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Archive for November, 2012

Today’s picture, ruthlessly plundered from the NZ blog of Maisie’s mother, shows a fashion parade by her new chooks.

chooks

We had another calm, sunny day today.  To make up for this, it was even colder than yesterday and the temperature hardly got above zero even in the middle of the day.

It was the day for the annual general meeting of the Archive Group so I was able to put the chilly morning to use by preparing the necessary papers for the meeting.  I was also able to take some time for constructive staring as well.  There’s a surprise.  First before coffee…

Robin

pigeon

A chaffinch looks appalled at the sight of a wood pigeon coming to eat all the fallen seed.

There were chaffinches perching on frosty plants all over the place.

frosty chaffinches

One chaffinch made an unsuccessful bid for the flying bird of the day spot.

chaffinch

While a goldfinch kept warm by fighting.

goldfinch

…and then after  coffee, I looked at perching birds.

chaffinch and goldfinch

The sun was picking their colours out brilliantly

Sometimes the birds perched in pairs.

bramblings

After lunch, I wrapped up well and put the little sandycam in my pocket and set off for a walk.  I was amazed to see several birds splashing about in the dam behind the house.  They seemed to include blackbirds, starlings and chaffinches.   It made me shiver just to watch them.  You can see from this picture of our front hedge just how chilly it was where the sun didn’t reach.

hedge

I didn’t take my big camera with me as I was going to walk up a steepish hill and I felt that I could do without any extra weight.  I also felt that I would not meet anything as good as the misty scenes from yesterday.

I headed up Jimmy’s Brae and onto the Meikleholm hill.  It doesn’t take long before you begin to get splendid views behind but I plugged on without taking any pictures until I reached the summit of Meikleholm Hill and I could see my final target in front of me.

Timpen or Mid Hill

The trig point can just be seen.

As I neared the top, I turned and looked back.

Timpen

Looking back at Meikleholm Hill

To my surprise, the mist was present  to the south once again.  I got to the trig point on the top of the hill and was rewarded for my little climb by some spectacular views. First I looked north.

North

You can see a faint line of snow capped hills in the distance

The Esk valley

There is a faint wisp of mist showing the course of the River Esk

There are some lovely ridges to walk along round Langholm.  They offer an ever changing set of prospects as they are not big hills and the ridges give you views to both sides.  These pictures were taken only a mile from the centre of town.

I looked to the east.  You can see the road winding up the side of Whita Hill to the spot where Annie took her splendid rainbow picture on Tuesday.  The prominent hill in the background is Tinnis.  Beyond Tinnis you can catch a glimpse of the hills of Liddesdale.

Tinnis

Then I turned to the south.  The mist was magical.

solway mist again

I was looking over the shoulder of the hill that I stood on yesterday.

There were few people in the world who were more content than I was at this moment.

I was able to look down at the town of Langholm, tucked under its four hills, 750 feet below.

Langholm

The Muckle Toon

The hills are not high (I was at 326 metres, about 1000ft) but they are very steep sided even though the ridges are gentle.

Castleholm

I could look almost straight down to the Castleholm. It looked very chilly in the shadows.

I spent a while admiring the views before setting off back down the hill again.  I trod with great care as there was a lot of icy patches so I couldn’t look around as much as I would have liked.  I did pause at the wall before Meikleholm Hill.

stileA fine stile has been provided for walkers.

Sadly I couldn’t use it because the steps were covered in ice and I had to make do with the gate.

As I crossed the wall, I spotted a kenspeckle local figure, also out walking.  He wrote articles in the local paper for many years under the soubriquet of ‘Wanderer’ and this is his natural habitat.

Wanderer

Wanderer wandering

While I was talking to him, I looked up and got a lesson in perspective.  The walking guidepost in the foreground is two foot high, the monument in the background is 100 feet high.

Langholm Walks guidepost

The post is for one of the Langholm Walks

From then on it was all downhill and I was soon home and sitting down to tea and toast.  My walking is not very good but when you can get such a reward for a two mile stroll, it is worth a little twinge in the knees.

In my absence, the joiners had returned with more cupboard doors.  Mrs Tootlepedal is now in the process of painting these and when they are hung, we will be finished.  Oh bliss.

The AGM of the Archive Group was well attended and the business was dispatched in good time without fuss.  The group is a pleasure to work with.

