Home alone

Today’s guest picture is an arty effort from Edinburgh, courtesy of my younger son.

edinburgh art

The first business of the day was toast and porridge and the second was a trip to Carlisle to put our guests on the London train and wave goodbye.  Owing to following the precautionary principle with a little too much zeal, we arrived at the station half an hour early so we left them there to kill time and we went off to do a little shopping on our way home.

When we got home, I went up to the High Street to replenish my stock of fat balls for the birds.  Not all of the consumption of my present stock had been by beak.

mouse in bucket

How the mouse had got into the bucket was a mystery but it certainly wasn’t going to be able to get out without my help.

Although the weather in December has been wet and gloomy, it hasn’t been very cold and the fat ball seller was telling me that sales of bird food this month have been severely hit by the amount of free food still hanging from bushes.  Retail is a tough world.

It was a beautifully sunny day so after a quick look out of the kitchen window….

Two chaffinches
Two chaffinches thinking about their lunch.
A dunnock or hedge sparrow on the lawn.

…and a light lunch, I headed off for a walk.


My target was the lower slopes of the hill in the background.

My route took me along the Esk to the Kilngreen where it meets the Ewes Water.   My departing sister Susan likes a picture of a perching bird and the gulls were happy to oblige…

Gulls along the Esk
Lining up along the Esk.
Gulls along the Ewes
And along the Ewes as well.

So vigorous was the competition for places on the fence posts…



…that one gull had to settled for the barbed wire in between.

Gull on wire
Probably high on the list of things that are not recommended.

The angle of the strong low light made the mallard’s heads sometimes appear purple…


…and sometimes green.


Leaving the riverside,  I walked on up the track to the hill, passing an inviting gate on my way.

gate on Castle Hill

Once on the hill, I looked back at the town.  Although I was in the sun, most of the town was already in the shade of the surrounding hills.


I walked along the edge of the fields, noting that many of the haws on the hawthorns were fading away uneaten this year.


I slipped through a gate in the wall and walked down through a delightful open wood…


…until I came to the track to the North Lodge.

Although I was now in the shade, there were trees beside the track  tall enough to catch the sun .

tall tree

And others with interesting decoration.

tree trunk

I came to the North Lodge….

North Lodge

…and turned for home.  The sun was below the hills by now and the light faded away quickly as I walked back along the river.

There was just enough to see some fungus…


…but not much so I put my cameras away and concentrated on getting to a cup of tea as soon as possible.

My stepmother Pat gave me an excellent book called the Horologicon by Mark Forsyth for my Christmas present.  It gives examples of valuable but obsolete or lost words which should be still in circulation in the opinion of the author.  Among them was spretzzatura, which the author defines as the appearance of nonchalance in the perfect courtier.  The idea is to do a great deal of work to keep your boss or your guests satisfied but to seem as if it is no bother at all, in short to practise discreet diligence.

I have been working on my sprezzatura during the recent visit of my family, as it can be tempting to make a great deal of fuss to show just how much you are doing to keep your guests happy but I was not a patch on Mrs Tootlepedal who managed exemplary sprezzatura while doing nine tenths of the work too. It has been a great Christmas with the family but all the same, the late afternoon and the evening were spent by both of us in deep relaxation…or snoozing as it is sometimes called.

I am pleased that the better weather allowed me to capture a rather grainy flying bird again.

flying chaffinch





Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

15 thoughts on “Home alone

  1. I had been engaging in some of that deep relaxation myself before reading your post. 😉

    I’m sure that you’ll enjoy the book that your stepmother gave you, but please be kind to your readers and include a translation when using some of the words from the book.

  2. Sprezzatura is an excellent word and exactly describes your and Mrs Tootlepedal’s behaviour during our stay. Glad you got some sun after we left and thanks for the myriad perching birds. I like the new background colour to your blog.

  3. That’s one heck of a fat wee moose! Nae doubt the best fed in Langholm. ‘lining up along the Esk’ is a grand photo. The contrast of white gulls on fence stobs, the sweep of the bank leading the viewer along the line of birds – superb. The close-ups from Pocketcam and its skilled operator are impressive.

  4. I have been trying to take photos of some chaffinches since the first day I have got my camera but they fly so high and don’t come to feeders. I wait for snow, perhaps they will came after the ground will be covered with snow.

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