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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 is another blast of sunshine from the past.  This time it is a pleasant valley scene from one of my brother Andrew’s Derbyshire walks in early October.

derbyshire

After a rather restless night, I got up to a sunny morning and a much improved interior economy and after a quiet morning, I was back to normal by lunchtime and able to eat without any ill effects.

I didn’t take any risks though and did nothing more energetic than have a walk round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

The berberis was positively glowing….

BERBERIS

…and the special Grandma was having a final fling.

special grandma

The display of rose hips is easily the best that I can remember and many roses that don’t usually have any are covered with them after the good summer.

rose hips

There is no denying that we are well on the way to winter though.

red leaf

It is good to have blackbirds back in the garden as they have been pretty scarce since July.

blackbirds

I didn’t stay out long and when the sun went in so did I, and I was soon back in the kitchen looking out of the window.

It was an extremely quiet day for birds.

lonely chaffinch

I haven’t been able to work out why the feeder can be mobbed one day and deserted the next.

Even the sight of plenty of available perches didn’t discourage some uncouth pushing and shoving.

pointless violence

After lunch, I tested my constitution and my leg by going for a short walk over three bridges.

As I came to the river, I could see glowing trees in a garden on the hillside opposite…

yellow trees

…and golden willows below me on the river bank.

willows beside esk

Wherever I looked on my walk, there always seemed to be a defiant patch of colour among the leafless branches.

autumn colour November

I was impressed by the careful relaying of turfs on the site of the big bonfire on Sunday.

bonfire patch

After I crossed my second bridge, I met a fellow camera club member walking his dog and spent my time chatting rather than snapping and it was only when we went our separate ways that I took the camera out again to record a little more late colour.

Lodge tree

I crossed my third bridge and made my way quietly home…

duchess bridge tree

…only pausing for a wild flower on the edge of the Scholars’ Field.

november wild flower

My leg is working but still sore and there is no chance of getting on my bike for a while yet but my constitution was unruffled by the walk so I was happy.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy watching a YouTube video on sharpening woodwork tools so I realised that she had left the garden and gone back to rocking horse restoration.  I settled down to put a couple more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  My lack of cycling may be regrettable but it has let me catch up (a bit) on the backlog of data.

My friend Susan wasn’t available to come to our monthly recorder group meeting today so I had to drive myself to Carlisle.  The effort was very worthwhile as we had an excellent evening of music.  One of other members was unwell so we were a quartet  tonight and this made for a change with some different music to play.

Having been 150 miles ahead of my mileage schedule at the beginning of October. I am now 200 miles behind and with no hope of catching up, I am officially abandoning any targets for the year and will take any miles that I can squeeze in as a bonus.

Once again there are two flying birds of the day, this time goldfinches, one with wings in…

flying goldfinch in

…and one with wings out.

flying goldfinch out

Variety is the spice of life.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Highland correspondent Jenni.  She went even further north from Inverness for a cruise and found herself in Alaskan waters.

alaskan cruise

We had an uncharacteristically dull day here both as far as the weather went and my level of activity.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and at it early with a trip to Carlisle and back by bus before lunch but drizzly rain and a brisk breeze discouraged me from doing much more than a little garden tidying and a trip to the corner shop in a dry spell.

I didn’t even get my camera out until after lunch.

The dahlias don’t seem to mind the rain much…

yellow dahlia

…but a hellenium…

hellenium

..and a rudbeckia appear rather depressed.

rudbeckia

The small sunflowers make up in numbers what they lack in height…

short sunflowers

…and both the plums…

crowded plums

…and the apples can’t be accused of any lack of effort.

apples

Indeed, I have thinned the plums several times already and took off another twenty today without making any noticeable difference to the crop.

The Christmas tree, which is having its summer holiday in the vegetable garden, doesn’t seem very sure about which way it is going at all.

christmas tree august

I had some fun trying to photograph a fine red poppy.  It was exposed to the breeze and after several complete failures…

red poppy in wind 1

…I finally managed to catch it at the top of its swaying motion.

red poppy in wind 2

This little excursion completed my outdoor work for the day and I went in to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have another unavailing round in my battle against the recalcitrant printer. Printer 4 Tom 0.

