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Archive for May, 2016

In the absence of any other guest pictures, today’s is another from Annie’s Chelsea visit.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I were both pleased to see that the humble foxglove is back in fashion.

chelsea foxglove

In spite of my bad back, I had quite good night’s sleep and when I woke up at seven o’clock and found that the sun was shining, I amazed myself by getting up and going on a nuthatch hunt before breakfast.  The slow bike is an excellent form of transport for a man with a bad back and I got to the nest without any trouble.

The nuthatches were very busy.

nuthatches

As you can see, the sun was in the right place at that time in the morning and I was able to get a slightly better shot than yesterday afternoon.

nuthatch

The quality is not as good as it should have been so I might try again if conditions are suitable.

I passed our roadside hedge as  I came home and was greeted by a very cheerful honeysuckle.

honeysuckle

Its not often that I take flower pictures before breakfast.

aquilegia

My back was still pretty ‘twingy’ after breakfast so I lay flat on the carpet and Mrs Tootlepedal pressed with her thumb on a vertebra which a helpful physio had pointed out to her some years ago for occasions like this and, once again, the magic thumb had a very beneficial effect in loosening my spine up and I was able to pass the rest of the day in an almost human fashion.

I entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee and it turned out that he too had been up early and gone to visit the nuthatches.  I don’t know how we missed each other.  Anyway, we arranged an afternoon  outing together and then I walked round the garden and chatted to the frogs, some rather shy, some cheerful…

frogs in pond

…and some out in the open enjoying the sunshine.

frog in open

 I had a look at a forthcoming poppy spectacular.

poppy

After lunch Sandy came round for our outing.  My back was in a happy enough state to allow for a gentle walk and  I had had a thought about where to go.  Sandy however had had a better one so we adopted his idea and went off to visit the Winterhope reservoir about seven miles west of the town.  Mrs Tootlepedal was unfortunately too busy to come with us.

This is a place that we have been meaning to visit for some time but we have never got round to actually going until today.

You approach the reservoir from below the dam…

Winterhope reservoir

…and it gives you no hint of the beautiful scenery behind it.

Winterhope reservoir

We started at the left hand end of the dam…

Winterhope reservoir

…and made a clockwise circuit of the reservoir, looking back from the right hand end when we finished.

Winterhope reservoir

There is a good farm track for most of the way round with cattle on the way out and sheep on the way back…

Winterhope reservoir

…and at the far end, a deer leaping a fence and leaving its young to wonder where it had gone.

Winterhope reservoir deer

But mostly, there were views.

Winterhope reservoir with windmill

One of the new windmills in the background

The reservoir lies in a little basin of green hills and on a day like today, it looked like a little slice of paradise.

Winterhope reservoir

It was really warm and the brisk wind may have ruffled the waters but it just served to cool us down to a pleasant temperature for a walk.  To add to our pleasure, we were serenaded by skylarks as we walked along

There was so much to see…

blossom and lichen

…that another visit is definitely on the cards but with my back on the ‘take care’ list, we didn’t linger too long today.

I was just photographing some indignant oyster catchers at the water board buildings on our way back to the car…

oyster catchers

…when I was hailed by a familiar voice from the garden of a nearby house.  It was Jean and she and Wattie invited us in for a cup of tea and a biscuit in their garden, an invitation which we gladly accepted.  It would have been tea and a scone if Jean hadn’t recently broken her ankle and been hobbling about on crutches.

We had a great chat about all the wild life that they see round the reservoir; foxes, otters, stoats, coots, moor hens, cormorants and gulls and listened to hair raising stories of the perils that their poultry flock runs from the fiercer members of this group.  They have a lovely garden and I captured their dicentra and a visiting butterfly (probably a female orange tip) as a sample.

dicentra and orange tip

We left with an invitation to return at any time which we will certainly take up (and bring Mrs Tootlepedal too).  It is near enough to cycle to so that may be our next means of getting there.

When we got back, I discovered that Mrs Tootlepedal, having finished her task,  had been out on her bike and had pedalled 10 miles along the same road as we had driven along.

The gentle walk and the refreshing tea had had such a good effect on my back that I got the lawn mower out and mowed the front and middle lawns and then put the sprinkler on them.   It is a sign of how good our weather has been that I have even had to think about watering the grass in May.

Usually I would be hoping that it might dry out soon but instead of our our prevailing warm, moist south westerly winds, we have been sitting under north easterlies for a lot of the past two months and this brings us cool, dry weather.   In the last few days, it has been much warmer than customary with these winds and as a result we have been having the best of both worlds.  Long may it continue.

