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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

After Ada’s picture of walking in the mountains of Tenerife, I have another mountain scene as guest picture of the day today.  This snowy view from Hoch-Ybrig in Switzerland was sent to me by Dropscone’s niece Hilary, who was skiing there with her family.

Hoch-Ybrig, Switzerland

A click on the pic will spread the picture on a wider scene.

We had a pervasively gloomy day here, a bit warmer but very grey and much windier, not an attractive proposition for cycling or walking.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day with visits to the dentist, the information hub to put up Buccleuch Centre posters and then the Buccleuch Centre itself where she had lunch before doing the front of house for a screening about the Young Picasso.  As she stayed for the screening, I saw very little of her until she came back in time for a cup of tea with me and Mike Tinker who had dropped in later in the day.

While she was out, I tried to avoid walking on my sore foot and passed the time by listening to the radio, doing various puzzles in the paper and of course, watching the birds.

Goldfinches were the flavour of the day.

Sometimes all was calm…

goldfinches quartet

…and at other times it was all go in every direction.

goldfinches coming and going

Occasionally, chaffinches tried to join the fun.

goldfinches and chaffinches

And we have been getting regular visits from collared doves.

doctored collared dove

I used Photoshop to remove a rather messy background from this shot.

I noticed a robin on the arm of the garden chair….

robin on arm of chair

…and then I noticed that there was a robin on the back of the chair…

robin on back of chair

…and then I noticed that there were in fact, two robins, an unusual sight.

two robins

I did have a wander round the garden but there was nothing new to see except a single potential new crocus.

potential crocus

I did pick up a walnut and to my surprise, it was in very good condition and Mike and Mrs T had half each with their cup of tea.

After Mike had left, I got my slow bike out and cycled half a mile round the new town just for sake of getting out of the house.  It had been raining for much of the afternoon, but it had stopped now.  It didn’t make much difference to the gloom though as the clouds were still firmly clamped down over our hills.

clouds over Langholm

A row of ducks were lined up on the edge of the main flow of the river.  They were peering anxiously about and for all the world they looked as though they were waiting for a bus to arrive.

ducks at the waters edge

Since I was having a quiet day in, I got the bread machine to make me some dough and used the result to make 18 rolls.  The bread machine makes a wonderfully elastic dough and the rolls came out well.

bread rools

My flute pupil Luke had missed our Monday meeting because of a cold and although he was hoping to come today, the cold still had him in its grip so we will meet next week instead.  I practised by myself which was no bad thing as I have to work hard to keep up with him as he gets better.

I will get about a bit more tomorrow as I am off to the physio and hope to use the trip to take a picture or two while I am out.

The flying bird of the day is one of those goldfinches, concentrating hard as it comes in to the feeder..

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, sent to us by their proud grandfather and used here with the permission of their mother, shows a talented trio made up of Mrs Tootlepedal’s great nephew and nieces giving the von Trapp family a run for their money.

3fcd8950-27c5-4385-a78b-257bcc030db2

After our chilly spell, the thermometer rose today and the snow and frost disappeared.  On the down side, some fairly persistent drizzle arrived instead.

I was very pleased to have the grey morning brightened by the appearance of Dropscone bearing the traditional Friday treacle scones and we enjoyed a cup of coffee, a chat and the scones in the kitchen while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have coffee with ex-work colleagues elsewhere.

When Dropscone left, I looked at the birds and found that it was largely a goldfinch day.

In spite of the rain…

goldfinch in the rain

…they arrived from all directions, left…

goldfinch touching down

…right….

goldfinch arriving

…and above.

three stacked goldfinches

Perhaps because of the rain, there were outbreaks of ill bred behaviour involving shouting  between goldfinches…

flying goldfinch goldfich barney

…and between goldfinch and chaffinch.

chaffinch goldfinch barney

I dithered about after lunch, hoping to go for a cycle ride as it was warm enough at 5°C and the rain stopped from time to time.  Needless to say I only had to put my cycling gear on to make it rain quite hard.  I was just contemplating the bike to nowhere in the garage when the rain eased off to a light drizzle and I set off up the road.

By the time that I had done three miles, the rain had cleared and although it was still a dull day….

cleuchfoot valley

…I was able to cycle 20 miles without getting really wet.  As this was the first ride for some time, I was pleased to have done it and I was even more pleased to find that it seems to have helped my foot problem rather than harmed it.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal broke from her crochet work to make me a cup of tea.  She has been beavering away at the blanket and it is growing bigger all the time.  She has just downloaded the new set of colours and is already hard at work on them.

crochet blanket

45 double rows of colour represents three weeks of hard work but the final number of rows is still a secret so there is much work still to be done.

Upstairs the gesso on the rocking is quietly drying.

I made a sausage and tomato stew for my evening meal, making use of a tapsi recipe to provide it with a spicy flavour.  This was a result of the excellent meal we had had in Edinburgh yesterday which included a tapsi dish.  Although my stew was nothing like a genuine tapsi dish which should be vegetarian and baked, I did use a lot of vegetables and the flavour was excellent.

Alison, my Friday night accompanist, is still recovering from a shoulder injury so there was no music in the evening but she and Mike came round anyway and we enjoyed a glass of wine and conversation instead.

All in all, a dull, damp day passed as pleasantly as it could.

A final goldfinch in the morning drizzle is the flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who took this charming view of St Paul’s  Cathedral across the river from the cafe outside the Tate Modern art gallery which she was visiting.

st pauls

We had plenty of sunshine here…

very sunny chaffinch

…and quite a few birds…

two sunny goldfinches

…on what would have been a grand day for a walk or even a pedal if I had wrapped up well enough but I was overcome by a most unusual outbreak of good sense and stayed at home instead.

I have been suffering from a rather sore right foot lately and have been trying to walk it off but by last night I had been reduced to limping.  This is not a satisfactory state of affairs because limping only makes things worse so I went for a day of complete rest today in an effort to get things on a better footing before going to Edinburgh tomorrow.  Time will tell if I have improved things but at least I can be confident that I haven’t made them worse.

As a result, I did many puzzles in the paper, put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, mooched around and put a good deal of effort into practising songs for church and choir.

I looked out of the window a lot too.

robin on chair

At this time of year, the feeder is in the shadow of either our or our next door neighbour’s house for most of the day so it may have been the lack of light that was making this goldfinch concentrate so hard on pinpointing the feeder perch.

concentrating flying goldfinch

The wrecking crew of peckers were back digging up the lawn again…

pecking wreckers

…and goldfinches and chaffinches were in perpetual motion at the feeder…

busy feeder

…sometimes getting in the way of good flying bird of the day shots.

flying goldfinch and flying chaffinch

Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that I might find making some ginger biscuits a useful way of spending some time and I took her up on that.  I also took her advice on exactly when to take the biscuits out of the oven and I am happy to say that it was very sound advice as you can see.

I managed to take this picture before all the biscuits had disappeared.

ginger biscuits

It was hard to lurk about inside when the day outside was so bright…

walnut tree

…but we are in for a run of weather from the north so the day gradually got colder as it went on in spite of the sun and it has got down to 2°C as I write this and it is going to freeze overnight which will be a shock after a spell of relative mildness.

I did find a fairly sunny flying bird of the day and a goldfinch makes a change from all the chaffinches.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony, proving that he can take in the bigger picture but not miss interesting detail at the same time.

tony's stone

Encouraged by the splendid picture of a loaf bread which our daughter Annie sent us, I checked the recipe which she had also sent me and decided that it might be within my capabilities to make a similar loaf.   It has an interesting method requiring no kneading at all and cooking in a Dutch oven so it was a journey into the unknown for me.

The result was pretty good for a first go and I would have had a picture for you if half of it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared already.  I can report that as it is made from what is virtually a batter rather than a stiff dough, it tastes much like a crusty crumpet and is very delicious, especially when it is still warm.  I will have another go.

I had plenty of time to look at birds this morning while I was cooking and for once, there were plenty of birds to look at…

busy feeder

…including another visit from our resident robin.

robin on chair

I liked these two goldfinches keeping a communal eye out…

two contrary goldfinches

..perhaps checking for siskins, one or two of which made a welcome re-appearance.

siskin

I did think of going for a cycle ride while the mixture was rising but a rather gloomy forecast persuaded me that a walk was a better option so I went along to check out the Becks wood.

