Archive for Nov, 2010

Today’s picture is of a cage full of budgies which I passed on my bike ride as I went through Hollows

It was far too cold (1º C) to go pedalling this morning so Dropscone took his ailing gears off to the bike shop and I dawdled around in my dressing gown being a retired person which is nice from time to time, I must say.

starlingI did get dressed in the end and popped out in the beautiful weather to snap this starling….

blue tit…and this blue tit.

The goldfinches don’t seem to like the very, very cold mornings but the other birds were out in force.

As it was such a lovely day,  Mrs Tootlepedal declared that she was going for a hill walk. We had a slight leak in a radiator so she before she set out, she called the gas repair people to ask for a service visit. They said we could get a visit today between 12 and 5pm  so I was prepared to wait in until they came. We had a cup of coffee and before we finished it, a gas engineer rang and said could he come round straight away. We said yes, he came, he fixed the leak and went away, all in half an hour. Three cheers for the British Workman.

After this, Mrs Tootlepedal set off. She was heading up Warbla and along the ridge to the Bloch and then back by the road. This would be a round trip of more than seven miles, some of it over pretty rough and wet ground.


A view from Mrs Tootlepeal's walk

I had my lunch, did a bit of work on the Heritage Booklet and then got on my bike as the temperature had reached 5º by this time. I set off to do the morning run in reverse, hoping to meet Mrs Tootlepedal on her way back down the road.

roadOn the way I took this picture of the new road surface just to prove that even in Dumfries and Galloway, the roads are sometimes repaired.

Shortly after turning up the hill at Wauchope Schoolhouse, I saw a distant figure striding out down the road.


Mrs Tootlepedal approaches

Mrs Tootlepedal approaches

By coincidence, she saw me


Mr Tootlepedal approaches

On her way home, Mrs Tootlepedal visited an iron age settlement and captured this shot of a heron on a deserted cottage’s chimney pot.


A distant heron

I got round my run just before she finished her walk so I got in the car and gave her lift home for the last half mile. We put the walk on Tracklogs and found out that she had done 7.1 miles with over 250 metres of climbing. I am proud of her.

In the evening, I went to Carlisle with Susan, who has safely returned from Abu Dhabi, to play recorder. All six of us were present and, as usual again, we had a very good session. This week we played six part early music, mostly Italian, and some of which we had never played before. Tomorrow I am visiting the physio to get everything cured. I have great faith in her skills.

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Today’s picture is standard bird feeder stuff but it does show what a welcome blast of colour the birds bring to an otherwise fairly drab day. I love to watch them.colour

roadmenDropscone came round, armed with discounted gooseberry tarts, and we went round the morning run. It was a rather painful experience for me and an annoying one for him as his gears weren’t working at all well. We passed the pair of workmen who have been steadily improving the verges of the Canonbie-Glenzier back road for the last week. They are making a very nice job of it and there should be no excess water on the road for the rest of the winter.

We enjoyed the gooseberry tarts with our coffee. We think that frost may make today’s jaunt the last for a day or two.



I enjoy a leek and potato soup so I was pleased when I had a wander round the rather desolate garden to see the leeks looking in good form.




During the course of the day, Mrs Tootlepedal exercised herself by creating a box to hold the slain Snow White’s heart in the forthcoming pantomime. (Don’t worry, children, Snow White survives the attempt on her life.) The box looks magnificent as you can see.


..and here she reveals the secrets of her manufacture.


She loves to make props and perhaps has missed her vocation in this respect.

In the afternoon, I got on with some indexing and I was visited by Arthur Bell and we made welcome progress on the heritage DVD so that was time well spent.



After tea, I made my way to the Old Town Bowling Club pavilion and enjoyed a thoroughly exciting night of slot car racing.


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My sister Mary has sent me this shot of a rhea from the Kenwood and Golders Hill Park. She promises to find out how her zoom works soon.rhea

And talking of exotic birds, my sister Susan and her friend Rachel have got back safely from New Zealand. Welcome home.

It was another wasted day because the back, although better, was not in condition to take a pedal just yet. I am hopeful of tomorrow. It is very vexing because it has been good cycling weather the last two days and it is a pity to waste even one good day at this time of year.

It did mean that I had time to give the bird feeders a good clean which was probably long overdue. We noticed that immediately after I hung them up, there was traffic at one of the feeders which wasn’t being used before so it obviously was worth the effort of dropping seeds all over the kitchen floor and having to sweep them up again.

chaffincheThe chaffinches are back in force having mostly spent the summer somewhere else.

coal titThey are very placid feeders and a great deal easier to capture with the camera than those dratted coal tits.





