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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to Seville.  I enquired about oranges and she has sent both oranges and lemons.

seville oranges and lemons

We had another dispiritingly grey day today so it was no great hardship to spend the morning in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place.  I welcomed two seekers after information in the first five minutes but that also turned out to be the sum total of all the visitors I welcomed so I had a quiet time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and doing two crosswords.

For the rest of the day it seemed as though there was a persistent light drizzle, just light enough to send you to the back door from time to time to see if it was raining and and just heavy enough to send you back in again.

A bright spot in the day was the welcome arrival of a telephone engineer to fix our intermittent internet and dead phone connection.  He turned out to be a photographer himself and he admired my new big lens.  More importantly, he sorted out our problem and left us with the phone line working and with slightly better speeds on our internet connection.

Oh joy.

I did look out of the kitchen window and had a lot of fun with a robin who on several occasions waited until I had put my camera away before arriving and posing and then flew off chuckling as soon as I fetched the camera out again.

I had to make do with slightly bedraggled and disconsolate goldfinches…

goldfinchesgoldfinches

A pair of blue tits.

blue tits

And two curiosities, a siskin and a white headed sparrow.

siskin and white headed sparrow

I checked through last year’s posts for late October to see if we had had a visit from a siskin but didn’t find one.  The research did bring out what a miserable year this has been as I leafed through some lovely pictures of vivid autumn colour which made our dull weather this year all the more hard to bear.

My flute pupil Luke came and we had a good tootle but my Monday night trio is on hold as our cello player has only just got out of hospital and is not back to playing form yet.

Owing to the exceedingly dim light, there is no flying bird of the day and owing to the persistent drizzle there isn’t even a flower to take its place….

…oh, all right.  Here is a gloomy goldfinch who had been flying a bit earlier.

goldfinch

 

Bring me sunshine

Today’s guest picture comes from my much travelled Somerset correspondent, Venetia, who has turned up in Seville and was impressed by the orderly queue she found there.

Seville

The promised better weather was a bit slow in coming today and didn’t arrive until we were leaving for Carlisle and our afternoon choir practice.  I suppose that this was predictable but it was still annoying.

Mrs Tootlepedal was well enough to go off to sing in the church choir in the morning but I wasn’t feeling at my peak so I was happy enough to stay at home and make a beef stew for the slow cooker and stare out of the kitchen window while I cooked.

There was no shortage of interest.  The sparrows got in first after I had filled the feeder but goldfinches soon arrived.

goldfinch and sparrows

…and started bickering.  If only they would queue in an orderly manner like the people of Seville, there would be plenty of seed for them all.

goldfinches

I was startled to look up and see a starling among the  small birds.

starling

One the stew was safely in the slow cooker, I went upstairs and enjoyed the luxury of a hot bath as I had been generally feeling a little chilled both yesterday and this morning.

The bath warmed me up well and when I came back down, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from church.

Naturally she didn’t waste much time before getting out into the garden in spite of a blustery wind and a hint of drizzle.  I went out to dead head some dahlias and poppies and to take a picture or two to brighten another dull day.

The nasturtiums are continuing to do well…

nasturtiums

…and the overnight rain had not knocked everything else down.

rose, poppy, fuchsia

The vegetable garden is still providing food.  Mrs Tootlepedal admired her pak choi which is coming on well….

pak choi

…..and picked a handsome turnip to go with the slow cooked stew in the evening.

turnip

After lunch, I had time for another look out of the kitchen window. The action had not let up.

The birds were coming in from every angle.

busy feeder

Although the birds always seem very accurate in their approach to the feeder as far as the naked eye is concerned, the camera catches the little adjustments they make as they come in to land.

sparrow landing

Knowing that I was soon going to have to go to Carlisle, the light improved a bit and I took four portraits of our regular customers.

_DSC8097_DSC8100_DSC8101_DSC8105

The hot bath (and a paracetamol) had worked wonders on my well being by the time we got to choir practice and I was able to sing much better than I had feared. We had two enjoyable songs to practise today which helped a lot although one bar of very unsympathetic leaps and jumps in one of the songs proved a step too far. Why a composer should decide to stick a single very tricky bar in the middle of an otherwise very singable piece is a mystery to me.  Perhaps he just hates tenors.

The light of the setting sun was glorious as we drove home and this only emphasised the fact that since the clocks go back next weekend, this would be the last time for months that we will drive home from choir in daylight.

