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Archive for the ‘Archiving’ Category

There may be serious concern about the lack of insects in general but today’s guest picture from Venetia shows that there is no shortage of them just now in Somerset.

somerset flies

We had a typical April day here today, breezy, cool and occasionally rainy but it was just warm enough to allow for gardening and the breeze was just steady enough to allow for a little cycling so in the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal gardened and I went for a cycle ride.

Before I left, Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to a small patch of violets tucked away against a fence in a corner of the garden.

violet

Although the theoretical temperature was not too bad, the wind seemed to carry the chill of winter in its wings and I was well wrapped up again as I battled into the breeze.  When the sun was out…..

Wauchope road

…I was in a green and pleasant land, with the fresh green of the new larch growth…

larch

…very prominent.

But mostly, I was in the shadow over here and the sun was over there in the distance.

View from the Bloch

I looked more closely at one of my favourite trees.

Bloch tree

There were masses of flowers to be seen on my way.

flowers

By lurking about in the valley bottom for the most part, I kept out of the worst of the wind but even so, cycling back down to Langholm with the wind behind me was enough to make the slow bike feel like Pegasus.  I fairly flew along.

The twenty miles that I managed brought up my target mileage for the month and as it has all been done on the slow bike, that was very satisfactory.

I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden on my return and mowed the drying green.  This was a painful experience as it has almost as much moss as Mary Jo’s Danish lawn.

I had a look round and tried to get a better euphorbia picture but only succeeded in catching a fly.

fly on euphorbia

The tulips are growing all the time but still keeping themselves to themselves.

tulips

And I found a daffodil of the day standing still enough to photograph.

daff

Then  it was time for lunch, the crossword and a look at the birds.

I very much enjoyed a little action sequence that took place over two seconds.

A chaffinch approached the feeder quietly…

busy feeder

…suddenly there was pandemonium as birds flew off in all directions and a lone redpoll was left to wonder what all the fuss was about.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on business and I stayed in to greet the gas man who came to give our boiler its annual safety check.  In a sign of the crazy way businesses are organised these days, it turned out that he had come all the way from Glasgow to do our check, which was already well behind its scheduled time, because the local engineers were too busy.  Having finished, he was ready to drive back to Glasgow (90 miles away).  It must make sense to someone.

While the engineer was busy, it started to rain and it looked well set in for the rest of the day.    Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea though and he must have had some good vibes in his pocket because when he got up to, the rain went too.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden.

There was plenty to see.  A bee was buzzing about in the pulmonaria…

bee on pulmonaria

…and a blackbird was busy collecting more  worms….

blackbird with worms

…and things were busy growing.  Flowers on the gooseberry and on the silver pear.

gooseberry and silver pear

I look forward to eating gooseberries (if we can avoid the sawfly) but the silver pear fruit is inedible.

The rain looked as though it might hold off so I went for a walk.

I hoped to see waterside birds and I did but the light was pretty gloomy and the birds were far away so although it was a pleasure to see the birds, it was  a problem to get good shots of them.

oyster catcher, dipper, wagtail and goosander

From top left clockwise: Oyster catcher, dipper, goosander and pied wagtail.

I also saw a grey wagtail and I took a wonderful picture of the rock from which it had just taken off.  I haven’t posted it here to avoid excessive excitement among sensitive readers.

I was doing the three bridges walk and I passed a lot of ladies’ smock which has appeared like magic on the banks of the Esk near the suspension bridge….

Ladies smock

…a grand show of colour in the Clinthead gardens…

redflowers

…some striking male flowers on the noble firs on the Castleholm….

male noble fir flowers

….a very colourful tree (which I can’t identify.  Is there a helpful reader out there?)…

Castleholm tree

…and the first broom flower I have seen this year.  It was in the minister’s garden.

broom flower

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was back out in the garden so I took a look round and was struck by this jewel on a leaf.

raindrop

I had a little Archive business to catch up on as one of our members is kindly helping out a lady who wishes to visit the town for some ancestral research and then it was time to sit down and have a tasty curry for my tea.

