catcher esk

Once again, I hadn’t checked the distance of my walk before I set out and I was very pleased to find that I had managed just under eight miles without getting any complaints from my feet.  A measure of the warmth of the day was the fact that when I checked, I found that I had lost three pounds in weight since I weighed myself after breakfast.

A couple of date rolls and an excellent meal of fuselli pasta and meat sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal followed by rhubarb and custard should have put that back on again.

I spoke to Dropscone on the phone in the evening and was happy to find him in good form.  He is walking and cycling a lot as well as doing a regular half hour on the bike to nowhere in his garage every day.  He will be fit as a fiddle when the golf season is finally allowed to start again.

The flying bird of the day is a heron which flapped past me on my walk today.

flying heron tarras

Footnote:  There are wild rumours of as much as a millimetre of rain overnight and the temperature is going to be 10°C or more colder tomorrow than it was today (and with a brisk north wind), so I am very happy to have made such good use of the sunshine and wamth today.

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Today’s unusual guest picture comes from our friend Gavin.  His son Fraser was putting a new irrigation system in his garden when he discovered a plastic bag and on opening it, he found two hand grenades complete with pins in them.  They were relics of the Korean War.  He was pleased that his children hadn’t found them first.   You might wonder about the thought processes of someone who buries hand grenades in a garden.

bomb squad Fraser

Strangely enough, we had a very similar day today to our previous forty five days.  Those readers wanting exciting developments, foreign travel and adventurous encounters will once again be disappointed.

On the other hand, it wasn’t a bad day at all.

The sun shone and the garden looked cheerful with geums…

garden geum

…and Welsh poppies brightening up my first excursion after breakfast.

welsh poppy set

The Welsh poppies are wearing a fringe of red this year.

tinged welsh poppy

The Icelandic poppies are going all out for orange.

vivid icelandic poppy

Our resident blackbirds built a nest in the hedge beside the road and laid eggs in it and then abandoned it.  We think that they may have started again but no young blackbirds have been seen yet.  They were busy pecking the lawn today.

two blackbirds

The tulips continue to delight…

four tulips panel

…and more and more aquilegias are appearing every day now.

aquilegia

I went in to make coffee and we enjoyed our street coffee morning, with added shortbread, courtesy of Margaret, and the sun providing some real warmth as we sat and chatted.

After coffee, we returned to the garden to do some much needed watering.  In spite of rain in many other places up and down the country, we still remain obstinately dry.   Although we are promised some unseasonably chilly weather on Sunday, we are still not being offered any rain for the next ten days.  This is not good.

I went in after a while and checked on the bird feeder through the window.

A greenfinch and goldfinch seemed to be questioning the quality of the sunflower seed…

greenfinch and goldfinch

…and a sparrow was curious to see what all the grumbling was about.

greenfinch and sparrow

A bright eyed dunnock remained above it all.

dunnock on feeder

When I went out again, I took a picture of this little flower, sprinkled with water from the hose, not the sky.

ranunculus

A look at the dicentra showed that it had big plans.

dicentra letting go

I sat on the bench with Mrs Tootlepedal and she expressed her pleasure at the way that the tulips were blending nicely with the rhododendron on the opposite side of the lawn.

tulips and rhododendron blend

After lunch, I had another go at making date rolls, using more of the dates which Marjorie had kindly given me a few days ago.  I was better prepared for the task this time and managed to get a neater appearance in the finished product…

date rolls

…though when it comes to cutting the rolls to equal sizes, my arithmetic is still not very good.

My internet friend Quercus suggests that I should describe such rough and ready  finished products as ‘artisan’ or ‘rustic’ and pretend that their irregularity is a sign of culinary honesty rather than incompetence.

They taste good and that it what really matters.

Leaving the rolls to cool, I went off for a short cycle ride.  Because I was going round my regular Canonbie circuit, I passed the signpost which appeared on my walking report yesterday.

