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Today’s guest picture shows a new style of letterbox which my friend Bruce spotted while out in Langholm.  You have to get up very early to post a letter in that part of town.

new postbox

We got up quite early today as Mrs Tootlepedal and members of her embroiderers’ group were due to spend a morning sewing and chatting at the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre to encourage knowledge about and interest in their group.  I took her along in the car with her box of stuff and when I had dropped her off, I continued on up the road to Bentpath to put my photographs into the tent at the Benty Show.

It was a delightfully misty morning.

Bentpath mistBentpath mist

As I got to the field, it looked as though the swallows might be getting ready to leave.

swallows on wire

I put my photos up among some quite hot competition and then went back to Langholm where I visited the Producers’ Market to buy fish, coffee, honey and venison…..and see what Mrs Tootlepedal and her gang were up to.

embroiderers guild

They were having a good time.  The little boy on the far left of the picture stayed and did three solid hours of needle felting.

He was the son of the venison lady.  She gave me quite a shock when,  as I went to buy my supplies, she said in a firm voice, “I want to have a word with you.”  I wondered what bad thing I had done but it turned out that she had been inspired by a conversation we had about cycling at a previous market and had subsequently got on her bike in a substantial way.  She is even making local deliveries of venison on her bike these days.

As a reward for being inspirational, she kindly gave me a gift of two venison sausages curled neatly up to look a bit like cycle wheels.  I was much touched.

If anyone else would like to be inspired, I am happy to oblige.

I drove off up the hill in the car after leaving the market in the hope that some of the early mist might still be lying in the river valleys but it was already retreating up the hills…

Ewes valley

…so I went home, mowed some grass, did a bit of dead heading and watched butterflies.

butterflies

On phlox, dahlia, buddleia and Michaelmas daisy. You name it, it had a butterfly on it.

I didn’t neglect the bees…

bee on poppy

…especially as I had just bought two jars of local honey.

And sometimes I could see butterflies and bees simultaneously.

butterfly and bee

The poppies were as gorgeous as ever….

poppies

…and the cornflowers and crocosmia are blending well….

cornflower and crocosmia

…but the star of the day was a newly opened lily of enormous size.

lily

It is some sort of lily longiflorum (well named) which Mrs Tootlepedal very untypically purchased over the internet in the middle of a sleepless night.  Buying stuff on the internet in the middle of the night is not recommended but this impulse purchase looks as though it is going to turn out very well.

After lunch, I went back up to Bentpath to visit the flower show and check on my pictures.  I had managed to get a second and two thirds so I was modestly pleased as the standard of the other pictures was really good.

The weather was very kind….

Benty show

The show field doesn’t slope down quite as much as it seems in the picture!

…and the show has a very beautiful setting beside the river…..

River esk

…with the village church….

Westerkirk Church

…and the fine bridge….

Bentpath bridge

…as a backdrop.

As well as photos, food, flowers and vegetables, there are sheep in a curly horn contest….

Benty sheep

…children’s and terrier races, a wood carving demonstration and two hound trails.

I like the hounds.  They are superb athletes.

The hounds follow a scented trail over the hills and come plunging down through the bracken, leap fences….

hound trail

… and when they come to it, they leap down the banking and dive into the river…

hound trail

…swim and run across the water, leap up the bank at the far side…

hound trail

…and sprint for the finish line.

hound trail

Or at least the leader did.  The following hounds took a more cautious view of the whole watery part of the race.

hound trail

Approaching with suspicion and then getting back out again on the same bank.

After a good deal of encouragement from their owners, they did finally get across and headed for the finish line…

hound trail

…though one or two laggards were still out somewhere on the hill.

hound trail

The hounds were followed by a fell race at an altogether more sedate pace….

Benty fell race

Rounding the marker flag at the top of the hill

…though rather disappointingly, the human runners use the bridge to get back to the show ground and don’t have to fling themselves into the river.  In the first hill race that I ever ran at Newtonmore in the Highlands, we had to wade through a waist high river just to get from the field to the bottom of the hill.

I made a final visit to the show tent….

benty show

Flowers, fruit and veg, baking, walking sticks and photos filled every corner

…and then made my way home.

It had been the very picture of a village flower show.  There was sheaf tossing and a barbecue still to come for those with stamina.

I was pretty tired by the time that I got back so although the weather was still very pleasant, I did nothing more energetic than walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had been very busy clearing and preparing flower beds for next year (she is always thinking ahead) before sinking into a comfortable chair and putting my feet up.

The flying bird of the day might have been a buzzard flying above the field at Bentpath but my hand was too trembly to catch it properly so it turns out to be the first few petals of the first cardoon flower of the year.

cardoon

 

 

 

 

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This is yesterday’s post today.  I didn’t get home until nearly midnight last night and I had many pictures to look through this morning.  The result is a post with too many pictures but I have tried to keep the commentary to a minimum to spare those long suffering souls who politely read to the very end of posts.

I had received a very kind invitation from an old friend to have a meal in Keswick and then go to see a performance of As You Like It at the Theatre by the Lake.  I was happy in three ways as I hadn’t seen the friend for a couple of years, I like a bit of Shakespeare and it is always a treat to visit the Lake District.

A check on the weather forecast revealed that there might be some dry weather about so after a long talk to BT customer services about why their WiFi app wouldn’t work on my phone and a quick quick look at the garden….

cornflower, honeysuckle and poppy

…I set off south at midday.

The drive was uneventful and I caught my first glimpse of the Lake District’s hills when I could see Blencathra as I drove down the A66.

Blencathra

The traffic wasn’t as heavy as I feared for a Saturday in August and I soon drove through Keswick and parked by the side of Derwent Water.

Derwent Water

It looks very peaceful in that shot but I was far from the only person enjoying the views and the lake.

Derwent Water

Other means of transport were available.

Derwent water

There was plenty of water in the lake.

Derwent water

I had driven through a heavy shower on my way and the weather couldn’t quite make up its mind to be a fine day but there were several sunny spells and no more rain as I walked about.

I walked along the waterside first and looked about.

Derwent water

Derwent Isle

It is hard to stop taking pictures when you are in the Lake District. I went as far as Friars Crag.

Derwent Water

A neatly accommodated tree

Derwent Water

The view across the lake

Derwent Water

They love a literary connection in the Lakes if they can find one

Derwent Water

A view from the Crag

Derwent Water

Looking down to the bottom of the lake from the crag.  It was rather gloomy down there.

Derwent Water

A sheep.  They are mostly responsible for the bare hills round the lake. Some see them as preservers of the landscape, others as vandals responsible for a eco wilderness.  Take your pick.

I wasn’t wandering lonely as a cloud.

Derwent Water

Customers for the next boat tour of the lake

I had made a sandwich for lunch before I left home but as I had left it at home, I had lunch in a cafe near the lake instead and then walked through Hope Park….

Hope Park Keswick

It has a nice mixture of free…..

Hope Park Keswick

…and formal planting

…and into the town of Keswick.

It is a tourist hotspot and in spite of all the lovely hills waiting to be tramped over, the streets were crammed with visitors.

Keswick

There was a market in the centre of town..

Keswick

…and many other temptations for tourists

I crossed the River Greta on a fine iron bridge….

Greta Bridge

…and headed for the hills behind the town, crossing the park and cricket ground on my way.

Keswick

Skiddaw, a 3000ft peak looms over the town

Keswick

I walked up a back road through through woods and fields

Keswick

A lull in the traffic on the main road between visitors coming and going

Keswick

I got high enough for a good view back over the town

Keswick

The view away from the lake was also very beautiful

Keswick

Clouds sped across the sky

Keswick

Half farmhouse and half castle

Keswick

I think that this is the wonderfully named hill, Catbells

Keswick

The downside of being a popular walking destination – eroded tracks. I can count about 18 people on that path.

I walked back through the town and Hope Park.

Keswick

A typical slate building, now a guest house of course

Keswick

The slates come in smooth and rough

Keswick

I thought the pencil museum might be too exciting for me so I passed it by

Keswick

Lovely planting in the Park garden

I had time for a last look at the lake….

Derwent water

…in the sun.   Behind me, Blencathra….

Blencathra

…and Skiddaw looked most inviting.

Skiddaw

A well worn track led to the summit….

skiddaw

I took part in the Skiddaw Fell race in my younger days but we didn’t use that track.  It was memorable for the horrendous blisters I got from running back down the hill on a stony path.

It was time now to cease from contemplating the beauties of nature and turn to the pleasures of fine dining, interesting conversation and high culture.  They were all very good too so this was definitely a day firmly inked in on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a very haughty ram which was taking part in a sheep demonstration near the lake.

ram

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  He was working at Anstruther, on the north coast of the Firth of Forth today and took time off to admire the coastal rocks.

Anstruther rocks

Mrs Tootlepedal spent a lot of the day visiting the Woolfest at Cockermouth with friends.  The Woolfest is what it says on the tin, a festival of wool….and sheep and lambs and alpacas and anything that you can think of to do with wool.  She had a good time.

I had a good time in her absence as Dropscone came round with treacle scones and a cheery mood because he had played a very good round of golf at Galashiels yesterday.

Before he arrived, I went up to the town to pay a bill and then walked round the garden.  It had rained earlier on and everything was wet.

A day lily had unwisely decided that this was the day to come out.

day lily
It was wet.

In fact several day lilies had decided this was their day….

day lily

…and they were wet too.

The butter and sugar iris was wet….

butter and sugar iris

…and so was the rose Wren.

rosa wren

But in spite of the damp, they all looked pretty cheerful.

After Dropscone left, the weather didn’t look very promising so I made a pan of potato soup for lunch and hoped that the weather would improve.

I was just getting ready to go out after lunch when it started to rain very heavily so I stayed in and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Rain is very good for motivating me to do the archive work.

When I finished the week, I did a bit of dead heading and was thinking of going out for a walk but the weather looked alternately quite promising and very threatening and the muggy conditions weren’t making me feel very active so I abandoned thoughts of a walk and mowed the front and middle lawns as quickly as I could, took a few more pictures and went in.

I saw a lot of white.

sweet william

A bit surprisingly to me, this turned out to be a Sweet William and not a pink  Mrs Tootlepedal says that they are closely related.

Things were still a bit wet.

Philadephus

This is another Philadelphus

Rose Bobbie James

The first of many blooms on the rose Bobbie James

rose goldfinch

I was wrong to say that the Goldfinch couldn’t get any more blooms on a stem

Feverfew

Feverfew

Hydrangea

The Hydrangea against the wall of the house. The outside flowers are sterile. The bit in the middle is the working part.

And a bit of red.

The first flower on a newly planted Fuchsia.

Fuchsia

And I hope to get better weather to have another look at this spirea.

Spirea

I was still thinking about – but not going on – a walk when Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back so I had a cup of tea with her instead.

After that, the midgies came out so being outside was less attractive and I only went out for long enough to pick a few strawberries and take two final pictures.

coral peony

The last coral peony

dutch iris

The Dutch irises are enjoying the weather.

I kept on thinking that I might do something active but I never quite managed it and in the end it was lucky that we had a concert at the Buccleuch Centre to go to or I might have let the day collapse into nothingness.

The concert was very enjoyable. It was given by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and they provided a very cheery programme for us.  It started with Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and this was followed by two charming ‘Sentimental Romances’ by a Swedish  composer called Stenhammer where the conductor acted as violin soloist as well as leading the strings of the orchestra.

In the second half, the orchestra leader, Benjamin Marquise Gilmore and one of the double bass players,  Nikita Naumov gave us the Gran Duo Concertante for violin and double bass by Bottesini.  This piece was an opportunity for showing off some virtuoso skills by both the soloists.  If you get the chance to hear Nikita Naumov play the double bass, take it.

The concert finished with the Haffner Symphony by Mozart and that rounded off a most delightful evening.

The flying bird of the day is a young blackbird sitting on the fence after I surprised it when it was trying to get at the strawberries.  It wasn’t happy.

blackbird

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce.  He came across this fine view on the hill road to Roberton near Hawick a week or so ago.

Bruce's view

After a rather slack period for cycling recently, a dry and calm day today was an excellent opportunity to get the fairly speedy bike out and put in a few miles.  The tyres needed pumping up and the chain needed cleaning but I was soon ready to go.

My intention was to see how my legs felt and adjust the distance accordingly but I got a bit overcome by taking pictures as I pedalled along and lost a few potential miles on the way.  Still, I did 64 miles and took 50 pictures so that seems like a good balance.  Readers will be pleased to know that not all the pics made it into the post!

I started with a big surprise only a mile or so from the house when I saw the hillside above Bessie Bell’s covered in bluebells.

Bruce's view

Another visit on foot is on my to do list.

The verges were full of wild flowers and the first three that I met were these.

wild flowers

I have forgotten what the golden spikes are called but the other two are speedwell and geum

I started my ride among the hills and I hoped to get some good pictures of the 22 windmills on the new Ewe Hill windfarm by going up the hill towards Corrie Common.  I could see the windmills (just) but in the rather poor light, my camera couldn’t so i will have to try again on a brighter day.

I did get a splendid view down into the valley on the far side of Corrie Common though and even on a gloomy day, it is a very pleasing prospect.

 

view from Corrie Common

Click on the pic for a bigger picture

The only fly in the ointment is that very poor road surface takes the fun out of going down the hill into the valley.

The little stream at the bottom is very picturesque…

Corrie common

…and the bridge has the usual gate to stop any sheep making a break for freedom by swimming.

corrie common road

I pedalled on over the hill to Boreland, a very pretty road even on a rather grey day…

road to Boreland

…and then turned west and descended into Annandale.  On the way down, I was stopped several times by wild flowers crying out to be photographed.

red campion, cranesbill, hawthorn and more bluebells

Sometimes I couldn’t fail to notice them.

red campion

A bank of red campion

When I got to Lochmaben,  I had a stop for a banana and a little rest beside the Mill Loch, a very peaceful place for a sit down…

Mill Loch Lochmabe

Mill Loch Lochmaben

…and then I pedalled on down the valley to Dalton and Hoddom.

I passed several flourishing horse chestnut trees.  I was not the only one interested in the flowers.

horse chestnut

I like this rather Hansel and Gretel like lodge at Hoddom Castle…

Hoddom Lodge

…and I looked up at the Repentance Tower on the hill above the road.

Repentance Tower

I couldn’t cross my favourite bridge over the River Annan at Hoddom without taking a picture…

Hoddom Bridge

…and I noticed some more wild flowers beside the river bank path while I was there.

broom

Broom is arriving as the gorse begins to fade

dandelion and buttercup

From Hoddom, I headed to Ecclefechan and then went down the old main road to Gretna where I fortified the inner man with an excellent plate of egg and chips.

From Gretna, I took a direct route home as all my photo stops (and the egg and chips) had added a lot of time to my trip.

I did stop for a few more pictures.

My three favourite trees on the old A7 were looking well in the spring garb….

three canonbie trees

…and there were two rather delicately shaded flowers beside Canonbie Bridge…

comfrey and forget me not

Comfrey and Forget-me-not

…as well full spring clothing at Hollows Bridge…

Hollows Bridge

…and a great number of Pyrenean Valerian flowers once I got within thee miles of Langholm.

pyrenean valerian

Here is a map of the trip and those with time hanging heavy on their hands can click on the map as usual to get further details of the ride.

garmin route 17 May 2017 elevation

You can see that the route was well chosen for an old man with all the climbing at the start and the wind mostly behind on the way home.

The hilly start into the wind meant that my average speed was pretty low but it was a most enjoyable outing.  I mean to get as much pleasure as I can from the scenery and the surroundings and be less bothered by average speeds now that the better weather has arrived.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was out and had completed her pea fortress.

pea fortress

Just let the sparrows try to get into that!

Our garden was full of flowers too….

garden flowers

…and it is always interesting to see the different ways that flowers set out to attract customers.

There are some very colourful aquilegias against the back wall of the house.

aquilegia

AKA Granny’s Bonnet or Columbine

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be Front-of-House at the Buccleuch Centre for a very peppy jazz concert from the Scottish Youth Jazz Orchestra while I went to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  We both enjoyed ourselves.

It was a very cheerful day for one that had little or no actual sunshine in it.

The flower of the day is a tulip which is not showing any signs of being a shrinking violet.

tulip

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was much taken by this planting on the course of the Hawick Golf Club.  It must be just about the neatest planting ever ( and helpful to senior golfers who can’t remember where they are).

IMG_0427

There are strong winds forecast for tomorrow so that made today the last comfortable cycling day of the month.  It was theoretically a degree or two warmer than it has been lately but it was still struggling to get up to 10°C (50°F) and even with the wind coming from the south, it felt chilly as I went out in the morning.

I decided that the best plan would be to start by pedalling 25 miles into the wind and then, as the wind got stronger, I would get the benefit of the breeze at my back for the 18 miles home.  Regular cyclists will be well aware of just how unreliable this sort of planning is as the wind is very unpredictable.   Today however, the plan worked to perfection and by keeping calm and pedalling gently into the wind, I managed the first 25 miles at  12.5 mph and still had enough energy (helped by a guava energy bar) to pedal the 18 miles home at 15.2 mph.   I love it when a plan works out.

The first 25 miles was slow enough for me to keep an eye on the verges and there was plenty to see, though the dull weather and being slightly puffed didn’t make for great photography.

wild flowers

wild flowers

wild flowers

I stopped for a banana at the 25 mile mark and looked at trees on both sides of the road.

catkins and flowers on trees

I passed a very fine clump of pink bluebells (if that is the correct term and not pinkbells) near West Linton….

bluebells

…and shortly afterwards saw the real things at Alstonby Hall.

bluebells

It certainly cheers a cycle ride up when there flowers to look at.

I have passed a Historic Scotland sign pointing to ‘Merkland Cross’ near Kirkpatrick Fleming many, many times and today I finally took a moment out to cycle up a side road to visit the cross.  I had to walk the last quarter mile through wild  flower strewn meadows beside the motorway while being observed by cows…

Merkland Cross

…but…

Merkland Cross

…the cross itself, carved from a single piece of stone, was a bit of a disappointment.  I had been hoping for an elaborate  Celtic cross of great antiquity but this one was rather plain and  from the middle ages.  At least the sign was honest.

Merkland Cross

Between the kindly wind, the flowers and the antiquity, I really enjoyed my ride.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked some leek soup with the last leeks of the season from the garden and together with some cheese and home made bread, it went down very well for a late lunch.

After a shower, I went out into the garden and did some dead heading and mowed the front lawn.

We have three trilliums in the garden  (three trillia?) and the first one has come out.

I passed a very fine clump of pink bluebells (if that is the correct term and not pinkbells) near West Linton.... ...and shortly afterwards saw the real things at Alstonby Hall.

I was just looking at the birds….

redpoll

A pensive redpoll

goldfinch

A startled goldfinch

…when, rather belatedly, I remembered that I was supposed to be filling the Moorland Bird feeders in place of Gavin who is on holiday in the north.

The glade at the bird hide has gone green.

Moorland Feeders

The birds themselves were in a very uncooperative mood and insisted on using the feeders furthest from the hide.  A woodpecker did turn up and i was hopeful but almost immediately another one arrived and they spent so much time chasing each other around that there were very few posing opportunities…

woodepeckers

…so I got fed up and after photographing a blackbird with its mouth full….

blackbird

…and a pheasant on the road outside the hide…

pheasant

It looked exhausted from chasing lady pheasants about

…I took a last look down towards the Tarras…

Tarras valley

…and went home.

I had persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out with me to the Buccleuch Centre in the evening to see a group of six singers called ‘The Westenders’ give a concert of songs from West End musicals.  I could understand Mrs Tootlepedal’s initial reluctance to come because it is very difficult to know what a show like this is going to be like but on this occasion, we made a very good decision and had a grand evening out.

The six singers had a small but competent quartet of musicians behind them and they put everything they possibly could into a very well planned and musically arranged evening of songs.  We both went home positively uplifted by the sheer verve and professionalism of their performances.

I only just caught the flying bird of the day in the nick of time.

siskin

Those interested in the bike route can click on the map below.

garmin route 29 April 2017

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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony.  He took his dogs to Loch Lomond today and they seem to be enjoying the outing.

Tony's dogs

I spent the early part of the morning hoping that it would get a bit warmer and when I thought that it had, I got the fairly speedy bike out and went off to Port Carlisle for lunch.

Port Carlisle is on the southern shore of the Solway and getting there has been greatly helped by the excellent bike path along the new Carlisle by-pass.  The route along the coast is pretty flat in general and very flat in places.

Tony's dogs

The notice in the foreground tells you that the water is one foot deep if it gets to the sign

The Solway was looking very amiable if a bit hazy.

Solway near Drumburgh

I had an excellent lunch at the pub in Port Carlisle and then went back pretty well the same way that I came.

I stopped near Rockliffe to take a picture of one of my favourite trees…

Rockcliffe tree

..and thought that it might look good in black and white and had another go.

Rockcliffe tree

I stopped several more times for refreshment and relaxation on the way back but only took three more pictures while having a breather at the top of the steep hill at Tarcoon.

tarcoon hill

It was a very pleasant day but too hazy to get good landscape pictures

Whita Hill

The rough pasture is still looking rather wintery. It will taken another month for the hills to go green again.

We haven’t got to the time when the verges are full of various wild flowers but there are a lot of celandines about to start the season off.

celandines

In spite of feeling a bit of stiffness in one of my calf muscles, I did the 70 miles at just over 14 mph, which these days is the best that I can expect until it gets a bit warmer in the mornings.

When I got back, there was exciting news.  The new compost bins have arrived and are ready to be assembled when I have shifted the compost out of the old bins.  Expect exciting pictures soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden so I had a walk round to look at what was going on.  There were a lot of tulips to admire.

tulips

The day had got pleasantly warm by this time and it was a joy to be out in the garden among such a feast of colour.

tulips

tulips

I was moved to try an arty shot or two.  These are just as the camera saw them.  I haven’t pepped them up in the editor.

tulips

tulips

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with a new bed of tulips planted for this season.

tulips

I am very pleased with the plum blossom…

plum blossom

…but unless a few more bees turn up, I will have to get busy with my soft paint brush again.

The feeders needed filling so I must have missed a lot of bird action while i was pedalling.  A redpoll put a chaffinch in its place.

redpoll and chaffinch

In the evening, we went to a performance by a group called Spatz &Co at the Buccleuch Centre.  They describe themselves as a showband and play an entertaining and eclectic mix of rock and roll, jazz, swing, and superior popular songs by John Lennon, Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Gerry Rafferty.

The sound balance on the night between the rhythm section and the front line wasn’t ideal but they were full of pep and excellent players.  There was a disappointingly small audience but it was very enthusiastic and we that hope they come again.

Although i only did two things, it somehow felt like quite a full day.

I just had time for a flying bird.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can click on the map below to get details of the bike ride.

garmin route 9 april 2017

 

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Today’s guest picture is a steam train at Carlisle Station.  My neighbour Gavin saw it not long ago.  They seem to be running regular steam excursions to Carlisle at the moment.  We saw one when I put Mrs Tootlepedal on the London train last weekend.

steam train Carlisle

It was a very dull day on the whole today.  It was raining when I got up and it rained all day until about 7 o’clock in the evening.  By way of a little variety, sometimes it rained quite gently and sometimes it rained quite heavily.

Under the circumstances neither walking nor cycling held out much appeal for me so I did neither.

Sandy came for morning coffee and Mike Tinker dropped in for afternoon tea and between these two welcome diversions, I looked out of the window a bit.

blackbird

Blackbird with raindrops

pigeon

A pigeon with raindrops

chaffinch and siskin

Chaffinch and siskin with rain

chaffinch in rain

A chaffinch with heavier rain

You can see that there is quite a theme developing here but the rain didn’t stop the siskins trying to throw their weight around.

siskin and chaffinch

A chaffinch sneaking up behind a siskin seemed a bit disapproving of the siskin’s untidy eating habits.

siskin and chaffinch

We always end up with a pile of seed on the ground when we have siskin visitors.

When I wasn’t staring out of the window, I was doing the crossword or practising songs for the Carlisle Choir.  I find it really hard trying to learn them off by heart.  I will have to try and develop a better method than I am using at present.  My present method is singing through a song three or four times and then trying to sing it from memory and subsequently bursting into into tears when I can’t get past the second page.  It is not a good method.

In the evening, I went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a screening of Il Trovatore from the Royal Opera House.  The singing was very good, especially the mezzo-soprano, Anita Rachvelishvili.  All her singing was excellent but her quiet singing was really sensational.

This was a ‘modern’ production with machine guns and so on and the setting was like the curate’s egg.  It worked well sometimes but it was also rotten in parts.

Fans of the old TV Comedy series “‘Allo, ‘Allo” will know why I was a bit distracted by the fact that one of the parties in the conflict had a little tank..

The perennial trouble is that the producers and designers have all seen these operas far too often and it would be boring for them to put on a production which the composer might recognise.   I have only seen this opera once before, in an amateur production, so I would have quite welcomed a ‘traditional’ setting.

The subtitles are very helpful and make the opera come alive but they do put some absurdities into your mind in passing.  When a singer sings, ‘I have no breath, I cannot speak’ and goes on singing for several more minutes, I can’t help raising an eyebrow.   Such is opera though.

I should say though that I enjoyed it a lot, as Verdi’s music when sung well is always a  great treat whatever the producer does.

There was a rather gloomy flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch in rain

 

 

 

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