Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘flute’ Category

Today’s guest picture from son Tony in East Wemyss goes to prove that you can find grumpy herons all over the place.

wemyss heron

It was a beautiful morning with a delicate sunrise but it was chilly enough at 4°C after breakfast to keep me from getting my bike out.  Instead, I walked up to the town where I did a bit of archive group business.  I asked Nancy, who was mining data in our new premises, for a suggestion for an interesting walk but she was unable to come up with one that hadn’t already figured in the blog.

Scratching my head, I went out into to the street and bumped into Mike Tinker.  He is a stalwart of the Langholm Walks group and suggested that I try Walk 5.  As this involves walking up steep rough ground and I hadn’t got either walking boots or my walking poles with me, Nancy and I hadn’t considered this.

However, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I resolved to take up Mike’s suggestion, trust to the ground being firm and the boggy bits few and far between and hope that I didn’t fall over on a slippery bit.

And, plucking up my courage, I headed out to try Walk 5

It starts with a stroll along the river out of the town and this led me past one of favourite bits of lichen which can be found on a fence just on the very edge of Langholm.  It is a grey and black lichen and so a black and white shot seemed like a good idea.

fungus on fence lands end

I crossed Skippers Bridge without taking a photograph and was soon walking up the track towards the hill.  I could see the mast on the top of Warbla (275m) in the distance and it seemed to be a good day to be up beside it so I pressed on.

distant view of mast on warbla

My hopes about the dry ground and lack of boggy bits were fully realised and though the hill is quite steep in places, I was able to stop and admire the view from time to time and get my breath back.

view from above skipperscleuch tarck

There was even some more lichen on a rock to detain me.

fungus on warbla

It wasn’t too long before I was able to look back down on the town, snugly tucked into its nest at the bottom of the hills.

langholm from walk 5

And then I was high enough to be able to look around at the neighbouring summits…

timpen from warbla

…and to look ahead to my immediate target.

approaching the mast warbla

When I got there, I was amply rewarded for the slog uphill across rough ground with superb views of hills streaked with sunshine and shadows…

view from warbla summit

…which I shared with a man and a dog who had reached the trig point from the opposite side of the hill.  We agreed that a better place to be on such a fine day would be hard to find.

man and dog on warbla

From the summit, I could look across the valley and stretching the zoom on the Lumix to its full extent, I could just make out the stile over the wall on Whita that I had crossed on a walk almost a week ago on another fine day.  It was about a mile away.

stile on whita from warbla

The hills looked just as good on the way down from the top as they had on the way up…

view from warbla

…and the track to the town was at its best.

green road on warbla

However, without my walking poles, I had to keep my head well down as I went along since there were plenty of opportunities to slip and slide on wet grass or slippery stones and I took no more views and only got the camera out to note this tree growing out of the top of a wall in a rather unlikely fashion….

tree on wall

…and got home safely with dry feet and no unexpected encounters between my backside and mother earth.

By coincidence, I met Nancy just as I got back.  She had been dropping off some of the results of her data mining for me to enter into the Archive Group’s newspaper database.  I’ll have to hope for some wet and windy weather which makes entering data a sensible thing to be doing.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and found some bright eyed birds at the garden feeder.

bright eyed birds

After lunch, the temperature had risen enough to make cycling a possibility so I got into my cycling gear, got my bike and set off.  In an exciting fashion I rode round the block and was home again in about three minutes.  It had started to rain heavily much to my surprise and annoyance.  There had been no sign of this sort of thing while I was out walking.

However, I kept my cycling gear on and after only a few minutes, the rain had disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and I set off again.

It was a lovely day for a pedal!

cleuchfoot road

The days are still short though and I only had time for 23 miles before it began to get gloomy.  Because I was pushed for time, I  took just that one picture on my ride which was of the scenically dull ‘up and down the road’ variety.  It was enjoyable pedalling though and my legs only reminded me of my morning walk once or twice.