It was reasonably warm but grey and windy so I resolved to try a few black and whites on my way.

bw bench

I thought that this old tree stump, entirely given over to moss deserved the full colour treatment….

moss covered stump

…as did this elegantly gesturing tree…

expressive tree

…but an old shack often looks better in monochrome.

shed bw

In among the hundreds of new trees in tubes in the recently felled Becks wood are some rather weedy looking survivors of the cull.  This one looked as though it was bending down to greet the newcomers.

bending tree bw

The wood has been thoroughly cleared of felled trees and brashings and the scale of the new planting is impressive.  Although some locals mourn the loss of the commercial conifer plantation, I for one look forward to the new deciduous wood and enjoy the much improved views in the meantime.

view down becks burn

I went through the wood, down the road and across the Auld Stane Brig before climbing up the lower slopes of Warbla on the far side of the valley.  I kept an eye out for interesting stones and was much struck by this one with lichens on it nearly as decorative as a Maori tattoo.

warbla stane with lichen

An old tree trunk posed for a picture.

rotting log

I had thought of taking the track to the top of the hill but when I looked around, I could see low clouds coming in from all sides…

mist coming down

… so I took a more direct route home through the Kernigal wood and along the Stubholm track..

bw wood walk

…before dropping down into the park and passing a favourite wall.

moss on wall

When I got back to our house, the snowdrops on the bank of the dam were out…

dam snowdrops flourishing

…as was much of the moss on the middle lawn which had been pecked by jackdaws…

lawn pecking

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had gone off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.

My timing was good as it started to drizzle as I got home and it kept it up for the rest of the day.

Left to myself, I baked the bread, did the crossword and settled down to trying to learn a Carlisle Choir song off by heart.  This was a thankless task because as soon as I had mastered one phrase, I found that I had forgotten the previous one.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and in the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for one of the highlights of its annual programme.   Fresh from touring China and playing in Inverness, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with 60 players, had come to play their Viennese New Year’s concert to a full house.  I cannot speak too highly of the privilege it is for us to get a full scale symphony orchestra playing in our town of 2500 inhabitants.  We sit so close to the orchestra that the experience is absolutely thrilling and the slightly dry acoustic, which the players find hard work, means that the audience can appreciate every note that is played by every instrument.

The conductor even told several very amusing jokes.

A grand night out in every way.

As we have a full singing day tomorrow, I am expecting the weather to take turn for the better.

Although there were a lot of birds, poor light made finding a good flying bird of the day hard work and this was the best that I managed.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tony.  He was impressed by the power of some ivy which he found eating a castle turret.

ivy covered turret

I had a day neatly divided into three parts with a wide variety of weather to experience.

My day started when I crossed the suspension bridge in grey, slightly misty conditions.

suspension bridge

I had a bit of business to do in the town but it didn’t take long and I was soon on my way for a three  bridges walk.

When I got to the Kilngreen, the gulls were have a bath…

gulls in water

…and the rooks were looking for food in the grass.

rook kilngreen

At 4°C it was cool but there was little wind so it was a good day for a walk.

After seeing some very interesting moss on my walk yesterday, I had another look at moss on a wall today but found nothing unusual.

moss ewesbank

I did find an interesting lichen though.

lichen lodge walks

It was my intention to walk round the pheasant hatchery and I made good progress along the road beside the field, noticing this device for tightening fence wire…

fence gadget

…and wondering whether a black and white setting would give a truer picture of the day than colour as my camera always tries its best to make the colour look as colourful as possible.

bandw phesant hatchery road

I had just got to the top of the pheasant hatchery and was considering this old tree surrounded by potential youngsters in tubes…

old tree and new trees

…when a cacophony of whistles and banging made me aware of the presence of a group of people who had arrived to reverse the production of pheasants by shooting them.

This is not the sort of shooting that I am comfortable with so I took myself and my camera back the way that I had come, crossed the Duchess Bridge out of range of the guns and waited until I had got home before doing some of my own shooting of birds in the garden.

plum chaffinch crop

A stout sparrow took the chair…

sparrow taking the chair

…while stupid chaffinches wasted time and effort arguing when there were free perches available for all.

quarrelling chaffinches

I made some lentil soup for lunch and and ate it.  After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I went for a bicycle ride.