The stew was good, the turnip was delicious and to round off a day which had turned out well, Mrs Tootlepedal made a baked rice pudding to follow. Simply heaven.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

And so is the other flying bird of the day but it is a different bird.

flying goldfinch

Nothing much

Today’s guest picture comes from our older son and shows a pleasant reservoir near Edinburgh round which he walks his dogs.

reservoir

After yesterday’s warm, calm and sunny weather, today was rather chilly, always grey and sometimes rainy.  It came after yet more heavy rain overnight so everything is decidedly damp.  It got me down a bit and I had a indifferent day, largely wasted.

I did make some soup for lunch but that was the only noticeable activity of the morning apart from a dahlia census….

dahlias

…which I conducted because Attila the Gardener is threatening to have them all up any day now.

I checked on the poppies too.

poppies

Alert readers will realise that one of the poppies is a rose but five is an awkward number for a frame so it got included to make up numbers.

It has been so frost free that odd unseasonal flowers keep on appearing.  Today I noticed two blooms on the Weigela.

weigela

I did put the camera up at the kitchen window and there was continuous activity at the seed feeder.

busy feeder

Sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches competed for spare places at the feeder

goldfinch

Leading to some face to face confrontations

sparrow and goldfinches

A sparrow gives a goldfinch a hard stare

sparrows

Another one actually assaults a fellow sparrow

There were some peaceful moments though.

A chaffinch tries to remember what he came out for.

chaffinch

A collared dove displays very fashionable bootees.

collared dove

A robin practices his “Rod Steiger as Napoleon”  pose

robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who is pretty well recovered now, went off for an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I sieved a bit of compost and mowed the drying green.  Both these tasks were made tricky because of the general sogginess so I stopped gardening and rang Sandy to see if he fancied an outing.

He did.

It was really too grey for a proper walk so we went to the bird hide at the Moorland Feeders for a while.  I saw coal tits, blue tits and great tits….

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

…sometimes at the same time.

coal tit and great tit

There were lots and lots of chaffinches too…

chaffinch

….but it was chilly sitting in the hide and no unusual birds turned up so we drove back down the hill, stopping at my favourite spot…

Skippers Bridge

….which was also looking rather grey today.

There is a bit of colour in the trees along the river here….

River Esk at Skippers

…but in general, the trees seem to be losing their leaves without putting on much of a display for us.

We drove on down the river and stopped again.  There were spots of colour to be seen…

autumn colour

…and some impressive roots on a river side tree….

riverside roots

…but there seem to be as many bare trees about as trees with leaves on.faded autumn colour

We might have explored a bit more, as it was the sort of day when fungus might be found but some persistent rain persuaded us that home was the place to be.

Sandy dropped me off and I spent some useful time practising songs for tomorrow’s rehearsal with our Carlisle choir.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting which had been very successful (and well supplied with delicious cakes) and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

In spite of the much heralded arrival in Britain of Storm Brian, the forecast for Langholm tomorrow is quite cheerful.   I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches having an argument.

flying goldfinches

 

Not so dusty

Today’s guest picture comes from long time reader, Zyriacus from Solingen in Germany.  His peace has been interrupted by the loud calls from some visiting birds, Psittacula krameri, better known here as the green parakeet.

Psittacula krameri

We had a quiet and sunny day today.  It took some getting used to.

I should have been up early and out on my bike but after getting a bit of a shock cycling in the Saharan dust a couple of days ago, I thought it best to fortify myself with some treacle scones before setting out and luckily Dropscone was available for a cup of coffee and kindly brought some with him.

He had no tales of missed putts or unfortunate adventures among the trees to tell because the golf course is so soggy that he hasn’t been able to play recently.

After he left, I managed to waste a bit more time before getting the fairly speedy bike out.  I had a look at the garden first.  There was nothing much to see as flowers were hanging their heads after heavy overnight rain but the nasturtiums leaves looked quite cheerful in the sunshine.

nasturtium leaves

I took a moment to look at birds sitting in the plum tree….

Birds in the plum tree

…and finally got going.

It was a glorious day for a pedal, reasonably warm for the time of year, pretty calm and sunny for most of the ride.

Autumn is here though as a look back down Wauchopedale showed.

Wauchopedale

Not to mention several bare trees. This was my favourite today.