A gloomy afternoon was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly flute playing efforts and I got a couple of new studies from the internet for us to play.  The internet is an endless source of free flute duets and I put that in the balance against the greed and manipulation of the big internet companies.

Our good spell of weather looks as though it has finally come to an end, with cooler temperatures and rain forecast for every day this week until the weekend.  I will have to remember what it is like to bicycle in less than perfect conditions if I am not to fall behind my schedule again.

For some mysterious reason, there have been hardly any birds in the garden for the last two days after a very busy spell so the flying bird of the day is a solitary siskin sitting down.

siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle-on-Tyne correspondent and shows her children posing beside Stephenson’s Rocket.

rocket with mengers

It rained several times today but disappointingly not enough to register any amount on Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge.  Still, the lightness of the occasional drizzle and the sunny spells in between allowed me to spend a productive and enjoyable day.

We were both surprised (and pleased) to find that yesterday’s furniture removal work had not had any bad effects and Mrs Tootlepedal was out working in the garden at every opportunity.

I had a wander round while dead heading after breakfast.

I was impressed by the very straight back of the big white lily…

big lily two

…and the fact that its flowers don’t talk to each other at all.

They are big flowers.  By comparison,  a new white poppy looked very modest.

white poppy

The arrival of Dropscone bringing the traditional Friday treacle scones brightened one of the gloomier weather moments of the morning.  It was good to catch up on his news after a gap of two weeks.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal decided to stop gardening and go off to buy some more plants and other necessities like fertilizer and bamboos sticks.

While she was gone, I sieved all the compost that was left in Bin D and then turned the contents of Bin C into the empty Bin D.  To save my back a bit, I employed a nifty raking and kicking process which left me with minimum lifting to do.  I haven’t taken any pictures of this as I felt that too much excitement might not be good for some of my more elderly readers.

I went in and had another round in my fight against the whimsicalities of my printer.  I did a lot.  I updated the printer operating system, I muttered imprecations both loudly and under my breath, I turned things off and on.  I worked hard.  The score so far?  Printer 3 Tom 0.

I had lunch (courgette soup) and then set the camera up to look at the birds.  Goldfinches have been scarce lately so I was pleased to see one today.

goldfinch

A rather ragged jackdaw dropped in too.

jackdaw molting

There were plenty of greenfinches again and the contest for available perches was continuous.

flying goldfinch triptych

Mostly the sitting tenants won today.

Birds keep producing young and I saw a chaffinch feeding a youngster in the plum tree.

chaffinch and young

Mrs Tootlepedal eventually returned after visiting two garden centres in order to find what she wanted.  As this meant that she had been able to buy some good cheese for me from the one that has a food hall, I was very happy.

I had a walk round the garden with her and we saw some peacock butterflies on the buddleia but I couldn’t get a good picture.  The weather looked to be set fair for a while so I took a picture of the colourphul phlox…

phine phlox

…and then put my camera away and got out my bicycle.

It was one of those days when the shelter of the garden gives a false impression of how strong the breeze is.  When I got out of town, I found that there was a decidedly brisk breeze in my face.  Not wanting to overtax my legs, I settled for an up and down the road twenty miles so that I didn’t have to face into the wind for too long at a time.

As I cycled towards the bottom of Callister, a buzzard took off and flew lazily up the road ahead of me.  It turned and flew over my head a couple of times and then hovered in the wind above the banking beside the road.  I stopped, got my camera out and pointed it at the spot where the buzzard had been until two seconds before I pressed the shutter button.

wauchope road no buzzard

A buzzard fee zone

Apart from the breeze, it was a perfect day for a pedal, warm but not too hot and with a little shade provided by white fluffy clouds from time to time.

My route took me through the town and out on the north side before I turned back and rounded off the trip with another six miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, keeping in the shelter of the valley bottom.