The weather is set to continue in the present cool, showery mode for several days but if we can make as good use of the days as we did today, it won’t be too bad.  Those three magically warm and sunny days last week have spoiled us though.  Everything looks and feels dull by contrast.

The flying bird of the day is a reliable chaffinch.  They should give hovering lessons to the other birds.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who saw this copy of the Lamazzu – a winged deity looted from the Iraq Museum – made of empty date syrup cans, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

Our weather descended from the recent summer heights to slightly below the seasonal average, the feeling of slight chilliness compounded by a stiff wind which reminded everyone of the long cold months since Christmas.

The weather in the morning didn’t bother me much as I had to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I caught up on some Archive Group work.  I didn’t do quite as much as I had hoped though as I had to provide a welcome and information to no less than three visitors in the two hours.  I was fairly rushed off my feet.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having reorganised the greenhouse while I was out.  She is planting things out and improving the soil as much as she can so I sieved the last of the compost in Bin D and then set about shifting the contents of Bin C into the now empty Bin D.  I then emptied the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

I know that there is an insatiable desire for compost  pictures among the readers of this blog so here is the result.

compost bin shifting

The picture does show graphically how compost reduces in bulk over time.  The small amount in Bin D was the same size as the current amount in Bin C when it first arrived from Bin B and Bin B was full to the level of six of the wooden frames when it was first filled from Bin A.

This was quite heavy work so it was now time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with a delicious dish of fried eggs and fried cabbage as a reward for compost shifting.

It was far too windy, with constant gusts of 25 mph and above to think of cycling so after lunch, I went out into the garden with my camera in hand.  Windy weather makes it hard to shoot flowers but I did my best.

white flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is not certain what the pretty white flowers above are but I know what these ones below are.  They are potential plums if everything goes well.

plum flowers

The dog’s tooth violets are springing up all over the place.

dog's tooth violets

This clump of cowslip like things is enjoying the weather whether it is hot or cold and is getting larger all the time.

cowslips

The tree peony is looking very healthy.  Last year its flowers were hidden behind its foliage so we are hoping for a better show this year.

tree peony

The madness of the crab like flowers of the euphorbias is well advanced. I hope for a calmer day to take a better picture.

euphorbia

There is little pool of pale blue in the river of muscari.

muscari

And this is the start of our own clump of marsh marigolds in the pond.

marsh marigold

Once again the cold wind was causing the tulips to purse their lips but there is very promising red one waiting for some sunshine.

tulip

The daffodil of the day is a muted example.

daffodil

I put the camera down and mowed the front lawn with a great deal of huffing and puffing because the lawn is so spongy with moss.  There was a heartening amount of grass to cut even if the end result was a very patchy looking lawn.

Then, since it wasn’t really a very inviting walking day, I finished the composting job by emptying Bin A into Bin B so all is ready for Mrs Tootlepedal to start the process going again by filling up Bin A.  I may even have some grass to add to it myself.

Owing to the need for frequent pauses to admire the work in progress or chat to the gardener, it soon turned out to be time for a cup of tea and a sit down indoors.  This gave me a chance to look at the birds.  As it also started to rain, I was very happy to be inside.

The siskins really seem to have gone elsewhere although there was one on hand to join the queue for a seed today.

queue at the feeder

Mostly it was goldfinches and chaffinches again, with the goldfinches concentrating hard on the job in hand….

goldfinches

…and making sure that incoming chaffinches knew who was boss.

goldfinch and chaffinch

But the goldfinches are no match for a really angry redpoll though.

redpoll

The evening was given over to music when first my flute pupil Luke came and cheered me up by playing very well.  Then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel after tea for what seems the first time for ages.

It was good to get back to playing and our lack of practice didn’t seem to matter as we played some familiar pieces with a good deal of verve, all things considered.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

goldfinch

Strong winds and showers are on the menu for both tomorrow and Wednesday so getting out on my bike to knock off the last few miles of my monthly target may be a bit of a battle.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia and is a timely reminder to me not to complain too much about the weather as it shows fields in Somerset under a good deal of water.

