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Posts Tagged ‘tulips’

Today’s guest picture shows the railway station from which my brother began his walk up Snowdon earlier this month.  The mountain is in the background.

Rhyd Ddu

We had a traditional Sunday today.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir and I prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

She came back from singing in the church, we had an early lunch and then we went off for an extra long ‘singing day’ (1pm to 6pm) with our Carlisle choir.

We came back from the singing and got ready to eat the stew only to find that although I had put the stew in the slow cooker and switched the slow cooker on, I had not actually managed to switch on the socket in the wall so slow cooking had turned to no cooking.

Traditional methods were applied and we ate the stew an hour and a half later than planned.

Not my finest moment and ironically, Mrs Tootlepedal had remarked as we drove back from Carlisle that it was really good to know that we would be coming back to a ready prepared hot meal.  Ah well.

This was not the only disappointment of the day.

It was raining when we got up but by the time that I had prepared the stew, the sun was shining so I went for a walk, hoping to see a wonderful display of bluebells in the woods beside the river.

The park looked very springlike….

Buccleuch park

…and the wild garlic beside the path along the river bank was in fine form, both collectively…

wild garlic

…and individually….

wild garlic

…but the bluebells were a bit underwhelming.  They were there…

bluebells

…and very pretty but in no way forming the complete carpet of the woodland floor which I had hoped for.  The growth looks thin for some reason.  Perhaps the trees came into leaf too soon and stopped the light getting through.  Leaves seem to be coming rather early this year and oak trees and our garden walnut are already out.

I had a last look at the bluebells….

bluebells

…and went back home to have a look round the garden.

There was some good blue there in the shape of the lithodora which is flourishing.

lithodora

And a cornflower too.

cornflower

Mrs Tootlepedal has two cultivated geums.  This is the louder of the two.

geum

It is in competition with one of the azaleas for the loudest orange plant in the garden.

azalea

I was very happy to see quite a few infant plums on the plum tree.

plum

Mrs Tootlepedal picked the first crop of the year from the vegetable garden.

radishes

…and found the first salad leaves of the season to go with the radishes for lunch.

I look forward to having lettuce and marmite sandwiches on the menu soon.

It was such a lovely day that there was still plenty of light when we got back from the choir and I had another look round.

The Japanese azalea is showing its first flowers….

Japanese azalea

…as is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.

fuchsia

Late tulips are still doing well, including some that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick…

tulips

…and some slightly curly yellow ones which were the last to flower.

We have one or two Solomon’s Seals about and they have done well this year…

solomons seal

…and I am keeping a close eye on them (and the gooseberries) for any sign of sawfly.

I had time, while the stew was cooking, to mow the middle and front lawns and the drying green so the slow cooker failure did have an upside.

In the continued absence of any birds, he flower of the day is the clematis at the back door.

solomons seal

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was half way up Snowdon in Wales when he saw this view yesterday.  He says that the best thing about climbing Snowdon is that you can get a cup of tea at the top but the view is pretty good too.

Snowdon

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today with both more sun and more wind than yesterday.  It seems a long time now since we had any serious rain.

The garden is enjoying the weather and doesn’t seem to be needing rain yet though.  It is hard to beat a sight like this when I went out into the garden after breakfast.

apple blossom

It is apple blossom time.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s front beds don’t get the sunshine until a bit later but the mixed tulips were quite bright enough without any help.

tulip beds

I had intended to go for an early bike ride but I wasn’t feeling very perky, probably because my asthma was playing up a bit and definitely because the wind seemed to be very strong so I idled quite a bit of the morning away before I finally chased myself out of the house.

I was glad to be out.  It was a sparkling day and the wind blew me up the hill and made the start of my ride very easy.  Because of the stiff breeze, gusting at well over 25 mile an hour at times, I decided to use my valley bottom ‘outdoor gym’ and cycle 25 miles by repeating the four mile trip up to Cleughfoot and back three times.

