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Archive for the ‘Archiving’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She didn’t have to go far to find this cheerful pieris as it is at her own front gate.

Mary's front garden

We are in no rush to go anywhere or do anything these days, so I had my usual morning routine of a leisurely breakfast followed by a close reading of the newspapers and doing the crossword.  With careful time management and a suitably difficult puzzle, this takes me nicely up to coffee.

It was very cool again and still grey but the wind had dropped a bit so it wasn’t too cold when I went out after coffee to have a look round the garden.

There were a few more flowers out on the drumstick primula….

nearly drumstick primula

…but the tulips were still in a state of suspended animation.

nearly tulip

On the other hand, the scillas don’t seemed to have been upset by the lack of warmth at all.

scilla april

The garden task of the day was shifting some old compost bins.  They are relics of the time when the council was keen to encourage home composting and these bins were available at very reasonable rates.

The two bins in the foreground have been migrated from near the drive to the back corner of the garden to join a rather battered friend.  One of them was promptly used as a home for all the grass sods that we took off the top of the paving stones round the woodshed yesterday and the day before.  Mrs Tootlepedal will dobtless find a use for the other.

three bins

They had been lying unused for a bit but there was still a small amount of good compost at the bottom of one of them and it quickly found its way onto a veg bed.

new compost on veg bed

I went in to make some beef and tomato soup for lunch and by the time that we had had our midday meal, it had started to rain lightly.

Before the rain came, I had seen a hedge sparrow….

dunnock on ground

…and after the rain started, I saw a house sparrow.

sparrow in rain

There was an encouraging trickle of birds back visiting the feeder and we saw a siskin…

siskin april

…and a chaffinch today.

chaffinch swallowing

They were overseen by a pigeon.  I always think that the person who originally designed pigeons must have been an apprentice, as they definitely got the proportion of head and body quite seriously wrong.

doubting pigeon

While the rain was still very gentle, I had a walk round the garden and enjoyed the freshness of the leafs on a Philadelphus, water droplets on foliage…

april garden panel

…and encouraging growth on an espalier apple and the silver pear.

A little more colour was added to the garden scene by a dicentra in the back border.

dicentra back border

The resident blackbird was a bit annoyed when I caught him in an unguarded moment….

blackbird wings splayed

…and returned later on for a full studio pose.

blackbird in filmstar mode

I spent most of the afternoon not going for a cycle ride because it was cold, wet and gloomy.  But I didn’t spend all the afternoon not cycling because I spent quite a lot of time not going for a walk either.

In the end, I watched more birds and was pleased to see a goldfinch…

goldfinch april

…a dunnock, which rudely turned its back on me…

dunnokc watching out

…and a blue tit.

blue tit april

The dunnocks were highly entertaining as there was a lot of furious action as they chased each other round the garden.  We seem to have at least three on the go.  I read on the RSPB website that they have very variable mating habits according to the supply of birds and food.  We may be watching any of the following.

  • A male paired with a female (monogamy)
  • More than one male paired with the same female (polyandry)
  • A male paired with more than one female (polygyny)
  • ‘Pairs’ with two males and two females (polygynandry)

Meanwhile, the jackdaws were pecking at the lawn again.

mottled jackdaw lawn pecking

I did find time to put another parish magazine from 1968 on the the Archive Group website.  Sandy does the scanning and OCR and then formats the HTML so my part of the task is quite simple.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s shrewd purchase of the brisket of beef paid off when it made its third appearance in a row, this time as the basis for a mild coconut flavoured curry on a bed of rice.  It will make its final appearance as cold meat for lunch tomorrow.  Money well spent.

We passed a quiet evening insulated from any bad news by watching Gardener’s World and The Repair Shop.   It was very peaceful.

The sparrow on the feeder below was almost the flying bird of the day but I was half a second too late.

nearly flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon.  He was walking along the Esk near Canonbie when he saw these people having fun.

canoeists

It was a better day here today with outbreaks of sunshine and no rain until the evening.  Unfortunately, the persistent strong wind was on the go again and it made things feel very chilly unless you could find a sheltered spot in the sunshine and out of the wind.

I had a busy morning, starting with a visit to the shop to panic buy a bottle of milk.  Fortunately, there were quite a lot of bottles to choose from as the people of Langholm are keeping very calm.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy on envelope business as more addresses appear which need deliveries.  I went off to visit Sandy and take him some newspaper index sheets to put into the Archive Group database.  He has two weeks to go before the plaster comes off his leg so he was quite pleased to get something to occupy his time.  I was quite pleased to get an excellent cup of Brazilian coffee and a ginger biscuit or two (or three).

I couldn’t stay long as the final business of the morning was to go with Mrs Tootlepedal to the funeral of a man with whom I used to play in the Town Band and who was the father of one of our daughter’s first friends when we came to Langholm.

When we got home from church, we set about copying more inserts and stuffing them into yet more envelopes.  Luckily another member of the team arrived to take a load to deliver to Canonbie.

While this was going on, I had a moment to watch the birds.  There were plenty about.

busy feeder

Including quite a lot of chaffinches….

flying chafinches

….one of whom made a very stylish approach to the feeder.

flying chaffinch with style

I tried to take a few posing birds for Mrs Tootlepedal’s pleasure but the strong wind was making perching on the fake tree a tricky business.  This greenfinch was hanging on to a wildly swaying twig for dear life, its feathers thoroughly flattened.

greenfinch hanging on

A siskin enjoyed a lull in the wind.

siskin posing

While a greenfinch…

greenfinch on stalk

…and a redpoll found more stable perches.

I think that this one may be a female…

quizzical redpoll

…and this one is a male with its courting court on.

red redpoll

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off in the car to deliver some brochures to far flung houses and I went for a walk.  I had hoped for a cycle ride but it was far too windy for cycling to be fun.

I walked down the Esk and was pleased to see a male goosander, even if it was too far away for a good picture.

male goosander

As I walked up Hallpath, I saw a bird of a different feather, or rather no feathers at all, as it is another of the fine wood carvings that grace the town.

wooden peacock

I was walking out to the Laverock bird hide to see if the planned felling of the diseased larch plantation there had begun.

It is a frequent walk but I never tire of it.  I noticed this tree which in its ample girth was strangely reminiscent of the photographer.

P1030989

The path was muddy in places but not nearly as wet as I had expected after another four inches of rain last week.

jenny noble track

The oak wood looked as inviting as ever…

oak wood

..but I plugged on past this fine gorse bush…

gorse on broonholmshiels track

..pausing to look back at the view up the valley…

view from Broom holm

…before getting to the hide.

The plantation was still there and although the bird feeders have been taken down, there were still a lot of birds about, particularly a large flock of chaffinches.    It will probably take them a bit of time to realise that the feeders are not going to magically reappear.  I hope that they find a new source of food soon.

On my way back to Langholm (down the road) I noticed something odd in a pylon.  A closer look showed that it was a man with a good head for heights.  Considering that the wind was blowing briskly, I was very glad that it was him and not me up there.

man up pylon

On my way back down the hill, I passed my favourite wall covered with moss which comes in many styles…

A small forest.

moss forest

A waving meadow.

moss meadow

And a mini mountain.

moss mountain

I crossed over Skippers Bridge and walked home along the west bank of the Esk.  The hazel catkins are flourishing at last and I was able to see both catkins and flowers close together today.

hazel flower and catkin

Mrs Tootlepedal had just got back before me and we enjoyed a well earned cup of tea and a slice of fruity malt loaf after our endeavours.

My flute playing friend Luke arrived on cue and we had a very successful play.  We are trying to develop a bit more style in our playing so a contrasting set of pieces, an arrangement of Easy Winners by Joplin, a slow movement form a trio sonata by J J Quantz, and a couple of fiddle hornpipes certainly gave us something to work on.

I made a simple evening meal of baked potatoes and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat down to try to make some sense out of the news.  It was hard work.