Yesterday, it had taken me and hour and thirty six minutes to walk back to Langholm downhill and downwind.  Today, it took me twenty eight minutes to pedal uphill and into the wind to the same spot.  Bicycles are a sort of miracle really.

kerr signpost

The track that I had followed yesterday looked inviting but the black clouds in the distance were a bit ominous so I pressed on towards Canonbie.

The clouds kept away and I was able to stop a couple of times to admire some trees, these at Chapelhill….

trees chapelhill

…and these at Grainstonehead.

tees grainstonehead

Some planned planting along a drive nearby provided a good range of colour.

trees woudhouselees

It is good to see trees dressed in their summer clothes.

I got back home in good time for my evening Zoom chat with my brother and sisters, and Mrs Tootlepedal joined in on this occasion.

Later in the evening, we watched the Queen addressing the nation on TV and that rounded off our day.  Unfortunately, although we were both around on the original VE day, we are both too young to remember anything about it.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow giving a goldfinch a hard stare.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who, for her permitted exercise, walked up to the top of the hill and looked down on London .

Mary London View

We had another bright and sunny morning, perhaps not as cold as yesterday.  I was able to walk round the garden in shirtsleeves to admire the zing of the tulips after breakfast.

three tulips

The sun lit up everything, potentillas, aquilegias against the back wall of the house,  the lamium and some freshly flowering bed straw in the back border.

potentilla, columbine lamium bed straw

My morning favourite was this shot of the rhododendron in sunshine and shadow.

white rhododendron in shade

The street coffee morning did not take place today as one member was waiting for a phone call, another wasn’t there, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a WhatsApp visit to Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh at coffee time.  They seem to be doing very well and Clare is developing their small garden to grow as much as is possible.  She was happy to take some advice from Mrs Tootlepedal.  The call ended with a display of dancing from Matilda, who is keeping very active.

After the call, I checked on the bird feeder to find a dunnock just checking out….

dunnock diving

…and then a visit to the garden  revealed our resident blackbird trying to look like a pelican.

odd blackbird

I was just wandering about when a tiny glimpse of orange and white caught my eye.  You may be able to see it in the dead centre of the picture below.

orange tip fist view

It was an orange tip butterfly.  As I had nothing better to do, I followed it round and round the garden as it fluttered about trying to find the best plant for a visit.

I was beginning to think that my pursuit would be fruitless, when the cow parsley caught its eye and I managed to get two flying shots of it as it flitted from flower to flower.

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 3

You can see from the bottom two pictures in the panel above just how hard it was to spot the butterfly when it closed its wings among the flowers as the orange tips only show when the wings are open.

Luckily for me, it settled on a flower at the very end of a stem and I was able to take a picture of the beautifully marked underside of its wings.

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 1

I went in to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal out to see the butterfly and very fortunately, not only was it still there when she came out, but it opened its wings just enough to show her the orange tips…

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 2

…and then shut them again so that she could see the decorated undersides too.

This put even the arrival of a flying bee at the lamium into the shade.

bee at lamium

A lot of watering was needed and while Mrs Tootlepedal lent the plants a helping hand, I became involved in the eccentricity of the euphorbias and the beauty of the bluebells.

euphorbia bluebells watering

Mrs Tootlepedal had obtained some leeks from our local butcher so I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we enjoyed it with bacon butties on the side.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  The sun had gone behind clouds and there was a brisk wind blowing but the forecast was good, it was pleasantly warm, and I went off still in my shirtsleeves.

I headed along the river, past the wild garlic and the bluebells…

garlic and bluebells

…walked along the Murtholm track and then took this delightful path….

track up from main road

…up the hill and out into open country.  Still climbing gently, I soon had a good view behind me.

track up from skipperscleuch

As the track dwindled into rough and sometimes confusing paths, I found useful signposts to keep me right.

walk eleven post

I was following the route of Walk 11 of the Langholm Walks Project.

