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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Today’s guest picture was taken by our younger son and shows his wife and daughter obediently saying “cheese” when requested.

Clare and matilda

There was continued slight movement on the road to health in the Tootlepedal household today with Mrs Tootlepedal feeling well enough to take in a little nourishment.  I wasn’t quite as perky as I had hoped to be but I was well enough to wander about the house moodily and I did walk up into the town as far as the chemist in the afternoon to replenish our stock of paracetamol.

Having said that, it was still a rather gloomy day all round both literally and metaphorically.

I took time out to peer at the birds.

Everyone seemed to be looking for something.

robin

blackbird

bendy chaffinches

Often it was chaffinches looking for a perch.

busy feeder

busy feeder

And sometimes it was siskins looking for a fight.

siskin violence

I don’t think that the male siskin above who can be seen putting the boot into a female is quite in touch with the spirit of the moment.

Our robins were scurrying about again.  It is very difficult to know whether you are photographing the same one all the time but there are definitely three birds in the garden and I think that I got two different ones today.

robin

plump robin

The cat scarer is a favourite perch but we think it is also working as a cat scarer as there haven’t been any cats lurking under the feeder trying to catch birds lately.  Maybe though, it is just the cold weather that is keeping the cats at home.  Time will tell when spring comes.

I took my camera with me when I walked to the chemist for the sake of having a picture on the blog which was not taken out of the kitchen window….

misty whita

…but it was a grey and raw day so I abandoned plans for taking the longer and more scenic route home.

All the same, as I know that many readers will be feeling that their lives are strangely empty because of the lack of moss pictures on the blog recently, I did take a very small diversion on my way back to visit the park wall.

I have been reading the moss book that our daughter gave me for Christmas and though it doesn’t help me identify mosses, it is helping me to learn how to look at them and when we get some better light I hope to get some better pictures.  For some reason, I hadn’t really thought of moss as having leaves but of course, that is basically what moss is, a collection of leaves and the occasional sporophyte.

moss

moss

moss

moss

For those who can take a moss leaf or leave it alone, I throw in a fern complete with sori, also from the park wall.

fern

I had a quick tour of the garden in pursuit of more moss when I got home and I was wondering of thus was moss or not….

moss

…but I got easily distracted by some fine lichen in the plum tree and photographed that instead.

lichen

lichen

One of the bad things about being poorly and mooching about is that it leaves me with any amount of time to listen to the radio and watch the TV and this can only have deleterious effects on my mind and body because it involves taking in the news of the day many, many times.

On the plus side, watching the poor Californians, having been plagued by fire, now being consumed by mud slides does make me count my blessings quite gratefully.

I was intending to go to Glasgow tomorrow to help Matilda and her parents clear their old flat but having actually listened to some sound advice, I am going to stay at home and try not to make myself worse.

Another grey day post impressionist flying bird today.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the pre Christmas fun in Edinburgh.  He saw salmon being smoked.

smoking salmon

We had another frosty but bright day today with the temperature once again struggling to get above zero.

Most of the morning was spent getting everything packed and ready for the departure of our guests who were heading back to Edinburgh after lunch, hoping to get the best of the driving conditions for the trip.

Among all the action, I didn’t get much chance to look out of the kitchen widow until Matilda and her parents had gone but perhaps I wouldn’t have seen much as Alistair spotted the sparrowhawk paying us a visit and picking up an unfortunate small bird on its way.

Once we had waved our guests off and shed a sorrowful tear, I did a little robin spotting….

robins

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off to see how the felling of the Becks wood was going on.

It was still really chilly as the frost in the garden showed….

garden ice

…but it was a glorious December day for a walk….

View from Scott's Knowe

…and as long as we stayed in the sunshine, it even felt quite warm.

The felling of the Becks wood is going on apace.

Becks wood felling

We were able to watch the skilled operator cutting trees, lifting them up and snedding and slicing them with ease.

Becks wood felling

It won’t take him long to clear the whole wood.

We obviously couldn’t go through the wood so we turned back and walked down to the Wauchope road through the field, taking a party of visiting walkers with us.  They had been hoping to do the Becks walk and were pleased to get some guidance on an alternative route.

