Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited the south coast of England  yesterday and saw the not quite so famous white cliffs of Brighton.

The white cliffs of Brighton

After the excitements and activity of yesterday, today was very restrained.

The only noticeable activity of the morning was eating some iced buns which Dropscone kindly bought with him when he arrived for coffee.  Dropscone had plenty to relate as he has had a busy time lately, playing golf, refereeing a golf tournament, organising a golf tournament of his own  and visiting the science museum in Glasgow.  He had survived all this very well but I was quite exhausted just listening to his adventures.  He certainly gets about.

It rained heavily while we sipped and chatted but it stopped when it was time for him to go home.

I went out to look at flowers just once in one of the sunny spells.

dahliasdahliaspoppies

The only activity in the afternoon was a drive to the council dump at Annan to get rid of our old dishwasher.  This was made even more exciting than a normal visit to the dump by the fact that we had to pass through several torrential downpours with added thunder and lightning on our way there.

It was fortunate that the downpours were reasonably brief, as in the space of a minute on each occasion, the roads turned into rivers and driving became quite dangerous.  Happily on each occasion, we soon found ourselves back in bright sunshine…although we could see the next shower coming towards us at speed quite clearly.

With heavy showers and bright sunshine alternating rapidly, it wasn’t a day for cycling, walking or gardening so I took the opportunity to give my back a really good rest.

The ironic sunflower is progressing well in spite of the rain…

sunflower

…but the theme of the day was summed up by this large puddle outside the back door.

puddle

It was our younger son’s birthday today and Clare, his wife, sent me this picture of him being terrified by his birthday cakes.  It is acting as the flying bird of the day.

Al birthday cakes

It is the Canonbie Flower Show tomorrow and we are hoping for some better weather.

Read Full Post »

A wet welcome home

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who tells me that she recently went to hear a performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, all 30 of them. They were played on this magnificent instrument.  She said that it sounded as good as it looked.

harpsichord

This is today’s post today.  (Mercifully few pictures after the glut from Keswick.)

I had a quiet day, partly put of choice and partly because it rained a lot.

I had to get ready for the return of Mrs Tootlepedal from the deep south so I made a sauce for a spaghetti in the slow cooker, prepared a loaf of bread in the breadmaker, did a load of washing and tidied up the kitchen a bit.

I went out into the garden and sieved some compost, dead headed anything I could see and hoped that I hadn’t killed too much in  the greenhouse.

I meant to take some pictures of poppies while it was still dry but I left it too late and things were a bit depressed by a rain shower by the time that I got the camera out.

white poppy

This poppy had looked beautiful an hour earlier.

white poppy

Battered but unbowed

white poppy

There was one still able to attract a friend.

poppy

This one was sheltered by other plants

The dahlias are not doing well which is a pity as they were very good last year and we were hoping for another good show.

dahlias

Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit gloomy when she saw how little they had progressed while she was away.

Even the Japanese anemones, which are well sheltered by the walnut tree, are looking rather less than joyous.

Japanese anemones

We could really do with a spell of dry and warm weather or the summer flowers will just give up altogether.

In spite of the rain, my personal sunshine arrived on the train safely at Carlisle and I picked her up and drove her home.

The garden looked in a sad state and although it was more the fault of the weather than mine, I couldn’t help feeling rather guilty about the whole thing.

Still, the spaghetti sauce was very tasty so it wasn’t all doom and gloom, even if I had managed to deal the Sweet William seedlings in the greenhouse a mortal blow.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my my friend Marjorie.  She is on holiday in the Highlands and sent me this picture of the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge.  She knew it would interest me as Mrs Tootlepedal and I lived not far from the memorial when we first got married.

Commando memorial, Spean Bridge

The house is very quiet as I write this short post as Matilda and her parents are back home 70 miles to the north and Mrs Tootlepedal is still visiting her mother 300 miles away to the south.

We had a morning of fun with Matilda before she left, including another go of Grandmother’s Footsteps and an adventurous external tour of the house. This entailed a daring  crossing of the dam using the stepping stone.

stepping stone Matilda

Safely on….

stepping stone Matilda

…and safely off again. One small step for Daddy but one giant leap for Matilda.

Peas and beans were picked and apples admired and then it was time for lunch and the journey back to Edinburgh.

We hope to have another visit from Matilda before too long, preferably with better weather.

The afternoon was mostly dry and I did think about going for a pedal to test out my new cycle mirror which has arrived through the post but a combination of a very brisk wind and the chance to watch the Surrey Classic bike race on the telly proved too much for my rather feeble resolution and I succumbed to sofa torpor.

I was so well planted that I failed to rise and offer Mike Tinker a cup of tea when he came round.  He took this in good part.

After the race finished, I went out into the garden but the strong wind made taking flower pictures very difficult and the possibility of rain made a walk unattractive.

I did take a couple of low lying Sweet Williams.

Sweet Williams

The Sweet Williams have been very colourful for several weeks but are just coming to an end now.

The bees don’t seem to have been too discouraged by the chilly weather and the Lamb’s Ear had several customers buzzing round it.  It is very annoying when you point a camera at a bee and it focusses perfectly on the leaves behind it but I have put the pictures in anyway for illustrative purposes, as they say.

bees on lamb's ear

The delicate lupin in the shelter of the hedge has still got a few side shoots flowering…

lupin

…and the  very loud pot marigolds near the green house are defying the weather in style.

marigolds

The weather forecast says that it going to rain at some time on every one of the next eight days and the temperature is not going to get above 16 degrees so it appears that autumn might have come before summer this year!

No flying bird of any sort today but as I am ordering a new lens for my DSLR camera (if I can get a good trade in on my old lens),  I hope to be able to take some good bird shots with it when it comes.  Meanwhile, I will be looking out my waterproof cycling gear.

After all the fun of three days of playing with Matilda and being head cook and bottle washer, I am off to an early bed tonight.

 

 

Read Full Post »

I have had enough of the London Trip pictures so it is back to guest pictures of the day.    Dropscone was on holiday in Glasgow last week when he met this attractive bridge over the Clyde.

Glasgow Bridge

After the excitement of yesterday, we had a very calm domestic day today.  We did get out in the morning to visit both the Producers’ Market where we bought honey and our corner shop where we bought milk.  We were thus fully equipped for a pleasant day.

It rained heavily at one point but mostly it was dry and occasionally it was even sunny and almost like summer though still rather cool for the time of year.

Al and Matilda took a turn round the garden…

Al and Matilda

…finding plenty to keep them interested.

I mowed both lawns and the drying green and checked on the flowers.

Dahlias

Two rather diffident dahlias…

poppy

…and a very peppy poppy

Japanese anemone and clematis

Japanese anemone and clematis, both doing well

On spite of the bright colour of the Lilian Austin rose, I rarely see a bee near one.  They much prefer the rather plainer hostas.

Lilian Austin and hosta with bee

You can see the bee is putting its heart into the job

In the greenhouse, the petunia is still looking good….

Petunia

…which is lucky, as it is my job to keep it watered in the absence of the gardener.

I bought 3lbs of raspberries at the Producer’s Market as the blackbirds are eating ours because I haven’t netted them and I made six jars of raspberry jam with them.

I have kept the breadmaking machine very busy while Matilda has been here. I have made two loaves, 12 rolls and a pizza dough.  The breadmaker makes good bread but it makes excellent dough.

In the afternoon, we all went out into the garden in a sunny spell.  I took a formal picture of the visitors.

Al Matilda and Clare

As you can see, Matilda was dressed for every weather condition.

We had lots of fun but the highlight was several games of grandmother’s footsteps (in spite of the absence of the actual grandmother).

Al Matilda and Clare

Matilda in the garden

Matilda was very difficult to creep up on….

Matilda in the garden

…but I was easier to catch.

Photos courtesy of the Al and Clare Photo Agency.

There were a couple of white butterflies flitting about but they were reluctant to pose for me.

butterfly

As Al and I wandered around, Matilda practised putting her foot down.

Clare and Matilda

She is quite good at that already.

The pizza dough made a delicious base for a home made pizza for our tea and as there were strawberries and cream and cherries about too, we ate like kings.

There are a large number of blackbirds in the garden and I can’t make up my mind whether they are all from one family or not but almost every time I look out of the window, I can see at least one.

This is one of three I could see today.  The others were the flying birds of the day and flew out of the frame before I could shoot.

blackbird

 

 

Read Full Post »

No guest picture today but instead, a picture of my guests; Matilda flanked by her mother and father and outflanked by her granny and grandfather.

Eileen, Al, Matilda, Clare and Francis

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, who is still visiting her mother, I was the chief cook and bottle washer of the party and as a result I was not as free as usual to flit about taking happy snaps.

