Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia and shows a curiously mauve sunset in Devon yesterday.

mauve sunsetWe didn’t have any sunset here yesterday to notice and nor did we have a sunrise today as our spell of miserable weather continues.  It rained pretty well all day and as a result I only went for one walk, though I did add a few more yards to my tour of the New Town with two bridges.  The extra yards were in the form of a diversion to Pool Corner to see how much water was going over the weir there.

Pool CornerAlthough there was a reasonable flow of water going down the Wauchope, I was rather disappointed to see how low the Esk was when I got to the suspension bridge.  Considering that it had been raining a lot of yesterday and all night too, I was expecting a torrent…

Esk…but there was barely a flood.

Still, the arches of the bridge looked impressively sturdy as the river flowed through them.

Langholm BridgeI waited until after lunch for this walk to see if the weather would clear up.  It didn’t.

In the morning, I was visited first by Guthrie….

Guthrie…who brought Bruce round to see how I was doing, and then by Sandy who popped in for the same purpose.  It is very refreshing to have a steady stream of well wishers.

I was next visited by the district nurse who was checking on my operation scar.  She was so happy with my progress that she discharged me from her care.  Although her visits have been a pleasure, it was still good to know that she need not come back.

I also spent a little time peering at the rain out of the kitchen window.

siskin and goldfinch

There was just a siskin and a goldfinch to see at first.

goldfinch and siskin

Then another goldfinch arrived

goldfinch and siskin

And then more.

goldfinch and siskin

A chaffinch joined in

And that completed the cast list for the time being.  It was very wet and some birds don’t seem to be as well waterproofed as others as you can see if you look at the goldfinch in the bottom left of the final picture of this series.

wet goldfinchIt looks very soggy and miserable.

Although it didn’t attempt to get seed from the feeder, a starling appeared a bit later.

starlingIts waterproofing seemed to be working quite well.

starlingI think from its colour, that this is a juvenile bird.

That little spell of bird watching and the walk were the only excitements of the day which was otherwise spent quietly indoors doing nothing in particular other than eating the many excellent meals provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I did set my belt driven bike up on the turbo trainer in the garage and managed to turn the pedal once or twice but the bend in my knee will need to be a bit better before I can use it in earnest.  I will try again in three days time.

Meanwhile, a goldfinch sweeps in as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

There being no guest picture to hand today, I am putting in a picture of a guest instead.  My Newcastle correspondent dropped in to see how I was doing.  This was very nice of her.  Sadly, I didn’t have the proper camera set up ready and had to make do with a trembly hand held Pocketcam which does not do her justice.

FionaIt was another grey and wet day so my morning walk was a dull circuit of the New Town under my brolly again, although I did liven things up by going round in the opposite direction to my last tour.  This was so exciting that I had to sit down for quite some time when I got back in.

Since it was such a miserable day today, it was lucky that Mrs Tootlepedal had chosen to dig up up our Christmas tree from the garden while it was sunny yesterday.

Christmas TreeIt is sitting in the greenhouse today, getting ready to be brought in on Christmas Eve.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it has grown nine inches since it was planted out after Christmas last year.  We are hoping that it will last us for many years to come as it has got on so well this year.

There was little chance of a scenic walk or even a scenic drive as the wet and windy weather was covering the whole of our part of the country so the bird feeder offered me the only chance of a photo.

Mostly the feeder was quite quiet on the morning…

solo goldfinch….but after lunch there was a sudden inrush of goldfinches.

goldfinchesgoldfinchesThey poured in from all sides.

goldfinchesgoldfinchesAnd went off as quickly as they had come.

I had just settled down to put a week of the newspaper index into the computer database when the doorbell rang and my Newcastle correspondent appeared.  She had been given a moment’s peace while Granny and Grandpa took her two children to see our community pantomime and we were very pleased to catch up with her news.  We were then joined by Mike Tinker so the afternoon passed in cheerful conversation indoors in contrast to the grey and miserable weather outside.

After Mike and Fiona had left, I completed the week of the newspaper index and then set out on another walk.  I am supposed to do a little more each time I go out but I wasn’t looking forward to a second trudge through the drizzle.  Fortunately, the rain relented and I was able to keep the brolly furled and step out in style.

Once again, my mobile phone tracked my footsteps and the sharp eyed will notice that when I came to the river I crossed it…

Strava map 21 Dec 14…and not only that, I crossed it back again.  All this added another tenth of a mile to my distance and made me very happy.

An excellent meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal rounded off a very satisfactory shortest day of the year and we are now looking forward to spring with keen anticipation.

Another of those fleeting goldfinches is the rather impressionistic flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

Two toddles and a tootle

Today’s guest picture comes from the camera of Mrs Tootlepedal who visited Matilda yesterday.  Matilda doesn’t always realise how important it is to stay very still in low light.

matildaThe bigger pill gave me a reasonable night’s sleep and I was on the ball enough to make the porridge for breakfast  for the first time in three weeks.  In such small steps, my recovery is measured.

After breakfast, another sick visitor called in to ask after my health and posed (a bit reluctantly) for the camera.


Riley had brought our neighbour Liz with him.

After a shower, I went out on another circular tour of the New Town and by cleverly adding in a small diversion, I got my distance up to 1.1 miles, another small step on the way to total world domination.

It was a much better day and I took Pocketcam with me just in case I met something exciting.

I like the way that the berries on these bushes by the Church bridge  have survived such a severe clipping.

berriesWhen I got to the Town Bridge, I cast a longing eye over towards the Castleholm and the Kilngreen…..

Kilngreen….but they are still out of range for a walk from the house for a few days at least.

Much of my day is taken up with swallowing pills and exercises.  The exercises are not too long in themselves but there is also the additional time spent summoning up the energy to do them and then sitting down with a pack of frozen peas on the knee after they have been done.

I did have time to look out of the window briefly.  It was a chaffinch day today.

chaffincheschaffinchesThey are always keen to have their say.

Luckily Mrs Tootlepedal is still providing a high standard of personal care in the form of soup with croutons for lunch and chauffeuring when required so after lunch and a quick robin shot….

robin….she drove me to the Castleholm and we enjoyed a walk up to Holmhead and back.  The recent light frosts have put paid to most of the fungus but there were the odd signs left here and there.

fungusI have to put quite a lot of attention into the actual process of walking so I don’t have the same amount of attention left as I would like to stare about as we go along.  In desperation, I picked a gate just because it was big enough for me to notice.

gate to CastleholmAs we drove home, Mrs Tootlepedal kindly paused on the Kilngreen so that I could commune with Mr Grumpy.

heronHe wishes everyone a very happy Christmas.

I just had time when we got back to have a cup of tea and apply the peas to the knee before Mike came round with his cello.

We are playing some two part inventions by Bach and when we have mastered all the accidentals that the old master sticks into his pieces, they will sound very pretty.

All of this made for quite a busy day and I was glad to have a little snooze before tea.

The evening was given over to the serious business of watching the final of Strictly Come Dancing and opinion was spilt tin the Tootlepedal household.  The Great British Public in their wisdom agreed with Mrs Tootlepedal.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of day.

flying chaffinch

A window of opportunity

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  It shows his grandson Sam and his dog Guthrie having coming to a truce in the chasing about business.  I’m not sure how long this outbreak of peace is going to last.sam and guthrieAfter breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal, having run the rule over me and deciding that I was able to look after myself for a day, took off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

I was assisted in my plan of behaving very well by the weather which discouraged any thoughts of long walks with frequent heavy showers and brisk winds.

The light was a little better though so I set up the camera to peer out of the window on my behalf.

In a sign of the advance of colder weather, two siskins appeared among the goldfinches.

siskins and goldfinchesAs time went by, more goldfinches appeared….

flying goldfinch…and took over the feeder…

goldfinches…giving any chaffinches who dared to approach a very hard stare.

I took the camera away from the window when Dropscone appeared bringing gifts of Brussels sprouts and treacle scones.  No sooner were the scones and coffee laid out, than the minister appeared and we welcomed him in.  All sick visitors get their picture taken these days so here are Scott and Dropscone.

scottDennisBy the time that they left, the rain was pouring down again….

goldfinch and chaffinches…and my only outing of the morning was to the corner shop to purchase a tin of soup for my lunch.

The showers were passing overhead very briskly and as soon as I thought that there might be a walking opportunity, another shower came along so I gave up and used a bright spell to watch the birds again.  The chaffinches were making a bid to claim the feeder.

chaffincheschaffinches…but fell into the trap of arguing among themselves.

chaffinchesAfter lunch, I finally found a weather window long enough to allow me to potter up to the High Street to collect some prescriptions from the chemist and to get home again before the next shower started.

This was my first pedestrian venture across the Esk and into the old town of Langholm so I was pleased to to accomplish this mission.

Once home, the afternoon merged soporifically into the early evening with a nap on the sofa and a brief visit from Sandy on his way home from work being the high spots.

Mrs Tootlepedal caught an early train back from Edinburgh and arrived home in time to cook my tea.  She was a welcome sight because the weather as she drove across the winding road from Lockerbie was very wet and windy and I was pleased that she got home safely.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed playing flute and keyboard sonatas by Vivaldi, Telemann and Marcello as well as a tuneful waltz by a chap called Pierre Bouillon who died in 1883.  As always, playing some music was very therapeutic.

I am pleased to be able to offer a genuine flying goldfinch today.

flying goldfinch

Two guys named Mike

Today’s guest picture was supplied by my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been travelling for her work recently but as the only views she got were of the rubbish bins outside the windows of her Travelodge rooms, she has sent me a seasonal picture of some tasty biscotti instead.

biscottiI tested out a new ‘big pill’ last night and it did give me an uninterrupted five hours of sleep leading to a late breakfast.  Ever ready to look a gift horse in the mouth, I should add that it took me the next three hours to recover from this.  However, as I was able to take a shower for the first time for a fortnight, I was quite perky before lunchtime when Sandy dropped in for a quick visit.

He had been up to fill the Moorland bird feeders but the weather had been so foul that he hadn’t stayed to check what birds were around.

The rain eased off for a moment so I decided to go for a walk to work up an appetite for lunch but by the time that I had got ready, it had started to rain again.  I was feeling courageous so I went out with a crutch in one hand and a brolly in the other, ready to brave the weather and set a new personal best for distance.

After about 400 yards, the wind was so strong that it blew my brolly inside out and the thought of being found in the gutter in an undignified tangle of crutch, brolly and wonky knee soon persuaded me that discretion was the better part of valour and I cut my circuit short and headed for home.

I was fortified by a bowl of mushroom soup  with croutons freshly made by the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal.

In the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal went out shopping and I was visited by two guys named Mike.  First Mike Tinker came round to enquire about my health and while he was still here, Mike Taudevin appeared with his cello, ready for some duets.

As the day was too gloomy  for any bird feeder pictures, I seized the opportunity to take pictures of the two of them so that readers of the blog will be able to distinguish one Mike from the other when they appear in future posts.

This is one Mike:

Mike TinkerAnd this is the other Mike.

Mike TaudevinIt would be hard to find two more reverend figures.  I would like to thank them for submitting to the unforgiving gaze of the lens without any warning.

Mike left Mike and me to enjoy an hour’s playing.  An hour is as long as I can sit at one time so we stopped then and had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from the shops.

By this time the rain and wind had finally exhausted themselves and I set out again to do the walk I had intended to do in the morning.   It was pleasantly warm and the streets were very quiet so I enjoyed myslef and was able to make a complete circuit of the New Town of Langholm….

strava map 18 Dec 14…which my mobile phone kindly recorded for me.   This turned out to be exactly a mile but as it took me over twenty minutes to complete the circuit, Mo Farrah can rest easily for the time being.  Still, I was very pleased to have reached this milestone on the road to recovery and ate my tea with relish.

I am hoping for a glimpse of sun and a chance to watch a bird or two tomorrow but meantime, Matilda has kindly agreed to stand in as flying bird of the day today.


At a stretch

Today’s guest picture, taken by my sister Mary as she passed by, shows the traditional Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square in London.  It is nearly as fine as the one we have in the Market Place here in Langholm.

Christmas tree, Trafalgar SquareOur day started with an early rise and a quick breakfast before going across to Annan to see the physio.  The early rise was greatly helped by a better night’s sleep courtesy of the bigger pill.

I had been anxious to see the physio, because although I was happy with my leg straightening, I was a bit worried about my difficulty in getting the knee to bend.  Needless to say, the physio, after a careful assessment, declared herself more than happy with my knee bending but instructed me to do a lot more work on the leg straightening exercises.

She also gave me some very useful tips on walking, a thing you might think that you knew how to do after 70 years of practice but which turns out to be quite tricky to learn.  The secret is a good heel lead.

It was a very good visit and I left full of good advice and in an extremely positive state of mind.  She says that I can increase my walking distances so if some suitable weather arrives, I hope to be well over the mile barrier before long.

It had started to rain by the time we got home so I went for a shortish walk with my brolly after we had had a cup of coffee.

There were some familiar birds to be seen in the rain outside the kitchen window.


chaffinchA few goldfinches turned up….

goldfinches… and pushed the chaffinches off.

goldfinch and chaffinchAfter lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to our local cottage hospital to sing carols with the church choir and I found out just how effective the bigger pills last night were by sleeping most of the afternoon away.  This is the downside of painkillers.  If they are strong enough actually to kill the pain. they knock you flat as well.   Still, a good snooze was quite welcome, especially as my knee was feeling the effects of doing some vigorous work with the physio in the morning.

A visit from Mike Tinker, with whom we enjoyed a cup of tea and biscuit, was the only other event of note and the day wound down its conclusion very peacefully.

A goldfinch in the fully streamlined position is the flying bird of the day.



Bigger pills

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my choir and recorder playing friend Sue who came to look at our modest compost bins in the summer and has set herself the task of building a compost city from recycled bits and pieces in her own garden.  She is making good progress.

Sue's compostAlthough I have been very sorry to miss three choir concerts with two different choirs over the past couple of weeks, Sue told me that we had done well to miss yet another one with the Carlisle Choir on Sunday.  The choir had to hang around for several hours in a very cold, wet and windy football stand just to sing two songs and the general consensus was that time night have been better spent elsewhere. I am thankful for small mercies.

Our recorder group are meeting tonight for the last time this year and I am looking forward to being able to join them again in 2015 as I have been missing the playing.

My knee was inspected both by the district nurse and my doctor today and pronounced very satisfactory in terms of healing.  I am seeing the physio tomorrow to get an opinion on its mobility and if she is happy too, I will be well on the road to recovery.

Meantime, I am having trouble sleeping and after consulting the doctor about possible causes and remedies we have settled for bigger and better pills.  I am keeping my fingers crossed, as a good night’s sleep really would be the icing on the cake.

I got out for three little walks today.  My first was to the shop and I managed to have my shoulder bag slung outside my coat today.  The shopkeeper was very impressed.

My second and third outings were to the banks of the Esk, one on foot in the morning sunshine, and the other after a drive when the skies had clouded over in the afternoon.

EskI did try to record one of my walks yesterday on my cycle computer but I was going so slowly that it refused to believe that I was walking at all which was a bit of an insult.  I used my mobile phone today and that worked better so I can tell you that in the morning I walked seven tenths of a mile in 19 minutes.,  Heady stuff.

I took the afternoon picture of the Esk from the Byreburnfoot Bridge and was impressed by the amount of lichen which  adorns the parapet.  Here is a tiny selection.

lichen at ByreburnThe afternoon walk finished very well.  Almost as soon I had got organised and sat down for a cup of tea when we got home,  Mrs Tootlepedal had added to her chauffeuring skills by whipping up a Swiss roll.

Swiss rollIt went down well.  Since Mrs Tootlepedal is cooking all my meals at the moment, the first thing that I am going to have to do when I regain fitness, is to lose a lot of weight.

The bird activity was quite muted today but there were one or two to watch.


A goldfinch manages to find its footing at a feeder without a perch.


Another one looks on from the plum tree

Perhaps the lack of birds is caused by others living nearby putting put a more exciting selection of food.  Certainly this blackbird doesn’t look very cheerful about what he found.

blackbirdThe robin is more easily pleased.

robinHere’s  a flying chaffinch coming to send me a good night’s sleep.

flying chaffinch


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