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Archive for the ‘flute’ Category

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to Seville.  I enquired about oranges and she has sent both oranges and lemons.

seville oranges and lemons

We had another dispiritingly grey day today so it was no great hardship to spend the morning in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place.  I welcomed two seekers after information in the first five minutes but that also turned out to be the sum total of all the visitors I welcomed so I had a quiet time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and doing two crosswords.

For the rest of the day it seemed as though there was a persistent light drizzle, just light enough to send you to the back door from time to time to see if it was raining and and just heavy enough to send you back in again.

A bright spot in the day was the welcome arrival of a telephone engineer to fix our intermittent internet and dead phone connection.  He turned out to be a photographer himself and he admired my new big lens.  More importantly, he sorted out our problem and left us with the phone line working and with slightly better speeds on our internet connection.

Oh joy.

I did look out of the kitchen window and had a lot of fun with a robin who on several occasions waited until I had put my camera away before arriving and posing and then flew off chuckling as soon as I fetched the camera out again.

I had to make do with slightly bedraggled and disconsolate goldfinches…

goldfinchesgoldfinches

A pair of blue tits.

blue tits

And two curiosities, a siskin and a white headed sparrow.

siskin and white headed sparrow

I checked through last year’s posts for late October to see if we had had a visit from a siskin but didn’t find one.  The research did bring out what a miserable year this has been as I leafed through some lovely pictures of vivid autumn colour which made our dull weather this year all the more hard to bear.

My flute pupil Luke came and we had a good tootle but my Monday night trio is on hold as our cello player has only just got out of hospital and is not back to playing form yet.

Owing to the exceedingly dim light, there is no flying bird of the day and owing to the persistent drizzle there isn’t even a flower to take its place….

…oh, all right.  Here is a gloomy goldfinch who had been flying a bit earlier.

goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from long time reader, Zyriacus from Solingen in Germany.  His peace has been interrupted by the loud calls from some visiting birds, Psittacula krameri, better known here as the green parakeet.

Psittacula krameri

We had a quiet and sunny day today.  It took some getting used to.

I should have been up early and out on my bike but after getting a bit of a shock cycling in the Saharan dust a couple of days ago, I thought it best to fortify myself with some treacle scones before setting out and luckily Dropscone was available for a cup of coffee and kindly brought some with him.

He had no tales of missed putts or unfortunate adventures among the trees to tell because the golf course is so soggy that he hasn’t been able to play recently.

After he left, I managed to waste a bit more time before getting the fairly speedy bike out.  I had a look at the garden first.  There was nothing much to see as flowers were hanging their heads after heavy overnight rain but the nasturtiums leaves looked quite cheerful in the sunshine.

nasturtium leaves

I took a moment to look at birds sitting in the plum tree….

Birds in the plum tree

…and finally got going.

It was a glorious day for a pedal, reasonably warm for the time of year, pretty calm and sunny for most of the ride.

Autumn is here though as a look back down Wauchopedale showed.

Wauchopedale

Not to mention several bare trees. This was my favourite today.

Bare tree

I pedalled down to Gretna across country and then came home by main roads, stopping near Canonbie to admire these Highland cattle.

Highland cows at canonbie

The smoke from a cottage chimney at Byreburnfoot underlined the autumnal feeling.

Byreburn

And a look up the River Esk confirmed it.

Esk at Byreburn

I could see a dot in the middle of the river and a closer look showed that it was an angler.

Angler in Esk at Byreburn

A brave man.

The old A7 as I was getting near home was my last photographic stop

Old A7 near Langholm

It was a most enjoyable ride and without trying very hard, I covered the thirty miles at an average speed of about two  miles an hour faster than my dusty pedal on Wednesday.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was still at work in the garden and that was a relief too as it shows that she is getting a little better every day.

I had a look round the garden to see if things had perked up after a sunny day.

They had.

The poppies had their heads up and a bee was busy.

poppy and bee

The Fuchsias continue to delight me.