The route took me along the side of the hill, giving me good views over the Esk Valley and the main road south…

esk valley from old irvine

…as well as the River Esk itself.

esk from old irvine

I cam to Old Irvine and followed the old green road up the hill towards the Kerr Wood.

This is now a well surfaced forestry track as there has been a lot of recent tree planting here.  There were yellow wild flowers (unknown, dandelion, tormentil and birds foot trefoil) to keep me interested….

yellow wild flowers

…as I battled up the most boring part of my route, a mile long, dead straight track, uphill and into the breeze.  I was more than pleased when I got to the top of the hill to be able to look back down it.

Old Irvine track

In the end, the track met the road which I often cycle along when I am doing my Canonbie circuit and the difference between cycling and walking was made very clear to me when I saw the signpost at the junction.

langholm sign

The five miles home, downhill and downwind, would take me less than 20 minutes on my bike but it was a different matter when I was on foot.

Still, you see a lot more when you are walking and the sun had come out and even for a walker, having the wind behind is a good thing, so I wasn’t at all unhappy.

The commercial foresters have to plant native trees as part of the license to grow conifers.  They use plastic tubes and this little plantation on the very top of the hill, certainly needed protection from the wind.

new trees Kerr

I enjoyed older trees too.

two trees bloch

When I got down to Wauchope Schoolhouse, I had a choice of following the correct walk route over more rough ground and tracks, or heading straight home down the road for a cup of tea and a Garibaldi biscuit or two.

I went down the road.  I was a bit sorry not to go the full route but my feet weren’t sorry at all, and the way home was enlivened by more wild flowers, lots of lichen and interesting grass seeds.

wildflowers, lichen, seed head wauchope road

The final stage was very colourful with a good patch of ivy leaved toadflax on the wall at Pool Corner…

pool corner wall

…and a stunning display in a front garden on Buccleuch Terrace.

Buccleuch Terrace garden

I hadn’t checked the length of the walk before I set out and was quite surprised to find that I had walked nine and a half miles by the time that I got home.

An added bonus to taking the direct home from Wauchope Schoolhouse was that I arrived in time to take part in the daily Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters.  My brother had been for a three hour walk too.

Today has been a big day for Mrs Tootlepedal, as the project for the community land buy out has reached the crowd funding stage.  Anyone who wants to find out more about the project and perhaps help by making a modest contribution to the purchase fund should visit the Langholm Initiative website where everything is very well explained.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked an excellent meal of mince and tatties for our tea and after tea, I sat at the computer and knocked off six items from a to-do list for the day of six items.  This brought an excellent day to a very satisfying conclusion.

The flying bird of the day is a passing jackdaw.

flying jackdaw

Footnote:  Having all the time in the world on my hands is leading to too many photographs but kind readers have said that I can’t have too many pictures in a post.  I hope that was true of this rather overloaded effort.  If not, I am sorry but it may well happen again if the fine weather holds.

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Today’s guest picture is a puzzle.  Is it the south of France? Is is a tropical Isle? No, it is sunny Wemyss turning up trumps yet again for the lens of our son Tony.

another wemyss view

We had a touch of frost in the very early morning but by the time that I got up the sky was as blue as the lithodora….

lithodora

…and it stayed that way all day.

In spite of coming from the south west, the wind had a distinct nip in it as I walked round the garden after breakfast.

As long as I was in the sunshine though, it was a pleasure to be out enjoying Mrs Tootlepedal’s flowers.

rhododendron

The tulips look delightful when they are backlit by the morning sun.

mroning poppy

And the sun must surely encourage the advent of the age of the azalea and alliums which is reluctant to to dawn while the mornings are so cold.

allium and azalea

To be fair to them, I looked back at previous years and found it is really a bit early to expect full blown alliums and the azaleas are often later too..

The very first honeysuckle flower is trying to creep out unobserved…

first honeysuckle

…while the clematis round the garage doors is secretly adding a flower or two every day.

growing clematis

The street socially distanced coffee morning convened at the usual time and as well as our Garibaldi biscuits, Liz provided a very tasty mixed fruit cake and the general consensus was that there wouldn’t be much call for a big lunch later on.

