With a song and a smile

Shining Cliffs

Today’s guest picture shows a pool at the Shining Cliff Woods near Matlock.  My brother paused there for lunch while out with his walking group.

Shining Cliffs

We had another fine and frosty morning but I didn’t have a great deal of time to enjoy it as there was a stew to make for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal was out at church and birds to watch as well.

The feeders were so busy that it was hard to catch a bird standing still…

busy feeders

…unless I looked up at the plum tree.

chaffinches and greenfinch in plum tree

I kept an eye out for the two robins and managed to take several robin pictures…



…without ever being able to catch both of them in the same shot.  In the end, I had to settle for two less than wonderful shots taken within a few seconds of each other just to prove that we do have two different robins.


I haven’t been able to establish whether they are two males competing for territory as they occasionally chase each other but don’t display the outright perpetual hospitality which I would expect.

There might just be room in the garden for two male robins or they might be a male and female or even, I suppose, two females as males and females look the same.  Time may give a clue.

Because the car is out of action, I had to catch a bus to Carlisle to get to the community choir practice.  I went on my own.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to have to miss our forthcoming concerts because she will be away visiting her mother.  She had the opportunity to see a screening of the Tales of Hoffman at the Buccleuch Centre and decided that this would be a chance not to be missed under the circumstances.

Buses are few and far between on a Sunday so I had to catch the midday bus which gave me quite a lot of time to spend in Carlisle.  As I walked across the suspension bridge on my way to catch the bus, my eye was caught by a flash of colour.  It was yet another robin.


I had two and a half hours to kill in Carlisle but Sundays have changed a lot since I was a boy and everything was shut so I was able to have fish chips for my lunch, buy some upmarket tea and coffee beans from my favourite shop, purchase delicious dates and prunes from another quality food outlet and walk through the town with my camera at the ready and get to the church bang on time for the practice.

There is an eclectic collection of buildings in the city.

The Citadel, built on the site of the original gate into the city from the south.
Shop in Carlisle
A mock Tudor extravagance just behind the Citadel
A bank built in the days when a bank was a symbol of stability

It was the day of the switching on of the Christmas Lights in the city centre and activities had already started.  These two rather flaky figures were wandering about.

Snow flakes
Snow flakes? Ice maidens? The ghost of Christmas past? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the churchyard at St Cuthbert’s some electric angels were being wired up.

St Cuthbert's

I left the city centre, walking past the Cathedral….

Carlisle Cathedral

…and the castle…

Carlisle castle

…and over the railway on a road bridge…

Main line train Carlisle

…and then over a river on an old railway bridge, now a cycle path.

Cycle path bridge Carlisle

A look back at the cathedral showed the extensive works being done at the other end of the building.

Carlisle Cathedral

Although the Christmas Lights were being switched on, it felt much more like an autumn day than a winter one.

As I left the cycle track ,which continued along the river, I passed through a flood gate…

flood gate

…an ever present reminder of the terrible floods which devastated the city in December last year.  Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen again this winter.

I only had the Shaddon Mill and Dixon’s Chimney to pass….

Dixon's mill
Built as a cotton mill in 1836

…before getting to the choir practice in good time.

We had an excellent work out and the pleasure of the singing was greatly amplified by the appearance of Dropscone at the end of the practice.  I would have had to have waited another two hours before the next bus home and he had kindly agreed to come and fetch me.  He had managed to combine this action as a Good Samaritan with some shopping on the way in so it was not an entirely wasted journey for him.

He got me home in plenty of time to watch the start of Andy Murray’s convincing win over Novak Djokovic in the ATP finals.  Mrs Tootlepedal had got back from her opera matinee a few minutes before my arrival.  She had found the Tales of Hoffman to be exactly the sort of thing which gives opera a good name – good music, wonderful singing, sumptuous costumes and  an interesting plot line.  It would be fair to say that the day ended with a particularly broad smile for both of us.

No flower or leaf today but a touch of greenery in the flying bird of the day nevertheless.

flying greenfinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

22 thoughts on “With a song and a smile

  1. Splendid to read that both your days went so well. Loved all the robin pictures and those you took in Carlisle. Great that Andy Murray won so convincingly, hurray!

  2. Old man winter and his bride come to mind when I see the pale couple. I hope they decide that they like Scotland enough to hold off on visiting New Hampshire for a good while.
    There seems to have been a crowd milling around the bank. I hope it’s not a bad sign.
    I remember your posts about the flooding last year and If I remember correctly things in your own town were looking a little dicey for a while. Hopefully that won’t happen two years in a row.

  3. I don’t remember seeing any photos from Carlisle here in the past, it’s always a welcome sight to see more of the area where you spend your time. I also liked the photos of the robins, your’s are so cute compared to ours.

  4. A bus ride, leisurely stroll and productive choir practice gave us some great photos but I’m glad you didn’t have to kill another two hours awaiting the homeward journey.

  5. Your interesting photos of Carlisle brought back memories of our short stay there in October. Love all the birds posing in your plum tree, such bright plumage, and of course those robin photos are just great. The tennis match wasn’t too tense after all – Andy played brilliantly.

  6. A delightful collection of robins. I’m as happy to see them on your blog as you must have been to see Dropscone!

  7. A beautiful collection of birds! The robins are always so cherry looking, and are a nice counterpoint to the freezing Ice Maidens visiting Scotland. No frost yet here, although it was barely 38 degrees this morning. Rain and mid 50s are forecast for today. It will be interesting to see what December brings. Sometimes the axe falls before vines, trees and shrubs are properly hardened off.

    The Christmas decorations and goods being offered in stores has already begun here. I wish they would refrain until Thanksgiving is properly over and done with, or wait until December 1st, as was done back when I was a child. Everything in its season.

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