New month, new weather

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He encountered a much needed moment of reflection in these turbulent times while on a visit to Keddlestone Hall.

keddleston Hall

After our spell of frosty mornings and dry cool days, the temperature rose to greet the first day of November but unfortunately brought a lot of drizzle and rain with it.  The dampness persisted all day and as it was very gloomy, I found other things than cycling and walking to do.

After a leisurely breakfast and an entertaining crossword, I started the active part of the day with coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone.  After coffee, he kindly gave me a lift up to the town, where I did some Archive Group work.  Someone researching their family history had asked the group for a printout of an article concerning a woman from Canonbie who had died at the age of 96 with 158 living descendants.

I found the article and was much struck by the fact that the editor, faced with this potentially very interesting story, had chosen to use it as a chance to take a poke at Bishop Colenso instead of telling readers anything about the family.

canonbie woman

I hadn’t heard of the bishop but he turns out to be an interesting person who was very much in people’s minds in the 1860s.  I read about him here  and understood why he had upset the editor.  I cannot discover what the reference to the Natal Zulu method of counting signifies.

As I left the newspaper office where I was doing my research, I passed this recently installed elegant artwork on the wall of the building.

wall writing

The missing word at the end of the quotation is ‘heart’.

It was written by famous poet Hugh MacDiarmid, born and bred in Langholm,  and the full quatrain is:

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet—and breaks the heart.

The flowers in our garden may be past their best but Mrs Tootlepedal has been nurturing an African Violet on a windowsill inside the house and it has repaid her care.

afrian violets

Once I had done a little shopping and paid my bill at our corner shop, I made some onion and potato soup, using Mrs Tootlepedal’s homemade chicken stock, and while it was cooking, I looked out of the window to see what was going on in the garden and was delighted to find that the finches had finally found the feeder.

A small group of goldfinches were the pioneers…

first goldfinch of autumn

…and once they had got started, other birds began to eye up the feeder too.


A collared dove looked down from above…

collared dove on wire

…and a blackbird wondered whether there would soon be fallen seed to scavenge.

blackbird on hedge

The feeder got quite busy for a while…

goldfinch on pole

…as a chaffinch joined the goldfinches.


A house sparrow preferred the nuts…

sparrow on nuts

..but a hedge sparrow (or dunnock) liked the seeds.

dunnock on feeder

The weather got steadily worse so I took this shot of a sparrow perched on Mrs Tootlepedal’s artificial tree….

sparrow on false tree in rain

…and after lunch, I was very happy to spend some useful time adding more of our index to the local paper to the Archive Group’s database.  As it was this online index which had sparked the enquiry that I had followed up in the morning, it was gratifying to know that our work is useful and appreciated.

After that, I sorted out my Carlisle Choir music folder which had been disturbed by our Glasgow trip and these simple tasks managed to comfortably fill the afternoon.  There was quite a bit of sitting down and reading papers and magazines too.

When the time came, I made a mild chicken curry, sweetened with sultanas and apple, for our tea and then depressed myself by watching the news of our election campaign creaking into action.  However, as President Trump has been kind enough to tell us who to vote for and what to do, we will have no need to think for ourselves at all.

It looks as though we might have a calm, warm and sunny day tomorrow.  This will be very welcome and I might get some sharper pictures of the birds if they come back to the feeder.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, zipping through the gloom and drizzle on its way to the feeder.

flying blue tit


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “New month, new weather

  1. I enjoyed the obituary and the story of Bishop Colenso 🙂

    Mrs. T’s African violet looks very healthy. I have one I have been cloning from leaves since 1993, a lavender one the tag said was a Crystallaria.

    Your birds look well-fed and quite pleased with the menu.

  2. The artwork and the poem are both beautiful. I also enjoued the obituary and feel very jealous of those researching their family history with roots in your area.

    1. Like much of Scotland, natives of Eskdale have spread widely. Adverts for steam passages to the US and Canada appear in every edition of our newspaper, and to New Zealand too by sailing ship in the early days.

  3. I wouldn’t listen to any advice from Mr. Trump were I you. People seem to regret doing so sooner or later.
    I do like that poem but I’ve never heard of the little white roses of Scotland.
    It’s always nice when a house plant blooms. I’m not surprised to hear that they bloom for Mrs. T.

    1. She was quite surprised as she doesn’t have a great record with indoor plants. Little white Scotch roses have appeared on this blog as they grow in our garden.

      1. I can only think it relates to Colenso’s controversial criticism of the literal acceptance of the Bible as he interpreted it differently within the context of his own learning and experiences. He was an influential person here and learned to speak Zulu fluently. While this doesn’t answer your question directly, I suspect the mention of Colenso in that archival article relates to the disdain with which he was held in Britain at the time. He tended to rub the establishment up the wrong way.

  4. Hugh McDiarmid. Craig Sharp was a great friend of mine. Sadly, he passed away in 2018. Craig was an aficionado of Scottish poetry and frequented the memorial to the great poet on the outskirts of Langholm. Among his collection of portraits and poems was a hand-written version of the Old Grey Mare. The writer? Robbie Burns himself.

  5. Good to see the birds have listened to all their Twitter accounts and returned in numbers to your garden. Love the obituary.

  6. I might suggest that the wise thing to do is the exact opposite of what our clown in chief might suggest. It wouldn’t require a great deal of thinking to do so.

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