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The return of the mist

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia,  who is visiting my sister Mary in London.  She was as surprised to see this rhododendron on Mary’s garden as I was to get her photo of it.  They must really be ahead of the game down there.

Mary's rhododendron

You couldn’t see much at all here in Langholm as we had a day of mist and the surrounding hills were blotted out.  Mrs Tootlepedal had to go to Annan on business and I spent a moment or two seeing if any birds had returned to the garden….

siskins

Female and male siskins

…and was pleased to see that a few had come back.

blackbird

A blackbird with a touch of white about it.

I didn’t stop too long though, as I wanted to get a cycle ride in before lunch.  I only just got back in time because the mist slowed me down on the single track road over the hill….

Bloch road

…and I didn’t want to bump into any delivery van in a hurry.

To be fair, it wasn’t only the mist that slowed me down.  My legs were not in the mood to rush about after yesterday’s ride.  Under the circumstances, it was lucky that I was only doing a little twenty mile tour of nether Canonbie and back and I made it home at bang on one o’clock.

I added a minute to my time when I stopped to take a sombre picture of a tree on the old road near Irvine House which has now been by-passed.  I thought that the gloomy day deserved a black and white picture to go with it.

tree near Irvine House

After lunch, Sandy arrived.  We had been thinking about a walk but in the relentlessly grey mist, that didn’t seem so attractive and we decided to go up to the Moorland bird hide and see if we could persuade the birds to come very close to us.

The pheasants didn’t need persuading.  Quite the reverse.

pheasants

The male sat on the gate without moving as we drove up and got out of the car and the female jumped onto the tree stump and stole all the seeds that Sandy had carefully put out to attract smaller birds.  No amount of shouting and rude words could shift her until she had eaten the lot.

There were quite a lot of the usual birds flitting about, woodpeckers, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins and all sorts of tits and as the tits came nearest, I concentrated on trying to catch as many of them as I could.

great tit blue tit and coal tit

A mixed bag of great tit, blue tit and coal tit

great tit

A great tit gets ready to attack the nuts

blue tits

Total blue tits

And my favourite of the day…

coal tit

A coal tit gets one of Sandy’s seeds before the pheasant arrived

coal tit

Whoops!

If you ever want to see a picture of a disappointed bird, this is the one for you.

Among the usual customers, we were offered a couple of treats.

nuthatch

Either one nuthatch came twice or two nuthatches visited once each.  Sadly from our point of view, they didn’t live up their name and wouldn’t come to the nuts which were closer to us than the seed feeder.  Perhaps these are rare seedhatches.

To the right of the hide, a tree creeper did live up to its name and crept up a tree.

tree creeper

Another one crept up another tree but it was just out of range.

On our way back home, we paused for a moment to watch a couple of men building a very extensive scaffolding platform for the bridge repairs.

Skippers Bridge repairs

I will try to keep an eye on these works as they develop.

Once home, we had a cup of tea and several biscuits with Mrs Tootlepedal and then Sandy went off after showing me some of the latest sterling photographic work he has been doing on the Langholm Archive Group website.  If any reader has time to spare, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the photographic section of the site, where there are literally thousands of indexed pictures documenting the history of the town and its people.

In the evening, I met Sandy again, this time at the Buccleuch Centre where we were attending a concert by a Canadian band called Ten Strings and a Goatskin.

The ten strings were a fiddle and a guitar and the goatskin provided the percussion along with a wooden board on which the percussionist stamped with great enthusiasm.   Their website says that “the group is a bilingual folk/fusion trio from Prince Edward Island who present traditional and original music inspired by their Atlantic Canadian histories and roots, and infused with pop and world rhythms.”   That sums them up nicely.

They were slightly exhausting as slow numbers do not figure largely in their repertoire but they were very entertaining and they talked well between numbers.  They invited us to clap our hands or tap our feet along with them as they played but I wisely resisted as, had I tried to join in, the infusion of pop and world rhythms might well have led to a dislocated ankle.

