A day that didn’t quite live up to its promise

St Andrew's

The guest picture of the day comes from Dropscone’s recent trip to St Andrews and shows the ‘Chariots of Fire’ beach with the town in the background, both under a big sky.

St Andrew's

After the excitements of my birthday, I had such a good lie in this morning that I had to bustle through breakfast to be ready for coffee with Sandy.   As a result, I missed quite a lot of a bright and sunny morning with the heaviest frost of the year so far providing additional sparkle.

The combination of bright background and heavily shaded foreground made bird photography unrewarding after Sandy left but I did notice that my daughter’s gift of top quality fat balls was already attracting a blue tit…

blue tit

…or two.

blue tit

I hope that when the news is spread via Twitter there will be constant stream of visitors.

I had to look twice at this rather lumpy looking bird on the bench…


…before I realised that it was a cute robin after all.


Robins are able to change their outline at will and it is hard to think that this….


…may well be the same bird.

I was hoping that the temperature might creep up towards five degrees so that I could go for a pedal but it stayed stubbornly below three so I settled for a walk instead.

Three degrees may be a bit cold and potentially slippery for a cycle ride but it is perfect for walking.  I thought that the sunny weather might make for some good views but in spite of the cloudless skies…


…the light and the camera couldn’t agree and I took a lot of dull pictures in the first half of my walk.

last leaves of autumn
The last leaves of autumn

I did see some fungus but the frost had taken its toll on the exposed specimens.  However, I found some tiny fungi (1 cm in diameter) growing in a sheltered spot the middle of the woods.


I took a short cut down to the Becks Burn and crossed it using these fallen branches…

Becks Burn

…and a great deal of care.

I got through the woods and was just getting ready to try a landscape again when the camera refused to work, saying it had a ‘zoom error’.  The Lumix is one of those cameras that pokes out its snout when you switch it on but on this occasion, it gave a couple of feeble twitches and stayed resolutely shut.  I feared the worse as zooms are often a source of breakdown.

My plan was to cross the Auld Stane Brig and climb up the hill on the opposite side of the Wauchope valley and then come home down the Stubholm track.  It went well up to a point.

I had my phone with me and was able to use it to look back at the track that I had walked along on my way out as I climbed up the lower slopes of Warbla.

Becks Burn

…but when I got to the track that would take me back down to the Stubholm, there was a crowd of hill cattle round the gate that I would have to go through.  I don’t like to wander through cattle so I reluctantly turned round and retraced my footsteps back down to the Auld Stane Brig and went home by the road along the river.

I took a view across the valley on my way down.

Calfield Rig

It was only half past one but you can see how low the sun already was.

When I got home, the feeder was already in shadow again so there was no chance to take cheerful bird pictures at all today.

coal tit

I had some sweet potato soup for a late lunch and then I looked at the Lumix.  It was still refusing to open.  I take the view that WD40 or its generic equivalent is the answer to almost every mechanical problem so I crossed my fingers and squirted a drop or two of the magic fluid onto places on the camera which I thought might be useful.  After a pause to let things work in, I pressed the power button.  No good.

I had just taken a loaf of bread out of the breadmaker so I put the camera on a tea towel on the hot machine and gave it a chance to warm up.  After a while, I pressed the power button again. Hey presto, the camera opened and worked.

Here is the proof.

Lumix birds


I had an interesting discussion with a visitor who interrupted a walk with his dogs to talk about possibilities for the Archive Group, spent some time looking at music for our forthcoming Langholm Sings concerts and did the crossword and this was more than enough to fill the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre in the afternoon at a matinee, went back as a customer and attended a lecture on the Roman Camps at Burnswark while I went to a practice of Langholm Sings.  Our conductor was poorly and sent a substitute with the result that we didn’t get quite as much done as we needed but we have a couple more practices before our main concert so perhaps we might just be all right on the night.

Owing to getting up late and fiddling around with the Lumix, I didn’t get a leaf of the day today and the flying bird is a man of mystery.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “A day that didn’t quite live up to its promise

  1. My old Olympus (the one with the blob on the sensor) also suffers from “zoom error” messages – will try the warming trick next time. Wouldn’t dare to use WD-40!

  2. I hope the Lumix will keep working. It could be that it was just cold but it shouldn’t have been if it was in a pocket. At least the phone camera was able to fill in nicely.
    Your cloudless blue skies are what we’ve seen day after day almost all summer and fall. Though it doesn’t seem right to complain about such uneventful weather they can get to be photographically trying after a few months.

    1. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. It was odd that the light seemed so dull on such a seemingly bright day. I suspect that there may have been a fair bit of moisture in the air.

  3. Nice job of fixing the Lumix, I hope that the problem doesn’t return. Your phone did a more than credible job of the landscape photos of the views that you had.

    You’re a braver man than I if you crossed the stream by using the limbs shown in your photo, your birthday yesterday isn’t slowing you down any!

  4. I also tend to regard WD40 as the universal fix-it, but I think you’e brave to use a penetrating oil on your camera – glad it worked out for you! You’re wise give cows a wide berth when walking – even the most benign of cows is heavy enough to do you serious injury if you get trapped between a cow and a post, or a fence, or another cow . . .

  5. Good decision re.the cows! Thank goodness your camera has recovered -what would we do without your photo posts? Your ‘man of mystery’ looks like a ‘real’ Potter Dementor!

    1. I have missed out on the Potter phenomenon so I will have to take your word on the Dementor. The camera is still working so that is a relief as I was worried about possible ill effects from the WD40.

  6. Oh no.
    We lost five lumixes in a row to “system error zoom”. I kid you not. We had an extended warranty so they kept replacing them till it finally ran out. I loved the crisp Lumix pics much better than our Canon or Sony but I developed a fear of going back to Lumix.

    Sorry for such a grim story!

  7. Glad you got the camera working again, and very glad you did not fall in!

    So that is how word gets around in the bird community – Twitter? I wonder if that is how the quail found out about our grapes. 🙂

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