The sunny day had brought on the peony that had showed promise last night…

peony

Just for interest while I was at the reservoir, I took a tiny video to show the new windmill going round.  It was taken with ‘slightly less wobbly cam’.  Four of the five windmills that we could see are now working.

My back seems to have survived or even benefited from  the walk and lawn mowing and I am hoping to be in full working order tomorrow.  If not, it will be back to the therapeutic thumb of Mrs Tootlepedal again.  It certainly worked wonders today.

The rather impressionistic flying bird of the day is from our reservoir visit.  It is one of the oyster catchers which were trying to distract us from their nesting site.

oyster catcher flying

PS: Sorry for the long post but it was a brilliant day for taking snaps.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Annie’s visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.  Alliums are Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourites but hers don’t usually look as regimented as these.

Alliums

As it happened, I had a chance to look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s alliums this morning after breakfast and I thought that they looked very good…

Alliums

Allium alley

…even though they are not so perfectly spherical as the ones at Chelsea.

I had taken the camera out into the garden because I had spotted a frog in the pond…

frog

…and while I was out there, I looked at the Camassia…

Camassia

It has nearly gone as far as it can go

…and the Irises….

iris

…which are just starting out on their journey

I went back in and saw one of our many beady eyed blackbirds through the kitchen window….

blackbird

…before packing up some newspapers and a packet of Jaffa Cakes and setting off to to do two hours in the Information Hub on the High Street.

The Hub is hosting an art exhibition by two talented local artists so I was quite busy in my role as ‘curator’ of the exhibition as well as answering requests for information from several actual tourists and I had a good time.  As a bonus Dropscone dropped in to give me some company.  I will be sconeless for a while, as he is going off to act as an offical at a big international children’s golf competition near Edinburgh for several days.

I had hoped to  make good use of another very fine and sunny day with some extensive lawn care and a cycle ride but for some reason or other, my back had taken the huff and I was having a bit of difficulty walking let alone doing anything more vigorous.  It is just a twinge from a long standing problem and should be gone soon with some careful management.

After lunch, I went out and had a longing look at the lawns, which could have done with some tender care, and then looked at flowers instead.

geraniums

A brisk wind was fluttering the geraniums

tulips

The fancy tulips by the front door are being reduced in number every day and their red companions have all gone.

clematis

The clematis round the back door is coming on strongly

It was such a lovely day that staying indoors seemed a sin.  I was able to pedal my slow bike about if I was careful so I went off to the nuthatch nest to see if the parents would be about.  They were obviously feeding young as they went in and out with great regularity…

nuthatch

…and even took some time to tidy the nest out.

nuthatch

The sun is in the wrong place for getting good pictures of the birds in the afternoon and I should try to get up early if the weather is fine again tomorrow and take some better shots.  I wouldn’t bet the house on that happening though.

The nest is in a fine pair of trees, worth looking at in their own right.

Nuthatch trees

While I was watching the nuthatches, I could hear some flapping nearby and after some investigation, I could see a pigeon sitting on a nest on a branch of the same tree.

pigeon

From time to time her partner arrived with food and on one occasion, with some additional furniture for the apartment.

pigeon

I pottered off on the slow bike just to turn my legs over for a mile or so and stopped to look at a cheerful patch of wild flowers on the Castleholm.

Castleholm Wildflowers

Castleholm Wildflowers

Garden escapes provided some other colour beside the Lodge Walks.

azalea

In the surroundings of green this azalea stands out like a flickering flame

Rododendron

There are plenty of rhododendrons about too

I was hoping to get a flying bird or two at the Kilngreen but being a bank holiday, the Kilngreen was full of human visitors rather than birds so I settled for a nougat wafer slider from Pelosi’s ice cream van and pedalled home slowly.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was just finishing her gardening for the day. After a look at a promising peony…

peony

…we went inside, where we were soon joined by Mike Tinker who arrived in nice time for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit.

My back was giving me enough trouble to persuade me to reluctantly cancel an evening of trio playing with Mike and Isabel but I managed to give Luke his flute lesson before retiring to sit down for the rest of the evening.

I didn’t spend much time looking at birds out of the kitchen window so this was my best effort at a flying bird of the day.   Must do better.

flying siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my daughter’s visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.  Heaven knows what the wonderful flowers are.

