Stepping out for a new year

Parliament Hill secluded pond

Today’s guest picture shows a colourful winter scene from Parliament Hill in London a few days ago and was sent to me by my sister Mary.

Parliament Hill secluded pond

The new year arrived in a more polite and agreeable mood than the old year stamped off in.

A calm and dry day was very welcome but a light covering of ice on the drive persuaded us that there was no rush to go out to greet the glorious morn.

In fact there was plenty of time to watch some birds….

A house sparrow called first
Followed by a gang of chaffinches displaying their usual courtly behaviour
blue tit
And a blue tit looking for seed

Not all the chaffinches were badly behaved and I really enjoyed the style of this one approaching the feeder in the nonchalant manner of Fred Astaire on roller skates.


A pause for a cup of coffee allowed the thermometer to hit 5 degrees C and for most of the ice to disappear and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out on a five mile walk to welcome the New Year in.

Although it was very calm and pleasant for walking, the light was still poor with the low sun covered in clouds so we chose a route for varied interest rather than spectacular views.

I took a shot of some lichen on a tree in the garden as we left as insurance in case we didn’t see anything of interest on our walk.

This was bright yellow a few days ago but has turned green recently

The unseasonably warm and wet weather of the past weeks meant that there was flourishing moss and fungus to be spotted as we walked along the riverside path…

moss and fungus

…though I don’t know how long that will last if it gets a bit colder.

The first puddles we came to were still frozen…


…but luckily, Mrs Tootlepedal found one further along the riverside road that allowed for a good paddle.

We left the river and followed the road up hill…


…where the wall on the right was richly covered with mosses…

broomholm mosses

…and even played host to a foxglove as well.


At the top of the hill, which divides the Esk from the Tarras valley, the moss gave way to lichen…

broomholm lichen

..and we turned off the road to pick up the track back through the woods to Langholm.

The track doesn’t pass through quite as many trees as it used to.

felled trees

The rings on the right show that that tree was just under 40 years old when it was felled and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the vivid pattern is caused by the saw cutting through at the exact spot that branches spread out from the trunk.

The felling of the trees leaves a mess on the ground but reveals a fine view across the Esk that has been hidden for a long time.

View from Broomholm shiels

Our walk took us through mixed oak and birch woods where the oaks are very old….


…and the birches are fairly young.

wood at the round house

It doesn’t look as though the oaks are going to regenerate as they may be too old to bear acorns and anyway, they are being hemmed in by the fast growing birches.

As we got back towards the town, we spotted some more fresh fungus beside the track….


…and a notice that would have told us that we were being watched by neighbours if a tree hadn’t eaten it.

tree eating notice

I wonder how long it will take the tree to swallow the whole thing.

We called in at the Co-op on our way home to buy a newspaper.  A packet of six (very reasonable priced) iced finger buns got accidentally entangled with my hand as I went to pay for the paper so we had to take them home too.  We lived with the pain.

The walk was most enjoyable and the buns soon restored our energy levels to maximum. (Somehow, I needed five of them and Mrs Tootlepedal just one.  It is odd how much more energy I use when we are doing the same walk.)

In the traditional manner,  our neighbour Margaret came to visit for a small sherry and some pancakes to welcome the new year in and Mike Tinker’s cup of tea detecting radar was working so well that he was able to join us and we were a merry company as the light faded.

I hope that a good walk and good company on the first day of the year will set the tone for the rest of it and that there will be many and various (but much sharper) flying birds to follow today’s first flying chaffinch of 2016.

flying chaffinch


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

35 thoughts on “Stepping out for a new year

  1. You saw, and took excellent pictures of, a fine array of lichens, mosses and fungi on your walk. The close up photographs are much better for me to look at than what I can see with my naked eye so thank you.

  2. Hi Tom,

    I’ve been a daily reader of your blog for the past six months and thought that now would be as good a time as any to introduce myself. I first discovered your blog last summer while planning a trip to the UK to celebrate my wife’s and my 30th wedding anniversary. I was looking for a stopover in late September somewhere between Edinburgh and Keswick and was hoping to find some place that we could hear some traditional Scottish music. Very fortunately, Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham were scheduled to perform in Lanholm at the Buccleuch Centre. While researching their performance, I came across the blog entry that you posted after meeting Phil and Aly a few years prior. I’ve been hooked ever since – I’ve even read most of your archived postings. I really enjoy the way you find pleasure and humor in daily events, and appreciate your commitment to post a worthy entry every single day. Impressive!

    By the way, we stayed in Langholm the evening of the concert and, although the Information Hub was closed when we arrived, we did have a chance to explore the town a bit. It’s great to see your pictures of some of the places that we that we visited. You’re a great advocate for Langholm and the borderlands and I hope that we can return one day. I’d like to wish you and your family a healthy and prosperous 2016 and look forward to keeping up with your future adventures.

    Kent Kanagy
    Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

    1. Thank you for introducing yourself Kent. I appreciate it. In my view, there are few if any better nights out than a chance to listen to Phil and Aly and few if any better places to hear them than at the Buccleuch Centre so I am pleased that you managed to get both these things in as part of your tour. I will try my best to keep posting material of interest to you and if you return to Langholm, I hope that we can meet. All the best in 2016 to you and your wife.

    2. I really enjoyed this comment, as when I discovered Mr T’s blog, I too went bacl and read most of the archived entries. I’m saving the year 2011 (I think it was) for my retirement perhaps. 😉

  3. I was interested to learn about the patterns on the sawn tree trunks. Thank-you Mrs T! The photos of the mosses, fungi and lichen were very good and I loved the skating Chaffinch aka Fred Astaire. The swallowed Neighbourhood Watch sign was well spotted by you!

  4. Lichens often change color when they dry out or get wet. You got some great shots of them along with the mosses and fungi. That’s a lot of mushrooms for January!
    It must seem strange to see a view that hasn’t been seen in over 40 years.

    1. Our mild weather is continuing with only the briefest hint of cold now and again. The commercial woods and forests round us grow and are felled in a continuous cycle so we often find ourselves looking at our surroundings with new eyes.

  5. A grand walk to welcome the new year in. It seems a shame to cut down so many trees, especially as they help soak up excess water and reduce flooding. Are they replanting? Our new year came in wet and windy with weather warnings ahead. Oh well 🙂

  6. Wonderful photos. I particularly liked the tree eating the sign and that bare oak silhouette. And I love your wife’s way with puddles.

  7. It was a great way to start a new year, I loved the mosses and other things seen on your walk, none more than the lichens from the garden. I hope that this day sets the tone for your coming year, with many great outings on foot, cycling, or any other means of transportation, as Scotland is more beautiful that I could have imagined, and you photograph it so well.

  8. The sign swallowing tree and the old oak in black and white have an Entish look about them! Beautiful photos of your walk. The lichens here are also swollen with winter rain, and festoon the trees in a green-grey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: