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Posts Tagged ‘zinnia’

Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew Gardens.  As well as the glass sculptures, she met this imposing dragon.

dig

The rain stopped on cue over night and we woke up to a calm and sunny day with the dam looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.  All the same, the first business of the day was to ring up the people responsible for the maintenance of the dam and its sluices.  They promised to look into the matter straight away.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off with her committee to visit another group interested in a community buy out and while she was away, I had a busy morning.

I entertained Sandy to coffee.  If all has gone well, he should have acquired an electric bike this evening, so we are planning to go for a pedal tomorrow to see how much faster he will be able to go than me.

Then the dam manager rang up to tell me that the defective sluice should be repaired as soon as possible and the storm wall will be strengthened as soon as conditions allow because they realised that it has cracks in it.  This is quite comforting but we can only hope that there isn’t another testing flood before the work gets done.

When Sandy had gone, I set to work in the garden, anxious to be of use while Mrs Tootlepedal was otherwise engaged.

First I pruned the new growth from the espalier apples…

pruned espalier apples

…which let some sunshine in on the ripening fruit.

apples after pruning 1

The crop on two of the tree bushes is looking promising.

apples after pruning 2

When I had shredded the prunings and added them to the compost, I mowed the two lawns and the greenhouse grass.  They have been neglected during the rainy days.  Amazingly, in spite of a lot of rain, the ground was firm and the grass mowed well.

lawn after rain

It has been pretty warm lately and the rain had not discouraged the grass from growing, so there was a great deal of cuttings to add to the compost.

Then I trimmed the hedge next to our neighbour Betty’s drive…

trimmed hedge

…and this led to more shredding and composting so it was a very productive morning.

I kept an eye out for butterflies while I worked.  There was more than one kind of white butterfly on the buddleia….

two white butterflies

…but only the peacock of the coloured butterflies, though there were plenty of them about.

peacock butterfly after the rain

The big lilies are unperturbed by the weather and keep looking very serene in wet or dry.

lilies after the rain

A rather smart Japanese anemone has arrived to cheer us up…

coloured japanese anemone

…and the zinnias are all smiles.

dazzling zinnia

It was very good to see flowers in the sunshine.

clematis in sun

It was cooler today than it has been, but when the sun was out, it was still pretty warm and the blackbird family was scattered across the lawn dealing with the heat.

panting blackbird on lawn 1

Some better…

panting blackbird on lawn 2

…than others.

panting blackbird on lawn 3

Mrs Tootlepedal  came home, having had a very interesting meeting, and I spent quite a lot of time in the afternoon picking and printing pictures for the Canonbie Flower Show competition this weekend.

I haven’t got the requisite skills to get my printer to print out exactly what I see on the screen, so I wasn’t going to enter any pictures this year until Sandy told me this morning that he had got a good number of pictures to enter.  As a result,  I thought that I better make an effort too.

As always, I found it very hard to choose just a few from the many hundreds of pictures that I have taken in the past year, and once again I feel that my selection is far from ideal.  Still, it is taking part and not winning  that is important….or so I have been told.

I was going to go for a pedal in the afternoon, and I had just changed into my cycling gear when Mike Tinker dropped by for a cup of tea.  He very wisely pointed out that I hadn’t got time to go for a pedal if I was expecting my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  I hadn’t realised that it was so late, and I had forgotten about Luke anyway, so it was just as well that Mike came when he did.

As it started to rain quite heavily soon afterwards, I was doubly grateful to Mike.

Before he came, I had had time for a quick look round the garden and was pleased to have the right camera in my hand to take this shot when the opportunity arrived.

two white spots

It may not look much to you, but it is two white butterflies fluttering by.  This is a very common sight in the garden just now but I have never been able to catch it.    Just to prove it is two butterflies, here is an enlargement.

white butterflies close

It may not be good, but it is the best that I could do.

The rowan tree berries are looking juicier every day….

rown berries

…and the blackbirds are beginning to eye them up.

blackbird among rowans 2

There was more posing than pecking today…

blackbird among 1rowans

…but I hope to get some blackbird berry pecking shots shortly.

