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Posts Tagged ‘wild flowers’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who once again managed to extend her permitted walk as far as Regent’s Park where she found a favourite restful corner to enjoy.

It was still grey and drizzly this morning, but the heavy winds of the past two days had eased off a lot and when the drizzle stopped, it was quite a suitable day for wandering round the garden.

I wandered from time to time.

The frost survivors among the rhododendrons and azaleas are still doing their best to cheer us up…

…but the gap that the frost has left in the garden is still hard to bear.

The recent rain has now got up to an inch and half as recorded by Mary Jo’s rain gauge. This is fine for the broad beans which are looking good but the peony and tulips have found it a bit much.

A burst of heavier rain put paid to the morning street coffee meeting and I watched the birds instead.

Greenfinches and sparrows were the flavour of the morning…

…and a sparrow was happy to watch a greenfinch trying the seed before having a go itself.

The rain stopped and we went out into the garden to do useful tasks (Mrs Tootlepedal) and footle about looking for raindrops (me).

The view down the back path is always rich at this time of year.

When I had finished footling about, I went in and did something more purposeful. I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made 30 ginger biscuits. There was a bit of a snack crisis as the boiled cake had been polished off when we drank our coffee earlier in the morning.

After lunch, I went for a short walk to fill in the time before our virtual Carlisle Choir meeting.

I chose a familiar route. After two months of lockdown and about thirty local walks, there is no other option than to choose a familiar route and this makes it harder than usual to try to find something unfamiliar to see as I go along. If the truth be told, I am probably finding it harder to look too as I subconsciously feel that there won’t be anything much new to see even if I did look carefully.

Looking down, I did notice the more noticeable today…

…and looking around, i couldn’t miss the frost damaged trees among the spring greenery.

As I was walking along the Becks track, I was considering whether I would have time to walk up to the track on Warbla on my way home, but a glance across the valley revealed cattle sitting right on the path across the grass that I would use to get up to the track…

…so when I had crossed the Auld Stane Brig…

…I went through the frost damaged trees along Gaskell’s Walk instead.

When I got to the Stubholm, I checked on a blackthorn to see if there are going to be any sloes this year. The signs are good and as a bonus, there was some interesting lichen on the branch that I was inspecting.

Instead of going straight home when I got to the park, I walked down to the Esk to see if the oyster catcher was still on its nest.

It was…

… but a bit further up the river, I found another adult with a very young chick. The adult made it hard for me to see the nipper, and the chick didn’t help by turning its back on me…

…but in the end, they co-operated.

I got home in good time and Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down in front of my laptop to see what a virtual choir practice would be like on Zoom. It was very well organised and well over 50 choir members had logged on to take part. Ellen, our energetic director, had done a lot of preparatory work and everything went very smoothly and we were encouraged to sing, but there is no doubt that singing by ourselves at home while hearing only only one other singer (Ellen at the piano) is not really choral singing. Still, it was fun to see the other choir members and the virtual meeting had the feeling of an occasion, even if not a choral one.

The weather had greatly improved by the time that we emerged into daylight from peering at the computer and I did think of going for a cycle ride but the call of lawn maintenance was strong and I mowed the greenhouse grass, the drying green and the middle lawn instead. We then had our second Zoom meeting of the afternoon when we chatted with my brother, one of his sons and my sisters.

After our evening meal, I went out into the garden to enjoy the sunny evening…

…and the colour matching between car and clematis.

The wind had dropped and I was sorry that the day hadn’t worked out so that I could have enjoyed these ideal conditions, but you can’t have everything.

Not all the colour in the garden is floral…

…but the late evening light was kind to the colours and the bees were really enjoying the cotoneaster on the wall of the house…

…while I enjoyed an Icelandic poppy.

I hope to get back to cycling tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day was not one that the greenfinch approved of.

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Today’s guest picture comes from ever sunny East Wemyss, where our son Tony found a forest of stones on the beach and added his own effort (complete with flower on top).

