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Archive for August, 2012

Today’s picture shows the formidable Stuc a’Chroin (975m) seen from Ben Vorlich (985m) by my brother Andrew when he was on an energetic walk in the Highlands.

stuc a'chroin

It started off as a lovely day in every way.  Anthony had finished the painting of the kitchen before I had even got out of bed and he was soon off back to Edinburgh to do some more work.  He is a very busy, hard working fellow and we are grateful for him taking some time off to help us out.

Outside, the sun was shining and all was cheerful.  Once the van was gone, it didn’t take long for the birds to return.  One of the first back was a very well drawn robin indeed.

robin

It was followed by a busy coal tit, flitting across the feeders.

coal tit

There were blue tits too.  This one is gradually losing its yellow colouring.

blue tit

I had wondered whether the neat robin was just the badly drawn robin having grown up a bit but then the badly drawn robin turned up too to dispel any doubt.

sparrow badly drawn

I lost my nerve the other day and I picked the plum before any predator could steal it.  It’s sitting in pride of place in the new kitchen and we think that we might bake it with brown sugar and eat half of it each on a dainty slice of toast.  The other four plums still on the tree don’t look as though they are going to come to anything.

After the robins and the tits, more birds found their way back into the garden and soon there was the usual busy traffic at the seed feeder.

busy feeder

I liked the way this chaffinch kindly sat and demonstrated its markings for me.  Our garden birds are coloured in a much more complex way than a brief inspection would show.

chaffinch

A jackdaw visited and kept a beady eye on the proceedings.

jackdaw

It flew off without visiting the feeder.

Mrs Tootlepedal had once again gone to work in the morning and when she returned, we thought we would make good use of a nice day by having an outing.  We ate a quick lunch and set off.  We hadn’t gone more than a mile from the town before the first light raindrops appeared on the windscreen.  For the rest of our outing, it was either raining, had just stopped raining or was just about to rain.  This was particularly disappointing as we had planned a scenic drive through the Lake District.

We stopped to buy more bird seed and then headed along Ullswater to the southern end of the lake.  I had hoped for sunlight dancing on the water but I had to make do with a break in the rain to get out and take some cloudy pictures from the pier at Glenridding.

sailing on Ullswater

There were big and small sailing boats on every side.

Ullswater

After the recent rain, the lake was full to the brim.

The south end of Ullswater

There was almost a touch of autumn in the trees on the lake side.

 

cygnet

A hopeful family of swans was swimming around the pier.

We left Ullswater and headed past Brotherswater and over the Kirkstone Pass.  It was spectacular as usual but the rain and low clouds didn’t tempt to stop and take pictures.  We headed on down to Windermere, passing an injured motorcyclist being attended to at the side of the road.   The narrow and eternally winding roads must always be risky for bikes in such wet conditions as we had today.  I stopped a little further down the road and looked back into the hills behind.

Lake district

It had more of an air of a tropical rain forest than an English hillside

Deep in the valley below, a farmhouse showed that this is still a working area as well as a tourist hotspot (or wetspot, today).

farm

As well as the pleasure of the scenery, we had in mind to make some purchases at a famous household supplies shop in Windermere.  Having bought two or three useful things, we enjoyed a toasted tea cake with jam and clotted cream in their restaurant to fortify us for the journey home.

Our way back led us past Windermere, Rydal Water, Grasmere and Derwent Water so with six lakes passed in one day, we had certainly got our money’s worth from the outing.  We were just going along the road to Threkeld when we picked up a couple of walkers out of sympathy for them in the wet conditions.  They said that they weren’t wet at all and just wanted to get back to their car nearby.  They thanked us for our consideration by laughing heartily at the idea that we might just be touring around and visiting a shop rather than rushing up a mountain in the wet.  We won’t pick them up again if we see them.