I thought that I had detected the hand of the prime minister’s special adviser in last week’s bold plan to let a lot of old people die in order to provide acquired immunity for the young and fit.  Today, I sensed that the sudden dawning on the prime minister that the age of the average Tory voter might not make this an election winning plan could have caused this week’s volte face, and the sudden concern for the health of the elderly.   We wash our hands.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  As long as there is seed, they are content.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: I took my cycling computer in my pocket for today’s walk and it tells me that I did 5.7 miles at just over 4 miles an hour, though I did spend an additional  half an hour taking pictures along the way.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s Moroccan trip.  You might find it hard to believe that this delightfully shady restaurant garden is in Morocco but it is.

morocco tiout

The first picture in today’s post is a bit of a cheat as it was taken yesterday when I went to bed.  Looking out of the window, I saw a very nearly full moon and I couldn’t resist the temptation to go back downstairs to fetch my camera and take a shot of it.

nearly full moon

Any clear skies had disappeared by morning and we had another wet and windy day.

Once again, Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off after breakfast on business, this time to Canonbie, and my slow getting up technique was called into play.  I am getting good at it and was only just up and dressed by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned.

We had coffee and I kept an eye on the birds.  The indifferent weather had brought them to the feeder in good numbers and siskins and goldfinches took it in turn to fill the top layer of perches…

siskin and goldfinch trios

…while gangs of siskins monopolised the bottom layer.

siskin circle

There was a brighter moment and I popped out into the garden to see if there were any frogs about.  The weather didn’t suit the frogs though, and the pond was deserted.

I walked round the garden and was pleased to see the first signs of Forsythia flowers.

forsythia

Going back in, I had another look at the birds.  A redpoll was copying the siskins and wasting good food.

redpoll dropping seed

A goldfinch, ruffled by the brisk breeze, posed in the fake tree.

goldfinch fake tree

You are supposed to be able to tell a male from, a female goldfinch by how far behind the eye the red patch extends and various other subtle signs,  They are usually too subtle for me but I think that this is a male.  (I am happy to be corrected by any passing expert.)

goldfinch head

As it looked as though there might be a dry spell for a while, I went for a walk and indeed, it was almost sunny as I set out, passing a blackbird, looking a bit the worse for wear as I went.

blackbird in garden

It got gloomier as I walked along the river but there was a lot to look at.

There was wild garlic growing along the river bank, and potential bluebells lined the path up the hill…

garlic, bluebell, script lichen

…and while the writing was not on the wall, there was plenty of script lichen on birch trees.

I don’t know what causes this striking brown staining on a silver birch.

stained birch tree

A robin, sitting on a  fence at a stable, kindly let me add to the collection of peaceful birds to please Mrs Tootlepedal.

robin stubholm

There have not been a great number of catkins so far this year but they are beginning to appear, and while I was looking at a healthy crop, I noticed a tiny red spot in the background.  I knew then that they were hazel catkins and the red spot was a flower

hazel catkin and hazel flower

When I looked more closely, there were dozens of the flowers out and I had never found them so easy to see before.

I was hoping to extend my stroll but some very strong gusts of wind heralded the arrival of a rain shower.  I speeded up my steps and stopped looking for interesting things but my luck didn’t hold out.  I was still a few hundred yards from home when a heavy shower of rain and sleet got me thoroughly drenched in a very short time.

A toasted cheese sandwich restored my good humour.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal took a break from her work and came out for a walk with me.

We drove up the hill and parked near the Roman camp at Broomholmshiels.   It was windy and gloomy but the Romans had chosen the spot because it commanded a good view up the valley and even on a grey day, it is still a good view.

roman view

It was extremely wet underfoot and we splodged through the glaur, trying hard not to slip over.

Nothing could take away from the enjoyment of the fine trees in the wood alongside the camp…

roman tree

…and we think that this is probably the nicest wood in the area.

roamn wood

It is not every day that you can see a good looking tree alongside a Roman ditch.roman ditch

On the far side of the camp, we came to the old railway.  There is a fine bridge over a deep cutting…

railway roman camp

…but the line has been neglected at this point and is more of a river than a track, so we had to leave the bridge and walk along for a bit before we could join the trackbed just where an embankment gave way to a shallow cutting.

