Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘flute’ Category

Today’s guest picture is another that Bruce took on the misty morning of December 18th.  I use it in particular because it is now five days since we saw any sun and it is good to be reminded that the sun does come out here from time to time.

bruce's misty morning

In real life, rather than recollection, we had another grey and sunless day here, so I was very happy to be cheered up by the arrival at coffee time of Dropscone.  On this occasion he brought with him not only his excellent scones but his grandson Leo as well.

Leo, who is seven, lives in Glasgow so I had not met him before.  Leo turned out to be a splendid fellow with a good appetite.  He ate one of the scones so I had less than usual but he had such a charming smile that I didn’t begrudge him his scone at all.  Like our granddaughter Matilda, he goes to dancing classes and he demonstrated some fine street dancing moves to Mrs Tootlepedal and me.

When he had taken his grandfather off, I watched the birds for a bit.   It was too gloomy to get good pictures but a robin is always welcome.

robin on tray

I washed out my new feeder and put the old one in its place.  The goldfinches were quite happy to use either.

goldfinches on old feeder

A siskin appeared when there were no perches available and in spite of being smaller than the goldfinches by some way…

siskin approaching

…it weighed up the situation…

siskin thinking

…and attacked.

siskin attacking

On this occasion though, it failed to dislodge the incumbent and flew off, leaving the feeder to more goldfinches (and a chaffinch).

goldfinches

I made some red and green lentil soup for lunch and then, in conference with Mrs Tootlepedal, considered how best to use the extra second of daylight that we had today.  Unfortunately, we over considered the matter and the second had gone before we could use it.  We shall have to be a bit sharper tomorrow.

Yesterday’s forecast had said that it would start to rain at 2 o’clock and it did.  Today’s forecast said that it would start to rain at 2 o’clock and I took the view that judging by its record, the forecast could not possibly be accurate two days running.  I got my bicycle out.

I was distracted by two jackdaws with white feathers on a neighbour’s roof…

two jackdaws with white feathers

…but I got going and hoped for the best.

It was drizzling faintly  so I thought that I might get ten miles in and get wet in the process, but as I went on, the drizzle stopped and I got fifteen satisfactory miles in and stayed dry.  However, I shouldn’t be too smug about my view of the weather forecast because while I was out pedalling in the country, it did rain in Langholm itself and Mrs Tootlepedal got quite wet cycling to the shops.

It was too grey to take pictures but I recorded a tree at Wauchope School just to prove that I did go out.

tree at Wauchope School

And I liked this shot of the cattle tucking into a treat at the foot of Warbla.

cows having food

I thought for a moment that I had spotted a two headed animal.  My camera, operating in auto mode, thought that I needed the help of the flash because it was so gloomy and I liked the resultant stars in the eyes of the cows.

double headed cow

Just at the top of the little hill before I got back to Langholm, I noticed that a rather strange streak of fungus was still thriving beside the road.  I first saw these fungi almost a month ago and I am surprised to see them still there and so untouched.

fungus at top of manse brae

This one looked as though a neat elf had been tidying up.

fungus with leaf

The two nearest the hedge are a good size and although something has had a nibble at one of them, they must be unappetising in some way to have lasted so long.

big fungus

Our friend Mike Tinker’s tea radar was functioning well and he arrived on time for a cup after I had got home.  He had kindly brought a packet of ginger biscuits as a gift so he was even more welcome than usual.

After I had polished off a biscuit or two, I had to pop out to the health centre for my three monthly vitamin B12 top up and this went off so painlessly and punctually that I was back in plenty of time to greet my flute pupil Luke.

Our work on improving his counting is paying off and we played sonatas by Finger and Loeillet pretty successfully.

After our evening meal, I brought in the Christmas tree and Mrs Tootlepedal started decorating it.    We realise that this is too early as it is not yet Christmas Eve, but what the heck, live dangerously is our motto.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch going off to find a feeder with more spaces on it.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony.   Just to show that the sun doesn’t always shine in East Wemyss, he has sent me this lovely picture of one of his dogs on a walk in the dark.

burst

We had a chilly but not freezing day here, and as it didn’t rain, we looked on the bright side.

