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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Mary in the Japanese Garden in Holland Park, London, England a few days ago. That is a nice international medley of names to go with a delightful picture taken on a dull day.

Japanese Garden Holland Park

After our very brief burst of springlike weather yesterday, we were back in the groove today with ten tenths cloud, occasional rain and a cold and uncharitable wind blowing.  It was rather disappointing.

However, there was plenty of activity going on to keep my mind off the missing sunshine.

I started with a walk after breakfast and I enjoyed the daffodils along the river bank in Caroline Street.  They brought a welcome touch of colour to a dull day.

daffodils on Wauchope

And for my daffodil of the day, I chose one from the clumps along the banks of the Esk between the bridges.

daffodil

I was hoping to catch the goosanders but had to make do with an oyster catcher again.

oyster catcher

It wasn’t very inviting walking weather so I did more leg stretching than looking around just to keep myself warm but I couldn’t help noticing a rather strange set of fungi on a fallen tree by the river bank.

fungus

They are just normal bracket fungi but the way that they sat on the tree trunk made it look as though they were floating.

I did look to see if there were any more hazel catkins and flowers about but once again I saw few catkins and only two flowers.

hazel catkin and flower

It is hard to say whether more will arrive with some warmer weather or if this is all that there will be in such a miserable spring.

There were occasional signs of life elsewhere among the lichen covered branches of the trees.

lichen and buds

And I passed a party of cheerful Tuesday walkers who had stopped to pay their respects to a small dog.

walkers

I was pleased to get home and a have a cup of coffee but I did take a quick look round the garden first….

tree peony

…where the tree peony is looking healthy and I at last got a half decent picture of the pulmonaria flowers.

pulmonaria

I also took a moment to check on the birds.

There were a lot about.

siskin and greenfinch

A chaffinch needed only a one footed attack to dislodge a fellow from the feeder.

chaffinches

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal, Patricia, our guest, and I went off to Hawick in the car to visit a small exhibition of work there by Mrs Tootlepedal’s Embroiderers’ Guild group.  She hadn’t been able to go to the opening as she was visiting her mother at the time.

The exhibition had been very well mounted…

EG exhibition Hawick

…in a small gallery in the Textile Towerhouse.  It had gone down so well with visitors that a notice pointing out that the exhibits were not for sale had had to be put up.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a couple of old favourite pieces in the show and one of her newer pieces figured on the poster which was pleasing.

P1080773

Stumpwork on the left and the new piece at the bottom right of the poster. 

We had an excellent lunch, rather surprisingly accompanied by live string playing from students of Trinity College, London.

We walked back to car, passing many bridges in the town….

hawick bridge

…both old….

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…and new…

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…and then drove home by way of Whitrope Summit and Hermitage, passing another bridge…

Copshaw road bridge

…Hermitage Castle…

Hermitage Castle…and a cottage at the back of beyond.

Hermitage road

In spite of the heavy clouds hanging low on the hills or perhaps even because of them, it was  a peaceful and picturesque drive.

It would have been nice to get out of the car for a walk but it really was cold and unpleasant even though the rain had stopped so we were happy to go straight home.

The birds had been busy and I filled the feeders again as the lowering of the seed level was leading to regrettable behaviour.

chaffinch stamping on goldfinch

I had hoped to go for a cycle ride when we got back from our outing but the wind was far too brisk to make cycling anything else but a chore so I found useful things to do indoors until Patricia kindly took us out for a meal at the Douglas  Hotel in the evening.

The food was excellent as usual.  It is not often that we eat out at all so to get two good meals out on the same day was a great treat.  It hasn’t done my slimming regime any good though.  My new bike when it comes will be a kilogram and a half heavier than the old fairly speedy one so I need to lose a couple of kilograms from my body weight to make up the difference.  This is proving hard in the cold weather when a bit of comfort eating is always likely.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, probably looking for someone to kick.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s sister, Elizabeth, who took advantage of a recent sunny day to climb up a hill and look down on the town.