Tony's tower

It was far from sunny here after a second night with rain and the hills were covered with mist when we got up.

There was a faint but persistent drizzle about and this put paid to the delights of the street coffee morning but it did let me get out for a quick look round the garden.

The sweet rocket looked unperturbed by the weather…

sweet rocket

…while other flowers had noticed the overnight rain.

four wet flowers

New geraniums are coming out….

geranium white

…and a few flowers on azaleas and rhododendrons have survived the frost with the Japanese Azalea coming out by far the best at the moment.

three azalea survivors

I went in to grapple with a technological problem and on my way past the front window, I admired a rook in the plum tree.

rook inplum tree

The technological problem concerned a little device for converting old cassette recordings  to digital formats.  My brother had kindly sent it to me, as he had no further use for it but it just wouldn’t work properly.  I did all those technological things one has learned to do over the years; using strong language, turning things on and off, uninstalling and reinstalling software, kicking furniture, plugging and unplugging wires, blaming the government, but nothing worked until I swapped the lead that my brother had sent with the device for one I use with my bike computer.  Then miraculously, all was well.

We had lunch.

The next problem, as my brother remarked, was listening to cassettes that I bought years and years ago and wondering why I had bought them.

After the tech problem had been solved, we checked on the weather.  The drizzle had almost stopped so Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to go and do some gardening and I embarked on a bicycle ride.

By the time that I left home, the drizzle had given up and it was quite windy, but it was not long before I was cycling on dry roads as the weather had obviously been better outside the town.

The lying down cows were lying flat out again but a couple of them spoiled my picture when I got to there by standing up before I could get my camera out.

sitting and standing cows

As you can see there were plenty of grey clouds about but I was cycling in pleasant sunshine…

three trees grainstonehead against clouds

…and I kept my fingers crossed that the sunshine would last.  If it had rained though, I was well equipped in a rainproof jacket, and in fact, I was far too hot when the sun was out and the wind was behind me.

I saw a fine display in the hedgerow of these alkanet flowers just after I passed those three trees at Grainstonehead…

blue wild flower woodhouselees

…and there were some more striking flowers at Canonbie when I had crossed the bridge there.

daisy canonbie

More and more of the Pyrenean Valerian is to be seen each time I got out and it was joined by docks and birds foot trefoil today.

three wild flowers canonbie

The sun went behind the clouds as I got near Langholm and one or two drops of rain added a little speed to my pedalling but I got home dry (and over hot).

Two nights of rain have left a measurable amount of water in the unscientific rain gauge..

unscientific rain gauge

…but Mrs Tootlepedal had welcomed the moist soil as she planted her sweet peas out while I was bicycling.

sweet peas planted out

I took a picture of one of the last of the tulips, perked up by the warmth after the rain…

last of the tulips

…and enjoyed the look of the lawn when the sun came out again…

lawn in evening sunshine

…noting that a little well placed shadow covers a multitude of sins.

The sun brightened up a fancy geum, just out today…

fancy geum

…and brought out the best of a second iris.

new iris

The plants hadn’t forgotten that it had been raining though.

drops on spirea

I went in and looked at the feeder as I went past on my way to a much needed shower.

A redpoll and a greenfinch provided a good contrast.

redpoll and greenfinch

A Zoom meeting with my brother and sister and an evening meal of pasta with a meat and tomato sauce rounded of a day which ended more cheerfully than it had begun.

We are promised a gloriously sunny day tomorrow, getting warmer and warmer as it goes on and then the temperature is going to drop on Thursday but not to frostiness again, thank goodness.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

Footnote:  patient readers may have noticed a slight similarity in the posts from the last two months and they would be right.  I have a routine; have breakfast, do the crossword, get up, have coffee, do a little gardening, have lunch, take some exercise, Zoom the family, have tea, do the blog, go to bed.  It is a simple life but the very routine helps to make the tedium of the lockdown bearable with not too much time left in the day to sit about and worry about the future.   The way things look at the moment, the patient reader can expect quite a lot more of the same.  I thank you for your patience which is commendable.  We are very lucky in having varied countryside available right on our doorstep.