I was woken at 5 o’clock by the boom, boom, boom of the big bass drum as the flute band perambulated the town, reminding the townsfolk that the hound trail would soon take place.  As it was pouring with rain, I was able to roll over and go to sleep again without feeling too bad about missing that part of the fun.

When I woke again, it had stopped raining and I made breakfast for Al and Clare and Matilda.  Then Al had to go out rescue Eileen and Francis who had got caught up in the road closures for the ceremonies and hadn’t made it to our house in time.

Matilda and her parents went off ‘to see the horses’ while I made breakfast for her grandparents.    Then we set off to join them.  By this time the youngsters had seen the procession of horses in the town and gone up the Kirkwynd to wait for the riders to ride up onto the hill.

We could see the crowd assembling there on the far side of the river as we walked along Caroline Street.

Kirk Wynd

It didn’t take us too long before we found the others and we too were part of the crowd waiting for the cornet.

Kirk Wynd

You might think that there was a good sized crowd on the hill but it is multiplied considerably when those who have waited in the Market Place for the first fair crying to finish, squeeze up the Kirk Wynd…..

Kirk Wynd

…..and annoyingly stand in front of the people who were on the hill first.

We could just see Cornet Murray over their heads as he rode past us in fine style….

Cornet Murray

…being enthusiastically cheered on by the crowd.

Kirk Wynd

About half the crowd are trying to take pictures with their phones of course.

The cornet is followed by the rest of the riders, about 150 today in number…

Kirk Wynd

…each one cheered to the echo by friends and family…

Kirk Wynd

…but there is always a head in the way.

After the riders had gone by, we went back home for refreshment, passing Mr Grumpy who was lurking by the river bank, probably wondering what all the commotion was about.

heron

When I got to the garden, I had a quick check to see how it had survived the overnight heavy rain.  The result was very positive.

poppy

poppy, buddleia, dahlia

The mounted procession returns from the hill and after a while, the riders cross the Ewes at the Kilngreen and assemble on the Castleholm.  Matilda had had enough outdoor activity for the morning so I took her grandparents along to see the riders crossing the water but we were a bit late and the cornet was already on the Castleholm when we arrived on the other side of the Esk…

Cornet's chase

…so we watched as he was led out to start the Cornet’s Chase where he takes the town standard round the racecourse and is pursued, at a decent distance, first by his right and left hand men (the ex cornets of the previous two years)…

Cornet's chase

…and then by the rest of the riders.

Cornet's chase

It was an impressive sight as the cavalcade thundered onto the racecourse.

We retired for lunch and then Eileen and Francis returned to their car and drove off on other business.

As Matilda has a siesta after lunch, I took the opportunity to walk over to the Castleholm to see the horse and foot racing which takes place there.

While I waited at the bottom corner for the first horse race to come round the track, I noticed that the castle ruin has sprouted some ragwort on its topmost turret.

Langholm Castle

Because the going on the racecourse was very heavy, there were only four runners in the race but it was still a stirring sight as the hurtled round the bend towards me.

Langholm Common Riding races

The small field was less impressive as it headed up the back straight.

Langholm Common Riding races

The next race also had four runners and I went to the opposite side of track to see the start.  It was a tense affair.

Langholm Common Riding races

The riders were soon up to full speed.

Langholm Common Riding races

As they came round the top corner on the way to the finish, I could clearly see the advantage of being in front of the field on such deep going.

Langholm Common Riding races

The air was full of flying mud and the rider at the back was covered in it.

On my way up the track between races, I had passed the Highland Dancing tent…

Highland dancing

..where the piper was playing and kilts were swirling.  We had hope to see Matilda’s cousin Lola dance again this year but in the end, she didn’t come down.

In the athletics field, I could see the floral crown in its place of honour.

Langholm Common Riding Crown

Our roses are in there somewhere.

Further up the track I took a picture which epitomised the fun to be had at a soggy Common Riding field.

stick in the mud

It was a wonder that the horses were able to race at all.

The ever present threat of rain had not discouraged a good crowd for the racing though.

Langholm Common Riding races

As I walked along, the sun came out and my eye was caught by a brilliant yellow ragwort beside the course.  It was a busy plant.

ragwort with bees

I took a closer look.

ragwort insects

In between watching the horse races, I watched the foot racing from both ends of the track.  Almost all the foot races are handicaps and I watched the start of one sprint event.

Common riding athletics start

On your marks….

Common riding athletics start

Get set…

Common riding athletics start

Go!!

The back markers may seem to have a lot of ground to make up but the handicapper knows what she is doing, as I could see when I went to the finish end of the track for a couple of later races.

Common riding athletics finishCommon riding athletics finish

The races often need a photo finish to see who has won.

The great beauty of events on the Castleholm is that there are always some lovely views to admire if the action gets a little slow.

Castleholm ViewCastleholm View

I stopped long enough to say hello to Sandy who was there with his family and then went back to see about making tea for my visitors.

While I was cooking, Matilda was getting on with her first novel.

Matilda

It turned into a very pleasant evening as the wind dropped and the sun came out but it was too late for us as it was soon time for Matilda to go to bed.  She may not have had the full Common Riding experience but she has certainly ‘seen the horses’ as she wanted.  I wonder if she will remember her first visit to the great day.  I will remember it.

I was very sorry to have not been able to share the day with Mrs Tootlepedal and I hope that both she and Matilda will be present next year.

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture from our London Trip shows the sign for a long forgotten shop on Brixton Road.  By coincidence, the American senator, Bernie Sanders, a diamond geezer if ever there was one,  spoke in front of a crowd of 5000 people at a Brixton venue nearby only last month.

Sanders in Brixton

I have been doing a bit of washing of clothes lately and as some of my readers will know, this leads to ironing and so I started the day with the ironing board in play.  I am not a skilful iron handler and I never cease to be amazed (and put out) by how much more easy it is to iron a crease into a garment than it is to iron it out again.  It just doesn’t seem right.  Still, it is a great lesson for life – careful preparation is almost always better than just breenging in regardless.  I am going to learn that lesson one day…..but not yet.

I had just got the board folded and the evidence of rather rumpled clothes tucked away upstairs when first Dropscone and then Sandy arrived to share a pot of coffee.  Because it will be a busy day for all of us tomorrow, Dropscone kindly brought forward the traditional Friday treacle scones and we ate them on a Thursday instead.

It was a wet and fairly miserable morning outside and it got a lot worse and fairly bucketed down when I went off to do some shopping for Matilda and her parents (and her other grandparents too) who are visiting me over the Common Riding.  We seem to be in the middle of a spell of occasional sunshine and many really heavy showers.  It doesn’t make for restful days.

Some of the flowers are looking a bit depressed…

poppy

…and who can blame them.

I can blame the sparrows though for pecking holes in my lawn.

sparrow holes in lawn

A water lily seemed quite at home, sheltering from the elements under a leaf in the pond.

water lily

The dampness hadn’t discouraged the bees though and there were quite a few about as soon as it actually stopped raining.

bee on lambs ear

In the afternoon, when it had stopped raining for a bit, I had a visit from my friend Gavin, with his daughter, my Newcastle correspondent and her two children.  Leo was hoping to see a frog in the pond but there was not a frog to be seen and a few tadpoles were scant consolation.  Hannah helped me pick some peas and kindly only ate enough of them to leave me a few for tea.

When they had gone, I picked some beans….

P1010220

… and admired the other fruit in the garden, some for me….

Charles Ross apple

Charles Ross apple

….and some for the birds.

rowan berries

Rowan berries

I noticed that once Leo had left, a frog appeared.

frog

…but by the time that Matilda arrived, it had gone again.

While I waited for Matilda to arrive, I looked around the garden while it was dry.

The privet blossom is falling like snow but there is still masses to come.

privet

And it still looks very curious when you see it lying on the ground.

privet

Rather than dwell on the depressed poppies, I looked at the ever cheerful phlox….

phlox

…and a very flowery hosta.

hosta

Hostas are mostly grown for their foliage but they pack a lovely flower too.

hosta

During the day, an emissary of the Crown builder turned up to pick a few of our rambler roses….

rambler roses

…and I shall feel proud when I see them in the Crown as it is carried through the streets tomorrow.  I shall take a picture of it, weather permitting.  The forecast is not very good for the morning but things look better for the afternoon.  Fingers crossed.

Al and Clare arrived with Matilda on schedule.  The garden was too soggy to play in so we had a pleasant time indoors with a construction set which lets you build marble runs.  Al and I let Matilda play with it too from time to time.

After tea, while Matilda got ready for her bath, I nipped up to the Market Place to hear a snatch of the Town Band’s open air concert.

