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Archive for Sep, 2018

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who must be on holiday in the West Highlands as he sent me this picture of Eilean Donan Castle taken earlier this evening as the light faded.

Eilean Donan  cas

We had plenty of light here today with a lot of sunshine and and only the odd speck of rain.

We weren’t able to make much of the good weather as we spent a lot of time indoors singing.  In the morning we went to sing with the church choir and welcome the new temporary minister who is taking charge for the next few weeks after the departure of Scott, the previous minister.  Fortunately for the absent minded parishioner, the new minister is also called Scott, though as he is American is is quite easy to distinguish him from his predecessor.

The  service went well and the choir did its bit to welcome Scott to his new charge.

Mrs Tootlepedal is helping with the administration of the music at our Carlisle choir at present so we had to be there early which didn’t leave us a lot of time between choirs.  I spent as much time as I could watching the birds…

…and there were a good many to watch…

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…with chaffinches particularly active….

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…and quite ready to shout at any sparrows coming out of the shadows at them.

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It was rare not to see a small queue heading for the feeder.

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They were joined by a sleek looking jackdaw.

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I took the bird camera out into the garden and took a shot or two there as well.

Special Grandma is my current favourite….

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…though Lilian Austin has not given up yet.

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There are some cosmos remaining and they are popular with insects…

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…though the Michaelmas daisies are still the biggest draw.

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I promised to take a picture of a butterfly every day for as long as I can so here is today’s offering, a red admiral doing a bit of sunbathing on a hosta leaf.

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I had thought that the poppies might have gone over but there has been a revival in the new bed…

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…and along with an orange hawkweed, an Icelandic poppy could be found.

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I went back in and just had time for  a sardine sandwich and a blue tit (I ate one and shot the other)…

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..before we had to set off for Carlisle.

While Mrs Tootlepedal helped with the music, I did some useful shopping and then we settled down to two hours of hard work under our new conductor, Ellen.

My voice held up not too badly but I hope that I can get it working a bit better before the Christmas concert season comes round.

We drove home in in beautiful evening sunshine but were happy to sink down for a rest rather than rush out into the garden again.

There was no shortage of flying birds today so once again there is a gender balanced chaffinch flying bird of the day situation.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited Tamworth recently and found the castle gardens looking well kept.

Tamworth

We had another fine day here today and indeed there was only 1 cm of rain in Mary Jo’s rain gauge when I looked this evening so we have had a pretty dry week.  It has been a windy month though and the wind was nagging away again this morning.  I did get into my cycling gear but some really heavy gusts persuaded me that yesterday’s ride was enough for the time being and I changed back into my lounging around clothes and lounged around in a very professional manner for the rest of morning and a lot of the afternoon.

I roused myself enough to cycle round to the corner shop to get materials to make a sausage stew and then had to rouse myself again to go back and get the sausages which  had forgotten to buy.

I filled the bird feeder and had a brief look at the birds.

chaffinch posing

chaffinch arguing

The women’s race in the cycling world championships gave both Mrs Tootlepedal and me a good excuse to watch others taking exercise but when it finished, we thought that the sunny day made some outdoor activity more or less compulsory.  She did some gardening and I went for a walk after spending a few minutes looking for flowers in the garden.

late september flowers

As long as there are flowers with butterflies in them, I will keep taking their pictures.

buttefly on dahlia

My walk was a short three bridges affair because although it was sunny, there was a distinct nip in the air from the breeze.

I saw two lonely gulls beside the river….

gulls by river

…and an old friend near the Town Bridge.

heron

I looked back as I crossed the bridge….

bewteen the bridges

…and then headed along the Kilngreen and across the Sawmill Brig onto the Castleholm.

I enjoyed the sunny views….

Trees from castleholm

…and the hints of autumn colour….

trees on back of Lodge walks

…which were quite pronounced in a few places.

autumn colour

Sadly this promising spot of colour had been laid low by the recent storm.

fallen tree castleholm

There were several crops of fungus on old tree stumps…

fungus on Duchess Bridge path

…and I wondered if I could see a small gnome glaring at me from the back of this bunch.

fungus on Castleholm

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work and I thought that I ought to try to be useful so I mowed the middle and front lawns with the mower blades set suitably high for a late season cut.  I was surprised how much growth there had been in the grass and was able to add a handy amount to the compost bin.