As you can see, once again as soon as I get the camera focussed, they fly off. Perhaps a drop of glue on the feeder would do the trick.




Mrs Tootlepedal spent some time making a prop for her role in the pantomime. She is very deft. One moment she has a bit of wooden lathe and a few morsels of cardboard and the next she is doing the Lady Macbeth and asking, “Is this a dagger that I see before my hand?”



To give you a clue – it is a dagger and that is her hand.








I spent quite a bit of time looking at work from Bruce McCartney, who is producing a book and John Hills, who is producing the Heritage Booklet to see if I could make any suggestions that might improve their first drafts. I made some suggestions. That was quite easy. Whether they were improvements is more difficult to say. They did ask me.

In the evening I put in a week of the E and L index so all in all, I haven’t completely wasted the day. I leave you with one or two more of this morning’s birds. Sparrows may be common but they are very handsome for all that.


..and the same goes for starlings.starling…and it is odd how different a goldfinch looks from the side and from the front.


…and a final blue tit for good luck. (The stripy background is a bunch of Mrs Tootlepedal’s grasses.)


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Back again

Today’s picture is a curiosity. The birds are laughing kookaburras from my sister Mary’s morning walk at Kenwood and Golders Hill Park. She remarks that they don’t seem to be very cheerful.

Kenwood and Golders Hill Park

I was not very cheerful today because I tweaked my back once again yesterday doing nothing very much in particular and, along with my hip still being sore, this led to to a day of doing nothing that involved any exercise at all. As the weather was very pleasant, if a little chilly, this was a real nuisance. I am hoping that things will be better tomorrow.

However, I did manage to stagger out in the morning sunshine to catch some very fearless siskins. Perhaps because they have only just arrived and are not so frightened of domestic cats, they seem to be the least easily disturbed of our garden birds. It makes them easier to photograph but I didn’t have time to set up the tripod and remote so they are still a bit wobbly.

One facing….


…and one sideways. They are very obliging.siskin

coal tit and greenfinchI took the siskins from outside the house but the coal tits are much more wary and I shot this greenfinch-coal tit combo through the sitting room window as usual.

Following up the advice I got about greenfinch health at the Wildlife Club meeting, I washed two of the seed feeders thoroughly and will wash the others in rotation as they are used up.

The rest of the day I spent slumped in my chair in front of the telly. I was quite cheered up by Tottenham Hotspur beating Arsenal ( go on you Spurs!) even though I couldn’t watch the game, not being in Rupert Murdoch’s pocket. Then I was even more cheered by Scotland beating South Africa in spite of the fact that they didn’t seem to play particularly well.

tree trunkMrs Tootlepedal went for another of her walks but didn’t take her camera so I have nothing to show for it. In the absence of pictures from her, I throw in this picture of a tree trunk in our garden this morning. I find it strangely attractive.

Mrs Tootlepedal is very vexed at the moment by the constant misuse on radio and telly of ‘underestimate’ when people mean ‘overestimate’ as in the phrase: ‘You cannot underestimate the importance of ……’

She even went to the extent of e-mailing the BBC about it because it makes her so mad. As a special treat for her, I waited my moment and used ‘you cannot overestimate…’ in a correct way. It brought a ray of sunshine into her life.


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Today’s picture is a glimpse of sun in Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite plant, grassgrass

It was a good day in the morning for the usual ride and we did it in a reasonable time. The temperature had risen a bit on the past few days and the wind had dropped a lot. The road works on the Lockerbie road had reached Wauchope Schoolhouse so they won’t bother us next time we go round. They are just doing short sections here and there but the bit they did on Wednesday is very welcome as it was a terrible mess before.

Dropscone had lived up to his title and produced some delicious drop scones to go with the coffee so the day had got off to a really first class start.

After I had had my shower, I went off with my camera to the Kilngreen to see if I could put any of the things that I had learned at the Wildlife talk last night into practice. I couldn’t have a had a better day to try. One  problem I found was a tendency to overexpose the whites because of the brilliant sunshine and this was a pity because there were a lot of white birds about but I’ll know better next time.  Moving away from birds for a moment, I caught what I thought was an unusual view through the bridge.bridges

It’s a pity about the debris caught on the left hand side but that is life. I thoroughly enjoyed myself trying to remember what we were told yesterday. I didn’t have a tripod with me so everything was hand held. I have put an album on Picasa (click here to view) if anyone wants to look at it but I’ll put a couple here too.duck



When I got home I shot a couple at the feeders so the garden birds wouldn’t feel left out.










The light wasn’t as good in the shadow of the house as it had been on the Kilngreen as you can see.








Mrs T
Mrs Tootlepedal had been at work in the morning but when she had retuned and we had had our lunch, I went out to help her plant daffodil bulbs on the road side at  Townfoot.