Chelsea Flower Show

We are enjoying a spell of warm, dry weather which is extremely welcome.  It is letting Mrs Tootlepedal get some really useful gardening done and it is letting me get some good cycling miles in.

It was sunny from the start of the day and I took a moment before getting the fairly speedy bike out to have a look round the garden.

As always, I was happy to see a bee.  They love the Dicentras.

bee on Dicentra

I would be even happier if there were a lot more bees about but in spite of the good weather, they are still very scarce.

Our neighbour Gavin took a break on his customary morning walk to give two of his friends a guided tour of the garden.  They were impressed that Mrs Tootlepedal does all the work herself.  I am impressed by that too.

There are a lot of birds in the garden at the moment.  Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t regard house sparrows in a very friendly light as they eat her young plants if she doesn’t protect them well but I am very happy if they pose nicely for me.

male sparrows

Males on the fence…

female sparrow

…and a female on the feeder

Hedge sparrows or dunnocks are often to be seen creeping about under plants in the borders.  I caught a young one under the feeders today.

dunnock

Siskins are still the most frequent feeder visitors…

siskins

…but they have to fend off the occasional incursion by sparrows….

sparrow and siskin

…and everybody gives a starling a wide berth.

starling

I didn’t have a moment to look at the flowers today because I had only a limited time to complete my cycle ride.  I set off up the A7 to the north with two plans in mind – either go straight up the road against the wind for twenty miles and enjoy a whizz back down with the wind behind or else take a more circular and hilly route and avoid having to pedal into the wind for too long.

The forecast had promised a reasonably light wind but after eight miles butting into it, it seemed quite strong to me and after a pause to look at Ewes Church…

Ewes Church

…I turned right at Fiddleton and headed for the hills.

There is a stiff climb out of the Ewes valley….

Ewes valley

…and on to the ridge at the top…

Carrotrig

…but it is well worth it, both for the views when you are up there and the steady descent down to Hermitage Water and the Castle on its bank.

Hermitage castle

The run back down the road to Newcastleton with the breeze now behind me was most enjoyable after the slow progress over the first sixteen miles.

I passed several bridges of various sizes on my way from Fiddleton to Newcastleton and stopped for two of them.

bridges

The water in the rivers is very low.  The fisherman are crying out for some rain.

I stopped in Newcastleton to buy a strawberry tart from a handy cafe as I needed a bit of fuel for the last leg of my trip, 10 miles over the moor with a thousand foot summit between me and Langholm.

I had designed my route in the hope that the brisk breeze would help me over the hill and my hopes were realised in full and the ten miles passed without any trouble.  If I had had more time to spare, I could happily have spent an hour or two just snapping away at all the wild flowers.  But time pressed and I settled for a view of Tinnis Hill…

Tinnis Hill

Its characteristic shape and position make it a familiar landmark from many miles away to the south and west.

…and an impression of the quiet road that I followed.

Langholm Moor

Getting near the summit

There was so much bog cotton about that at times it looked as though it had been snowing.

Bog cotton

The sting in the tail of the road across the moor is the valley of the Tarras.  It gives an extra up and down when you are almost home.

Tarras

One more river….

The bog cotton and and some very colourful moss gave me an excuse for a breather…

bog cotton and moss

..and more wild flowers gave me another.

wild flowers

The climbing and the wind made for a pretty slow average speed for my outing but it had been such a pleasant trip that I wasn’t too sad about this……but all the same, I scurried down the last hill and just managed to creep up to exactly 12 mph for the circuit which gave me some respectability (but not much).

Those interested can see more about the route by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 29 May 16

I should add that the weather information that Garmin have added to the route map was wrong in every respect except the wind direction and even that was a bit more from the north than they show.

I just had time for a shower, a change of clothes and lunch before we set off to Carlisle for a combination of shopping and singing.  The shopping went very well.  The singing was not quite so good as our usual conductor and accompanist were missing, as was quite a good proportion of the choir.

With our concert coming up next week, it left us a little under prepared but those present gave of their best for the substitute conductor and it also gave us a chance to meet the young lady who is going to be our new accompanist from September onwards.  She did amazingly well considering that she was sight reading everything today.

After a heavy eight days of cycling, singing and gardening, we were very pleased to have a sit down when we got home.

The flying bird of the day is another siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie, who went to the Chelsea Flower Show yesterday and took a lot of pictures.  This shows one of the gardens at the show.

Chelsea Flower Show

Nice lawn and box hedges. I wonder where the designer got that idea from?