The wind was so strong that I took more or less exactly the same amount of time to cycle up the hill as I did to cycle back down again and on the third iteration of the route, I set my fastest ever time for the three uphill miles from Pool Corner to Wauchope School.

I also stopped for photos, as my modest speed let me keep an eye for points of interest like these bright things on a conifer.

Spruce flower cones

Spruce flower cones

I couldn’t miss the gorse which is as good as I have ever seen it this year.

gorse

There were lambs bleating in every field.

lambs

And the blackthorn blossom at one point was sensational.

blackthorn

My favourite cascade on the Wauchope has been reduced to a mere trickle…

Wauchope cascade

…but this did let me appreciate just how bent the rocks beside it are.

bent rocks

Our peaceful countryside has been the subject of some powerful forces not so long ago.

I had another look at the apple blossom when I got back to see if there were any bees about.

bee on apple blossom

Good work.

The bird seed was going down at the usual speed.

redpoll, siskin and goldfinch

A redpoll looks rather disapprovingly at a goldfinch tucking in

Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping out with the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre so we had a late lunch when she got back and while she had a well deserved rest, I pottered around the garden, dead heading yet more daffodils and some of the early tulips.

I roused Mrs Tootlepedal and we drove down to the animal feed shop south of Longtown where I get my bird seed.  I bought a big bag of seed which I got free, courtesy of a generous bribe from BT in the form of a prepaid card which they gave me when I changed my internet supplier to them recently.   I may well repay them by changing to another supplier when my cheap first year runs out.

We stopped in Longtown on our way home and I took a quick walk along the river.  The bridge of many arches was looking good in the sunshine.

Longtown Bridge

In fact it was looking so good that I thought I might try taking three pictures and merging them using Photoshop, a technique I learned at the last Camera Club meeting.

This was the result.

Longtown Bridge 2017 photomerge

You can click on the picture for a larger view.  The technique works pretty well. I couldn’t see the joins.

The river looked inviting….

River Esk at Longtown

…so I strolled down the riverside path…

Longtown path

…and in the shelter of the trees, it was a beautifully warm day.

I was delighted to see an orange tip butterfly and even more delighted when it thoughtfully posed for me.

orange tip butterfly

A small tortoiseshell was not so obliging.

There were wild flowers on view as well.

nettle and silverweed

Some sort of dead nettle and the aptly named silver weed

umbellifera

Various umbellifera which I should be able to identify but can’t

Between the cycle ride, pottering about the garden and the riverside walk, I took far too many pictures today but the weather is due to be fine again for the next two days so I will have plenty of opportunity to take many more.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Archaeological Society meeting and I went to sing with the Langholm Community choir.  When I came out, there was a very beautiful sunset to round off an enjoyable day.  Luckily I didn’t have my camera with me as I think that the 80,000,000 pictures of lovely sunsets already on the internet are probably more than enough….but it was a particularly good one.

The title of the blog today refers both to the wind, which was hard to beat when I pedalled against it in the morning, the beautiful river views at Longtown in the afternoon which were looking as good as I have ever seen them and finally the speed at which our conductor in the evening took one of our pieces.  A beat that I found it was very hard to keep up with.

I didn’t have much time for flying birds today and this goldfinch, threading its way towards the feeder, was the best that I could do.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Sandra Waller, shows a good crowd at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation.  It is a 30 acre sculpture garden created by landscape architect and theorist Charles Jencks at his home, Portrack House, near Dumfries.  The reason for the crowd is that the garden is only open for one day in the whole year.  Sandra says it took her an hour to get out of the car park but the visit was still well worthwhile.

image001

I had little time this morning for speculation, cosmic or otherwise, before setting off straight after breakfast for a ride round my Canonbie route.  The reason for the prompt start was an appointment to eat some of Dropscone’s scones with a cup of coffee later in the morning.

The wind wasn’t very helpful, being across for much of the trip, so I only had time for two picture stops.