Liz's picture of Langholm

Our warm spell continued but in the absence of any sunshine.

I had a busy morning, starting with a trip to the producers’ market to stock up on meat, fish and cheese, which with the help of any amount of good advice from concerned onlookers, I managed to accomplish.

Then there was just time to greet the return of the goldfinches to the feeder after a day off…

goldfinch

…before I got the slow bike out and went for a fifteen mile ride. I had a job to do after lunch so  I had a choice of a shorter ride in the morning or a longer one in the afternoon.  The forecast wasn’t very positive so I chose the short morning ride.

Unlike yesterday there were no views available….

View from Megsfield

….so I kept my eyes down today.  I stopped near the top of Callister on my way out to see what a bit of roadside wall might hold.  It turned out that it held quite a lot.

Every lichen seemed to have a red tip if you looked closely enough, whether it was tall and stringy…

lichen on Callister wall

…or short and fat among the moss…

P1080670

…or so tiny that you could hardly see it all.

lichen on Callister wall

I stopped at the bottom of the hill on my way back when I saw some clumps of wild primroses near the new bridge at Westwater Cottage.

wild primroses

So I had to have a look at the bridge while I was there…

Collin Bridge lichen

…and some very fine lichen on the parapet…

Collin Bridge lichen

…as well as a potential wild flower in the grass verge.

wild flower

My choice of a fifteen mile trip turned out to be well judged as it started to rain just after I got home and it kept raining until seven o’clock in the evening.

I had time to walk round the garden before the rain started and had another go at doing justice to the pulmonaria but the camera always seems more interested in the back of the plant than the front.  I shall keep trying.

pulmonaria

The magnolia was poking its nose out….

magnolia

…and so was a surprise frog in the pond.

frog

I chased after a bumble bee with no success so I took a picture of the developing primula and went in.

primula

Once in, I looked out.

The goldfinches were back in good numbers and blowing each other away in style.

goldfinch

Some, but not many, siskins joined in the fun…

goldfinch and siskin

..and once again, there was always a queue for a perch.

flying goldfinch

…with the chaffinches at the back of it.

_DSC3016

We had the usual suspects, goldfinches, siskins and chaffinches with a couple of redpolls arriving after I had put the camera away but I did see one unusual bird in the plum tree.

At first I thought that it was  a sparrow…

reed bunting

…but that didn’t look quite right so I had a close look when I put the picture on my computer and I think that it is a reed bunting, though I am always open to correction from knowledgeable readers.

reed bunting

It is a pleasure to have new visitors to the garden.

I did my lunchtime task, which was to open the meeting room for the Embroiderers’ Guild in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal and then retired home in heavy rain to waste the rest of the afternoon watching the early stages of the third round of the Masters golf tournament.

I cooked a smoked fish kedgeree for my tea and then went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a concert where I met Sandy.  I was very vexed during the afternoon when a friend rang up to ask if I was going to the party to find that I had inadvertently double booked myself as I was also supposed to be going to a choir member’s birthday do today.

This was embarrassing but as the choice was driving thirty miles in the rain to the party which however enjoyable would go on very well without me or walking 200 yards to the Buccleuch Centre where I had bought an expensive ticket, I chose the short walk.

I just hoped that the concert would make the choice worthwhile.

It did.

It was by YolanDa Brown, a jazz, reggae, soul fusion saxophonist backed by a very well drilled, skilled and creative quartet.  You can find YolanDa on Youtube  and very pretty she sounds but the recording does no justice at all to her live show which was sensational.

It was loud and at times the rhythm was so funky that you risked breaking an ankle if you tried to tap your foot but the flow of inventive music was so overwhelmingly immersive that I came out at half time feeling pretty euphoric.  The whole thing was like being caught in a landslide of joy.

YolanDa is personally very charming as well as being extremely accomplished and she managed without any strain at all to get the entire largely elderly audience on its feet and rocking to a reggae beat.

The second half was better.

I should say that the audience was not large, especially for a band which was on a world tour including, Australia, America, Europe, Morocco and Langholm but the band didn’t stint and obviously loved playing the music as much as the audience enjoyed listening to it.

I walked home a happy man…and the rain had stopped.

The flying bird of the day is one of our loyal band of chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from  Dropscone’s recent seaside holiday on the east coast.  He climbed a dune to look at the beach and saw five people, two dogs and half a million razor clam shells.

razor clams

We had a third and bonus sunny day as the weather turned out better than expected.  It was frosty again at dawn so I was happy to entertain Dropscone (and scones) for coffee while the temperature climbed slowly up to cycling levels.

Before coffee, I had an early walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we saw the first bumblebee of the year.

bumble bee

It was so bright that it was hard to miss.   I think that it is probably a tree bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.

After coffee, Dropscone went off to play golf and I looked out of the kitchen window while making some carrot and parsnip soup for lunch.  Rather to Mrs Tootlepedal’s surprise, the parsnips came out of the vegetable garden after a hard winter in pretty good condition.

Rather to my surprise, there was a steady supply of flying chaffinches and some convenient sunshine for them to fly in.

We try to run a gender neutral blog so here are male chaffinches, both horizontal and vertical…

flying chaffinches

…and females with wings in and out.

flying chaffinches

Flying birds are like buses, sometimes you don’t see any and sometimes they all come at once.

After lunch, I went out for a pedal.  Because my throat was still a bit rusty, I started carefully but it soon became obvious that cycling was doing no harm so I put a bit of effort in.  For once, the wind was light and I enjoyed every mile of my usual twenty mile trip to Canonbie and back.

There were a few signs of life in the verges at last.

dandelion

I stopped to admire a handsome tree at the Bloch….

bloch tree

…and some cows in a field who were happy to sit for a picture.

cows

This one took her duties very seriously.

cow

In times past, I would have been worried to see cows lying down as this was thought of as a sign of impending rain but this is a myth and the sun stayed out for me, giving me a fine view of the northern English hills in the distance.

view from tarcoon

I took another picture of the lambs at the Hollows.

lambs

Who could resist them?

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very hard at work in the garden on her new design for the middle lawn and its surrounds.

new garden plan

It takes a lot of skill and energy to lay paving stones.

I had a look round while she toiled.

The winter aconites were soaking up the sun..

winter aconite

…and a welcome hint of a flower or two could be seen on the drumstick primulas.

drumstick primula

Dr Tinker, who was walking his daughter’s dog, Bob arrived in nice time to join us for a cup of tea and half a dainty cake.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we made some progress which was helped when I found out that it wasn’t us but the computer that was making a mistake in one movement of the sonata we were playing.  GIGO.

I was expecting to go and play trios in the evening but the playing was cancelled so I went off with Mrs Tootlepedal to see a screening of Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Buccleuch Centre.  I didn’t know what to expect but in the event, I liked the slightly stylised  production a lot.  The setting, costumes and lighting were unfussy and bright (a very unusual thing in modern productions as far as I can see) and you could hear every word spoken. As the words are by Oscar Wilde this was a Good Thing.  What came over very clearly was the relevance of the play to Wilde’s own life and this gave genuine pathos to a witty production.

The flying bird of the day is one of the busy chaffinches and for once, the photograph has not been cropped at all which shows how favourable conditions were this morning.

flying chaffinch

My twenty miles today got me over three hundred miles for the month of March.  This is as much as I did in the first two months put together so things are looking up a bit. 

 

 

 

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We had such a grey day here that I badly needed something bright for the post so today’s guest offering is another of Tommy cycling in the South African sunshine.  Lucky chap.

tommy in SA

The only colour in the garden today was provided by a few stubborn daffodils who defied the cold and the wind.

daffs

It was very depressing after having had a few nearly decent days to go back to mean, cold and nasty weather again.