Mr T
Some of you may be amazed that I actually did something helpful so I have got photographic evidence that I was there.

In the evening, I played some enjoyable music with Mrs Tinker while Dr Tinker coughed and spluttered with a bad cold next door while exchanging news with Mrs Tootlepedal.

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Today’s picture is a bird of a very different feather.copter

Dropscone rang me up to ask if I had seen the helicopter on the golf course. I hadn’t but he told me that Dougie Irving had not only seen it but photographed it. I got in touch with Dougie and he very kindly sent me theses pictures of a visit from the air ambulance. It had been called to Langholm because all the other ambulances were already on call.

It landed on the practice green, where by coincidence you can see Dougie himself practising putting in Saturday’s blog.


I hadn’t been cycling in the morning because Dropscone was away and my hip needed a rest. I  walked up to the town instead to buy some meat for my tea and that had been quite enough pain for the day.

returning Mrs Tootlepedal went out for an early walk and we can see her here coming through the garden gate on her return. She has managed to get out walking quite a lot recently which is good as the gardening exercise is at a low ebb at this time of year.

While she was out I pointed the camera at a few birds here and there. fatballMrs Tootlepedal purchased a fat ball yesterday and it is proving a great hit with the tits. Unfortunately, from my point of view, they always seems to choose to use the side which presents me with their back.

The other feeders are not less busy though and I shot this mini flock of goldfinches cleaning up the scraps underneath the niger seed feeder. I counted seven but there may be more.


The sparrows were out in force as well and I counted nine in this picture.ninesparrows



I think this is a greenfinch, though it doesn’t look very green. Someone told me that they are suffering from disease at the moment and if you get them in the garden you should try to clean your feeders regularly. I will do my best, though they are fiddly things to clean.



In the afternoon, I went to the Archive Centre to do the work I usually do on a Thursday evening. I goodly set out to take the rubbish from the waste bin home with me but the bin liner was so fragile that everything fell out onto the floor and I had to go and scrounge a bin bag from a friendly nearby  shopkeeper to put everything in.

I went to the Centre in the afternoon because in the evening, Sandy and I went to a Wildlife Club meeting which had a talk on bird photography advertised. This turned out to be a very good idea because the talk was most interesting and useful and the pictures of birds were lovely. It was given by a warden from the English side of the Solway coast and it made me feel that firstly I need a better camera and secondly I should visit the English side of the Solway coast more often.

Mrs Tootlepedal meanwhile had gone to see a play performed by a local group which she had enjoyed very much. It’s a full life in Langholm.




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Grey day

Today’s picture was sent to me by my sister Mary from her recent holiday in the Lake District and stands as a contrast to the New Zealand lake in yesterday’s post.Lake

It is lucky that Mary sent me this lovely picture from last week because today was not a day for taking the camera out at all. It has been very cloudy and, at times, extremely windy too. Fortunately, Dropscone and I were able to sneak out for our morning ride before the wind had got too strong. We had a pleasant enough pedal, well sheltered from the wind for the first eight miles and blown along by it for the next ten. The last three were a bit stiff and major road works made them even slower. We had to wait for a convoy vehicle to guide us through the works. We are not complaining though because the repairs at that spot are much needed and will be very welcome.

I didn’t get out of the house at all for the rest of the day. Mrs Tootlepedal went off on the bus to weigh up some possible fabrics at Dunelm Mill in Carlisle. She is going to make a curtain to hang behind the front door which should cut down our draught quotient even more. She didn’t actually buy anything because that would have been far too hasty but she told me that her mental processes had been beneficially refined by her visit to the fabric shop.

preparationsWhile she was out, I tried my hand at making some fruit scones. This is not a thing I have done before because I have always  regarded life as being too short to spend time rubbing butter into flour. However, as I did have time to kill today, I gave it a go and the results can be seen in the picture on the left.

The cups and saucers were laid out ready for a meeting of the Heritage Trail committee which meets in Wauchope Cottage once a fortnight. This is the group for which I am preparing a DVD of textile and railway history. I am currently waiting for Arthur Bell to organise some notes on the mills and on the machines that they used before I can get down to a having a real go at it.

Anyway, the committee arrived and you can see them hard at work below.

committeeAt the end of the meeting, we were given a disk with material for the booklet on it and we have to look through the stuff with an editorial eye. This is hard work but buoyed up with fruit scones, we should get through it.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out again, this time to her pantomime rehearsal and I put in another week of the E & L index and looked at the booklet material.

During the day I spent some time looking at Mr Gill’s blog and being envious of the nuthatch and long tailed tits that visit his feeder.

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