The drive home was uneventful and we were pleased to see that at least it had been raining in Langholm too and we hadn’t missed any good weather while we were away.  In the evening, Mike and Alison came and we enjoyed the customary music and conversation.   After they had gone, I made the final choice of photos for tomorrow’s Benty show.  I see from my entry numbers that there are a great many photos in the show so I don’t have any great expectations.  They are being judged by a keen photographer and they tend to look for technical expertise above all.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for at least one ticket.
The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

siskin

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture shows the fine waterfall going over the Ashley Bank garden wall and onto the road during the rain yesterday.  It was taken (I think) by my recorder playing friend Susan and sent to me by Dropscone.

Ashley Bank waterfall

The rain gave us a break today but it still had a mean twist and gave us a little shower just as our B&B cyclists were leaving.

Dan and Janice

Dan and Janice setting out.

After their good fortune with the weather yesterday, they got the worst of it today with the rain shower and a stiff northerly breeze in their faces as they set off.

As Dropscone and I were setting out for the morning run at the same time, we had to contend with the rain and wind too.  The rain didn’t last long but the wind stayed up and the ride back from Canonbie to Langholm was hard work.  My legs were on strike when it came to cycling uphill and into the wind so we took seven minutes more compared with our last effort.

Still, we got round and the 20 miles took me over 300 miles for the month.  That represents my best month since April when I was ordered to cut down the mileage.  The scones were good too.

When Dropscone left, I was able to walk round the garden in brilliant sunshine.  The northerly wind meant that it wasn’t as warm as it looked as though it should be but it was very pleasant all the same.

The yellow dahlia is unfolding more each sunny day.  It is my favourite flower of the moment.

dahlia

This is a photo taken in the garden in bright sunshine. I may have tampered with the background a bit in my photo editor.

The purple phlox hasn’t lasted as well as the white variety and this is almost its last gasp.

phlox

An astilbe and a clematis offered contrasting reds.

reds

On the other side of the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal has been disappointed with one of the dahlias which she bought this year.  It has not filled out very well.  Whether this is the fault of the plant or the weather is hard to tell.  The individual flowers are very pretty, if not quite what I would expect from a dahlia.

little dahlia

She has been cutting the large seed heads off the sunflowers as they have gone over and this has encouraged smaller side shoots to burst into action.  Where there was one big flower on this pant, there are now five smaller ones with more to come.

small sunflowers

While I was counting sunflowers, a man in a van drove up.

AM Decor van

Last week Mrs Tootlepedal went to Glasgow to paint a bathroom for our number two son and this week our number one son has come down from Edinburgh to paint our new kitchen.  Fair exchange.

He knows what he is doing and he can not only make things look good but do them at a wondrous speed. He had the whole new kitchen wrapped up in plastic in moments after his arrival.

plastic

He enrolled Mrs Tootlepedal as his apprentice and they set to work with a will.  I offered encouragement from the sidelines.  They took a break from time to time to let things dry and Mrs Tootlepedal came round the garden with me in one of the breaks.

We were surprised to see a primula which has got so confused by the weather that it thinks that it is springtime.

primula

She told me that she is intending to move a rhododendron across the back path ready for next year so that we will get a better view of its flowers.

Rhododendron

It’s the far one on the left. It’s quite a big bush but nothing deters her once she has a pickaxe in her hand.  She may need to move these arum lilies which are on the other side of the path.

arum lilies

 

While the painting was going on, I updated the Making the Most of the Moorland  website.  They have some interesting data on the flights of young hen harriers which can be found on their blog.

Because of the van, it wasn’t a good day for bird photos and the the oddest birds in the garden were Tony and his apprentice stopping for a fag break.

Tony and apprentice

Tony had the cigarette, his apprentice made do with a cup of tea.

I did catch a fleeting glimpse of a chaffinch flying over the rooftop.

chaffinch

And there were plenty of white butterflies about.

white butterfly

Otherwise I was limited to a few bold siskins and a blue tit who braved the van to visit the feeder….

siskins and blue tit

…and one or two birds sitting rather puzzled in the plum tree.

chaffinch and siskin

chaffinch

When the workers went back inside, I mowed the front lawn and clipped a little more off the back hedge.  I would have sieved some compost too but it was too soggy to sieve properly.  I had a sit down instead.

Because the kitchen was out of action, I was sent off to the chip shop to get our tea and as a result I enjoyed the very rare treat of haggis and chips with a tub of curry sauce.  I haven’t had that for many years.  I’ll have to find and excuse to do it again sometime because I really enjoyed it and it made a nice change from mince and tatties.

It was a lovely day and I went out into the street to take picture of two of Langholm’s four hills in the evening sunshine just to show that it doesn’t always rain here.

Whita

Whita Hill with grazing sheep scattered on its slopes.

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

Tony and Mrs Tootlepedal have done a vast amount of work and the painting will be finished tomorrow.  Tony is going to hospital for a hernia operation on Saturday so we got him just in time.  There is some work to do on the old cupboards but we are nearly there now.

After tea I went up to the Archive Centre for a short while by myself to do a little this and that but I came home and put a week of the index into the database in the comfort of my own front room.

I did find a flying bird of the day but its identity is a dark mystery. It certainly isn’t a chaffinch.

flying dark bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture was taken by my brother Andrew recently in Norfolk and shows his wife, Catherine taking the dry route across the ford with her bicycle.

norfolk

It rained again today.  It rained often.  It rained heavily.  It did stop about 3 o’clock in the afternoon but only after the heaviest downpour of the day.

There was thunder and lightning too.  My friend Bruce tells me that after one particularly loud crack, their lights went off and they sat without electricity for a while, imagining that there had been a power cut.  When the lights didn’t come back on, they rang the power company who suggested that they might like to look at the trip switch on the fuse board in their house.  They looked at it, they pushed it and their power was restored…which all went to show how close to the house the lightning strike had been and how sensitive modern equipment is.  They only live a hundred yards from us and we were OK.

I did manage to find a dry moment during the morning to walk up to the town and do a little shopping but mostly I was stuck indoors staring out.

When the rain was at its heaviest, the birds stayed under cover but as soon as it slacked off, they were out in force.

birds

The chaffinches were very active.

The chaffinches are our most frequent visitors at the moment and they can be seen on the feeder and waiting in the plum tree too.

chaffinches in the tree

But the place to see most of them is under the feeder where they congregate in large numbers.

chaffinches

They don’t like the fat balls and they don’t use the peanut feeder like the siskins and tits.

siskin

The other big crowd are the sparrows which like the fat balls best but aren’t averse to the seeds…

Sparrow arriving

…if they can find a seat.

At the height of the rainstorm, Mrs Tootlepedal set off rather fearfully for Hoddom and the driving for the disabled but when she got there, the weather was lovely.  As she also visited the dump on her way home to get rid of the pyrocantha cuttings, she had a really enjoyable afternoon.

The rain redoubled its efforts after she left.

shed

A neighbour’s shed

The lawn was not for mowing today.

lawn under water

And our new swimming pool is taking shape outside the back door.

puddle

We had B&B guests today.  They are doing the Land’s End to John o’Groats cycle ride and and I was expecting them to arrive like drowned rats but in the event, they arrived dry and smiling having been blown up the road for sixty miles by a strong southerly wind without seeing a drop of rain.

The birds enjoyed the better weather too.

chaffinch kicking

They weren’t any better mannered though.

coal tit

A coal tit looking for fatball scraps.

After our visitors were settled in and Mrs Tootlepedal had returned, I got out the (fairly) speedy bike and set off in bright sunshine to see what the roads were like for myself.