The countryside is looking a lot fresher after our recent rain.

wauchope view

Looking down the Bigholms Burn

Ewes valley

Looking up towards Ewes

wauchope white bull

The white bull looked just about as happy as can be.

When I got back, I noticed a flurry of movement on the buddleia.  We had been invaded by a small army of butterflies.  There were our usual white butterflies but there were also several peacocks…

peacock butterfly on buddleia

…two small tortoiseshells which I spotted…

small tortoiseshell butterfly

..and a single painted lady which caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

painted lady butterfly on buddleia

It makes the heart sing to see such beauty.

I had time to enjoy the flower of another of the big lilies among the rose mallows….

big lily

…and to reflect on the clematis on the fence which apparently produces flowers with different numbers of petals.

clematis 6 petalsclematis 4 petals

…until you look more closely, before I went in for my shower and a catch up on my correspondence.

Mrs Tootlepedal used some of our courgette mountain to make courgette fritters for tea and then Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday visit.  Before we played, Alison told me that their buddleia too had been covered on butterflies this afternoon.  This is good news as there were worries that the butterfly population might have been hit by the cold late spring this year.

The music was as enjoyable as ever and sometimes we both played the right notes at the right time and this created a very pleasing effect and rounded off a good day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was passing Tamworth castle the other day when the sun came out.

Tamworth Castle

We had another cool morning here but with added sunshine and the day soon became suitable for gardening and cycling.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and had to duck as a low flying aircraft passed by.  I got the camera out as quick as I could and caught it just as it got framed in electricity wires.

hercules

Looking at the picture above, you may think that I am exaggerating about having to duck but it really was low.

hercules

 

Sandy came round for coffee in the morning which gave me a good excuse to delay cycling until the things warmed up a bit.

After he left, I had another garden wander.  I was pleased to see crocuses looking perky…

crocuses

…and surprised to see and early bee about.  The forecast is for chilly days ahead so it might well have to go back and hide.

bee on crocus

The first daffodil also appeared and it was unfortunate that it was growing in the middle of a bush so it was not easy to capture its full beauty!

first daffodil

However, the moss was looking wonderful in the sun.

moss

I would never have believed that moss could look like this before I started this mossy chapter in my photographic journey.

Like the bee, the frogs in the pond may find that things are too chilly for them soon but this one seemed quite happy for now.

frog

After the sunny garden stroll, I did think of trying to have both a walk and a pedal during the day but looking out of the window and seeing a brisk wind coming out of the north west and making the walnut branches wave about persuaded me that just cycling might well be enough.

I was right, as the windy was strong and cold enough to make sure that my average speed stayed quite low so it took me some time to get round a 31 mile circuit.

I got my fairly speedy bike to check whether it had been harmed by the accident.  It looked all right and I gave it a good wash and brush and oiled the chain before I set off. I wasn’t going to hurry though, just in case.   In addition, after the recent frosts and snow, the roads are beginning to crack up so I kept my eyes fairly firmly on the road ahead, not wanting a repeat of the unplanned flying dismount so soon after the last one.

As a result I decided to stop every 5 miles and take a picture both of the road I was cycling along and whatever was there.  I also hoped that this might give readers unfamiliar with our area, a picture of a typical cycle ride for me.

5 miles:

callister and buzzard

The road up Callister and a passing buzzard: a two lane minor road

10 miles:

Between the waters and gair road

The road to Gair and a local farm: single track road

14 miles:

I made an extra stop as i crossed it to show the M74, the main road between Carlisle and Glasgow.

M74

While I was taking the picture, a car drew up and the lady inside asked me if I was Tootlepedal.  She had seen the blog and recognised the ski goggles that I was wearing.  She is a relative of our neighbour Liz and her son and our older son had met at the Lauder Common Riding last year so we had a good chat before going our separate ways.

15 miles:

I stopped a mile later on the old A74, once a dual carriageway but now returned to single carriageway and used as a service road for the motorway and very handy for cyclists.

Old A74

This was an interesting place to stop as there was history all around.

(Clockwise from top left) The old road which replaced the original coaching road, Robgill Tower, Burnswark, a site of both Roman and iron age forts and, coming bang up to date, a wind farm in the distance.  And I had the motorway on one side of me and the mainline railway on the other.  People have been passing this spot for thousands of years,

20 miles:

Glenzier road

In farming country near Chapelknowe.  Still a minor road but a slightly more busy one.

25 miles:

Broadmeadows road

The back road to Canonbie.  I am in the Esk valley now…..with a nice gate.

30 miles:

A7 bike track

The end of the bike path where it joins the A7, the road from Carlisle to Edinburgh and the A7 itself just before Skippers Bridge.

And to complete the picture, here is the route itself.

garmin route 20 Feb 2018

Click to see the route details

Because I am supposed to avoid big hills with my new knee, these quiet unadventurous routes are just my cup of tea.

As you can see , it was a sunny ride so I enjoyed it in spite of an unhelpful breeze.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, making the most of the warmer weather.

The frogs had gone but there was a colourful bunch of crocuses to catch the eye.

crocuses

I hadn’t had any time to watch birds earlier in the day so I took a moment when I got in to stare out of the kitchen window but the light was a bit too far gone to be ideal….

chaffinches

…so I was pleased to see a robin in posing mood.

robin

I was ready for a cup of tea and a quiet sit down by this time.

Later in the day, I made the mistake of ringing up a software company to sort out a problem and when the lady had asked several times for me to produce an email confirmation of sale for a product which I bought in 2012 and I had replied patiently each time that I didn’t keep emails for 5 years, she then asked me if there was any one else in the house she could speak to who might be able to understand what she was talking about.  I was mildly offended to say the least but we didn’t get anywhere with our conversation after that.

In the absence of a flying bird of the day, I can only put up a bird that was very nearly flying.

robin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who went to Margate to visit the Turner Gallery, which can be seen in the background of her  shot.

Margate sands with Turner Contemporary Art Gallery in the distance

I had the job of being the stand in feeder filler at the Moorland bird hide today and it was dry but chilly when I drove up to the feeding station.  The roads were very icy in places so I went with great care.

I filled the feeders and sat in the hide for a while, enjoying the busy comings and goings of the residents.

The chaffinches went for the tall feeder….

chaffinches

…while blackbirds and siskins preferred a little shelter from possible raptors…

siskins and blackbirds

…and the tits went nuts.

tit collection

I tried to catch one of each of the resident tit varieties.  This is a great tit…

great tit

 

….this is a coal tit…..

coal tit

…and this is a blue tit.

blue tit

We get long tailed tits around the town too but I have never seen any at the Moorland feeders.

As I sat there, I noticed that it had begun to snow and since I thought that the roads were quite tricky enough already, when the snow started to come down more seriously, I upped sticks and went home.

It didn’t take long before we were back to this again…

snowy garden

….so I settled down to work on my computer indoors for the rest of the day.

I put a couple of parish magazines, which Sandy had formatted for me, into the Archive Group website and checked on a couple of other things while I was there.

Then I caught up on my correspondence and turned my attention to hymns.  I have recently joined the church choir and since I don’t know the bass parts, I find it very awkward to put the music and words together for hymns, especially when the music is on one page and the words are on another.  As a result, I am experimenting with producing my own versions with music and words as close together as is possible to see if this helps.

Outside, the workers on the dam bridge seemed to be packing up although the work is by no means complete.  At one stage, a large lorry appeared and removed the container that they had been using as office and canteen.

dam bridge repairs

They were very brisk an efficient and had it swung up and on the back of the truck in no time.  The next time that I looked out, I caught a last glimpse of it as it went off down Henry Street at the bottom of our road.

dam bridge repairs

We are interested to see what is going to happen next.

In the early evening, Peter from our camera club turned up and we spent a frustrating three quarters of an hour unavailingly trying to get one or other of my laptops to talk to his projector via an HDMI cable.  There were plenty of suggested solutions available on the internet but sadly, none of them worked.  Such are the joys of tech.