This was the best bit of walking of the outing and we could enjoy a view to the valley below as well as thistles making ornamental patterns in the grass…

railway broomholm

…and some bits of the old railway like these metal posts and a one of the clamps that used to hold the rails.

The line stops at a bridge over the road that we had driven up.   Here the walk became difficult.  The bridge has been demolished and although there is a signpost indicating a walking path, the way has become blocked by a fence and many fallen trees…

footpath broomholm

…but a dingly dell full of snowdrops was a consolation for the battle through the brushwood.

There were pine cones and moss along the track…

cone, moss, cress and celandine broomholm

…and wild water cress and early celandine as we walked back up the road to the car.

But the best thing for me was a good crop of scarlet elf cupsAs  just at the old bridge.

scarlet elf cap

This is a beautiful fungus and it was popping up all over the place when we looked.

Although it was only a walk of one and a half miles, it felt like an adventure and even on a soggy, windy day, it was full of enjoyment from start to finish.  And it didn’t rain.

We had a cup of tea and some toast and honey when we got home, and then Mrs Tootlepedal set to work folding hundreds of letters from the community buy out group ready for stuffing into envelopes tomorrow, and I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

When I had finished, I joined in the letter folding, got our evening meal ready, did some more letter folding, and then left Mrs Tootlepedal still folding while I went away to write this post.

What I didn’t do was practise any songs for the choir competition tomorrow.  It has fallen victim to the coronavirus outbreak as the choir committee has decided that it would be wiser if we didn’t take part.  I completely agree with that decision.

It is a bit of a pity though, as this is the first time that I have truly felt that I have properly learned off by heart all the songs that we were going to sing in a competition….and moreover felt that I could actually sing them correctly.  Such is life.

Tomorrow there will be more strong winds and rain and possibly an early frost as well. Sometimes, it is quite hard to be cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia,  She has gone to Morocco for a wild life holiday and is staying in this Ecolodge hotel, the Atlas Kasbah at Agadir.

Atlas Kasbah, Agadir

It was a grey day here with rain on and off in the morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal had to drive to Carlisle  to acquire clipboards, and as I thought that this might be a bit too exciting for me, I stayed at home and practised getting up very, very slowly.

Practice made perfect and I had just got fully up by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned.

I roused myself sufficiently to check the pond….

lone frog in pond

…look round the garden…

euphorbia march

…and cycle off to the shop to get some milk.

When I got back, I found that a second frog had appeared.

frog in pond with leg

Mrs Tootlepedal has called for some more peaceful bird pictures.  She has found the constant flurry of birds round the feeder can get a little exhausting for the viewer.

As a result, I kept an eye out for birds having a quiet moment like this dunnock…

dunnock on fake tree

…and I will try to intersperse today’s post with sitting bird images.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s project involves communication with the public at the moment, so there are envelopes to print, letters to be folded and brochures to be stuffed, all time consuming tasks.  I lent a hand at the envelope printing as our printer can only cope with ten envelopes at a time and Mrs Tootlepedal had already done several hundred.

A siskin in one of the rain showers.

siskin in rain

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do letter folding and I settled into to putting a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database,  I would have been happier about the progress that I was making at this task if I hadn’t discovered two more weeks waiting to be put in that I had somehow overlooked.

A chaffinch at rest.

chaffinch looking up

By the time that I had finished the archiving, the rain seemed to have stopped.  Although the forecast said it might rain some more, the percentage chance seemed low enough to risk a pedal.

The roads were swimming with water in places….

puddle at bessie bell's

…as we have had another  two inches of rain lately, but it was the wind that was the toughest thing to face.  Gusting up to 35 mph at times, there were moments when I thought that I might have just to give up and go home so slow did my progress become.