When I started, it was sunny…

Wauchope road

…and the roads had dried for the most part.  There were signs of the heavy rain everywhere.  This was just one of the landslips that I saw.

landslip

I was intending to go ten miles up the Wauchope road and back but the sunshine soon gave way to menacing looking clouds so I turned left at Wauchope School and headed south.  I could still see the sun behind me…

sunny hill

..and hoped to complete a circle and get back to the sunshine before it started to rain again.

Every big dip in the road had a puddle in it and it was a nervous business ploughing through them and hoping that there wasn’t a pothole there too but I made it safely down to the Hollows where I stopped to take a picture of a good deal of water coming down the Esk.

Esk at Hollows

Once again, in spite of a lot of rain, the rivers haven’t been as big as I expected.    Many of the culverts under various roads have been blocked but the water seems to have got away well.

From the Hollows, I took the old A7 towards the bike path.  There was a small river crossing the road just before the path starts.

Nittyholm

Looking back: the little stream wasn’t a bother, it was the thick mud and stones this side that gave me a scare.

I took the bike path so that I could take a picture of the fall of stones across it that constituted a danger to cyclists but some very inconsiderate person had come along and cleared them all away.  I wasn’t expecting that.

When I got back to Langholm, I took a picture of the protective barrier that has been put across the gap where the flood washed away a wall on Monday.  It is not a dramatic picture but this is a blog of record so I have put it in anyway.

No wall at all

It knocked down quite a lot of the wall.

Across the road, there was a lively stream flowing down the Ashley Bank drive and across the road.

Ashley Bank

The sharp eyed will be able to see a fine waterfall over the wall further along the road.

The trip ended up at 14 miles instead of the twenty that I had hoped for and when I got home, I just had time to photograph a dahlia…

dahlia

It seems to be rain proof.

…sign a form to nominate our neighbour for the community Council, have my tea and a shower and then go off to the Buccleuch Centre for a concert.

This was given by Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, a band from New Orleans where they really know what bad weather is like.  It was a most enjoyable evening.  Here is a list of good things about it:

  • New Orleans Jazz music
  • No drum solos
  • No trombone, just trumpet, clarinet/sax and guitar playing delicate counterpoint.
  • No announcements of any sort until the fifth number.
  • No one asked us if we were enjoying ourselves.
  • An outstanding and original singer with very competent traditional musicians.
  • One number started as soon as the previous number finished so we got excellent value for money.
  • Two wonderful dancers who danced as a couple to most of the numbers in a very stylish way in a tiny space.

I bought an CD at the end of the show but a quick listen shows that while it is good, it isn’t a patch on the live performance which we heard tonight.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at work in the morning and I had listened to Paul Simon’s Graceland, a Simon and Garfunkel selection , some Beach Boys and some Beatles, which is a fair selection of popular music but I think that I enjoyed the evening concert most of all the music I heard today.  I am not saying that it was the best but there is something about good live music.

There are two flying birds for the price of one today.

two flying birds

 

 

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Today’s picture shows  the space where a bridge used to be on Gaskells Walk.  Bruce and Lesley came across it when on a guided tour with Guthrie.  I suppose that they all girded their loins and leapt lightly across the gap.

nobridge

Apart from a negligible couple of flurries, the rain kept away today and was replaced by clouds and occasional sunshine and a strong, drying wind.

I took this picture to show the comparative improvement.

The back door

The back door as it should be.

And this…

Dam side

All is calm

Dropscone and I went round the morning run looking for scenes of devastation but we were disappointed.  The fallen wall at Holmfoot had been neatly cleared away and there were no other signs of the rain of yesterday.  Except one.  Last time we went round the morning run, we were very pleased to see the council men in their special sucking up vehicle vacuuming up the leaves and debris on the cycle track, leaving it safe and tidy.  When we went along it today, the road was covered at the same spot by a large outpouring of stones and gravel.  We managed to squeak past but as Dropscone pointed out, it is unlikely now that it will be cleared again in the next six months.

Still it was fine and the wind was behind us for the last few miles so we managed to achieve an average of 15 miles an hour for the twenty miles and that is par for the course for us….and a welcome sign of improvement for me.

The scones were extra good.

While we were drinking our coffee, I could see the ripening plum hanging from its branch.  The tension is building.  Who will time it right, the birds or me?

plum

Dropscone alarmed me by saying that he had seen a wasp.  They are great destroyers of plums.  It turned out though that the sighting had been in the clubhouse at Hawick and Dropscone had killed it anyway.  My fears were allayed.

Out in the garden, two clematis are hard at work.  One is on the vegetable garden fence and is rather scraggy and overshadowed…

clematis

…while the other is beside the front lawn and is much more open.

clematis

After a slow start, the bird feeder got very busy.  I took this picture at 11.55…

bird feeder

…and this one six hours later.

bird feeder

In between the two, the pace was pretty consistent and there were many opportunities to catch birds in flight.

birds in flight

After lunch, I went to the tourist information point on the Kilngreen, where I dispensed information to a lone tourist.  I also gave some computer advice to Arthur who dropped in.  He is a keen fisherman and is depressed at the height of the river which means that he cannot fish.

The Ewes was still coming down at a good speed when I looked at it.

Ewes

You can see it here, battling with the Esk coming from the right.

It threatened to rain while I was at the Kilngreen but by the time I got home, it was fine.  Mrs Tootlepedal was busy cutting down a pyrocantha from the back wall of the house so I was moved to do useful work too and got the mower out.  Everything is so damp that I had to put the cutter up but I managed to mow the two lawns without doing them any damage.  They looked quite good in the evening sunshine later on.

lawn porn

The front lawn

More lawn porn

The middle lawn

If you look at them closely, there are a lot of dead spots but from this distance, they look fine.

I then cut the grass round the greenhouse, sieved a bucket of compost,  trimmed another two feet off the back fence (we are doing this task a little at a time), took a picture of two dahlias…

dahlias

…and finally, it was time for a sit down.

Although there was time to look out of the window too.  The peanut feeder was busy.

peanut feeder

It is unusual to see a greenfinch on the peanuts.

After tea, we sat down and finished off a busy day by doing our tax return and sending it off.  We are hoping to sleep the sleep of the just tonight.

We are offered heavy rain and thunder tomorrow.  That will make a change.

I found yet another flying bird to act as flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

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Today’s picture shows the only sun we saw all day.

sunflowers

It wasn’t raining when I got up so I put on the cycling gear but by the time I got downstairs, it was raining and a quick phone call to Dropscone arranged coffee instead of cycling rather than after it.  Of course, as soon as we had arranged not to cycle, it stopped raining but it started again soon afterwards and didn’t stop until eight o’clock in the evening.

It wasn’t raining hard to begin with and after breakfast, I sneaked out into the garden  in the light drizzle to get a flower picture or two.

dahlia

There were a few bright spots like the new dahlia

geum

These geums have been adding a little splash of colour in a modest way for some weeks now.

alstroemeria

I hope Mrs Tootlepedal gets more of these alstroemerias as I like them a lot

nasturtium

A rogue yellow flower on a nasturtium

The weather got steadily worse as Dropscone arrived and Arthur joined us for coffee.  Dropscone had surpassed himself by adding a pile of delicious drop scones to his usual heap of girdle scones so we were well fed and managed to take our minds off our missing pedal.  It was raining heavily by the time they left and I wisely stayed indoors until the rain let up in the evening.

The birds were eating seed at a great rate and I had to refill the feeder three times during the day.

busy feeder

A typical moment

Some birds weren’t able to get onto the feeder and stood on the sidelines shivering.

chaffinch

A poor chaffinch by a drookit fuchsia. It’s hard to say which looks worse.

miserable chaffinch

A miserable chaffinch sheltering in the door of the garage.

A sparrow rather summed things up for me.

 

sparrow in the rain

Not singing, not dancing in the rain.

One benefit of the wretched day was that it motivated me to do some much needed business and also to put two weeks of the index for the Archive Group into the database.  I have not been doing my fair share of this lately so it was a chance to catch up a bit.

After tea, I thought that I might put up an umbrella and go and see what the rivers looked like after all the rain.  They were rather disappointing to a thrill seeker.  It was with some surprise then that when I looked out of the window a little later, the dam behind the house looked rather swollen.

swollen dam

I went out to investigate.  It doesn’t look too bad in this picture but when you look from here…

Our back door

… you can see that the water was lapping against the side of the house and probably running through the ventilators in the bottom of the wall.  As it was still raining, this didn’t look too good.  I rang up the chap who has responsibility for the dam and he assured me that he had shut the top sluice three weeks ago.  I raised a metaphorical eyebrow and he promised to go and look.  The dam comes from Pool Corner and when I got there, the river looked liked this.

Pool Corner

The engineer was standing with the bloke who had opened the sluice two weeks ago without telling him.  They couldn’t get at it to shut it.   I was not happy but there was nothing to be done so I walked down to Caroline Street to look at the Wauchope further down stream.

Wauchope

It was running full and fast but we would have had no trouble if the sluice had been closed as it should have been.  The Esk itself was full but not overflowing.

Esk

Even the ducks didn’t look as though they were enjoying life much in a huddled bunch in a sheltered corner.

ducks

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home but the dam was still rising.

Rising dam

I was beginning to get slightly worried about the new kitchen behind that door.

The  dam on the other side of Wauchope Street was getting awash as well.

dam awash

The bright light in the distance was Mrs Tootlepedal on a tour of inspection.

concerned neighbours

A group of concerned neighbours

The talk was of emergency services called out, walls on the High Street collapsed and the main road closed because of overflowing culverts.   It was most exciting.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have stood on this bridge myself to discuss things when the water was quite so high.

bridge on Wauchope Place

Fortunately the rain gave up at last and the dam began to go down and by the time I write this, it is back in its proper course and we hope that no serious damage has been done.

I did manage to catch a flying bird during the day.

chaffinch

The camera does a fantastic job in poor light.  I just put it on auto and press the button.  It was very gloomy when I took the river pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture is an update on the kitchen.  The new bits are in place but there is still painting and fiddly bits to be done.

kitchen

The best thing about the new kitchen is that the pull out draws instead of cupboards means that there is far less bending, reaching and kneeling to get at things.   This is a great bonus to two slightly creaking people.

It’s a short post today as I was only at home for a little while after breakfast before driving off to Glasgow.  I did have time for one circle of the garden, noting the pluses and minuses.

On the plus side:

clematis

The rather dusty looking clematis is in fine form

Tropaeolum

The blue berries on the tropaeolum have been left unmolested by the birds.

dahlia

and the new dahlia is looking very strong.

On the minus side:

Crocosmia

The crocosmia are coming to the end of the line before the contrasting rudbeckia have appeared.

We were going to Glasgow to visit our younger son and his wife.  As we drove up the M74 motorway on a bank holiday weekend, we couldn’t help but be grateful that the powers that be had built such a generous road, just for us.

M74

A drivers’ eye view.  Sunday is always a quiet day but this was ridiculous.

It didn’t get much busier as we went up and we got to Glasgow in good time.  Mrs Tootlepedal immediately set to work painting the bathroom.  She was working so fast that this blurred image was the best that I could get.

bathroom painting

It took her all day as it needed three coats of paint.  I adopted a more leisurely course of action but it included putting up curtain rails and curtains, visiting the dump to dispose of rubbish, going to shops to buy necessities and generally not getting under people’s feet.  I’m good at that.  The flat is being cleared and cleaned because Al and Clare have moved to Edinburgh for work reasons and they are letting it to a friend.

We broke for lunch and tea, having a brunch at a famous local eating house and a Japanese meal for our tea in Sauchiehall Street.  They were both very good.  There are compensation for being in a big city.

The flat is in a very imposing terrace in the west end of the city…

Glasgow terrace

…but a nearby building reveals how thin the veneer of respectability may be.

cracked stone

Still the builders in this part of town did not lack confidence as you can see from the ornamental work at the top of this building just round the corner from the flat which we saw when we walked back from our Japanese meal.

Charing Cross

Our drive back was easy but the trip had lasted 14 hours and taken 200 miles of driving so we were pleased to be home.

I had noticed a starling on the fat balls before we left.

starling

As it flew off, a sparrow rushed to get what was left…

sparrow rushing

…and I rushed out to put on the fat ball fortress.  Starlings go through the food in a trice if it is not protected.   They can get into the fortress but it slows them down.

The forecast is bad for tomorrow so it may be Tuesday before the normal bird picture service resumes.  I didn’t have time to take a good flying picture today so this will have to do.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s picture from my wandering sister Susan shows a detail from one of the tapestries of La Dame a l’Unicorne in the Cluny museum in Paris which she visited recently.  Considering it is over 600 years old, it has lasted well.

tapestry

It was a pretty dull day in every way today.  It was raining when we got up and it was still raining when we had our evening meal.  It wasn’t heavy rain, it wasn’t dramatic or exciting, it was just dull, persistent, miserable rain.

There were no interesting bird visitors which was just as well as the light was terrible.  Mrs Tootlepedal spent a useful day doing the thousand and one things that are needed to finish off the kitchen, filling cracks here, smoothing finish over our lumpy walls, finding more places for things to go and so on.  I did pitch in and sandpaper a couple of spice racks made by our older children in woodwork twenty five years ago but I had to sit down and have a rest after that.

I peered out of the window from time to time and took blurry pictures of the world outside.

chaffinch and siskin.

A chaffinch looks to see if there is a space behind the siskin.

siskins

A siskin pile

chaffinches

A pair of chaffinches

I did go out into the garden when the rain was at its lightest to pick some raspberries.  They are doing quite well as they don’t mind a bit of damp.  I noticed that my lawns are getting into a terrible state through lack of warmth and dryness.  Still, they looked nice for a week earlier on and that is enough to keep me at it for another year.  I shall have to scarify and spike them soon.

One bright spot was a new dahlia which is just coming out.

dahlia

I could hear the shouts of football spectators watching a game on the Scholar’s field and was tempted to go along for a photo opportunity but I am not keen on getting my camera wet and I haven’t got one of those natty waterproof coats for it that proper wildlife photographers have.

I went back inside instead and watched Chris Froome being unable to take a good opportunity to seize the lead in the Vuelta.  Having three Spaniards to beat in a Spanish race may prove too much for him.  They let him do all the work today and then nipped past him near the finish.

I did a little work on the Langholm Archives newspaper index and booked the train tickets to London for our holiday next month.  This meant that I hadn’t wasted the whole day…and then I had another look out of the window.

chaffinch

A well fluffed up chaffinch in the plum tree.

Closer inspection has revealed that there are five plums on the plum tree and Mrs Tootlepedal is trying to devise a miniature plum fortress for them so that the birds can’t eat them before we do.

badly drawn sparrow

I took a poor photo of the badly drawn sparrow n the gathering gloom.

A blue tit demonstrated its neat handling of seed with its claws.

blue tit trapping seed

The seeds seem to be just too big for them to eat at one go.  They either trap them on the bar like the one above or pick them out and fly off at once like the one below.

blue tit wih seed

I have watched them on branches of the plum tree pecking away without realising that they were pecking a seed which they were holding.

I thought that this young greenfinch with its bum in a puddle really summed up the day very well.

greenfinch

It did finally stop raining but too late to be of any use.

Today’s flying bird is a suitably murky siskin in the rain.

murky siskin

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