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Archive for the ‘Archiving’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She visited Margate, home of the Turner Contemporary art gallery and was please to be able to capture a Turneresque shot of the seaside while she was there.

margate view

I had a day of general activity, none of it very vigorous.   The morning started with the crossword and this was followed by the arrival of Dropscone (with treacle scones) for coffee and conversation  (scones good, conversation interesting).

When Dropscone departed, I looked out of the window to see a blue tit on the fat balls…

blue tit on fat balls

…and a siskin on the peanuts.

siskin on peanuts

I couldn’t stop for more bird watching as I had to go up to the newspaper office to photograph an article from 1888 which had caught the attention of a Scottish Dance enthusiast as he was searching through our on-line index to the newspaper.  He thought that it might cast light on a Scottish country dance called Langholm Fair.  The article mentioned the old customs at the Langholm Fair so I have sent him a digital image of it.

On my way home, I passed the sparkly bicycle that I saw on my way to choir practice on Wednesday and noticed that it has a cyclist as well as sparkle.

cheery bicycle

By the time that I had done the processing of the image for the country dance man, the day had turned nasty and staying inside looked like a good idea.

It hadn’t discouraged birds though and after lunch (Mrs Tootlepedal’s curried parsnip soup, delicious), I had time for a look out of the window.

Sometimes it was quite wet….

wet goldfinch and siskin

…and sometimes it was very wet…

wet feeder

…and sometimes it almost stopped.

I was pleased to see quite a number of siskins on the feeders.  They are winter visitors and brighten up a gloomy day.  This is a male.

male siskin

Siskins are small but fierce and are not frightened of other finches at all.

siskin and chaffinch sparring

There were moments when the air seemed to be full of birds.

birds flying in

We still have more goldfinches than anything else…

goldfinch attacking goldfinch

…and I liked the slightly resigned air of this one on the top of the feeder pole, patiently waiting for a spare perch.

goldfinch in rain

There was plenty of entertainment for the casual watcher…

chaffinch attacking goldfinch

…but I took a last shot of this greenfinch winging it…

greenfich winging it

…and went to do some work on the hymns for Sunday.

This took some time and I was a bit surprised when I looked up and saw a hint of sunshine outside.  I put on a coat and went to investigate.

There was indeed some sunshine but I had left things a bit late and the sun was sinking behind the hill.  Only the top of Whita was still sunny.

whita in evening sun

It was already too dark to take riverside bird pictures so I just pottered round the New Town, admired the sky over Eskdaill Street…

sunset over eskdaill street

…and went back inside.

After an early evening meal of beautifully cooked (by Mrs Tootlepedal) beef and veg, we set off to pick up my fellow bass, Mike, and drive to Newcastleton where Langholm Sings had a concert.

The church at Newcastleton makes a good venue for an informal concert and it was both warm and well filled with a polite and attentive audience tonight.  Mrs Tootlepedal, who was in the audience, reported that the choir had sounded quite satisfactory so we drove home in a contented frame of mind.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I are both singing with our Carlisle Choir tomorrow and I will have to do some more practice for that before we go.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  It was not the best picture of the day but our chaffinches have been neglected in the pictures above, and I thought that the slightly blurred effect captured the miserable weather quite well.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  She was checking out a potential walk route when she came across this charming bridge and kindly thought of my fondness for bridge portraits.  The bridge spans the Brue, canalised in the 13th century.

venetia's bridge

We had another depressingly unphotogenic day here today.  It didn’t rain all day but once it had started, it didn’t stop and a very strong wind made going out unattractive even when it wasn’t raining.

I have learned from experience that if you are going to catch a train to Edinburgh from Lockerbie, it may well pay to check the rail company’s on-line information to see if the train is running late or even if it is running at all.

I was intending to visit Edinburgh in the afternoon to enjoy the light show that the Botanical Gardens there puts on in company with Matilda and her father so a check was in order.