Luke came and we enjoyed playing a Haydn sonata that we haven’t played for some time.

We are promised more sunny weather for tomorrow so I hope to get out and about to make use of it.

The flying bird of the day is a very large bumble bee.  It was camera shy and made off as soon as I tried to photograph it so once more I can feature the bum of the flightlebee.

enrmous flying bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows one of the glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly at Kew gardens.

(This is the second of his glass sculptures to appear in the blog as Mary Jo from Manitoba sent me another when she was on her London visit earlier in the  year.)

a glass sculpture by Dale Chiluly

As has frequently been the case lately, the weather here was a good deal better than the forecast and we had another warm and often sunny day today.  It might have been a day for a cycle ride but I had non cycling business in hand and went off to England to have another singing lesson from our ex Langholm Sings conductor, Mary.

She is endlessly patient and helpful as well as being very knowledgeable and I am trying my best to take on board the useful things she tells me, with variable success.  Still, practice makes perfect so I haven’t entirely given up hope yet.

I had time for a walk round the garden before lunch when I got home.

I noticed a bee making itself very much at home in a zinnia…

zinnia with bee

…and after seeing  a good variety of butterflies over the last few days, there were only peacocks today….peacock butterfky

…though there were a lot of them and a lot of whites too who were too flighty to pose for a picture.

Mrs Tootlepedal has put her Abyssinian gladioli out into the flower beds still in their pots as they will need to be taken in over winter, but they seem to be enjoying themselves all the same.

 

abyssinian gladiolus

I was very happy to see a little robin on the lawn, the first that I have seen in the garden for some time.

august robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her shopping bike.  This time she was actually going shopping, though she combined it with some business too.  While she was out, I mowed the front lawn and then attacked the greenhouse grass.  Although it is not cut to the same standard or by the same mower as the front lawn, it provides a cheerfully green welcome to the vegetable garden.

greenhouse grass

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and we had a quick stroll round before it was time for afternoon tea.

The Wren keeps producing flowers in a very satisfactory way…

rose Wren

…but the dahlias haven’t done so well this year yet as something seems to be nibbling at them.  One of the plants is producing flowers but they are hanging their heads.

hangdog dahlia

The Sweet Williams are over and Mrs Tootlepedal has replaced some of them with dianthus which she bought the other day.

new flowers

When the tea and biscuits had gone to a good home, I had to get ready for my flute pupil Luke who was coming to play after taking a short break.  As he came in, I noticed that the white clematis by the front door, which has long been over, had mysteriously produced a lone late flower.

last clematis front door

Luke and I knocked a few cobwebs off our flute playing and when he left, I had a last tour of the garden before our evening meal.

The rowan berries are getting more colourful every day…

rown berries ripening

…and underneath the rowan tree, the snow berries are reminding us of what is to come.

snow berries

A reminder of things past is provided by the lupin next to the greenhouse which has got some side shoots still producing flowers.

late lupin

And the evenings now provide the delightful scent of nicotianas.

nicotiana

The pond has a leak which Mrs Tootlepedal can’t find and so we had to top it up again today but the water lilies don’t seem to mind their up and down existence.

water lily

My recorder playing friends arrived in the evening and the four of us enjoyed a varied evening of music from J S Bach to Scott Joplin.

A brisk wind had been blowing all day so I was quite pleased that I had had good musical excuses not to battle into the breeze on my bike.

The non flying bird of the day is that robin which appeared again in the early evening.  I hope that it will be a permanent garden resident from now on.

august robin 2

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa and shows a fine collection of porcupine quills which he found when walking his dogs.  He was pleased that the original owner of the quills was not about as eager dogs and porcupines don’t mix well.

porcupine quills

Once again, with light winds and a pleasing but not excessive warmth, it was a good day for a pedal, and this time I took advantage of the conditions and went for a ride.  I didn’t get out quite as quickly as I would have liked as my tendency to faff about when faced with a cycle ride kicked in again.  One of the benefits of the time wasting was a call to the hospital that resulted in me getting a physio appointment for my feet in two weeks time.

