Archive for Oct, 2013

Today’s picture is another from my sister Susan’s recent visit to Croatia.  They have some grand villas there.

Croatian villa

The sun was out and the temperature was even a degree or so higher than  yesterday so all looked set fair for a little pedal up the Wauchope road after breakfast.    Dropscone was off to Glasgow so I had no timetable to follow and I set off in a relaxed frame of mind.

This didn’t last long and I began to think that perhaps I was not well, as my legs were refusing to co-operate in my cycling endeavour.  I had intended to go out for a straight ten miles before turning back but I felt so tired that I turned round after only five miles.  This was a good decision as I was quite happy to find that I wasn’t off colour at all because as I cycled down Callister, I couldn’t feel a breath of wind on my face until I hit 23 mph.   I realised then that I had simply underestimated the strength of the gusty wind in my face on the way out.

Cheered up by this, I did two more turns up and down to Wauchope Schoolhouse to complete a 24 mile ride.  The gusts got stronger and stronger and on the last lap,  I was knocked back to a measly 6 mph on a flat bit of road by a big gust and nearly ground to a complete halt.  I free-wheeled back past the same spot a few minutes later at 25 mph.

The 24 miles was significant because it took me just over 300 miles for the month.  Since I had only done 16 miles in the first 14 days thanks to my heavy cold, I was more than happy at the total.  I could have course stopped at 296 or 297 miles perfectly well but there is something about a nice round number in miles that is very satisfying to an aged pedaller.

Sandy came round for a cup of coffee while his fridge was defrosting and then disappeared home to see how it was getting on.  Mrs Tootlepedal came in from work and then went out again.  This time she was going to a reunion lunch with the ladies who had formed the chorus of nuns in the Sound of Music in the spring.  I was a bit worried in case she picked up any bad habits but she came back in good order later on.

The wind which got stronger as the day progressed made outdoor photography unattractive so it is a pretty photo free post today.  I did spot a chaffinch after lunch.

flying chaffinch

And I always enjoy those pictures which show that the birds don’t always hit the perches spot on.

chaffinch landing

Just getting a toehold as they say.

Sandy came back after lunch and we put another week of the newspaper index into the database, leaving me with only one to do in the file.

I did that one with Jean in the Archive Centre when we went up as usual on a Thursday evening and half of another week too.  Unfortunately, the data miners had been hard at work and I picked up six more weeks to do when I left.  Ah well.   If any local reader who can type fancies helping the group out, they will be made most welcome.

During the day, I made an ordinary loaf and had another go at a sourdough loaf as well.  After my unfortunate experiences with the overheating tea light, I reverted to Mrs Tootlepedal’s plant incubator and it worked a treat.  I also forsook the banetton for a standard loaf tin and was very pleased with the whole result visually.  The taste test will come tomorrow.

sour dough loaf

I still haven’t mastered how to slash the top of the loaf to get a good looking result.   I am open to advice from those who are more experienced in these matters than I am.

We are promised a bit of sun tomorrow so I hope to have a wider selection of pictures to show for it.  A goldfinch managed to oust the many chaffinches jostling for the coveted post of flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch


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Today’s picture is another view from London.  This time it shows autumn in Kenwood as seen by my sister Mary.

Kenwood with distance view of false bridge

The forecast for today followed a familiar pattern.  It promised reasonable weather if you got up early and got out promptly followed by progressively wetter and windier weather for the rest of the daylight hours.

Leaving Dropscone to battle round the morning run, I opted for the gentler gradients of the Wauchope Schoolhouse triple.  The distance is very much the same for the two rides but my choice has 100ft less climbing in it.  The morning run has a long uphill section of 7 miles in the middle whereas the schoolhouse triple never has more than three miles uphill at a time.

With the recent drop in temperatures, I am keen to take things easily and not to bring my cold back so I was a bit depressed when it started to rain soon after I had left home.  All was well though as the rain soon stopped and a watery sunshine came out to cheer me on my way.  I stopped to take a picture or two.


The larch trees are beginning to turn

Wauchope school

This is the old Wauchope school , my turning point.

autumn leaves

Autumn leaves beside the Esk, the other turning point on my journey.

Not only did i pass Dropscone going in the other direction on my way but I also overtook Mrs Tootlepedal  who was out for a morning spin as well.  It was a busy road.