I discovered that an earlier train had been cancelled but was pleased to find that mine was running and was due to be more or less on time.  Luckily, I delved a bit further and found that although my up train was there, the train I would need to catch to get back had been completely cancelled.  The next train would be two hours later and would lead to me getting home near midnight. As the alternative would involve ninety miles of driving to Tweedbank in very poor weather conditions, I rang Alistair up and told him that Matilda and he would have to have illuminated fun without me.  He was sad but understood.  He added that the weather in Edinburgh was not too bad.

With nothing better to do, I checked on the birds and was pleased to find that a small gang of goldfinches had turned up.

goldfinches on a windy day 1

The feeder was less than half full…

goldfinches on a windy day 2

…and a bit of a queue had formed…

goldfinches on a windy day 4

…so I wen t out and filled the feeder and put out some fat balls too.

I went back in and readied the camera for a charming collection of avian action shots.

I didn’t see another bird all day.

This may have been because the wind was getting even stronger and when I looked out of the back door at lunch time, I could see smoke from a neighbour’s chimney being blown horizontally off the top of the stack.

garden on a wet day

I couldn’t see any of our hills at all.

Still, I was getting a bit fidgety and when I checked again after lunch and found that it was only raining lightly, I did a full John and went for a walk.

It was gloomy and the wind gave me a few vigorous buffets as I walked up the hill towards the Becks track.  It wasn’t a very promising day….

miserable afternoon

…and it promptly got worse as it began to rain malevolently.  It stayed that way until the end of my two mile walk.  I was well waterproofed so I was comfortable enough but my new camera stayed safely in pocket except for one moment when I was well sheltered by an overhanging bank…

becks burn on a gloomy day

…but to be honest, I was more concerned with getting home than taking pictures anyway.

When I did get home, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that our son had rung up to say that the bad weather had reached Edinburgh and the Botanical Gardens had cancelled the illuminating event so the decision not to drive 90 miles through tempest, storm and flood began to look like one of my better ones.

We are hoping that we may get to go next week instead (weather permitting)

I put some of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database while my trouser cuffs dried off.

The reason that I was going to Edinburgh by myself was that Mrs Tootlepedal’s community land purchase group had arranged a public consultation meeting for this evening.  She went off worrying as to whether anyone would come out to be consulted in such vile weather.  As she has not come back by the time that I write this though, I can only assume that people did turn up.  I hope so because an immense amount of work has been done by the group.

I nearly got a flying bird before the goldfinches went off when I filled the feeder.

goldfinches on a windy day 3

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony and the kingdom of everlasting sunshine, East Wemyss.  If you look closely, you might see a seal on the rock in the foreground and perhaps a cormorant too.

wemyss seascape

After our recent sunny spell, we went back to rather grey and gloomy today, but the silver lining in the clouds was a rise in the temperature to above zero.  It was a curious day because in spite of the higher temperature, the dampness in the air made it feel colder and rawer than the recent much colder but drier days.

And although the thermometer had only gone up to two degrees, by lunchtime the roads and paths were miraculously cleared of frost and ice.

It was still slippery in spots in the morning so Mrs Tootlepedal had to take care when she cycled off to a meeting about the community land buy out and I had to go cannily when I cycled to our ex-corner shop for milk and a cauliflower.

I got back safely though and was able to welcome a determined goldfinch to the feeder.

goldfinch december

It stood its ground while chaffinches circled around.

busy feeder

We seem to have a pair of dunnocks in the garden at the moment, this one…

one of dunnock pair

…and this one.

other of dunnock pair

I think they must be a pair becuase I read that they are quite fractious birds and if it was two males, then they would be trying to chase each other away.

I couldn’t find any reliable guide to tell me how to distinguish a male from a female.

A blackbird made a face at me when I asked it to pose prettily.

blackbird making facw

I have had a sore back and have not been sleeping quite as well as I would wish so I had a very quiet morning, doing nothing more active than my visit to the shop and making some dull soup for lunch.  A toasted tea cake with my coffee kept me cheerful though.
(If you like tea cakes, I can thoroughly recommend Dan Lepard’s Top Tea Cake recipe from his book ‘Short and Sweet’.  His kneading method is brilliant for people with arthritic hands)

After a bowl of the dull soup (which was enhanced by some onion gravy granules to good effect), I went off for a walk.  Although I enjoy walking up hills, coming down them again doesn’t suit my feet at the moment so I stuck to the flat today, and did an extended three bridges.