I had to have a sit down when I had finished.

mown lawn september

The dry week had left the lawns quite easy to mow and although the moss is making a come back, they are looking as well as can be expected at this time of year.

When I was putting the grass in the compost bin, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out how well the leycesteria formosa is doing.

leycestera

It was an uninvited guest but it is looking so good that it may well become part of the new planting scheme at the back of the vegetable garden next year.

I made the sausage stew and ate some of it for my tea.

We have a busy day of singing ahead tomorrow so I have finished my cycling for September.  In spite of some very windy weather, I have managed to keep up to my mileage target for the year although I didn’t get as many miles in as I had hoped.  I will need a kindly October or some very good wet weather clothing to keep me up to scratch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch caught in one of the cloudy moments of an otherwise lovely day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who has been in Glasgow getting a knee checked out.  He took the opportunity to sample the Glasgow underground train service, popularly known as the ‘Clockwork Orange’.

Glasgow underground

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning today but the late September downside was in evidence in the form of a layer of ice on the car window with the temperature at 2°C.  That was too cold for me to go cycling as I have already had one bad experience with a patch of ice on a sunny day this and I definitely don’t want another.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a fund raising coffee morning with friends and I hung about until the temperature hit 5°, finally getting going a bit later than was intended.

The wait was worth it though as it was a perfect morning for cycling, with light winds and hardly a cloud in the sky.

Callister road new lines

The newly surfaced road at Callister has got a sparkling fresh white line and was looking at its best.

I cycled through Gair and Eaglesfield and joined the old A74, going north through Ecclefechan…

Ecclefechan

..which is notable both as the birthplace of Thomas Carlyle, the sage of Ecclefechan, and the home of the world famous Ecclefechan Tart.

I kept going north until I passed the biggest wood burning stove in Dumfriesshire…

Wood burning power station

…where I turned west to cross the River Annan, passing the delightful Applegarth Church…

Applegarth Church

…and a charming cottage with its own clock tower at Millhousebridge just before I crossed the river.

Millhousebridge

I must say that if I had a clock tower on my house, I would keep the clock running on time.

Once over the river, I turned south and had a stop for a roll and a banana beside the Mill Loch in Lochmaben.

Mill Loch Lochmaben

I found a bench in a sheltered spot beside the loch…

bullrushes

…and ate my roll beside Weigela and Himalayan balsam flowers.

wiegela and balasam

I pedalled on southwards  to the little village of Dalton where they had a really good idea in 2000….

Dalton handprints

…though the tiles are getting a bit discoloured with age.

My tour continued as I passed beneath the Repentance Tower at Hoddom…

Repentance Tower

…and then I followed the course of the river Annan down to the town of Annan.

Having crossed the fine bridge there, I was blown home by a friendly wind, stopping only to admire a fireless engine at the Devil’s Porridge museum at Eastriggs….

Fireless engine Eastriggs

A fireless engine is a very good idea in a large munitions factory.

…and an even larger quantity of migrating geese than last time in a field near the border..

geese in field

The noise was ferocious.

…with a few swans  keeping themselves to themselves at the other end of the field.

swans in field

Those interested may find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 28 Sept 2018

The skies clouded over for the last part of the ride and I was glad to have been well wrapped up to counter the chill at the beginning of the outing. I was able to shed a few layers as I went round though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day with the coffee morning followed by some serious gardening in the afternoon.  This involved a lot of digging as part of the new plan for the top of the vegetable garden.

After a cup of tea and a look at the feeder, which I had to fill as it had obviously been busy during the day…

busy feeder

..I went out to inspect the works and take a picture or two of things that had survived the chilly morning.

floodlit fuchsia

The fuchsias continue to shine.

triple special grandma

More Special Grandmas have come out

late september flowers

The last of the yellow crocosmia, a small rudbeckia and a late burst of phlox.

Mrs Tootlepedal made herself some very good looking courgette fritters for her evening meal and I cooked up a calorie heavy dish of macaroni cheese to make sure that I didn’t fade away after my cycling efforts.  (In fact, there is no chance of that as I am at my winter weight already and winter hasn’t even begun.)

The TV provided Gardener’s World and highlights from an exciting day of golf in France to give us both a good excuse to sit down and put our feet up in the evening.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who met an unexpected animal at St Pancras.  She thinks that there may be more roaming the streets of London.

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I had a day of steady but gentle activity today.  It was rather grey in the morning so I was happy to look at the hymns for next Sunday’s service and then entertain Sandy for a cup of coffee.  We arranged to go for a walk in the afternoon.

When he left, I went out into the garden to see what was going on and enjoyed a dahlia…

dahlia (2)

…and the promise of many more fuchsia flowers to come if the frost keeps away.

fuchsia buds

We are still getting a steady stream of butterflies…

red admiral butterfly

…and Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she saw no less than seven at the same time on this buddleia in the afternoon.

I kept an eye on the bird feeder…

busy feeder

…but there was nothing unusual to see.

goldfinch and chaffinch

I get the feeling that the quality and sharpness has gone out of my flying bird pictures lately so it might be a good idea to take my bird watching camera to get a service to see if I can blame it for the problem.  It may well be me though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off to visit the RBS mobile bank (which only comes once a week) and then we drove down to Longtown to collect her new glasses to go with her new improved eyesight.

Since we were close at hand, we went off for lunch at a garden centre before coming home again.

I didn’t have to long to sit down before Sandy arrived for our walk and we headed south for a couple of short strolls along the river using the old main road, now by-passed and just the place for a quiet stroll.

We are a bit worried that if they persist, the brisk winds will dry out the trees’ leaves and everything will turn brown rather than giving us good autumn colour so we took in all the colour we could see meanwhile.

A7 layby

river at Broomholm

river at seven sisters

hollows bridge downstream

hollows bridge upstream

Esk from Byreburnfoot brodge

It was very enjoyable having a leisurely walk, well sheltered from the breeze, along the river in good company.

We looked about as we went and Sandy spotted a snail on a dandelion…

dandelion with snail and fly

…which turned out to have a fly as a friend.

We disturbed a small flock of mallards on one of our visits to the river bank but they flew off before we could get a good shot.

flying ducks

There are fungi everywhere this year…

fungus

…and quite a lot of them are providing food for wild life.

fungus 2

We could have done with some sunshine to bring a bit of sparkle to the leaves…

byreburn road

…but of course it waited until we got into the car to go home before the sun came out.

Mike Tinker joined us for a cup of tea and remarked that his house seemed very quiet and empty now his visitors had left.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a concert given by Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, two of our favourite musicians.  They have visited Langholm regularly over the past years and we go to see them whenever we can, as they provide all the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable night out.

For those of you who don’t know them, they are a pair of comfortably built, affable and experienced traditional musicians of the highest quality, playing fiddle (Aly Bain) and accordion (Phil Cunningham).  They are happy to let their music speak for itself so it is played without affectation or over amplification.  The music itself always has the most gorgeous line and does not have an ounce of surplus fat on it.

The music is not the only thing that speaks as Aly and Phil keep up a running commentary between numbers and this is almost as good as the music and contains many jokes and anecdotes that are now old friends and all the more welcome for that.  All in all, it was another evening of great warmth and good cheer.

The flying bird of the day is well up to my current standard, i.e. not very good….and it is only just qualifying as a flying bird at all.

chaffinch landing

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from ex work colleague Marjorie.  She was surprised to find a common murre or guillemot in the field behind her house last week far from its usual habitat.  Presumably it was blown there by the strong winds of storm Ali.

common murre or common guillemot

Long time readers may remember New Zealand’s baby of the century, Maisie who in her youth figured in guest pictures on this blog.

maisie Sept

2102

This was one of my favourites scenes showing Maisie reading to her new little sister in 2104.  Both pictures were sent by her mother Jenny

Maisie reading

2014

The reason I mention this is because we were honoured by a visit from Maisie in person today, along with her sister Fran, her parents, Jenny and David and her grand parents. Alison and Mike.

David, Jenny and the girls are on a flying visit to the UK to meet his family and their old friends.

They are surviving serious hospitality very well…

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…and we had a most enjoyable lunch with them and Mike and Alison today.  (Note that Maisie is still reading).

They are heading home soon so our loss will be New Zealand’s gain.

It had been a very dreich morning with persistent drizzle so quite apart from getting things ready for the visit, it was not a good day for bird…

Blue tit and chaffinch

…or flower pictures.  It was warm though at 15°C so I popped out to take a picture or two before they came.