Bare tree

I pedalled down to Gretna across country and then came home by main roads, stopping near Canonbie to admire these Highland cattle.

Highland cows at canonbie

The smoke from a cottage chimney at Byreburnfoot underlined the autumnal feeling.

Byreburn

And a look up the River Esk confirmed it.

Esk at Byreburn

I could see a dot in the middle of the river and a closer look showed that it was an angler.

Angler in Esk at Byreburn

A brave man.

The old A7 as I was getting near home was my last photographic stop

Old A7 near Langholm

It was a most enjoyable ride and without trying very hard, I covered the thirty miles at an average speed of about two  miles an hour faster than my dusty pedal on Wednesday.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was still at work in the garden and that was a relief too as it shows that she is getting a little better every day.

I had a look round the garden to see if things had perked up after a sunny day.

They had.

The poppies had their heads up and a bee was busy.

poppy and bee

The Fuchsias continue to delight me.

Fuchsia

Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted this fungus on the stump of a cotoneaster.

Fungus on cotoneaster

She almost thinks it must have grown in a day because she doesn’t remember seeing it there yesterday.

Fungus on cotoneaster

I went inside and started to look out of the window while there was still a bit of light left.  The birds didn’t seem to worry about the presence of the gardener still hard at work.

The goldfinches were very put out to find that a greenfinch was in their place on the feeder.

goldfinch and greenfinch

I refilled the feeder and when the goldfinches and greenfinches took a break, the chaffinches came flying in.

flying chaffinches

They were soon followed by more goldfinches and quite a few sparrows too.

flying goldfinch and sparrow

I had a very enjoyable time watching  a good deal of bickering and pushing and shoving as blue tits, greenfinches, goldfinches, sparrows and chaffinches all battled to get a seed or two.

A greenfinch took a dim view of the rowdy behaviour.

greenfinch

The feeding frenzy continued but I retired for a shower and by the time that I came back downstairs, the light had gone.

Our landline is in a very poor state and our phone has given up entirely.  The internet is still going but in an “off and on” sort of way so using the computer requires a good deal of patience but thankfully it has stayed on long enough to get this far on tonight’s post so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will let me publish.

If you don’t get to read these words, you will know that it has failed again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round, having survived  a very wet holiday in Oban, and in spite of missing a week’s practice, Alison and I had a very rewarding time playing Loeillet and Telemann with a bit of Nicolas Chedeville thrown in.

The flying bird of the day is not technically the best flying bird picture that I took today but catching a flying greenfinch is rare for me.

flying greenfinch

 

 

Today’s guest picture comes from my younger son Al, who visited the Enchanted Forest near Pitlochry with his family earlier this week.  They saw some wonders.

wicker lighthouse

As Mrs Tootlepedal is nearly but not quite back to 100% fitness, I went by myself to visit Edinburgh today.

I started early and after waving goodbye to the dahlias and catching a train at Lockerbie, I found myself in a coffee house opposite the tram stop at Haymarket Station…

trip to Edinburgh

…where I had a cup of coffee and a good chat with our older son Tony.  He kindly stopped work for a while to meet me.  He is in the process (if all goes well) of selling his current house in the middle of the city and buying one with a good garden suitable for dogs rushing about out in on the other side of the Forth.  It is a nerve-wracking business.

After we parted, I had a stroll round Edinburgh and took a few pictures as I went along.

As our internet is behaving very badly due to a fault on our phone socket, I will keep the commentary to a minimum and hope to get this posted before our connection fails again.

I passed St Mary’s cathedral where a boy from Langholm used to sing in the cathedral choir.

St Mary's Cathedral

It looked more cheerful from the side.

 

 

St Mary's Cathedral

I took a wide view across the Water of Leith…

A wide view across the Water of Leith

…and then peered down on to the river from a couple of bridges which I had walked under on my last tour in this area.

Water of Leith from above

Water of Leith from above

The Dean Bridge on the right crosses a deep chasm  and it made me nervous to look over the parapet of the bridge.

The New Town has many fine façades…

New Town facade

…and many modest back lanes behind them.

New Town rear

There is any amount of interesting detail.

New Town  balconies

I left the New Town and walked up to the end of Princes Street where I came across this architectural hodgepodge.

Ghillie Dhu

I crossed Princes Street and walked along Castle Terrace, so named because it is a terrace and it lies in the shadow of the castle…

Edinburgh Castle

…and it has a car park.

There was some nice autumn colour here and there.