I did get a flying bird of the day today in the mist.  An obliging chaffinch hung in the air for me.

flying chaffinch

Steady work

Today’s guest picture shows the Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London.  My sister Mary took the picture while going down the river by boat for a second visit to Greenwich earlier this month.

Tower of London

After yesterday’s picture  totally white font lawn, today was a different kettle of fish altogether.

front lawn in January

It was the kindest of winter days, with sunshine, light winds and not a drop of rain or snow.  This was very fortunate as I had a full day planned.

It started with a visit to the garage before breakfast to put the car in for its annual MOT test.  This led to me check on the mileage that we had done during the last year and I am pretty sure that I cycled more than I drove over the past twelve months.  In spite of the light mileage, the car needed some repairs before it could get its certificate.  This will lighten my wallet no doubt.

After breakfast, I had to go up to the town again, this time to collect the key for the Day Centre where the Camera Club holds its monthly meetings.

On my way back I noticed a splendid clump of snowdrops on the bank of the dam behind our house.

dam snowdrops

Encouraged by this, I took a walk round the garden.

wallflower

A wallflower looking very promising

rhubarb

Rhubarb crumble in the making.

When I had done this, it was time for a quick coffee and the intake of some cycling fuel (two slices of bread and jam) and then I got the fairly speedy bike out, cleaned the rust off the chain and pedalled off into the unknown.

I have done very little cycling recently so I was unsure of how far I could go before my legs gave up but I set out full of optimism and caution combined.  I stopped fairly frequently early in the ride to make sure that I didn’t overcook things and this gave me the chance to take more shots of my favourite little cascades on the Wauchope, one at Bessie Bell’s…

Wauchope cascade

…and one near Wauchope School.

Wauchope cascade

Melting snow had added a little zip to the flow.

Because it was a beautiful day, more like autumn than winter….

The Bigholms

…and my legs were relatively cheerful, I was encouraged to aim for a decent distance so I decided to go to Lockerbie by way of Corrie Common.

Maybe because the sun was out at exactly the right angle, I was halted in my tracks by a tree literally dripping with fungus.

fungus tree near Dunnabie

I have cycled past this tree many, many times and have never taken a second look at it before.  I was amazed that I could have missed such a display.

My route up to Corrie Common involved some hill work so once again I was happy to stop for a breather, this time with the excuse of counting the windmills on the the new Ewe Hill windfarm.

I counted seventeen….

Ewe Hill windfarm

…but there may be one or two more as I was too far away to get an accurate picture.

When I got to the hill above Lockerbie, I looked over Annandale…..

Annandale at Lockerbie

… and paused to take a picture of Lockerbie golf course…

Lockerbie golf course

…which in spite of the good weather, seemed to have only a single player going round.

From Lockerbie down to Gretna, my route was not so scenic and I pressed on down the old main road, nose to the front wheel, until I came to the new windfarm at Gretna.  This is now full completed with nine turbines…

Gretna windfarm

…although the turbines are not turning yet.

I stopped to eat a banana on a bridge over the mainline railway near the village of Springfield and was happy to find a mainline train approaching the bridge at a very modest speed which let me take this picture.

Virgin train

Normally they go by in a flash.

While I was looking over the wall beside the bridge, I noticed this fine crop of moss on the top of it.

Moss at Gretna

I pottered into England and took this picture of this English tree near Englishtown….

English tree near Englishtown

…before pottering back into Scotland and heading for home.

I arrived in Langholm with 48 miles on the computer and was overcome by decimal mania and added a couple of miles  by going through the town and up to the rugby club and back again to bring up a satisfyingly neat fifty miles.

I celebrated by taking a picture  from the Town Bridge as I crossed it.

Kilngreen and Ewes for town bridge

Snow? What snow?

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I out, collecting the car and doing some gardening and as a result was resting and reading when I got in.