Ever more nerines are coming out…

nerines cluster

…and the dead heading among the dahlias is paying dividedns as there are still plenty to admire….

red dahlia

..both in the front bed and among the slightly less than Sunny Reggaes today.

two sunny reggae on a wet day

The garden is full of nicotianas and if we get a calm and fine evening, their scent should be delightful.

nicotiana

Lilian Austin has three flowers on the go…

three lilian austin

…but since there were two grandmothers in the house today, I will give pride of place to Special Grandma.

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When our visitors had left after lunch to do some more socialising and the lunch table had been cleared, it turned out that the drizzle had stopped for a while so I got the new bike out and did some skulking in the bottom of the valley to keep out of the brisk wind.

It was warm enough to make stretching my legs a pleasure and I had time for 17 miles which was an unexpected bonus.

After a very light evening meal, I went out to sing with our local community choir and had a good time singing some of the notes in the right place and at the right pitch.

After the choir, I walked along to the Social Club where Scott our minister was having a farewell do before leaving us on Friday to go to a parish in Glasgow.  He is working out how to get a scone radar that will work over 90 miles.  I hope he manages because it would be good to see him from time to time and find out how he is getting on in the big city.

The flying bird of the day is a rather gloomy chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony just to show that his life isn’t always glorious sunrises.

Fife stormy weather

We had a dry day today that became increasingly breezy as time passed.  If I had been extremely well prepared and keen, I could have got up at the crack of dawn and done twenty miles in calm conditions before breakfast…but I wasn’t and I didn’t.

What I did do was to have a late breakfast and then enjoy a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone when he came to call.  His golf is still causing him some grief but he did tell me that he had noticed the toadstools were out in force among the trees beside the fifth fairway on the golf course.

I couldn’t go up straight away as I had a visit to the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin B12 top up to fit in first.

I had a look at the birds when I got back and was happy to see a calm blue tit on the feeder pole…

blue tit on feeder pole

…and several lively chaffinches coming in for seed.

scary chaffinches

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe and after a light lunch, I headed up to the golf course on a toadstool quest.

On my way there, I saw horses at the bottom of the Kirk Wynd having a snack on the way to their field….

horse on Kirk Wynd

…and a bee having a snack on a dandelion at the top of the slope.

bee on dandelion

I was a bit worried about the toadstools when I passed the green keeper and he told me that they had been mowing the rough but when I got to the trees, there were still plenty to be seen.

They were a little past their best but there was a lot of variety and colour….

golf course fungus panel 1

…and both old and new were to be seen along with other varieties.

golf course fungus panel 2

This was the top toadstool of the day in my opinion.

golf course fungus star

While I was on the course, I took a moment to admire the wonderful new 7th tee, built since my golfing days….

seventh tee

…and the old shelter for benighted golfers on stormy days, still standing after many years but only just.

shelter on golf course

I left the course and headed for the open hill.

I had passed this way last in the middle of the dry spell and the wall at the gate onto the hill had had very little lichen or moss but the recent rains had got things going again…

lichen on moss at top of Kirk wynd

…and both lichen and moss were thriving.

The skies clouded over as I walked along the track to the quarry so I have taken the liberty of ‘zinging up’ the pictures that I took along the way a bit as otherwise the skies looked very dull in the images and the results didn’t reflect the pleasure that I got from the scenery.

My route took me along the hill with views up the Ewes Valley to the north…

 

view of ewes from whita

…past the town….

view of Langholm from Whita

…over the wall at the quarries…

wall and stile at quarry

…and down into the woods….

oak wood path

…which gave me some welcome shelter from the stiff breeze.

oak wood near round house

I walked down to the river at the Skippers Bridge and stopped for the obligatory picture opportunity.

Skippers bridge Sept 18

It is a tall bridge when viewed from the upstream side as can be seen by the tiny figure crossing it in the shot above.

Peering through arch of the bridge, I thought that the river was looking at its best.

Esk below skippers

(Not zinged up at all)

The recent storms have left a lot of broken trees and branches around and I saw a couple on my walk today.

fallen trees

I walked along the Beechy Plains on my way home and in the rather gloomy woods beside the river, I saw both script lichen and fungus…

Easton's walk

…of various sorts.

fungsu on tree stump

I ended my walk with a visit to our corner shop.  It really is on a corner.

corner shop

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought back a slice or two of a delicious sponge cake from the Buccleuch Centre and I ate them with a cup of tea while I rested for a while after battling the breeze.