Fuchsia

Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted this fungus on the stump of a cotoneaster.

Fungus on cotoneaster

She almost thinks it must have grown in a day because she doesn’t remember seeing it there yesterday.

Fungus on cotoneaster

I went inside and started to look out of the window while there was still a bit of light left.  The birds didn’t seem to worry about the presence of the gardener still hard at work.

The goldfinches were very put out to find that a greenfinch was in their place on the feeder.

goldfinch and greenfinch

I refilled the feeder and when the goldfinches and greenfinches took a break, the chaffinches came flying in.

flying chaffinches

They were soon followed by more goldfinches and quite a few sparrows too.

flying goldfinch and sparrow

I had a very enjoyable time watching  a good deal of bickering and pushing and shoving as blue tits, greenfinches, goldfinches, sparrows and chaffinches all battled to get a seed or two.

A greenfinch took a dim view of the rowdy behaviour.

greenfinch

The feeding frenzy continued but I retired for a shower and by the time that I came back downstairs, the light had gone.

Our landline is in a very poor state and our phone has given up entirely.  The internet is still going but in an “off and on” sort of way so using the computer requires a good deal of patience but thankfully it has stayed on long enough to get this far on tonight’s post so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will let me publish.

If you don’t get to read these words, you will know that it has failed again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round, having survived  a very wet holiday in Oban, and in spite of missing a week’s practice, Alison and I had a very rewarding time playing Loeillet and Telemann with a bit of Nicolas Chedeville thrown in.

The flying bird of the day is not technically the best flying bird picture that I took today but catching a flying greenfinch is rare for me.

flying greenfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my former colleague Ada.  She encountered this sturdy cobweb on a walk today.

cobweb

It was grey and slightly drizzly at breakfast time but that didn’t matter to me as I was due to send two hours in the Welcome to Langholm Office, potentially offering advice to locals and visitors alike.

As I was not much occupied with advising, I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database which was pleasing.  I did have a little official work to do as well.  An anxious local motorist came in to tell me that the traffic lights which regulate the one way system on Skippers Bridge weren’t working.    I had encountered this yesterday and naturally assumed that “something would be done about it” without any input from me.

Now though, since it was obvious that nothing had been done, I rang up the road managers and reported the fault.   They thanked me and gave me an incident number, presumably so that I would feel important.  I felt very proud.  The lights were working when I walked over the bridge later in the day but whether my call and that outcome had any connection, it is impossible to say.

Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer and dedicated data miner called in just as I left.  She had been in the Archive Centre adding more data to the heap needing entering into the database.  It was dry as I walked back to the New Town with her and I was able to run a mower over a very soggy drying green when I got home while Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her bicycle to collect some river stones for her new path.

The forecast had been for a dry afternoon so I was thinking of a cycle ride myself but by lunchtime, both the forecast and the weather had changed and it started to rain.

I stayed in and practised songs instead.

That finally got boring and since the rain had stopped for a while, I went for a walk.

I snapped a dahlia…

dahlia

…and a poppy…

poppy

…in the garden as I went out and I had got about two hundred yards down the road when the clouds descended over the hills and it started to rain again.

I was feeling rather obstinate and decided to continue my walk down to Skippers Bridge to check the lights in spite of the drizzle.

I was dry enough in the woods and used my flash to capture this script lichen on a tree beside the path.

script lichen

When I got to the track along the fields on the Murtholm…

Murtholm track

…I weighed up the situation and decided that a little rain wouldn’t hurt me and walked on.

The autumn colour has started to show properly but the misty conditions didn’t let me make the best of it.  I tried anyway.

misty autumn colour

Langholm Distillery in autumn

I crossed the bridge when I came to it and walked back along the other side of the river.  The rain was very light and my walk was well sheltered so I was glad that I had decided to keep going.

Skippers Bridge in autumn

I passed a fine fungus on a tree stump at Lands End….

fungus on tree stump

…and enjoyed the seed heads and the last of the flowers that help disguise the sewage treatment works from the public gaze.

sewage works flowers

There is a sensational drift of late daisies beside the river here.

autumn daisies

I kept trying to catch the colour on the river banks as I went along….

