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Posts Tagged ‘tulips’

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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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows Mr Grumpy’s London cousin trying (successfully) to outdo a work of art in the background in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park. Mr G's cousin trying to compete with artistic installation

There were touches of frost to be seen when I got up.  However, it was cheerfully sunny and the day got warmer as it went on.  It might have been a good day for cycling but I had arranged to go with my recorder playing friend Sue to a “playing day” organised by the Roxburgh branch of the Society of Recorder players in Denholm, about 30 miles north of Langholm.

Sue arrived very promptly after breakfast and kindly offered to do the driving, an offer which I was glad to accept as I have done enough driving lately.

The playing was conducted by Helen Hooker, an accomplished player, teacher and conductor and she provided us with an excellent selection of music from Schmeltzer to Moon River by way of Bach and Steve Marshall.  As well as providing good music, Helen offered us some very sound advice as how to play the pieces which, as far as I possibly could, I followed.

Both Sue and I enjoyed the playing and we took advantage of the fine weather to go for a walk along the River Teviot during the lunch break.

It is very useful for me to have a keen wild flower enthusiast to walk ahead of me and spot the wild flowers.

Sue

She goes to wild flower courses and knows what she is talking about.

I am sure that I saw many more flowers today than I would have done if I had been walking by myself.

Here is a selection of what we passed.

wildflowers

Pretty little flowers

wildflowers

Bigger showy ones

dead nettle

Fantastically furry ones

wildflower

Some were under development

There were some mysteries.

dandelion and yellow flower

At first we thought the flower on the left in the panel above was just another dandelion but a closer look showed that it clearly wasn’t.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it might be a garden escape.  The dandelions were in great form.

The most mysterious plant of the day was one that covered a woodland floor at one point.  I took several pictures of it.

white flower

The flower stalks were triangular and tall so that the flower heads bent over.  There seemed to be several flowers in turn on each stalk, leaving behind the shiny yellow spheres which you can see in the bottom right panel.  The foliage in the bottom left panel is from another plant.

I would be more than happy to have my store of information increased by any knowledgeable reader who recognises this flower.

As well as flowers, we were able to watch a pair of goosanders scoot up stream under the eagle eye of a buzzard…..

P1110407

…while we sat on a bench and ate our packed lunches.  There were oyster catchers heckling the buzzard and delightful views as well…

River Teviot

…so the time passed quickly and we had to return to the village hall at a brisk pace.

I had enough time for a river view on the way…

River Teviot

…and a glance at Minto Hill.

minto hill

The bridge at Denholm is fine….

Denholm Bridge

…and it was a pleasure to walk across it twice.

We passed a neat thatched cottage in the village….

Denholm

…though Sue remarked that it had a fashionable ‘green’ roof and we were nearly brained by some enormous catkins….

Denholm catkin

…as we went back to the hall.

The afternoon session was as good as the morning had been so we were very well satisfied with our day as we drove home.

And did I mention that we saw some excellent lichen too on our walk?

lichen

Denholm is a great place for this yellow lichen and the hedge plants are covered with it.  I was hoping to show Sue some script lichen but there was none to be seen and the best that I could do was this.

tree lichen

When I got home, I had a quick look round the garden…

azalea, tulip and primula

…where it looked as though the flowers had been enjoying the sunshine.

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal’s mixed bed of tulips is developing.

I saw the first potentilla flowers on the plants along the dam at the back of the house…

potentilla

…and these will be the first of many as they stay in flower for months.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy in the garden while we were tootling but she had enough energy left to cook a meal of mutton chops for tea and that rounded off a day which was firmly entered in large letters, underlined, on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

I just had enough time before I sat down to eat to look out of the kitchen window.

flying goldfinch and chaffinch

Note: I discovered during the day that Helen Hooker is not just a very good recorder player and teacher but a fanatically keen and expert photographer who has been posting pictures every day for many years.   You can see the record of her journey to Scotland here.

It is well worth a visit.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s current visit to the Lake District.  He walked to the top of Blencathra on Tuesday and found himself in quite crowd.

blencathra

We had another dry and occasionally sunny day today but the rude wind had returned so I was not unhappy to have plenty to do that didn’t involve cycling.