As a result, I was in a very cheerful mood when I did finally set off, only two and a half hours after Mrs Tootlepedal had roused me from my bed.  That’s quite quick for me.

I had resolved to make the most of the day by going for a long ride if my legs were in a helpful mood and I started by going down the main roads to Gretna Green, where a piper reminded visitors that they were in Scotland.

piper at Gretna

The ride to Gretna is downhill and the wind was helping so I did the first fifteen miles of my ride in an hour and manged to keep this speed up for the second fifteen miles too, though I did stop of a couple more pictures.

It is good to see one of the old towers being incorporated into a modern residence…

tower house

The wires at the bottom of the picture are part of the mainline railway which shares the valley with a motorway and the old road that I was using.

….and I looked out over the farming country back towards Langholm.

Annandale

You couldn’t get a much nicer day for cycling.

As I approached Lockerbie, I was impressed by the lake of rosebay willowherb beside the road.

fireweed at Lockerbie

After having completed my first 30 miles at a crisp pace, things slowed down a bit as I continued the long but gentle climb towards Beattock.  Here I found that an enterprising lady had opened a fast food joint at a garage just north of the village, so I stopped for a bacon roll and a cup of coffee before embarking on the final six mils of my outward journey up the valley towards Beattock summit.

I didn’t go right to the top of the summit, thanks to my late start, and turned round at the bridge leading to the wonderfully named Greenhillstairs.  bridge over M74

I was now faced with 50 miles to get back home.  It is generally down hill for the 35 miles to Gretna, which is on the sea shore, and the assistance of gravity offset the hindrance of the light wind that I was now cycling into.

I stopped at Beattock to admire the church there, perhaps the church I like best of the ones that I have seen on my rides.

 

beattock church

I was cycling down Annandale, a broad valley full of cows.

cows in annandale

A large truck stop has been created north of Lockerbie and it has a shop and a cafe mostly for the benefit of the truck drives but open to passing cyclists as well, so I stopped there for coffee and cake to fuel me up for the final 35 miles home.  I ate outside under the eagle eye of this artwork…

carving at truck stop

…which made me wonder whether the artist had been paid by how many motifs he/she could cram into one carving.  It was very busy.

A few miles further on, I paused to take a picture of the mainline railway bridge over the Dryfe Water.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I sweep over this bridge in the train when we got to see Matilda.

railway brodge over dryfe water

I needed to stop fairly frequently over the last miles of my trip to take on more water as it was still quite a warm day and to stretch my limbs which were beginning to ask me when we would stop pedalling.

Some knapweed caught my eye on one of these stops…

knapweed by old A74

…and a couple getting a grand lift to their wedding at Gretna at the next one.

Carriage at Gretna

My last stop, about five miles from home, was to admire the fine show that the big daisies are making on the Canonbie by-pass

daisies on Canonbie by-pass

In the end, my legs decided to stop moaning and keep working so I arrived home in very good order after 102 miles.  The route was rather uninspired scenically but it avoided any steep hills and let me keep pedalling steadily all the way so I enjoyed myself a lot.

I had hoped to complete the ride in seven and a half hours and I managed that almost to the second.  The stops for the bacon roll and the coffee and cake, not to mention other immobile moments for eating the two egg rolls that I had bought from John’s shop before I left Langholm, and the stretching and hydrating breaks too, all added up to another hour and a quarter so the whole outing took 8¾ hours.

This was very convenient as it got me home in perfect time to sit down to a nourishing meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, then have a shower and finally be ready to welcome Mike and Alison for their regular Friday evening visit.  Alison and I played a good selection of pieces while Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike caught up on the news.

Considering that I had had quite a busy day, I played a very satisfactory number of right notes in the right places and it rounded off a good day very well.