Canonbie trees

My favourite trio of trees are beginning to burst into leaf.

Irvine House

The river Esk at Irvine House looking very fresh and green

I got back within a a minute of the appointed time for coffee and enjoyed the subsequent scones a good deal, having worked up an appetite for them.  Dropscone was in good form after his two recent holidays and is already considering his next one.

When he left, bearing a gift of rhubarb, I took our car up to the garage to get the winter tyres taken off and the summer ones put on.  I hope that I have not been too optimistic about this but the forecast looks quite settled for the moment at least.

I dawdled my way home, visiting the chemist, my coffee bean supplier and the Welcome to Langholm office on the way so it was almost time for lunch when I got back.

I had a moment for a walk round the garden…

tulips

There are still plenty of tulips on the go

…and a look out of the window….

busy feeder

…and plenty of birds too

…before I had the last of the leek soup with some excellent Northumbrian cheese which we had bought in Alnwick.

After lunch, I got busy in the garden.  First I sawed and spilt some more of the cherry branches which Dropscone had pruned from the tree in his garden and given to us.  I bought a new blade for the bow saw yesterday and it made the task a lot less like hard work than using the old blunt blade.

Then I mowed the greenhouse grass, did a bit of dead heading and looked at the flowers again.  The plant with the most flowers on is a berberis and the one with the most elegant is an alpine clematis.

berberis and clematis

A loud buzzing drew my attention to our apple blossom and I was able to point out a tree bumblebee to Mrs Tootlepedal.

tree bumblebee

I have seen one before but this was the first that she has seen.  They are recent arrivals in Scotland.

In spite of the bee, I spent a little time with my soft paint brush being a bee myself as our apples have a lot of blossom and one bee is not enough.

I went inside for a refreshing cup of tea and had a look out of the window while I was there.

siskins

Siskins don’t let trying to eat get in the way of having a good row.

siskins

The perching redpoll of the day

It was such a nice afternoon that I was able to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal to come on a short cycle outing to see nuthatches and dippers.

On our way round the Scholars’ Field, we stopped to look first at wild flowers in the verge beside the path…

wild flowers

The plant on the right is ribwort or P. lanceolata which I learn from Wikipedia is used frequently in herbal teas and other herbal remedies. A tea from the leaves is used as a highly effective cough medicine. In the traditional Austrian medicine Plantago lanceolata leaves have been used internally (as syrup or tea) or externally (fresh leaves) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, insect bites, and infections.  It seems to be more useful than you would think from its modest appearance.

…..and then at a pretty yellow flower growing on the wall at the end of the pitch.

Corydalis aurea

It was new to Mrs Tootlepedal but some research when she got home showed that it was Corydalis aurea, another plant much used in herbal medicine.  After looking up the side effects, we have decided not to test it out.

When we got to the Jubilee Bridge, we did see a couple of nuthatches at their nest but only for a brief moment and the only shot I got was of one of them coming out of the nest and making off at speed.

nuthatch

We waited for a while but it didn’t return so we cycled off on a tour of the Castleholm and pheasant hatchery.

Pheasant hatchery

It was a very green experience.

We were well sheltered from any wind and although the sun was sulking, it was a lovely spring day to be out and about.

copper beech

A copper beech among the greens

Castleholm tree

A tree revealing exactly how tall local cows are.

There were wild flowers, fresh leaves and an azalea to enjoy as we pedalled along.

azalea, primrose and leaf

When we got to the Sawmill Brig, there was a dipper perched on a rock just below us but we were too much for it and it flew off up the river and did its dipping there, in plain view but annoyingly, too far away for a picture.

We watched it for a while and then cycled back home past the nuthatches (no show) and a very pretty  lesser stitchwort…

stitchwort

…and got back just in time for me to go and collect the car with its seasonal tyres properly adjusted.