The temperature was still only 5°C but the sun had come out and the day was transformed from dull grey to full colour as this view over the Bloch shows.

sunny view from bloch

Sadly, it only took about another two miles for the weather to revert to grey as the sun slipped behind a bank of cloud and mist rose up from the valley.

misty clouds

I was going round my Canonbie circuit and coming up the Esk through the village, I began to wonder if the mist would get so thick that cycling might be dangerous.  However,  as I left the village and began the gentle climb up to Langholm, the mist thinned out and I could see Hollows Tower clearly, although the trees behind were still rather vague.

hollows tower

Looking up the road, the low mist was still lying but there was plenty of blue sky up above…

misty hollows road

…and by the time that I got back to Langholm, I was in full sunshine again.  I pedalled on through the town and up the A7, hoping to get a sunny view up the Ewes valley but that bank of cloud got in the way again and only the hills at the top of the valley were clear with mist rising from the fields again.

misty ewes valley from a7

I turned and cycled home in the gathering gloom….

misty warbla

…and got there not a moment too soon as within half and hour, the mist was so thick that I couldn’t see past the end of our road.

I made myself a sausage, onion and leek stew for my tea and then my friend Susan kindly appeared to give me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle.  I was worried that thick mist might make the journey uncomfortable but it had thinned out and we drove down without too much difficulty.

We enjoyed a good tootle (and excellent biscuits) with the group and found that the mist had cleared away before our return to Langholm, where I found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her trip to Edinburgh.

In between all this, I had a go at the ‘blowing down a straw into water’ recommended by my speech therapist.  It was noisy and splashy and fun so it won’t be hard to remember to do it twice daily for the next seven weeks.  After that, I hope to be able to sing like a bird…

…though I probably still won’t qualify as the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie who has been baking bread.

annie's bread

I had a day full of action but very little of it was in front of the camera – it was not a case of “Lights, camera, action!”

It was damp and drizzly after breakfast and there were still occasional mournful cries of geese to be heard.   It seemed a good day to have coffee with Sandy and he dropped in on his way to Carlisle,  He brought a gift of Christmas cake, made by a friend who doesn’t like Christmas cake and whose husband can’t eat it for health reasons.  In spite of this slightly dubious pedigree, it tasted very good.

When Sandy left, I set about making marmalade and as this involves a lot of sticky work and a sharp knife, I didn’t have the opportunity to pick up my camera or look out of the window for a while.  When I had got the mixture simmering, Mrs Tootlepedal kindly agreed to watch over it, while I went for a pedal.

The drizzle had gone and the clouds had lifted and as the thermometer showed nearly 10°C, it would have been a perfect day for cycling if there hadn’t been a twenty to thirty mile an hour wind blowing.

As it was, I put my head down and pedalled three times up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse, keeping as far out of the wind as was possible. On one of the repetitions, I went though the town and out of the other side just for a bit of variety but I don’t have any time to spare and got back home after 22 miles in perfect time to add the sugar to the pan and cook the marmalade.

I took only two pictures on my ride, one at each end of my up and down route.

high mill

wauchope schoolhouse

I had a look for some birds while the mixture was boiling but there was not much to be seen and not much light to see it in anyway as the skies had clouded over again.

chaffinch

two goldfinches in plum tree

Once I had potted the marmalade…

marmalade

The pale bits are lemon rind which I added as a novelty this year.  You have to use the juice of two lemons so I thought that I would chuck the rind in too.

…I had a shower, came down to have a cup of tea with Mike Tinker who had dropped in and then played some enjoyable duets with my flute pupil Luke and finished the active part of the day with a plate of venison stew which Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked for our tea.

All in all, it was a useful and sociable day, even if there was not much of a photographic record of it.

I did get a sort of double flying bird of the day picture but the main thing that it shows is that I have lost a perch from the feeder.  I will have to remember to look for it tomorrow.

chaffinch and goldfinch hovering

I should say that Sandy has posted a couple of splendid galleries of his trip to Thailand which can be seen here.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started the new year by visiting the strangely named Locko Park where he met a fine lake.

Locko Park

Our year here started with a brilliantly sunny but rather chilly day.  I would have liked to have taken part in the eight mile walk/run event that starts the Langholm year off but a combination of stiff muscles and sore feet persuaded me that a bike ride would be a better bet.

After a late breakfast, a little cooking and dawdling my way to coffee, I saw that the thermometer had climbed to 5°C so I got my cycling clothes on, got out my bike, leaned it against the car while I filled my water bottle and then looked at the car windscreen.

It was still covered with ice.

I put the bike back in, took my cycling clothes off and went for a walk.  The roads may well have been 99% clear of ice but it is that other 1% that I am hoping not to meet this year.

My idea was to walk to the top of a 1000ft hill and admire the views and so I headed up Meikleholm Hill (859ft), intending to go along the ridge and onto the next hill, Timpen (1069ft), and get my views there.

I passed some fine fungus…

Meikleholm track fungus

…and was soon looking at views from about 656ft…

Esk valley from Meikleholm

…but not long afterwards, I found myself looking at the enquiring heads of cattle peeking over the skyline and looking back at me.

For the second time today, I changed my plan. I retreated.

I lost about 100 feet and found a cattle free but steep route to the top of Timpen.  There were a number of views available and the air was remarkably clear for once.

I looked north along the ridge….

view from top of timpen 4

…and down into the Esk valley curling among the hills.

view from top of timpen 3

Nearer to me I could see the river running through the fields of Milnholm.

view from top of timpen 2

Going further round, I could see Castle and Potholm Hills making a barrier between the Esk and the Ewes Water on the far side.

view from top of timpen 1

And going round further still, I could look back down on the town, 800 feet below.

view of langholm from top of timpen

It was warm enough in the sunshine for me to unbutton my jacket, put my gloves in my pocket and still feel rather hot after the climb.

Coming back down the hill, I chose a cow dodging route using a mountain biking trail through the woods on the shady side of the hill.

bike track down Meikleholm Hill

The track was well maintained and although it was much colder out of the sun, it was a pleasure to walk along a track that I had never used before. I ended up down on the road about a mile out of town and took the path above the river that leads to the Duchess bridge (part of Walk 2 of the Langholm Walks).

Trees had fallen across the track but some kind person had come along with a chain saw and cut a Tootlepedal sized hole in the trunk…

walk 2 path

…so I was able to arrive safely on the flat of the Castleholm and walk along the tree lined Lodge walks in the sunshine.

lines across Lodge walks

I crossed the Sawmill Bridge and strolled along the Kilngreen.  There were many gulls on the fence posts but as I got near, they flew off and only one remained.

gull on post

I feel fairly sure that if I had had my flying bird camera with me, they would all have stayed glued to the posts.

Looking back up the river, I could see the sun  tipping the hill with gold where I had stood an hour earlier taking in those views.

Esk and Timpen

One of the really good things about our hills to my mind, is the ease with which one can get up and down them without requiring a mass of time and special walking kit.  I did find my two walking poles very useful though as the grass on the shady side of the hill was still frosty and slippery in places.

I tried to catch a flying bird in the garden when I got home but they were nowhere to be seen and this shy character was the only bird available.

chaffinch hiding

I collected Mrs Tootlepedal who was at work on her rocking horse restoration project and we went off to see Mike and Alison Tinker and wish them and their daughter and her family who were visiting, a happy new year.

We had a sociable new year drink and some good conversation and Mike and his daughter Liz, who is a professional horticulturalist, pointed out that two days ago, the blog had wrongly called this shrub, which we encountered on a walk, a pernettya…

pernettya bush

…whereas Mike actually has a pernettya in his garden and it looks like this…

pernettya

…and what we had seen two days ago…

pernettya berries

…was a Symphoricarpos or snowberry.  I apologise deeply for the error which must have appalled many readers who were too polite to point it out.

I was slightly envious when I saw a steady stream of birds visiting Alison’s feeder as we sipped and chatted.   Liz presented Mrs Tootlepedal with a bowl of hyacinths as a new year’s gift and I hope this will appear in future posts when they burst into flower.

I had made a beef and mushroom stew in the slow cooker in the morning so we were well supplied for our evening meal when the time came.

In the absence of any flying birds, I can offer an echelon of gulls who returned to their posts as soon as I had got too far away to photograph one individually.

zig zag gulls

 

 

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