Esk autumn colour

Esk autumn colour

…while trying to keep raindrops off my lens with varying success.

As I came up to the suspension bridge, the trees on the far bank looked quite cheerful…

Suspension bridge trees

…but the view from the bridge itself…

Misty view of Esk

…suggested that the direct route home and a cup of tea and a biscuit might be the best plan.

I was surprisingly dry after two miles in a light drizzle so I was very satisfied to have got some exercise in on such a dreich day.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we put in some good work on a piece by Quantz which requires sophisticated counting although the notes are relatively easy.

I had picked some spinach from the garden earlier and I used it to make a baked spinach and egg dish with cheese sauce for my tea.

I made too much but ate it all and then had to lie on the sofa and groan for a while until I had recovered.

We hope for better weather tomorrow.  I need to work off the big meal.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  She has been volunteering at the Somerset Rural Life Museum and was struck by the enormous crop of windfalls from the apple trees there.  The sheep seems rather disappointed with them.

Somerset apples

After the brilliantly clear moon when we went to bed last night, we weren’t surprised to wake up to a chilly morning.  There was no frost by the time that we looked out but early risers tell us that there had been some, although the temperature did not drop to zero.

At 5°C (40°F) it was a bit too chilly for cycling after breakfast so I lazed about doing the crossword while Mrs Tootlepedal went off for coffee with her ex work colleagues.  I stirred my stumps in the end and went out to see whether the cold had done any harm in the garden.

All was well.

It was a beautifully sunny morning and the poppies looked at their best.

poppyP1030718poppy

A nasturtium leaf caught my eye too.

nasturtium with droplet

Droplets of all sizes.

I put on my walking shoes and went for a walk.

A goosander showed off her elegant orange feet as I walked along the river bank.

goosander

I left the riverside and walked up to the Lamb Hill  from where I could see the other hills above the trees…

View of Timpen from Lamb Hill

…and then I walked down the road to Whitshiels.  I had enough time to take a short diversion up the track through the woods before setting off back home.

There was fungi to be seen by the road and track…

fungi

…and colour was provided by a late rosebay willowherb flower and a bramble leaf…

bramble and willowherb

…and there were other things of interest too.

British soldier lichen

The red coats of British soldiers lichen, Cladonia cristatella

oak galls

Perfectly formed oak apples or galls

On my way home, I stopped at the Sawmill Brig, which I thought was looking at its best….

Sawmill Brig

…and enjoyed the very varied life on the wall on the other side of the bridge…

spleenwort, moss and algae

…and then walked round the Castleholm, passing the castle on my way.

Langholm Castle

There is not much of the castle remaining but what is left is getting engulfed by vegetation.

If I looked carefully, I could see some autumn colour here and there….

autumn colour

…and there was a patch of moss on a gate post which pleased me.

moss on gatepost

When I got home, I had time to admire a clematis in the garden….

clematis

It was laughing at the morning frost.

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I got into the car and drove off to have lunch at The Hub in Eskdalemuir.  This had been arranged earlier in the day on a bit of a whim but the drive was delightful and the lunch and the company we met there were very enjoyable so we felt that this had been a whim well worth whimming.

I even got the bridge beside The Hub to add to my collection.

Eskdalemuir Bridge

Because of the good conversation over lunch and a visit to the art exhibition there, we spent more time in The Hub than we had expected and we drove back with no time to stop and admire the views.

Mrs Tootlepedal was anxious to get out and do some guddling in the garden and I was anxious to get my bike washed and cleaned and then put a few miles in while it wasn’t raining.

Sadly, the sun had disappeared by this time but it was warm enough at 11° for cycling and gardening with appropriate clothing.

Because of the late start caused by the time spent cleaning my bike, I kept my head down and did 30 miles without stopping for pictures on the way.  It was so grey by now that I wasn’t much tempted to stop anyway, other than for a nibble of guava and half a date every now and again.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was out and she had made a start on the path to go with the new square corner on the lawn.

new path

Only people who have laid paving stones on earth will know how much skill and effort goes into making them straight and flat.

Even on a grey evening, the last of the fuchsias to come out this year was looking superb.

fuchsia

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for a short visit.  They are getting ready to go on holiday tomorrow but I was pleased that they found time to come as Alison and I had a very enjoyable time playing sonatas with  a burst of Greensleeves to a Ground to round things off.

This has been the second day running without rain.  We are being spoiled.

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo from Manitoba’s London visit.  This time she met one of the celebrated Tower of London ravens.

Tower of London raven

Our changeable weather is evidently tricky to predict so in spite of forecasts of gales and heavy rain, it was not a great surprise to wake up to merely a brisk breeze with dry spells.

One of the dry spells let me go up to the town after breakfast to pay in a cheque from the railway company to cover the fare for our delayed journey from London last weekend.  I would like to think that this repayment came either from a deduction from the company directors’ own pay packets or a reduction in the dividend to shareholders but I fear that that is wishful thinking.

I dropped in on the data miners at the Archive Centre, took a meter reading there and then booked the car into the garage for a look at its brakes and got home just as it started to rain once more.

After that, I stayed in, did the crossword, made some soup and grumbled.  I didn’t go out again until lunch time when it had brightened up a bit.  I took a look at the garden.

There were plucky flowers smiling through their tears to be seen.

nasturtiums

poppies

Thanks to relatively warm mornings, there are still plenty of colourful sights about, some more vibrant….

sedum, creeper and clematis

…than others.

poppies and anemone

As you can see from the anemone on the right, there was even a hint of sunshine.

The fuchsias are loving the weather, whatever the other flowers think.

fuchsia

Bees were few and far between but I did find a hoverfly on a dahlia.

dahlia with hoverfly

I was delighted to find that Lilian Austin was still in business in a modest way.

Lilian Austin

I went back in to eat my soup for lunch with no great hope for the afternoon but the sun was still out by the time that lunch was over so I set out for a walk, hoping that any clouds would blow past in the brisk wind and not rain on Langholm.

Things looked promising as I went through the park…

Park in October

There was a great heap of logs at the exit from the park….

felled trees in the park

…and it was apparent that two large trees had been felled and cut up.  I couldn’t tell whether the trees had partly fallen first and then been cut up or whether the felling was precautionary.

I walked on through the wood along the river and came out onto the track along the Murtholm…

Murtholm

…which led me to Skippers Bridge, where I went down the bank to look back at the bridge…

Skippers Bridge

….and then, trusting that the good weather would hold, I took a short diversion up the hill through the oak wood…

Oak wood

…to the Round House.

Round House

If I hadn’t been in a bit of a hurry, I might have sat on the bench there in the sunshine and enjoyed the view over the town.

Langholm from the Round House

As it was, I pressed on, enjoying the golden colour in the bracken beside the track…

bracken

…and stopping when a striking crop of fine black berries caught my eye.  When I showed the picture to Mrs Tootlepedal later on, she thought that they might be St John’s Wort….

st John's Wort

…and as I had seen some of these flowers nearby, I expect that she is right.

The river looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth when I came to cross the suspension bridge on my way home.

Esk in October

I waited for a moment or two to see if the dipper was around but it was not to be seen so I took an arty pictures of some leaves…

autumn leaves beside Esk

…and went home.  I couldn’t resist a few pictures of flowers enjoying the welcome sunshine.

daisy, calendula and dahlia

I didn’t have long to wait in as I had an appointment to get my flu jab at the health centre as well as my three-monthly vitamin B12 injection so I was soon out and back across the bridge, this time by bicycle and returned home thoroughly needled….in both senses of the word as it started to rain as I left the health centre.

Once back, I received a visit from a camera club member who had come to collect his photos from the exhibition.  He was very cheered to find that he had sold a couple of them.