On a more cheerful note, we switched off the computers and went off to sing with Langholm Sings, our local community choir where Peter is one of the tenors.  We are preparing for a concert with our local orchestra and as a result, we are singing a lot of songs which we know quite well.  This makes for a relaxing evening.

The forecast suggests that we might get a better day after a wet start tomorrow.  I hope so.

There was an almost complete absence of birds in the garden today for some unknown reason so the flying bird(s) of the day come from the Moorland feeders and are the best that I could do on a gloomy day.

Moorland feeder in snow

There was at least one walking bird about in the garden though.

footprints in the snow

It was almost certainly a wood pigeon.

 

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Today’s guest picture is rather small but that is how it was sent to me by my friend Sandra.  I have put it in because it shows some of her regular flock of long tail tits visiting her feeder.  It is a great benefit to live right on the edge of town if you want a better class of bird visitor.

long tailed tits

There is still a distinct lack of perkiness in the Tootlepedal household.  I am up and about but not at all active and Mrs Tootlepedal is still mostly in bed having lost all her get up and go.  We are both doing a lot of coughing.

This makes the house a somewhat gloomy place and the succession of grey days isn’t helping.   It looked for a while as thought we might get some sunshine this morning but by the time that I looked out at the birds, the skies were heavy with cloud again.

The robin was in a stand offish mood….

robin

…and the goldfinches were too busy eating to wave at me.

goldfinches

The chaffinches always seem to be getting a chilly welcome from…..

chaffinch and goldfinch

….goldfinch or siskin.

chaffinch and siskin

Although I had occasional visits to make with a hot drink or a slice of toast for Mrs Tootlepedal, I was getting increasingly bored and restless with sitting around doing crosswords and listening to the radio so I realised that this might be a good moment to get back to putting copies of the 1960s Langholm Parish Church newsletters into the Archive Group website.  We have a collection of these newsletters given to us by the widow of the minister of the time and I put a lot onto the website  at one time but I have neglected them over the last few years.

This seemed the right moment to get back to work on them.  It requires scanning, OCR and HTML formatting and as they are not very well printed in places, the scanning and OCR requires attention and time.   If you wish, you can see one of the months that I put in today here.  I don’t guarantee that it will be error free.

It is interesting to me that 20 years after the end of the war, the minister still drew a lot of his examples from the war experience.  You get little feeling from the newsletter that the cultural stirrings that were rippling through the country in the mid 60s were affecting life in Langholm, though I am sure that they must have been making themselves felt even here.

This task proved a very good decision as it was interesting in its own right and as it required a lot of concentration, I didn’t have so much time to feel sorry for myself and I ended up a good deal more rested and cheerful than when I started.

To give myself a break between editions, I went for a very slow walk across three bridges.  The light was very poor by this time but I was still pleased to see some old waterside friends.

waterside birds

And the moss once again offered a bit of colour on a grey day.

The parapet of the Sawmill Brig was home to a mossy contrast.

moss

moss

And there was more to see as I went round the new path.

moss

It wasn’t a day for colourful views….

Lodge

….so I kept an eye out for other points of interest.

ferny tree

catkin and seed head

I had plenty of time to look about because I was walking very slowly indeed.  In fact I was going so slowly at one point that I thought that I might even have been going backwards.

Still, I managed to cross the Duchess Bridge and combine moss and bridge in one shot.

mossy tree and Duchess bridge

This part of the river in is shade for most of the year and it is no surprise to find a lot of moss covered trees on its banks.

The most colourful moss of the outing was this fine curtain on the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field.

moss on Scholars Wall

Mike Tinker was working in his garden when I passed and kindly offered me a cup of coffee but I had done more than enough by this time and headed home for a sit down.

I thought that it was about time to eat a more or less proper meal for my tea but in retrospect, this wasn’t a brilliant idea and a boiled egg and a finger of toast would have been better.

The quality of the flying bird of the day continues to be appalling.

flying chaffinch

We are promised our next sunny day on Saturday week so things may not improve until then.

 

 

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