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Today’s guest picture is a fine Welsh tree spotted by my fine welsh correspondent Keiron.

keiron's tree

Finally we got some steady rain here overnight, and although it wasn’t a downpour, there was enough rain to leave the ground looking definitely damp when we got up in the morning.

It was deemed to be too cold and windy for an enjoyable outside coffee morning so we had to eat our chocolate biscuits and drink our coffee by ourselves indoors.

I did go out into the garden to see if the rain had sparked huge new growth but things were much as they had been yesterday, only a bit damper.

garden after rain

There didn’t seem much point in staying out so I went back in, waving at a hellebore as I did so.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with work for the proposed community land buy out * and I found inessential ways to pass the time until lunch.

It was technically a cycling day, but it was grey, with a vigorous and blustery wind, and as there was also a promise of rain in the forecast, I thought that a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal would be a much better bet.

We took the path up the river past the Duchess Bridge.  Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t been along this path for some time and was impressed by its mossy trees with lichen covered trunks surrounded by wild garlic.

duchess bridge walk

We emerged out of the woods and followed the road towards Potholm.

There was plenty to catch our interest along the way, a romantic tree, copious stitchwort and crosswort….

milnholm road

…two men planting trees in a felled area on the opposite bank of the river, lichen on the wall beside the road and a great heap of lambs.

The star of the show to me was some fresh hawthorn flowers in a hedge.

hawthorn flowers

Passing Milnholm farm we saw a potato field and more lichen on a branch…

milnholm hedge and field

…and signs of the recent frost in the shape of damage to a beech hedge on our left and then more damage all along the hedge to our right.

As we got near to the bridge over the Esk at Potholm, an oyster catcher tiptoed through a field, trying to avoid our scrutiny

oyster catcher potholm

Once across the bridge, we walked up the track into the woods…

climb past potholm

…passing fresh  ferns, poppies growing in wall and ajuga growing beside the track.

potholm wild flowerrs

At the top of the hill, we left the main track and walked up a minor track through the woods.

forest track longfauld wood

This was the track I had followed on a  recent walk but it was new to Mrs Tootlepedal who enjoyed the woods and the wild flowers in them.

wild flowers longfauld wood

We were interested to see that the recent frost had pretty well put paid the the yellow pimpernel but had left the tormentil unscathed.

We passed two very green spots, first what Mrs Tootlepedal thought was a moss like liverwort on a bank….

liverwort

…and then a grassy clearing at the end of the forestry track.

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

…and walked down to the road  through the snowdrop wood where we were brought up short by this magnificent soup plate sized fungus on a tree stump.

huge fungus holmhead

The road itself, with bluebells shimmering through the woods to our  left…

holmhead road

…brought us down to the Lodge Walks where we were happy (but a bit jealous) to find a fine azalea which had escaped frostmageddon.

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

…crossed the Jubilee Bridge (after Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted a nuthatch) and made our way round the Scholars’ Field.  There I stopped to take a picture of the most common wild flower that we had seen almost all the way round out walk.

red campion

Mrs Tootlepedal was moved by the sight of the children’s play area, unused and neglected because of the virus.

deserted playground

We were both ready to polish of what was left of the boiled fruit cake with a cup of tea when we got home after a very varied and enjoyable five miles.  Although it had threatened to rain more than once as we walked, an added bonus was the fact that we got round dry, with even an occasional hint of sunshine.  In fact it didn’t start raining until quite a bit later in the day and I had plenty of time to watch the birds after the tea and cake.

Pairs of siskins (dropping food as usual) and goldfinches were joined by a lone siskin and a curious redpoll.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

…and I watched them until it was time for us to Zoom with my siblings.