We had another spell of very pleasant weather today but between things to do and protesting legs, bicycling was not on the menu (although it should have been).

In the morning, I should have gone for a short bike ride but I did the crossword instead and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to the Buccleuch Centre to visit our own local modest garden show.  Mrs Tootlepedal resisted the temptation to buy any of the lovely plants on offer as she already has many more plants in the greenhouse grown from seed than she has space in the garden to plant them.

When we got back, I mowed the front lawn and wandered about the garden aimlessly.  I did have a camera in hand.

iris

The first iris of the year has arrived.

I spent some time watching a parent and young starling on a Spirea.  The baby and parent had difficulty finding a branch strong enough to take both of them at the same time…

starlings

…but they did get together once.

starlings

There are families of blackbirds, dunnocks and sparrows in the garden at the moment but they are not co-operating with the cameraman at all.

I was round the back of the house looking at the different Potentillas which line the side of the dam there…

potentillas

…when our neighbour Liz called my attention to some tiny fish swimming about further upstream.

fish in the dam

The sun was so bright that each fish was accompanied by their shadow.  They may be tiny trout.

Back in the garden, I noted the development of the Astrantias….

Astrantia

…which I hope will provide me with many pictures through the summer.

I did a little bird watching too.

A family of starlings went for a walk across the front lawn..

starlings

…and a dunnock broke cover long enough for me to snatch a picture.

dunnock

We had been invited out to lunch at the Eskdale Hotel by an old friend Doreen, the widow of Arthur with whom I played many rounds of golf and who was an enthusiastic member of the Archive Group.   It was a very sociable affair with good company and excellent food and wine and when we got back home, the afternoon was well advanced.

Once again cycling fell to the back of the queue and I spent the time in lawn care instead, watering one lawn, mowing another and then spreading some buck-u-uppo around with a free hand.  After last year’s very wet weather, the lawns are looking rather starved and I am hoping that frequent mowing and steady feeding will get them back into good condition.

I looked at flowers too.

bee on allium

lithodora and polemonium

In the blue corner: Lithodora and Polemonium

Aquilegias

Aquilegias are everywhere in various shades

yellow poppies

The yellow poppies are hanging on defiantly, getting redder round the edges every day.

I then mowed the drying green and went inside to make a cup of tea.  I could hear a great squawking outside and when I looked out of the window, I saw a blackbird and a starling perched on the feeder pole and shouting abuse at each other.  I have never seen this before.

blackbird and starling

They were both most indignant and stood their ground eyeballing each other for quite a long time.

As the sun dropped down, it remained a beautiful and warm day and I managed to avoid several opportunities to stretch my legs any more than by going out to look at yet more flowers…

Rhodies

…and ferns.

ferns

The weather seems to be set fair for the next few days so I hope to make up for my lack of cycling.  At least my legs were quite pleased to have had a day off.

The warm, sunny weather has cheered everyone up and the the whole town seems to be smiling.

I did manage to catch a siskin to be flying bird of the day.  Unlike chaffinches, they don’t hover at all when they approach the feeder but just fly straight onto the perches so I have to be very quick if I want to have a decent picture.  I wasn’t quite quick enough today.  I will try to do better tomorrow.

flying siskin

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a walk my brother did last week with his group of those recovering from heart troubles.  It is good to see that they are taking things easily.

Bailey descents are not recommended for Septuagenarians!

We had a day that promised well, offering warmer temperatures and calmer winds and it lived up to its promise.  Mrs Tootlepedal had coffee with friends from work and then went and collected manure from her new manure mine and distributed it among the deserving flowers.  I went for a pedal.

I am, in general, still feeling rather more tired than I would like so it took me quite a lot of time to actually get going.  I put in a few displacement activities, some useful like cleaning my chain and gears and some less so like watching birds….

blackbird

A blackbird checking for trouble

siskins

The siskins have found out that the feeder is back

…and doing the crossword and eating toast but in the end I ran out of excuses and pushed the pedals.

I armed myself with two filled rolls and two bananas and set off to the north to see where my legs would take me.

In the end they took me 68 miles and over three and half thousand feet of climbing so they did well.

I went to Eskdalemuir first, stopping to photograph one of my favourite bridges…

Black Esk bridge

This bridge crosses the Black Esk

…and the river which I was following…

White Esk

This is the White Esk. The two rivers meet just below the bridge.

….and passing five of the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail sites on my way.  Only this one was close enough to the road to be photographed.