The flying bird of the day is a zinnia.

zinnia

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

garmin route 2 Aug 2019

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Today’s guest picture comes from my former colleague Ada and comes as a reminder of the Tour de France.  She tells me that she was sipping coffee in a cafe at the bottom of the mountain when her husband had this picture taken at the top of the Col du Tourmalet.  Hats off to him.

Tourmalet

I didn’t think of cycling in the morning here as it was a grey and drizzly day, and as it wasn’t a day for gardening either, we went off in the car to top up our supplies.

My requirement was for sunflower hearts for the birds as the siskins and sparrows have nearly finished my current stock.  Mrs Tootlepedal was after a little colour for the garden as her Sweet Williams are almost all over now.  Luckily we could combine both needs in a short circular tour and we were back home in time for lunch.

I filled the feeder with the last of the old seed and a sparrow took a very dim view of my camera’s intrusion on his meal.

staring sparrow

It was soon joined by more sparrows and the new seed will obviously be needed soon.

three sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal bought three boxes of flowers, begonias and dianthus, to plant out and left them out until she is ready to stick them in.

new flowers

She was busy in the garden after lunch and I lent a hand where I could and took the occasional picture too.

Another zinnia has come out.

zinnia

…and a new set of privet flowers have appeared.

privet

The first mallow has appeared.

mallow

I took pictures throughout the afternoon of various clematis and you can see that the rain stopped and things dried out as the day progressed.

four clematis

Some flowers seem to retain raindrops longer than others.   I took this poppy at the same time as the mallow above.

spotted poppy

As well as feeding the birds, I gave Zoe a top up feed too.

car with nosebag

There weren’t any tortoiseshell or peacock butterflies about but the garden had plenty of insects buzzing around.

two insects

And a rather scruffy blackbird hopped around while Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the hope of picking up a disturbed worm or two.

spotty blackbird

I went to sit on our new bench for a rest at one point and liked the picture made by a triple shoot of the verbena behind it.

three verbenas

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared some space in a border and planted out a new rose which she had bought in the morning.  This is part of her policy to get some less heavy headed roses into the garden.

two new roses

I was surprised to find runner bean flowers of two different colours on the vegetable garden fence but Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had bought a mixed bag of beans so that explained it.

two beans

The weather gradually improved as the day went on and I took the opportunity to top up my monthly mileage with another twenty miles round my Canonbie circuit.  There was quite a brisk wind and my legs were less keen on the whole topping up  business than I was so I had to work quite hard to get round and mostly kept my camera in my back pocket…

…but I did wonder what the tall tree had said to its friend to make it feel quite so crushed.

distant trees

My legs could have done with a rest but there is rain in the forecast for every day in the week ahead so I thought that I was well advised to take advantage of this dry spell.

I looked for butterflies when I got back but only saw a single white butterfly on the buddleias.  It is a problem of taking pictures with a pocket camera that it sometimes thinks that I am more interested in focussing on the leaves in the background than the glaringly obvious subject of the photo dead centre in the foreground.

out of focus butterfly

A couple of our main crop potato plants looked a bit unwell, so although it was too early, I dug the plants up.  The potatoes seemed sound enough and we had some with lamb mince for our tea.  They had a very acceptable taste.

main potatoes

It was not the most exciting day of the summer but the temperature remained at a perfect level (around 20°C, 70°F) and the rain was very light so we should count ourselves lucky.  All the same, there is no doubt that there is a slight feeling in the air that it is not that long till Christmas now.  Summers fairly whistle by these days.

One of the sparrows is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s grandfather Francis.  He was there to watch Matilda trying out Mrs Tootlepedal’s restored rocking horse a day or two ago under the watchful eye of her grandmother, Eileen.

(Those wondering about Matilda’s hand gesture are obviously not familiar with Woody from Toy Story.)

dav

We have had several inches of rain this week, either in short, heavy thundery downpours or persistent rain like yesterday’s, so it was good to have a fine and mostly sunny day today.

I went out into the garden after breakfast to find that the bees had been busy visiting our poppies.

opium poppy

It was still very humid and singing in the church choir taxed my breathing skills to the limit so I was glad to have a sit down and a cup of coffee when we got home.

It didn’t take me long to perk up after the coffee and I went out into to the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

I helped her pick the last of our first crop of peas and beans and then I cut as many of the sweet peas as I could before my patience ran out.

Then I had a look round.

Poppies were doing their best to look presentable after yesterday’s soaking…

six pink poppies

…and there is plenty of growth still going on.   Buddleia and rambler roses compete for attention and Mrs Tootlepedal has filled the new bed by the new electricity pole with mustard as green manure again.  I may have remarked before that she is very keen on mustard.

roses, mustard, phlox, sweet peas

The sweet peas are growing faster than I can cut them and we have several vases on the go in the house.  And the phlox is phlourishing.

The garden is full of birds as well as flowers.  We have families of starlings in a neighbour’s holly tree and blackbirds have been nesting in the garden.  This one was standing on our neighbour’s shed roof…

starling and blackbird

…but the biggest gang of birds at the moment is made up of sparrows.

sparrow horde on gfence

After a couple of days of neglect while visitors and rain where about, grass cried out for care so I mowed everything, the front lawn, the middle lawn, the greenhouse grass and the drying green. The combination of warm weather and rain had made the grass grow but it also meant that things looked good when the mowing was finished.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious soup from the peas and beans that we had picked, together with a potato and an onion from the garden, and using some chicken stock that she had made while cooking a meal for our visitors.  This was a meal with food metres rather than food miles.

I had another look round the garden after lunch. I would have liked to go for a walk but my feet are not being very helpful so the garden is the limit for most of my walks at present.

I was pleased to see that the clematis along the back fence is growing well…

clemtais back fence

…and The Wren goes from strength to strength.

wren rose

It was not hard to find butterflies on the two buddleias by the back fence and I was happy to find a couple of peacocks among the small tortoiseshells.

tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies

There were probably more white butterflies flitting about than coloured ones so I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and waited to see if I catch catch one sitting still, or even better, catch one actually flitting about.  Patience paid off.

white butterfly panel

You can never rest on your laurels where grass care is concerned, so after the butterfly capture,  I spread a little of the fertiliser that contains the magic moss eating ingredient on the middle lawn.  I will be most interested to see if I can keep the lawns a bit more moss free over the winter than they were last year.

While I was waiting for the white butterflies to come along, I saw a siskin keeping a wary eye out.

siskin staring

When I went in and looked out, I could see why a wary eye out was probably the thing to keep.  The action was non stop again….

busy siskin panel

…and led one poor sparrow to bang its head against the feeder pole in sheer desparation.

headbanger sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal sat down to watch the final stage of the Tour de France and I went out for a short cycle ride in the real world.  I was a little worried that it might be too hot but luckily the sun went in and my ride was merely warm.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it rained in the garden shortly after I set off, but I missed that and had a dry run.

My cycling camera is playing up a bit but I liked this family cow portrait at the Bloch farm so I have put it in even though the focus isn’t quite right.

staring cows

I don’t think that I have had a picture of my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead on the blog since they got their leaves on.  They always look to me as though they are about to break into a wild dance.

three trees

New and bigger daisies are out on the Canonbie by-pass and ragwort is appearing all over the place.

daisy and ragwort

I pottered round my habitual Canonbie 20 mile circuit, worried about a brisk wind but finding it more across than against or behind for most of the ride so I was able to enjoy myself.

I had a last look round the garden when I got home and noted the first zinnia of the year..

first zinnia

…and a rather lonely fuchsia flower.

first fuchsia

It has not been a good year for our permanent fuchsias.

I was able to have my evening meal and still be in time to watch the very final moments of the final stage of the Tour de France.  It has been one of the best tours to watch for some time and we will miss it now that it has gone.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch which appeared among the clouds of siskins.

flying greenfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, who left the rural delights of Somerset and visited Kew Gardens in the company of my sister Mary.  She found that it was a place where, as they say, “Here be dragons.”

kew dragon

I didn’t do much today, another cloudy,  warm and dry day, but what I did do took me  a bit of time.