Then I started the task of sanding down the garage doors which are going to be painted.  Luckily this didn’t require any great skill and I was able to get on with it while Mrs Tootlepedal did some shopping.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do front-of-house for a ballet screening and on this occasion, I left her to it and spent time messing about with the photo editor instead.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch.  There are a lot of them about.

flying chaffimnch sept 18

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a wonderful sunrise over the Forth captured by our older son Tony as he walked his dogs near his new house on the shore.

wemyss sunrise

We had a sunny day here but after a clear night, it was only 2°C when Mrs Tootlepedal got up and she was worried about the garden.  The cold had done for the courgettes which had collapsed but a lot was untouched by the chilly hand of autumn and she was able to garden usefully through the day and into the early evening.

After a leisurely breakfast, I cycled up to the Archive Centre to take a meter reading  and then cycled home again to collect the key which I had forgotten.  The second journey was uneventful and the meter got read.

In spite of the cold start to the day and the fact that it never got very warm out of the direct sun, the butterflies were not discouraged.

The buddleias are fading so a red admiral tried a cosmos.

red admiral butterfly on cosmos

On the red buddleia, the flowers are now so scarce that multi occupancy was the order of the day.

red admiral butterfly groups on buddleia

I watched the birds when I went in.

There were a good number of goldfinches about….

goldfinch group

…and some rough sparrows too.  A hefty one footed kick soon dislodged the bird on the right.

sparrow stamping

I had an early lunch and got my new bicycle out and set off to see how strong the wind was.

It was gusty at times but after a slow first 14 miles over Callister and out to Eaglesfield, I had chosen a route that made it more of a friend than a foe and I enjoyed a peaceful ride back to Langholm by way of Gretna.

Although it was sunny when I set out, there were some dark clouds about…

dark cloud over callister

…and I had to stop and put my rain jacket on for a few miles between Gair and Eaglesfield.  It was unfortunate that a buzzard should have chosen some poor light to pose for me on a telegraph pole….

buzzard pn pole

….because they usually fly off long before I can get my camera focused so this would have been a rare opportunity.

My bike routes often taken me along rivers and over their bridges but today’s route took me to the motorway….

M74 from bridge

…which I crossed by a bridge.  Then I pedalled against the stream of traffic down the old road which runs beside this new road before crossing under the motorway this time on my way home.

I stopped to take my rain jacket off while I was on the bridge because as you can see, the sun was out by this time.  For the rest of my trip I was often cycling on wet roads  but in broad sunshine as the rain clouds were pushed just ahead of me by the wind….

windmills in the sun

…which was very busy making electricity as it shoved the clouds along.

The sound of honking caught my attention as I approached Englishtown near the border and looking through a gate in the hedge, I could see a flock of geese in the field…

geese at Englishtown

…another sign that autumn is here to stay.

I added 37 miles to my total for the year and now I am at just under 300 miles for September.

Before I had my shower after cycling, I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal chop up some of the rhubarb roots which have come out of the new back bed.  Then as Mrs Tootlepedal was rather gloomy about prospects for the garden if the cold nights continue, I made a quick record of just some of the flowers left standing.

I thought that they might be saying, “Nos morituri, te salutumas” to the readers….

garden flowers 24 Sept (3)

From top left clockwise: potentilla, verbascum, niocotiana and Japanese anemone

garden flowers 24 Sept (2)

From top left clockwise: geranium, fancy primrose, nasturtium and fuchsia

garden flowers 24 Sept

From top left clockwise: euphorbia, lamium, potentilla and dahlia

special grandma

Special Grandma with buds still hoping for some more warm weather.

…but I hope that Mrs Tootlepedal’s gloom is unjustified as the forecast is offering us some generally warmer weather to come over the next few days.  Fingers crossed.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did more work on a Quantz trio sonata with my computer supplying the continuo.

There was no trio playing with Mike and Isabel tonight so I had a quiet evening at home.

There is another gender balanced flying bird of the day scenario today with male and female chaffinches sharing the duty.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinch (2)

 

 

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