Today’s guest picture comes from my Sydney correspondent Stephen. As he came out of the Sydney Opera House after a performance of Carmen yesterday, he saw this striking tribute to the many volunteer firemen who have been battling the blazes in Australia.
After a restless night disturbed by strong wind and heavy rain, we got up to a continuing gale and more rain.
It was so dark at midday that this was the best that the camera could do when peering out of the window. The fact that the feeder was swaying madly didn’t help.
It was a day fit for nothing outside but perfect for making marmalade indoors.
I made marmalade. If it turns out well, a picture may follow tomorrow.
The wind calmed down as the afternoon went on and the light improved enough to enable the camera to get a glimpse of some hardy birds who had defied the conditions and made it to the feeder.
But making marmalade is a lengthy business so I wasn’t bored.
Our friend Gavin ventured out while there was still some light and took this picture of the Wauchope Water just sneaking under the Kirk Brig to join the Esk.
Luckily, the rivers didn’t get any higher than this and the rain stopped in the evening.
Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent fry up of black pudding, liver, mushrooms and tomatoes with a side order of mashed potato for our tea, a suitably cheerful meal for a rotten day.
And then the day got better.
It was warm and dry as we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre for our annual treat, the appearance of the RNSO, Scotland’s national orchestra. This is not some mini outreach programme for the provinces but the full orchestra of 60 players on the last leg of their national (Perth, Inverness, Dumfermline, Langholm) new year tour with a Viennese Gala.
You can take it from me that getting to hear a 60 piece symphony orchestra in a packed 300 seater hall is quite something and I sat in the back row beside Mrs Tootlepedal with tears of joy running down my cheeks as they played Suppé’s Overture to Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna to get the concert rolling.
And roll on the concert did, with popular orchestral favourites interspersed with songs from the Richard Tauber repertoire sung by a very pleasing tenor. As he sang “You are my heart’s delight” while I was sitting beside Mrs Tootlepedal, the programming couldn’t have been better planned.
Tinayi Lu, the conductor, took some of the pieces along at such a speed that you feared that the whole hall might explode with the accumulated energy generated. I am not a great fan of the modern tendency to play everything as fast as possible but the acoustic in the Buccleuch Hall is so clean that you can hear every note no matter how fast they are played. And it was decidedly exciting.
She also introduced the audience to an ingenious Chinese pun and a very delightful musical dialogue between Chinese tunes and western orchestral style by a composer called Bao Yuankai.
By the time that we came out of the concert and strolled home, the terrible weather of the day was just a fading memory and all was peace and harmony.
No flying bird of the day today for obvious reasons but I wonder if this goldfinch was as happy as we were by the end of the day.