Seeing the light

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend and ex Archive Group member, Ken, who now lives in the north east of England. It shows the old stone Bridge at Jesmond Dene.

We had a chilly but dry and sunny morning. This was welcome as it had been quite rainy during the night. There was no ice and snow about, so I was able to cycle round to the corner shop after breakfast. A very chilly wind didn’t encourage me to think of cycling later in the day, though I was hoping for a good walk.

I looked at the birds when I got back and seeing a hungry chaffinch tucking in, I thought that I might get a good few visitors today.

However, this turned out not to be the case. There were birds sitting in the walnut tree . . .

. . . and some dunnocks here and there in the garden . . .

. . . but very few at the feeder, so I went out and looked at our rose hips. They have done very well this year for some reason. We always have some, but nothing like the amount there is in the garden now.

The Lilian Austin rose has no hips but it is still trying (in vain) to produce a final flower. I have put it in the panel below, along with a coal tit hiding in a hedge, a lichen covered twig fallen from the walnut tree, and a seed head which I noticed when I was hoping to see a bird on the feeder.

We were joined for coffee by our neighbours Margaret, Liz and Ken. Parkin, coffee and conversation were all in evidence, and if only those in charge of the country and the media had been able to listen in to our talk, they would have found an amazing amount of good advice at their disposal. We were an oasis of calm good sense in an desert of nonsense. Or so it seemed to us.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked up to the High Street where stalls for the Christmas Lights market were set up. I bought some honey, and then Mrs Tootlepedal went and talked Christmas supplies with the butcher. She was happy with the proposed arrangements, and I was happy because I came away with some good Stilton and a steak pie for my lunch.

After eating the pie, I went out for my walk, hoping to take a plethora of fine photographs to make up for the lack of any pictures in yesterday’s post. The weather gods had other ideas though. The light got very, very poor and it started to rain as I left the house.

I heard the sound of bagpipes as I walked along the riverside, and peering under the trees, I could see the Langholm Pipe Band, wearing seasonal headgear, marching across the bridge.

A second look showed me that they were paving the way for Santa in his sledge to visit the High Street.

Considering the rather wet and chilly weather, he had a good turnout of followers.

I went up to the old tourist office at the Kilngreen where the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve team were offering Christmas trees to anyone who wanted one. They had them laid out round the kiosk.

Angela, who was on duty, told me that they had found homes for quite a few already, but the rather miserable weather made me feel that customers might not be so keen to come out and collect more. In fact, it was so grey and miserable, that I gave up on any thoughts of a walk and went home.

I didn’t have long to rest and get warm before it was time to get wet and cold again. Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to join a small group of singers doing their best to spread Christmas cheer with the help of players from the Town Band by singing carols in the Market Place, prior to the switching on of the Christmas Lights.

Hardy inhabitants of the town turned out to listen and join in. By the time that the lights were switched on, there was a very good crowd present. Everyone knows that the lights come on automatically, but there is always a ceremonial switch to be pushed regardless. This year the timing was very good and the lights only came on a second before the plunger was depressed. We all cheered heartily.

I would have immortalised the scene on camera if I had remembered to have it with me but for the second day running, my TMB* syndrome had struck and no pictures were to be had. I walked up to the town later in the evening once the rain had stopped, and took a couple of pictures of the suspension bridge as I went . . .

. . . and another one as I came back.

In between, I enjoyed the Christmas tree, floating in front of the Town Hall . . .

. . . and one set of our street decorations.

Our lights are not extravagant but they serve the purpose of brightening up the town on a dark winter evening, and they are very welcome.

When I crossed the suspension bridge on my way to the Market Place, I looked up towards the town bridge which also has illuminations. My phone has a really good setting for taking pictures at night

Instead of going straight home, I took a diversion along Eskdaill Street to see if the Christmas trees from the moor had been put up. There were a lot, and the street is looking quite jolly.

Although the day had not worked out quite as I would have wished, I did get a little exercise, a bit of a sing, and a few pictures too, so it was not a total write off.

I didn’t get a flying bird though and this chaffinch was the best that I could do.

*TMB: Too Many Birthdays

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “Seeing the light

    1. To be fair only two are directly employed by the project. Three others are all working to the same end but are employed by various trusts, and Margaret is the chair of the charity. All the same, I agree that there are a lot of good people working hard to make things happen.

  1. The bridge at Jesmond Dene is absolutely beautiful – it reminds me of something from Middle Earth.

    TMB is an insidious condition that seems to be worldwide!

  2. The town’s children must have had a great time seeing Santa and the lights.
    Your town decorates far more than they do here. We have a town Christmas tree though.
    I like your shots of the various Christmas trees. I don’t think I’ve tried that at night.

    1. To do the illuminated trees justice, I would need to go out with my good camera and a tripod, but I don’t have the patience for that so it is hit and hope instead.

      1. I put a lot of scratchy ones on too just because I think that the subject is suitable rather than the quality of the shot.

  3. Christmas cheer creeping in as the dark and cold weather creeps closer. Our town has given up on Christmas lights – the provision of lights, water and good roads no longer appear to concern the municipality.

    1. I rather disapprove of Christmas lights on principle at a time when we are supposed to be consuming less and using less energy, but they do raise a smile on a dark night. And ours are very modest.

  4. ​I do love a graceful arch in a bridge. That stone work is simply lovely.
    Good to see you’re provided with Christmas cheer despite the wet circumstances.
    Can there really ever be TMB?​ 😉

  5. I enjoyed all the photos, and the guest photo of the bridge as well. The craftsmanship in old stonework still amazes me, whether it be castle, or bridge. The giant lighted snowflakes on the bridge in your header photo are beautifully seasonal.

    I like the idea of Santa’s sleigh led by a band of bagpipes, and all the celebrations and caroling as the days grow shorter. My mother and i used to go to a community carol at the seaport when I was quite young.

    Our roses did very poorly this year between drought, excessive heat and deer attacks. It has been a pleasure viewing the ones in your garden this year.

    1. The roses did do well this year in spite of the cold spring and the following drought. It was quite surprising.

      There was a reindeer about in the town but it wasn’t pulling Santa along.

  6. Birds have definitely been on a different schedule here since the cold weather hit. I suspect because they are more visible they are taking more precautions. The nighttime photographs with your phone are excellent. The Jesmond Dene bridge photo is like a painting.

    1. I usually expect to get more birds at this time of year, but you are right to point out that there is less cover about. The part of the garden where the bird feeder is more exposed than it used to be as a result of gardening changes. I may have to move the feeder.

  7. Good to see a whole album of lovely photos from your day. Love all the Christmas decorations and trees- they certainly brighten up the dark nights. Your friend’s photo is wonderful too.

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