When she had first got up, Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a lot of birds feeding their young in the garden, but they were never there when I was looking, so I was pleased to see a young thrush in the plum tree right at the end of the day.

thrush in plum

It is due to be warmer and wetter tomorrow, with a fine warm day to follow on Wednesday, so I hope that things will really start growing in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is not a siskin or a redpoll but a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

*If you haven’t looked at it before and are interested, details of the proposed community land buy out can be found here, and Mrs Tootlepedal wants me to add that any contribution to the scheme, however modest, will be very warmly welcomed and much appreciated.  Our thanks go to those readers who have already helped us.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward Winter.  He has a fine six inch wide tree peony flower in his garden which he thought that I might appreciate.  I do.

TreePeony2020

It was another grey, blustery and chilly day today here so once again there was no urgency in the getting up department.

Indeed, I got up so late that there was no time for a wander round the garden before our street coffee meeting, and it was only afterwards that I got to check to see if our peonies are out yet.

They are still trying.

peony trying

A quick check on the frost damage revealed that the Japanese azalea may have have enough surviving flowers to make a bit of a show at least.

japanese azalea

And to make up for the lack of azaleas, the first iris has put in a welcome appearance.

first iris

Tulips and poppies make sure that we still have some colour….

tulips and poppy

And thriving Limnanthes and Aquilegia will soon be joined by…

flowers old and new

…other promising flowers.

We are quite blue at the moment….

four blue things in garden

…in a delicate sort of way.

I mowed the front lawn in the hope that we will get some rain and warmer weather to make the grass grow again.  Mrs Tootlepedal got to work improving the soil in one of the beds along the lawn so I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C to give to her to add to the bed.

I didn’t watch the birds on the feeder in the morning as we were busying about but there were birds in the garden who weren’t bothered by us.  The blackbird and the thrush are both feeding young so they are often to be seen about.

blackbird an thrush panel

I did a little shredding of disused box bushes and then went in for lunch.

We had a Carlisle Choir Zoom meeting scheduled for mid afternoon at what would have been our regular choir practice time, so I sneaked out for a short walk after lunch.  It was grey and almost drizzly so I walked on at a brisk pace, hoping to get home before any rain started.

I was pleased to see that the big rhododendrons in the park seemed to have escaped frost damage, but the bluebells are fading away and going over…

rhododendron,bluebells and garlic

…leaving the wild garlic to cover the ground.

I walked along the Murtholm track towards Skippers Bridge, passing quantities of ribwort, lambs and spring things on leaves…

three things at murtholm

…and crosswort…

crosswort full

…at which I took a closer look.

crosswort close

I paused on Skippers Bridge to record just how low the river is.

low water in esk from skippers bridge

It will be interesting to see if we get enough rain to raise the water level noticeably as the ground is so dry that it will surely soak up anything less than a downpour.

I took a picture of this view a few days ago but it is still so beautiful to my mind, that I took it again today.

skippers bridge from north

As I walked along the river bank back to the town, there was plenty to admire.

six things beside the river

I saw two contrasting birds as I got up the suspension bridge, a very noisy thrush singing fit to bust on a rooftop on one side of the river and a very quiet oyster catcher sitting on her nest on the other side.

thrush and oyster catcher

When  I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had just about finished her work on the flower bed.

bed improvement

I like the big red poppy at the back of the house so I went for a look at it…

big red poppy panel

…before getting ready for the Zoom choir meeting.

While I was waiting for the meeting to start, I made a mixture for some chocolate biscuits and put it in the fridge to cool.

When the appointed time came, lots of choir members attempted to join the meeting but unfortunately, there was a glitch in the Zoom technology (not our fault) and the meeting had to be cancelled.  We are going to try again next week,

The fault, which also affected a government briefing later in the day, must have been partial as I had a one to one meeting on Archive website business with my younger son and a family meeting with my siblings later on with no problems at all.

After the failed choir meeting, I baked the biscuits and while they were cooling, our neighbour Liz rang up to say that a starling was feeding its young in her garden if I was interested.

I was interested and went out and leant over her wall to see the group in action.

liz's starlings

I took the biscuits out of the oven and left them to cool and then I had time to watch a blue tit coming to the feeder…

blue tit in garden

…before chatting to my brother and sisters with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We tried the biscuits after our evening meal.  There was an initial shock when they did not taste as we expected them to, but we enjoyed them enough to have another each.