I got home in time for a cup of tea and some Garibaldi biscuits which we had bought in Carlisle yesterday.  While eating the biscuits, I was able to reflect that too much of my life has been wasted not eating Garibaldi biscuits, an omission which I will try to correct in the years to come.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been out doing some useful gardening while I had been pedalling so we were both quite satisfied with our afternoon’s work.

After the tea and biscuits it was time for my flute pupil Luke to come and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger and worked on a bit of one by J J Quantz.

After Luke went, there was time to enjoy a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty puy lentil, leek and feta bake for tea before I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  Here we played Mozart, Boismortier and Schickhardt so that rounded off a very good all round sort of day.

I even found a satisfactory flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch wings closed

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is from our son Tony and shows that the temperature was lower in Fife than it was here this morning.

frosty wemyss walk

We had been promised a day of freezing fog so it was a pleasant surprise to find no fog and a temperature of two degrees above zero when we got up.   It was still too cold for cycling though as I am resolved not to risk hitting any icy patches this winter so I had a relaxing morning of chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and making ginger biscuits.

I had a good deal of time to stare out of the window and was happy to see one or two birds making a welcome re-appearance at the feeder.

I caught a great tit in the plum tree…

great tit in plum tree

…a redpoll on the feeder…

redpoll in december

…and a blackbird on the ground below.

blackbird head

There were visits from a robin and a blue tit too but these went unrecorded as they were too quick for me.

The jackdaws were back again…

jackdaw on chimney

…but there was still not a great number of finches.  I met two neighbours this morning, one of whom reported that his garden was short of small birds and the other who had many sparrows but no finches.

It was still only 2°C at lunch time but it was such a nice day that a walk was in order even if cycling was not on the menu so after  a cheese and chutney sandwich, I set off to walk up to the monument.

There were no flowers to be seen except the occasional gorse bush but some bright lichen on a small bush beside the track caught my eye.

lichen on Kirk Wynd

I was resolved to see if I could walk up the hill to the monument without stopping but one or two views compelled me to pause for a second or two.

ewes valley december

This is what lay ahead.

up to the monument

Although the ground looks a bit rough, there is a path all the way to the top and I was soon looking back on the lower hills across the valley…Castle hill

…and it didn’t take me too long to get to the top of the hill and look over the wall across the Tarras valley.  The camera makes it all look rather flat but it would be very hard work to walk across the moor, down across the river and then up to that hill in the distance which is quite a bit higher than Whita.

tinnis hill

Looking out to the west, I could see Criffel, 30 miles away, rising above a sea of mist over the Nith estuary.   We were obviously getting the best of the weather.

Criffel above mist

Looking around I could see a mixture of commercial forest and sheep grazing grounds.  It seems as though we are going to have more forestry and less sheep round here in the future as the grants system makes timber more profitable than meat at the moment.

grazing and woodland

I took a zig zag route back down the hill as the direct route is steep and would have been hard on my knees and as I walked down the track towards the White Yett, the low sun picked out these heather clumps…

heather lumps

…and I cast a long shadow as I went.

big shadow on whita

I didn’t go right down to the road but followed the track that the riders come up at the Common Riding back down towards the golf course.

Below me, I could see that the woodcutters had left the pines standing when they otherwise cleared felled the wood at Hillhead.

pines left at Hillhead

I passed a small tree as i came down the hill.  Trees like this are very scarce where the ground has sheep on it but once the sheep are taken off, trees start to grow quickly.

tree on whita

A little cairn marked my route down the hill…

 

cairn on Birnie Braes

…and I came safely back to the top of the golf course with my knees intact.

Looking down towards England, I could see the Lake District hills in the distance, looming over the mist covered Solway plain.

mist over solway

We were still mist free and the golf course was very peaceful….

5th green

…as I walked down the side of the course without being disturbed by cries of “fore!” or being hit by a golf ball.

I timed my three and a half mile walk well as I got home just as the sun dipped below the hills and a distinct chill came over the town.

Once inside, a cup of tea and some delicious ginger biscuits refreshed body and spirit and I was fully recovered when Luke arrived for some flute playing.  We played the Loeillet sonata which we have been working on and it went very well, with some good ornamentation and some faster tempi.  Although practice hasn’t made us perfect yet, we are definitely making progress.

The forecast is once again offering us fog tomorrow so I hope that we end up with another sunny day like today.

We are well prepared for Christmas Day and intend to have a quiet but jolly time.  I wish all readers of the blog a Happy Christmas and I hope that they have held Santa’s hand firmly when presents were being considered so that nobody is disappointed.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch enjoying the sunshine.

flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She encountered this impressive prancing beast at Covent Garden.  It is doing some serious strutting but as it seems to be standing in the sledge it is supposed to be pulling, it looks like a bit of a freeloader to me.

covent garden

It was cold, grey but dry today and I was happy to have a cup of coffee with Sandy while the thermometer crept up a degree or two but after he left, I stiffened my sinews and summoned up my blood and actually got my bike out and went for a pedal.

There were hints of breaks in the clouds as you can see from this picture of this fine tree near Waterbeck…

tree between the waters

…but the sun remained stubbornly hidden behind a low bank of cloud to the west and I was glad that I had several layers on as a nipping wind blew across me or into my face for most of the thirty miles that I covered.

I stopped for a banana near Kirkpatrick Fleming and looked wistfully at hints of sunshine behind a phone mast…

phone mast KPF

…and with wonder at a tree beside the motorway which was positively dripping with catkins.

vatkins at KPF

I made a final stop with three miles to go to have a drink of water and a wall inspection.

It was a good wall with lots of moss…

irvine house moss

…and more moss with added lichen…

irvine house moss lichen

…and even more moss with added lichen and ferns….

irvine house moss lichen fern

…and there was lots of lichen too….

irvine house falt lichen

…of many different varieties.

irvine house cup lichen

I like walls.  When I was very young, there was a slogan that stated “Walls have ears” to discourage talk that might be useful to an enemy agent during the war.  After several years of close examination of walls, I can safely say that they may have many interesting things on them but I have never seen any ears.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had been cooking some delicious biscuits while I was out pedalling, no weight loss has been involved in today’s activities.

The light wasn’t too bad when I got home and I half thought of adding a walk to the day’s entertainment but cycling in a chilly wind is tiring so I had a look at the birds….

peaceful goldfinches

…where once again goldfinches were ruling the roost…

angry goldfinches…and then I had a short walk round the garden where I noticed the last survivor of the sweet rocket still hanging on….

sweet rocket Dec 12

…and then I went back inside and had a warming bath instead of taking any more exercise.

Mrs Tootlepedal has brought a little bit of the garden inside and one of the geraniums that flowered well outside is now on the windowsill….

geranium indoor

…alongside an African violet, a present from a friend for our wedding anniversary in January, which has been flowering for several months.

indoor plant

In the evening, Luke came round and we played a Loeillet sonata.  We are going to take this sonata seriously and try to put the correct ornaments and playing style into place.  This will require me to do some learning for myself as I have always been a bit hit and miss when it come to trills, turns and mordents.

I spent some time in the evening watching political events unfold and I am very interested to see if the politicians who voted against Mrs May and lost will now take the advice which they have been freely offering to those on the losing side of the recent referendum and respect the fact that they lost the vote and shut up.   It would be a blessing.

I am not holding my breath.

The flying chaffinch of the day is very angry about the whole thing too.

angry flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s walk with his dog.  He needed full colour to record this parakeet.

wemyss parrot

We woke up to a bright and frosty morning and I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen before I could drive south for another singing lesson with Mary, our Langholm choir conductor.  It was well worth the effort of driving down into England as Mary is a most considerate and thorough teacher.