I had a quick trot round the garden before I got changed after cycling.


The dahlia seems impervious to wind and rain

icelandic poppy (4)

An Icelandic poppy looks a little more battered

sunflower in october

Amazingly, a new sunflower has appeared. A tribute to the lack of frosts.

Dropscone, Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a well earned cup of coffee and a scone with raspberry jam after our cycling and by the time that we had finished, a gentle rain had started.

Luckily, it stopped again quite soon afterwards and I was able to cycle around the town on my slow bike to do some Archive Group business.  When I got back, I settled in for the rest of the day.  I put another week of the newspaper index onto the database and I am well on track to have conquered the backlog.  I notice that the Archive Group team has now transcribed and recorded  60,000 entries stretching from 1848 to 1886.

I spent quite a bit of time grappling with learning how to treat RAW photos in the new photo editor and finding out that I really must learn to use a tripod if I want to take sharp pictures (which I do).

I added a few more file names to my photo collection and got a bit alarmed by considering how much time it will take me to complete the task.  I am naming new files as I go along now which is what I should have been doing from the start.

I did find a few moments to look out of the window too.  Competition was rife.

arguing chaffinches

goldfinch and chaffinch

There were some moments of peace too.

perching chaffinch

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to our community choir and practised hard for our forthcoming concerts.  Because so many of the choir don’t read music, we take quite a long time to get new pieces mastered.  I can read music but I am not very good at pitching notes so I  sit next to someone with a good ear but who can’t read brilliantly and between us we cope not too badly.

Although a flock of bramblings has been seen in the countryside around the town, I haven’t seen one in the garden yet so once again an addition to my vast library of flying chaffinches is flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch







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Today’s picture is another from my sister Susan’s recent visit to the Thames.

The Shard from the Mille

It was brilliantly sunny here today when we woke up but to make up for that, the temperature was only 6°C and I had to wrap up well for my after breakfast pedal.  Dropscone was away golfing so I decided that another flat ride up and down to Wauchope School three times would fit the bill nicely.  After a very slow start to the month’s cycling thanks to my cold, I have picked up well but I don’t want to get overexcited and do too much so a gentle pedal was just the ticket.  As I was going back on the second leg, I passed Mrs Tootlepedal going out for a quick spin herself.  By this time, the wind had got up a bit and I wasn’t able to catch her up and she got home well ahead of me.

I just had time for a shower before Sandy arrived to show one of his colleagues from college around the garden.  She was very interested in Mrs Tootlepedal’s work being a gardener herself and wasn’t too disappointed that the garden was well past its see-by date.

After they left, I looked out of the window for a bit.  The cold weather had got the birds interested in getting in as much seed as they could.

flying chaffinch flying goldfinch

flying chaffinches (7)

A robin was hanging about for a while  but didn’t stop.

robin (25)

After lunch, I thought that the day was sunny enough for a short excursion and I went to the Kilngreen to see the ducks.

The ducks came to see me.

flying ducks incoming

flying ducks incoming (2)

flying ducks incoming

Sadly they lost their tight formation at the last moment and I wasn’t able to catch a good picture of the splash down.  I caught a shot of a splash up a little later though.

flapping mallard

Pausing only to take a look at the resident heron….

heron (8)

It must like it here but it never looks very cheery.

…I headed up to the Moorland Feeders to see if the colder weather had brought in any interesting birds.  It may have done but I didn’t stay long enough to see as the piercing north westerly wind made sitting around unattractive.  I saw one woodpecker.

woodpecker (17)

It looked as though it had seen me too.

And lots and lots of pheasants which have been put out for the shooting and are fed nearby.

pheasant (6)

A representative sample

On my way home, I looked down at the Esk below Broomholm.

esk at Broomholm view

It looks as though the trees are going to lose their leaves without giving us a really good dispaly of colour this year.

Once home, I picked a Lilian Austin rose which had broken its stalk….

Lilian Austin rose (6)

I stuck it into a empty bed to take this shot.

…and then came in and got back to the task of naming my photos properly and getting to know the new photo editor.

short mallard
This duck above was highly commended by the judge last night but she complained quite fairly that it was about to crash into the edge of the frame so  I gave it the space that I should have given it before I entered the competition.

long mallard

She also said that a white van in a shot had spoiled a picture of Sauve from our French trip.  The photo editor removed it for me and if you can see where it used to be, you have got very good eyesight.