In the morning I went to a meeting of volunteers at the Welcome to Langholm office where we heard an interesting and well presented talk by a man from Strathclyde University about a website that is trying to better organise visitors from abroad who are interested in their family heritage.  The idea is that they should inform us of their interests and desires before they arrive and we should inform them of our capabilities to meet their wishes before they have spent money coming to see something that perhaps is no longer there or meet people who cannot help them.  It sounded like a good scheme.

I walked round the garden when I got home while Mrs Tootlepedal planted out the tulips that she had bought at Alnwick yesterday.  She dug up some of this while preparing the ground…

honey fungus

….and wonders if some knowledgeable gardening reader could help her in identifying it.  She fears it might be some sort of honey fungus.

I looked at the established tulips.

tulips

tulips

It was a degree or two warmer today and the tulips were looking good.

tulips

I saw an unexpected flash of yellow in a red tulip…

tulip

…which revealed itself as a sport as the morning went on.

The cowslippy things are loving the conditions.

cowslips

…and the dicentra is doing well too.

dicentra

I was pleased with that picture of the dicentra but even more pleased with the next one that I took.

dicentra with bee

Bees are always welcome in the garden.

It was a good day for seeing welcome things.

frog

A very small frog in the pond.

I went in to have lunch and was given a couple of hard stares by a blackbird and a chaffinch.

blackbird, chaffinch

I don’t know what I had done to offend them.

The main business of the day was a trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and help her celebrate her third birthday.  In honour of that momentous occasion, I am putting  in three pictures of her taken today.  One was taken by her mother in the morning on Portobello beach…

Matilda in Portobello

…and one by her father at the same venue.

Matilda in Portobello

…and I took the third as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda enjoyed the handsome butterfly wings that had been our birthday present to her.

Matilda and Ally

Time simply flew as we played, sang and danced the afternoon away, though I will pass over the fact that the birthday girl wiped me out when we played Pelmanism.  I have mastered dancing while sitting comfortably in a chair.

After tea with cake and candles, it was time for us to go home and once again the view from the top deck of the bus was very pleasant.

Edinburgh from the bus

Edinburgh showing that it has cherry trees too

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch winning the race to get to the feeder.

flying chaffinch

Matilda says hello and goodbye for today.

matilda

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Gavin, who is on a trip to see family in the USA.  They have been been visiting Yosemite.

Yosemite

There was some every nice sunny weather when we got up but the wind soon got up too and if you weren’t in the sun, it was decidedly cool.

Being Sunday, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker.  I didn’t go cycling when I had finished though as there were more important things to do today.

Needless to say I had my mind on turning compost so that I could start getting my new bins installed.  By going very carefully, using a small fork and taking frequent rests, I managed to empty Bin D, turn Bin C into Bin D and then turn Bin B into Bin C.

In the rests between turning, I looked into tulips.

tulips

tulips

It’s wonderful to get such a variety  of shades and styles but I notice that they all have six stamens.  There’s probably some tulip rule about that.

I had the occasional sit down inside as well which let me watch the birds for a bit. Female chaffinches were to the fore…

female chaffinches

…and a siskin wisely bailed out before being run into by a determined male chaffinch.

siskin and chaffinch

Out in the garden, the dog tooth violets are in full swing.

dog tooth violets

I even saw a butterfly but as I didn’t have my camera with me, you’ll have to take my word for that.  I saw a couple of butterflies while I was out cycling yesterday so I am hoping to see a few more in the garden soon.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came home, we had some lunch and then we loaded up the car with clippings from the yew and two box balls which had been savaged by Attila the Gardener and took them off to the council dump near Annan.

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we should take a trip up to the Langholm Moor and see if we could see the goats that people keep tell us we are missing. We had hopes of perhaps seeing a hen harrier too, although it had clouded over by this time.

It was very hazy so there were no views to be had and as we drove over the hill to the county boundary, there were no goats either.   We did see a buzzard high in the sky above us but we turned for home feeling that once again, we had missed the goats.

 I stopped the car as we came down into the Tarras valley in order to take a rather gloomy shot of one of my favourite bridges…..

Tarras Bridge

…and while we were stopped, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she saw a goat on the far side of the river.  When I looked, I saw another two so we drove over the bridge and looked around.

We didn’t have to be very sharp eyed to see a lot more goats.

Tarras goats

There were goats and kids all over the place.  I don’t how we had missed them on our way out.

One of the kids was bleating furiously and I could hear an answering bleat from some distance away.  When I looked down the bank, I could see a goat sprinting along the far bank of the river.

Tarras goats

It came to the bridge and went tip tapping over it with no regard for trolls at all….

Tarras goats

…and was soon reunited with the kid.

The goats weren’t at all bothered by us and I was able to walk along the road side snapping away without disturbing them.

Tarras goats

I don’t often get a chance like this so I overindulged a bit.

Tarras goats

These are genuinely wild goats but they were very calm today.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

They were as curious about me as i was about them.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Although we could have happily stayed and watched them for quite a lot longer,, we left the goats in the hope of seeing a hen harrier before the light faded…

Tarras goats

…and drove on.

Before we left, I did take a picture of a sheep which was standing nearby so that anyone who is having trouble in separating their goats from their sheep can tell the difference.

tarras sheep

We didn’t see a harrier, just another buzzard circling in the sky but we did see several grouse.  Sadly, the light had gone too far to take a picture by this time.

When we got home, I took some advice from Mrs Tootlepedal, borrowed her spirit level and set about demolishing the old compost Bin B and installing the bottom layers of the new bin.

I got the bottom section level….

spirit level

…installed the next layer and started turning Bin A into the new Bin B.  It was a pleasure to use such a handsome new bin.

compost bins

…and we soon had three layers of the new bin filled.

compost bins

Here are Bins A to D in a row.

It just remains to finish turning Bin A into Bin B (which has two more layers to put on if needed) and then build the new Bin A.  With a little good weather, that should happen tomorrow.  The beauty of the modular bins is that I never have to lean in deeply to dig out the compost and I never have to lift the compost any higher than is absolutely necessary.  These are important considerations for a man with a bad back.

We settled down to eat our lamb stew and watch the Masters golf tournament with a feeling of a day well spent.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch catching the morning sun..

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony.  He took his dogs to Loch Lomond today and they seem to be enjoying the outing.

Tony's dogs

I spent the early part of the morning hoping that it would get a bit warmer and when I thought that it had, I got the fairly speedy bike out and went off to Port Carlisle for lunch.

Port Carlisle is on the southern shore of the Solway and getting there has been greatly helped by the excellent bike path along the new Carlisle by-pass.  The route along the coast is pretty flat in general and very flat in places.

Tony's dogs

The notice in the foreground tells you that the water is one foot deep if it gets to the sign

The Solway was looking very amiable if a bit hazy.

Solway near Drumburgh

I had an excellent lunch at the pub in Port Carlisle and then went back pretty well the same way that I came.

I stopped near Rockliffe to take a picture of one of my favourite trees…

Rockcliffe tree

..and thought that it might look good in black and white and had another go.

Rockcliffe tree

I stopped several more times for refreshment and relaxation on the way back but only took three more pictures while having a breather at the top of the steep hill at Tarcoon.

tarcoon hill

It was a very pleasant day but too hazy to get good landscape pictures

Whita Hill

The rough pasture is still looking rather wintery. It will taken another month for the hills to go green again.

We haven’t got to the time when the verges are full of various wild flowers but there are a lot of celandines about to start the season off.

celandines

In spite of feeling a bit of stiffness in one of my calf muscles, I did the 70 miles at just over 14 mph, which these days is the best that I can expect until it gets a bit warmer in the mornings.

When I got back, there was exciting news.  The new compost bins have arrived and are ready to be assembled when I have shifted the compost out of the old bins.  Expect exciting pictures soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden so I had a walk round to look at what was going on.  There were a lot of tulips to admire.

tulips

The day had got pleasantly warm by this time and it was a joy to be out in the garden among such a feast of colour.

tulips

tulips

I was moved to try an arty shot or two.  These are just as the camera saw them.  I haven’t pepped them up in the editor.

tulips

tulips

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with a new bed of tulips planted for this season.

tulips

I am very pleased with the plum blossom…

plum blossom

…but unless a few more bees turn up, I will have to get busy with my soft paint brush again.

The feeders needed filling so I must have missed a lot of bird action while i was pedalling.  A redpoll put a chaffinch in its place.

redpoll and chaffinch

In the evening, we went to a performance by a group called Spatz &Co at the Buccleuch Centre.  They describe themselves as a showband and play an entertaining and eclectic mix of rock and roll, jazz, swing, and superior popular songs by John Lennon, Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Gerry Rafferty.

