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Posts Tagged ‘tulips’

Today’s guest picture is a triumph of patient gardening.  Mike and Alison Tinker have been tending a kowhai plant (a New Zealand native) for twelve years and this year it has finally flowered.  Alison took the picture and Mike sent it to me.

kowhai flower

I leapt out of bed, had breakfast, dashed on my cycling gear….and then footered a couple of hours away in drinking coffee, reading the newspapers and doing the crossword.  It was a perfect day for cycling and I can only put my reluctance to get going down to mental feebleness brought on by a combination of various aches and pains and possibly Brexit.  Brexit has been blamed for everything else so it might as well take the blame for my idleness too.

But I did get going in the end and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  The first bit of the ride, with more downhill than up and with the wind mostly behind me, was a treat and I soon found myself in England, in the shelter of the motorway banking, eating a sandwich and a banana after twenty miles and an hour and a half of pedalling.

M6 at gretna

There are still not many wild flowers about but there were dandelions along the the whole route.  At one point I saw a good crop of Danish Scurvy Grass beside the motorway and near Longtown, I met a nettle just about to flower fully.

dandelion, scurvy grass and nettle

In order to keep my foot happy, I stuck to flat roads and tried not to press too heavily on the pedals.  This last was quite easy to achieve with the wind behind me but when I turned east and passed a fine pine tree, it was harder as the wind was not negligible and my speed dropped.

tree near todhills

I won’t complain though because it was genuinely warm by then and pottering along was no hardship.  To avoid going as far as the busy main road into Longtown, I turned on to a track which is part of National Cycle Route 7.  These routes often have artistic trail markers.

bike route sculpture post

This particular track follows an old railway line and takes you across the river Lyne by way of a new bridge on old piers.

railway track on NR 7

It is a very peaceful place and the track is well maintained.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride the old railway all the way back into Langholm as the chance to turn it into a cycle way was lost after the line was closed and many bridges and viaducts have been knocked down.

Back on the roads again, I crossed this small bridge…

bridge near arthuret

…near the fine church at Arthuret.

arthuret church

I took the main road out of Longtown as it has recently been resurfaced and it is always fun to ride on a smooth surface for a change.  Sadly, the new surface has been done using a method that ensures that it will become very bumpy again for cyclists in the not too distant future.  Ah well, I will enjoy it while I can.

Somewhere along the road between Longtown and Canonbie, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a carpet of bluebells under some trees.

bluebells

This seems to be early for bluebells and is a week before they have appeared on the blog before and a fortnight before the usual time.  Still, they are very welcome as they are sign that spring is really springing.

On a stretch of the old A7 north of Canonbie, there were several butterflies warming their wings on the road and fluttering away as I got near them.  I stopped and one of them obligingly flew back and perched on a dandelion.  As I was getting back on my bike, I noticed a bonus ladybird crawling up a wall.

peacock butterfly and lady bird

My legs were a bit rusty but by stopping regularly for a stretch and a rest, I manged to cajole them into taking me round just under 44 miles.  As this was the furthest I have been since the 22 February, I regard it as very satisfactory distance.  Tomorrow will tell me what my foot thinks about it but I am optimistic.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a busy day indoors.

The warmth had brought a new tulip out….

new tulip

…caused others to open wide….

three tulips

…and encouraged the trout lilies to lift up their skirts and dance.

trout lilies

A striking dark red pulsatilla had also emerged.  I liked it a lot….

red pulsatilla

…as did a bumble bee.

pulsatilla with bee

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and when Mrs Tootlepdal went back to work, I watched the birds for a while.

Redpolls returned to the feeder…

redpoll in sun

…and one took a very dim view of the  loutish behaviour of a chaffinch.

chaffinch about to stamp

Strangely, I felt a bit tired so the rest of the day faded away into quietness, interrupted by giving Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with her project and then eating a tasty meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: The curious might want to know what Mrs Tootlepedal was so busy at during the day.

She has finally finished turning this…

old rocking horse

…into this.

new rocking horse

We are thinking of entering it in the Derby.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s expedition to Wales.  Having left Chester, he headed for Anglesey but found Snowdon in his way….so he walked up it.

snowdon

I wasn’t very happy with the colour that my pocket camera found in the lithodora’s blue flower or in the mystic Van Eijk pink tulips so I took my Nikon out today and shot them in RAW to stop the camera’s software making decisions that I didn’t agree with.  I think that the results are more true to what the eye sees.

raw lithodora

mystic Van Eijk poppies in sun

And while I was there, I took the real Van Eijks….

Van Eijk poppies in bed

…some very pale grape hyacinths…

pale grape hyacinths

…and a stream of standard blue ones.

row of grape hyacinths

The main business of the morning though was not footling about with cameras, but putting in the second of the two new veg beds.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes to have things right so this involved not just digging and shifting soil, but using gardener’s string and a spirit level too.

After the bed was levelled and settled, I left her to sort out the soil and mowed the middle lawn.  This involved stamping on a lot of moss but there was enough grass growing there to fill the lawn mower’s collecting box.

Mrs Tootlepedal called me over when I had finished as she had come across something unusual.  It was very green.

green caterpillar

I am not at all knowledgeable about caterpillars but some research says that this might be an angle shade caterpillar.  I would be happy if a reader can put me right.

I went in to make some potato and onion soup for lunch and had a look at the birds while it was cooking.

goldfinches on feeder

The plum tree is making a very picturesque background for birds waiting to visit the feeder.

two chaffinch with plum blossom

After lunch, I inspected the tulips.  It had been a sunny morning, although it hadn’t felt very warm because of a chilly east wind, and the sun had been enough to open a few petals.

pale yellow poppy heart

yellow poppy heartred poppy heart

I deadheaded the first of the daffodils to go over.  This was the first of many dead heading activities to come.  It is a bit tedious but it keeps the garden looking neat and it encourages the daffodils to come again.

I checked out the veg beds.  They are both the same size although the camera angle makes one look a lot shorter. Mrs Tootlepedal likes the slightly wider paths between the beds that the new layout had created.  The wire netting covering is to protect the soil from cats.

two veg beds

I will have to sieve more compost as there has been quite a lot used lately.

I had time to spot a dunnock lurking in the shadows below the feeder…

dunnock in shadow

…before I got my bike out and went for a pedal.

It was a lovely day as far as the sun went….

Wauchope valley tree

…but the wind was hard work when I was pedalling back into it so I was pleased to stop and admire a couple of oyster catchers on a wall at Bigholms.

oyster catchers on wall

When I looked across the wall, I could see the windfarm on the horizon and I reckoned that this must have been an ideal day for ‘green’ energy with the combination of bright sun and a stiff breeze.

view of windfarm

Now they need to get busy on working out the best way to store it so we can have some to hand when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

I had enough personal energy left to cycle through the town when I got back to it and go a couple of miles out along the road north.  I was very surprised by the colour of the soil in this field beside the Ewes Water.

ewes valley field

You can see the edge of the field in the bottom of the picture that I took looking up the valley.

Ewes valley April

I managed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s trip and got home after 16 miles.  If the weather permits, I will try to add two miles to my journey every time that I go out for the next few days until I have got back some of the fitness that I lost in an almost cycle free March.

I am taking things steadily as my foot is still tender but the gel insoles for my shoes have been very successful and I would like to thank those who advised me to get them.  I haven’t tried a walk of any length since I got them, but the ordinary walking round the house and garden is very satisfactory and limp free.

The slow cooked lamb stew made its third and final mealtime appearance tonight, this time in the form of a light curry with rice.

The dry cool weather with sunny periods seems set to last for a good few days so I hope to be able to continue to get out and about (as long as my foot continues to be co-operative).

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from another inveterate traveller.  My Somerset correspondent Venetia has been eyeing up some tasty chocolates in Toulouse.

toulouse chocs

It was a day that would have been familiar to fans of Waiting for Godot….except that in this version, Godot finally turned up.

While I was waiting for the call from the bike shop to come, a perfectly wonderful day of sunny weather with light winds was just begging for some bicycling.  The garden offered consolations and I sieved some compost and chatted away while Mrs Tootlepedal worked at some of the many tasks a gardener faces in spring.  We also tested the new bench again.

There was a lot of colour about in the sunshine.

New on the scene was this anemone….

anemone

…and the first of the azalea flowers to open.

azalea

There was a colourful corner, entirely of tulips with a hint of grape hyacinth in the background…

colourful corner tulips

…and some individual flowers to admire as well.

tulip

Particularly this one.

tulip

The spirea is at is best.

spirea

And on the back wall of the house beside the dam, the first potentilla flower of the year was to be seen.  I expect to still be able to see potentilla flowers in autumn.

potentilla

More unusually, I found our neighbour Charlotte’s dog cooling its heels in the dam.

kenny's dog in dam

Charlotte was sitting in the sun nearby but resisted the temptation to jump in too.

There was fauna as well as flora.

A rook flew overhead…

rook

…a bee buzzed about…

bee

… a baby blackbird looked indignant (they always look indignant).

baby blackbird

…and a frog basked in the pond…

frog

…with what looks like a tadpole hanging from its lip.

The most interesting visitor to the garden though was human.  Our friend Bruce arrived on his electric bike…

bruce

…with news that he had not only heard a cuckoo on his bike ride but seen it as well.  Seeing a cuckoo is a very rare experience so he was quite excited.  His electric bicycle looked very exciting too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a sparrowhawk collecting its breakfast from the feeder early in the morning and while we were eating our lunch, presumably the same sparrowhawk returned for another meal….

sparrowhawk

…but this time in vain.

After sitting in the tree for a while, it suddenly flew to the ground and started prowling about among the flowers.

sparrowhawk

I have never seen this behaviour before but I suspected that it was after one of the baby blackbirds which tend to lurk in the undergrowth there so I went out and shooed the hawk away.

It went reluctantly, circling round the garden for several minutes getting higher on each turn before it flew off.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting and I killed a little time until the phone finally rang and I drove off to collect my new bike from the bike shop in Longtown.

Levi at the bike shop fitted the pedals of my choice, I paid him a king’s ransom and then, putting the slow bike in for a service at the same time, I drove home with my prize.

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back from her meeting shortly afterwards and got her bike out and came with me for an inaugural ride up to Wauchope Schoolhouse.  Then she returned and floated back downhill and downwind to Wauchope Cottage while I completed the twenty miles of my usual Canonbie circuit.

She took this picture before we set out.

new bike

The bike may not look much but it has sealed bearings, a belt drive, a 14 speed internal hub gear, mudguards and a rack so it is dirt proof and needs no day to day maintenance at all and is in every way suited to the needs of an elderly cycle tourist.  I say nothing about the state of the cyclist.

It was still a beautiful day, although the clouds were beginning to build up….

Cloudscape

…and as a day to test a new bike, it couldn’t have been better.

I kept an ear out for Bruce’s cuckoo as I went across the hill but there was no sight or sound of it and I had to be content with seeing both  a fox and a hare crossing the road in front of me (but not at the same time).

The sight of a rain shower developing to the south made me keep pedalling rather than stopping for photo opportunities though and the new bike couldn’t have been more co-operative.  It is light, firm and comfortable with the feeling that every bit of power that I was putting through the pedals was being put to good use on the road.

The 14 speed hub gear has a ratio for every occasion and I was able to drift up any little hills with an ease and grace far removed from the inelegant puffing occasioned by striving to get the slow bike up any incline.

For those with a motoring interest, it was like driving a Lotus 7 (but quite a bit slower).

I did force myself to stop a couple of times, the first to note the leaves arriving on my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead…

trees at Grainstone head

…and the second to pay tribute to fine bunch of primroses at Irvine House.

primroses

I arrived home having done 17 miles at 15 mph, a very satisfactory speed for me these days and on a real high.  I had been worried that I might have found the new bike not to my taste and would have regretted the money invested but it turned out that Levi had been quite right when I first visited him after my old bike needed replacing.  He said then that he had just the bike for me in mind and it turned out that he was quite right.

Now I hope for some good weather and the chance to give it a real workout.

The flying bird of the day is the sparrowhawk as it circled above the garden after I had disturbed it.

_DSC4008

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows an old bridge with more arches than water.  It came from my brother Andrew.  He tells me that it is the Segovia bridge in Madrid, over the river Manzanares. Completed in 1584, it is the oldest bridge in the city – the architect was ‎Juan de Herrera

bridge

The over night rain had stopped by the morning and I was able to get out for a standard twenty mile pedal down to Canonbie and back.  I hope that this will be the last on my slow bike for some time.

I wasn’t going to stop but my legs had other ideas so you can thank them for this view of bluebells in a roadside wood…

bluebells

…and the first look at some wild geums and a marigold which was playing host to a lot of insects.

geum and marigold

I had a choice between a chilly early start and a warmer windier later one and chose the windier option which resulted in a very slow bike ride indeed.  Still, I was pleased to get again as it meant that my hand is not suffering because of cycling.  I don’t know what set it off last week but I hope that it doesn’t do it again.

When I got home, I found that our friends Bob and Nancy were helping to reduce Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure mountain by taking some of it away to their allotment.  That is what friends are for.

I went upstairs and looked out of the window.

front lawn may

The daffodils have almost disappeared and we are relying on tulips for colour until the azaleas and alliums come out.

middle lawn may

I took this picture of the veg garden before cycling.  It is looking well organised.

veg garden may

More is getting planted out in it every day.

The tulips are holding up well…

tulips

…though the very earliest to come out are now over.

Other things are coming along nicely.

lilac and solomons seal

It is nearly lilac blossom time.

Some flowers are so small that the camera finds it hard to pick them out.  This is berberis and rosemary.

small flowers

There was plenty of evidence of yesterday’s rain.

P1090843

I had a few moments to watch the birds.  This sunny moment was before breakfast.

GOLDFINCHES

After my cycling, siskins arrived in force.

flying siskin

busy feeder

I had to refill the feeder before we went to Edinburgh.

After lunch, we set off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It rained on us as we drove across but the sun shone for our train journey and our stay in the city.

Matilda was in good form and came out to play in the garden.  Alistair had mowed the pocket handkerchief sized lawn just as we arrived and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to smarten up the edges while I played with Matilda and her mother Clare and snipped away at protruding meadow grasses with some shears.  Both the gardening and the playing were most enjoyable in the warm sunshine and we looked back down on the lawn as we went in for tea with some satisfaction.

Al's lawn

Apart from Matilda being offended when I remarked that she was a small person  (“I am not small.  I am four!”), the visit went well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked back to Waverley Station in beautiful early evening sunshine.

Arthurs seat

I hadn’t noticed before that the architect of the Scottish parliament building had intentionally or unintentionally echoed the line of the Salisbury Crags with his roof.

salisbury crag and parliament

Mrs Tootlepedal’s wildlife detector was working well and she spotted this rabbit in the gardens beside the road.

edinburgh rabbit

I like the way that this old churchyard has survived in a valuable piece of real estate…

Edinburgh graveyard

…but as in all the cities we visit, the cranes were very busy.  These ones were a few yards up the road.

Edinburgh cranes

Our journey home was smooth and uneventful and as a mark of the passing of the months, we got home in the remains of daylight for the first time this year.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew’s visit to Spain shows the cathedral at Santiago.  It seems to defy the laws of gravity a bit but that might be lens distortion.

Santiago cathedral

We had the promised lovely day today, with light winds, gentle sunshine and genuine warmth, ten degrees C above the seasonal average.

I laid aside thoughts of the new bike and slight worries about a sore hand and got the slow bike out for the first time this month and went off for a pedal.

I waved good bye to the  poppies tulips in the garden as I left.

tulips

It really was a perfect day for cycling….

Skippers Bridge

…as I crossed the Skippers Bridge and headed for England.  As it was a bank holiday and lorries were few and far between, I cycled south on main roads until I got to Gretna.  Dandelions decorated the verges in great numbers.

dandelions

I didn’t see many other wild flowers as I went towards Carlisle’s northern by-pass which has a fine cycle path beside it but this ‘bluebell and pinkbell’ combination near Hespin Woods caught my eye.

bluebells

The day was so ideal for cycling and my hand was giving me so little bother that I continued along the southern shore of the Solway until I came to this splendid place…

Drovers Rest

…where I stopped for an early lunch of egg and chips, my staple cycling diet. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to sample their many fine cask ales and had a cup of coffee instead.

Leaving the pub, I turned inland on a road new to me and was very surprised to see this old windmill tower, now converted into a private house.

Monks hill windmill

The name of the road, Vallum Close, reminded me that I was cycling across the line of Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle to the coast.

I head back round the by-pass and then meandered up the delightful back roads of North Cumbria…

Cumbrian back road

..until I came to a bike path, described by a local author as the narrowest bike path he had ever seen.  I hadn’t used this track for some time and didn’t think of it as narrow but when I got onto it, I saw what he meant.

Cycle track 7

The path runs along the route of the old Carlisle to Longtown railway for a miles or two and enables a cyclist to cross the river Lyne in peace and quiet.

River Lyne

The views from the bridge

A new bridge has been constructed on the piers of the old railway bridge.

River Lyne

In a perfect world, the whole of the old railway trackbed would have been preserved for cyclists but that would have required good sense and forethought, never qualities readily associated with the Ministry of Transport.

Still, leaving the railway took me past Arthuret Church…

Arthuret Church

…one of my favourite buildings so I shouldn’t complain.  The view across the road from the church could hardly offer more of a contrast  between the ancient and the modern.

Arthuret Church

There is a fine copper beech  opposite the church.

P1090760

During the ride, I made  regular stops to make sure that I was keeping my hydration well topped up and to take in a little snack or two and I enjoyed this pastoral scene not far north of Longtown.

Near Kirkandrews on Esk

Nearby two trees seemed rather oddly shaped.

P1090764

Had a blot of lightning passed between them, I wondered or perhaps they had been deliberately trimmed to provide a view for a local bigwig.

Although dandelions were the pervasive wild flower of the day, other flowers were available if I happened to be going slow enough to notice them.

wild flowers canonbie

I passed a good number of butterflies including orange tips and peacocks but they were too nippy for me to record them.

Trees were easier to catch.

These were beside the bike path as it meets the A7 just south of Langholm.

conifers A7

conifers A7

When I got home after 52 miles of unalloyed pleasure, I was welcomed by the tulips with open petals.

tulips

It is not often that I am grateful for a little wind that is not helping me from behind but the light cross wind on the way home kept me just cool enough to be comfortable.  On the few occasions when it was straight behind me, it was too hot for pleasant pedalling.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the garden the whole time that I was out  so I was moved to scarify  and mow the middle lawn to show willing…

scarified lawn

It turned out well.  It was just a light scarifying.

…before we sat down to a cup of tea on our new bench.  Mrs Tootlepedal brought the tea out on a seasonally correct tea tray.

Tea tray

While we were sipping and chatting, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that my new helmet was well co-ordinated as  far as colour went with the tulips  across the lawn.

tulips and helmet

She also remarked that she was pleased with combination of tall orange tulips with the small darker red ones on the end bed.

tulips

She wished that time would freeze so that she could enjoy the warmth, the colour and sense of order in the garden for many weeks.

On the other hand, I am pleased that time progresses, though I wouldn’t mind keeping the heat for a bit longer, otherwise I would never get to eat the apples that should follow from this first apple blossom of the year.

apple blossom

The day was rounded off by a little music when Luke came for his lesson, which went well.

Following our evening meal, we both felt inexplicably tired and we didn’t go back out into the garden.

In the midst of all this activity, very few birds came to the feeder today so there is no flying bird of the day  and I have had to make do with an indifferent shot of a pair of floating  ducks on the pond at Longtown.

ducks

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the bike ride.

garmin route 7 may 2108

It was a lot hotter than that by the time that I finished and the wind was coming up the Solway Firth from the west not the south.

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Today’s guest picture shows that Mary Jo has not been wasting her entire time in London going to concerts and seeing the sights.  She has looked at interesting things as well.

Mary Jo's moss

We had another grey, cold and windy day today.  To be fair, it has been pretty dry recently and if it hadn’t been for the very chilly wind, we would probably have been celebrating a good spell of weather.

I went up to the Moorland bird hide after breakfast to fill the feeders for Sandy who is still on holiday in the sun and it was so cold that even sitting in the protection of the hide was not much fun.

There weren’t that many birds to take my mind off the chill either.

blackbirds

Different blackbirds were in evidence

robin, tit and siskin

And a shy robin, a bold great tit and a tiny siskin

unknown bird

And this bird, unknown to me, which stopped for a very brief moment.  I welcome identification from knowledgeable readers.  It might be a chiffchaff.

woodpecker

A woodpecker was very busy flitting between trees and feeders…

woodpecker

…until it finally came near to me and made sure that I got its good side.

As I say, I didn’t stop long and was pleased to get back to the town and get a  little shelter from the cruel wind.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden of course so I lent a little hand here and there and wandered around as well.

New flowers are coming out, some from the soil ….

tulips

….and some from handy boxes bought from a garden centre to temporarily fill a bare patch in a bed.

pansies

Amazingly, there are still one or two daffodils waiting for the moment to burst into flower…

unopened daffodil May

…while others, like these daffodils of the day, are nearing the end of the road.

daffodil

Dozens and dozens of daffodils have been dead headed already.

There is almost always something to see.  Today it was a pulsatilla, the first of many I hope….

pulsatilla

…with some pretty ferns unfolding in the back border….

fern

..near the first Solomon’s seal of the year…

solomon's seal

…and on the other side of the garden, a fuzzy willow bud, defying the cameramen to take a sharp picture.

willow bud

And if there are no bees about, there is usually a fly on the euphorbia,

fly on euphorbia

If you get really fed up with the chilly wind, you can get your camera to take silly pictures…

tulip picture

…and go inside for a cup of coffee.

tulip picture

Once inside, you can look out of the window and see that the goldfinches have taken over the feeder…

goldfinches

…with such total domination that you can see a chaffinch banging its head against the pole in frustration in the picture above.

A pigeon cast a beady eye on proceedings from the plum tree.

pigeon

When I went out to tell Mrs Tootlepedal that coffee was ready, a blackbird demanded to have its picture taken.

blackbird

We were rather alarmed to see a man up the telephone pole behind the house as the last time that this happened, he accidentally disconnected our internet.  All was well today though as you can tell from the fact that this post has been posted.

After lunch, we went off to see Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh and had a constructive afternoon making scones, getting nails painted (some of us), playing a very non competitive form of snap and some Pelmanism.

We had a delightful evening meal and tested the scones (very good) before we walked up to the station to catch the train home.  Slightly unnervingly, both the up and down trains were precisely on time.

Mercifully, the forecast says it is going to get warmer over the next few days and as my thumb is now nearly cured and my new bike should appear either tomorrow or Saturday, things are really looking up.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches, losing a bit of seed in its anxiety to shout abuse at a friend.

goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who appears to be spending May Day in Madrid.  He visited El Parque de Buen Retiro where he admired the colossal statue of Alfonse XIII, best viewed from across the boating lake.

8 of 96 El Parque de Buen Retiro

After putting on a good show for the visit of Mary Jo yesterday, the local weather gods fell back exhausted today and we reverted to mostly grey skies, a very cold wind and rain later. It didn’t matter all that much to me but Mrs Tootlepedal has got very fed with gardening in the cold.

She had woken up early and done quite a bit of good work in the garden before breakfast and then after breakfast, she decided to drive to the council dump, 18 miles away to get rid of the old vegetable bed boards, the old bench and sundry other items.

I had woken up with a very tender and arthritic thumb with a considerably swollen right hand so my plan was to let Mrs Tootlepedal do any work that was going and to try to rest the hand as much as possible.  While she went off to the dump, I took a  very gentle walk with my pocket camera clasped in my left hand.  Even with the light camera, taking pictures was not easy.

I had hoped that the bluebells might be out so I walked along the river past great banks of wild garlic, just about to burst into flower….

wild garlic

…and a lot of golden saxifrage and the occasional bluebell…

golden saxifrage and bluebell

…but it has been too cold and not sunny enough so when I got to my preferred bluebell spot, only a few were showing and the path up through the woods was still waiting for the blue carpet to be rolled out.

early bluebells

I walked up the path all the same and enjoyed what there was to be seen along the top.

hawthorn

Views over the town are disappearing behind fresh leaves.

leaves on Stubholm

leaves on Stubholm

When I got to the Stubholm, I continued along Gaskell’s Walk with just a hint in the blue sky above Meikleholm Hill to cheer the day up.

Meikleholm hill in spring

The path through the young birches was at its most magical.

gaskells in spring

There were a lot of grasses coming into flower along the path.

grass

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I stopped to look at the permanent little lichen forest that grows on the fence post beside the bridge.  At only a little over an inch high, it stubbornly resists rain, snow, hail, wind and the road of passing traffic.

lichen at auld stane brig

Further along the road some of the hedge was full of different lichens.

lichenA lone butterbur was in flower beside the Wauchope Water…

butterbur

…and on the wall at Pool Corner there was enough heat under the shelter for the slow worms to have come out.

slow worm

They like to snooze in a heap.

slow worm

When I got back to the garden, i was welcomed by the magnolia at the gate and Mrs Tootlepedal who had got back from her visit to the dump…

magnolia garden from gate

…and she, with a little help from me, gave the car a good clean up, even going as far as getting the vacuum cleaner on to the job.

The nearby tulips caught my eye…

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..and I went off to look at some more.

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I couldn’t hold the big camera up or get the tripod into position so there are no bird feeder pictures today.  I did take a picture of the chimney pot underneath the feeder though….

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…before going indoors.

That concluded my activity for the day and I spent the rest of the day sitting down reading the papers or working at the computer, typing carefully with gentle fingers and holding the mouse in the loosest possible grip.

As it started to rain heavily, this was no great hardship.

I did take one more picture of some flowers in a vase on the kitchen table with Mrs Tootlepedal kindly holding up one of her scarves to make a background.

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The quiet day certainly did my swollen hand no harm and I may need to look after it again tomorrow as I have learned that my new bike might be ready for collection on Friday and I shall want to be in as good condition as possible for a test ride.

There being no flying bird of the day, I have put in standing still and swimming ducks of the day instead, shot in a sunny moment on my walk.

mallards

Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture of an old man she saw at the blogging computer in our front room yesterday.   I don’t know who he is.  He looks much older than me.

blogger

 

 

 

 

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