That was two useful lessons that I learned at the camera club.  The trick will be to think of them before entering the next pictures and not  afterwards.

While I have been busy playing at my computer, Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy making a friend for a one year old niece’s birthday.


She prefers the real world to the digital one.

In the evening, Susan and I went off to Carlisle to play with our recorder group and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  The ladies in the group are great travellers and one of them had just come back from Italy last week while another was away in Spain this week.  The other two will be away next week, one in Amsterdam and the other as yet undecided.

The naming of photos allows me to find out how many pictures of various subjects I have got.  With only a fraction of the collection named, I already have over 120 pictures of flying chaffinches on the list.  Here is yet another for today.

flying chaffinch (97)

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Today’s picture, sent by my sister Mary, shows my youngest sister Caroline and my stepmother Patricia sharing a joke at their joint birthday celebration in London at the weekend.

P and C's birthday lunch at BFI 002

The forecast said that if I got up early enough, I could avoid the worst of the wind and the rain and since the clocks went back at the weekend, it was no hardship to be out of the house before eight o’clock.  The south of England had had a real battering overnight from both wind and rain but here in the south of Scotland, all was quiet.

There was a little drizzle as I started out but it soon fizzled out and there were even a few rays of watery sunshine as I pedalled back and forth over the three miles and a bit to Wauchope School three times.  This is the nearest thing that we have to a flat ride so I was able to keep up a reasonable speed without trying too hard.  I had showered and shaved before Dropscone arrived from his journey round the usual morning run.  He was worn out from having to carry four scones round with him.

Sandy, who is on half term holiday from his work at college,  came to join us for coffee and helped with the disposal of the scones.

After coffee, Dropscone pedalled off home and Sandy and I walked up to the town to visit the art exhibition in the Town Hall.  We had been at the opening but this visit gave us the time and space to enjoy the paintings.  I stopped on the suspension bridge to show the start of the passing of the autumn leaves on our way.

falling leaves

The paintings were very good, not trying for anything striking but settling for some very well executed traditional water colours for the most part.

We went our separate ways for lunch and I had time to look out of the window.  Chaffinches were flying in all directions.

vertical chaffinch


horizintal chaffinch

…and horizontally.

Sandy kindly came back after lunch and helped me put yet another week of the newspaper into the database.  By this time the wind had got up quite a bit so I didn’t attempt a photo expedition but spent some useful time naming another month’s worth of photo files.  I also spent some time trying to get to grips with Photoshop.  I have just acquired a book to help me in the task but as it has 700 pages, I can foresee tears before bedtime as I read it.  It will take me so long to work through it that I will have forgotten everything that I learned on the way.

In the early evening, my flute pupil Luke arrived.  In an appropriate coincidence, he is practising that fine old song ‘The Autumn Leaves’ at the moment and making a good job of it.

After tea, Sandy appeared for the third time in the day and drove me and another friend across to Newcastleton to a meeting of the camera club.  We both had six pictures in an open digital and print competition and although I was pleased to get a highly commended for a flying duck portrait, Sandy was delighted to get a first in prints and a second in the digital.

It is a chastening thought for me that I was in Sandy’s company, standing in front of the same scenes and objects at the same time in the same light with a similar camera in my hand when he took his two prize winning shots.  I don’t have quite the same skills that he has and I certainly don’t have the same eye for a shot that he has.  My consolation is that he has been taking  photographs for a lot longer than me so maybe I can develop my eye with practice.  I certainly hope so.

After the vertical and horizontal chaffinches, a diagonal one got the position of flying bird of the day.

diagonal flying chaffinch



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Today’s picture shows New Zealand’s finest child, Maisie helping  to bathe her brand new little sister Frances in a very grown up sort of way.

Maisie helping

After an awful spring and a wonderful summer, we are now enjoying a curiously muted autumn.  It has been very grey, often wet but always very consistent in temperature.  There have been none of the crisp, sunny and frosty mornings which we should have had by now.   Today was another of the grey, wet and windy days to which we are becoming all too accustomed.

A goldfinch on the plum tree was well puffed against the conditions.


The strong winds kept me off the bike and away from the camera even when it wasn’t raining and so I put the day to good use indoors.  I put a week of the newspaper index into the database by myself in the morning and another with the help of Sandy in the afternoon.  If I can get another two or three weeks done in the next few days, I will be on top of the task at last.

In between times, I copied out some music, made a sourdough loaf and set about giving proper names to some of the many thousands of photos in my files currently with such useful names as _DSC5234.  It took me an hour just to do October 2013!

I kept half an eye out for any bramblings after Mrs Tootlepedal’s sighting earlier in the week and I keep hoping for another visit from the red legged partridge but all I saw were the usual suspects.

greenfinch and chaffinch

My recorder playing friend Sue had told me that she had used a tea light to heat her oven enough to raise her sourdough mixture successfully so I thought that I would give it a try too but I let the oven get too hot and the result was not a great success. I am going to go back to the plant heater for my next go.

In the afternoon, there was a brief moment when the day threatened to become quite pleasant so I nipped out into the garden to pick a few raspberries and see what was in flower.  The continuing warm weather has encouraged a cowslip to bloom well out of its normal time.  The picture is not very good because there was a thirty mile an hour wind blowing the poor plant about but it is such a curiosity that I have put it in.


Among the plants still hanging on are a yellow crocosmia…


…and a white phlox.


Just testing the back and white qualities of the new editor.

The Lilian Austin rose is doing far more than just hanging on.  It is positively enjoying itself with two fresh blooms.

Lilian Austin

Lilian Austin

I had to have the camera settings at the same levels that I use for catching flying birds to slow down the swaying of the stems in the strong breeze.

The other plant seemingly impervious to gloom is the fuchsia which is producing more flowers every day.


And lots more to come if we don’t get a frost.

On a more autumnal note, the cotoneaster is developing some brightly coloured red leaves among the prevailing green.


That was the extent of my excursion for the day.

A good tea, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and a slouch in front of the telly rounded off a day that was a lot better than the weather outside.

When I started naming the picture files, I found that an enormous number were titled “Flying Chaffinch”.  Here is another.

flying chaffinch

ISO 3200, f/5, 1/1250 with a 70-300mm zoom lens at 155mm for the technically minded.




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Today’s guest picture is an absolute stonker from my sister Susan who was on the south bank of the Thames a couple of days ago.  She liked the working river but i have cropped it to emphasise the sky.

A working river

The radio and TV have been full of warnings about the coming storm.  It will be the worst since…..keep away from trees…..don’t travel unless necessary…and so on but the Met Office local  forecast promised me a dry morning  with little wind and the forecast was absolutely right.  In fact I got up so early in a bid to get the best of the day that it was still dark and I had to go back to bed again.  Still I managed to have a reasonably early breakfast and I was out on the bike before nine o’clock.

garmin route 26 Oct 13I didn’t have a set route in mind, fearing that I might have to run for home if the rain came so I just pootled along at a steady speed admiring the views as I went.  In the end I was able to add little extras onto the distance as the weather stayed very benign and managed 34 miles.

The only defect of the trip was the fact that I hadn’t eaten enough at breakfast to deal with the slightly longer than expected distance and I found myself quite a bit short of fuel with a few miles still to go. Luckily the legs stuck to the task well and I filled up with some specialist recovery protein when I got back home.

I stopped to take a lot of pictures on my way round and here are just a few of them.

near Paddockhole

A nice selection of greens and browns near Paddockhole

Canonbie bridge

Plenty of water flowing under Canonbie bridge

Canonbie bridge

The view upstream from Canonbie bridge

The old A7

The old main road, closed to through traffic by a landslip since the early 1980s and now part of the Morning Run

After lunch, Sandy came round and we were expecting to be shut indoors by the rain but it held off so we went for a short expedition over the White Yett and onto the Langholm Moor.  Looking south we even caught a glimpse of sun on the fields at Cronksbank…


…but it didn’t come to anything.

Looking  east, the view across to Tinnis was definitely autumnal.


We encountered an unaccustomed amount of cars beside the road.

Hound trail

They had gathered for a hound trail and we were tempted to stop and watch the hounds but instead we edged our way past them and continued down to the Tarras Water, stopping to admire a dramatic sky on the way.

Langholm Moor

We got to Tarras Lodge where  we parked and took a few pictures.  It was rather gloomy but we did the best that we could.  I was trying out a tripod that Dr Tinker is considering selling.  It was very good, being light and adaptable, and if the price is right and he still wants to sell it, I shall buy it.

Tarras Bridge

Tarras Lodge

The road up the valley

It was blowing a brisk wind by this time and that made the air pretty chilly so we didn’t linger at the picnic table but after taking some pictures of the various fungi about…

Tarras fungi

…and evidence of the recent wet weather….


…we headed for home and warmth.

We stopped on the way back to admire this view of trees and hill as we approached the town.

Meikleholm Hill

Once home, we had a cup of tea.  After that Sandy showed me a few useful buttons on my new photo editor (of which he already has a copy) and then we put  a week of the newspaper index into the database.

After Sandy went off to look at the pictures which he had taken, I spent quite a bit of time playing on the new editor and trying to remember which buttons Sandy had shown me..  It is Photoshop CS6 and is probably certainly better than my pictures deserve but it will be fun to get to know it.

It can change this….



…to this…



… in the twinkling of an eye.  I was impressed.

Our clocks go back tonight, which means that it will get dark so soon that cycling in the afternoon will  be unattractive.  As cycling in the morning can be very chilly, I for one wish that they would leave us on BST all the year round.

I didn’t have much time to look at the birds so I was pleased to catch this chaffinch looking mean, moody and magnificent with the long grass stems in the background.

flying chaffinch








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Today’s guest picture sent to me by Alix and taken by her daughter, shows Bowman, her shaggy dog, having reached the monument and wondering where the brandy is.


I start with a humble apology to Dropscone.  He reminds me that it was he and not Sandy who made the wise remark about Thomas Telford and the state of his road.

It will be one of my many less exciting posts today as it was an extreme;y unexciting day from the point of view of getting about or taking photos.  The rain was hammering down when we got up and continued to do so for the rest of the morning and even when it stopped, the day remained resolutely grey.

I slept well, got up late and found that happily my joints had recovered so I was in a cheerful mood in spite of the rain and I sat down to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the database.  That made me feel even cheerier.  We continue to get a steady trickle of enquiries from all over the world from people who have visited our Archive website.  These are mostly from people researching their family history and often come from Australia, Canada or the US where most of the emigrants from the Scottish borders went in the nineteenth century.  In one of the weeks that I looked at today though, the local paper did record a marriage in Buenos Ayres (sic) so the diaspora was widely spread.

Local people more often use the website to browse through the many thousands of pictures which Sandy has put online. We have had great support from people letting us digitise their family photo collections.

I have also bitten on the bullet and paid good money for a quality photo editing program.  Since I had time on my hands, I downloaded and installed it today and I have used it to process the few pictures which I took this afternoon.   It has a million and one things that it can do and I have discovered three of them so far.    I have had to buy a book to tell me about the other nine hundred and ninety nine thousand nine hundred and ninety eight tweaks.  I will have plenty to look at in the dark days of winter to come.

What it can’t do is make a grey day sunny.

I did get a moment to look out of the window in the gloom.  There was no sign of Mrs Tootlepedal’s brambling  but I was not surprised that it wasn’t flying about in the awful conditions.  Mostly we had the inevitable chaffinches.  The new photo editor provides some very easy to use frames so you may see a lot of them.


The chaffinches were very busy as usual.


And very argumentative too.


Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work in the afternoon and I went out into the garden when the rain had stopped and snapped a couple of damp flowers.


The marigolds are good at standing up to the rain.


One of the roses is still doing its best too.


I soon went in again and in the end spent most of the daylight hours crouched in front of my computer.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out with Mike and Alison to the opening of the art exhibition where Liz’s paintings, for which I had provided mounts and frames, were on show.  In all, they had 130 paintings in the exhibition of work from an art group which meets from time to time to share experience and get advice from the group leader.  Their time had been well spent because I really enjoyed the results.   They were for the most part very traditional water colours but done with great care and skill and just the sort of thing that I like to look at.

We didn’t stay long because the crush of people at the opening made it hard to actually look at the pictures.  Mike and Alison came back home with us and Alison and I enjoyed playing a few sonatas.  Alison has been on holiday in Wales and she bought a sonata by James Hook while there from the famous second hand bookshop in Hay on Wye.  Having played it through, I can safely say that it was money well spent.

In spite of the dull weather, I had a very good day.

The flying bird of the day is, of course, a chaffinch.


The non flying bird of the day is a duck which I took yesterday and forgot to put in the post.  It has a charming curl to its tail.



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