My eyes have been opened to just how many ways there are to sing badly and how many things need to be thought about and practised carefully if I want to improve.  Still, it is very exciting to find something that can be progressive and rewarding when so many other things can only go downhill when you get to a certain age.

When I got home, I had little time to waste before I had to take our car into the garage to get its winter tyres put on.  The frosty weather in the morning had been a signal that now might be a good time to get this done.

When I got home again, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had made a very tasty sweet potato soup for lunch and after tucking into a bowl of that with some good cheese on the side, I took a moment to look at the birds.

The brightness had gone out of the day by this time and a flying visit from the sparrowhawk, although it was unsuccessful, may have discouraged the birds as there were not many about.  On top of that it was a day when the birds sneaked quickly up onto the feeder from behind instead of flying up slowly from the side so I didn’t get any good shots, just a few rather gloomy perching birds.

blackbird on hedge

chaffinch on chimney

perching greenfinch

sparrow and goldfinch

Most of my flying bird attempts ended up looking like this.

failed flying birds

The one bright spot of the window watching was the sight of a tiny wren on the ground under the feeder.

wren

They flit about the garden quite a lot but rarely stop for long enough to be caught by my camera.

I then spent some time wondering whether I should go for a bike ride or a walk.  In fact I spent so much time pondering that the time for action came and went and the light faded along with my enthusiasm so I sat down and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.

As the afternoon went on, we were visited by Mike Tinker who had come to wish Mrs Tootlepedal a happy birthday and a plumber who made Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday happy by taking out an old gas fire which she has long wanted removed.

In order to make sure that there were no unfortunate errors, Mrs Tootlepedal had bought herself a very nice light bulb which she gave to herself on my behalf as her birthday present.

My flute pupil Luke came and we got out a piece by Loeillet over which we had spent many months of hard work years ago when he was still a novice and greatly to my delight, we played though the whole sonata with none of the fingering or counting problems which had seemed almost insurmountable at the time.  If we needed proof of our progress, this was it.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious Thai curry for our tea and after enjoying that I went off to play enjoyable  trios with the other Mike and Isabel.

The only flying bird that I caught today  was this shifty looking chaffinch, trying to creep up behind the feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland Tour.  As well as stunning scenery, he noticed this very curious gate.

IMG_0979

As it happens, Dropscone is exactly half a year older than me to the day so to celebrate my arrival at the same age as he is, he brought round some of his traditional treacle scones to go with coffee this morning.

As there wasn’t room for 77 candles on the scones, we ate them unadorned.

After he left, I got my new bike out for the first time for a month and tested the state of my leg by pedalling the six miles to the top of Callister Hill and back again.  This was my first ride on the new bike for a month.  12 miles may not be very far but it is a lot better than 0 miles…and my leg was quite happy about it all.

I went along the Wauchope road and this meant that I passed no less than three sets of barriers placed to stop motorists driving too close to the edge of the road where the banking has been showing signs of collapse…

P1150671

The bottom of the fence not the top should be at road height!

…and one where the banking has disappeared entirely….

P1150672

…and still hasn’t been repaired.  The lack of repair does not come as a total shock.  A group of enthusiasts is holding a ‘hands over the gap’ birthday party to celebrate the third anniversary of a continuing road closure on another local road which suffered a serious landslip.

My cycling road is still open to traffic but the little burn that runs along side it…..

P1150673

…is not going away and will continue to eat into the banking just as huge and heavy timber and quarry lorries will continue to thunder along above it on a road which is not designed for them.

It is an intractable problem.

I got to the top of Callister Hill and noticed a great number of cars parked on the access road to the proposed new windfarm there.  They are obviously busy preparing the way for the arrival of the turbines so I took this view of the ridge where they will stand and will take the view again as the turbines  are erected over the coming months.