It was cold enough to persuade me that it might be a good idea to catch up on some archive work while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to stuff brochures with the spring programme of events into envelopes at the Buccleuch Centre.  The centre currently has 33 volunteers helping out, a testament to the value which the town puts on having such a good resource.

I added another parish magazine to the Archive Group website and then put a week of the newspaper index into the database.  This edition covered the death of Queen Victoria, a historic moment if ever there was one.

In between times, I watched the birds and was pleased to see a few siskins at the feeder.

two siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal left a few sunflower stalks standing near the feeder when the flowers were over, and the birds are very grateful to her because the stalks make a good place to stand and ponder, as this chaffinch is doing.

chaffinch on stalk

There were a great many flying birds at one particular moment but the reflections of a glimmer of sun in the window made the resulting picture look rather odd.

many flying birds

Jackdaws like the fat balls but don’t find it easy to get a grip on the feeder and get beak to ball.

jackdaw at fat balls

After lunch, I went out for a walk.  I could have gone cycling, as it was probably just warm enough not to have icy patches on the roads, but with a forecast of thirty mile an hour gusts and a very chilly wind, it wasn’t an attractive option.

I have been working hard in the last few months on doing exercises to improve my back and foot joints so I thought that instead of taking things easily after walking five miles in Saturday and three miles on Sunday, another briskish five mile walk today would be a good test to see if things really had got better as far as walking went.

I set out with the intention of not stopping until I had got out of the town but the sight of these severely cropped shrubs still carrying a good crop of berries made me pause for a moment.

berries on pruned bushes

Someone had told me that they had seen a lot of woodpeckers knocking about at the Moorland Project bird hide, so I thought that the hide would make a good target for my walk.  I had walked in much the same direction on Saturday but this time I went round the circuit in the opposite direction, and took the usual path through the woods instead of venturing onto the hill.

The path was muddy but fairly level so I made good progress…

track to round house

…and I especially enjoyed the oak wood from start…

oak wood near jenny nobles

..to finish…

end of oak wood

…not least becuase the sun came out.

When I got to Broomholmshiels, I turned left and walked up the road towards the bird hide.  You can see the trees where the hide is on the horizon.

road to bird hide

My informant may have seen a lot of woodpeckers on her visit but I didn’t see a single one on mine. I did see great tits…

great tit

…blue tits …

coal and blue tit

and coal tits enjoying the peanuts…

coal tit

…and chaffinches and goldfinches having fun at the seed feeder.

chaffinch and goldfinch laverock hide

I believe that the trees here are soon to be felled as they are larches and have got signs of a disease which means the compulsory clearance of trees affected so I took a picture of the hide, the clearing and the comfortable bench inside the hide where I sat to watch the birds.

laverock hide triple panel

I didn’t stay long in the hide because although the sun was out, it was already getting low in the sky.  Soon I was on the road that leads down to the Esk.

road above Broomholm

Once again, I pressed on, trying to give my feet a good workout, but the mossy wall can’t be ignored entirely…

pixie cup on mossy wall

…and I passed another of the little stone cairns which carry a welcoming message for walkers.

Buccleuich walking cairn

These welcoming signs have been overtaken by events as thanks to a recent law, one can walk anywhere one likes on open land in Scotland as long as you behave sensibly and don’t damage crops or interfere with the legitimate activities of others.

I couldn’t pass Skippers Bridge for a second time without taking a picture…

skippers bridge mid december

…and an old  friend and an interesting log detained me for a moment or two.

heron and fungus

Just as I was crossing the bridge, a motorist hooted at me and I was just going to scowl at the car for interrupting my peaceful walk when I saw that it was Mrs Tootlepedal returning from getting her new specs adjusted in Longtown.  I waved cheerily instead and walked home along the Murtholm.

The light had gone by this time so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures but the dying sun tempted the camera out of my pocket just as I got to our front gate.

sunset december

The walk was about five and a quarter miles and because I am boringly interested in these sort of things, I can report that it took me 43 minutes to walk the two and a half miles up hill to the bird hide and 53 minutes to walk the two and three quarter miles back down the hill to the town.   I should have been able to go back more quickly than I went out but the eleven minutes that I spent sitting on the comfortable but hard wooden bench in the bird hide made my feet hurt far more than the walking to get there.  A lesson learned; don’t sit down in the middle of a walk.

Mrs Tootlepedal had beaten me home and I had just made a pot of tea when the finely honed tea radar of Mike Tinker clicked into action and he appeared bang on cue to join us.  We sipped and chatted and not long after he left, my flute pupil Luke arrived and he and I had an encouraging half hour of musical enjoyment.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had been making a fish pie for tea and her fish pie is a thing of joy when it comes to an evening meal, the day finished on a very good note.

The only fly in the ointment was the news that the train company that takes us to Edinburgh on a Thursday had introduced its new timetable today with such efficiency and competence that half its trains were either cancelled or horribly late.  We just hope that things are going to get better by Thursday.

A daring chaffinch effecting a handbrake turn is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Alison and Mike Tinker’s New Zealand visit.  As well as bridges, they have flowers over there too.

kowhai flower

I try to keep off politics in this blog, but I cannot hide the fact that the English results of our general election were a disappointment to me and will lead us into a cloudy future.  Our very unfair first past the post voting system meant that in the UK, the conservatives got a thumping majority in parliament with about 45% of the vote and in Scotland the SNP won nearly all the seats with roughly the same percentage of the vote.  This is ridiculous on both counts.  The result is that Boris Johnson can claim a ringing endorsement for leaving the EU with a percentage vote that was much smaller than the winning margin in the actual EU referendum and which would have seen Brexit defeated and Nicola Sturgeon can claim a ringing endorsement for a second referendum on independence with exactly the same share of the vote with which the nationalists lost that first independence referendum.   I weep.

Under the circumstances, I was happy to have a busy day to keep my mind off things, starting with coffee and scones with Dropscone.  It is fair to say that he was probably more satisfied with the overall election result than I was.

When he left, I took a quick look at the feeder and was happy to see any visitors at all as a cat had earlier made a determined, but luckily unavailing, assault on our birds.  I do not subscribe to the cats’ protection league.  If there was a league for protection from cats, I would subscribe to that.

bright goldfinch

A rare sparrow turned up to try out a fat ball…

sparrow on fat ball

…and the robin posed on the hedge.

robin on hedge

It was fine but chilly at 3 degrees C so I went for a short three bridges walk, hoping that it might warm  up a bit later on.

Among the black headed gulls at the Kilngreen, I spotted this larger juvenile.  I can’t tell what sort of gull it is and would welcome advice from knowledgeable readers.

young gull

I can recognise a heron though and I found Mr Grumpy looking unusually alert.  I thought that I was going to get a flying heron of the day shot for a moment but he was just stretching his wings and soon subsided unto a characteristic pose.

heron panel

I paused on the Sawmill Bridge to look for dippers.  I didn’t see any but I was impressed that I was on the bridge at exactly the right time to be able to photograph its shadow falling on the water below (and with my shadow just showing  on the parapet.)

sawmill brig shadow

The birch trees on the Lodge Walks are almost all bare now but the hornbeams…

lodge walks near shortest day

…still have a lot of keys attached.

hornbeam

The sun picked out a pine on the Castleholm…

sunlit pine

…and I was happy to see signs of things to come as I walked back along the path to the Jubilee Bridge.

bud and catkin december

I crossed the bridge and walked along the river bank behind the school where there were berries to be seen in abundance.  These are yew…

yew berries

…and this is a very productive snowberry bush.

snow berries

Its white berries made a contrast with some pink ones further down the bank.

snowberry panel

I bought a couple of meat pies from the butcher’s van beside the Buccleuch Centre and took them home where Mrs Tootlepedal and I ate them for lunch.

Fortified by my pie, I checked the thermometer and seeing that it had crept up to 4 degrees, I wrapped up and went out for a short cycle ride.

When the sun was out, it was lovely…

cleuchfoot road

…but some clouds came up from behind me and the catching the sun became a bit of a here and there affair.  I was here and the sun was mostly over there…

distant sun on hills

…so it got a bit chilly and I settled for fifteen miles in case it started to freeze.  I was encouraged to go home when I was passed by the council gritting lorry which sprayed me liberally with grit.  I took the hint.

I saw two mushrooms on my way, one in the sky…

mushroom cliud

…and the other with some friends beside the road.

fungus by wauchope road

I didn’t dilly dally when I stopped cycling and it wasn’t long before Mrs Tootlepedal and I were heading down to Longtown to pick up our new spectacles.  When we had collected them, we headed for Gretna and purchased some warm socks and gloves for the season.

It was dark by the time that we got home.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their traditional Friday evening visit and Mrs Tootlepedal cracked open a bottle of reasonably priced fizzy wine with which we we raised a toast to an uncertain future.

Alison and I then improved the day by playing some enjoyable music.

While I was at the Kilngreen on my walk, I tried to catch a flying bird of the day by tracking a gull with my pocket camera.  It nearly worked.

flying gull just

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest post is another from one of fellow cyclist Paul’s visits to the Lake District.  It shows Derwent Water looking at its best.

derwent water

We had a day of sunshine day here, a welcome break in a succession of grey, wet and windy days which is due to resume tomorrow in spades.

We made the best of it.

I did some shopping and paid a modest but welcome income tax refund into the bank before coming home for coffee.

I stopped on the suspension bridge as I cycled over it, looked up river and thought that Langholm is not a bad place to live.

River Esk December

After coffee, I had time to look at a blackbird….

blackbird on hedge

…and enjoy the plumage on a dunnock, looking a bit brighter than usual in the sunshine…

dunnock's back

…before driving up to the White Yett with Mrs Tootlepedal to have a walk in the sun.

I stopped on the way up and upset some sheep on a knoll who did not know which way to look when they saw me taking their picture.

sheep on knoll

Looking back down the hill, I could see that when the spruces were felled in the plantation beside the road, a group of pines were left standing tall.  They glowed.

pines on Copshaw road

I was tempted by the beautiful day into taking another panorama.  A click on the picture will give you the wider view.

whita panorama

We parked at the MacDiarmid memorial and walked up the track towards the monument.  We didn’t visit the monument today though, as after a few hundred yards, we turned off to our left and followed the track round the contour of the hill to the Castle Craigs.

The track is used by the cornet and his mounted followers on Common Riding Day and is marked by a couple of cairns along the way.  This is the first of them….

first cairn on castle craigs track

…and this is the second.

second cairn on castle craigs track

The picture above shows one of the downsides of taking photos in low winter sun, the tendency of the photographer to intrude into the picture!

Looking back to the hill on the other side of the road, I liked the sinuous curve of the wall and the clear contrast between the land that is grazed on the left and the land that was used for grouse shooting for many years on the right.  It shows that whatever we are looking at and however beautiful it may be, it is not a natural scene but one that is heavily influenced by the hand of man.

whita wall

(That intrusive photographer just crept into the scene again.)

As well as the views, there was plenty of interest along the track with moss, lichen and quartz intrusions into the sandstone rock just three of the things that caught my eye.

moss, lichen and rock Castle craigs

We puddled along a rather soggy track until we came to the cairn at the Castle Craigs itself.

castle craig cairn from bleow
it is a solidly built piece of stonework designed to hold the town’s standard during the ceremonies on Common Riding Day.  There is a handy bench near it where Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment…

castle craig cairn

…taking in the view across the Tarras Valley.

view from castle craigs

We were well wrapped up, as in spite of the sunshine, it was not warm in the wind.

We stayed for a while, and then walked back to the car, enjoying the vista of rolling hills at the top of the Ewes Valley….

rolling hills ewes

…and the intentionally rusted Corten steel on the MacDiarmid memorial.  It made a very harmonious picture today.

macdiarmid memorial rust

Looking at the memorial from the other side brought out the intention of the artist, Jake Harvey, that it should be read like a book of the poet’s life and works.

macdiarmid memorial open book

We rolled back down the hill to the town, using gravity to charge the battery of the Zoe as we went.  After the recent dull weather, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt spiritually and physically refreshed by our outing.

After lunch, I got well wrapped up and went out again, this time on my bicycle.

I stopped half way up Callister to record a favourite gate….

gate with buzzard

…and was annoyed to find that that persistent photographer had crept into the frame yet again.  I was also vexed when I had put my camera back in my pocket to find a buzzard flying lazily over my head.  It had gone of course before I could get my camera out again.  When I looked at the photograph on my computer later on, I could see the buzzard perched in plain sight on the top of the second tree from the extreme right of the picture!

When I got to my turning point at the far end of Callister, it was evident that it wasn’t an entirely cloudless day…

cloud in the sky

…but I wasn’t complaining.

I took a little diversion to Cleuchfoot on my way home and this gave me the opportunity to add to my winter tree collection.

cleuchfoot trees

I managed to fit in twenty miles by going through the town and out of the other side for a mile or two and got home before the light had begun to fade.  The thermometer was showing 3.8°C when I arrived back so I was happy to sit down in the warm kitchen and have a cup of tea and a slice of toast with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We were joined by Mike Tinker for a while and when he left, I had time for a shower before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

We are making good progress at the moment and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger (accompanied by the computer on keyboard).  The computer sets an unyielding tempo which we have to stick to in a military fashion but it is a great deal better than having no accompanist at all.

So it was a day with a tootle and a pedal, which is always good, and since it had a bonus walk with Mrs Tootlepedal in it too, it was definitely a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

Another peril of a sunny day in December is the deep shadows cast by the low sun so I have an unilluminated chaffinch as flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony and the kingdom of everlasting sunshine, East Wemyss.  If you look closely, you might see a seal on the rock in the foreground and perhaps a cormorant too.

wemyss seascape

After our recent sunny spell, we went back to rather grey and gloomy today, but the silver lining in the clouds was a rise in the temperature to above zero.  It was a curious day because in spite of the higher temperature, the dampness in the air made it feel colder and rawer than the recent much colder but drier days.

And although the thermometer had only gone up to two degrees, by lunchtime the roads and paths were miraculously cleared of frost and ice.

It was still slippery in spots in the morning so Mrs Tootlepedal had to take care when she cycled off to a meeting about the community land buy out and I had to go cannily when I cycled to our ex-corner shop for milk and a cauliflower.

I got back safely though and was able to welcome a determined goldfinch to the feeder.

goldfinch december

It stood its ground while chaffinches circled around.

busy feeder

We seem to have a pair of dunnocks in the garden at the moment, this one…

one of dunnock pair

…and this one.

other of dunnock pair

I think they must be a pair becuase I read that they are quite fractious birds and if it was two males, then they would be trying to chase each other away.

I couldn’t find any reliable guide to tell me how to distinguish a male from a female.

A blackbird made a face at me when I asked it to pose prettily.

blackbird making facw

I have had a sore back and have not been sleeping quite as well as I would wish so I had a very quiet morning, doing nothing more active than my visit to the shop and making some dull soup for lunch.  A toasted tea cake with my coffee kept me cheerful though.
(If you like tea cakes, I can thoroughly recommend Dan Lepard’s Top Tea Cake recipe from his book ‘Short and Sweet’.  His kneading method is brilliant for people with arthritic hands)

After a bowl of the dull soup (which was enhanced by some onion gravy granules to good effect), I went off for a walk.  Although I enjoy walking up hills, coming down them again doesn’t suit my feet at the moment so I stuck to the flat today, and did an extended three bridges.

I had it in mind to take a portrait of the handsome white duck that hangs about with the mallards at the Kilngreen if it was there.

It was there but it wasn’t co-operating.

diving white duck

However, after some preparatory preening…

preening white duck

…it finally posed for a portrait.

posing white duck

Mr Grumpy was not amused to find that he wasn’t the star of the show today.

grumpy heron

Then I focussed on trees.

This one looks green enough but the green is entirely moss and lichen with not a leaf in sight…

castleholm mossy tree

…whereas this one still had a great many leaves hanging on.

castleholm leafy tree

My final one, standing between the pheasant rearing houses, had neither moss nor leaves.

pheasant pen tree

Although there was no ice or white frost left on the track that I was walking along, there was still plenty to be seen on the branches of trees that had not seen the sun lately…

frosty branches

…and this little tree trunk looked as though it had been iced by a pâtissier

iced gtree trunk

…and a fungus beside the path was fully iced too.  Very curious.

iced fungus

I had thought that going along this track might put me in danger of slipping and falling but as it was, I could stride out with some confidence.  This was lucky because it was remarkably raw and I didn’t stop a lot for pictures, although hair ice is always a temptation.

haor ice Lodge

As I got near home, I could see that Whita had retained its own little cloud for the afternoon…

Whita in low cloud

…with the monument peeping shyly through.

monument in low cloud

On my way past his house, I called in at Mike Tinker’s to collect some photographs which he had been given to pass on to the Archive Group, and he returned the compliment an hour later when he joined Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake. (Tea cakes have a habit of mysteriously disappearing.  I made twelve on Saturday and the last one is going to a good home as I write this.)

Then Luke came round and we played a sonata by Hadyn and worked at a little Bach partita.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening from the Old Vic of a performance by the National Theatre of Present Laughter by Noel Coward .  She enjoyed it thoroughly and I must say that this new idea of screening these London plays nationally is a very good one.

I found several moments during the day to practise choir songs but was left with a strong feeling that more practice is still needed.

The temperature is due to rise a little more tomorrow, so the prospect of a bicycle ride may not be too far off.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day again.

flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who is anxious to prove that the sun continues to shine in East Wemyss.  He took this picture this afternoon.

Tony's view

Unlike East Wemyss, it was a very grey day here today but the temperature had risen to a reasonable 6°C, so I left Mrs Tootlepedal and Patricia to think about a walk and got my bike out for my first pedal for more than two weeks.

It was grey when I started out and the view wasn’t a great deal more exciting than the garage wall I had been looking at yesterday when I had been on the bike to nowhere…

Bloch dull day

…though there were always trees to look at…

Bloch tree

…and a comfortable cow at Canonbie.

canonbie cow

I didn’t take any pictures in the ten miles between the tree and the cow because it was raining.  Fortunately, as I passed the cow the rain died away and the wind, which I had feared might slow my progress on the way home, proved to be more helpful than not, so I enjoyed the last six miles of my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

My enjoyment was enhanced by seeing work actually going on at the site of the proposed new Canonbie sewage works.  This site was first dug out in October 2016 so they have not been rushing to get going on the project.

canonbie sewage works

Further up the road, I was very pleased to see that all the trees, big and small, have been cleared from beside the old road near Irvine House.  Previously, this section of road has been perpetually shadowed by trees and has been dark and damp with layers of slippery leaves making things dangerous for cyclist.  This is a big improvement.

old a7 irvine house

When I got back onto the new main road, I was once again enchanted by the show of larches planted when the road was made a few years ago.

new a7 auchenrivock

Since it was my birthday today, I was more than usually pleased to have been able to get out for a pedal.  Mrs Tootlepedal and Patricia had not been so fortunate, because as soon as they had got out of the door to start their walk, it had started to rain. They had abandoned the plan and stayed in.

We thought that we ought to be able to offer our guest Patricia an outing of some sort so after lunch, we drove back down the road towards Canonbie and paid a visit to Gilnockie Tower.

Gilnockie Tower November

This 16th Century tower house has been extensively renovated and now offers a ‘visitor experience’.  And a good one too, we thought.

We paid our money and we looked around.  We were impressed by the original fireplace on the first floor and also by the modern wood burning stove that had been installed in it which was keeping the room very snug.

Gilnockie Tower fireplace

The very thick walls might have helped to keep the room warm too.  The  window revealed just how thick the walls are.

Gilnockie Tower window

The view from the window on the floor above was good.

Gilnockie Tower view

This floor was devoted to a family bedroom and the sharp eyed reader will be able to spot Mrs Tootlepedal making use of the comprehensive audio guide which was provided for visitors.

Gilnockie Tower bed

On the next floor, which contained documents, paintings, photographs and other information,  a corner of the room is devoted to Neil Armstrong who visited the tower in 1972.

Gilnockie Tower Neil Armsrong

Access to the various floors is by means of a steep and winding spiral staircase and I was quite impressed that I managed to climb all the way to the top of the tower.