I had it in mind to take a portrait of the handsome white duck that hangs about with the mallards at the Kilngreen if it was there.

It was there but it wasn’t co-operating.

diving white duck

However, after some preparatory preening…

preening white duck

…it finally posed for a portrait.

posing white duck

Mr Grumpy was not amused to find that he wasn’t the star of the show today.

grumpy heron

Then I focussed on trees.

This one looks green enough but the green is entirely moss and lichen with not a leaf in sight…

castleholm mossy tree

…whereas this one still had a great many leaves hanging on.

castleholm leafy tree

My final one, standing between the pheasant rearing houses, had neither moss nor leaves.

pheasant pen tree

Although there was no ice or white frost left on the track that I was walking along, there was still plenty to be seen on the branches of trees that had not seen the sun lately…

frosty branches

…and this little tree trunk looked as though it had been iced by a pâtissier

iced gtree trunk

…and a fungus beside the path was fully iced too.  Very curious.

iced fungus

I had thought that going along this track might put me in danger of slipping and falling but as it was, I could stride out with some confidence.  This was lucky because it was remarkably raw and I didn’t stop a lot for pictures, although hair ice is always a temptation.

haor ice Lodge

As I got near home, I could see that Whita had retained its own little cloud for the afternoon…

Whita in low cloud

…with the monument peeping shyly through.

monument in low cloud

On my way past his house, I called in at Mike Tinker’s to collect some photographs which he had been given to pass on to the Archive Group, and he returned the compliment an hour later when he joined Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake. (Tea cakes have a habit of mysteriously disappearing.  I made twelve on Saturday and the last one is going to a good home as I write this.)

Then Luke came round and we played a sonata by Hadyn and worked at a little Bach partita.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening from the Old Vic of a performance by the National Theatre of Present Laughter by Noel Coward .  She enjoyed it thoroughly and I must say that this new idea of screening these London plays nationally is a very good one.

I found several moments during the day to practise choir songs but was left with a strong feeling that more practice is still needed.

The temperature is due to rise a little more tomorrow, so the prospect of a bicycle ride may not be too far off.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day again.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s canal walk with my sister Mary.  I like a bridge with legs.

regent's canal bridge

After a chilly night, we had a chilly morning followed by a chilly afternoon.  Sandy, who dropped in for a coffee told me that his thermometer showed an overnight low of -7°C which is unusually cold for November for us. Indeed, we have had some mild winters lately so this came as a bit of a shock to us.

The temperature hardly crept above zero all day so I was happy when Dropscone also dropped in for a coffee as it was far too cold to go out for a bicycle ride.

In the end  though, I had to stop drinking coffee and lend a hand about the house as we are expecting a visitor tomorrow.

I did find time to check on the birds, but the cold weather had affected them too and there were not many about.

I got a fleeting glimpse of a chaffinch…

shy chaffinch

…and after a while, a goldfinch appeared.  The reflection in  the window made it look a bit as though it was dropping down a glass tube.

descending goldfinch

The robin paid several visits to the feeder area in pursuit of fallen seed…

robon panel

…but in general there was not a lot to look at, so I made some lentil soup for lunch instead.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  The skies were rather leaden by this time, but there was hardly a breath of wind and it was not icy underfoot, so it was pleasant enough for a stroll, especially as I was well wrapped up.