The sound balance on the night between the rhythm section and the front line wasn’t ideal but they were full of pep and excellent players.  There was a disappointingly small audience but it was very enthusiastic and we that hope they come again.

Although i only did two things, it somehow felt like quite a full day.

I just had time for a flying bird.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can click on the map below to get details of the bike ride.

garmin route 9 april 2017

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He was officiating at a golf match near Galashiels at the weekend and took the time to photograph this bridge over the new Borders Railway line which splits the course in two.

Torwoodlee Bridge

It was another fine day but rather chilly in the morning so I was happy to wait in and have a cup of coffee with our neighbour Ken  He had called in to check a cycle route which Mrs Tootlepedal and I  devised when we cycled south to visit her brother near London some years ago.  He is thinking of cycling part of the route in the opposite direction.

I was was also waiting to check on the proposed arrival time at Carlisle of Mrs Tootlepedal.  She was returning from having fun with Matilda.

By the time that the ETA was established and the coffee finished, the temperature had risen enough to make cycling tolerable and I decided to take my frequent 20 mile trip down to Canonbie and back.

I attracted the attention of this cow as I passed along the old A7 before Canonbie…

Canonbie cow

…and a bold splash of white on the verge a little further along attracted my attention.

wood anemone

It was a fine show of wood anemones.

There was a noticeable wind but luckily it was behind me on the way home so I ended my ride in a good mood.

I had left myself enough time before going to collect Mrs Tootlepedal to walk round the garden in the sunshine.

The tulips are going from strength to strength…

tulips

…while fritillaries and dicentra offer a more modest show.

dicentra and fritillary

The grape hyacinths are come along nicely and we can almost see the intended river of blue running through the beds round the front lawn.

grape hyacinths

The daffodils are flourishing, although the early ones are now needing dead heading, and the pale hellebore is also doing well .  It is a pity that it was fatally aesthetically wounded by early bad weather.

daffodil and hellebore

While i was out looking at the flowers, a burst of noise from the bird feeder made me turn round.  Two redpolls were giving a siskin a hard time.

redpolls

I went back inside and looked at the birds through the window in a more traditional manner.

Regrettable behaviour was all too common.

siskin

A siskin about to administer the order of the boot…

siskin

…and the boot successfully applied a moment later.

siskin and chaffinch

A lady chaffinch about to behave in an unladylike manner….

siskin, goldfinch, redpoll

…and a siskin, goldfinch and redpoll gang up on a goldfinch

There were moments of quiet.

redpoll

I had a little stewed rhubarb and some Stilton cheese for my lunch and went off to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the train.  She arrived bang on time and brightened up my day even more than the morning sunshine had.

We took advantage of being in Carlisle to do some shopping and then drove home.

Having fun with Matilda is quite tiring so Mrs Tootlepedal had a well deserved rest and I went out on the slow bike to hunt for nuthatches….

…or at least I would have gone out if the front tyre wasn’t as flat as a pancake.  When I took the wheel off and got the inner tube out, I found that the valve had snapped in half so there was no chance of a repair.  The valve must have taken a knock in the garage.  Luckily I had a spare tube to hand and I soon had everything back in order and went off on my hunt.

I waited patiently by the tree for a while and then my patience was sorely taxed by a passerby saying, “Don’t you get nuthatches on your feeder?  They are always coming to mine.”  Oh really.

Luckily, I did see one…

nuthatch

…but it didn’t like the look of my long lens and flew off and didn’t return so I left it in peace and cycled down to the river.

I was rewarded by spotting a grey wagtail bobbing up and down near the Sawmill Brig…

Grey Wagtail

…and two oyster catchers at the Meeting of the Waters.  They flew off as I approached….

oyster catchers flying

…but at a steady speed which allowed me to catch them in both black….

oyster catchers flying

…and white.  The one at the back is undoubtedly saying, “Wait for me.”

I crossed the Langholm Bridge and stopped to admire two herring gulls (I think) on a rock in the middle of the Esk.

herring gulls

When I got home, I had many plans for doing useful things in the garden but after I had thought them over carefully, I had a little sit down instead.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we practised some pieces he is playing at a musical evening tomorrow. I hope he plays well and wows the audience.

The flying bird of the day is a redpoll, caught between two stools.

flying redpoll

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