Somerset floods

In spite of just saying that I wasn’t going to complain about the weather, I am.

We had a truly miserable day, just above freezing but with a ‘feels like’ of -3 or 4 degrees, not the ideal day for an Easter bank holiday.  It was made all the more miserable by a constant drizzle of snow, sleet or rain which never let up. …but at least we weren’t flooded.

I spent the morning in the Welcome to Langholm Office, occasionally welcoming people and putting a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive database.

I spent the afternoon at home looking out of the window at this:

goldfinches

It was quite windy too but the birds surprised me by their toughness in heading for the feeders under these conditions….

flying chaffinch

…in big numbers.

_DSC2804

At one time or another, we had goldfinches…

goldfinches

and siskins…

siskins

…who after a quiet start, got busy with arguments…

_DSC2841

….and disputations.

siskins

I found an enormous crossword to do and I also put some work into changing the energy suppliers for the Archive Centre and between these activities and looking out of the window and muttering in a surly sort of way, I passed the time.

In general, it wasn’t a day that was really worth dignifying by recording it in the blog at all so I will keep this brief.

It was actually quite hard to find a flying bird by itself today because there was so  much traffic at the feeder so the flying bird of the day has a friend in the background.

flying chaffinch

It says it is going to rain for almost all of the next two days:  time for some serious flute and singing practice I think.  At least it is going to get a bit warmer.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who visited Denholm on a recent sunny day and took this picture of the Leyden memorial.  (If Denholm looks familiar to attentive blog readers, it is because I have been to two recorder playing days there.)

Denholm

Mrs Tootlepedal’s plans to get up early and do some gardening before breakfast were foiled by a frost which had left the ground rock hard.   By the time that I got up, the temperature was above freezing and it rose steadily through the morning until it reached 5 degrees where it stubbornly stuck for the rest of the day.

This wasn’t too bad in the early part of the morning when the sun was out but by the end of the day, when the sky was covered in thick cloud, it made for a fairly dismal welcome to spring.  A brisk and chilly wind didn’t help matters.

The birds didn’t think that it was a day for visiting and the seed level in the feeders hardly dropped at all.  This saves me money but starves me of photo opportunities and I didn’t take any kitchen window shots before leaving for a short run on the slow bike while the weather was at its best.

I stopped off at my favourite Wauchope cascade just to show how dry it has been recently (a most unusual state of affairs for us).  There was little more than a trickle going through the  narrows…

Wauchope cascade

…but it did give me a chance to admire the cruelly folded rocks in the river bank.  This gives an insight into the strong forces that shaped our seemingly gentle landscape.

Wauchope bent rocks

It also provided a quiet corner for this elegant eddy to form.

Wauchope cascade eddy

And I found myself standing on a rock covered with a combination of moss and lichen.

Wauchope cascade lichen

A couple of miles further on, I turned up the road to Cleuchfoot and stopped to take a picture of our gentle landscape.  It shows one of the flats or holms that have provided a place for farmers to live and work for centuries.

Cleuchfoot

A little further on, the man who farms the land stopped for a chat as he passed me on his quad bike and his passenger had to wait patiently while we discussed the ins and outs of the battle between our local landowner, who feels that there is more money to be made from trees on our hills than tenant farmers and the farmers and many  others who feel that the land should be kept for sheep who have been farmed on the hills and the men and women who have worked them for two hundred years and more.

farmer's dog

Everyone is agreed at the estate has not handled the matter at all well so there is considerable debate ongoing.

Because of the brisk and chilly wind, I skulked about in the valley bottom for the most part of my 20 mile pedal but I did make one short excursion into open country where an oyster catcher gave me a look.

oyster catcher in field

I also saw a curlew but it was too quick for me so it went unrecorded.

At the top of the hill, I could see that a recently replanted felled wood is looking good.

Kerr wood

These trees grow amazingly quickly which is why the estate likes them of course.

When I got back, I noticed that the first of the hellebore flowers was in evidence in our garden.

hellebore

And in spite of the cold, a couple of frogs were relaxing in the pool.

frogs

I did try to catch a bird or two in between making some soup for lunch but didn’t have much luck.  As I enjoy alliteration I shall point out that I made just a soupçon of soup in a saucepan and subsequently supped it.

After lunch, I finally got a bird…

robin

…and then a few others.  They tended to appear one or two at a time and were quite upset if a third bird appeared.

chaffinch and goldfinch

It was very gloomy by this time but I felt the call of a walk.  Mrs Tootlepedal ignored the cold and an occasional light drizzle while she toiled in the garden and I went out to stretch my legs.

I saw another oyster catcher at the Meeting of the Waters…

oyster catcher

…but birds were scarce, the light was rotten…

monument in mist

…and it was always threatening to rain so I didn’t spend much time looking for interesting things.  I saw some.

conifer

noble fir cone

lichens on tree

When I got home, I took steps to get detached from the power company which supplies electricity to the Archive Centre.  This is not as straightforward as it should be but as all my dealings with the company have been extremely tortuous, this came as no surprise.

I also took steps to get  my new bike purchased.  I have decided to spend our children’s’ inheritance on it.  I hope that they don’t read this post.  It won’t arrive in a hurry so I have all the pleasure of anticipation to enjoy meanwhile.

In the evening, I went to our Langholm community choir and enjoyed the singing.  This helped take a bit of the glumness out of the day.

One flying bird appeared so it is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, absolutely the last in my locker, is an Irish sheep which wondered what Dropscone was doing in Ireland.

irish sheep

We had a sub zero night but a sunny day and the temperature soon rose above zero although it didn’t make a serious effort to get much higher.

If you were sheltered and out in the sun, it wasn’t too bad a day but if you were exposed to the brisk north easterly wind, it was just as well to be thoroughly wrapped up as the sun was no protection form the bitter chill.

A robin shrugged off the early morning cold…

robin

…while a dunnock tried the ostrich method of keeping warm.

dunnock

As I spent the morning in the Welcome to Langholm office (not welcoming any visitors but doing some useful archiving work), the weather was a matter of indifference to me but I certainly didn’t dilly dally on the way home.

The snow had gone and so had most of the birds at the feeder and we had a very quiet day today with a small gang of greenfinches the most notable visitors over lunch.

greenfinch

I did think of going for a ride on the slow bike after lunch but the thought of pedalling home into the strong and biting wind made me choose to go for a walk with Sandy instead.  The innocent may think that there is little difference between a bike ride and a walk on a cold day but if you pedal at 10mph into a 15mph wind, you are turning it into a 25mph blast and that makes a cold wind even colder.  And for some reason, walking into a wind is not as soul destroying as cycling into one.

Anyway, Sandy and I went for a walk.

I looked at a couple of flowers in the garden as I went out…

winter aconite

crocus

…but it wasn’t warm enough to tempt the frogs to come out and play.

It was a blue sky day and almost all but the faintest of traces of the snow had gone.

view from Scott's knowe

We walked along the track to see how the Becks Wood had fared and found it had disappeared entirely.  Later in the walk we looked back from the other side of the valley and not a conifer had been left standing.

becks woodI was just saying to Sandy as we stood on the edge of the felled area and looked at the scene that it used to be a spot where you could find scarlet elf caps and at that moment, Sandy looked down and saw that one or two had survived the felling.

scarlet elf cap

Somehow this was very heartening.

We left the wood and walked down to the Wauchope road where an array of walls and fence posts played host to some good looking lichen…

lichen

…and some less charming varieties.

lichen

We struck up the lower slopes of Warbla to get the view of the felled wood and took advantage of the good weather to look at some other views as well.

Here is Sandy surveying the countryside…

sandy on warbla

…and here is the countryside that he was surveying.

view from warbla

I liked this arty shot with the view framed between two trees.

view from  warbla

As we took the track down to the Stubholm, we couldn’t help noticing some very active moss on the wall.

moss

I must have passed moss like this before without looking at it twice but now that I am more moss aware, I looked at it a lot.

moss

The sheds at the Stubholm looked cheerful enough in the sunshine and we were pleased to get out of the wind as we dropped back down into the town.

sheds at Stubholm

Mrs Tootlepedal was enjoying herself in the garden and the benefit of some outdoor work in the sunshine on reasonably dry ground stayed with her for the rest of the day.

I helped out with a little shredding of some pruned roses but I had to go in soon as there was preparation to be done for the monthly camera club meeting in the evening and my flute pupil Luke was also due.

He turned up with every evidence of having done some practice so we had a good session.

After he went, the phone rang.  It was my neighbour Liz making sure that I didn’t miss the striking effect of the setting sun on the slopes of Whita.  It was worth a look.

sunset on Whita

After tea, I went off to the Day Centre for the camera club meeting.  We had a better attendance this month and the members had brought in an interesting and varied selection of images for us to look at so that ended the day in a very satisfactory way.

The flying bird is one of the relatively few chaffinches that turned up at the feeders.

chaffinch

Sandy has posted a selection of pictures from our walk here.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found a heron in Regents Park which has taken to the law.  Well, at least it is sitting on the bench.

Mr G's London cousin 001

In contrast to the yesterday’s gloom, today dawned bight and sunny and the day was made even sunnier when Dropscone arrived with treacle scones for morning coffee.  We were joined briefly by Sandy who came to pick up some parish magazines for processing for the Archive Group website.  We arranged to go for a walk after lunch and he went off leaving Dropscone and me to finish the scones and coffee.

We managed.

Easily.

After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to to have lunch with friends at the Buccleuch centre.

I watched birds…

chaffinch

…and was rather baffled by this chaffinch which looked at first sight as though it had been pumping iron and was auditioning  for a super hero role.

I walked round the garden in the sunshine and enjoyed the snowdrops….

_DSC1209

snowdrops

…and the magnolia by the front gate.

magnolia

In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had sardines for lunch and then went off to pick up Sandy.  We started our outing by visiting the Moorland Feeders by car but although the light was good, interesting birds were scarce.

There were a lot of great, blue and coal tits about…

blue tits and great tits

Great tits and blue tits share the peanuts with a chaffinch.

…and a single pheasant who did some world class strutting.

phreasant

It turned out to be rather chilly sitting in the hide in spite of the sunshine so we didn’t stay long.

Our thoughts turned to snowdrops and we drove down to the Lodge Walks, stopping at the Kilngreen where I failed to take a picture of a flying seagull as they all stuck obstinately to their fence posts.

We left the car and walked through sun dappled woods….

Near Holmhead

…until we got to the snowdrops.  They were worth the walk.

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

P1070192

They are still not fully out so another visit may be in order (if we get another fine day next week).

We walked up through the snowdrops and strolled back to the car by the top path.  This used to run through woods but there has been more felling recently…

felling

…and only a few trees have been left standing.

There are soon going to be more though….

new trees

…as we passed many bags of new trees waiting to be put into the ground.

The top track offers a terrific view of Whita on a fine afternoon…

Whita

…as well as a walk through a delicate tree tunnel…

Path near pathhead

….and a look at the town through the trees.

Town from pathhead

On our  way back down to the car, we passed a splendid mossy wall but my plan to take yet more mossy pictures was sidetracked by an outstanding lichen…

peltigera lichen

…and a pair of ferns on the wall.

ferns

Asplenium scolopendrium, the harts tongue fern and Polypodium vulgare, the common polypody

In spite of the brilliant sunshine, it was exceedingly cold on our walk because the wind was very unforgiving so we were pleased to get back in the car and go to our respective homes.

If you are interested, you can see Sandy’s take on what we saw here.