When we got down to the road, Mrs Tootlepedal headed for home and I crossed the Auld Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig

…and headed for a track up the hill.

On my way I passed a curious frozen puddle with a translucent centre….

frozen puddle

…and yet another example of hair ice.

hair ice

It was cold in the trees and I was pleased to come back into the sunshine when I got onto the hill.

There were trees to be seen at the bottom of the hill….

trees

….a sheep on sentry duty on the track further up…

sheep on warbla

…and a blasted hawthorn, survivor of many gales.

tree on warbla

I could see snow on the hills just outside the town….

Snowy view

…and the moon hanging in the sky above the track.

Moon over warbla

I could look back across the Wauchope Water and see the wood which is being felled.  I don’t know how much of the wood will go but it will be missed when it is gone.

Becks wood

When I got to the track back down to the Stubholm, I noticed a strange black line down the centre of the roadway.  A second look showed me that it was my shadow and I stood with my legs apart to take a picture of it.

long shadow

It is not every day that I find myself on a gently sloping track with the sun low and  dead behind me so this might well be my only chance to prove that in the right conditions, I can have a fifty yard long shadow.  (I paced it out.)

As the sun got lower, the light got more golden.  We may not have had a very colourful autumn this year but we are getting some enjoyably colourful winter afternoons now on the days when the sun shines.

Meikleholm Hill

Whita in winter

I walked down the hill with care as there were some icy bits to avoid but I was able to keep my eyes open enough to see some fungus on a tree on the Stubholm track….

fungus

…and some lichen on the park wall.

lichen

It is a constant source of wonder to me that two stones in the same wall, just a yard or two apart should have different lichen on them.

The house seemed very quiet when I got back.

A look at the forecast in the evening revealed a very confident prediction of snow for tomorrow and I am not so old yet that I don’t consider the first snow of winter to be an exciting event so I hope that we do get some.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving a siskin the hard stare.

flying chaffinch and siskin

Here is a little video of the three eating machine for those with 20 seconds to waste.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my next door neighbour Irving who is spending the festive season visiting his son and family in Florida.  The picture shows some of the  20 to 30 ibis they see outside the house every day.

photo(1)

We had another sunny day here today but the temperature was at zero when we got up and not much higher at any time during the day.

pigeon

A pigeon looking as though it wasn’t enjoying walking on our frozen lawn.

Luckily there were no ice covered pavements or treacherous patches on paths so it was a good day to get some of the very fresh air that was available.

In the morning, Alistair and Clare went off to sample the delights of shopping at Gretna leaving Matilda to look after us.  We attempted to go for a walk with her but it turned out that her father had gone off with her pink gloves in his pocket and no amount of differently coloured substitutes would do so the walk was abandoned on account of cold fingers and we waited for the gloves to come back from Gretna.

The sun had got round to the bird feeders by this time so I had a quick look out of the kitchen window….

chaffinch and goldfinches

…where there was a lot of activity.

I caught a couple of peaceful moments too.

siskin

 

greenfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal made some green lentil soup and we enjoyed it with a light lunch of cold cuts when the shoppers returned.

Then, since the gloves had arrived, we set off for a walk to feed the ducks.

We took the sunny side of the street which gave the photographer quite a big problem, when trying to get a picture of the group without his shadow appearing in the shot.

I tried this side….

Matilda, Al and Clare

…and that side but the shadow was always in the way.

In the end, I lurked behind Mrs Tootlepedal and took this shot…

Matilda, Al and Clare

…which was the best that I could do.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, except those left by people impatient to be somewhere else…

jet plane

…but since it was one of the days when the vapour trails disappeared almost as soon as they were formed, we could ignore them.

In the sun, it was very pleasant (as long as you had the right gloves on)…

Meeting of the waters

…and Matilda had a lot of fun playing on the equipment on the Kilngreen…

play park with matilda

That dratted shadow appeared again!

play park with matilda

…while I looked at passing black headed gulls….

black headed gulls

…which had been attracted by another party of bird feeders.

black headed gulls

Then Matilda came to feed the ducks…

duck

…who responded with gratitude to some good seed and pink pellets.

_DSC0436

Light is a funny thing, as they say considering that the heads of the ducks on the left and right in the panel above are the same colour when they face in the same direction but totally different when they look in opposite directions.

While Matilda fed the ducks, I looked at passing gulls again.

_DSC0439

_DSC0448

We continued out walk across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm where those with the taste for such things, had a happy time smashing the ice in the puddles while I looked for trees.

castleholm tree

When we reluctantly left the icy puddles, we walked mostly into the shade and the difference in temperature was quite marked…

icicle

…so we didn’t dilly dally again as we headed for home, pausing only to admire the moon which was floating above the monument.

_DSC0451

Matilda needed a little assistance from her father on the final stages of the journey home and I wondered, looking at her hands….

P1060252

…whether her parents are feeding her enough.  (The pink gloves are underneath the other ones)

After a quiet moment for relaxation and refreshment when we got home, the rest of the afternoon was spent having unremitting fun including snap, Pelmanism, dancing, playing ‘duck, duck, goose’ and putting on mermaid entertainments (impresario:  Madam Matilda).

It was lucky that Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the time preparing us a feast of parsnip and potato gnocchi and sweet potato and spinach saag aloo as we badly needed the fuel.

All in all, it was voted a very successful day and we should all sleep well tonight.

In spite of the gulls, I have gone for a garden chaffinch as flying bird of the day, mainly because I really like the sceptical air with which the flier is being viewed by the perching bird.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture, taken by Alistair, shows Matilda and her mother Clare enjoying a good book.

clare and matilda

The miserable weather gave us a break today and we even got a sunny spell.  It was quite a bit cooler but as it kept a few degrees above freezing, no one was complaining.

After some early dancing with Matilda at the keyboard and work at the keyboard while Matilda danced, I found a moment to fill the feeders and have a look at the birds.

The colder weather had brought them back in good numbers.

I can count thirteen waiting in the plum tree for a seed opportunity.

 

plum tree birds

There was no standing on ceremony at the feeder itself although as you can see there was some standing on chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

A starling got small reward for its visit.

starling

There was constant activity and the chaffinch rightly looked a little worried as a siskin bomb approached him.

chaffinch and siskin bomb

A dunnock wisely kept out of the way in a nearby bush.

dunnock in bush

Al and Clare took advantage of the better weather and went off for a walk and with Matilda politely keeping Mrs Tootlepedal engaged with some painting tasks, I took advantage of the better weather to go off for a bike ride.

I had to spend quite a bit of time before I left in cleaning my bike and getting rust off the chain.  The downside of winter cycling is the amount of maintenance a bike requires which is why many cyclists put their bike on a rack and retire to the gym at this time of year.

Still, I like fresh air and there was plenty of it about today after all the mist and clouds so I was happy to hit the road.

From the look of the hills, we had only just missed a white Christmas.

snowy hill

You might think from that picture that it was a rather wintery day but the more the camera pulls back to the bigger picture….

snowy hill

…the better….

snowy hill

…the day looks.

Wauchopedale

Although it was only 4°C, while the sun was out it felt pleasantly warm.  Sadly, the sun didn’t last all the way round but the roads were quiet and basically dry and the wind was light so it was a good day for a pedal.

I went round my usual loop to Canonbie and back and stopped at some familiar spots.

grainstonehead

Liddle viaduct

The viaduct is 1.2 miles away and proves what a good zoom the Lumix has.  The picture was hand held and is not cropped.

There was plenty of water coming down the Esk at the Hollows….

Esk at Hollows

..and plenty more joining it.

Esk at Hollows

I thought that if I cycled through the town when I got back and went a mile or two up the Ewes valley, I might get a snowy view of the hills but it was disappointing with only the highest hills in the distance showing white.

Ewes valley with snow

I managed to add 23 miles onto my annual total and I have now cycled more miles than last year which is satisfactory.   I have five days left to meet the target which I set myself at the start of the year but the forecast is not very encouraging with either frost or rain for the rest of the month.

In the afternoon, Al and Clare took Matilda off to visit the parents of Alistair’s best friend from his school days.  The friend now lives in California but his parents are always pleased to see Alistair and gave Matilda and Clare a warm welcome.

While they were out, I had another moment to bird watch and I liked the very smart reaction time of a chaffinch at the feeder.

chaffinch and siskin

The siskins were once again out in force.

siskins

We had an excellent evening meal of cold cuts, roast vegetables and small portion of sticky toffee pudding but only tiny inroads were made into the cheese mountain caused by some over optimistic purchasing by me.

I have had an email from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo which included a picture of the sort of clothing needed for a cheerful walk when the temperature is miles below zero and I have joined it to a picture of the sort of cycling gear needed when the temperature is only just above zero.  It is hard to tell who is the more elegant.

Mary Jo and me

All right, it isn’t hard.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin looking for a perch.

flying siskin

 

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Merry Christmas

Today’s guest picture is an adventurous squirrel making free with an athlete’s banana on the edge of a tennis court.  My sister Mary spotted it in Regent’s Park.

Squirrel in R. Park 001

Apart from the weather, we had a perfect Christmas Day.  Everyone got exactly the presents that they wanted and Matilda and her father spent most of the day playing with theirs.

Mrs Tootlepedal conjured up a very satisfactory midday meal indeed and we all tucked in, eating with great gusto but without eating too much, a tricky thing to manage.

For the evening meal, we ate cold this and that but topped it off with a helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s sublime sticky toffee pudding.

The day was delightful but the weather was frightful.  All the same,  Mrs Tootlepedal and I staggered out for a walk after lunch in the rain.

It was even less of a day for pictures than ever so I only took two.

River Esk

I thought they summed up our walk quite well.

Jubilee Bridge

We are promised a bit of sun tomorrow.

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Song and dance

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba who has sent me a small quilt made by her friend Lucie which shows a delightful seasonal robin.

quilt

Every day at the moment seems to be in competition with the day before to see which can be the more unpleasant and gloomy.  Today won hands down, as it was  even greyer than usual with brisk winds and lots of drizzle and rain.

It was lucky that there was plenty to do indoors with singing in the church choir after breakfast followed by entertaining and being entertained by Matilda for most of the rest of the day.

I put on my waterproof trousers, boots, jacket and hat and braved the rain for  a short walk after lunch just to stretch my legs.  It wasn’t a day for taking pictures…

Timpen in mist

…so I managed a gate on the Lodge Walks…

gate Lodge walks

…the new view at the top of the pheasant hatchery where a wood has been cleared….

view pheasant hatchery

…and one of the trees that the fellers have left behind…

tree pheasant hatchery

…but I was mostly glad to get home without getting absolutely soaked.

When I got in, I was the audience for an extensive dancing display by Matilda.  She goes to dancing classes and has a very good line in expressive interpretation of a tune.  I even did a little granddad dancing myself.

There was no opportunity to hang about in front of the kitchen window so there are no birds today and I don’t really enjoy taking pictures of people as it seems a bit intrusive so there are no pictures of people either.

However, we have left out a mince pie for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer so we are hoping for a good day tomorrow.

I am off to sing in the midnight carol service at the church so I will take this opportunity to wish all the blog readers a happy Christmas and seasonal good times and thank those who have sent Mrs Tootlepedal and me their good wishes.

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by a guest, our son Al, of a guest, his daughter Matilda.

Matilda

We didn’t really enjoy our extra 11 seconds of daylight today.  There were two reasons for this, firstly because it was so gloomy that it was hard to tell daylight from night and secondly because we were very busy.

Mrs Tootlepedal was back on her feet but we had got a bit behind on our Christmas preparations and with family due to arrive in the evening, there was a lot to be done.

We did it.

I had a couple of minutes to look out of the window and was pleased to see the robin warming up for its Christmas day appearance.

robin

Al and Clare arrived on schedule and in no time at all Matilda got busy decorating the Christmas tree.

_DSC0246

She was kind enough to pass on some tips to Mrs Tootlepedal.

Matilda

We had an excellent meal and then, as we were all quite tired, everyone retired to bed at a very respectable hour.

No flying birds but two perching birds of the day today.

siskin and goldfinch

 

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