The birds had to hang on to the feeders…

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…and take great care getting on  to the perches.

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The encompassing gloom was cheered by the arrival of Dropscone with treacle scones and Sandy to help eat them with our morning coffee.

We were also pleased to see the return of the dam bridge repairers with the new railings, ready to be installed.

Sandy and I arranged to go for a walk after lunch and he duly arrived and drove us down to Canonbie where we parked at the Hollows and walked along the road to the Byreburn bridge.

In spite of very poor conditions for taking pictures, the wall along the old road provided us with plenty of temptations to get the camera out.

fernsmoss on lichengorsemoss and fern

When we got to the Byreburn bridge, we left the river Esk and followed the track beside the burn…

Byreburn track

…with plenty to see as we walked up to the next bridge.

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A hint of the coal seams which were mined in days past

fairy loup

The Fairy Loup

fairy loup

The Byreburn

byreburn bridge

Here we left the shelter of the woods and took to the road to make a circular route back to the car.

Once again, there were things to look at as we went along…

gate at Claygate

Gate of the day being threatened by encroaching hedges

gilnockie schoolhouse

Snowdrops at the old school house

Near Gilnockie station

Neatly trimmed hedges, often a feature of our back roads.

…and things looking at us…

mean sheep

…with a very hard stare.

As we got down the hill back towards the Hollows, Sandy noticed a tree beside the road which looked as though it had been the victim of a very bad sewing job by some dendrological Dr Frankenstein…

tree with ivy

…and I enjoyed the sight of a clump of hardy trees hanging by their toenails to the bank high above the river Esk.

Hollows Bridge

We had thought that we might get blasted by the cruel wind as we walked back along the road but by happy accident, the wind was directly behind us and the whole walk was remarkably comfortable considering the conditions.

The Hollows Bridge is hard to see from the road so the best that I could do was to peer through the trees…

Hollows Bridge

…but the consolation was the sight of the little stone carvings which keep appearing on the wooded knoll beside the river.   This set were new since I had last been here.

Hollows Bridge statues

When we got home, the bridge railings had been installed but not quite finished so I took a temporary shot of each side…

dam bridge repair railings

…and then forgot to come out later to take the finished article.

I will try again tomorrow.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to a concert in the Church which was raising funds for the restoration of the church organ and the refurbishment of the social club in the town.

The concert featured brass and pipe bands, guest singers from Hawick and a fine selection of local talent.  I am not an out and out fan of pipe bands playing indoors but the concert was thoroughly enjoyable all the same and only the attendance was a bit disappointing.  I hope that those who couldn’t come had something better to do for they had missed a treat.

On a grumpy note, it went on too long.  Two and a half hours sitting in a church pew is enough to let the iron enter anyone’s soul.  I may have remarked before that I have never heard anyone come out of an amateur concert saying, “That was too short.”

Still, it proved that we are not short of musical talent in the town.

The flying bird of the day matches the weather.  Rather a poor effort.

_DSC2326

The weather is due to get worse.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Langholm friends Jim and Sandra.  They are visiting Australia where they met some down under bird life.

australian bird

We enjoyed another chilly but sunny day and if you could keep in the sun and out of a relentlessly nipping wind, it was not too bad at all.

We had a quiet morning, mostly reading newspapers and listening to the radio.  I did a little bird watching every now and again.

The male blackbirds were chasing each other about when they weren’t posing or eating so I think that they must be our native blackbirds claiming their territory.

blackbirds

There were no siskins or goldfinches about today so the chaffinches had a free hand and flew about in every direction.

chaffinches

Dunnocks and robins made occasional appearances.

dunnock and robin

A greenfinch looked relatively happy today (by greenfinch standards).

greenfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal spent some useful time clearing up in the greenhouse getting ready for the new season and I made a pan of vegetable soup for my lunch.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal turned to cooking and made several fish pies and I wrapped up well and went out for a pedal.

