Top of the table

Today’s picture shows a robin making every effort to get on the Christmas card.


The rain had stopped after two days and Dropscone and I were able to go round the morning run in comparative comfort.  A strong south westerly wind made it sensible to use the traditional route and we had to run the gauntlet of the usual potholes, puddles and farmyard mess, although the recent rain had mostly washed the roads quite clean which was a bonus.  The wind blew us down the last section on our way to scones and coffee and that left us feeling cheerful.

On our return, we were a bit startled to find that Mrs Tootlepedal has possibly taken minimalism in the design of her new kitchen perhaps a step too far.

coffee time

I found out later that this was part of a deep laid plan.

varnishing act
This is what is known as a varnishing act.

It is very handy to have someone who enjoys doing this sort of thing about  the house.   She spent much of the rest of the day making panto hats, breaking off now and then to give the table another coat.

While we were having our coffee, the sparrowhawk swept down again and stood for a moment on the lawn, prey in claw but it was too quick for me and was off before I could get organised photographically.

This chaffinch makes a poor substitute.  I caught it while I was waiting in vain for the hawk to reappear while I was ready for it.  No such luck.

No drips on the branches today. Hurrah.

The siskins are regular visitors now.

The one on the right is wasting no time in chatting.

After the sparrowhawk left, it took sometime for the birds to reassemble.  At first they came in dribs and drabs…

chaffinch and siskin

…but soon they were back mob handed.

I like the way the greenfinch so obviously disapproves of rowdy behaviour at the feeder.  Definitely a teacher in an earlier life.

After lunch, I was thinking of going for a stroll when Sandy rang up suggesting a cup of tea.  I agreed to the tea but made him go for a stroll first. He took us down to the Hollows in his car and we walked along to Byreburnfoot.  There is a lofty bridge there.

Byreburnfoot bridge
Those who paid for it and those who built it took pride in their creation.

And well they might because it spans a deep valley.

Byreburnfoot bridge
Dropscone and I pedalled over it this morning.

I am going to come back in better weather and try to take a picture which does it justice.

We left the bridge and walked up beside the Byreburn until we came to the Fairy Loup where we stopped to take pictures.

Fairy Loup

We were expecting to see rather more water than this after the rain but some locals told us that it hadn’t been so wet in Canonbie yesterday as it was in Langholm.

Perhaps just because we now have cameras that even on a greyish day in November can take sharp pictures of moving water, there is a movement which prefers to take pictures where the water is blurred.  They claim it shows the motion of the water better than one where it is frozen in time.  We tried our hands at this style.

Fairy loup blurred
A slight blurring

Does it show movement or is it just blurred?  The jury is out for Sandy and me.

Fairy loup blurred
Another go

Here are two versions of the same shot for contrast.

Fairy loup blurred
Spilt milk
Fairy loup unblurred
A sharper effort

I would welcome comments on this subject.

Here is Sandy thinking about exposures and shutter speed and composition and all that stuff.

Sandy at Byreburn

We walked back down and just before coming to the bridge, we left the track to explore the ruins of a house beside the stream.  You wouldn’t think to look at it, that it was inhabited until really quite recently.


wall end
A curved wall end given the pop grunge treatment.

Some mossy fallen trees show the damp nature of the surrounding woodland.

trees in Byreburn wood

As we came onto the road, we met a local who was just going for a walk and who could hardly contain himself with the joy of living in such a beautiful place for a stroll.  He felt that we were very lucky people.  We agreed.

We drove home and enjoyed the long awaited cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.

After we had finished out tea (with biscuits of a superior sort), Sandy and I assembled a bird cam which came with a feeder and which will enable us to watch and hopefully record birds at very close range.  It has been lent to us by Dr Barlow.

bird cam
I am going to put it out in the garden tomorrow.

Whether I will be able to put anything from it on the blog will depend on my success in mastering the necessary technology to record the output.  It is designed to be viewed on a TV screen and I have no capability to record from my TV.  I can feel a visit to Bruce, who is very technically savvy, coming on.

In the evening, I joined up with Sandy again and we went to the the Archive Centre with Jean and did a lot of work.

Today’s flying bird is a slightly better quality greenfinch than yesterday.  It is at full stretch.

greenfinch flying



Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

23 thoughts on “Top of the table

  1. Interesting old ruin of a house… and, no, it doesn’t look as if it has been inhabited recently at all. I never would have guessed. Very pretty image, though. Also love the moving waterfall. My preference is the crisper shot. I understand the concept of conveying movement, but the blur isn’t as nice to look at as precise focus, in my opinion.

    And I had no idea Mrs. Tootlepedal was so handy!

  2. I too like the sharper picture. I loved the picture of the ruined house, Mother Nature’s abode now! I remember going for walks to the Fairy Loup with my grandfather, he always had such wonderful stories to tell that the distance to get there seemed small. Thanks for the memories.

  3. I’ve thought since I owned a film SLR that the only thing blurry water showed was that the photographer knew how to make his camera blurr water. Personally, I prefer what you really see in nature-like the house ruins.

  4. Lovely textures and colours in the stones and moss. Like Jennifer, I prefer the crisper shot of the water. Mrs. T’s enterprise is admirable – serves to remind me of all I should be doing!

  5. Wow! What a lot of very clever pictures, I will leave others better qualified to give their comments. Loved the robin however corny.

  6. I think you could find something in between ‘milk’ and ‘sharp’ and get what you’re looking for. Out of the two you posted I prefer ‘sharp’. Nice moss, too. Reminds me of Vancouver.

  7. Having visited the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain with Pat this week, I can tell you that the convention of showing water (in both photos and paintings) as a moving blur started with the early daguerreotypes which required such long exposures that the water did indeed show as a blur. Although you probably know that already. Anyway, it seems a bit tricksy to make a modern camera, which can record in the blink of a eye and therefore render the water much more as we see it in reality, behave like an antique. I vote with the majority so far for crispness. Lovely photos and what an elegant bridge.

    1. Educational comments now. Thank you. I feel that the blurred water merchants are in fact trying to paint with the camera. I say, ‘Buy a brush.’

  8. It all depends on the effect you want, doesn’t it. Fairy tales or Forest? (I like spending my time in the forest, but I can enjoy a good fairy tale every now and then. May a thousand flowers bloom–and a thousand waters fall.)

  9. So many good pictures in this post and I’m looking forward to more photos of that excellent bridge. Your surroundings are much greener even in Autumn than ours are what with the ferns, ivy and moss. I agree with the local you met as to the good fortune of living in such surroundings. Your blog posts showing the country side and lively brooks make me postively homesick sometimes. That is after more than a decade of me living in Flatmonton.

    I like both the blurred and sharp photos, but then I’m a fence sitter on such matters.

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