I didn’t have long to hang about recovering though because I had preparations to make for the Camera Club meeting in the evening and then my flute pupil Luke came and we played duets by Boismortier and Telemann.

After he had gone, there was time for a meal and then I went off to the Camera Club meeting.  We had twelve members (one for the first time) there, eleven of whom had brought pictures on flash drives for us to look at so we had an interesting evening with some very original images to look at.   There are some very skilled photographers in the group so I always have something to learn every month.

The new member told me how much he had enjoyed a camera club meeting where there was no discussion of how images were deficient and should have been improved but rather a full hearted appreciation of the good things in the pictures and a willingness to share experiences with the other members.  This was heartening, as this was precisely the principles on which the club was founded.

I took no pictures of birds today for the simple reason that whenever I had a moment to look out of the window, there were no birds in the garden at all.  Very strange.  I will have to see what tomorrow brings as far as the birds go.

For those of you interested, here is my cycle route.  You can see that I went very slowly.  You may find more details by clicking on the map.Garmin Route 16 Jan 2017

Play misty for me

Today’s guest picture is another from Irving’s Brecon canal trip.  I think that these are these are the top two locks in the Llangynidr flight of five.   I do like a nice lock and this picture has two.

Canal locks

After our bright snowy interlude, we reverted to more normal weather and woke up to a grey morning after a night of rain.  As you might expect, the view of Whita from our back window showed how much of the snow had gone….

Whita

…but somewhat surprisingly to those who haven’t seen it before in these conditions, our  front lawn retained its white blanket.

front lawn with snow

Now that our Carlisle choir is back in business for the new sessions, Sundays have taken on a familiar shape.  Mrs Tootlepedal goes off to song in the church choir and I prepare something for the slow cooker for our evening meal.  It was a beef stew with carrots and parsnips in a red wine gravy today.

While I am cooking, I keep an eye on the birds.

siskins

The siskins have become regular customers.

blackbird

The blackbird allowed me to take him in a less aggressive pose today

On a perfect Sunday, I would go for a pedal after the cooking is over but today there were some very icy patches on untreated roads so cycling wasn’t an option for a timid person like me and I decided on a very careful walk down to Skippers Bridge and back instead.

There had been a bit of drizzle earlier on but it was dry when I set out.  The rise in the temperature led to a very misty morning.

Christine in the park

The going underfoot was generally rather treacherous so I had to keep my eyes firmly fixed on the next step ahead which meant that not much other than icy puddles caught my eye.

I did stop to enjoy some misty trees as I went along the Murtholm track.

Murtholm mist

It would probably have been a good day to be on top of one of our hills looking over a sea of mist in the valley below but getting to the top of a hill in the icy conditions might have been a problem. I was happy to walk slowly along the river, walking poles in hand.

I was aiming for the Skippers Bridge where contractors have been felling some trees beside the river as a preparation for fixing the cutwater which was damaged in the big flood a year ago.  They were going to start some work on the masonry on Saturday but the freezing conditions meant that they have had to postpone this.

The view from the bridge to the north hasn’t changed….

Langholm Distillery in mist

…but some trees have been cut down on the south side…

Skippers Bridge

…giving me a little clearer view of the right hand arch.

Looking downstream, I could see that a low flying duck might well keep below the mist…

Esk from Skippers in mist

…though I didn’t see any ducks trying this out.

I walked back on the other side of the river and an ice free pavement let me look around a bit.  I saw what I took to be a very bright piece of ivy…

ivy

…though it was surprising to see it at this time of year.

After a while, I had to forsake the riverside path as it was too icy to be safe for an old man and walked past the Co-operative Store instead.  The trees on the far bank of the river made a striking picture when I looked over the buildings there.

Trees over Co-op

I managed to get home without slipping over which was satisfactory as I don’t want to add to the current queues at the A&E department at the hospital in Carlisle.