Because of the continuing lack of rain, there was a lot of watering to be done in the garden.  While the water was spraying,  I dead headed tulips and tore up a cardboard box to add to the compost in Bin A.

While I was there, I was very happy to note that professional pollinators were on the job in the espalier apple trees.

bees on apple blossom

The sun had encouraged an Icelandic poppy to give us a smile.

first icelandic poppy

I was encouraged to go indoors for an early lunch in order to make use of the fine day by going for a good cycle ride.  I foolishly glanced at the crossword and wasted time before I finally managed to get organised enough to actually go out on my bike.  (It was an enjoyable crossword.)

The cold wind of the morning had eased off a bit, but it was still noticeably chilly for such a lovely day.  This had the good effect of keeping me cool under a cloudless sky and the breeze wasn’t strong enough to make much of a difference to my speed.  I averaged 14 mph down to the coast over the only substantial uphill section of the ride and then I managed 14 mph on the much gentler return journey.  The joy of cycling when there isn’t a strong wind is indescribably great, if only because it is so rare.

It would have been hard to find a better day for a ride.  There is still very little traffic on the road.  I met a few but not many other cyclists and they were all going in the opposite direction to me so there was no call to try to keep up with people passing me or to get depressed when they shoot off into the distance.

The verges are perking up and I saw quite a lot of crosswort today.  By dint of putting my shadow over one example, I even got a half decent picture.

crosswort

I never cease to be amazed by the design work that goes into building flowers.

We are not quite in full leaf yet as this study of clothed and naked trees staring at each other across the Kirkpatrick Fleming road shows.

bare and clothed trees

I was aiming to do 50 miles so I stopped every twelve and a half miles to rest my legs, drink some water and eat some guava jelly and a date.  At my first stop, I leaned my bike against a road sign and had a close look at the reflective surface.

road sig pattern

The signs are so bright these days that they constitute a dazzling hazard themselves for elderly night drivers.

The cow parsley is thriving and I just had to be careful not to take my eye of any potholes while I was admiring the flowers.

cow parsley and potholes

Sometimes, both verges joined in the fun.

cow parsley both sides

When it came to trees, these four near Eastriggs were my favourites of the day…

eastriggs trees

…but they were run close by this attractive newly planted avenue near Rockcliffe in Cumbria…

avenue at rockliffe

…and this specimen with an added gorse hedge at its foot near Whamtown.

leaning tree and gorse

I realised that I was going to miss the regular family Zoom meeting, so I stopped on the road below Canonbie School to check in for a moment and apologise.

When I looked around I could see some striking red campion beside the road….

red campion canonbie

…with a shady wild flower mixture nearby…

red campion and violets

…and a Pyrenean Valerian in flower on the opposite side of the road.

pyrenean valerian canonbie

So that turned out to be a good place to pause.

After that, I headed home for a much needed sit down, having covered 54 miles, my (just) longest ride of the year so far.

I sat out in the garden for a moment with Mrs Tootlepedal while our evening meal was cooking and we enjoyed the evening sun lighting up the tulips.

evening tulips

I was getting ready to sit down and write this post, regretting that I hadn’t got a flying bird of the day to finish it, when I noticed a very nearly full ‘flower’ moon out of a window.  It may not be a flying bird, but at least it is up in the sky.

moon may

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent, Venetia.  She has ‘lent’ her lawn to neighbours and they are making it very productive.  She tells me that they have planted broad beans, perpetual spinach, chard, Jerusalem artichokes, and later today plan to plant potatoes, with runner beans to come.  She is going to get a share of the produce as ‘rent’ and she has no mowing to do.  Win, win.

venetia's lawn

We woke to a rather grey, rather windy and definitely chilly morning.

I have been dead heading a lot of the standard tulips that have been brightening the garden over the past few weeks but the lily flowered tulips are still in full swing.