I checked the ice crystals on a sedum in the garden…

ice on sedum

…and saluted a hardy perennial wallflower before I left.

perennial wallflower late november

The larches are rapidly going  over and only the needles at the very tops of the trees are left to give a little late colour.

last of the larches

There was more colour on this tree growing out of a memorial in the Wauchope graveyard.  It is doing severe damage to its host.wauchope graveyard

I had a look at my favourite lichen garden on the fence post beside the Auld Stane Brig.  The pixie cups had been bejewelled….

pixie cxup lichen ice

…while other lichen on the same post was unaffected by ice.

fence post lichen

The moss on the bridge parapet was almost invisible under its icy coat.

moss with ice

It was too cold to hang around taking many pictures and I had an appointment fairly soon so I was pleased that the path was easy to walk on…

gaskells frosty

…even though there was ice on every plant beside it…

frosty leaf

There hadn’t been much melting during the day!

ice crystals

The smoke rising lazily from the chimney at Stubholm showed how still the day was….

stubholm view november

…and there were still a few colourful leaves to be seen when I had passed the house.

top of park steps

When I got home, I was amazed to see the phlox was having a phinal phlourish.  This is the plant that looks as though it will never die.

last phlox

Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer came round to show me  the accounts for the year.  They are in a very satisfactory state and we should be able to go on with our work during 2020.

In the evening, Sue, Susan and Jenny, the other three members of our recorder group arrived and we had a very enjoyable hour and three quarters playing early music.  The selection of music was good and we played it quite well.  Who could ask for anything more?

The weather  has warmed up a bit during the evening and it looks as though we might have a day above freezing tomorrow.  It will still probably be too cold for me to cycle so I am going to get indoor cycling sorted out as I haven’t had a pedal for ages thanks to the cold spell.

Flying birds were few and far between today and I didn’t get many good pictures so I was tempted to use a fancy filter on my photo editor to make the best of this female chaffinch…

posterized chaffinch

…and this male will be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He encountered a much needed moment of reflection in these turbulent times while on a visit to Keddlestone Hall.

keddleston Hall

After our spell of frosty mornings and dry cool days, the temperature rose to greet the first day of November but unfortunately brought a lot of drizzle and rain with it.  The dampness persisted all day and as it was very gloomy, I found other things than cycling and walking to do.

After a leisurely breakfast and an entertaining crossword, I started the active part of the day with coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone.  After coffee, he kindly gave me a lift up to the town, where I did some Archive Group work.  Someone researching their family history had asked the group for a printout of an article concerning a woman from Canonbie who had died at the age of 96 with 158 living descendants.

I found the article and was much struck by the fact that the editor, faced with this potentially very interesting story, had chosen to use it as a chance to take a poke at Bishop Colenso instead of telling readers anything about the family.

canonbie woman

I hadn’t heard of the bishop but he turns out to be an interesting person who was very much in people’s minds in the 1860s.  I read about him here  and understood why he had upset the editor.  I cannot discover what the reference to the Natal Zulu method of counting signifies.

As I left the newspaper office where I was doing my research, I passed this recently installed elegant artwork on the wall of the building.

wall writing

The missing word at the end of the quotation is ‘heart’.

It was written by famous poet Hugh MacDiarmid, born and bred in Langholm,  and the full quatrain is:

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet—and breaks the heart.

The flowers in our garden may be past their best but Mrs Tootlepedal has been nurturing an African Violet on a windowsill inside the house and it has repaid her care.

afrian violets

Once I had done a little shopping and paid my bill at our corner shop, I made some onion and potato soup, using Mrs Tootlepedal’s homemade chicken stock, and while it was cooking, I looked out of the window to see what was going on in the garden and was delighted to find that the finches had finally found the feeder.

A small group of goldfinches were the pioneers…

first goldfinch of autumn

…and once they had got started, other birds began to eye up the feeder too.

sparrow

A collared dove looked down from above…

collared dove on wire

…and a blackbird wondered whether there would soon be fallen seed to scavenge.

blackbird on hedge

The feeder got quite busy for a while…

goldfinch on pole

…as a chaffinch joined the goldfinches.

chaffinch

A house sparrow preferred the nuts…

sparrow on nuts

..but a hedge sparrow (or dunnock) liked the seeds.

dunnock on feeder

The weather got steadily worse so I took this shot of a sparrow perched on Mrs Tootlepedal’s artificial tree….

sparrow on false tree in rain

…and after lunch, I was very happy to spend some useful time adding more of our index to the local paper to the Archive Group’s database.  As it was this online index which had sparked the enquiry that I had followed up in the morning, it was gratifying to know that our work is useful and appreciated.

