Today’s guest picture come from Mike Griffiths of Wilden Marsh who found the Avon at Stratford looking very beautiful on a recent chilly morning.
Mrs Tootlepedal woke me up with a merry cry of, “Come and look at the winter wonderland!”
It definitely was quite wintery when I looked at the garden out of an upstairs window….
…but I felt that the actual amount of snow to be seen on the hills….
…fell a somewhat short of the official winter wonderland standard.
And although it stayed pretty cold all day, there was no snow to be seen on our hills at all by lunch time.
I might have seen more snow if I had gone for a drive to the north but we had our son Tony and his partner Marianne visiting and they had expressed a wish to go to Carlisle to visit the Christmas Market there so we drove south in brilliant sunshine instead.
The Carlisle Christmas Market was the second mild disappointment of the day, although we did find a stall selling cheese and honey so it wasn’t a complete write off. We had a cup of coffee and a toasted tea cake in a cafe instead and after some very minor shopping, Mrs Tootlepedal and I headed for home while Tony and Marianne roamed the streets of Carlisle in search of adventure.
Marianne likes lentil soup so I made a pot of soup when I got home and while it was cooking, I looked out of the window. No hawks today but plenty of birds.
I had a bowl of the soup for my lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Parish Church to hear an organ and flute recital in aid of a fund to renovate the church organ.
The recital was give by Ross Luesher, a local lad who became the resident Organ Scholar at Glasgow University and has ended up working for a prestigious firm of organ restorers in Holland.
He assured us that the organ, built by Henry Willis & Sons in 1893, was in urgent need of restoration but you would not have known it from listening to his skilful and nimble playing.
I was especially delighted that he had brought his partner, Liese Claesen with him as she is a wonderfully expressive flautist and played one of my favourite Handel Sonatas accompanied by Ross on the organ. (It was the one in F)
As well as playing, Ross told us a bit about the organ and at one point stood on his stool and reached up and removed one of the big pipes above the keyboard. He then blew on it and produced a fine note to show that it was still working. A restoration in the 1970s had taken the whole set of visible pipes out of action. He hoped that they might be reinstated in the forthcoming restoration.
It is interesting that Liese, who was playing what in effect is a single 2ft organ stop could be easily heard playing above a machine with a thousand pipes. And to me, at least, she was far more musical and lovely to listen than the machine, however delicately it was played by Ross. Of course in Ross’s solo pieces, the organ was sometimes a lot louder than any flute could be and that is the point I suppose.
Tony and Marianne had come home by the time that we got back. They had enjoyed some good snacks at the market on a second visit so they were quite happy and I was happy because they had enjoyed my lentil soup too.
We then sat down and watched a very unlikely rugby match in which Australia pressed the self destruct button in a manner which I had come to believe in recent years was the sole copyright of the Scottish Rugby Union. It is not often that Scotland scores 50 points against a major test playing nation. In fact it is so rare that in some strange way I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I should have, because it didn’t seem entirely authentic. There is no satisfying some people.
In the evening, Tony, Marianne, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to the Douglas Hotel where we enjoyed a thoroughly good meal and a welcome drink. That was the second treat of the day.
The flying bird of the day is not the cleanest picture that I took but I like the pattern on a goldfinch’s wings when they are spread out.