The rain, which finally started shortly after I came home from my walk, has persisted in a mild and desultory way all evening.  There is some more in the forecast over the next two days but as it is only a few millimeters, whether it will be enough to do some good is still a moot point.

All the same, any rain, after two dry months when at times it seemed as though it might never rain again here,  is to be welcomed.

The flying bird of a day is a bee.

flying bee

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Owing to an easing in the lockdown in England, she was able to visit the Fragrance Garden at The Newt, and very pleased she was to be there.

fragrance garden

A quick examination of our garden this morning showed that the frost attack hadn’t been just been a bad dream, the azaleas and most of the rhododendrons were truly dead.

four dead flowers after may frost

And what was nearly as bad from my point of view was the discovery that all the potential plums had turned black (top right picture in the panel above). As a devoted plum eater, this was very sad news.  One of the espalier apples looks doomed as well and we can only wait to see what happens with the other two.

Wherever Mrs Tootlepedal looked, she seemed to be able to find signs of more damage on other flowers and shrubs but I wouldn’t want to say that there are no flowers left in the garden…

yellow and white survivors may frost

…with the ‘wilder’ flowers looking to have come through best.

six may flowers after frost

I will have something to photograph in the coming days.

six may colourful flowers after frost

Like this dicentra.

dicentra survivor

We did a lot of wandering around feeling unhappy but our usual socially distanced street coffee morning cheered us up.  Afterwards, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to removing and shaping box hedge plants for most of the rest of the day.

I lent a hand now and then, and in between times mowed the front lawn.  Both lawns badly need some steady rain and some consistent warmth and they are not looking good at the moment.  However, my target date for having the lawns looking good is mid June and I haven’t given up hope yet.

It was rather grey with a chilly wind so I was happy that it was a walking rather than a cycling day, and after lunch I picked up my walking  poles, put on my walking shoes, and went for a walk.

As I walked along the Ewes Water, I saw wild flowers on the far bank and a wagtail on a rock (with a reflection below) and as I walked up the hill past the Estate Offices, I saw two black lambs.

wildflowers, wagtail, lambs

Our neighbour Liz had told me that the cattle had been taken off Castle Hill for a while, so this seemed like a good opportunity to walk up my least visited of the hills around the town.

There is a steep start to the track up the hill and I was happy to pause for a moment among the hawthorn trees to look across the valley at Whita Hill…

whita from castle hill track

..before heading on up the very dry track to the summit.

track and tree castle hill

I say summit, but that is perhaps allowing Castle Hill a little more majesty than it really has at a modest 270 metres (885ft) above sea level.

But you do get a good view from the top.

This is perhaps the best of view of Langholm from any of our four hills as you can see the whole town.

langholm from castle hill

You can also look up Eskdale…

esk valley from castle hill

…and Wauchopedale too.

wauchope valley from castle hill

Castle Hill lies on the end of a ridge and my route today  took me along the ridge.

potholm hill ridge

One of the joys of walking round Langholm is the good supply of easily attained ridges that offer fine walking with splendid view on every side.

As I went along, I could look down into the Ewes Valley on one side…

looking up ewes

…and when I got to the highest point on the ridge, Potholm Hill at 310m…

cairn potholm hill

…I got a fine view of the Esk valley on the other side.

You can see our local racing stable’s all weather training track in the foreground.

look over craig up esk

You can also see that there is a lot of forestry on the hills in Eskdale compared with the Ewes Valley…

looking up ewes from potholm hill

…but as I have remarked before, there will soon be a lot more trees up Ewes as sheep farms have been sold for tree planting.

I came down  the ridge to the little col between Potholm and Wrae Hills and turned down to meet the track back to Langholm, passing these three trees as I went.

three trees wrae hass

This section of the walk is usually very boggy but it has been so dry that I could have done the whole walk in carpet slippers without getting my feet wet.