The winter tyres have been very successful in a way because since I bought them, we have had two mild winters and I have never had to drive in snow or ice.  Obviously they have been well worth the money.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me some shy violets under one of our hedges.

violets

I curried the remains of the sausage and bean stew for my tea and spent a little time going over some of the many songs which I need to know for forthcoming concerts with two choirs.  I don’t know why people are so keen on concerts.  I would be happy just to go to the choirs for the sheer pleasure of singing.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, concentrating hard.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a day or two ago.  It seems like a very good place to visit at this time of year.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17

We had yet another dry and windy day today but it was a bit warmer than it has been and by the afternoon, it was very pleasant in the garden.

I couldn’t take advantage of the morning sunshine as I was on duty in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place, ready and willing to give out advice and information to any passing tourists.   In the absence of floods of visitors (there were four), I was entertained by Dropscone, who dropped in, and kept busy by Archive Group work when he went so the time passed agreeably.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home.  I had a look round and was very pleased to see an Aglais Io, better known as a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly

…the first of the year in the garden.

As I looked at the butterfly, a sparrow sang out from the rowan tree nearby.

singing sparrow

The trillium was fully out….

trillium

…and was looking very handsome.

The early tulips are beginning to go over but there are still some looking very good….

tulip

…and there is no doubt that a little sunshine goes well with a tulip.

After lunch, we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  We have bought a battery powered hedge trimmer and the new battery technology is very smart so the machine is quite light to use and the battery lasts well and charges quickly.  It made doing the job quite enjoyable.

road hedge

Before

road hedge

After – half an hour later

Unfortunately, there is an old fence in the middle of the hedge and it makes it impossible to trim it with knife edge creases but we like the informal air the wobbly edge gives the hedge….and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

While I was recovering from the hedge trimming, I wandered about aimlessly, greeting some old friends as I went along.

bright flowers

It was a lovely afternoon

The parrot tulips have come fully out…

parrot tulip

…but I am a bit disappointed with the results which were a bit messy.  Maybe the frosty mornings didn’t do them any favours.  They may develop so I will keep an eye on them.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s dark tulips from Alnwick have survived the frosts and winds well and are looking very striking.

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of weed out of the pond and we put the hose on to fill it up a bit but the tadpoles seem quite unaffected by the disturbance.

tadpoles

I was soon feeling perky again after my rest so I got the scarifying machine out and scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.  It didn’t have quite as much moss as I expected and the task was quite easy and soon completed.

The lawn looked very reasonable for this time of year…

middle lawn after scarifying

…but it didn’t take long for the wrecking crew to arrive and mess it up again.

jackdaws on lawn

I went in for another rest and while I was inside, I looked out of the kitchen window at the birds…

siskins

A pair of siskins looking each other in the eye

perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

Today’s perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

…and out of an upstairs window at the gardener at work planting poppies and cornflowers.

siskins

The daffodils are gone and we are in the time of tulips

The front lawn looked so inviting that when my flute pupil Luke rang to say that he couldn’t come for his lesson, I went out and scarified and mowed it as well.  This turned out to be much harder work than the middle lawn and it took a big effort to clear all the moss off it.

As a result, I didn’t have long for my tea before it was time to go out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We played our way through all or part of six sonatas and felt that we had done very well by the time that we had finished.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….

chaffinch

…and I don’t suppose that you thought that I could walk past the anemone on such a cheerful day without stopping for a glance.  You were right, I couldn’t.

anemone

Hand painted by mother nature.

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Today’s guest picture shows Sandend harbour in Banff, on the north east coast of Scotland.  Gavin passed it on a walk today as he is on holiday up there.

banff harbour

We had another dry day here today, although one or two spots of rain did fall in a half hearted way in the afternoon.

