Sunshine and singing

glastonbury shop

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who has been touring the wonderful shops to be found in Glastonbury.  She had to step back a little when this book illustration flew at her.

glastonbury shop

We woke to a different world this morning.  The soggy green had been covered up by a sparkling frost and the change was chilly but very welcome.

While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I made a venison stew for the slow cooker and enjoyed looking at a new perspective from the kitchen window…and an infrequent visitor too.

A brambling came to see what was going on.

There was quite a lot going on for the brambling to see.

busy feeder

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get a shot where all the perches were busy at the same time but there was always at least one annoying bird popping from one perch to another so I didn’t manage it.

I noticed some other birds while I was trying.

The robin still looking for the perfect Christmas card pose.
A greenfinch just posing for the fun of it.
And two goldfinches neatly lined up

It was such a crisp morning that when I had got the stew safely in the slow cooker, I took NewCam out for a walk.  I was hoping to see some ducks on the Kilngreen but something else on the river caught my eye instead.

There was a flock of Kayakers

Some of them were having fun going down a small rapid….


…and some were having fun going back up it again.


A member of the group told me that they were having their annual winter paddle.  I was staggered to see that some of them were braving the sub zero conditions with bare hands….


…and I asked the helpful member if there was some benefit from this but she just said, “They’re crackers.”  I found it hard to disagree.  These must be very hard men.

They did have some minders watching over them.


I left them paddling off under the town bridge on their trip to Canonbie, six miles downstream….


…and walked over the Sawmill Brig onto the Castleholm.

The castle was looking suitably grim for such a chilly day…

Langholm Castle

…but as I got near the Jubilee Bridge, I saw an unexpectedly bright flash of colour.  This was just the moment to pull out the zoom on NewCam and it showed me that I was looking at a bullfinch.


There was another not far away but even NewCam couldn’t bring it close enough to shoot.

There was no shortage of evidence of frost as I went along…


…and I was quite pleased to get back to the warmth of the house.

The rest of the day was spent going to Carlisle to rehearse and then sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.  On this occasion, the audience considerably outnumbered the choir, no doubt because a primary school choir was invited to sing some songs during the programme and a primary school choir always brings a lot of relatives in is wake.

The floods had caused us to miss last week’s practice and we felt the loss a bit so we were not as note perfect as we would have liked to have been but our work was well received.  All the takings from the concert went to the flood relief fund.

All through the concert, there was quite a bit of disturbance in the audience from a crying and noisy child or two and there was a slight feeling of where was Herod when we really needed him?

At just over an hour with no interval, the concert was a perfect length for a late Sunday afternoon and by good fortune, the temperature had risen above freezing by the time that we came out so we had a trouble free drive home.

The venison stew went down well with some tagliatelle and we were happy to put our feet up and watch some undemanding telly after  a hard day.

The flying bird of the day is a frosty chaffinch.

flying chaffinch




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

34 thoughts on “Sunshine and singing

    1. Sadly my back stops me from getting into a kayak at all. I have tried it once or twice and it is incredibly painful. This is a pity because is used to enjoy a paddle when young.

  1. Congratulations on the bullfinch! Kayaking without gloves when it’s right about freezing isn’t bad, your hands are working hard enough to generate enough heat to stay warm. Besides, your hands are going to get wet unless you can afford the really expensive gloves which are truly waterproof. I imagine that kayaking
    would be a great way to see the beautiful countryside around where you live.

    Loved the flying bird book, but if the bird had been an owl, it would have been a real hoot.

  2. A flock of kayakers! I love the description. Your winter birds are a colorful lot. Mostly I see sparrows, finches, chickadees and towhees at our feeder at this time, with the occasional flock of California Quail bobbing by the window.

  3. Lovely variety of bird pictures.
    Delighted your concert went well in spite of crying child.

  4. Sounds and looks like a great day. You caught a splendid picture of the bull finch. I agree that the kayakers were crackers to go barehanded. Glad the concert went well despite missing the final rehearsal and the annoying children.

  5. Just spent an hour catching up with your posts, as usual all very enjoyable reads, with excellent pictures. Glad to hear you have escaped the flooding, here in the Neath valley, we also have been spared. It’s amazing how so much rainwater and water from the surrounding hills has been transported down to the sea, without the banks of the Neath river being burst. We’ve had days and days of heavy rainfall, interspersed with a lighter variety, I’ve had extreme soakings and light ones on my commute, but the great thing is, it is so mild. Happy Tootling, cheers.

    1. It has been very mild here until the last two days when it has been more like what December should be. Our rivers got rid of amazing amounts of rain during the storm so we were lucky. A foot more would have done for our riverside dwellers. I hope that you get a few dry commutes before Christmas.

  6. Beautiful frosty photos! We were in Manchester on Sunday morning and it was frosty there too. Such a pleasant change from windy wet. Congratulations on the Bullfinch picture and nice to see the Robin and Brambling too. I enjoyed the tour Of Glastonbury’s shops.

      1. I am sure you are right! I commented on Musiewild’s post that we had visited the town in 2005 and it didn’t look as though things had changed much!

  7. My vote for the Christmas card would go to the grim castle shot…wonderful! Of course, the robin looks the part, but they’re just a little too sure of themselves for me 🙂

  8. I’m always delighted by your “tennis ball” robins. They are such lovely round birds and often featured in my children’s books set in your part of the world. The bullfinch is quite round as well. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be brave enough to venture into those waters like those paddlers. I feel cold just looking at them. You took great shots of the action though.

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