I was soon back among green fields…

henwell

…and headed back past Potholm Farm towards Langholm.

Instead of sticking to the main track, I branched off into the woods above the track, following a minor track used by the pheasant keepers.  It was my intention to see if I could join up with the track that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had enjoyed last week when we walked into these woods from the far end.

The woods were dark after the airiness of being on top of the hill, and I began to wonder if I would find my way…

walk through woods above longfauld

…but fortunately I met a friend coming in the opposite direction, and she gave me some sound advice which I followed and I soon came to the track that I was looking for.

Unlike the hill, where the sheep had eaten everything except the occasional tormentil, there were plenty of wild flowers in the woods…

wild flowers longfauld woods

…and some sensational bluebells and wild garlic in the more open areas.

bluebells and garlic

This very lovely crop of speedwell deserved a solo picture in my view.

speedwell

I finished my walk by crossing a mass of dandelion clocks on the football pitch on the Castleholm…

dandelions castleholm

…and they told me that it was time for tea and a Garibaldi biscuit so I didn’t take any more pictures.

When I checked, I found that I had walked just under six miles and once again, I had had a wonderful variety of terrain and views on my short walk.  This is Walk 4 of the Langholm Walks (I had done it in the ‘wrong’ direction) and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it, especially just now when the going is dry underfoot and there are no cattle on the hill.

I had time for my tea and biscuit before my regular sibling Zoom meeting and then I sat down to a welcome meal of roast chicken prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, washed down by a small glass of cider, part of the gift from our son Alistair and his wife Clare.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, sneaking past the drops of water coming from the sprinkler that Mrs Tootlepedal was using to try to get a little moisture into our dry soil.

flying sparrow hose drops

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who, for her permitted exercise, walked up to the top of the hill and looked down on London .

Mary London View

We had another bright and sunny morning, perhaps not as cold as yesterday.  I was able to walk round the garden in shirtsleeves to admire the zing of the tulips after breakfast.

three tulips

The sun lit up everything, potentillas, aquilegias against the back wall of the house,  the lamium and some freshly flowering bed straw in the back border.

potentilla, columbine lamium bed straw

My morning favourite was this shot of the rhododendron in sunshine and shadow.

white rhododendron in shade

The street coffee morning did not take place today as one member was waiting for a phone call, another wasn’t there, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a WhatsApp visit to Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh at coffee time.  They seem to be doing very well and Clare is developing their small garden to grow as much as is possible.  She was happy to take some advice from Mrs Tootlepedal.  The call ended with a display of dancing from Matilda, who is keeping very active.

After the call, I checked on the bird feeder to find a dunnock just checking out….

dunnock diving

…and then a visit to the garden  revealed our resident blackbird trying to look like a pelican.

odd blackbird

I was just wandering about when a tiny glimpse of orange and white caught my eye.  You may be able to see it in the dead centre of the picture below.

orange tip fist view

It was an orange tip butterfly.  As I had nothing better to do, I followed it round and round the garden as it fluttered about trying to find the best plant for a visit.

I was beginning to think that my pursuit would be fruitless, when the cow parsley caught its eye and I managed to get two flying shots of it as it flitted from flower to flower.

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 3

You can see from the bottom two pictures in the panel above just how hard it was to spot the butterfly when it closed its wings among the flowers as the orange tips only show when the wings are open.

Luckily for me, it settled on a flower at the very end of a stem and I was able to take a picture of the beautifully marked underside of its wings.

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 1

I went in to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal out to see the butterfly and very fortunately, not only was it still there when she came out, but it opened its wings just enough to show her the orange tips…

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 2

…and then shut them again so that she could see the decorated undersides too.

This put even the arrival of a flying bee at the lamium into the shade.

bee at lamium

A lot of watering was needed and while Mrs Tootlepedal lent the plants a helping hand, I became involved in the eccentricity of the euphorbias and the beauty of the bluebells.

euphorbia bluebells watering

Mrs Tootlepedal had obtained some leeks from our local butcher so I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we enjoyed it with bacon butties on the side.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  The sun had gone behind clouds and there was a brisk wind blowing but the forecast was good, it was pleasantly warm, and I went off still in my shirtsleeves.