After breakfast and the crossword, I went out to admire them.

lily flower tulip 3lily flower tulip 2lily flower tulip1

While I was there, I enjoyed the ever expanding cow parsley…

cow parsley garden

…checked on a dogwood that Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit worried that she had over pruned…

dogwood flower buds

..and noted the first flower on the big yellow azalea peeping up at the back of the bush.

yellow azalea

I peered closely at the inner workings of the white rhododendron…

rhododendron close up

…and enjoyed the never ending curiosity show that is Euphorbia.

euphorbia

We had a rather chilly socially distanced street coffee morning but it didn’t go the full distance once again on account of freezing fingers.

Then we returned to the garden.  I sieved another barrow load of compost and had a look in the vegetable garden.  Salad leaves are coming on and the beetroot is looking promising, while chives and apples are thriving.

hives, lettuce, cbeetroot apples

There didn’t seem to be many pollinators about in the cold conditions so I got busy with my pollinating bush on the apples.  I don’t know if it actually helps at all but it makes me feel useful even if I am not.

The first ornamental strawberry flower has come out.  There should be many to follow.

ornamental strawberry

Three parcels arrived during the morning.  Once again, our children are showering us with gifts.  Alistair and Clare sent us both bacon and booze.  This is a reward for us not visiting shops any more but getting food delivered.

The other parcel contained gold nuggets!

Honestly.  It did.

Our daughter Annie had sent me these:

IMG-20200505-WA0000

We had the bacon for lunch and then I was intending to go for a long walk but I suddenly remembered that I was due to pay attention to my latest venture into cookery and make some Garibaldi biscuits.

The baking went well, although the arithmetic required to get each biscuit exactly the same size was not quite so successful.

burst

But the main thing was that they turned out to be absolutely delicious.  The currants, from our corner shop, were just the right quality, and the biscuit mixture was crisp and sweet.  They will definitely appear again.  (Quite soon, judging by the speed that they are disappearing.)

After the biscuit making, I was intending to go for a medium walk but the sun had come out and Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that the soil was nice and warm so I took the opportunity to put my moss eating and fertiliser mixture on both the middle and front lawns while the going was good.  I will have to water the lawns soon if it doesn’t rain.

Then I went for a short walk.

The Inuit somewhat apocryphally are supposed to have 85 words for snow.  We could easily have 85 words for different shades of green at this time of year.

green opanel

I passed the result of lockdown activity in the shape of a newly painted roof on John’s stable at the Stubholm…

john's stables

…and any amount of delightful bluebells…

bluebells

…as I walked though the woods, up the Hungry Burn and through the Kernigal.

From the gloom of the conifer plantation, I sought the sunlit lowlands.

track to skipeprscleuch

…passing butterflies and larch trees on the way, sometimes simultaneously.

peacock white larch

There were more shades of green at the bottom of the hill…

skipperscleuch

…and wild flowers to see at various times on my walk.

stichwort, wood sorrel

I was hoping to see herons at the herony but had to settle for yet another view of Skippers Bridge from the river bed…

skippers from middle of river

…before nipping briskly home to be in time for my evening Zoom meeting.

I did pause for a few more wild flowers on the way.

marsh marigold, bird cherry, wild garlic, vetch

At one point during the day, I loaded Zoom on to my laptop and had a meeting with our friend Sue from the recorder group.  We wanted to see if it was possible to play recorder duets remotely.  The technology is brilliant but not brilliant enough to allow for remote simultaneous music making which is a pity.

However, it did mean that I was able to have the evening Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters on my laptop and not using my mobile phone.  This was much more relaxing than peering at a tiny screen.

We had a bottle of cider, courtesy of Al and Clare with our evening meal and thought kindly of all our children.  They are looking after us very well, sending us gifts, videos and beautiful photographs to keep us happy.

The ever so nearly flying bird of the day is an evening chaffinch.

nearly flying chaffinch

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