There was a great contrast in the weather from yesterday as I went over the suspension bridge.

Esk at Langholm

We had a light lunch (just as well after yesterday’s feast) and set off to Carlisle to sing with our choir. It was a thoroughly worthwhile trip because we included a little useful shopping on our way to the practice and the practice itself was one of the best we have had.

We worked hard on two songs, both of which were challenging in some ways but relatively easy to sing as far as the harmonies went and both of which were taken at a comfortable pace.  This is very important to me because I find singing very quick songs hard work as I find my brain lagging behind my mouth and many wrong notes tend to materialise as I struggle to keep up.  Andante Moderato is my favourite tempo.

We got home safely, in spite of one or two misty moments on the road back and the slow cooked stew turned out very well.  To provide a coda for an enjoyable day, Mrs Tootlepedal made some semolina pudding.  A very sound decision.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Doing lunch

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He was out walking on Whita yesterday too and sent me this picture of the track to the summit.  I am surprised that we didn’t see him.

Whita track

We had another sunny and chilly day today but I failed to make much photographic use of it as we had an important appointment bang in the middle of the day.

Before we went out, I had some time to look at the birds but as the sunshine hadn’t got round as far as the feeder, it was rather a gloomy business.

blackbird in snow

This blackbird was wondering why I was even trying to take his picture.

It wouldn’t have mattered if the light had been a lot better because there were very few birds about today.  I did see a couple on the fat ball cage…

robin and blue tit

And a bird in the bush, or at least in the plum tree.

Chaffinch

The chaffinches are looking very bright at the moment.  This may be because they are getting into breeding plumage but Alison Tinker tells me that the brightest ones may be winter migrants.  I hadn’t realised that chaffinches came to Britain from abroad.

There were occasional bursts of action at the feeder…

chaffinches

…and in a moment of (relatively) great excitement, I saw a dunnock actually in the fat ball cage, something that I have never seen before.  They usually scurry about on the ground.

dunnock

Finally a robin posed obligingly….

robin

Probably checking out the dunnock in amazement.

Then it was time to go out for the annual archivists winter lunch.

The walk across the town was very enjoyable.

Snow on Whita

The sun felt quite warm on our backs as we strolled along.

Between the workers and their partners, thirteen of us sat down to eat in the Douglas and time passed so agreeably between eating and talking that we didn’t get out until nearly three o’clock and the time for a walk had vanished.

I went along to the Archive Centre after lunch with Sandy and we did a little useful work and then walked home over the suspension bridge admiring the cloudscapes over the Mission Hall as we went.

clouds

clouds

Somewhat tired after such a sociable event, both Mrs Tootlepedal and myself found some very quiet things to do for the rest of the day, many of which involved sitting down on comfortable pieces of furniture.

The forecast is suggesting that by next week, we will be back to much warmer weather so I am glad to have been able to get out and enjoy the snowy views while the snow has been around.

The flying bird of the day is Zorro the chaffinch.

chaffinch

White out

Today’s guest picture is a reminder of summer.  It shows two shots of a dragonfly spotted by Mike Tinker on holiday in Wales.

dragonfly

Although some of the snow had melted away from yesterday, there was enough about to make some icy spots on our local roads and to keep our hills still looking pretty white.

I was in no hurry to rush out and fall over so I checked to see if Dropscone was in treacle scone making mode.  He was and arrived for coffee bearing scones so freshly baked that the butter melted on them.

When he left, I had time to stare out of the window.  One good thing about the snow is that it improves the light…

chaffinch

…and another is that it brings in siskins.

siskin

I was pleased to catch the robin at work….

robin

…because I was beginning to worry that a cat might have caught it napping.

We had been promised a bright and chilly sunny day but we had a rather cloudy day instead but I thought that it was still worth a walk and rang up Sandy.  After a very light lunch, we met at the Langholm Bridge and walked along the A7 towards Whitshiels.

You can’t pass the Kilngreen without looking around.

There was a flotilla of ducks on the river….

mallards

…and a single black headed gull among some light snowflakes in the air.

black headed gull

Fortunately, the snowflakes didn’t come to anything and we got round our walk in pleasant conditions.

From the Whitshiels, we walked up the track, keeping an eye out for interesting things.

There is a tree stump under the trees covered in something white and today for once the light let me get a good picture of it.

tree stump with white growth

I can’t make up my mind whether the white stuff is lichen or fungus or something else entirely.

I am quite sure that the the tiny red dots that you can see in this picture of a gatepost if you look very carefully towards the bottom on the left…

gate post with lichen

…are British Soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella) as a closer look reveals.

British Soldier lichen Cladonia cristatella

I will have to take my macro lens up the track one of these days to try to get a better picture of it.  It is tiny and my Lumix finds it very hard to pick it out from the background. There was a remarkable amount of soldiers at their post.

There was ice on one side of the track and hints of spring on the other.

ice and bud

Further up the track, the view opens out and bare trees appear…

Bare Tree Whitshiels track

We walked out onto the open hill where we were the first people to have trodden since the snow fell…but not the first creatures. There were a number of tracks about but we liked this one a lot…

p1080576

There was a nice set of these neat four holed footsteps which were on the path that we followed  and a little research when I got back tells me that they were probably made by a hare.  The fact that we saw a hare running across the hill in front of us was a help in suggesting what to look up.

The weather had brightened up a bit by this time and there were plenty of good views to be had  looking up the Ewes valley to the north…

Ewes Velley

…even if the hills were showing through the snow a bit more than they were yesterday.

To the west, there were some big skies available.

Looking south west from Whita

We got onto the hill road to Newcastleton and were very pleased that we weren’t driving on it as it looked very icy.  We were staggered to see a cheery cyclist free wheeling very gently down it.  He told us that he had hoped to cycle on the hill but big snowdrifts had scuppered his plan.   He was a much braver man than me.

Cyclist coming down White Yett road

We crossed the road and continued our walk along the side of Whita Hill towards the golf course and the Kirk Wynd.  The hill sheep were coping well with the snow, finding things to eat here and there.

hill sheep

Although the sun had occasionally been shining, it was low in the sky and haunted by thin cloud.  It made for interesting light.

Sandy

We were in dog walking country by this time

bare trees on Whita

The sun was still picking out the hills to our north.

Ewes Valley

And I kept looking back and we went along.

Kirkton

We got onto the Kirk Wynd and came down the hill into the town where Sandy stopped to catch the town bus back to Holmwood and I walked down to the river in the hope of seeing a dipper.

I saw another strange bird instead.

John Hills

This is my friend John, a great nature lover, who is always telling me where I might see interesting things if only I had the patience that he has.  I caught him relaxing in a very natural pose as you can see.

I didn’t see a dipper today, although John told me that I had just missed one, but I did see a blue tit when I got home…

blue tit

…which made for a very good finish for an enjoyable outing.

As it turned out, Dropscone, who was unable to play golf for obvious reasons, had gone for a walk on Whita this afternoon as well but we didn’t see him.  He has sent me a picture which he took and which should appear as guest picture tomorrow.  He was higher up the hill than we were.

I lent a hand to Mrs Tootlepedal who was busy taking wallpaper off the ceiling in the hall when I got back.  I may not be a very competent decorator (I am not a very competent decorator) but there are times when simply being tall is good enough.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and we shared a bottle of wine which was given to me as a Christmas present and Alison and I played Rameau, Corelli and Hook.

Treacle scones in the morning, a walk in the middle of the day, corned beef hash for tea and a glass of wine, good conversation and some music in the evening may not be exactly setting the world alight but it was quite good enough for me.  A day firmly on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch at the feeder.

flying goldfinch

An addendum to today’s post is a shot of the moon which I took when I went to bed last night.