I went cycling and once again, I managed to footle around for a long time, eating slices of toast, drinking coffee and doing the crossword, before I finally got going.

The weather forecast had suggested that if I got the timing right, I might be able to use a gentle north westerly wind to help me pedal down into England and then catch it as it came round to the south west and strengthened and find it helping me to get home again.

The weather forecast is a notoriously fickle affair these days but on this occasion it was perfectly correct and after 14 miles into a gentle breeze, the rest of the ride could hardly have worked out better.

Because my knees are a bit creaky, I had chosen a route with not a hill in sight once I had crossed Callister so I had nothing to do except enjoy myself.

It was a dull route from the point of view of scenic delights and the vandals had been out mowing every verge in the district so I didn’t stop much for pictures.

I passed a plant which I took to be a rosebay willowherb…

rosebay willowherb

…but it doesn’t look quite right so if any knowledgeable reader can suggest an alternative, I would be grateful.

I was going to cross the level crossing on the main line and go onto the new Carlisle by-pass but the gates were closed…

level crossing

…and remained closed for so long as we waited for a second train to pass, that I got fed up, turned back and took a different route.  This turned out well as I was able to stop at one of those roadside catering vans that live in lay-bys and have a delicious bacon roll and a cup of hot chocolate for my lunch.

I was pedalling along the road to Scaleby when my eye was caught be a fine display of bulrushes.  These are not a thing that I see often so i stopped for a look.

bullrushes at scaleby

They are striking plants.

bullrushes

The tar was melting on this section of the road when I last came along it on a hot and sunny day but at a mere 20°C today and with good cloud cover, the surface was solid enough.

As I was about to join the main Brampton to Longtown road, a surprised kestrel flew out of the hedge in front of me.  It got even more surprised when another cyclist turned off the main road towards me and it flitted about between us until it got organised and flew over a hedge and away.  I wish I could have got my camera out of my back pocket in time to catch it as it was the most beautiful brown colour.

I stopped at the bridge over the Lyne to see if it was still playing host to a large pile of driftwood.  It was.

Lyne bridge

The original bridge must have been a narrow and elegant affair.  The present mash up of two bridges is a lot less attractive.  A patch of Himalayan balsam on the bank of the river made up for this and added charm to the scene.

Lyne balsam

I stopped at my favourite three trees near Canonbie to report on my progress to Mrs Tootlepedal.  She was watching real cyclists going up big hills so I set off again, hoping to get home in time to watch the finish of the stage.

Grainstonehead trees

I needed a drink and a breather at 50 miles and I paused for a moment on the Hollows Bridge.  The Esk is a mere trickle.

hollows esk view

I got home in time to see the end of the stage, having covered 55 miles in just under four hours of pedalling time.

Those interested can see details of the route by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 24 July 2018

By the time that the Tour de France stage finished, the sun had come out and I took a walk round the garden with Mike Tinker, who had dropped in with perfect timing and then we had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Another buddleia has come out.  Mike said that he had seen two butterflies on his buddleia today so we are hopeful that we might get a visit  soon.

buddleia

The doddering dillies are doing tremendously well.

doddering dillies

As are the hostas.

hosta flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with her four zinnias.  They came in a free packet of seeds on the front of a gardening magazine and shoudln’t really be growing well as far as north as this so they are an absolute bonus.

I liked one of them in this plant combination…

phlox, zinnia, rose

…and this more subdued one too.

clematis at front door

After we had had our cup of tea, I went out to sit on our newest bench in the hope of seeing some birds.

There weren’t many to see…

siskin peering

…so I looked at roses…

common riding rose on arch

…and noticed the profusion of rowan berries on the tree behind the roses.

rowan berries

I noted the last of the polemoniums…

polemonium

…and enjoyed the evening sun on the flowers at the end of the front lawn.

phlox etc in front bed

We had more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s delicious courgette fritters with scrambled eggs and  a side helping of beetroot for tea and that brought the active part of the day to an end.

For the first time I am now a few miles ahead of my cycling mileage target for the year.  If the good weather continues, I should be able to bank a few more miles against some unfriendly weather later in the year.

The flying bird of the day buzzed about over my head while I was on the Lyne bridge.

microlight

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who got the chance of a ride in a hot air balloon.  Her picture shows how far I would have gone on the journey before finding something else to do.  I don’t like heights.  She was very brave and has put lots of pictures from her flight on her blog.

filling the balloon

It rained again here….

wet philadelphus

…but once again only very lightly and not enough to register on the scientific rain gauge.

I had time to put in a load of washing and  do a little gardening after breakfast before a visitor arrived.  It was Murray, an old university friend .  His wife was working for the day in Carlisle so he took the opportunity to come up for a coffee.   He brought some very nice biscuits with him and Scott the minister’s finely tuned biscuit radar must have been working well because he  arrived not long afterwards.  As Murray is an ex church organist and from a family of ministers, he and Scott and plenty to talk about.

Scott says that his chickens are enjoying the coconuts and as our birds don’t seem to like them, I think that the coconuts will soon  be returning to the manse.

Murray, who has spent most of his working lifetime in the theatre, went off to inspect the Buccleuch Centre before going back to Carlisle, promising to come again soon when he and his wife return to the area.

I had the bird watching camera up both before and after the visit (but not during it, of course).

The birds got stuck in early today…

chaffinch and siskins

…and were still at it when the evening came…

siskin, greenfinch, sparrow

…though some wasted time in shouting…

siskin shouting

…when they could have been eating.

A sparrow concentrated on the important thing in life.

sparrow on feeder

There were plenty of insects about in the garden, some more welcome than others.

greenfly on cornflower

The stachys is going over but it still has enough flowers to make it attractive…

bee on stachys flower

…to all and sundry.

bee on stachys

There are still no coloured butterflies about but I did catch a moth, which obligingly stopped right in front of me.

moth on hairy leaf

(The general whiskeriness of plants when you look at them closely continues to delight me.)

For a cloudy day, there was plenty of sunshine about…

tall sunflowers

…and the zinnias would brighten any day.

zinnia

After another bowl of nourishing green soup for my lunch, I went to hang out the washing before going cycling and, of course, it started to rain.

However this was another false alarm and it soon stopped and I got the washing hung up and my new bike out.

It was windy again.  The new cooler weather pattern is bringing winds from the Atlantic across the country and while the relative coolness (18°C) was most welcome to me, the wind was less so.

It was strong enough to make me concentrate on cycling so I didn’t stop for many pictures but the mass of meadowsweet near Wauchope Schoolhouse did stop me in my tracks.

meadowsweet at wauchope Schoolhouse

And I like the little carpet of birds foot trefoil beside the cycle track at Hagg on Esk.

birds foot trefoil

I stopped for a breather, a drink and a wildflower check at Irvine House before the final push back to Langholm.

I have passed a lot of these over the past few weeks without recording them.

wild geranium

And I managed to find an umbellifer without a red soldier beetle on it.

hoverfly on umbellifer

We have had another new bench delivered from our local benchmaker and it provided a handy place to sit down and rest when I got back after 32 miles.

post cycling selfie

In  spite of several hundred miles in the sunshine, my legs refuse to acquire a cyclist’s tan and remain as peely-wally as ever.  It is embarrassing.

As the sun had come out by this time and there is still no rain in the forecast, I set about doing as much watering as I could bear before going in to make my tea.

The usual beans were accompanied by fresh carrots today.

carrots and beans

 

I think Mrs Tootlepedal may have won this year’s battle in the eternal war against carrot root fly. (Fingers crossed)

Mrs Tootlepedal returns later this week so some serious time will have to be spent tidying up before she comes, both indoors and in the garden.  You just don’t realise just how fast weeds grow until you are personally responsible for them….and the same applies to piles of dust.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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