After that, I sorted out my Carlisle Choir music folder which had been disturbed by our Glasgow trip and these simple tasks managed to comfortably fill the afternoon.  There was quite a bit of sitting down and reading papers and magazines too.

When the time came, I made a mild chicken curry, sweetened with sultanas and apple, for our tea and then depressed myself by watching the news of our election campaign creaking into action.  However, as President Trump has been kind enough to tell us who to vote for and what to do, we will have no need to think for ourselves at all.

It looks as though we might have a calm, warm and sunny day tomorrow.  This will be very welcome and I might get some sharper pictures of the birds if they come back to the feeder.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, zipping through the gloom and drizzle on its way to the feeder.

flying blue tit

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s holiday in Forres.  He and his daughter Susan went down to see the sea at the mouth of Findhorn Bay.  There was a lot of sand about

Sand 2019

The weather today was as confused as the forecasts.  It couldn’t really make up its mind whether it was raining or not but it was dry enough in the morning to let me walk around the garden and admire Crown Princess Margareta’s latest flower.

am princess margareta rose

I looked at it again in  the afternoon and in spite of the gloomy and drizzly conditions, the flower showed clear signs of development.

pm princess margareta rose

As there are obviously more flowers waiting to come out, we can only hope that we don’t get a frosty morning soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s plan of planting small sunflowers with many blooms from one stem has paid off handsomely.  There are cheerful clumps all over the garden.

sunflower panel

This web of droplets could have done with a little sunshine to make them sparkle.

droplets

As well as the Crown Princess, Lilian Austin is doing her best to provide us with end of season colour.

lilian austin rose

As the day didn’t look very promising, I went in to do some work updating the Langholm Archive Group web pages and had to dust off some rather rusty memories of HTML, PHP and Cascading Style Sheets.   I thought that I had done a reasonable job of getting it up to date but when I double checked after writing that previous sentence, I found that there is still some work to be done.

When I got up from the computer, the drizzle had stopped so I got my bicycle out and headed off to do 20 miles.  No sooner had I got half a mile from the house, than the drizzle started again and as I went along, the drizzle turned to rain.

I had sound waterproof socks on and I was wearing an efficient rain jacket so the rain wasn’t a great problem (apart from making me go cautiously round corners).  All the same, I didn’t want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere if conditions got worse, so I pedalled up and down the 7 miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back three times to get my distance.

The camera stayed well tucked up in a waterproof pocket.

I had a late lunch and then watched the men’s cycling world championship time trial on the telly.  The winner did 54km (about 34 miles) in 1 hour and 5 minutes.  I had taken 1 hour and 33 minutes to do 33km.  These professional cyclists are superhuman.

When the time trial had finished, I checked on the weather and as the drizzle had stopped, I went out for a walk round the garden.

The fuchsias in one spot have done so badly over recent years that Mrs Tootlepedal moved most of them but this one plant that remained has flowered well just to spite her.

fuschia end of Sept

After a very slow start, when it looked as though they weren’t enjoying the summer at all and were also getting badly attacked by slugs, this bunch of  dahlias is looking better by the day.

dahlias end of Sept

Having walked round the garden, I got my unused cycling camera out again and took it for a short walk.

It was dank and gloomy….

eastons walk

…but there are still plenty of leaves on the trees.

near the hungry burn

It is a mixed picture with autumn colour here and there…

faded leaves

…and fresh greenery there too.

stubholm track

When I looked out over the town, I could just see the tops of the hills.

misty view stubholm

It was so gloomy that I had to use my flash to take any pictures of detail as I went along.

There were not a lot of wild flowers to be seen.

red campion

I couldn’t make up my mind if this growth on a dead tree branch was fungus or lichen.

fungus on dead branch

The park wall has a positive garden growing on top of it…

wild strawberry park wall

…and a fine crop of pixie cup lichens sprouting out of the side.

pixie cup lichen park wall

When I got in, it was time for my evening meal and I enjoyed some fish cakes with runner beans from the garden.