Gilnockie Tower stair

Mrs Tootlepedal and Patricia opened the door that led to the gallery that runs round the top of the tower…

Gilnockie Tower balcony

…but didn’t venture out onto it,

I had already retreated down the stairs to the safety of solid ground.

In a sign of the times, a neat walkway leads round the back of the tower to a toilet block for the convenience of visitors.

Gilnockie Tower outside toilet

Not everything has been spruced up though and I was happy to find a section of wall round the car park which was rich in lichen.

Gilnockie Tower lichen

The restoration has been done very well and the tower is full of interesting information so we were happy to have paid our visit to it.

When we got back, I made baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our evening meal and we followed that up with the very last of the tarte tatin.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday night visit and while Alison and I played music, Patricia, Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal chatted away.  Alison and I joined in and the conversation was general for a while, though it was interrupted by the arrival of a very fine birthday cake.  This had been cooked and compiled by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Birthday cake 2019

This brought a very satisfactory day to a close.

No flying bird of the day?  You can’t have everything even if it is your birthday.

Read Full Post »

I would welcome some more contributions to the guest picture of the day, but in the meantime, I am very happy to have another fine waterfall from Tony and Marianne’s awesome holiday beside Loch Awe.

tony's awesome waterfall

I am currently having terrible trouble with my computer.  It has been very moody recently, and frequently refuses to talk to me at all.  As a result I have had to resort to a back up device which doesn’t have my usual photo editor on it, so some pictures in this post are a bit hit and miss for which I apologise.

The main business of the morning, after a rainy night, was to look out of the window and stay inside.  Luckily Sandy came down for a cup of coffee so that cheered the day up a bit.  When he had gone, I had a look to see how the new bird feeder was doing.

A goldfinch was having a look too.

goldfinch waiting

A brave soul paid a visit to the upstairs dining room…

first goldfinch on new feeder

…while a chaffinch tried out the mezzanine.

chaffinch on new feeder

A greenfinch arrived to give it the seal of approval…

greenfinch on new feeder

…and before long, the whole thing was in use, upstairs and downstairs.

full house at new feeder

In fact at times it got extremely busy.

busy time at new feeder

A goldfinch arrives and weighs up the merits of the upstairs and downstairs accommodation.

goldfinch deciding at new feeder

A greenfinch lets a goldfinch know who is the top banana.

greenfinch threateningf goldfinch at new feeder

It was a day of constantly changing weather with rain on and off and even the occasioal blink of sunshine.  After lunch, I peered out of the window and thought that it looked as though it might stay dry for a while so I went for a walk.

In sheltered spots, there are still leaves on some of the trees but as everything is rather damp, it feels as though autumn is pretty well over.

becks track november

I walked along the track to the Becks Burn and saw that there were still some crab apples hanging on.

crab apples becks

I was more interested in getting round before it started to rain again than in taking pictures in poor light, but a fence post caught my eye…

fence post

…and a few oak trees hanging onto their colour gave a bit of contrast to a dull view.late autumn colour

I liked this gloomy combination of trees at the top of the hill before I got back to the town…

tress at Manse Brae

…and I appreciated the efforts of the young larches as I walked down the hill to Pool Corner.

larches at pool corner

The peltigera lichen on a wall nearby have survived a couple of frosty mornings.

peltigera lichen

My timing was good because it started to rain just as I got home.  Although it was only half past two, it was so dark that it felt as though it was early evening already.

I spent some wasted time trying to get my computer to run a bit faster, but it wouldn’t co-operate at all, so I gave up and had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal instead.

In the evening, Luke came round and we made some more progress in our flute playing.  I have had to work hard to improve my own playing in order to keep up with him and we both showed results from practice today.  I will soon have to stop thinking of him as my pupil and start to regard him as someone who is kind enough to come round and play duets with me.

I made a dish of baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea and reflected as we ate it that if the weather doesn’t cheer up soon, I will have to get the bike to nowhere in the garage into action.  My weight gain programme of comfort food eating is going very well.

Because the light has been so poor, getting flying birds is hard and I was thinking of having a robin shot of the day instead….

robin under new feeder

…but that belligerent grteenfinch saved me.

greenfinch flying

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »