I am out of up to date guest pictures so I have resorted to a very narrow bridge over the river Dove which was crossed by my brother Andrew last month. I am grateful for his generous supply of photographs
It was a pleasantly sunny morning but sadly it was marred by an unpleasantly chilly and brisk wind so I didn’t take my new camera out for a cycle ride. I did take it out into the garden and with the additional fixed lens that I bought with it, I was able for the first time to take a picture from under the walnut tree of the whole of our house.
This was a good result because I have often been frustrated when taking pictures by not being able to get the whole subject in frame.
I tried a close up shot of a narrow plank of old wood too.
That looks quite promising as well.
I got out the sour dough starter and because it looked a little lifeless, I left it to warm up and I got my zoom lens out and had a look for some birds through the kitchen window while I waited.
Even the flying chaffinches were coming two at a time.
I took a picture of an elegant greenfinch perching especially for my sister Susan who finds that looking at too many flying birds hurts her head.
I picked a leek from the garden and then took the last two potatoes from our store to make a pot of leek and potato soup. This was a sad moment as the potatoes have lasted us from the beginning of July to the end of November which is much longer than ever before. This was down both to the very good summer weather of this year and the fact the Mrs Tootlepedal planted main crop potatoes as well as earlies. Ever the optimist, she is going to plant more of these blight resistant main crop potatoes next year. For some reason we were very slug free this summer and we can only hope that this happy state of affairs lasts into next season.
After lunch, I was delighted to see a robin practising a pose for my Christmas cards.
As I have said, it was too cold and windy for a pleasant cycle so I took the new camera in the car up the Wauchope road to the alder trees and took a picture of some male catkins.
Not ideal but the best I could do before the sun went in. I turned my attention to the haws nearby.
I think the new camera will be a very useful addition to the back pocket when cycling as well as being light enough to carry easily on walks. In place of the late lamented Sandycam, I am going to name it ‘Pocketcam’.
Mrs Tootlepedal had a notion to go and see if we could find the starlings at Gretna as there had been talk of them decamping to Longtown. We set off in plenty of time with a small flask of hot chocolate with us to warm us up while we watched. We drove through Gretna and on to the tiny village of Rigg where we parked and waited.
There were early signs of starlings to be seen when we arrived.
I walked along the back road for a bit, becoming an object of interest to a local sheep…
…and soon saw another collection of starlings on a bigger wire with the Solway in the background.
The pylons were well stocked too.
Soon the birds left their perches and began to fly around.
I was distracted for a moment by a higher flying bird….
…but walked back to the car where Mrs Tootlepedal was watching the murmuration in action. I wouldn’t like to be walking around these cottages when so many starlings are overhead.
We stayed watching for a while as they flowed back and forth along the horizon….
…but left before they had finally settled. We are going to try to get nearer next time.
I was hoping to start a sour dough loaf off when we got home but the starter was still remarkably lifeless so I added a little flour and we will see whether it can yet spring to life or not.
In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I rattled through a nice selection of flute and recorder sonatas and divisions (variations). By dint of following some sound advice from Alison about not playing too loudly and listening to some more sound advice on breathing and breath control from the conductor of our choir, I have improved my flute technique over the past few weeks enough so that I can now play a whole sonata before falling off my chair. This is a step forward. Recorder playing takes much less puff.
I am still having to rely mostly on chaffinches for flying bird of the day.