Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Creeper’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent, Fiona.  She travelled as far as Durham, took a trip on the river and looked up at the cathedral as she drew near.


It was a dull, often rainy and always windy day today so I wasn’t unhappy to spend most of the morning going off with Mrs Tootlepedal to get our eyes tested in Longtown and following that with a trip to buy bird food and a visit to a local garden centre to look at but not buy decorative bark chippings.

The eye tests went well and Mrs Tootlepedal received the thumbs up for her cataract operation and is now just waiting for her new  glasses to arrive.  I was much the same as ever and my old glasses will do for another year so we were both happy.

While we were not buying decorative bark chippings, we had a toasted tea cake and a cup of coffee in the garden centre cafe so it was a morning well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal had business to do on the computer when we got home as part of the very bureaucratic administration for her Embroiderers’ Guild group so I set up the tripod in the kitchen, made some soup and watched the birds.

Feeling that our old bird feeders were getting on a bit, I had bought a shiny new feeder at the bird food shop.  I put it out and waited for visitors.

goldfinch on new feeder

A goldfinch was among the first but it was soon joined by a chaffinch…

chaffinch approaching new feeder

…a blue tit…

blue tit on new feeder

…another chaffinch….

another chaffinch and the new feeder

…and another blue tit…

blue tit coming to new feeder

…and another chaffinch!

flying chaffinch at new feeder

It had passed the bird magnet test.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s admin took some time and when she had finished, I settled down to do some admin of my own for the Archive Group.

When I had finished, it was time for a cup of tea and we were joined by Mike Tinker who had kindly brought round some more liquid fertiliser from his wormery for the benefit of our garden.

The day had always been warm for the time of year and since it wasn’t raining, we went out to do a bit after gardening when Mike left.

I was looking around at one point and saw a green blob on the ground.  C;loser inspection showed that it was a fallen walnut and more inspection found many more fallen walnuts.  The walnuts don’t always contain much in the way of a kernel as we live too far to the north for reliable development but this year, after the warm summer, we may be luckier.

walnuts in the garden

I hope we will be as Mrs Tootlepedal likes walnuts a lot.

I noticed other things too.

Mrs Tootlepedal was keen for me to take a picture of the Virginia creeper on the fence as it is now at its best, even on a gloomy day like today…

vigini creeper

…and it tends to disappear very quickly once it is over.

We dead headed the dahlias but even they are beginning to show a little wear and tear.

sunny reggae dahlia

The rose mallows made a great show when they came out in July but they have faded away and now only one or two are left.

rose mallow

Two surprises were to be seen, one rather late – a fresh foxglove in the back of a bed…

late foxglove

…and one very early – a wallflower which has lost its internal clock altogether.

early wallflower

It shouldn’t have come out until next spring.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to act as a volunteer front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and after a while, I went along to buy a ticket and watch the show there.  It was a screening of a concert by Jonas Kaufmann, the celebrated tenor,

He is a wonderful singer and he was joined by a sensational mezzo soprano called Anita Rachvelishvili and they sang a selection from Cavalleria Rusticana (which I could take or leave) followed by numerous well known Italian songs which were absolutely delightful.

Anita Rachvelishvili’s ability to switch from a full blown operatic style to a much more intimate style for the songs and excel at both bowled our audience over and as Jonas is a great treat whatever he sings, we had a really good evening.  What put the icing on the concert for me was that the members of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, who were providing the accompaniment, seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the audience.

We are promised heavy wind and rain from our first named storm of the autumn tomorrow so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the reality turns out to be not as bad as the warning.

“Much of Scotland is due to be battered by high winds and heavy rain as the first named storm of the season sweeps in. The Met Office has issued weather warnings and said Storm Ali could bring winds of 80mph and a danger to life from flying debris. An amber warning is in place for large parts of the country between 08:00 and 17:00 on Wednesday. Travel disruption and huge waves in coastal areas are also expected.”

The storm is named after Mrs Tootlepedal so it might well be quite impressive.

Meantime, the flying bird of the day is a tiny coal tit who will have to keep out of harm’s way tomorrow.

flying coal tit



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Today’s guest picture, from our daughter-in-law Clare, provided the only ray of sunshine we saw all day.  You can see what made Matilda so happy tomorrow.


It was a foul day here as far as the weather went, the authorities having decided that one sunny day at a time was more than enough for us.

I sneaked out in the rain whenever it wasn’t too bad and I will insert a soggy flower from time to time in this post.


Luckily I had plenty to do so time didn’t weight too heavily on my hands.

In the morning, I went up to the Welcome to Langholm office and settled down to put a week or two of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I couldn’t get as much work done as I hoped because I was frequently interrupted by the need to welcome people seeking  information.  I suppose that I shouldn’t complain about that.

One of the visitors was looking for a book of graveyard inscriptions and she remarked in passing how useful the Archive Group website had been in her family history research.  I pointed to the computer and told her that I was adding to the site at this very moment and she was suitably impressed though not quite so impressed as to offer us a voluntary donation for our funds.


Another visitor was a descendant of a chemist in the town and I pointed out to him that both the chemist and his shop could be found on our picture archive page.

It stopped raining very politely for long enough for me to walk home after my stint was over.  It started again quite soon afterwards.

In the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to buy some flowers to fill in a few gaps in the beds that her recent tidying up activity had created and I set about a mixture of practising songs for our Carlisle choir and printing out photographs for the forthcoming Canonbie Flower Show.

My main concern while printing out the pictures was to try to get the printed results to look a bit brighter than the printer wants them to look.  This takes a bit of learning and the results were variable though the frog in the box ball came out well.


Mike Tinker came round for a cup of tea and a biscuit and we were just finishing when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her shopping trip.    I was amazed to find that she had actually bought three plants as she usually looks for a long time and then decides that things are not quite what she wanted or they are a bit too expensive or the whole matter needs more thought.  A sound way of going on but one which I find a bit testing on my patience.

She explained her purchasing activity by claiming that she was haunted by the sound of my voice behind her saying, “For goodness sake, buy something.”  So she did.

stargazer lilies

The evening was filled with music as first my flute pupil Luke came and then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  It was the first time that we had played for a month and there was a certain amount of rust evident but as always, it was a very enjoyable evening.

The rain is pouring down again as I write this.  I have ordered an ark just in case.

virginia creeper

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Today’s guest picture is another from our recent week as guests in the south.  Sally and Richard took us to the gardens of this fine mansion, Heale House, which was built in the latter part of the sixteenth century.

Heale house

My ideal plan for the day relied on an early leap out of bed into glorious sunshine and the subsequent late arrival of a weather front.

The wind was forecast to be fairly light so a cycle ride of a reasonable length was part of the scheme.

In the event, the early sunshine was there but it was not matched by the equivalent leap out of bed.  The leap transmogrified into a late stagger and after a lengthy breakfast, I finally got on my bike at ten o’clock.  It was still sunny when I set out but it soon clouded over and I shortened my intended route to thirty four miles and just made it home before the untimely arrival of the weather front started the rain off.

I didn’t have time to stop and stare but I paused for a banana at Gretna Green and admired a pair of fine horses while I munched.

Gretna Green horses

They were the front end of a smart wedding conveyance….

gretna Green carriage

…waiting for another bride and groom to roll off the Gretna Green marriage conveyor belt.

Nearby stands a strange work of art.

gretna green

It acts as a photo frame for pictures of happy couples but it always looks to me like the hands of someone who has been buried prematurely and is begging to be released, perhaps not the most happy metaphor for a marriage.

There was just time for a quick scoot round the garden in some light drizzle when I got back before the rain set in for the rest of the day.

The gloomy weather had put the hoverflies off and the picturesque poppy only had a single small fly for company today.

poppy with fly

Some bright red leaves on the Virginia Creeper seemed appropriate for such a gloomy and autumnal day.

virginia creeper

But autumn brings fruit as well so all is not lost.


A good reward for work with the pollinating paintbrush in our chilly spring

There are still plenty of flowers about…

the cutting bed

Kitchen chimney pot

…and new flowers are coming along.  There are anemones and astilbes among the dahlias now.

anemone, astilbe and dahlia

I thought that I had found a very odd dahlia….


…until Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that I was looking at it from the back.

Not everything in the garden is lovely.  For some reason the Golden Syllabub rose, which has had plenty of buds, has never felt that it was the right time to open out and has looked like this all summer.

golden syllabub

It wasn’t very warm and the clouds had made the day dark and cheerless so it was most fortunate that the authorities had arranged a very interesting programme of Olympic events for us to watch.  We watched everything.

No flying birds today but there is a flower of the day.  It is a dahlia (viewed from the front).






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Today’s guest picture comes from my daughter who has acquired the use of a small allotment.  She is very proud of her chard which she has grown from seed.

chardWhen I looked at the weather forecast last night, I noticed that the wind speed in the evening was recorded as ‘calm’,  i.e 0 mph.  This is exceedingly rare here and sadly it was not calm when Dropscone and I embarked on the morning run today.  Still, the wind was helping us on the way out and we cruised along in good form.  By some strange and welcome quirk of geography, it seemed not to be against us on the way back until the last few miles so we got home very cheerfully.

Turning into Wauchope Street was a bit of an adventure though, as in our narrow road there was a bin lorry, a mini digger, a car and two council lorries.  There was scarcely enough room for a slim cyclist to squeeze through.  The upshot of the work was an emptied bin and a modest trench alongside the pavement which will carry a new drain.


It was well protected by bollards as the men had their lunch break.

All this was very exciting and there was an extra buzz about our coffee and scones.

I had a report about our recent new camera club meeting to write for the local paper so I settled down to that and while I was writing it, we were visited first by Mike Tinker and then by the engineer who had come to fix the central heating.  I got the report finished and sent off, Mike went away with a card that he had kindly agreed to post for us and the gasman fixed the central heating.  It was a very satisfactory hour.

I managed to find a moment to walk round the garden among all this.


A few poppies are defiantly hanging on.


Some (but not all) of the marigolds continue to flourish


Although Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared many of the sunflowers, there are still some just coming into full bloom.

I made some onion and potato soup for lunch.  We still have quite a lot of potatoes left from the garden but our stock of onions is running a bit low.  Because they haven’t kept particularly well in the last two years, Mrs Tootlepedal planted fewer thus year and naturally, if rather annoyingly,  they are keeping very well.

After lunch, I took a moment to stare out of the kitchen window.

chaffinches keep watch

Three wary chaffinches were keeping an eye out for danger from all directions as they munched on their seeds.

chaffinches posing

A male and a female posed for me in a brighter moment.

Then I settled down to go through my photographs to pick out six, three prints and three digital images for the Liddesdale Camera Club’s first competition of the new season.    This is the camera club that Sandy and I have been going to for a couple of years in Newcastleton.

As I have literally thousands of pictures to choose from, picking six when there is no theme is a really hard task and after two hours, I finally managed the selection but I don’t think that I have managed to pick the six best from my files as the very fact of having so many options and considerations makes my head hurt…..a lot.

When I went out into the garden for a breath of fresh air after the agony was over,   I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work clearing away plants that had passed their ‘flower by’ date and hacking away at a nest of brambles in the wild corner of the garden.  She took a break and we went to pick up another ten walnuts from beneath the tree.  We reckon that we must have harvested over 50 nuts this year which makes it a jubilee year for walnuts.

I had a camera to hand and took a shot or two as we went along.

virginia creeper

A little late sun picked out a leaf of the Virginia Creeper

Mrs Tootlepedal is very fond of grasses and she was pleased with the effect of the sun on a bunch of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’ or Silver Feather grass.  (You can tell that she was beside me as we walked past as I would never have known the proper name for it otherwise).

In the lively breeze, it was being blown this way….

Silver Feather Grass…and that.

Silver feather grass

I was able to pick another bowl of raspberries.  There are still plenty left to ripen and they are keeping their flavour well.

My efforts to live on a Mediterranean diet are pretty feeble but I am trying to eat more fish and fruit generally and along with the raspberries I enjoyed a very tasty fillet of haddock for my tea before getting a lift from Sandy across to Newcastleton for the camera club meeting.

We sat through a show of 120 photos that had been entered from various Border camera clubs into a big competition last spring.  There were several pictures that caught my eye but in the main, I feel that photographic competitions where experienced club photographers are trying their hardest tend to produce a lot of work with a glittering surface and no heart.  On top of that, the judges decisions are so subjective and often incomprehensible that I am glad that by and large I stick to local shows where the interest of the subject is often more important than the technique of the artist.

Having said that, Sandy had two pictures in the competition which both received very good marks (and deserved them).

Here is one of the digital images which I have entered in our competition.  I will let you know in due course what the judge thinks about it.

Eskdale CumbriaThe flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  There’s a surprise.


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Today’s guest picture comes from the world’s greatest baby’s other grandfather.  Matilda is requesting some more demanding mental arithmetic and her mother is trying to think of a suitable question.

matildaI didn’t have to think what to do today as it was perfect for cycling and I had nothing on my calendar to do instead.  I should have thought a bit more carefully before setting out though as I forgot to take my asthma puffers and as a result found my pedal a bit harder than it should have been.  I realised after about two miles that I hadn’t taken them but I was too lazy to go back so the harder work served me right.

garmin route 29 Sept 14Still, it was a good day out, with light winds and a well chosen easy 55 mile ride.  I even managed to find a short section of back road near Clarencefield that I hadn’t cycled down before so that was a bonus.

I had Pocketcam with me and stopped to take the occasional picture as I went round but my legs were in a recalcitrant mood and started arguing if I got off and on the bike too often so I didn’t take as many as I would have liked.  I even managed to cross the river Annan at Hoddom without taking a picture of the bridge there, which I think is a first for me.

Here are some that I took.

trees near Hoddom

I had to pass through an autumnal tunnel of trees near Hoddom

Hoddom Castle

I visited Hoddom castle

Hoddom Castle

It has a tea room attached where I had an indifferent cup of coffee.