I headed along the river, past the wild garlic and the bluebells…

garlic and bluebells

…walked along the Murtholm track and then took this delightful path….

track up from main road

…up the hill and out into open country.  Still climbing gently, I soon had a good view behind me.

track up from skipperscleuch

As the track dwindled into rough and sometimes confusing paths, I found useful signposts to keep me right.

walk eleven post

I was following the route of Walk 11 of the Langholm Walks Project.

The route took me along the side of the hill, giving me good views over the Esk Valley and the main road south…

esk valley from old irvine

…as well as the River Esk itself.

esk from old irvine

I cam to Old Irvine and followed the old green road up the hill towards the Kerr Wood.

This is now a well surfaced forestry track as there has been a lot of recent tree planting here.  There were yellow wild flowers (unknown, dandelion, tormentil and birds foot trefoil) to keep me interested….

yellow wild flowers

…as I battled up the most boring part of my route, a mile long, dead straight track, uphill and into the breeze.  I was more than pleased when I got to the top of the hill to be able to look back down it.

Old Irvine track

In the end, the track met the road which I often cycle along when I am doing my Canonbie circuit and the difference between cycling and walking was made very clear to me when I saw the signpost at the junction.

langholm sign

The five miles home, downhill and downwind, would take me less than 20 minutes on my bike but it was a different matter when I was on foot.

Still, you see a lot more when you are walking and the sun had come out and even for a walker, having the wind behind is a good thing, so I wasn’t at all unhappy.

The commercial foresters have to plant native trees as part of the license to grow conifers.  They use plastic tubes and this little plantation on the very top of the hill, certainly needed protection from the wind.

new trees Kerr

I enjoyed older trees too.

two trees bloch

When I got down to Wauchope Schoolhouse, I had a choice of following the correct walk route over more rough ground and tracks, or heading straight home down the road for a cup of tea and a Garibaldi biscuit or two.

I went down the road.  I was a bit sorry not to go the full route but my feet weren’t sorry at all, and the way home was enlivened by more wild flowers, lots of lichen and interesting grass seeds.

wildflowers, lichen, seed head wauchope road

The final stage was very colourful with a good patch of ivy leaved toadflax on the wall at Pool Corner…

pool corner wall

…and a stunning display in a front garden on Buccleuch Terrace.

Buccleuch Terrace garden

I hadn’t checked the length of the walk before I set out and was quite surprised to find that I had walked nine and a half miles by the time that I got home.

An added bonus to taking the direct home from Wauchope Schoolhouse was that I arrived in time to take part in the daily Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters.  My brother had been for a three hour walk too.

Today has been a big day for Mrs Tootlepedal, as the project for the community land buy out has reached the crowd funding stage.  Anyone who wants to find out more about the project and perhaps help by making a modest contribution to the purchase fund should visit the Langholm Initiative website where everything is very well explained.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked an excellent meal of mince and tatties for our tea and after tea, I sat at the computer and knocked off six items from a to-do list for the day of six items.  This brought an excellent day to a very satisfying conclusion.

The flying bird of the day is a passing jackdaw.

flying jackdaw

Footnote:  Having all the time in the world on my hands is leading to too many photographs but kind readers have said that I can’t have too many pictures in a post.  I hope that was true of this rather overloaded effort.  If not, I am sorry but it may well happen again if the fine weather holds.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent, Venetia.  She has ‘lent’ her lawn to neighbours and they are making it very productive.  She tells me that they have planted broad beans, perpetual spinach, chard, Jerusalem artichokes, and later today plan to plant potatoes, with runner beans to come.  She is going to get a share of the produce as ‘rent’ and she has no mowing to do.  Win, win.

venetia's lawn

We woke to a rather grey, rather windy and definitely chilly morning.