An already excellent day was finished by a most enjoyable session of baroque recorder sonatas with Mrs Tinker, mother in law of the chook owner,  at the electric harpsichord.  We were both in good form and some of the pieces might even have sounded recognizable to their composers.

This brambling just beat the chaffinch for the coveted post of flying bird of the day.

flying brambling

(As always, some of the pictures may be worth a quick click)

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Today’s picture shows Whita Hill at eleven o’clock this morning.  The long shadows show how low the sun sits in our sky at this time of year, even when it is nearly noon.

Whita in November

On the plus side, at least the sun was actually out.  It was a nearly windless day with the temperature well below freezing. Mrs Tootlepedal was just about to go to the Health Centre to do a little catching up with the files when the joiners arrived to start the final stage of work on the new kitchen.  We had a hurried breakfast to get out of their way and then I retired to sit as near to a radiator as I could as the house was rather cold because of the open doors that the joiners needed.

There was no chance of bird photos because their van was parked slap outside the kitchen window so in the end, I put on some warm clothes and went out for a walk.  I wasn’t sure where I would go as I wanted to see how icy the paths were but an early test showed that they were quite walkable in safety and I set off up the track to the top of Warbla.  As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, it was a sparkling day.

I was quite snug in woolly hat, scarf and cycling gloves but the sheep in the fields looked a bit chilly.

Sheep on Warbla

They were catching the sun as best they could

As I walked up the track, my eye was caught by the few solitary trees left on the bare hillside.

Tree on warbla

Tree on warbla

The hills have lost the green colouring of spring and summer and are now showing various shades of purple and brown.  Mrs Tootlepedal loves this colour as  much as any other time of year.

Becks

I ploughed up the track wondering if I had enough steam to get to the top but in the end found that I had.  I was very glad that I managed to reach the summit because the view on the other side was as breathtaking as it was surprising.  This was what I had been seeing so far.

Langholm and Ewes

Looking north, back the way I had come.

And this is what I saw from the top.

Lake District

Looking south across the Solway towards the Lake District

The whole of the Solway Firth between the hills on the opposite side of the water and me was filled with mist.

Solway mist

There could hardly have been a greater contrast between north….

Ewes hills

…and south.

Across the solway plain

To the south, a flat sea of mist with islands…

Solway mist

I like the little puff of man made smoke poking through the natural version on the right of the picture.

To the north, a rolling sea of hills.

Ewes hills

Looking down from the hill, I admired the huge new pond created by the incessant rain of summer in the field below.

Murtholm pond

I got ready to go back down the hill but I couldn’t resist one last look to the south.  This was an occasion when a wide angled lens would have helped to give a better picture of the scene

Solway mist

Beside me on the top of the hill stood the mast that brings TV to Langholm as well as providing mobile phone connections and who knows what else.  If function is beauty, this is beautiful.

Warbla mast

I am still learning about the best way to use my camera and before I left the top of the hill, I took a photo of the march fence disappearing into the distance.  It is not very striking in itself but it does have a better depth of field than I usually manage.

Warbla fence

In keeping with my love of mossy things, I took a picture of this old trough at the side of the track up to the Stubholm on my way home.  The running water shows that it was cold but not terribly cold.

Stubholm trough

Not long after I got home, the joiners went for their lunch and the birds got a good look at the feeder at last…and  I got a chance to look at a few birds.

Queues

They were soon queueing for places at the feast

Brambling

A brambling toppling into action while a chaffinch waits

greenfinch and bramblings

Two bramblings hoping the the greenfinches in position will let them have a go.

I had to look twice at the next picture to work out what was odd about it.

reverse chaffinch

It looks curiously like an illustration out of a book.

The chaffinch in the centre has turned its head so far round that it seems to be flying towards us but this is not the case.  We are looking at the back of its body and wings as it is facing away from us.  You can see the difference by looking at the bird on the right which is facing towards us.

brambling and chaffinches

A brambling and a female chaffinch wait on the plum tree while a male chaffinch sets off in the hope of a seed.

When the joiners had finished for the day, Mrs Tootlepedal at last went to work and I went up to do a little housekeeping at the Archive Centre.  We cycled up and Mrs Tootlepedal said that she found the complete silence from my belt driven bike as we went along was rather creepy.  I liked it.

In the evening, I drove Susan down to Carlisle and we played with our recorder group.  One of our members was off at a jazz club so we played quintets with variable success.  The fact the two of our players had forgotten their music glasses may have had something to do with this.  It was very enjoyable none the less.

The flying bird of the day is a brambling.

Flying Brambling

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Today’s picture, sent to Mrs Tootlepedal by her brother who lives on the banks of the Thames, shows the river steadily creeping towards his house up the lane that he usually walks down to get to the river.  He should be all right if the worst comes to the worst because he has a canoe.

marlow flood

Thoughts of flooding were far from our minds this morning as we enjoyed another sunny day.  The down side was the big zero staring at us from the thermometer.  This put paid to any idea of cycling as very cold temperatures don’t suit my breathing and I am unwilling to experiment with finding out how many icy patches I can cycle over before I fall off.

We had a leisurely breakfast, with time to look out of the window on occasion.  At this time of the day the feeders are still in shadow and the back border is brilliantly illuminated.  This is not very satisfactory from a photographic point of view but it is hard to complain about too much sun.

collared dove

The shadow gives a bluish tinge to a collared dove

brambling

I was pleased to see that a brambling had appeared again.

chaffinch

By an hour later, the sun had crept nearer to the house.

chaffinches shouting

It still hadn’t reached these arguing chaffinches though.

chaffinches

The chaffinches were in combative mood.

Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and I decided to make the most of the sunshine and set off round one of my usual walks along the river.  There was little bird action so our attention turned to the many trees around us.  Mrs Tootlepedal is always amazed by the weight that branches can bear as they stick out at sharp angles from trunks.

tree branches

We were particularly impressed by this moss covered limb reaching far out across the river.

moss covered branch

Now the leaves are off the trees, their full complexity is revealed.

tree with many branches

When we got home, we were forced to have several toasted tea cakes with our coffee.

I had time for a couple more looks out of the window.

First here are two black looks:

jackdaw

A jackdaw considers the feeders.

blackbird

A blackbird does a little scavenging

And here are two sunny glances:

chaffinch

The sun had reached the feeder at last

two chaffinches in plum tree

Community sun bathing

Then it was time to take Annie to Carlisle to catch the train to London.  It has been very nice have her with us for a few days but she will be glad to get back to warmer parts of the country.  The sun was just as brilliant in Carlisle as it was in Langholm.

Citadel

The citadel from which Carlisle Citadel Station gets its name, its usual brick red colour washed out by the sun.

When I got home, it was too late to go out again with the camera and too cold still to cycle  so I stayed in for a bit trying to take a killer bird picture without much success.

chaffinch

A chaffinch looking chilly as it chews a seed in the shade on a sedum

chaffinches

Two more sensibly finding some sun on a neighbour’s tree.

I took a bill for the Archive Group along to our treasurer, Nancy and she invited me in for a cup of tea.  I was introduced to a friend of her husband’s who was there. He remembered that I had refereed him in a rugby match at Annan.  Since that must have been about thirty five years ago, either he has an amazing memory or I must have been a particularly awful referee to stick in his mind that long.  I didn’t ask him which it was.

The last two pictures of the day came from staring at the sky above.

con trail

What we would call a vapour trail and what elsewhere I think is called a con trail. The pilot obviously had his foot on the accelerator.

Full moon

Full moon at tea time.

There is less the a month to the shortest day but that still means it will be three months until it is light at tea time.  (Tea: a cooked meal at about 6pm)

Mrs Tootlepedal went to work in the afternoon and when she got back she told me that while I was taking Annie to the station, she had given her metal detector a go in the garden.  She had got encouraging beeps but had not dug anything up.  I should say that we tested the machine yesterday at coffee time on Dropscone’s artificial knees.  they made a most beautiful musical sound.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went along to the Buccleuch Centre once again.  This time we were royally entertained by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra or at least their string section.  There were two  horn and two oboe players too but they only played in one piece and sneaked off home at the interval.

They dispensed with the need for a conductor and were lead in combination by the leaders of the first and second violin sections.  These players also appeared as soloists in Bach’s double Violin Concerto so they had a busy night.  The programme consisted of a Bach Suite No2 in B minor with a flute soloist, a Mozart violin concerto No1 in B flat major, the Bach double violin concerto, Greig’s Holberg Suite and Rumanian Folk dances by Bartok.  This suited me down to the ground.  The Buccleuch Hall has a dry acoustic and it makes for very detailed listening which was ideal for the music played.  The orchestra played with great zest and feeling  and the evening passed with never a dull moment, not something that you can say of every classical music concert.  As Mrs Tootlepedal remarked about the Buccleuch Centre and the programme it offers, ‘We are blessed’.  And only 200 yards down the street as I may have mentioned before.

The flying bird of the day was yet another chaffinch,

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture shows a rainbow seen from the top of Whita Hill.  It was taken by my daughter Annie who was on a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal that I wasn’t able to join.

aug30nikon

In spite of a brisk north wind, the day was warm and bright enough for Dropscone and I to enjoy a pedal the wrong way round the traditional morning run.  We went the wrong way round to get the best out of the wind and it worked out well.  We were able to introduce Annie to the delights of a girdle scone with coffee when we returned.   She was very impressed.

It had been bright enough to take a photo at breakfast time which made a welcome change.

Chaffinches

Chaffinches are always our earliest visitors of the day at the moment.

After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work and Annie and I set about making another batch of tea cakes since all the ones we had made before had now been eaten.  In the gaps  while we were waiting for things to happen to the dough, we found useful thongs to do so no time was wasted in sitting and looking at dough rising.

 I also found time to look out of the window before we started cooking.

Brambling

There were a couple of bramblings about during the day.

After the dough preparation had been completed, there was time while we waited for the final rising of the tea cakes, to set the camera up outside with the remote control in place.  Unlike the other day, this was not very successful  but I did manage to catch one of the bramblings again.

brambling

I know why the session was not so successful and I will try again when the weather permits and hope to have learned from the experience.

Not many birds came to the feeder while the camera was outside.  As soon as I took the camera in, they flocked to the feeder.  They know how to wind me up.

busy feeder

After lunch, Annie and Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a scenic drive and a walk in the good sunshine.  Sadly I wasn’t able to go with them as I had to stay in and look after the tea cake cooking and meet with some visitors from the health board.  They are consulting people involved in volunteer groups in the town with a view to ensuring that everyone who needs to know can find out about all that is going on in the town so that they can join in activities which will improve their health and/or well being generally.  This is an admirable aim but whether they can achieve it, is another matter.  I have promised to help where I can.

While I was waiting for them to arrive, I wandered round the garden looking for the last elements of colour for the record.

berberis

There are still some pretty leaves on the berberis

grasses

Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite grasses were blowing in the wind.

pink rose

The last rose in the garden. This is the pink rose looking very washed out.

 

foxglove

This tattered remnants of a foxglove survive.

I cheated and looked out of the front gate and across the road to enjoy our neighbour’s bush, glowing in the low sun.

Liz's shrub

At out back door there is a hardy winter jasmine.

Winter jasmine

After the health people left, I put the tea cakes in to cook and although I forgot to give them a beaten egg wash in the excitement of the visit, they came out pretty well again and I am now confident that I can repeat the recipe if I need to.

I just had time to take a couple of more shots before the light had faded too much.

jackdaw

A jackdaw struggling to get a grip on the fat ball feeder.

jackdaw

That’s better.

I took a perching chaffinch, well fluffed up against the increasing chill of the late afternoon.

chaffinch

And finished with a blue tit which took the place of the jackdaw on the fat balls.

blue tit

Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie came in from their drive and walk, having done a bit of shopping for our tea.  They enjoyed one or two of the freshly made tea cakes as a reward for their endeavours.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to our choir and enjoyed singing and conduction respectively.  In spite of a rather reduced attendance of sopranos and altos, the gentlemen were able to sing with such taste and the women with such vigour that we had a pretty well balanced choir.   What is very pleasing is that a small group of the singers are taking the choir seriously enough to come and have some music reading practice before we start.  It is a paradox of groups like ours that people can only have fun if everyone takes it seriously.

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

flying brambling

 

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Today’s picture is another one borrowed from a Facebook page, this time from Dropscone’s niece.  It shows Zurich all lit up.

zurich

Today was Mrs Tootlepedal’s actual birthday and she would like to thank those who sent her good wishes.  After the effort of going to Edinburgh yesterday, we took things very easily today. This was helped by persistent rain and wind which made leaving the house an unattractive proposition.   Mrs Tootlepedal managed to get out to a church choir practice but that was as far as it went for the morning.

The house gradually filled up with flowers sent to Mrs Tootlepedal by family and friends and considering that it is well past the end of the growing season, the floral trade can work miracles of production and  transport.

flowers

flowers

flowers

They certainly brightened the house up.

When Mrs Tootlepedal returned, she applied two layers of the necessary protective coating to the kitchen tiles and they will be in full use tomorrow.  Now we await the last visit by the joiner to finish the whole works.  He is due this week.   It will be great to have the complete scheme realised at last.

It was gloomy outside but just light enough to be able to see a bird or two.

brambling

A brambling treats an ill bred greenfinch with dignified disdain

sparrow

A chubby sparrow took advantage of a quiet moment at the feeder.

greenfinch

For most of the morning, greenfinches ruled the roost.

greenfinches

The odd goldfinch sneaked in

greenfinch

At first sight, I thought that the greenfinch on the left had grown an extra pair of legs.

goldfinch

The goldfinches kept on trying to get a seat at the table.

The rain slackened off for a bit and I took the chance to connect up the bird table cam.  The birds are visiting it quite regularly and they weren’t put off by the extra wires.  We sat and watched the TV while a succession of chaffinches and tits came to pick their favourite seeds.

chaffinch on TV

I’ll have to try to set up a method of recording these visits.

It looked better on the TV than it does in this picture of the screen.

During the day, my daughter helped me pick pictures to go on the bird calendars which are going to delight my relatives this Christmas (whether they want one or not)  and we posted them onto the calendar maker’s website and laid them out.  I haven’t used one of these sites before and I am interested to see how it turns out.

As the afternoon wore on, cabin fever broke out among the women and in spite of the miserable weather, it was decided that a trip to Gretna to look at the starlings in the rain and wind would be better than doing nothing.  I thought it would be a frost so I didn’t bother to pack the good camera. Needless to say even the weather gods knew that it was Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday and as we neared Gretna, a thin strip of sunshine appeared through the clouds.  We stopped to admire a fine sunset over the Solway.

a glimpse of sun

The first sighting of the sun for a few days.

solway sunset

Sunset over the Solway with the inevitable pylon.  The tide was in

I would have pursued the sunset but Annie and Mrs Tootlepedal were all for starling watching so we went into the village.  I did get one more sunset shot from our starling viewpoint.

gretna sunset

There were plenty of starlings to watch and we enjoyed the show a lot, waiting until they plunged down into their roosts.

starlings

Nearly bed time.

Then we returned home and set up a fine birthday cake for Mrs Tootlepedal to enjoy.

tea cake heaven

This picture was entirely spontaneous and not posed in any way.

You can see how good the tea cake looked.  It lasted well too and was still delicious, when lightly toasted, two days after its baking.

Mrs Tootlepedal opened her present from the family and gave it a try on the kitchen floor, looking for any change that I may have inadvertently dropped.

metal detector

She hopes to try it outside soon and find a huge Roman hoard in our back garden.

It certainly beeps well when near any metal.

In the evening, I went to the Liddesdale Camera Club with Sandy.  They were judging our flower and garden pictures.  The judge, who was from Hawick, was excellent, a good speaker with interesting comments to make as he went through the entries.  Although I was not in the prizes, I managed to get commended for these aquilegias from the garden.

Aquilegia

The winning pictures were very good and I have learned that if I want to be competitive in camera club competitions, I will have to go out to take competition pictures on purpose and not just hope that I can get away with digitally improving my hand held snapshots.  It will take time and effort but I think I will give it a try.    It almost certainly means using a tripod for extra sharpness.  Competitive photos have to be interesting as photos and not necessarily interesting as subjects.  Photo editing skills are at a premium as well so I shall have to work hard to improve my skills in this department.

I am hoping to get out for a pedal tomorrow after the end of the rain and before the big freeze arrives on Wednesday.

Today’s flying bird is a hopeful chaffinch heading for the feeder.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Away day

Today’s picture, stolen from her Facebook page, shows a bicycle that my recorder playing friend Sue encountered in Berlin.

berlin bike

There was  no cycling today as we were bound for Edinburgh for a celebration lunch to honour Mrs Tootlepedal’s significant birthday.  The actual day is tomorrow but this was a day which suited the rest of the family best.  I didn’t mind not being able to cycle as it was an absolutely foul day and there was just time to take a couple of token bird pictures in the gloom before setting off.

miserable weather

You can see from the length of the rain drops in the picture a) how hard it was raining and b) what a slow shutter speed I had to use to get a picture at all.

blackbird

The blackbird looked pretty cheesed off by the whole thing.

The drive to Edinburgh was not very pleasant with the roads awash with water and thick mist when we went over the highest point of the trip.  However, we arrived safely and picked up our younger son Alistair and got to the restaurant bang on time.  Alistair’s wife Clare was not able to join us as she was unwell but our older son Tony did manage to stagger along even though he is just recovering from a major hernia operation.  Annie’s partner, Joe was hard at work back in London but we were still a good number.    We got a very nice window table and had an excellent meal from the carvery.

Here we are getting ready to eat.

the birthday party

Tony can only sit with great difficulty. His partner Marianne and her two children, Tash and Dylan are beside him.

Tash is working as Tony’s apprentice in his painting and decorating business and is invaluable to him at the moment as he is unable to drive.

We ate enough to sink a battleship and then presented Mrs Tootlepedal with a modest gift to mark the occasion.

gift

She seemed quite pleased.

Here are our three children posing for the camera (but not mine unfortunately).

children

It’s surprising how old they are when Mrs Tootlepedal and I are still so young.

After lunch, Tash drove Dylan off to work, Tony and Marianne hobbled home, we dropped Alistair off at his flat and then enjoyed a much better drive home as the rain had stopped by the time we left Edinburgh.  It really is a treat to drive through the border country from Edinburgh to Langholm from a scenic point of view and as the traffic was fairly light, we got home before dark and in good order.

We had driven 180 miles  and eaten a very large lunch so the evening was spent in dedicated couch work.  It has been a very satisfying day though not one that has lent itself to a lot of photographing things.

I did manage to get a sort of flying picture of the day because our restaurant window looked directly out onto the approach path for Edinburgh Airport.

jet

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture is another from my sister Susan’s recent trip to Croatia.  I have put it in to bring a little ray of sunshine to a grey day.

croatian cataraman

It was a very grey day here with the temperature hovering just above freezing for most of the morning.  This put paid to any idea of cycling and as  Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie were tired after their trip from London yesterday, we all had a most relaxing day doing very little.

I glanced out of the window from time to time and to begin with, there was nothing but chaffinches to be seen.

chaffinches

Later on, a small flock of goldfinches turned up too.

goldfinches

There were several occasions when there were no birds to be seen at all thanks to a couple of swoops from our local sparrowhawk.  It didn’t stop to get its photo taken though.

blue tit

It was a day for photographing birds sitting very still

great tit

Or posing

The camfeeder is attracting a steady flow of visitors and I will connect it up next week.

Blue tit

coal tit

We went out after lunch to visit a show of painting, woodwork and photography which was on in the Town Hall gallery.  I was very impressed by the photography which gave me quite an incentive to try to improve my work.  We met Bruce and Lesley there and Bruce nobly offered to get me some of my favourite French butter as he was going to Hawick for the afternoon.   I have a very good class of friends.

After our visit to gallery, we did a little shopping and then a question came up.  Annie is keen  to go and see the starlings at Gretna but she was also keen to show me a recipe for making really good tea cakes.  The tea cakes require a good deal of time in the preparation and there would not be time to see starlings and cook cakes.  A discussion was held and a decision was made.

The result:

Tea cakes

That’s more like it:  the recipe was by Dan Leppard

A good decision.  They were delicious.

This was a combined effort between Annie and myself with Annie taking the lead while I looked and learned and lent an occasional helping hand.

The preparations for the tea cakes took about three hours in all to prepare and cook but a great deal less time to consume.  While the cakes were rising, I wasted a bit of the afternoon by watching Scotland trying and failing to play rugby which was depressing.    Another moment of waiting was filled by playing recorder duets with Annie, which was much more fun.   The rest of the evening was spent slumped in front of the telly.  This is rare for me but it was well worth it for once as it included Strictly Come Dancing and two episodes of the latest version of the wonderful Danish police thriller, The Killing.  It has been a very pleasant day.

I didn’t have a great day on my actual birthday but as presents I have got 300 biscuits, an Art Garfunkle CD and a book about Bradley Wiggins.  Mrs Tootlepedal has returned, our daughter is visiting and we are going to Edinburgh to see both our sons tomorrow.  Who could ask for anything more?   Well perhaps I will just have another of those biscuits.

A flying bird in the morning mist:

chaffinch

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