Prehistoric site

If you want to know why it might be a bit more exciting than it looks, you will have to click here.  I warn you though that the article ends with these words: “As Richard Bell asks, What was it? Will we ever know? ”  so you may feel that you have better things to do.

From Eskdalemuir, I headed over towards Boreland and stopped for my first snack at 20 miles.  I took a picture of a pretty wild flower while I munched and found, when I looked at the result on the computer, that I was not the only one who found it attractive .

wild flower with flies

There is a steep hill down onto the village at Boreland and to my dismay it had been recently gravelled.  Luckily, a steady supply of timber wagons had flattened the gravel out pretty well and I got down without trouble.

When I had passed through the village I saw a tempting sign saying: Moffat 13 miles.  This was a road end that I had passed many times but never taken and today I was overcome by a sense of adventure and tried it out.  It turned out to be well worth going along, very narrow, steep and hilly at the start but flattening and broadening out when it reached the Annan valley.

Moffat road

One of the steeper sections

View of Annandale

Looking across Upper Annandale

I stopped to check my route at a crossroads and saw a selection of swallows on the phone line above my head.

swallows

I reached Moffat safely and then took the road to Beattock on the main railway line.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I had passed through this village on our train journey to Edinburgh yesterday and by coincidence, the same train passed me today.

Edinburgh train at Beattock

I had stopped to take a picture of the very pretty church at this point.

Beattock church

I was in need of a few flat miles as my trip had been very hilly thus far so I used the old A74, now bypassed by the new motorway, to take me down to Lockerbie.

I stopped for another snack on my way and once again, I looked for wild flowers.

a74 wild flowers

To make a point about their roots as market towns, both Moffat and Lockerbie have sculptures of sheep on display.

Moffat ram and Lockerbie sheep

Moffat ram and Lockerbie sheep

From Lockerbie, I took the direct route back across the hills to Langholm and was happy to stop for a few pictures on the way to give myself a breather every now and again.

Tundergarth Church

The church at Tundergarth, where there is a memorial chapel for the victims of the Lockerbie disaster.  The churchyard has a stile….

Tundergarth Church

…probably a relic of the days when the minster kept his sheep in the graveyard and the gate had to be kept shut.

As you can see, it was a beautiful day by now and it even made ploughing up and down over the hills between Lockerbie and Langholm a pleasure.

I stopped to look at the new windmills on Ewe Hill.  I was hoping that they might be working by now and one of them was.  As you can see, it is the one behind the hill on the right in the picture below.

windmills ewe hill

What’s that?  They both look still to you? Oh alright, here’s a video taken on very wobbly cam.

Why the third one to be built was working and the first one wasn’t is a mystery.

When I got home, I took a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

bee on camassia

A welcome bee visits the Camassia

rhododendron

Another rhododendron is just starting to show its flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal tells that this bright shrub is an Euonymus.

euonymus

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and we all watched the Chelsea flower show on the telly for a bit before Alison and I went off and played  four flute sonatas.  This was the perfect end for a very good day.

Well not quite the end because after Mike and Alison had gone, Mrs Tootlepedal and I watched a very interesting programme about the amazing international organization required to bring cut flowers to Britain.  It included shots of an actual Dutch auction.

I did get a flying bird of the day today…..but only just.

flying siskin

 

 

 

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Two scone day

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  I like canals and bridges and his picture of the Trent and Mersey Canal has both.

Trent and Mersey cana

It was a very cool and windy day today, with not a drop of sunshine to brighten things up at all so I was more than pleased to welcome Dropscone round for scones and coffee.  He has been playing a lot of golf so he had many sad stories to tell me.

After he left, I took a turn round the garden but the day was so grey and the wind was so brisk that taking flowers pictures was a dead loss and I didn’t take try to take many.  I took enough to record that the day of the tulip and grape hyacinth is almost gone…

hyacinth and tulip

…and we are witnessing the dawning of the age of Aquilegia.

aquilegia

It was spotting with rain after lunch when we went off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit the world’s greatest small person and her parents.  The clouds were down so low that if you looked up suddenly, you might bang your head on them and by the time that we got to Edinburgh, it was raining steadily.  It didn’t let up for the rest of the day.

I was a bit bored because of the lack of views on the train so I amused myself by trying to catch scenes through the window as we zipped along. The route to Edinburgh climbs through a narrow valley beside the motorway up to the Beattock summit at just over a thousand feet and then, having crossed the river Clyde, coasts gently down to Edinburgh.