I have been dead heading a lot of the standard tulips that have been brightening the garden over the past few weeks but the lily flowered tulips are still in full swing.

After breakfast and the crossword, I went out to admire them.

lily flower tulip 3lily flower tulip 2lily flower tulip1

While I was there, I enjoyed the ever expanding cow parsley…

cow parsley garden

…checked on a dogwood that Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit worried that she had over pruned…

dogwood flower buds

..and noted the first flower on the big yellow azalea peeping up at the back of the bush.

yellow azalea

I peered closely at the inner workings of the white rhododendron…

rhododendron close up

…and enjoyed the never ending curiosity show that is Euphorbia.

euphorbia

We had a rather chilly socially distanced street coffee morning but it didn’t go the full distance once again on account of freezing fingers.

Then we returned to the garden.  I sieved another barrow load of compost and had a look in the vegetable garden.  Salad leaves are coming on and the beetroot is looking promising, while chives and apples are thriving.

hives, lettuce, cbeetroot apples

There didn’t seem to be many pollinators about in the cold conditions so I got busy with my pollinating bush on the apples.  I don’t know if it actually helps at all but it makes me feel useful even if I am not.

The first ornamental strawberry flower has come out.  There should be many to follow.

ornamental strawberry

Three parcels arrived during the morning.  Once again, our children are showering us with gifts.  Alistair and Clare sent us both bacon and booze.  This is a reward for us not visiting shops any more but getting food delivered.

The other parcel contained gold nuggets!

Honestly.  It did.

Our daughter Annie had sent me these:

IMG-20200505-WA0000

We had the bacon for lunch and then I was intending to go for a long walk but I suddenly remembered that I was due to pay attention to my latest venture into cookery and make some Garibaldi biscuits.

The baking went well, although the arithmetic required to get each biscuit exactly the same size was not quite so successful.

burst

But the main thing was that they turned out to be absolutely delicious.  The currants, from our corner shop, were just the right quality, and the biscuit mixture was crisp and sweet.  They will definitely appear again.  (Quite soon, judging by the speed that they are disappearing.)

After the biscuit making, I was intending to go for a medium walk but the sun had come out and Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that the soil was nice and warm so I took the opportunity to put my moss eating and fertiliser mixture on both the middle and front lawns while the going was good.  I will have to water the lawns soon if it doesn’t rain.

Then I went for a short walk.

The Inuit somewhat apocryphally are supposed to have 85 words for snow.  We could easily have 85 words for different shades of green at this time of year.

green opanel

I passed the result of lockdown activity in the shape of a newly painted roof on John’s stable at the Stubholm…

john's stables

…and any amount of delightful bluebells…

bluebells

…as I walked though the woods, up the Hungry Burn and through the Kernigal.

From the gloom of the conifer plantation, I sought the sunlit lowlands.

track to skipeprscleuch

…passing butterflies and larch trees on the way, sometimes simultaneously.

peacock white larch

There were more shades of green at the bottom of the hill…

skipperscleuch

…and wild flowers to see at various times on my walk.

stichwort, wood sorrel

I was hoping to see herons at the herony but had to settle for yet another view of Skippers Bridge from the river bed…

skippers from middle of river

…before nipping briskly home to be in time for my evening Zoom meeting.

I did pause for a few more wild flowers on the way.

marsh marigold, bird cherry, wild garlic, vetch

At one point during the day, I loaded Zoom on to my laptop and had a meeting with our friend Sue from the recorder group.  We wanted to see if it was possible to play recorder duets remotely.  The technology is brilliant but not brilliant enough to allow for remote simultaneous music making which is a pity.

However, it did mean that I was able to have the evening Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters on my laptop and not using my mobile phone.  This was much more relaxing than peering at a tiny screen.

We had a bottle of cider, courtesy of Al and Clare with our evening meal and thought kindly of all our children.  They are looking after us very well, sending us gifts, videos and beautiful photographs to keep us happy.

The ever so nearly flying bird of the day is an evening chaffinch.

nearly flying chaffinch

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