By this time, the crossword and a cup of tea was all the excitement that I needed, though I did go out with Mrs Tootlepedal to see what all the banging and sawing had been about at the dam bridge.

It was totally shuttered….

dam bridge repairs

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the men are going to pour concrete tomorrow.

While we were looking at the works with our neighbour  Kenny,  something glinting on the exposed bed of the dam caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye and Kenny kindly fished it out.  It turned out to be a 1928 penny….

1928 penny found in dam

…which may well have been lying in the dam for anything up to 90 years.

The channel through the bridge looks rather narrow but the builders say that it is exactly the same size as the previous one.

My Friday night orchestra is visiting her son and his family so there was no traditional evening tootle today and we had a quiet night in.

The flying bird if the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the River Severn in good form at Worcester.  My brother Andrew was there yesterday celebrating his birthday on an outing with two of our sisters.

river severn at Worcester

I was a bit tired after a busy day yesterday and so I was very pleased to have a good excuse not to go rushing out in the morning in spite of some dry weather.

The excuse arrived for coffee bringing some of his excellent treacle scones.  Dropscone had walked round as his car is getting repaired.

After he left, I spent a little time looking out of the window but cloudy weather and several intermittent and unsuccessful fly-throughs by a sparrow hawk limited my chance for taking photographs.

I settled for a couple of portraits of sitters.

goldfinch

chaffinch

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help serve the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre and I considered life for a while but eventually got up the energy to ignore a strong wind and grey skies and go out on my fairly speedy bike.

With the breeze gusting at over 20 mph into my face, my progress up hill for the first five miles can best be described as very steady and I was pleased to have the excuse to stop and take a picture of my favourite winter tree.

tree at Bloch

There is just something about its shape and position which really appeals to me.

It was quite a battle to get down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass but at least the wind stayed consistent and helped me back to Langholm.

I was more than a bit disappointed when it started to rain but unlike yesterday, the weather gods were just having a joke today and it stopped without really getting me wet at all.

I was able to enjoy a fine clump of snowdrops at the road side near Canonbie…

snowdrops in Canonbie

…and it shows what a few miles south and a small drop in height will do as some of them were fully out unlike ours at home.

It was too grey to take landscape pictures but I did take one more tree shot on the old A7 near Auchenrivock.  I liked the contrast in styles.

trees on old A7

After she had served the lunches, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone to a screening about a Cézanne exhibition at the Buccleuch Centre.  Dedicated to the portrait work of Paul Cézanne, the exhibition opens in Paris before travelling to London and Washington so she was lucky to be able to get a peek at it here.

In her absence, I had a walk round the garden.

It was cheering to see the leaves coming out on the honeysuckle…

honeysuckle

…and I was interested to see that a new plant, a sarcococca, is in flower.

sarcococca

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it has a very fine scent.

I did think of going for a short walk as it was still dry but it was so gloomy outside that I discarded the idea and did some pro relaxing instead.

I managed to stir my stumps enough to put an edition of the Langholm Parish Church newsletter of 1966, scanned and formatted by Sandy, onto our Archive website and I also put in some much needed learning practice on our Carlisle Choir songs.

Regarding the Archive Group website, I was interested to receive a report from Google today on our performance.  There was a pleasing number of clicks for such a specialised interest but some of the stuffing was knocked out of my modest pride when I checked for the search terms which  had brought visitors to the site.

I am not sure that the person who was searching for “second hand cars in Langholm” will have found what he wanted!  Some of the other search terms made me wonder why our website had turned up in the search results at all.  Still, some of the people who had arrived were definitely looking for answers that we could provide so not all was lost.

It is still cloudy as I write this in the evening and the forecast for tomorrow is terrible, full of wind and rain and snow so I don’t think that we are going to be able to see the much talked abut “blue moon” tomorrow night.    I shall keep an eye out just in case there is a break in the clouds.

No flying bird in the gloom today so a robin is sitting in instead.

robin

 

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