Then it was time for a visit from my flute pupil Luke.  He has been practising again and it showed.  He told me that he had played with our local orchestra yesterday and found it a ‘learning experience’.  Orchestral flute playing is very tricky.  I tried it for a bit and didn’t enjoy it much so I hope he does better than I did.

After an excellent tea which had been cooked for me by Mrs Tootlepedal consisting of mince with bashed tatties and neeps from the garden, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.   We had a most enjoyable play and found once again that Mozart is a cure for many ills.

When I got home, we watched a weather forecast which showed that the jet stream is currently crossing the Atlantic in a series of beautifully shaped waves, each one containing a high or a low so the changeable weather looks like a permanent fixture for the foreseeable future.  I will just have to look out my wet weather cycling gear and grit my teeth.

The flying bird of the day is in pre-flying mode.

blackbird

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows two very interesting bricks from Scottish brickworks. The brickworks were proud enough of their bricks to put their name on every one they made. Our son Tony came upon them in the course of his work.

Tony's bricks

Today was passed in a state of suspended animation.  It was another nice day (although it did spoil it by raining for a few minutes in the early evening) but I didn’t go cycling through a combination of things to do and feeling rather tired.

We are going on holiday tomorrow so there was grass to be mowed, apples to be picked, cooked and frozen, insurance to be purchased and the list of things that we need to take and think about had to be made.

I did get out into the garden with a camera from time to time in the midst of all this and noticed two bees in very sharing mode.

bees on dahlia

I dead headed poppies….

poppies

There seems to be a never ending variety of colours

…cosmos, dahlias, calendula and rudbeckia but I noticed that there is always another head to dead when you look at the lot you have just completed.   Mrs Tootlepedal edged the front lawn and thinned plants out so things look reasonably neat.

I took pictures of a cornflower and our current stock of clematis as I went along.

cornflower

clematis

The garden is full of blackbirds flitting about.  Mrs Tootlepedal counted seven at the same time when she leaned out of an upper window this morning.  I saw this one on a fence later on.

blackbird

Mike Tinker dropped by after lunch to show us one of his bicycle collection.

Mike's bike

He told that this was his mother’s bike, complete with dynamo for lights and a three gear hub.  We were very impressed by the sporty handlebars.  It was in good working order as he demonstrated when he rode off on it.

After he had left, I admired the nerines…

nerines

…and saw a peacock butterfly on the Michaelmas daisies…

peacock butterfly

…before driving down to Longtown to get a spare of music and computing glasses which were waiting for me at the opticians.

When I had recovered from the shock of paying for them (the receptionist kindly made sure that I was sitting down before she gave me the bill), I went off for a walk along the river.

It was sunny but there were plenty of clouds about….

Longtown bridge

…but I got my walk in without getting rained on for more than twenty seconds.

There must have been a lot of insects about near the bridge because there were industrial quantities of grey and pied wagtails shooting up into the air from the rocks in the middle of the river.  They were a bit too far away for me to capture on the whole picture…

wagtails

There is a pied wagtail on the extreme left of the frame and a grey wagtail on the extreme right

…but one grey wagtail came close enough  to be easily recognisable.

grey wagtail

I walked down the river and round the ponds without seeing much in the way of wild flowers, perhaps because there were great swathes of Himalayan balsam everywhere.

himalayan balsam

It is a pretty plant but it smothers all the opposition.

The ponds were looking very peaceful….

Longtown pondsLongtown ponds

But I would have needed my new long lens to get any water fowl pictures.

I could see Arthuret Church across the fields…

Arthuret Church

…and it was clear enough to see the windmills on the far side of Langholm.

Craig windfarm

I was hoping to find a good crop of blackberries to eat as I went round but it was obvious that a very determined picker had got in before me and there were hardly any left.  I could have eaten any amount of elderberries though…

elderberries

…but I let that opportunity go.

The clouds looked even more threatening when I got back to the town…

Longtown

…but for once, I was in the right place at the right time and drove home in pleasantly sunny conditions.

In the evening Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a short play before they went off leaving us time to do our packing.

No flying bird of the day today but another look at some clear skies.  I had to get up just before 6 o’clock this morning, impelled by one of those necessities familiar to readers of a certain age and when I looked out of the window, I could see the morning star shining brightly above the monument on Whita Hill.  I could have gone downstairs to get my good camera and the tripod but it was six o’clock in the morning for goodness sake so I just pointed my phone out of the window and hoped for the best.

morning star above Whita

It did what it could.

Posts may be very variable for the next few days while we are away.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce, who is on the island of Arran where he visited the Blackwater Foot harbour.  A harbour, a bridge and a waterfall in one shot is very good value.

Blackwater foot

We had a lovely sunny morning.  This was a great joy after such a gloomy day yesterday but, as is the way in life, I had to spend it sitting in the Welcome to Langholm office putting data into the Archive Group newspaper database and welcoming only two visitors to the office, both of whom were locals.

As I left to walk home, a light drizzle appeared as if by magic.

Still, it was a lot better than yesterday and the drizzle soon faded away and let me mow the greenhouse grass and Mrs Tootlepedal hang the washing out.  Almost as soon as the washing was on the line, it started to rain again.  How we laughed.

Once again, it was only teasing and the washing dried in time and I was able to finish the mowing and enjoy the garden.

The ornamental strawberry has been flowering for ages.  It is very good value.

strawberry

The return of the sunshine brought a crowd of butterflies with it.

Michaelmas daisies with butterflies

Now that the buddeias are almost over, the Michaelmas daisies are the flower of choice for the discerning Red Admiral.

red admiral butterfly

Butterflies seem to be able to cope with quite a bit of damage to their wings.

The butterflies had to share the Michaelmas daisies with bees and hoverflies and the whole clump was literally buzzing.

bee on Michaelmas daisyhoverfly on Michaelmas daisy

A peacock butterfly was making the most of the very last of the buddleia flowers.

peacock butterfly

At the other end of the garden, different butterflies were to be found on the dahlias.

small tortoiseshell and red admiral butterfly

A small tortoiseshell joins a red admiral

That was the first small tortoiseshell I have seen since one in July and as that was the only other one to visit us this year,  this one was very welcome.

Nearby, a clump of dahlia flowers looked around for customers but only one hoverfly found them attractive..

dahlias

I moved on and admired the poppies….

poppies

…who looked grateful for the sunshine.

After a last look at the tropaeolum, looking redder than ever if that is possible…

tropaeolum

…I went inside to put some cycling gear on….

….and it started to rain.

Once again, it was a tease and by the time that I was ready to go, the rain had stopped again.  Just to make sure that it wouldn’t start up while I was out cycling, I put on a heavy rain jacket and that kept it dry while I cycled 27 miles in my ‘outdoor gym’.

It was pretty windy and I had to battle quite hard to get up the road but, of course, that meant an easy roll back down again.

When it is windy, I tend to keep my head well down to improve the aerodynamics while cycling into the wind so I didn’t see much on the way out and on the way back, I was often going too fast to stop in time when I did notice something so it was a quiet ride photographically.

I did stop to check on the sloes near Cleughfoot which I had seen looking a bit scabby early last month…

sloes

….and they were still looking scabby now….

sloe

…though there was fairly healthy looking fruit as well.

At my turning point, I was pleased to see that the farmer had his barn well stocked….

Cleughfoot

…though less pleased to see the black clouds looming up behind it.

They came to nothing though and the sun continued to do its best….

Glencorf burn

…to help me to ignore the brisk northerly wind.

In May, I had stopped to admire the hawthorn blossom on the road back to Langholm…

hawthorns

…and today, I stopped to admire the berries.

Hawthorn

When I got home, I enjoyed a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit with Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker and then, after a shower, it was time for a visit from Luke for a flute lesson.

He has been practising so the lesson went well.

I hope to be in a better position to make use of a promised sunny morning tomorrow than I was today.

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