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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s recent holiday.  As well as waterfalls and wonderful views, he and Marianne also saw this.

alpaca from Tony

We had the coldest night of the year so far and woke to a frosty scene.

frosty leaves

It was chilly but the birds were active.  A dunnock looked in soon after breakfast.

dunnock

The ground was pretty hard but that didn’t discourage a small group of jackdaws from pecking vigorously at the middle lawn.

two jackdaws pecking

We left the jackdaws to it and went off to take part in the Remembrance Day service in the church.  It was an unusual day for the choir as the hymns were accompanied by the town band and not our organist but we had some rousing hymns to sing so we didn’t mind.

After the service, we watched for a while as wreaths were laid at the war memorial and then headed home.

After a cup of coffee, I went out for a short walk to see how my feet would behave.  I was a bit shocked by how sore they were yesterday so I hoped to find out that that was just an aberration…and take in some nice weather at the same time.

It really was a lovely day and the calm state of the Wauchope as it passed under the Kirk Brig shows how lucky we have been here when there has been so much rain not very far away.

kirk brig reflective

I passed the war memorial with its wreaths….

war memorial remembrance day

…and some tough minded wild flowers and an interesting stick…

two wild flowers

…on my way up to the track at the Stubholm.

The sun made the best of what autumn colour is left…

stubholm track november

…and picked out some very red berries on a mature holly tree beside the track.

holly berries

A little further along, a combination of very yellow leaves and the direct sunshine produced a dazzling display which was a delight to me but which completely threw the processor in my camera which couldn’t cope with it at all.

stubholm tracj dazzle

As my current pocket camera had resisted all entreaties to behave and continued to be very stubborn when it came to taking any pictures at all, I was carrying my old Lumix with me.  It is in poor condition and I only use it on cycle trips now. Still, it did its best today even if it couldn’t cope with the leaf/sun combination.

It noted a small crop of fungus on an old log on the ground…

fungus on old log

…and a curious flaky growth on a branch above my head.  I don’t know whether this is a fungus or a lichen.

fungus on branch

And it enjoyed looking back over the town from a vantage point.

view from stubholm bank

I walked along this very autumnal path…

top path at end of stubholm

…which took me down to the river bank and back home.  My feet behaved very well.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I ordered a new camera.  It may be possible to live without champagne and caviar, but it is impossible to live without a good quality pocket camera.   (The camera on my phone is not great at all unless conditions are perfect.)

After this, I had a little time to watch the birds and was pleased to see that the/a blue tit had visited again…

blue tit looking up

…and that a mixed bag of finches and sparrows was on the feeder (I had replaced the missing perch).

full feeder

I didn’t have time for a longer walk, a short bike ride or more bird watching as we went off to Carlisle straight after lunch because we wanted to do some shopping before going to our Carlisle choir.

Our choir conductor has just won a prestigious singing prize in a competition in London so she was in a very cheerful mood.  She communicated this cheeriness to us and we had a very enjoyable and progressive practice.

Among the things that I bought on our shopping trip was a swish new feeder for the birds.  I have put it out already so I will be very interested to see what they make of it tomorrow.  The store where I bought it is having a closing down sale so I got it at an advantageous price.

I didn’t have enough standing around time today to catch a flying bird so this one, which was flying half a second before I took the picture, will have to do as the nearly flying bird of the day.

nearly flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has combined some good autumn colour with a grebe.

grebe

My plan for the day was to leap out of bed early and go for a cycle ride and then go to see the physio for a check up.  I managed half the plan. The physio was very helpful and has discharged me with admonitions to keep doing the exercises but not to do do them too much.  I shall pay attention.

The high spot of the cycle free morning (I did not leap out of bed) was the arrival of a huge parcel which when opened, revealed its very modest contents.

big parcel small contents

I know this sort of thing makes sense to someone but it doesn’t make sense to me.

As it turned out to be a cold and windy morning with quite a lot of miserable drizzle about, I was quite pleased with the lack of leaping out of bed and enjoyed a gentle stroll round the garden to see what flowers are surviving…

surviving nasturtium

lamium november

poentilla november

…and to pick up a few more of the excellent walnut crop.

fallen walnut

Most of our colour will come from shrubs until the the spring bulbs arrive.

spireas

I watched the birds as well and recorded a crow in the plum tree, a rare visitor to our garden, though we do see quite a few rooks.

crow on plum tree

A chaffinch is a more regular sight.

chaffinch on plum tree

Under the feeder, a robin…

robin on ground

…and a dunnock kept a wary eye out for cats.

dunnock by feeder pole

While up above, a blue tit snatched a seed before flying off.

blue tit tucking in

There were plenty of birds about and a goldfinch seeing a fellow being assaulted by a greenfinch headed for safety.

busy feeder

A female chaffinch made a neat landing.

female chaffinch landing

After carefully checking on the trains, we drove across to Lockerbie and caught a reasonably punctual train to Edinburgh

Matilda’s parents went off to a parents meeting at her school and we had a very entertaining time with Matilda.  There was creative dance, shooting Grandpa with a bow and arrow, and games of Carcassone and Pelmanism.

