Singing and a sad farewell

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. It has been another cold and gloomy day here, so I looked back into my files to find a sunny scene which she took when the weather was better some days ago. You can tell that it was before the lockdown ended.

The day started with Matilda soundly beating me at both Snakes and Ladders and Ludo. My grief was assuaged when I heard her telling her father about the victory but adding that it was all about the luck of the dice. She has a kindly nature.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I then left Matilda to the care of her parents as we went off to sing in the church choir for the first time for over a year. The choir is limited to six people so it was rather an eerie experience, especially as we had to sit so far part that we couldn’t really hear each other singing very well. We sang a little introit and the congregation were so pleased to have us back that they gave us an unsolicited round of applause as we sat down.

We were much touched.

Although it was not entirely satisfactory, it was good to be standing up and singing loudly with an organ accompaniment, and we have agreed to meet for an extra practice next week to try and get things properly organised.

When we got back, tit was sunny and Matilda and her parents were out at the back of the house looking at the dam. Mrs Tootlepedal took Matilda round to visit our neighbour Margaret before we had coffee.

I took advantage of the sunny moment to enjoy the light on the rhododendrons…

…but the sun was soon gone, and when I spent five minutes watching the birds, it was in the gloom with occasional spots of rain.

Matilda is very impressed by the amount of seed that the birds get through, though she noticed how much seed the siskins drop on the ground, usually because they are too busy shouting to chew their food properly.

Two sparrows appeared today, which must mean that they are feeding young somewhere nearby. I will keep an eye out for the youngsters who are very demanding.

A siskin and a goldfinch were heading round the back of the feeder but it looked as though they were going to be too late as another siskin had sneaked in first from the opposite side.

This siskin had chosen a better moment.

It was still cold and damp when we went out for a walk to the park after coffee, dressed for winter rather than spring.

As we crossed the bridge into the park, I noticed that once again, the copper beech on the left has come into leaf well before the copper beech on the right.

It wasn’t nature that they younger three members of the party were interested in however. They had come to play Pokemon Go, where they used their phones to capture virtual characters that had been left in a designated spot by other players. They showed Mrs Tootlepedal what this entailed, while I enjoyed the trees in the park…

…and was disappointed that there was no sunshine to light up the poplars beside the river.

When they had captured the characters (and left some of their own for others to capture later), I showed them the noble fir…

…and it is fair to say that they weren’t quite as appreciative of it as I am.

Mrs Tootlepedal, whose interest in standing in light rain watching other people play on their phones is limited, went off to cook some soup for lunch, while we went to visit the parents of an old friend of Alistair. They were delighted to see Matilda again.

As the rain had stopped by the time that we had stopped chatting on their doorstep, we went along to the Buccleuch Centre…

…where there were two fine trees for me, and another Pokemon battleground for them.

There was a glimpse of sun by this time so we continued to the river where there was another battleground for them, and some fungus to keep me happy.

It turns out that Langholm is full of these animated characters just waiting for a fight.

Three battles were enough for a chilly day though, and we headed for home.

I had seen a lot of swallows darting about the river on recent walks, and I was happy to find one being still for a moment today.

I can confidently report that one swallow does not make a summer, and in this case not even thirty or forty have had any effect. They must be wondering if they have got their migrating dates right.

We had an good lunch when we got home, with excellent soup, and then the day took a sad turn. Our visitors collected up their things, packed them and themselves into their car, and disappeared in the direction of Edinburgh.

We hope that it will be a good deal less than a year until we see them again this time.

The weather got worse as they left and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were happy to watch the Giro d’Italia rather than brave the elements. I broke off to attend the Carlisle Community Choir virtual practice. Oddly, it felt more enjoyable after doing some real singing in the morning, as there was now a definite feeling of hope for the choir meeting again in the not too distant future. It is a big choir though, so we may have to wait longer than some smaller ensembles.

After the excitements of the visit, the day drifted quietly away and the house seemed very quiet.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

42 thoughts on “Singing and a sad farewell

  1. I am encouraged to hear you were actually singing in the choir, spaced apart as it were. We are so far only planning an outdoor gathering in a few weeks, but I suspect there will be some plan to gather for in person rehearsals in the works before the summer ends. The weather pleases no one. We are hot and dry, you are cold and rainy. The swallow is delightful. As for your visitors, parting is such sweet sorrow indeed. πŸ™‚

  2. My face broke into a gentle grin when I read about the applause at your singing in church. I’m pleased to say that, after the disappointment of the cancellation if a 24-strong, socially distanced, singing workshop yesterday, I was able to have a legal singing session this afternoon with another singer and two viol players, and have the pleasure of a vocal quartet on Tuesday to look forward to. Wonderful to make music live with friends again!

  3. “Mrs Tootlepedal, whose interest in standing in light rain watching other people play on their phones is limited” – you don’t say…

    Nice to hear you had visitors and things are becoming more normal.

      1. Julia says that she and I sometimes think as if we are of one mind. Though that may be a comment on how little she thinks of my intellectual powers.

    1. That was a great sentence. Allan has spoken to me of the less than thrilling times he had watching his teenage daughter and her boyfriend play video games on the tv. Or watching his daughter watch the boyfriend play.

  4. The two copper beeches are behaving strangely.
    Pokemon has come a long way. My son used to collect the trading cards. But there were no cell phones then.
    It sounds like a fine weekend. You’re very lucky to have grandchildren.

  5. A house always seems so quiet and empty when guests leave. We have my elder daughter coming to stay on Friday for a week. She will be bringing her cat; her husband stays at home. We don’t have a choir at church but we, the congregation have recently been going outside the church to sing the first and last hymns in the churchyard. I find I can’t sing at all well anymore.
    I like all the fungus on the trees by the river.

  6. Greatly enjoy your accounts of your gentle activities/pleasures … it’s like an echo of our lives here in New Jersey USA thank you for taking the time to share.

  7. An uplifting weekend with the inevitably sad ending – I hope it will be the beginning of many more. Yay for ‘live’ audience singing – perhaps the sun will start to come out for longer and the summer will truly settle in. Beautiful trees and a fascinating fungus!

  8. Glad that you were able to get back to singing in the church choir – and that your efforts were appreciated!
    You seem to have had a lively time with your visitors – it must indeed seem very quiet now!

  9. The two copper beeches , next door but leafing out differently is interesting. Has it always been like that? Perhaps the tree is in the early stages of some disease.

    I am glad to hear the choir is singing together again, even though is is under restricted conditions. Sad to see Matilda and family head back, but at least now they can visit in person.

  10. Good to hear that you could actually sing out together and to receive applause as well shows how everyone appreciates the sound of live singing. Goodness that fungus looks odd and can’t be doing the trees much good. The poor swallows and swifts must be thinking of packing their bags up early and flying back home . The only good thing about the rain is that there’s plenty of mud for the swallows to build their nest…if they stay! Good to read that the family visit continued so successfully with new games on the iphone- at least it was all outside in the fresh air and sounds like fun!

  11. Maybe they will follow your example and fall in love with the details of nature when they are older. I always do think it’s nice when one sees a young botanist or naturalist on shows like Springwatch.

  12. Looks like your Matilda grew quite a bit during the time you couldn’t visit. I was shocked at how tall the oldest of my grandchildren had grown. What a delight to see them though!

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