After breakfast I had to frame a couple of wild goat pictures for a Moorland Exhibition in the Welcome to Langholm Centre in May and then I had a walk round the garden.

in spite of the frosty weather earlier in the week, many tulips have done very well and even some of the Ballerinas have survived….

tulips

…and more tulips are arriving every day.

tulips

The tulips that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick have survived the journey home and the cold and are looking very healthy.  Here are three of them.

tulips

I couldn’t pass the anemone by without taking a picture….

anemone

…because they are delicate flowers and it might be gone if there is a heavy shower of rain.

Although progress is slow because of the recent chilly mornings, new flowers are arriving.

Solomon's seal and lithospermum

Solomon’s Seal and Lithospermum

I was very impressed by the volubility of a blackbird as I went down the drive in front  of the house.

blackbird

I didn’t have long to look around though because I was delighted to leave the garden to partake of some treacle scones brought round by Dropscone to go with our first cup of coffee for a while.  Dropscone followed his trip to Skye with a golfing break so he has hardly seen his home for a fortnight.

He hasn’t lost his scone skills though.

After he left, I had to go to the health centre for a routine check but i had time to check on the perching redpolls first.

redpoll

After lunch I went off for a cycle ride.   The wind had dropped considerably from recent days and had moved round from the north so it was both quite a bit milder and much more helpful as I cycled back to Langholm from Canonbie.    I concentrated so hard on the pedalling that i forgot to take any pictures at all.

When I got home, I took my framed pictures up to the town and helped hang them on the wall beside some offerings from the local art club.

goat pictures in WtL

The Moorland Exhibition has been well publicised so I hope that they get plenty of visitors.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable time playing as always.  On a sobering note though, we put a metronome on as I felt that we were slightly rushing a slow movement in one of the pieces. ‘ Slightly rushing’ turned out to be an understatement as were well ahead of the pace after only four bars.  We shall have to learn to apply the brakes.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, looking a bit shifty I thought.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who visited  Dulwich Park opposite the Dulwich Art Gallery in South London today.  It is an oasis of peace in a busy world.

Dulwich Park, opposite the Picture Gallery

We had another chilly morning followed by another dry day with a north wind.  More tulips fell under the heavy hand of the cold but some survived…

tulips

…and new tulips have come to join them.

tulip

I killed a bit of time while I was waiting for the thermometer to rise to 7°C by looking at sitting birds in the sunshine from an upstairs window.

goldfinch

siskins

… and when the temperature finally got there, I went off on the fairly speedy bike to test how strong the north wind was.   It was brisk but tolerable and blew me down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass at a very satisfying rate of knots.

Of course the  return journey, uphill and into the wind, wasn’t quite so carefree but it was far from being just a slog and I enjoyed my ride a lot.  I only stopped once, on the bridge at The Hollows, to show the gradual greening of the landscape.

River Esk at Hollows

Downstream

River Esk at Hollows

Upstream

The river level is very low, a testament to the dry spell that we have had lately.  A couple of warm wet days wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden and after a shower, a quick lunch and a look out of the kitchen window….

redpolls

More redpolls seem to appear every day.

…I joined her.  I employed myself as usefully as I could by doing some dead heading of daffodils, which have suffered from the cold and are getting to the end of their lives anyway, some sieving of compost, which is needed for planting out the early vegetables, and mowing the middle lawn, which wasn’t really needed because of the chilly weather but I like mowing lawns.

And of course, I looked at flowers.

It was surprising to me how some flowers seemed untouched by the cold mornings.  This lamium is thriving….

lamium

…and a new anemone came out today…

anemone

…and the curious tulips seem unaffected by the frosts….

tulip

…though it might be a bit hard to tell.

We are getting very excited by a trillium which should be open soon.

I was pleased to see a bee or two about….

marsh marigold with bee

This one was on a marsh marigold in the pond

…because fruit flowers will need all the attention that they can get.

gooseberry and blackcurrant

The gooseberry has a wasp at work and the blackcurrant is producing flowers in spite of a bad attack of ‘big bud’

apples

The espalier apples are starting to flower

The cold weather has held plants back a bit but there are hopeful signs.

lupin

The lupins are looking healthy.

I spent some time trying to catch more sitting birds to please Mrs Tootlepedal who finds constant flying birds rather fidgety.  The next two pictures were taken with my Lumix while I was outside int he garden which is most unusual for me.  The birds were sitting on the feeders very calmly as I approached.

redpoll

siskins and goldfinch

When I went in, I looked out again.

redpoll

It was a redpoll heavy day today.

I put in a bit of time preparing an MP3 file of a tenor part for one of our Carlisle songs to send to a fellow singer.  It is a tricky number and there are fears that the conductor might try to make us learn it so a practice aid will be helpful.

I noticed a blackbird outside as I came through into the kitchen after emailing the music file.

blackbird

By now, it was time for tea and I cooked myself a nourishing corn beef hash with added onions and mushrooms and fortified by this, I then went off to sing with our Langholm choir.

 

It was one of those evenings when the songs we sang were songs that by and large I could sing and the three tenors in the choir were in good humour and sang well together as a team so that by the time the two hours were up, I was on a musical high and came home in a very cheery mood indeed.  Singing is wonderful when it is going well.

The flying bird of the day is looming more than flying.

flying chaffinch

Note:  A helpful correspondent pointed out that yesterday’s post came without a comments facility.  I don’t know how that happened and I will try to make sure that there is one today.  If there isn’t, I apologise.

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Today’s guest picture shows another fine waterfall seen by Dropscone on his holiday in Skye.

Skye waterfall

We had the second bright but slightly chilly day in a row and once again, musical activity got in the way of cycling.

I did get out for a morning ride but only after I had put a lamb stew into the slow cooker and time limited by the need to be back in time to go to choir in the afternoon.   I nipped round my standard 20 miles down to Canonbie and back and, as it was London Marathon day, I was pleased that I had managed to go a little bit faster than the elite runners even if I didn’t go quite as far.

I didn’t take my camera but got it out as soon as I got home to celebrate the brilliance of the tulips which were enjoying the sunshine in the garden.

tulips

tulips

tulips

tulips

I think that they were at their best today and as we have a week of chilly weather with north winds to come, I may not see them as generously open again for some time.

tulips

tulips

My favourite tulip of the moment is the Ballerina…..

ballerina tulip

…and they looked so good today that Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to buy some more and plant them out for next year.  I am in favour of that.

The tulips rather overshadowed the other flowers but this little pulsatilla did its best to get into the act.

pulsatilla

I filled the feeders when I got back from my ride and after lunch, I took a moment to watch the birds before we went off to Carlisle.

We have a steady supply of redpolls at the moment.

redpolls

This one stared rather haughtily at me when I took its picture but soon went back to eating

redpolls

They had an active day

siskins

As did the siskins

The feeders are always busy at the moment and my supply of seed is disappearing in double quick time.

busy feeder

Representatives of our present customer base, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin and redpoll

The choir rehearsal started badly, as our conductor and our accompanist were delayed on the train again.  The Sunday service from Glasgow is most unreliable.  However, they made up for lost time when they did arrive and we had an extremely brisk practice with a little extra time added on to the end.

We are working on a new modern song and it is one of those, as Mrs Tootlepedal remarked, where if you get to sing a note which is actually on the beat, it comes as a blessed relief.

Because of the extra time taken at the practice, we didn’t stop to take photographic advantage of the sunny evening as we went home but bustled on as quickly as we could and settled down to enjoy the lamb stew from the slow cooker when we got back.

While the potatoes were cooking, I watched some of my lawn care assistants at work on the middle lawn.

jackdaws

There should be no moss left at all soon, thanks to the jackdaws

I have still got a few miles to do on my bike if I am to keep up to my schedule for the month so I am hoping that there are a few kind days left in April.  This month is traditionally supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb but having seen the forecast for next week, I don’t think that this will be a traditional month at all.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for a few calm moments.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch in the best of the sun.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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