Castle Terrace

I walked down some steps onto Kings Stables Road (I don’t know why it is called that) which sits right under the castle…

Edinburgh Castle

…and entered the Grassmarket.  This was a dark and gloomy place of ill repute when we were students but it has been severely gentrified now and is a very pleasant place to visit.

grassmarket

I had hoped to catch a flying city bird but they were sightseeing too.

city bird

I left the Grassmarket by Victoria Terrace….

Victoria Terrace

…and climbed up through a narrow wynd….

wynd

…onto the upper level of the street whence I could look down on the way that I had come.

Victoria Terrace

Another narrow entry took me up to the High Street where I had some very upmarket haggis for my lunch.

After lunch, I left the High Street and headed down to Princes Street, viewing the Scott Monument on my way…

Scott Monument

It is purely its position opposite the castle that makes Princes Street a tourist attraction. Its buildings are very indifferent.

…and passing both the National Gallery…

National Gallery

…and the Scottish Portrait Gallery….

Scottish Portrait gallery

…which have contributed to Edinburgh sometimes being referred to as the Athens of the North.

From Princes Street, I caught a bus down to Easter Road where I joined Matilda and her father for an afternoon of fun.  After practising kicking the ball with both feet, a most important skill if Scotland is to take its rightful place in the world, I spent some time getting thrashed at both Pelmanism and Snap.  Then fortunately we turned to other amusements which passed the time most pleasantly until Clare arrived back from Glasgow  and preparations for the evening meal began.

I didn’t stay for this and left to catch an earlier train home than usual.  The journey was uneventful and the rain once I got out at Lockerbie was unrelenting on my drive home.

I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was another step forward on the road to recovery so it has been a most enjoyable day.

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently visited Banwell Castle and sent me this picture of the gatehouse.  I am glad to see that they festoon potential photographic subjects with telephone wires down there as well as up here.

Banwell castle Gatehouse

The best weather of the day today was in the morning when it was calm and sunny so it was unfortunate that I had agreed to act as a substitute welcomer in the Welcome to Langholm office from 10am to 12 noon.

Still, I got a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and welcomed several visitors and both supplied them with information and extracted a little money for booklets from them so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I looked out through the kitchen window to see if the goldfinches had come back to the feeder.

They had…

goldfinch

…in numbers…

goldfinch

…and in squabbling mood.

goldfinch

They looked even better when the sun came out.

goldfinch

They were joined by sparrows…

sparrow and goldfinch

…and chaffinches, this one wearing a bird ringer’s ring on his leg…

chaffinch

…and blue tits.

blue tit

This is a very satisfactory start for the new feeder season.

After lunch, we went out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not quite back to 100% yet but she was able to do some good work in the garden today.  I had a look round.

The poppies are continuing to do well and to attract insects.

hoverfly on poppy

I didn’t see the bee creeping up on this one when I took the picture.

bee approaching poppy

Recently there have been several pictures of fuchsias with a pot marigold in the background.  I reversed that today.

pot marigold

I didn’t hang around in the garden though as I wanted to make use of a good afternoon for cycling.

After a few outings on wet roads, my fairly speedy bike needed a wash and lubrication so I was a while before I got going but I got out in plenty of time to do thirty miles or even a bit more.

In the event, perhaps because of the dust from the Sahara which Ophelia brought up with her, thirty miles was quite enough and cycling was a rather weird experience with my brain in turmoil as I tried to sort out what I was actually thinking from snippets of dreams and imagination that confused me as I pedalled along.   There are days when being an asthmatic cyclist is not the best thing to be.  A say with Saharan dust in the air is one of those.

Luckily, my cycling reflexes were in good order and as I went at a very modest average speed, I was able to get along quite safely although my concentration was anywhere but on the road ahead.

I must have been aware of my surroundings a bit though, as I stopped to take a few pictures as I went round.

There were various shades of autumn as I went along.

View of windmills

It was a good day for a pedal although it was one of those days when the wind seemed to be against for an awful lot of the journey.

autumn colour

Hedges have been clipped but the frequent rain showers have swept the roads clean so there were no thorny problems for me to avoid.

clipped hedges

The roads were quiet which was perhaps lucky as I was pedalling in a bit of a dwam.

KPF road

Gilnockie Tower was looking quite crisp as I passed.

Hollows Tower

And the distillery looked very cosy tucked in among the autumn leaves.