Langholm Town Band summer fair 2107

Henry, who trained and accompanied our choir last night, can be seen blowing fit to bust on the trombone on the extreme right of the picture.  He is a talented chap.

We had a very quiet evening in as the strange surroundings kept Matilda awake long after she should have been fast asleep but I sneaked out to see the Flute Band lead a procession through the streets.

flute band 2017

They were followed by the biggest procession I have seen on Summer Fair night, it nearly filled the whole of Caroline Street.

flute band 2017

The flautists will wake us up tomorrow morning at 5 o’clock to announce the starting of the Common Riding, Langholm’s great day.

Read Full Post »

The ‘London Trip’ picture for today is a glimpse of the Olympic Stadium in the Olympic park.  It is now chiefly a football ground and was a disappointment to me as I expected something more imposing.

Olympic Stadium

I have not much to say about the morning as it was a sad time.  My older son Tony came down from Edinburgh and together we went to the funeral of Ian, the son of our next door neighbour Liz.  He had died very unexpectedly, being the same age as our two eldest children and it came as a terrible shock to us all.

The words and demeanour of Ian’s wife and three sons made the unconventional funeral service very touching and it seems that they will have the inner strength to cope with this tragedy.

After the funeral and a short visit to the subsequent family gathering, Tony went back to Edinburgh and I finished off making a couple of jars of blackcurrant jelly which I had started at breakfast time, a mundane but soothing task

I wasn’t expecting to take many photos today but the unrelenting rain, which had made the morning even more sombre than it should have been, finally eased off and the sun came out.

I checked on the poppies.

poppy

They were battered but surviving.

As Tony and I had walked over the bridge after the funeral, we had seen a family of goosanders sitting on the bank of the Esk wondering whether it was good weather for ducks or not.  I went back to see if they were still there.

Goosanders

There were four of them but I couldn’t get them into one shot as they swam off in all directions when they saw me coming.

Goosanders

While I was at the bridge, I checked out the rock creation which I had seen  being built a few days ago.  It turns out that it is not a bench at all but a fine tortoise.

Rock tortoise

Nearby, I noticed a very badly painted robin.

robin

I had to put gloomy thoughts behind me as the next business of the day was a final practice for our little choir which was going to sing at the Common Riding Concert in the evening.   The practice went very well and there was time when I got home to inspect the garden.  The front lawn was awash with about thirty sparrows pecking away….

sparrows on lawn

…but like the goosanders, they saw me coming and flew off before I could get a good enough picture to identify the guilty parties.

Could this have been one of them?

sparrow

The sunshine persisted and I had time after my tea and before the performance to go for a quick walk round Gaskell’s.

A horse posed at a gate…

horse

…hoping perhaps that I had an apple in my pocket.

It was a beautiful evening for a walk….

Manse hill

…and although I didn’t have time to dilly dally, I did see some things as I went.

seeds

Everything is so green and lush at the moment that the path almost disappeared at times.

Gaskells

It’s in there somewhere

The wind had dropped and even the grasses and docks were still.

grasses

docks

When I got to the Stubholm and looked at one of my favourite evening views…

Stubholm

…I noticed a lot of furtive movement in the field in front of the house.  It was rabbits.  They all scampered off to hide in nooks and corners….

rabbit

…except one who thought that by remaining very still, he could escape my eagle eye.

Rabbit

Does Bright Eyes come to mind?

It was a beautiful evening for a walk…

Castle Hill from Gaskells

…and I was sorry to have to rush round but my speed did bring me back to the Park just in time to hear the beat of a big drum coming up Caroline Street.

Langholm Pipe BandLangholm Pipe Band

It was the Langholm Pipe Band marching through the town to draw attention to the forthcoming concert.

They were perfectly in step.

Langholm Pipe Band

Their skirling music reminded me that I had no time to waste so I hurried home, put on a clean white shirt and made my way to the Buccleuch Centre and the concert.

It was a most enjoyable evening.  Our eighteen strong choir sang as well as it possibly could and was very well received by a packed house (the tickets for the concert are free which might have helped the attendance).  We hope to sing at the concert again next year.

As the concert ended, the heavens opened and we had to scurry home in a tremendous downpour.  There has been some heavy rain and even flash floods in nearby towns in recent days and I was worried that we might be in trouble but the rain soon stopped and all is peaceful again as I write this an hour or so later.

It was a day of clouds and sunshine, both literal and metaphorical, a day that made me think hard about the unfairness of life and count my blessings.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »