Posts Tagged ‘violet’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs (rather smokey) heritage trains between Duffield and Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Peak District.  By the way, Henry Ellison was built in 1947 so it may be heritage but it is still younger than me.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Easter Sunday was another day of splendid weather, with sun from dawn till dusk and it would have been possible to sit out in the garden all day if we had wanted to.

But we had other things to do, starting with a visit to church to sing with our choir.

We had some guest singers with us today as we sang the Hallelujah Chorus as our anthem and with six sopranos, five altos, four basses and two tenors we made a very reasonable sound.  We are between ministers at the moment and the services are being run by a sort of works committee.  They are making a very good job of it so it was an excellent start to the day.

We had a cup of coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal planted some potatoes in the new bed.  When she had done that, she set about making a Swiss roll with lemon curd.  My Achilles tendon was still very tender so apart from wandering gently about the garden dead heading daffodils and taking occasional pictures of both delicate…

pulmonaria, lamium

…and ostentatious flowers…

end of drive colour april

…I was happy to have a particularly complicated crossword to spend time puzzling over.

After lunch, it seemed like too good a day to spend at home so we went on a small expedition by bicycle.  Our mission was to see how the repairs on the Tarras road had progressed since we last saw them two months ago, when they looked like  this…

tarras roadworks scene

Our route took us along the bank of the river Esk where we were entertained by a pair of male goosanders on a fishing trip and Mr Grumpy poising on a rock.

goosander and heron

There are definitely less attractive roads to pedal along in springtime than this one.

Broomholm road out

We saw lots of wild flowers on our trip…

violet, anemone, primrose and celandine

…so we had to stop a number of times before we got to the works.  When we finally arrived, it looked as though the re-building of the road was nearly complete…

new tarras road top

…and when we took a closer look, it was plain that a substantial embankment had been built complete with landscaping and drainage and the road put back on top of it.  The workers had been busy and it shouldn’t be too long before the road is surfaced and open to traffic again.

new tarras road banking

Instead of cycling straight home, we turned right past this tree…

tree broomholmshiels

..waved to some Easter lambs…

lambs broomholmshiels

…and puffed up the hill to the Laverock Hide bird feeders which are now being run by a new project called Wild Eskdale.

There wasn’t much wildlife about today though.  Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies in vain for any glimpse of a raptor while I sat in the hide and watched a number of chaffinches and siskins.

I did get one good march past though…

pheasant at laverock hide

…and saw a great tit too.

great tit at laverock hide

I wasn’t complaining though as it was very pleasant just to be sitting there on a beautiful warm day.

I had a look at one of the larches before we set off home.

larch tree at Laverock hide

The trip home, involving some serious downhill work…

Broomholm road back

….was over a good deal more quickly than the trip out and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to a cup of tea and two slices of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Swiss roll which was so delicious that it took iron self control to stop at just two slices.

The six mile cycle ride had actually helped my Achilles tendon problem to ease off a lot and I was able to walk round the garden with no pain at all when I went out to look at the tulips.

pink tulip

Which were well worth a look…

orange tulip sun

…as a little late afternoon sun enhances everything in general but tulips in particular…

red tulip sun

…either singly or in a clump.

cloud of tulips

I admired a bergenia…

bergenia in sun

…and was delighted to note that the first apple blossoms are beginning to come out…

apple blossom

…before picking some rhubarb for stewing and going in to have a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie for my tea, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

As both my feet feel not too bad tonight, I am hoping to get out for some exercise tomorrow but the trick will be to take some but not too much.  The forecast is offering us two more lovely days before rain arrives so I hope to make the best of them that I can.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch approaching the feeder with care and attention.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows the Cave of Drac on Majorca.  Dropscone visited it while on holiday on the island.  He got to listen to a concert while he was there.

majorca cave

We had to agree with T S Eliot today.  The weather was very cruel.  If I went out on my bicycle, it rained and if Mrs Tootlepedal hung out the washing it rained and if we left the washing out in the hope that it would dry after the shower had passed, it rained again just as we were thinking of getting it in.

And then when it had got fed up with raining, it started to hail very heavily.

Finally, when  all hope was lost we got this….


…followed by a calm and beautiful evening, unfortunately too late to be of practical use to anyone.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal did an amazing amount of gardening, well wrapped against the cruel wind and I at least got a few miles in on the slow bike before the combination of wind and rain got so discouraging that I packed it in.

The weather made sure it was a rather itty-bitty day but I did find a sunny moment to have another go at the violets.


They require a good deal of crouching which is not my strongest point.


Even on a cold and soggy day, Mrs Tootlepedal’s heart is lifted by tulips….


…and as they are coming out all over the garden, she should find some consolation in the days to come.


The daffodils give me  a lot of pleasure and here is the daffodil of the day.


And I think that this is definitely a colourful corner and I hope that there will be many more to come.

colourful corner

I didn’t take any pictures on my cycle ride as I had to have a rain cape on and every time that I thought of getting at the camera out from underneath it, it started to rain again.

The battle against the wind left me feeling my age a bit and so I had a gentle time for the rest of the day, with a short snooze on my bed included.

I did manage to keep an eye on the birds though and noted that some but not all of the siskins were back.


Male and female

It was their turn to queue up for the feeder…


…and they defended their position vigorously when they got there.


They were not immune from outside attack themselves though.

goldfinch and siskin

Once again, redpolls maintained an observer status.


It is not just their heads which are red at the moment. a sign of the mating season I believe.

The weather improved enough for me to be able to walk dryshod to my Langholm Sings choir practice, the last regular practice before our concert on Saturday, though we will have a go with the orchestra in the afternoon before the show.

We worked through the whole programme with the result that we got a lot of enjoyable singing in.  We are doing mostly familiar material and it is gratifying to find that some things which I found very hard to get right a few years ago seem miraculously to have got easier.  You are never too old to learn.

The flying bird of the day is  one of the redpolls.

flying redpoll



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Today’s guest picture shows some of our local wild goats on the Langholm Moor.  Bruce spotted them and kindly sent me the picture.


After a good night’s sleep, I was up and about today and ready for action. Fortunately there was plenty of action to watch without having to do anything more energetic than stroll round Easton’s and Gaskell’s and have a gentle ride up to the Rugby Club.

It was the turn of the mountain bikers and trail runners to star in the Muckle Toon Adventure Festival today.  Unlike last year when it lashed with rain, it was a pleasantly warm day, though with enough wind about to make me glad that I was just a spectator.

After taking a quick look round the garden…

bee on lithodora

A bee having breakfast on a Lithodora.

….Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked through the park and along the banks of the Esk.  The air was heavy with the smell of wild garlic.

wild garlic

There was very little chance of encountering any vampires as we walked along the path.

wild garlic

At the end of the path, we saw the first cyclists pressing on in fine style.  We walked up the hill to see a section of single track on the long route and met one of the organisers who was checking the route in front of the competitors.


He told us that there were over 90 cyclists on the go.  It wasn’t long before they came past us.

mountain biker

mountain biker

mountain biker

A dangerous drop and bend negotiated with care

After a while, we walked along the track towards Stubholm and watched more cyclists working hard to get up the hill.  It was a relief for them to reach the level track at the top.


The cyclists had a chance to get some refreshments at Stubholm and then had a fast section of good track along Gaskells, including crossing the new bridge.

The new bridge

In the dry conditions, the track looked so inviting….


…that Mrs Tootlepedal was momentarily tempted by the thought of getting a mountain bike.  A look across the valley at what was waiting there might have changed her mind.

Meiklehom Hill

Several cyclists reduced to being pedestrians on the rough track up Meikleholm Hill

We walked along the track, keeping out of the cyclists way and had enough time between competitors to look at a very striking little yellow flower beside the path.

yellow flower

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks it might be some kind of St John’s Wort.

We arrived at the Auld Stane Brig and watched the cyclists disappear up the hill for a while before we walked home.

I have posted 40 pictures from the cycling on my Facebook page for those interested.

After lunch, we cycled up to the Rugby Club to watch the start of the 10km and half marathon trail running event.

Trail Running 2014

They’re off

After a look round the event centre at the Rugby Club, we cycled back to the Auld Stane Brig to see some of the 10k runners on their way round.


Most of the event was on tracks and paths and this little road section gave them a change to stretch out.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had an exciting drive back down this road in the twilight last night, having to brake sharply to avoid a deer and having an owl hit the roof of the car as it flew low over the road.  We went up to see if the owl had been seriously or fatally injured but could find no evidence of it anywhere so we hope that it survived the contact.

The blaeberry bush caught my eye again…

blaeberry bush

…while Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed a roadside violet.


We cycled gently home, cheering more of the runners as we passed them.

I have posted some trail running pictures on Facebook too.

Once home, Mrs Tootlepedal got stuck into some serious gardening and I set my hand to lawn care.  I scarified the middle lawn for the second time this spring, using a slightly less aggressive setting, then used the leaf vacuum sucker to clear the debris and finally mowed it.  Considering the poor state it was in after a long and wet winter, it has repaid a little care and attention by looking almost like a lawn.  I gave it a burst of buck-you-uppo as a reward.  To keep Mrs Tootlepedal happy (and me too), I completed the session by going round the lawn edges with a strimmer.

I know that it is not very cool or green to be a lawn obsessive but it keeps an old man happy and lets me contribute something to the look of the garden.

After the long cycle ride on Wednesday and the hill climb yesterday, this activity was quite enough for me for the day so I retired indoors where a losing battle with a prize crossword morphed into a snooze on the sofa without me even noticing.

I did find a moment to stare out of the kitchen window though.

goldfinch in plum tree

It was a golden afternoon


Even the blackbirds were dancing for joy

We have quite a few sparrows feeding at the moment as they are looking after their young.


It is the turn of the road cyclists tomorrow and if the wind is anything like it was today, some will find the 60 and 90 mile courses tough going.  I am sad that I can’t fit a course in and go to the choir,  but I am going to try to do the 90 mile route later on in the summer.

The flying bird of the day is one of those sparrows.






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Today’s guest picture is of a showy bed of tulips in Regents Park, London where my daughter Annie was taking a walk.

regent's park

We are almost beginning to forget the five months of gloomy weather that have just passed as the present dry and sunny spell continues, bringing joy to the hearts of the townspeople of Langholm.

I was very pleased myself when I woke up this morning with no aches and pains of any sort after my gentle tumble off my bike yesterday.  As a result when Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a cycling outing, I was only too pleased to join her and we set out on a ride up the Esk valley, crossing the river four times as we made a figure of eight loop through Bentpath and Westerhall.

This ride starts with a stiff climb and I was able to catch Mrs Tootlepedal as she stormed over the summit at Peden’s View.

over the summit

We kept our eye out for roadside wild flowers as we went.  There were a lot of celandine about but I wasn’t allowed to photograph them as Mrs Tootlepedal hates them as only a gardener can hate a persistent weed.  Luckily there were plenty of other candidates.

wild flowers

Gorse, bluebell, violet, cowslip, ladies’ smock and anemone

We stopped at Georgefield to admire the llamas….


…or alpacas. I can’t tell the difference.

We crossed the Esk at Bentpath and went up the east side of the river to Enzieholm.  We crossed the river at Enzieholm and went back down the west side of the river until we got to Bentpath where we crossed the river again and continued south through the Westerhall estate.

We crossed an impressive bridge soon after we entered the park.

Westerhall bridge

….admired some early rhododendrons…


…and passed through the south gates and bumped our way along a farm track until we crossed the river for the last time at Burnfoot and regained the road to Langholm.  The trip was fifteen miles of pure pleasure.

We had had an early light lunch before we set out and we had a late light lunch when we got home again.

We were just about to have a cup of tea when Sandy appeared with camera in hand.  He joined us for a cup of tea and then I changed out of my cycling clothes and while Mrs Tootlepedal went back to gardening, Sandy and I went for a walk.  Once again the Esk was crossed as we walked  along the Murtholm down to Skippers Bridge and walked back on the town side.

More wild flowers were to be seen.

wild flowers

An anemone (we think), Ladies’ smock again, golden saxifrage and oxalis.

The river is quite low and so we clambered down onto the rocks at Skippers Bridge.


Looking downstream


Looking through the bridge at the old distillery.

There were birds to be seen as well.

grey wagtail

Sandy spotted this grey wagtail near the bridge.


A familiar sight

heron flying

A stately flypast

There was interest on every side.


The river bank near the Dyehouse was lined with willows

willow with bee

One of them had proved very attractive to a number of bees.

More sinister plants were to be found.

Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed, a pest that is costing millions in an attempt to control it nationally.

Sandy went off on an extended walk and I collected our car from the garage where it is going to have a new track rod bearing fitted tomorrow.  When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was involved in an extensive task of clearing ivy and cutting back a berberis.  I noticed a couple of newcomers in the garden flower department.

A new fritillary and a dog tooth violet

A new fritillary and a dog tooth violet

Old established flowers had asked to be taken too and I couldn’t resist their charms.


Pretty as a picture as they say.

Just as I was going in to cook the tea, we were treated to another stately flypast. This time it was a bird of a distinctly different feather.

low flying aircraft

It missed our chimney but not by much.  There have been a lot of these planes flying low over the surrounding hills and many helicopters too.  We imagine that they are practising for the invasion after Scotland votes for independence in September.  Perhaps not though.

In the evening, we went off to a choir practice for Langholm Sings.  We are in the last stages of preparing for our concert on Sunday week and I got the opportunity to take half the practice and enjoyed myself immensely, leaping around like a demented marionette.  The choir is sounding very good for a small open access community group and we are keeping our fingers crossed that singing with the local orchestra will go well and that we can do ourselves justice.

Either the heron or the aeroplane might have been flying bird of the day but, in the end, I decided that a chaffinch should have that honour.  I hope that you agree.

flying chaffinch





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Today’s picture shows a sunlit Ewes valley.

Ewes May 2013

The day was like this from the very start.  Dropscone told me later that he had done 25 miles on the bike before breakfast.  I had a blood test so I couldn’t start out until that had been done.  At about ten o’clock, I went round the morning run, starting very cautiously until my knees had got well warmed up but going quite hard after that.  With the sun on my back and no wind for once, I was able to get round in my fastest time of the year and at the end of it, the knees seemed to be a bit better for the exercise.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I returned and the rise in temperatures has made a difference, particularly to the tulips.  I have taken too many tulip pictures today because with strong winds and rain forecast for the end of the week, this may be the only chance to see them at their best.


red tulip close up

They come in various shapes and colours.


Mrs Tootlepedal particularly likes this dark variety.

dark tulip

They come in big clumps….


…and single spies.

red and yellow tulip

The birds look less colourful than usual when set against the bright flowers but they are still fun to watch.


A perching siskin just for my sister Susan who likes to see birds in the tree.

determined goldfinch

A determined goldfinch sees off a ringed siskin.

chaffinch and goldfinch

A chaffinch shows that good weather doesn’t bring good manners.

The chaffinch in this picture was one of the few about today.  The chaffinches have become quite thin on the ground.  Perhaps they are all off nesting or maybe the gangs of siskins and redpolls have driven them away.


The new ground crew.

There are other flowers in the garden but they are not so obvious as the tulips.  Here is a fritillary.


And I was pleased to  be able to catch a white drumstick primula on such a sunny day.

drumstick primula

After lunch, when I had recovered from the efforts of pedalling and Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to work, I went in search of a nuthatch again. I was given one brief glimpse…


…but that was all.  I pedalled back home again looking about as I went.

rugby perspective

A lesson in perspective on the rugby pitch.

leafy tree

More leaf progress


A shiny mallard

I had an excellent Pelosi’s ice cream on the Kilngreen where the van was doing good business.

When I got home I had another wander round the garden and added a dogs-tooth violet to my collection.

dog'stooth violet

It was such a nice day hat I thought that I would see of I could spot a harrier on the moor.  Other people had had the same thought.

harrier watchers

I stood and listened to the larks singing their hearts out.  I saw a buzzard being dive bombed by a what was probably a merlin.


And this bird resting on the wind coming up over the ridge was probably a hen harrier….

hen harrier

It was quite far away.

In the end I looked for bigger targets…

Tinnis Hill

No green showing up here yet.

…and went home.

In the evening, Susan drove me to Carlisle and we enjoyed another entertaining evening of recorder playing with our group.  It was nice to drive home with still a trace of light in the sky.

It was actually warm today for the first time this year.  People were walking around in shock.  I hope we get a few more like it in the summer.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.


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Today’s picture shows a wild eyed jackdaw enjoying a fat ball feast.


After our wet welcome home yesterday, the weather relented and we had a largely sunny day today.  However, the strong wind kept things feeling pretty cool and when we looked at the garden, there had not been as much new developments while we were away as we had hoped.

I started the day by popping along to our monthly producers’ market but the bank holiday weekend must have persuaded some of our usual stallholders that there more profitable places to be and there was not as good as selection of stuff to buy as there usually is.  Still, I managed to get one or two tasty looking things.  Mrs Tootlepedal was not feeling as well as she would have liked and had restored to bed again when I got back so I went off and mowed the drying green and greenhouse grass with the hover mower.  At least the grass has started to grow.

I had made plans in my head to use the sunny day to go for a decent length cycle ride and I drove down to Longtown to collect my speedy bike from its post winter service.  I was going to put it to good use when I got home but my knees were feeling the effect of a long day’s drive yesterday and that, combined with the strength of the wind made it easy for me to forget that I had any such plans and I mowed the middle lawn instead. It is mossy in parts but there was plenty of grass to cut.

middle lawn

As you can see, Mrs Tootlepedal’s daffodils are still blooming merrily, long after they should be gone.  This is lucky in a way because the tulips which should be in full bloom are not doing their stuff yet.

daffs and tulips

They are looking quite healthy though and if we can get a little warmth going, they should come out well.  There is a glimpse of an aubretia in the picture above and although we can’t match the plants we saw in Somerset cascading over walls, we still have some very brilliant colour to show.


The birds do not seem to have missed me at all.  Obviously Liz had been looking after them well because they were soon in action.

The perching trees are just beginning to get some leaves and a siskin matched the variegated elder quite well.


And a chaffinch blended in with the barer plum tree too.


There a several redpolls about, the males looking very colourful.

Birds approached the feeder stacked vertically…


…and horizontally

goldfinch and siskin

goldfinch and siskin

…and sometimes from both sides at once

Mrs Tootlepedal got up and although  not feeling 100%, she started to do some light work.

When we were driving up a new piece of dual carriageway yesterday after leaving Malmesbury, we were amazed to see the banking beside the road was completely covered for hundreds of yards in places with golden yellow cowslips.  I was pleased to see that Mrs Tootlepedal’s cowslips were also doing well alongside some primroses, although in a much more modest way.


I kept thinking that I might still go for a shorter cycle ride and I kept not going and as a result I mowed the front lawn too.  This has got so much moss on it after a couple of poor summers that I am almost at the stage of digging it up and starting again.

We were visited by our neighbour Mike who has just returned from visiting his granddaughter Maisie and her parents in New Zealand.  He and Alison seemed to have had almost as much fun on their holiday as we had on ours though they didn’t see any tigers.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent so much time while we were driving on holiday in looking at the inside of our car, that she set out to give it a good internal clean up.  She got distracted though part way through the job and ended up putting a paint reviver on the front of the car where after seven years, the original paint is looking a bit tired.  It looks very shiny now.

Although the tulips are not all out, there are some here and there in the garden doing their bit to add a bit of colour.



The daffodils are holding up remarkably well.


And other flowers are adding their bit to an ever growing colour scheme.

violet and hyacinth

And Mrs Tootlepedal is developing a white bed as well.

white flowers

By the end of the day, I had decided to go out at least five times and decided not to go out exactly the same number of times so a rather nice day was wasted a bit but I have been on holiday so I was tired.

There are two flying birds of the day today, the first a laid back chaffinch….


and the second, a siskin, who gets in because he is showing one of Dr Barlow’s (I presume) rings.


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