Langholm Distillery from skippers bridge

I fear that we are not going to get a really colourful show of autumn colour this year but perhaps there is still time.  I think we need a few cooler mornings to set thing off.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me the work that she had been doing in the garden in my absence.  She has great plans for the autumn and winter so that she will be ready for a bright new gardening year.  I will try to record developments as they happen.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and as there were four tenors and only one bass, I jumped ship and went off to sing bass (with variable success).  It was probably quite a good idea as my voice was suffering a bit from the dusty bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch one while the sun was out.

flying goldfinch

Today’s guest picture comes from my ex colleague Marjorie who is on holiday in Yorkshire.  It shows a pub at Robin Hood’s bay than which you can go no further.

Robin Hood's Bay pub

Ophelia passed up by in the night, huffing and puffing but not blowing the house down….or anything else much.

There wasn’t even a lot of rain so this was one event where we were more than happy to find out that it didn’t live up to its advance billing.

It was still grey and pretty windy in the morning so after a quick visit to the High Street, I was happy to stay in and drink coffee with Sandy.

Mrs Tootlepedal signalled a step in the direction of a full recovery by cleaning the oven.

When Sandy left, I got out my new lens and pointed it out of the kitchen window in the hope of seeing some visitors to the feeder.  I was not disappointed.

The first arrivals were a small flock of goldfinches…

goldfinch

…which monopolised the feeder for a while.

When a gap appeared it was filled by a pair of blue tits…

blue tits

…and a house sparrow who bit off more than he could chew.

sparrow

There was a good deal of coming and going…

goldfinch and sparrow flying

…though the chaffinches were holding back.

This one sat in the plum tree watching. When he turned, you could see the force of the wind.

chaffinch

On the ground below the feeder, a dunnock or hedge sparrow inspected the new tray and a robin took advantage of some fallen seed which had collected in it.

dunnock and robin

It was just like old times and I spent a happy hour staring out of the window in between making some lentil, carrot and red pepper soup for lunch.

It was still pretty breezy after lunch so Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat and watched an interesting programme about the painters Peter Lely and Mary Beale before we ventured out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal got to work on tidying up the vegetable garden while I looked about.  The strong winds in the night had left plenty of flowers in full bloom.

poppy

The poppies were still in fine form

Lilian Austin

And Lilian Austin was looking lovely

Time was getting on and as the forecast was for the wind to continue to drop as the afternoon went on, I popped out for a quick walk before going for a short bike ride.

I walked down to the river where I was delighted both by finding Mr Grumpy standing on one leg and seeing a luminous willow nearby.

willow and Mr Grumpy

The fungi on the bank of the Wauchope below the church wall are getting ever more various.

fungus

The grey ones may well be oyster mushrooms and edible but I will leave that for others to test out.

I walked through the park and along the river side.  In spite of a good layer of fallen leaves on the path….

Beechy Plains

…there are still a lot of leaves on the trees in every shade of green, yellow and brown.

autumn colour leaves

I walked to the end of the beechy plains and turned back up the hill along Easton’s walk.

The sun came out as I got to the top of the hill and the town looked very peaceful below me.

Langholm view

In fact, everything looked very mellow and we have been very lucky to avoid the worst of Ophelia which seems to have tracked past to the north of us, though a football stadium was damaged in Cumbria to the south of us.

View of Meikleholm Hill

It was a delightful day for a walk.

Eastons Walk

I came down to the path beside the mossy park wall….

Park wall

…but I ignored the moss when I saw a good crop of what I think is some more cladonia lichen on top of the wall.

Pin lichen

When I got home, I was very impressed by the growing power of Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure in the beds which had potatoes in them earlier in the summer.

green manure

I left Mrs Tootlepedal talking to out neighbour Ken.  He overtook me yesterday when I was out bicycling on his way to clocking up his 5000th mile of the year.  As he is the same age and weight as I am, I can only doff my chapeau and admire his prodigious energy.

I  haven’t got to 4000 miles yet but I got twenty miles closer today as I pedalled up and down the road three times in a mix of light rain, crisp breeze and a little sunshine every now and again.  I was pushed for time as the light was fading so I didn’t stop for any more pictures on my way and in the end, I just got back in before the time when I would have needed lights on my bike.

I have a choice of flying bird of the day today, either a traditional flying chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…or a skein of geese which flew overhead this afternoon.

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