A redpoll.  (The camera finds it very hard to get a redpoll fully focussed for some reason.)

redpoll opn feeder

After three miles of battling into the wind, I turned off up the Cleuchfoot road just to get a crosswind instead of a straight buffeting.  As I came back down to Wauchope Schoolhouse, I could that Bloch Farm on the opposite side of the valley was enjoying some sunshine.

boch farm from cleuchfoot

A chaffinch thinking of lunch.

chaffinch on fake tree

This seemed hopeful and sure enough, I was soon pedalling along in sunshine too.  It didn’t make the wind any less pushy though, and it took me an hour to do the eight miles that took me to the far end of Callister.

Turning for home was nice!

I whizzed back down the hill, stopping to enjoy the view down Wauchopedale.

wauchope view evening

Goldfinches tend to look as though they might have indigestion.

goldfinch on feeder

Despite the sunshine, a large puddle in a field showed how much rain there had been.

puddle blochburnfoot

A chaffinch, lightly ruffled by the breeze.

standing chaffinch

But by the time that I had got back to the shelter of the town, the day looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.

kirk bridge evening

Ooops, a flying goldfinch sneaked in unbeknownst to me.

hunched flying goldfinch

And there’s another!  Dreadful.

goldfinch near to feeder

Ah that’s better, a peaceful oyster catcher standing at the water’s edge in the evening shadows as I finished my ride.

oyster catcher two legs

I looked round the garden when I got home but no more frogs had arrived. I settled for some hellebore flowers.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal came back with some letters that still needed folding so while I got the evening meal ready, I lent a hand with that task too.  The community land group are doing a vast amount of work.

The temperature crept up to 50° today but the rain and the strong wind didn’t make it feel very springlike.  We are being offered warnings of snow and ice for tomorrow!

In spite of Mrs Tootlepedal’s plea for quiet birds, the flying bird of the day is a flying siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Kedlestone Hall in Derbyshire on one of the better recent days.

kedlestone hall

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to yet another meeting after breakfast and inspired by her vigour, I managed to get myself into my cycling gear and out of the house before coffee time.  Admittedly, I was helped in this by the knowledge that the forecast for the afternoon was very poor and it was now or never as far as comfortable cycling went.

There are now some definite signs of spring as I go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie route with daffodils out beside the road in several places.

daffs on cycle tour

Rather annoyingly, the brisk breeze was back again but one of the reasons that I like my Canonbie route so much is that it protects from the worst of a westerly wind and I get some help going home.  All the same, I had to keep my head down and pedal quite hard at times so I didn’t stop a lot.

When I did stop, the Canonbie cows were too busy to look up.

two canonbie cows

The sun came out as I was pedalling home, and with the wind behind me there were moments when it almost felt warm.

The sun picked out this dramatic tree near Irvine House.

tree a Irvine house

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got home so after a quick check on the pond…

frogs

…and an inventory of growth in the garden…

garden growth

…I went off to cadge a cup of coffee and a ginger biscuit or two from Sandy.

He is remaining remarkably cheerful in spite of the tedium of being housebound for several weeks.  He has some entertainment though, as a pair of blue tits have settled into the nest box on his shed.  I caught a glimpse of one them today.

sandy's blue tit

On my way home, I was struck by these dark shapes in a tree.  They turned out to be a pair of rooks considering  redecorating the sitting room in their nest in the rookery.

two rooks holmwood

I got home in time for lunch and was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her meeting had extended itself into taking important visitors up on to the moor, where they had seen two hen harriers and several goats and kids.  Everyone had enjoyed this a lot.

After lunch, I had a moment to watch the birds.

Unlike yesterday’s neat eater, today’s siskin shows much more typical behaviour.

siskin dropping food

Goldfinches flew in from every angle…

flying goldfinches

…and once ensconced on the feeder, they looked both this way and that.

goldfinch contrast

Having checked the forecast again, I discovered that I might just have enough time for a walk before the rain started so I set out for a short walk over three bridges.

I had had the best of the day on my cycle ride. The cold was now colder, the sky was greyer and the wind was stronger but there were still definite signs of spring along the waterside on both sides of the Langholm Bridge.

signs of spring by the river

And a good supply of birds posing for the camera.

riverside birds march

The ducks have paired off for spring and these two were getting their heads together over some tasty snack just under the surface as I went over the Sawmill Brig.

ducks getting heads together

I walked up past the Estate Offices and admired the wall beside the road.  It is the stone wall with everything: ivy, peltigera lichen, hart’s tongue fern and any amount of moss.

growths on wall above ewesbank

In fact, I was quite surprised to be able to see some stones at one point.

wall above ewesbank

You see a lot more colourful sheep in the fields these days than you did when white wool was a big source of the sheep farmer’s income.

grey sheep

I went along the top of the wood and then dropped down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are still looking good.

snwodrops holmhead

On my way back to the lodge, I passed a couple of sawn off tree stumps.  I imagine that recent rain and strong winds had made them unsafe so that they were cut off before they fell down completely.  The inside of the trunks didn’t look too healthy, I thought.

felled trees

The forecast had been right.  I didn’t have too much time before the rain came.  Unfortunately, because I had stopped to take so many pictures, my time ran out and the rain came on well before I got home.  I stopped taking pictures, put up the hood on my new coat which I had prudently worn, crossed the Duchess Bridge and hurried home….

…stopping only for this lovely burst of blossom beside the river behind the school.

blossom behind school

Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out for another meeting so once again, I took the hint from her industriousness and settled down at the computer to tax our car (cost £0 thanks to it being electric) and catch up on some correspondence with two old friends who had  written to me out of the blue.  As I had promised to reply in a couple of days to the one who wrote to me in January , it was none too soon to get to work.  Still, as I hadn’t seen him for nearly fifty years, a few weeks probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

Mike Tinker dropped in for tea and Mrs Tootlepedal returned (soaked) from her business and joined us.

Then it was time for flute playing with Luke.  He is between jobs at the moment so he has had time to practise and this has had a very good result.  I will be taking lessons from him soon.

After tea, I put most of a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before turning to the production of this post.  It has been a full day.

The flying bird of the day is an angry goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Northumbrian holiday.  It shows his daughter and granddaughter on their way to visit the castle on Holy island.

holy island

It was sunny here, the wind had dropped, the cattle had been taken off Meikleholm Hill, and it was a perfect day for a walk up a hill.  So I went for a walk up a hill.

It was cold but not ridiculously so and with the sun being high enough in the sky by now to impart a little heat, walking was very pleasant.  My walking poles are a great benefit for hilly terrain, both going up and going back down again.  They help push me up and stop me falling down.

As I went up Meikleholm Hill, I passed this old hawthorn.  At first sight, you might think that it has been blown over but it is still growing and just keeping itself as low to the ground and out of the wind as it can.

old hawthorn

From the top of Meikleholm Hill at 262m (859ft) I paused for a breather and to admire the view along the ridge from Castle Hill to Potholm Hill on the other side of the Esk…

castle hill ridge

…and the green fields beside the river below.

milnholm valley

Two views that never fail to please.

Looking up to my left, I saw a very unusual sight indeed these days.  As you can see, the blades of the turbines were absolutely stationary for once.

craig windfarm still

I dropped down from the top of Meikleholm Hill and then began the walk up Timpen, the next hill along the ridge.  In spite of all the recent rain, the going underfoot was not too bad, and although I was only wearing walking shoes and not boots, my feet stayed dry.

climb to timpenb

Once again I was glad of an excuse to stop for a breather when I got to the top of the hill.  The trig point there has a bench mark, showing that I had reached 1024ft (312m) above sea level.

trig point timpen

To be fair, I had started at 269ft (82m) in the town so I hadn’t actually climbed a thousand feet.

There is a good view to reward the walker at this point.  Sadly, although it was a sunny day, it wasn’t a clear day and the hills in the distance were slightly obscured by haze.

view from timpen

Still, I wasn’t complaining, as the lack of wind made the 5°C temperature feel quite spring like as I walked on along the ridge to the north.

descent from timpen

I didn’t go far along the ridge and gently slid off the top of the hill making my way down to the road below by easy stages, using the contours as my friend.

Looking down below me, I could see Craigcleuch, built in 1874 for one of our local mill owners.

craigcleuch

Looking beyond the house, I could see the road running through the Gates of Eden in the foreground and the hills of the Ewes valley beyond.

view through gates of eden

As I dropped down the hill, I came to a little gully where the steep banks had discouraged the sheep from eating the trees before they could grow.  I was stopped in my tracks when I saw a monster waiting to attack me…

monster green sike

…but it turned out to be harmless.

I liked this  old tree which had managed to survive even though it was on the flat above the gully.

tree green sike

The little gully that I was walking  along was joined by another…

green ske junction

…and together they made quite a dent in the hillside down which the Green Sike ran…

green sike

…and provided some picturesque corners where a picnic on a sunny day would be quite in order.

delightful spot green sik

I arrived at the road, and set off back to town.  After coming down the hill from the quarry, I chose to take one of the Langholm Walks paths instead of continuing along the road…

…and there could not have been a greater contrast to my open hilly route on the way out.

walk 2

I passed an elegant fern on my way and I could easily tell you what sort it is if only I could remember what Mike Tinker had told me when we walked here a year or two ago.  He is a fern fancier and knows them all by name.

fern on walk 2

A little stream chattering down the hill…

cascade near Duchess bridge

…and a newly broken branch…

fallen tree near Duchess Bridge

….were a reminder of last week’s wet and windy weather.

I got home just in time for lunch, having had a four mile walk of which not one single second had been boring.

After lunch, I watched the birds for a while.  There weren’t many about and some of those that visited the feeder wished to remain anonymous.

chaffinch hiding

…though others were keen to make sure that I had noticed them.

chaffinches checking

I didn’t watch the birds for long though and I greatly surprised myself by getting ready to go out for a cycle ride.  The day was just to good to waste.

All the same, the weather gods had to have their little joke and as soon as I put my cycle helmet on, it started to rain quite heavily.  Luckily, it was only a little joke, and a few minutes later I set off in dry conditions which lasted for the rest of my ride.

The lack of wind couldn’t last and there was enough wind for me to notice but not enough to make cycling a chore.

I had already taken far too many pictures and I didn’t stop for any more until a red traffic light at Irvine House forced me to apply the brakes.

I had another look at the landslip there…

landslide irvine house

Looking at it, it seems fortunate that some of the road didn’t go down the hill too. The fallen tree had taken quite a lot of masonry with it.

landslide irvine house tree

In contrast to the still morning, smoke from a neighbour’s chimney when I got home showed that the wind was back in the afternoon.

imd

I had had ideas of a longer ride in the benign conditions, but my legs were quite adamant that the 20 miles of my familiar Canonbie circuit would be quite enough, thank you.  So that’s what I did.  It doesn’t pay to take up arms against your legs.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the morning but she had done some useful gardening in the afternoon so we had both been able to make good use of a rare calm day.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to another meeting.  The proposed land purchase is keeping her and the rest of the group very busy.

For the second day running, before I got to work on the blog I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, using the program which our son Alistair kindly repaired for us.  There is quite a backlog arising from the time when the page was unavailable so the data miners are on hold at the moment.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch looking positively stately.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: I am sorry about the large number of pictures but I did throw out a lot more,  It was a good day.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He took his son Nick on a ten mile walk up as many hills as he could find.  Nick is going on a Nepal trek soon and needed some practice.  Here is Nick on Ecton Hill at 1211ft.

Nick on Ecton Hill

My morning walk to the (corner) shop once again took me along the river.  The weather had improved enough for the oyster catcher to get its head in the air.

oyster catcher sideways look

The weather forecast was a lottery today and trying to find out what was going to happen depended entirely on when you looked at it, as it changed every hour or so.  This made planning a dry cycle ride tricky.  It was supposed to rain at eleven and be sunnier in the afternoon, but it didn’t rain at  eleven and the sun came out at twelve and lit up the siskins.

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Sunshine is always welcome but does pose shadow problems for me.

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There was plenty of action but not enough to call for two feeders, so I took one back in and washed it thoroughly.

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The sunshine was a great motivator though, and I had a very early lunch and went off on my bike to add a few miles to my meagre monthly total.   February has been a rotten month for my cycling as it started with dizzy spells which kept me off the bike and just as I recovered from them, the rain and gales started and didn’t stop for two weeks.

It was a novel experience to be cycling in the sunshine.

I wanted to record that it was a  colourful day compared with yesterday’s monochrome ride so I took a picture of a tree.  Because it was not raining or snowing, I was able to look at the result on the camera and much to my surprise, I found that it wasn’t colourful at all.

dead tree bw

Behind my back and without my permission, the camera had gone into monochrome mode and that explained the extreme lack of colour in yesterday’s landscapes.  I apologise for misleading readers but I would say in my defence that it was a pretty monochrome day and curiously, my photo editor still insists that the picture above is in RGB colour so the camera must be withholding secrets even from Photoshop.  I like the monochrome tree anyway.

Still, I moved the dial on the camera back to its proper setting and took a picture of some more trees.

two trees chapelhill

The sunshine became rather variable as I pedalled round my customary Canonbie circuit..

tree beside Canonbie by pass

…but it was shining when I got to Hollows Bridge and found that there was still a fair amount of water flowing down the Esk.

esk at hollws brodge

On the other side of the bridge, a fragile tree looked as though it might plunge into the river at any time.

old tree hollws bridge

The roads were generally quite dry but there were still puddles about and shortly after I had passed this one…,

puddle auchenrivock road

…I was forced to stop at a traffic light.  This had been put up to cope with yet another roadside landslip.

I could see trees at dangerous angles…

landslip with trees irvine house

…and as the road is close to the bank of the river here,  trees had been pulled out of the soil as the bank collapsed.  The road was just intact but barriers were encouraging the traffic to keep away from the affected side of the road.

The wood on the other side of the road has recently been felled and these trees are not so sheltered from the blast as they were.  I don’t know how long these unaffected trees will last…

surviving trees at irvine house

…or the ones that perch in a lonely fashion on the steep bank on the other side of the road.

tree at irvine House

During the second half of my ride, it had started to rain once or twice but I scowled so furiously at the clouds that the rain apologised and went away.  I was enjoying myself so much that when I got back to Langholm, I was thinking if adding some extra miles but this time it started to rain seriously, with a bit of snow thrown in for good measure, so I took the hint and went straight home.

Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden and the rain was so local that it had hardly stopped her at all.   I had a look round the garden myself.

four spring shots

..and felt that the flower of the day was the single blossom on the winter honeysuckle.

winter honeusuckle

The sun came out again as I went in.

siskin on feeder arch

Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the helicopter which is taking materials to the pylon on the golf course was back in the air again, so I went upstairs to have a look to see if I could see it.

It was very busy zipping to and fro.  They must have been pleased to be able to get back to work after the strong winds of the past two weeks.

pylon helicopter

As I watched, the rain started again so I shut the window after I had taken this final shot of the helicopter, like young Oliver, going back for more.

helicopter over monument

I was thinking of going for a late walk but the weather seemed too unreliable so I settled down to try to improve the security of the Langholm Archive Group website, a necessity these days when browsers may stop people viewing insecure sites.  This is above my pay grade but I ploughed on and succeeded with two of the three parts of the site but made the third part so bad that my browser had a fit when I tried to view it.

Fortunately, the web hosting company was able to provide a solution when I retailed my woes to them.

Unfortunately, the security certification process has upset the formatting of the sites and I have had to ask for help again.  This sort of thing makes my head hurt.  They have kindly replied but the suggested solution may need me to seek yet more help.

In the meantime, I did find a sunny flying chaffinch of the day. Hooray.

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