January moon

It sneaks into today’s post because it was after midnight when I took the shot.

 

Today’s guest picture shows the Royal Yacht Britannia.  It is parked in Leith as a visitor attraction and lies just outside the window of the soft play area attended by Matilda and her father.

Royal Yacht Britannia

We woke to what is traditionally described as a winter wonderland today.  In fact it wasn’t particularly wonderful as the snow was rather wet and slushy and it had all the makings of an inconvenience rather than a photographer’s delight.

Still, it did bring more than the usual amount of traffic to the feeder…

busy feeder

…including several siskins.

The heavy traffic led to some road rage incidents.

squabbling chaffinches

Sometimes the rude shouting…..

squabbling chaffinches

…provoked a rude response.

squabbling chaffinches

A little more light would have helped but the morning stayed rather grey and I had to wait until after lunch to take these action shots.

There were some peaceful moments…

flying chaffinch in snow

…where the snowy background helped me out.

There had been occasional snow showers in the morning but I got fed up and went out for a walk in the afternoon, hoping not to get too wet.  In the event, it turned out that I had chosen a good time and the clouds lifted off the hills soon after I started and the higher that I climbed up Meikleholm Hill, the bluer the sky became.

On my way up to the open hill, I passed a rather resigned looking horse…

horse

…but it wasn’t long before I could take a bare tree against a much more cheerful background.

tree in snow

The snow on the hill was more substantial than the snow in the town, the extra few hundred feet of altitude being enough to lower the temperature that necessary fraction…

Meikleholm in snow

…and I had the childish pleasure of feeling like an explorer as mine were the only footprints on the virgin snow as I climbed up the hill.

The wind was very nippy and I was really pleased when I finally found myself walking in sunshine.  The views were good too.

Meikleholm hill in snow

I got to the top of Meikleholm Hill and decided against pushing my luck and going on up Timpen.  I stopped at the gate and looked at the clouds behind the hill.  They looked restless…..

Gate on Meikleholm hill

…so I enjoyed the fence that marked the route up to the summit…

fence on Timpen

…but left it to itself and turned back down the hill.

It was pure happiness to be out on such a day in such a place.

Across the valley, Whita and the monument stood out against the grey sky behind.

Whita in snow

I had another look up the Esk valley to my left where the light was quite different…

Esk valley

The Esk valley north of the town: a click may give you a bigger picture

…and then looked back over the town.  The light really was very blue in that direction.

Whita Hill and Langholm in snow

You can see that every hill seemed to have a cloud behind it so it was obvious that it was one of those rare days when I was in absolutely in  the right place at the right time.

I came off the hill through a gate, which I naturally stopped to record…

Meikleholm gate

…and was soon out of the thick snow.  Looking back up the track to the hill, it was hard to believe that I had just come out of an all white landscape.

Track to meikleholm hill

Hoping to round off a good walk with a riverside bird or two, I walked down through the Galaside wood and came home over the sawmill brig, along the Kilngreen….

Kilngreen

Just a sprinkling of snow here

…complete with duck…

duck

…and then walked beside the Esk in the hope of seeing a dipper.  I spotted a dark shape on a rock ahead of me….

dipper in esk

…and scooted along in the hope of getting on its sunny side before it flew off.

dipper

Just made it.

My arrival home and the covering of the sun by the clouds coincided so I was more than pleased to have found such a good moment for a stroll.

Nevertheless, the three miles covered, much of it in quite strenuous underfoot conditions, made me equally pleased to be able to take the weight off my feet and enjoy a cup of tea and a jam butty.

I should have gone to Carlisle with Susan to play recorders in the evening but by mutual consent we decided that driving around on a snowy day in freezing temperatures and in the dark was probably not the most attractive proposition even with a tootle on offer and we cried off.

The forecast is for freezing temperatures and good sunshine tomorrow so be warned, there may be more snowy scenes to come.

Meantime, there is not leaf of the day but there is a flying chaffinch just catching a gust of wind.

flying chaffinch

 

Sticking to the script

Today’s guest picture shows Singapore Cathedral.  Mike Tinker sent me the picture and he added that he thought that I might notice that space is at a premium on the island.

Singapore cathedral

The temperature started off on the chilly side and gradually got colder as they day went on and we are now expecting snow tomorrow.

I would like to have made the best of this last ice free day by going out on my bike but my new found enthusiasm for braving the elements didn’t go so far as facing a forty mile an hour wind and the threat of occasional rain and sleet showers and a quiet morning of coffee and a crossword took the place of cycling.

I did look out of the window and the goldfinches looked a lot less bedraggled than yesterday.

goldfinches

A dunnock kindly stood in for the robin who was too flighty for me to catch today.

dunnock

I like the way that the goldfinches favour the very tops of the twigs of the plum tree, even in the windiest weather.  The photo is fuzzy because the twig was swaying so much.

goldfinch

A bright moment in the morning

I dug up a couple of leeks from the garden and made soup for lunch and made an arrangement with Sandy to go for a walk after lunch  if the weather permitted.

Sandy arrived and, bang on cue, the heavens opened and a very nasty, sleety shower put an end to our plans.  We agreed that if the weather did brighten up again, we wouldn’t tempt fate by arranging another joint walk but we would just sneak out on our own and try to catch the rain by surprise.

Sandy went off and I was putting  in a little time on some of the choir songs when I noticed that the rain had stopped.  I grabbed an umbrella, put on my wellies and headed out.

I needed the umbrella almost immediately but the rain soon stopped and I was able to get a couple of miles in and get home just before it started again.

My way took me past a bare tree just before the auld stane bridge.

tree

A touch of blue sky cheered me up

I passed an upright tree stump hosting moss and ferns and a fallen branch making a home for fungus.

ferns and fungus

Although it was cold in the brisk wind, this sheep looked very comfortable.

sheep

My chief target was to see if I could spot any script lichen on a tree trunk anywhere on my walk.  I looked closely at the trees and some looked closely back at me.

Tree with an eye

I didn’t have any luck with the lichen but I still enjoyed several more tree trunks as I went along…

tree trunks

…until I finally saw two or three examples of what I hoped was the lichen that I was looking for.

script lichen

I checked up on it on my computer when I got home and scrolling through the pictures of script lichen on Google Images, the best match came coincidentally from the website of New Hampshire Garden Solutions, the very place from which I got the notion to look for these lichens.  I am hoping that Allen will be able to tell me whether I am looking at the right thing.

I finished my walk along the banks of the Esk slightly frustrated because as I was looking at trees, first a heron flew away from a perch beside the river just behind my back and disappeared down river and then a dipper flew off before I could get turned round and focussed.  The heron wasn’t Mr Grumpy because he was standing opposite Mary Street when I walked along it near the end of my walk.

heron

The last of the sunshine was ebbing away as I got near the town bridge….

Castle hill

…and I had one last look at a tree trunk in Mary Street…

tree trunk with fungus

…before scampering home before I got too wet.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screened presentation based on an exhibition called Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at the Royal Academy in London.  As the exhibition itself is sold out and 300 miles away anyway, this was an interesting way to see some of the pictures in the show.

The film was chiefly concerned with Monet but included several other late nineteenth and early twentieth century artists.  I was pleased to see how many of the flowers in the artists’ gardens featured in the film also appear in Mrs Tootlepedal’s beds.   Apart from the background music, which badly got on my nerves and made my legs fidgety, this was good fun, informative and very pretty to look at.  I may have mentioned before that we consider ourselves very lucky to have the Buccleuch Centre 200 meters from our door to put on such good shows for us.

The flying bird of the day needs no apology as it arrived at the same time as some very good light for once.

flying chaffinch

I see that Sandy did get out on a walk too.  He describes it here.