Al and Clare returned with good reports of Matilda and we enjoyed another excellent meal before setting off home.

The train home was late and as we are setting off at the crack of dawn tomorrow to catch another train, this time to Glasgow, our fingers are firmly crossed.

This also explains this brief post.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in a queue

flying goldfinch

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Today’s very appropriate guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He not only photographed this Halloween lantern but also carved it himself and grew the plant too.  A man of many talents.

andrew's halloween

We had another in our run of frosty mornings but dry days today and after coffee, I went out for a walk with my bird watching camera to see if there were any obliging gulls at the Kilngreen.

Before I left, I had a quick round up of some surviving flowers in the garden.  The phlox is very amazing.

last october flowers

I also checked the birds and found a dunnock considering the seed feeder and a blackbird nibbling on an apple.

dunnock and blackbird

When I got to the Kilngreen, the first black headed gull that I met was standing on a rock.

black headed gull on rock

And then I noticed that a lot more were standing around nearby.

black headed gulls Kilngreen

Some gulls kindly took to the air and flew slowly past me…

black headed gull flying

They were joined by a black backed gull.

black backed gull flying 2

While I was walking up the river bank, I came to this brand new bench.  It has been put in place to remember a local farrier who was a great supporter of the Common Riding where his skills were often in demand.

memorial bench Kilngreen

Below the bench, two mallards cruised past…

two mallards

…and further upstream, a dog did what a dog does when it has been chasing a ball into the cold waters of the Ewes.

shaggy dog

Having spent some time, hanging with the gulls, I moved onto the Castleholm…

bare tree castleholm

…and walked round the new path, looking up at the pine trees as I passed under them.

pine

I crossed the Jubilee Bridge and thought that I ought to try to take a picture of it.  I scrambled down the banking and took this view from the water’s edge.

jubilee bridge from below

And I looked across the Esk while I was down there.

esk at jubilee bridge

On my way round the Scholars’ Field path, I once again stopped to admire the staying power of the corydalis which is growing out of a crack in the wall.

corydalis scholars

Some gardeners go to great lengths to prepare soil and nurture their plants.  The Scholars’ Field wall makes you wonder if all that work is needed.

corydalis scholars 2

It doesn’t just have corydalis, there is a small world of plant life in and on it.

scholars wall

When I got home, I was welcomed by a smiling viola.

viola

As it was Thursday, we were set to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda after lunch but we wisely checked on the trains before we set off for Lockerbie.  Our train was thirty minutes late when it left Manchester so we waited until we were sure that it was well on its way before we set off.

Even so we were too early as it was even later by the time that it got to Lockerbie.  It had also changed from the usual four coach electric train to a three coach diesel set.  We were naturally worried about whether there would be enough seats for everyone.

When I left the waiting room to go on to the platform. I thought at first sight that one of the planes passing over the town had pulled a hand brake turn…

air handbrake turn

…until a second glance showed me that it was two planes going in opposite directions.

There were seats on the train when it eventually arrived and the diesel chugged away and got us safely to Edinburgh where we had an enjoyable visit.  I won’t say who won the three games of Carcassonne that we played but regular readers may well be able to guess who lost them all.

After our evening meal, Matilda went out guising…

Matilda the witch

…and her mother and father and I escorted her round some very friendly neighbours who had marked their willingness to dispense sweets and nuts to passing witches by placing a Halloween lantern outside their front doors.   I thought that this was a very good idea and as they all laughed heartily at Matilda’s joke of the day*, it was a very satisfactory outing.

Our train home was a little late too, and it was raining by the time we came to drive home which was a disappointment after our recent good spell of weather.

I was spoiled for choice for a flying bird of the day today, but in the end I settled on this black headed gull from my morning walk.

black headed gull flying 2

*  Knock Knock….Who’s there?…..Boo…..Boo who?…..Don’t be sad.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce.  On his recent trip, a driverless electric bus kindly stopped for him at a pedestrian crossing in Oslo.

Copengaen

I managed to get out for a 16 mile cycle ride this morning and enjoyed the sight of larch trees turning to gold both on my way up to Callister…

larch wauchope road

…and on my way back.

larch wauchope road (2)

I had intended to to do 20 miles but a friendly farmer engaged me in conversation for quarter of an hour on the way so I ran out of time.

When I got back, I had a quick tour of the garden to add another set of flowers to the record of the remarkable number that are still out this late in the year.

Some are a bit more part worn than others but they are all definitely out.

nicotianasedumviolasweey williamsunflowerphloxwhite daisiesweigelacosmosjapanese anemoneastrantiamichaelmas daisy

It was our day to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and we usually drive the 20 miles to Lockerbie and catch a Transpennine train from Manchester to Edinburgh which stops at Lockerbie. Luckily I looked at the Transpennine app and it told a sorry tale of trains being cancelled, and others only getting as far as Carlisle before stopping and, in the case of the one we would normally catch, not starting from Manchester at all but starting at Lancaster.

The reason given was shortage of drivers.  I suspect that this may be because drivers are being trained to use the new trains which are due to arrive on the route soon.  If this goes on, they may have new trains and well trained drivers but the passengers may have all got fed up and disappeared.

We didn’t risk waiting to check to see if our intended train had actually started from Lancaster but drove the 40 miles to Tweedbank instead and caught the train to Edinburgh from there.  (This turned out to be a good plan because the train from Lancaster didn’t start at all in the end.)

The drive up, in sunny conditions, was a treat in itself, with lots of delightful autumn colour along the way.  The traffic was light, the station car park provided a space and the train was on time so the whole journey was an unqualified success.

The journey back was not quite as good as the main road south was closed again for overnight repair work and we had to take a 45 mile less familiar route back home in the dark.  Still we got home safely, a bit later than planned, but cheerful enough.

We had had a very good visit.  Clare, Matilda’s mother, has been in hospital but is now at home and recovering well, and Alistair, Matilda’s father, cooked us another delicious meal.  Matilda herself had a very good time beating me at a game called Carcassone.  As she pointed out to anyone who would care to listen, she beat me three times.  I am going to have to make some improvements to my strategy if we play again.

The flying birds of the day are three starlings resting in the holly tree from their aerial exertions.

starlings

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  He has left the country with his wife and seems to have turned up in Helsinki where they saw the cathedral.  (They will be back.)

helsinki cathedral

A brief post today as it is late again as I sit down to write  because I have been to Edinburgh.

We had a day of occasional showers but it was dry enough in the morning to let me see some sparrows who exemplified the divisions in the country by simultaneously sitting on the fence and looking in two different directions at the same time.

sparrows looking both ways

It stayed dry as I went across the suspension bridge on my way to see the physio…

 

town bridge in autumn

…who is patiently trying to sort out my general stiffness with a well judged programme of exercises.

On my way back I stopped to check on our resident rock-standing gull and wondered if it had slept badly last night or was perhaps trying some new eye shadow.

gull with eye shadow

I walked round the garden when I got home.  The continued warmish weather (11 degrees C in the morning) has brought out some unseasonable flowers on the weigela…

wiegela october

…is keeping the fuchsia flourishing…

fuchsia

…as well as the cosmos…

cosmos clump

…and the Japanese anemone, which is managing very well without any dead heading from me.

anemone clump

The roses continue to delight.

princess margareta rose

Rosy Cheeks is making Mrs Tootlepedal very glad that she has added it to our stock.

rosy cheeks rose

There are even a few campanulas stills ringing a bell…

campanula october

…and I was pleased to see a bee hard at work among the fuchsia flowers.

bee on fuchsia october

I had time for a very short walk before lunch.  The poplars in the park are a favourite at this time of year.

poplars from park

The view of the trees at the far end of the Murtholm sums up the uneven autumn that we are having.

 

murtholm view october

The sheep don’t mind though as long as there is grass…

sheep grazing

…and it has been a good year for grass.

I spotted what I think is a Herb Robert flower..

herb robert

…and I was just walking along this path when the battery in my camera expired…

stubholm path

…leaving the other interesting things that I passed unrecorded.  I didn’t see much of interest to be honest.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a meeting in the evening so after lunch, I went to Edinburgh by myself.

I drove to Lockerbie in the rain and was relieved to find that at least the train was running this week.  It was twenty minutes late getting into Waverley Station but I suppose I must be thankful for small mercies because I had a very enjoyable time with Matilda, another delicious meal and a good conversation with Matilda’s mother, Clare after the meal.

And the train back was on time and it wasn’t raining as I drove home.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s meeting had gone well so it had been  satisfactory day.

I took a picture of a flying starling this morning, and it would have been the flying bird of the day…

flying starling

…if I hadn’t caught a bee in mid air too.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He noticed a small water wheel which has been installed not far from his house.  It has a helpful explanatory diagram drawn on the side of its hut.  It is providing power for some lights on a bridge.

burst

Just how lucky the agricultural show was to get a fine day yesterday was made clear by the rain which greeted me as I got up today.  It kept raining as I went to church to sing in the choir.  It was the harvest festival service today so it would have been nice to have some better weather to go with it.

When I got home, the rain died down to a drizzle and in between drinking coffee and doing some desultory tidying up against the return of Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out into the garden to have a look around.

I always like to see how raindrops sit on flowers and leaves….

wet michaelmas daisy

…and I found that I was not the only one interested in the Michaelmas daisies.

wet michaelmas daisy with hoverfly

The astrantia was attractive too.

astrantia with insect

One of the fuchsias that Mrs Tootlepedal moved has finally decided that some flowers would be a good thing….

transplanted fuchsia

…but it looks as though they might be too late with some cold weather forecast later in the week.

An insect visiting Crown Princess Margareta seems to be a bit lost.

Princess margareta rose

The silver pear has got quite a lot of little pears on it this year.  They are about the size of a cherry and unfortunately they are hard and inedible.

silver pear

The nasturtiums are still bringing their own little bit of sunshine into the garden…

yellow nasturtium

…and the late flowering nerines are looking very cheerful too.

nerine close up

By the back gate, the old fuchsia continues to surprise after a couple of very poor years.

backgate fuchsia

I went back indoors and looking out of the kitchen window, I though that I saw a sparrow on the lawn but a second glance told me that it was something else, so I snatched a poor picture of it as it hopped away.   I wonder if it is a wheatear but I would welcome a suggestion from a knowledgeable reader as to what it might be.

unknown lawn bird

At the far end of the lawn, a thrush was having its head turned by a showy begonia.

thrush and begonia

After lunch, I drove to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir and on my way, I passed over the bridge at Longtown.  There were traffic lights in place but there was no restriction on the traffic going over the bridge and the damage which had caused it to be closed yesterday looks minor.  I hope that the repairs won’t be a major business.

We were very pleased to welcome back our regular conductor Ellen at the choir practice and we worked as hard as we could to keep her happy.

After the choir was over, I was even more pleased to drive to station and pick up Mrs Tootlepedal.  She arrived back from London on a very punctual train having had a very enjoyable week there with our daughter and new granddaughter.

After a gloomy week of miserable weather in her absence, it is very good to have a ray of metaphorical sunshine back in the house.

The flying bird of the day was just passing by during the rainy morning.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who came across this boat, The Ship of Tolerance, an artwork on the Thames by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. The sails are made by children from 40 London primary schools.  You can out more about it here.

ship of tolerance

Today we said goodbye to summer after a great week of sunny weather.  The contrast with yesterday’s cloudless skies could hardly have been more stark.  The only sun available was just outside the front door in floral form and that was as far as I cared to go as the rain was pouring down.

soggy sunflower tower

Then I got out my umbrella and walked to church in the rain where a choir which reached double figures and some good singing hymns injected cheer into a gloomy day.  (One of the readings was from the prophet Jeremiah who was even gloomier than the weather.)

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal and I were able to walk round the garden in a sloshy sort of way as the rain eased off for a while.  The non scientific rain gauge showed how much rain had arrived overnight.

unscientific rain gauge

The Charles Ross apples are well protected by their foliage and should provide source material for future tartes, chutneys and pies.

charles ross apples

We have been well supplied with turnips lately too.

turnip

Squelching across the lawns and paddling among the puddles soon lost its charm though and we went back in.

dahlia in rain

After lunch, we drove to Carlisle where Mrs Tootlepedal caught the train to London to visit our daughter and our new grandchild, and I went to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.

The train was on time and even reached London a little early, so Mrs Tootlepedal was happy.  At the choir, we had a very good substitute conductor who got through a power of work, so I was happy too….or at least as happy as I could be in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who will be gone for a week.

With rain forecast for most days, and with Mrs Tootlepedal away and both Sandy and Dropscone on holiday, it looks as though it is going to be a quiet week ahead.  Still, the temperature is holding up well, so if there are any chances for a quick pedal or a walk, I should be able to take them.

No birds at all again today but an argyranthemum sportingly agreed to pose as the flying bird of the day for me.

argyranthemum in rain

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