Train to Edinburgh

The climb to Beattock, some of the many windmills on the summit and farmland near Edinburgh

When we got to Matilda’s house, we found that her mother Clare had made some delicious scones so although it was a dull day for weather, it was a very good day for a scone lover.

The persistent rain meant that we didn’t get the opportunity to take Matilda to the park today but she kept herself busy by doing the washing up…

Matilda

…occasionally wondering why people weren’t helping her.

Matilda

We enjoyed a very good curry with her parents and then went home in the rain.

While we were waiting at Lockerbie to catch the train on the way up, I had had time to admire the fine tower of the Lockerbie Town Hall, visible from the station platform.

Lockerbie town hall

After a pause to let the possibility of transmitting bird disease diminish, I have put one bird feeder out again but no birds had visited it before we left so instead of a flying bird of the day today,  I took a picture of a flowery train on the platform at Lockerbie.

Lockerbie station

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who is not too old to take a walk along the track above the town.

View from Stubholm

A very brisk wind greeted me when I got up this morning and this provided a convenient excuse for a morning of not cycling after yesterday’s efforts.  Instead, I had coffee with Sandy, mowed two lawns and wandered about looking at flowers.

There were plenty to see. The azaleas and rhododendrons are progressing well…

azaleas and rhododendron

…with more still to come as you can see.

The white rhodies deserved a shot of their own, I thought.

rhododendron

Other flowers were available in charming clumps.

euphorbia, chive, allium and potentilla

(from top left clockwise) Euphorbia, Allium, Potentilla and Chive

The flowers may have been colourful but the bird colour of the day in the garden was black.

jackdaw and blackbird

While I was sipping coffee with Sandy in the morning, we agreed to have a walk after lunch so I made a nourishing pot of soup for my midday meal to keep my strength up and went off with him in the afternoon.

Incidentally, keen grammarians will have spotted the transferred epithet in that sentence about the soup.  It isn’t the pot that is nourishing but the soup of course.  The government thinks that children in primary schools in England will be improved by knowing things like that but it has never done me much practical good. A bit of basic horticultural knowledge would have been more useful.

Sandy drove us down to below Irvine House and we walked back up the fishermen’s path beside the River Esk.  It was not sunny, apart from one or two tiny breaks in the cloud but it was quiet and warm enough in the shelter of the steep river banks.

River Esk

We were hoping to see some river birds and we did catch glimpses of a heron, goosanders, mallards and dippers but they were in flighty mood and we couldn’t catch them on camera.

We did see pied and grey wagtails, who were a bit more co-operative…

wagtails

…but they tended to dart away when we got close.

We walked up towards Irvine House…

Irvine House

…keeping our eye out for anything interesting.

It was not hard to spot a wild flower or two, both colourful….

wild flowers beside Esk

… and pale.

wild flowers beside Esk

When we got Irvine House, we disturbed a pair of oyster catchers.  One was most indignant.

Oyster catcher

We must have been near their nest.

The river was looking good and the walk, as ever, was balm for the soul.

River Esk

River Esk

We didn’t have as long as we would have liked to hang about taking pictures…

Sandy on banks of Esk

…because we were both due to attend a meeting of volunteers at the Information Hub so we had to hasten back down the path to the car. We passed a lot of the Pyrenean Valerian on the way.

pyrenean valerian

Fortunately, my part in the meeting was very brief and I was soon at home looking through the 150 pictures that I  had taken in the garden and along the river.  When will I ever learn?

I even went upstairs and took another one to show how the garden is looking at the moment.  Mrs Tootlepedal has edged the lawns.

garden view

I had to sift through the mound of photos quite quickly because we had the second of our Langholm Choir concerts to go to in the evening.  This one was at Kirkandrews-on-Esk…

Kirkandrews-on-Esk church

…which is quite a small church so that the singers were a bit squashed up when it came to performing.  Still the concert went well and although the choir beat the audience by one when it came to quantity, the audience was well pleased with the quality of the choir and they hope to see us back to sing again soon.

The only down side of the evening was the discovery, when we came out of the church, that it was pouring with rain.  After a pleasant day, we hadn’t thought that it was necessary to take a coat so there was a hurried scamper for the car.

We have only one more practice and one more concert with the Carlisle choir and then the spring singing season will be over and serious gardening and cycling will be on the menu.

My thumb has benefited from a couples of weeks of rest so I picked up the big camera today and the result is not one but two flying birds of the day, one from the garden in the morning…

flying jackdaw

…and one from the river in the afternoon.

Oyster catcher

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