I didn’t want to go too far from home as the wind would be against me on the way back and it was very cold so I went five miles up the road and back twice.  This is not as boring as it sounds and I enjoyed myself.

I stopped once or twice.

It was a lovely afternoon when the wind was behind you.

Westwater

I was going to take a picture of the gate at my turning point on Callister when I noticed a movement among the tussocks.  The head of a deer poked up…

gate and deer on callister

…but it sneaked away without letting me get a better shot.

I went along the river on a circuit of the New Town of Langholm as part of my route in the hope of seeing oyster catchers.  There were none about on the first pass but two had arrived by the time I went along the bank for the second go round.

oystercatchers

Good route choice.

And crocuses were almost out in the garden when I got home.

crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal was also out in the garden but she was finding it chilly too and came in.

The sun was still out though and it seemed too good a day to waste indoors watching Scotland getting beaten by England at the rugby (I am never optimistic about Scotland’s rugby chances) so I got changed and went out for a short walk.

I was hoping to see some black headed gulls and I was in luck and saw one straight away when I got to the river.

black headed gull

Then I saw ten more.

black headed gull

It was as good a day for walking as it had been for cycling, especially as I was reasonably sheltered from the wind.

sawmill brig

The sun was dropping in the sky and lit up the moss on the wall after the Sawmill Brig.

mossy wall

It is obviously a good place for  moss…

mossy wall

…which is thriving.

mossy wall

I always like the colour of the bark when low sun strikes a pine tree…

pine tree

…and the trunks looked good too as I went along the new path.

pine tree

An old tree trunk, now used as a bench had an interesting selection of colonists on it. One of the ‘helicopter’ seeds was actually rooting in a crevice in the wood.

moss and seeds

I had noticed that the moon was already high in the sky so I took a hopeful shot as I walked along and after a tweak in the photo editor, it came out surprisingly clearly.

moon

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that against expectations, Scotland were leading in the rugby match.  I watched until half time and then, fearful of causing them any bad luck by showing excessive expectation, I started cooking our evening meal. I received messages of amazement from all of our three children during the half time interval.   Annie, our daughter, was watching the match in Berlin while attending the Berlin Film Festival.

In spite of my best intentions, I kept sneaking back in during the second half and taking a quick look.  England (dropping the ball, giving away penalties and getting a man sent off) were playing like Scotland and Scotland were playing very well.  It was all most unsettling.

In the end, we won.  The first victory over England for ten years.   Our daughter was watching the game with an England supporter in Berlin and he just couldn’t understand why she was still so worried when Scotland were 15 points up with only two minutes to go.  He obviously hasn’t seen what Scotland can do when it comes to losing matches in the last minute that they should have won.

Now that I know that they are going to win, I may well sit down and watch a replay of the whole match in comfort.

All in all, it turned out to be a better day in every way than I had anticipated.

The flying bird of the day is one of the gulls at full stretch.

black headed gull

 

 

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The last of my current set of guest pictures  (hint, hint) is a rather unorthodox setting for a Monteverdi concert that my sister Susan attended.

concert venue

Well, part of my wishes came true today and we had a day of almost uninterrupted sunshine.  Sadly, but predictably, the sunshine came with early frost and it was quite chilly all day.

On the plus side, after breakfast, I saw a man shinning up a telephone pole outside our house and before we knew it, our phone was back working.  Since it turned out that it was one of his fellow workers who had left a wire unconnected (“easily done,” the man said) when working up the pole while we were away, I felt that he could have been a bit more apologetic about the whole affair but as far as he was concerned, it was job done and off to the next one.

Still, our phone works so we are happy.  Now we can get back to receiving calls from crooks who want to sell us PPI deals or interfere with our computer’s operating system.  It has been hard to go without offers of a ‘green deal’ for so many days.

As well as our phone, there was a welcome return of some birds to the feeder.

busy feeder

There was even some queuing going on.

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I was pleased to see siskins back as well as goldfinches…

siskins

…and I liked the rather lordly air with which this one was waiting for someone to get out of his way.

stately siskin

Pigeons approached on foot, looking very serious….

pigeon

…while a goldfinch regarded an empty perch with suspicion….

flying goldfinch

…and a blackbird didn’t take to being photographed at all kindly.

blackbird

By noon, the temperature had crept up to 4°C and all danger of icy patches on the road had receded so I wrapped up warmly, got the fairly speedy bike out, lubricated the chain and set off to see what use I could make of a fine day.

As long as I didn’t try to go too fast, things went well and I pedalled over the top of Callister and down into the flat country beyond.

Quite often, you can see blue sky and be under cloud but today for a change, I could see plenty of clouds….

between the waters

…but I spent three hours under blue skies.

It was grand day for cycling….

tree between the waters

….with interesting trees and quiet roads.

Springkell

The camera club theme for the next meeting is ‘selfies’.  This might be my effort.

cycle selfie

As I passed the relatively new wind farm at Gretna, where the turbines were only just turning …

Longtown windmills

…I could see the even newer wind farm at Longtown in the background.

I stopped to eat a banana near Springfield and fell into conversation with an old chap who was touring on his electric bike.  He told me that he had done five and half thousand miles in the last eighteen months and was very grateful to be able to keep going in spite of having diabetes.

I am keeping the possibility of an electric bike very much in the forefront of my mind for when the time comes that I will need one.

I was hoping that I might be able to do 40 miles on such a fine day but my legs and chest had other opinions and I found myself crossing the bridge in Langholm…

meeting of the waters

…after 35 miles.  That was still a good deal better than I have managed lately so I was grateful for the very light wind which made it a pleasure to be out.

In the garden, the snowdrops are beginning to show….

snowdrop

… early daffodils are looking promising…

daff

…and there were signs that Mrs Tootlepedal had done some gardening while I was out.  The lawn re-shaping is part of her 2018 garden scheme.

lawn imptovements

When I got in, I had a shower and then I added another Parish Magazine which Sandy had scanned and edited to the Archive Group website.  Now the two of us are working on the project, we should get a lot done.

After another portion of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pork chop with parsnips, apples and cider for tea, I left her to watch an interesting gardening programme and went along to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to The Outside Track.

The Outside Track are three Scots, an Irish girl and a Canadian from Cape Breton. They were described in the brochure as a stunning synthesis of virtuosity and energy with a love of traditional music and commitment to creating new music on its foundations.

That all seemed pretty fair when I listened to them.

I enjoyed the evening thoroughly, particularly the work of Ailie Robertson from Edinburgh on the Clarsach.  Anyone interested can hear them here  but they were a lot more punchy live.

Considering that there was a disappointingly small audience, they played with plenty of zest and were polite enough to give us encore too.

I did find a flying bird today, a female chaffinch intent on some seed.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  While we were in Birmingham, he was paying a visit to Arran.

arran

We are very pleased to be back home after the excitements of the weekend in Birmingham and I was also pleased to find that our internet is working even though our phone is still on the blink.  You might think that since the phone and the internet come down the same wire, then if one is off then the other would be too. It turns out, an engineer told me, that the internet needs only one wire while the phone requires two so it is possible to have a fault on the phone and not on the internet.

If the weather  was pleased to see us back, it wasn’t showing it and we had a really miserable wet and windy day.

The temperature had risen and the snow was melting fast with the result that our rivers were pretty full when I went for a look in the morning.

river esk in flood

I hurried back indoors.

It was too gloomy for bird watching and there weren’t many birds to watch…

_DSC0877

…so I entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee and we put a parish magazine, which he had scanned and edited, onto the Archive website.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with lunches at the Buccleuch Centre and I made a pot of soup for our lunch.  And then we had a snooze, being a bit tired after all the fun.

I woke up for long enough to have a quick stretch of the legs when the rain stopped for a while.

It was too gloomy to take many pictures but the river was still high.

river esk in floodP1060830P1060832river esk in flood

It started to rain just as I got home and we didn’t go out again.

Between bad weather and niggling ailments, my cycling mileage for the past three months has been appalling and it doesn’t look as though things are going to get any better soon.

I got a gloomy flying bird to match the day.

chaffinch

Our Weekend Trip

For those interested, I append a (relatively) brief illustrated narrative of our trip to Birmingham.  It was organised and paid for by our three children to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary (which is actually tomorrow).  It came as a very pleasant surprise to us and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

As readers will know, we have been suffering from the after effects of a persistent bug and it was touch and go whether we would be fit enough for the trip but we just made it and it was a tribute to the whole outing that we felt better, if tired, when we got home than when we set out.  It was a real holiday.

We did our best to have a good time and went off to the pictures to see The Post at the cinema on Saturday evening when we arrived in Birmingham.

Then when we woke up on Sunday morning, we had planned to have an excursion but the conditions were against us.

birmingham

It was cold, the roads and paths were very slippery and the snow was of the extremely soggy variety so we soon gave up and retired to our comfortable hotel for the rest of the day as the snow turned to heavy rain.

In the early evening, we braved the rain and visited the Arena…

birmingham

…where the children had treated us to a pre show meal before  we joined 10,000 other people in the hall to enjoy the Strictly Come Dancing tour.  Our seats were so good that I didn’t have to look at the big screens once during the evening and we could look at the dancers without being pestered by the endless cuts and twirls which the director thinks necessary during the TV shows.  The dancing was very good.

The next morning, the weather had relented….

P1060761

…and our hotel was positively gleaming in the sunshine.  We have our own interests so we walked up to the centre of the city to leave our bags at the station and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal explored the world of retail, I walked back to the canal, taking in some sights on the way.

P1060762P1060763birminghambirmingham

The canals run right through the centre of the town…

birmingham canal

…and I went under one before coming back up onto the tow path and looking across at our hotel looming over the Gas Street basin.

birmingham canal

The canal runs under the street beside the hotel….

birmingham canal

…passes the arena where we had seen Strictly….

P1060778

…and then heads off towards Wolverhampton.  This was the Main Canal and it is very broad and handsome.

I walked down the canal and crossed the bridge that you can see in the picture below…

P1060785

…admiring the view from the bridge,,,,

birmingham canal

…and then walked back up the other side and into the centre of town.

birmingham canal

Here, I left the Main Canal and followed the Birmingham and Fazely Canal which immediately plunges down a flight of locks, called the Farmers Bridge flight.

birmingham canal

It is a marked contrast to the Main Canal as it is very narrow and plunges down between cliffs of buildings and sometimes, even goes under them.

birmingham canal

I could have spent all day exploring the canals but I had arranged to meet Mrs Tootlepedal at the shops and I caught her just before she had bought the entire stock of a celebrated store.

She likes a canal trip so we walked back down to the canal and embarked on a short boat trip along parts of the canals where I had walked earlier.

P1060815

We had a cheery chap from Liverpool as company….

P1060817

…and a canal narrowboat dweller as our captain.

After our voyage, we enjoyed lunch at a canal side cafe and then headed back up to the town centre to visit the museum and art gallery there.

We were both happy as I saw a couple of Lowrys…

Lowry

…and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed peering at the Staffordshire Hoard of gold and silver objects from Anglo Saxon times.

staffordshire hoard

It had a nice ceiling too.

birmingham

We were feeling a bit weary by now so we settled down to have a cup of tea and read the paper in the cafe in Waterstone’s until it was time to head to the station, pick up our cases and catch the train home.

The car was still in the station car park when we got to Carlisle (hooray) and after paying a king’s ransom to get it out, we drove home and relaxed after a wonderful treat.

 

 

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