Hoddom Castle

It also has some very curiously shaped cabins

I had stopped for coffee at Hoddom because I didn’t know whether the pottery and art cafe at Dalton, which has good coffee,  would be open.  It was but I passed by, pausing to wave at their picturesque cow.

art cafe DaltonI stopped at the church at Ruthwell….

ruthwell church…where I was hoping to go in and look at the 8th century Anglo-Saxon Ruthwell Cross  but the door was locked and I didn’t have the energy to go and ask for the key so I cycled on.

I stopped for my lunch on a handy bridge parapet near Cummertrees.

lunchThe holly bush beside the bridge looks as though it may be in demand around Christmas time.


…if it hasn’t come too early.

My final stop was too admire a touch of autumn beside the A7 a few miles from home.

autumn on the A7When I got home, I was surprised to find Mrs Tootlepedal busy in the garden.

To lend her a hand, I sieved a barrowful of compost after I had had my shower.  Sieving compost is even more fun than turning it.

I should have mowed a lawn or two but I wasn’t up to it mentally or physically and had a wander round the garden with my camera instead.

shirley poppy

Attila the gardener is rooting up the poppies as they fade but there are still some good ones left.

And plenty of bees and hoverflies too

insectsThe rambler rose came out today to join the Wren.


virginia creeper

The virginia creeper is nearly at its peak.


Two sorts of pink

The birds are very scarce at the moment so I took a perching chaffinch just in case I couldn’t catch one in flight.

perching chaffinchI did manage to catch a flying bee near the delphinium.

flying beeIn the evening, I added some tootling to my earlier pedalling.  First my flute pupil Luke came and we had a good lesson and then I took my new flute up to play with Mike and Isabel after tea.  It is so much easier to blow than my old flute that I was able to play for much longer before falling off my chair.  This was very was gratifying.   I am really motivated to practise seriously but being motivated and actually doing it are not quite the same. We shall see.

After playing, we had some discussion about the absence of birds.  Isabel has also noticed the drop off at her feeder and she puts it down to raptors disturbing the small birds.  This is one possibility that I had thought of too.

I did get a flying chaffinch after a fashion today.


You wait ages for one and then two come along at the same time.

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Today’s picture shows a very neatly stacked pile of Swiss firewood spotted by Dropscone’s sister Elizabeth while in the country.

Zurich Sept 2013 013

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work again and I managed to stick to my plan and put the speedy bike in the back of the car and drive to Annan without any interruptions.  I had two hours to kill in Annan while waiting to pick up a package so I drove on to the Golf Hotel at Powfoot and had a cup of coffee and did the crossword while looking our over the Solway…


…and waiting for a light  but persistent drizzle to stop.

Eventually things dried up and  managed a short ride to Ruthwell Church and village.  WhenI got back to the Powfoot turning, I still had a little time in hand so I added a couple of miles and got my total up to just under 13 miles.  This was perfect timing and I was bang on time to pick up my package and head for home.

I had the phone cam with me on the bike and took it out to see what it could do.

Ruthwell Church

Ruthwell Church. I didn’t have time to visit the Celtic cross inside today.

hedge webs

The hedges were bejewelled with sparkling webs

Once home, I had to settle down to some serious work in getting pictures ready for the Langholm Show tomorrow.  In the end, I managed to find and print fifteen pictures, some of which were quite pleasing (to me at any rate).  I am hoping to pick up a couple of third places if I am lucky as the competition will be quite hot.  Since we are going away for the day tomorrow, Sandy has very kindly offered to take the pictures in and fetch them back again.  He is taking in an embroidery by Mrs Tootlepedal too and we have great hopes for it.

Naturally, as I was stuck indoors working, the sun came out and it developed into a lovely afternoon.  I put the computer down and went for a quick walk in the garden.

virginia creeper

The Virginia creeper was on fire

yellow flowers

Yellow flowers shone in the sunshine


The last of the purple phlox


The cosmos are almost over too.

Signs of the morning rain were all around.

Nasturium leaf

Taken with the phone

watery web

A watery web taken with the Nikon

I was just bemoaning the lack of butterflies on such a lovely day when first a white butterfly appeared….

white butterfly

…and then a red admiral caught my eye on a Michaelmas daisy.  They have been so rare this year that I have indulged myself and put in a few pictures of it.

Red admiral

Red admiral

Red admiral

Red admiral

The forecast is quite good for a few days so maybe I will see more butterflies soon.  I love the way that they sip nectar through a straw.

There were birds as well as flowers and butterflies in the garden.

chaffinch perching

Pausing to take a final shot with the phone…

sunny garden

It seems to like the greens a bit too much.

…I went back in and got on with the work.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came and Alison and I battled our way through some nice pieces and although we were both a little short of practice, we had our usual enjoyable time.

I couldn’t decide which of two chaffinches should be flying bird of the day so I have put them both in.

flying chaffinch

flying chaffinch

I have posted pictures from our second day of cycling in Languedoc on on a new page.  You can see them here.









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