It has been a quiet day in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal (who is having a satisfactory time in London visiting our daughter and new granddaughter) but with a short walk, a short pedal, some flute practising and a bit of useful computer work, it hasn’t been entirely wasted.

I even managed to get a flying bird of the day as a starling launched itself of an electricity wire.

flying starling close

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s recent trip to the central belt of Scotland.  He found a bit of a wall there that wasn’t built by Hadrian.

Antonine wall

There was torrential rain to the south of us today, leading to serious flooding in England but it was warm and dry here when I got up.  There was no sign of any sun though as I walked down the riverside path towards the bottom of the town.

eskside path

Sue, a very thoughtful blog reader, had realised that I was likely to be starved of both scones and coffee-time conversation in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, Dropscone and Sandy, so she had invited me to visit for coffee with the added inducement of a probable nuthatch sighting at her bird feeder.

My route took me past the tall hedge that has been grown to disguise the fact that the sewage works for the town lurks behind it.  It is a hedge chock full of interest.

sewage works flowers

And the river bank itself was quite colourful too.

riverside flowers

When I got to Sue’s, I was enthusiastically welcomed by her three dogs and after they had calmed down, she took me for a tour of her garden.

She keeps hens and ducks as well as dogs (and cats).

Sue's hens

Her garden is mostly built on a broad shelf in the hillside which used to carry the railway line to Langholm.  Now it is a woodland glade with a waterfall….

Sue's waterfall

…views through the trees of more trees across the river…

Sue's view

…with fruits and fungi on every side…

Sue's sloe and fungus

…and more hens…

Sue's chicken

…and a very peaceful air about it.

Sue's garden

It is a garden that will have interest in all four seasons.

After the garden tour, we went in to a busy house where joiners and a plasterer were hard at work on improvements.

Sue provided us all with coffee and instead of scones, I was offered two very tasty Bakewell slices.  These were a very acceptable accompaniment to a good cup of coffee.

Sue has a very well stocked bird table outside her window, with ordinary bird seeds, nyger seed, fat balls and peanuts.  In spite of a good deal of bustle from the work force, the birds were not slow to come to the feeder.

Sparrows were the most frequent visitors…

Sue's sparrow

…and a lone jackdaw dropped in…

Sue's jackdaw

…but it wasn’t long before the promised nuthatch appeared and adopted a characteristic nuthatch pose…

Sue's nuthatch 1

…before getting down to the serious business of eating peanuts.

Sue's nuthatch 2

A blue tit looked on from a neighbouring tree.

Sue's bluetit

As we chatted, another nuthatch, or perhaps the same one again, appeared and tried a different set of nuts.

Sue's nuthatch 3

I was thoroughly entertained by both Sue and the birds but in the end, I left to get home before the rain reached Langholm.

On my way back along the river bank, I came upon these two men with a drilling rig.

drilling for oil Landsend

They are not drilling for oil.  They told me that they were going 10 metres down into the rock as part of the background work for a new flood prevention scheme for the town.

As I walked further along the river, I came across two goosanders.  They sometimes looked one way and sometimes, the other…

two goosanders

…but mostly they looked under the surface of the water.  There must have been good feeding down there because they were both very busy and quite often all I saw of them was a splash as they disappeared.

diving goosander

When I got back home, I had time for a quick look round the garden…

foxglove and creeper

…where I was surprised to find quite a few butterflies and other insects about, in spite of the increasingly grey weather.

four insects

I had my lunch and then the promised rains arrived.  It is still raining as I write this some hours later.  I decided to ignore the outside world for the afternoon and put in time entering the newspaper data into the Archive group database, and practising some flute pieces and singing.

When I did look out of the window, the outside world ignored me.

robin turning back

In the evening, I had another go at making a tarte tatin.  This was not so successful as the last effort with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help but it turned out to be still quite eatable so I ate some of it.

One forecast says that it might stop raining overnight, but that it will start raining again tomorrow.  Another says that it will stop raining overnight and won’t start again tomorrow.  We shall see.  I know which forecast I prefer.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goosanders.  It got fed up with swimming and took to the air.

flying goosander

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