P1150674

I heard an interesting programme on the radio last night as we drove back from Lockerbie.  It was about hope and the question of whether hope is a curse or a blessing.  I thought of it as I started my cycle ride today in a light drizzle because I was hoping that it would stop as I went along.  This hope was based on the weather forecast.  One of the questions raised in the programme was; can faith and hope co-exist?   This seems to be because if you have faith you don’t need hope and if you are merely hoping, you can’t have faith.   Is hope a trap for the unwary and stupid optimist? Is faith a snare for those who don’t learn from experience and keep on believing that something will happen that never happens?

Anyway, I had faith in the forecast and hoped that the rain would stop and it did…

P1150675

…and I had a sunny ride home past the landslide.

I had time for a quick look at the birds over lunch.

The goldfinches were back again…

_DSC8736

…but frequently flew off and let other breeds sample the delights of the sunflower hearts.

_DSC8738

A chaffinch looked askance at a greenfinch heading towards the feeder at a great rate of knots.

_DSC8739

More greenfinches arrived and surveyed the scene briefly…

_DSC8741

…and one came down to the feeder but didn’t look very grateful when it got there.

_DSC8742

After lunch, we went to Carlisle where I put the new bike into the bike shop for its second after-sale free service.  It has done two and half thousand miles now and I am more than happy with it.

Then we went off to a shop in an enormous shed which sells a huge range of goods at a modest price.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some decorative items which she will add to the pantomime dress that she is making.

I had recently seen pictures of a good murmuration of starlings at Gretna and as it was getting near dusk, we decided to drive home by way of the site to see what we could see.  We saw a fine sunset…

sdr

…but no starlings and got bored and drove on.  We did see some small flocks flying about as we left and wondered if we had been too hasty.  I didn’t have my starling camera with me so I will have to come back another time, equipped with both patience and the right camera to see if the starlings are still around.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played some tricky pieces with varying success but considerable enjoyment.  I am not playing at my best at the moment and will have either to practise harder or try to work out what I am doing technically wrong…or both.

An outstretched chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

_DSC8745

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland tour.  He stopped to take a picture of the Connel Bridge on the Oban road.  He has had lovely weather for his trip.

connel bridge

Our spell of sunny weather came to end today and it was rather chilly and grey with a brisk wind.  I am still looking after my leg so I was very happy to stay out of the wind and entertain Sandy to a cup of coffee.  While we were sipping and chatting, Nancy, our fellow archivist, arrived with the final sheets for 1898.  Every time we embark on recording a new year of the paper, we feel a surge of satisfaction.

When Sandy left, I watched the birds for a bit.  We are still not getting a great deal of traffic but from time to time, the feeder does get busy.

whirlwind at the feeder

Mostly it was pretty quiet and the chaffinches were able to land at their leisure…

landing chaffinch

…though some still needed a steadying wing.

one armed chaffinch

Trying to catch a coal tit in flight was as tricky as ever.

disappearing coal tit

Rather than face the chilly wind, I put some time in on the bike to nowhere in the garage.  It is a little dull but it does have the benefit of allowing me to moderate the effort I put in and keep things smooth.

Then I made some vegetable soup for lunch and was able to use an onion and potatoes from the store in our garage.  The onions will soon run out but there are a fair number of potatoes still to go.  It is doubly warming to eat a soup with home grown veg in it.

While I was making the soup, I kept an eye out.

The best looking chaffinch of the day was loud and proud….

resplendent chaffinch

…but down a below, a blackbird was skulking around.

creeping blackbird

After lunch, I went for a walk and as my leg seemed to have taken no hurt from the morning pedal, I even ventured on a slightly more hilly route and went round Gaskell’s Walk.

By this time of the year the sun is so low by three o’clock that it may shine on the hills…

sun on the hills november

…but it wasn’t shining on me down in the valley below.

There were things by the way to keep my kind off the chill.  The fence post at the Auld Stane Brig was a positive garden of delights today.

auld stane brig fence post

A fallen log was playing host to moss and fungus

fungus and moss

And the back of a fern revealed a delicate tracery.

back of a fern

When I got to the park, I thought that I ought to show the park wall in all its mossy glory…..

park wall overview

…and not just pick out the detail on the way.

park wall moss and lichenpark wall leaves

When I put the pictures from my walk on the computer in the evening, my favourite was this view of Meikleholm Hill, not just because of the sun on the hillside but because of the smoky effect of the willowherb seed heads in the foreground.

sun on the hills with rosebay willowherb

When I got back, I made a cup of tea for Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy at her pantomime dressmaking (there will be plackets) and Mike Tinker who called round.

They arranged to go to a public meeting in the evening regarding our local newspaper which is now owned by a community company.  I would have gone too but it was camera club night.

The next business was playing duets with Luke.  I am rather cross with him as it may well turn out that he will be a better player than me.   Ah well.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked me  delicious fry-up for my tea and I went off to the camera club to learn about taking portraits.

Because of the newspaper meeting, our numbers were a bit down but two members had brought lighting equipment and there was lively discussion about lighting kit and exposure meters and members volunteered to be sitters.  I had a go at shooting them.

Stan

Stan without a flash

Andy

Andy with lighting and a reflector.

There is always plenty of discussion at our meetings and Thomas can be seen here showing Stan some of the many capabilities of the camera on a mobile phone while Corrie looks on.

dav

I took this picture with my new mobile phone which arrived today.   I am very pleased that the camera looks to be quite a bit better than the one on my old phone.

I will try to up my exercise a bit tomorrow, either inside or out as the weather permits.

The flying bird of the day is a ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Mary.  She has been recovering from a hip operation and hasn’t been able to get about taking pictures lately so she kindly sent me this picture of Darwin’s house in Kent which she visited in August.

I had a pleasantly busy day today, with plenty to do and people to talk to and this made up for the quality of the day itself which was dull and grey, very dull and grey.

After breakfast, I went up to the Archive Centre where I met Sandy and we were joined by Ron, one of the trustees of the Langholm Reference Library.  He is providing a home for all the various bits and pieces which the Archive Group have collected over the years and came to see what we had got.

He was able to take all that we wanted and we put it in some handy boxes which, with great foresight, Ron had brought with him.  We loaded the boxes into Sandy’s car and off it all went to the library to be catalogued and stored.   I wish everything in the world went as smoothly as this bit of business.

Leaving Sandy and Ron to do anything that looked like heavy lifting or hard work, I went round the corner and got a lift home from Dropscone, accompanied by some his traditional Friday treacle scones.  We ate these while drinking some coffee.   Dropscone has recently suffered an attack of torticollis and so he is well up the pecking order when it comes to interesting ailments.

After he had gone off, I spotted an interesting bird in the garden and took this very interesting picture of it.

 

I did mention that it was a very dull day.  But I must admit that in my haste to capture the bird, I failed to check my camera settings.

The camera was recording in RAW and it shows shows just how much the camera records that it doesn’t tell you about when I can reveal that after processing the image, I could find this welcome visitor under all the gloom

I hope to get a chance to look at the robin again soon with the right camera settings in place.

I then grappled with a very contorted crossword which was in the end  even duller than the weather.  I got fed up and went out into the garden.

It was too grey and windy to take pictures so instead of going for a walk, I did a little gardening.  I shredded and sieved and shifted the contents of compost bin C into compost bin D.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I followed on to take a picture of her waving to to the world.  My camera skills again let me down and by the time that I got organised, she was hard at work.

Once again, I discarded any idea of a walk and made myself useful.  I shredded, and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and then did a little digging of what will be our fruit cage area next year (if everything goes to plan).

By this time, although it was still quite early, the light was so poor that we went in and had a cup of tea.  That concluded the active part of the day.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on the news, Alison and I played duets.  We got out a Telemann sonata which we haven’t played for years and found that we remembered it remarkably well and resolved to put in a bit of practice and play it again soon.

As it was too gloomy to take a flying bird picture today, I have delved into the archives to find a rare shot of a flying robin from four years ago.

flying robin

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »