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Archive for the ‘flute’ Category

The second of the ‘trip to London’ pictures shows “Topaz”, one of the elegant Pullman coaches pulled by the steam engine which we saw at Carlisle station.  I like the little lamps with shades at every table.

Pullman coach

We had a rare outbreak of summer today with plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze from the north in case it got too hot.

I started the day off by going up to check on the Camera Club exhibition and making arrangements for visitors to purchase prints if the mood comes upon them.  While I was there, the volunteer custodian and I got our pictures taken by the local paper which was publicising the event for us.

I then went home and promptly had to come back up to the town again as I had forgotten to buy a Common Riding tie to wear when our little choir songs at the concert on Wednesday.  It is a quirk of the Langholm Common Riding that it has different colours each year, taken from the colour of the silks worn by the jockey of the winner of the Derby.  This means that there is a different tie every year.

All this excitement and a bit of shopping thrown in, meant that I needed a sit down and a cup of coffee when I finally got home.  Then I needed a lettuce and marmite sandwich to provide fuel so it was not until after midday that I managed to get going on the fairly speedy bike.

I took a few garden pictures before I left.

sunny flowers

Once on the bike, I soon discovered that my legs were in go slow mode so I didn’t push them and I was happy to stop for pictures as I went along.

There was plenty to see in the verges….

umbellifer with red soldier beetles

Every umbellifer seemed to have at least one red soldier beetle on it.   I saw a stem hosting nineteen insects of various sorts on its flower heads later in my ride.

The road side verges are recovering after the mowing and I liked this display of hawkbits on the road up Callister.

hawkbits on Callister

Whether they are ‘lesser, ‘autumn, ‘rough’ or some other hawbits I cannot tell but they were good to look at as I puffed up the hill.  I have no idea what the little birds in the middle of the road further up the hill were doing.

I had to cross a couple of recently gravelled sections of road on my journey but there has been sufficient traffic to make them quite safe for cycling which was a relief.

I went as far west as Paddockhole and then turned north, uphill and into the wind to get to Eskdalemuir via Bailliehill and Castle O’er.  This took me past the new windfarm at Ewe Hill and I tried to get a picture that took in all the 22 turbines…..

Ewe Hill wind farm

…and failed.  The turbines are so stretched out and alternately low and high that my camera couldn’t cope at all.

There are now so many wind turbines in Scotland that on a day of good wind and low demand, they can provide just about all the energy that is needed for the whole country.  What is required now is serious work on developing storage for renewable energy and it does seem that people are paying attention to this.  I live in hope.

I pedalled on up the valley of the Water of Milk, crossing bridges when I came to them.

little bridge on Bailliehill road

When I arrived at Bailliehill, I had crossed the col between the water of Milk and the Esk Valley….

Esk valley at Bailliehill

One of my favourite views of the Esk

…and I was soon passing the spot where the Black Esk meets the White Esk….

Black Esk meets White Esk

…and I had to cross the Black Esk…..

Black Esk bridge

…to continue up the west bank of the White Esk to Eskdalemuir.

When I got there, the northernmost point of the trip, I crossed yet another bridge…

Eskdalemuir bridge

Electricity and phone wires are everywhere I go.

…to continue my journey back to Langholm down the east bank of the river.

After pedalling the last ten miles uphill and into the wind, I was hoping for a good push from the breeze to get me back to Langholm but it was fitful and flighty and often seemed to come from the side and even into my face a bit instead of wafting me home.

Still, it was a glorious day to be out in the country so I didn’t mind too much and just pedalled along in a very stately manner admiring the views.

There are prehistoric monuments along the way.  This is a stone circle, The Girdle Stanes, half of which has been swept away by the river.

Girdle Stanes

The fields really were those colours.  The whole outing was a visual treat.

I had to pause on the Crurie Brae to let my tin knee rest as I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills.  While I paused,  I looked north.  I could see the road that I had come up on the other side of the valley.

Looking back from Crurie Brae

Soon afterwards, I got my reward for the climbing I had done…..

Shaw Rigg

…as I whistled down the long straight road of the Shaw Rig.

I was soon pedalling along the back road past Georgefield, through banks of wild flowers….

Georgefield road

…until I crossed the Esk again at Bentpath by the bridge below the church….

Bentpath bridge and church

…which I see has got the builders in.

Westerkirk Church

Although the road from Eskdalemuir is theoretically downhill as it follows the river, it never seems that way when I am cycling along it. It undulates a lot and I was grateful to get to the last climb of the day.  I stopped for a breather and a final view from my ride.

View of Esk valley at Potholm

I would have taken a picture of the good crop of raspberries at the top of the hill but I inadvertently ate them before I thought of getting the camera out.  Wild raspberries are delicious.

I did 34 miles which is not far but as you can see from the elevation profile below, it was an up and down sort of ride with long uphill and short downhill sections so not very restful.  It was the slowest ride I have done for ages but also one of the most enjoyable.

Garmin route 24 July 2107

Click on the map for more details of the ride if you wish

 

When I got home, I had another wander round the garden….

poppy and roses

…edged the lawn and picked some beetroot which I then cooked.  I made a loaf of bread (with water) and went upstairs to have shower.  The front lawn looked so good from the bathroom window that I went back downstairs and got a camera.  I often say to Mrs Tootlepedal that all the work that I do on the lawn through autumn, spring and early summer is to make it look good for at least one day later in the summer.

I think that this might have been that day.

the front lawn looking good

When I came down a little later, there were forty sparrows pecking the lawn to bits.  Ah well.

Still the evening sunshine lit up a poppy very nicely so that soothed my ire.

poppy in sunshine

And a very cheery clematis at the front door completely restored my good humour.

front door clematis

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we played through our trio and that rounded off a very good day indeed.

After tea, I picked the very last of the blackcurrants and I hope to find time to make a pot or two of jelly tomorrow.

The flying birds of the day can’t make up their minds and are sitting on the fence for the time being.

blackbirds

Oh all right, it’s a hedge and not a fence.  Perhaps they are hedging their bets.

 

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Instead of guest pictures, I am going to use some of the phone pictures from our recent trip to London for the next few days.  They are not great pictures but show some of things we saw but couldn’t put in the posts.

The Dalesman steam engine

There was steam excursion in the station at Carlisle when we went down to London

I had a very weather dependant day today.  After several days without cycling, I was keen to get a good few miles in today and the forecast yesterday was encouraging.  Sadly however, the forecast for today when I woke up was far less encouraging, promising rain by lunchtime.  As I needed to mow the lawns as well as cycle, this limited my cycling to a twenty mile trip up the main road to Mosspaul and back.

The route choice was good because the main road was closed fourteen miles north of the town and this meant that very few cars passed me and I had the road to myself for most of the time.   It was rather grey once again and the brightest thing that I saw on my trip was this thistle….

thistle

…on the final climb to Mosspaul.

Mosspaul

This is the point where East meets West in our part of Scotland and once over the crest that you can see in the picture, all the rivers flow into the North Sea unlike ours which flow into the Solway Firth and thence into the Irish Sea.

Thanks to the wide roads and light traffic, I had a quiet and reflective ride.

When I got back, I checked on the Shirley poppies….

shirley poppies

…which looked a little more cheerful than yesterday but not much.

Then I dead headed the opium poppies which are going very well….

poppies

….cut down some of the delphiniums which are going over, enjoyed a new cornflower….

cornflower

…and one of the day lilies which brightens up even the gloomiest day…

day lily

…and then mowed the middle lawn.

It was rather muggy and I needed a rest after that so I had another look round to see what was going on.

The bees on the privet were in full flow and I could hear a continuous hum as I stood nearby.  The flowers are above my head so it is hard to see the bees…

bees on privet

…and these were on the lowest flowers.

A second buddleia has come out..

buddleia

…but there are still no signs of butterflies.

I looked at an astilbe….

astilbe

…and then rushed to mow the front lawn just as it started to drizzle gently.  It stayed raining very lightly after I had finished the mowing so I picked some blackcurrants and then went in for lunch.

After lunch, the drizzle had slowed to about one drop a minute so I had another go at picking blackcurrants until I had enough to make a jar or two more of jelly and had a look at the clematis as I came back in.

As well as the white variety whihc has green on its petals….

white and green clematis

…I saw that one of our red ones has green colouring too.

clematis

Look closely at the one on the right and you will see that what looks like damaged petals is green colouring.

Our white and green one always flowers like that but the red one is more unusual. On researching it, I found  that it is probably a quite common problem.

I rang Sandy up and arranged to have a short walk with him while the going was good.  but before we had even got out of our respective doors, the drizzle had changed to steady rain and we retired inside.

I used the time to put in some much needed flute practice and also to sit down and enter a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  We checked on the weather again after an hour but decided that it was still too damp and gloomy for a walk so I settled down to watch the last day of the Tour.  I will be at a loss for things to do on a wet afternoon now that it has finished.

I was still hoping that the day might brighten up enough for a late walk but it stayed gloomy and so did I.  Life is definitely a lot duller when Mrs Tootlepedal is away from home.

I am trying to keep up with the vegetables while she is away and had turnip, beetroot, peas and potatoes with my evening meal of fish cakes.

The fish diet is obviously not improving my brain as I had a little panic when I checked on our house insurance by chance and found that we didn’t seem to have had a renewal notice yet even though it was due in March.  A very nice young man on the phone pointed out that 11/3/2017 meant the third of November not the eleventh of March and that doubtless a renewal notice would arrive in due course.    I blame Google for using funny dating systems on their emails.

During the day, I saw a young but ferocious looking sparrow on the lawn….

young sparrow

…and what I think must be a thrush on the hedge.

thrush

Neither of them were flying.

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Keith, a correspondent from Edmonton, Canada says,”Many of the buildings here in Edmonton feature limestone that is just chock-full of fossils and hunting them is a good way to pass time when one is taking shelter from a thunderstorm.”  I think that there must have been a storm because he sent me this as today’s guest picture.

Edmonton fossils

We were far from stormy here today as our spell of very reasonable weather continued.

We had a lull in the appearance of new poppies so I had to settle for purple pictures from the back bed….

moss rose, buddleia and knapweed

…and phlocks of phlox.  The white ones are doing well and have flower heads almost the size of phootballs.

phlox

In the vegetable garden, the cardoon is threatening to take over the world and now towers over me.

Cardoon

Photo courtesy of Mrs Tootlepedal Photo Services Inc

It has a several flowers waiting to come out but sadly they may be just too high in the sky for ordinary mortals to enjoy.

While we were in the veg garden, there was quite a lot of sympathetic nodding to be done as Mrs Tootlepedal bewailed the incessant depredations of the sparrows which constantly nip the tops off growing plants.  We may not get any runner beans this year at all thanks to them.

Somehow I managed to pass the morning without doing anything more meaningful than the crossword and making coffee and taking a few more pictures in the garden.

Among the new arrivals are these alstroemeria…

alstromeria

…and this Japanese anemone.

Japanese anemone

Welcome as new flowers are, these two signal the turning of the year and the start of the descent into autumn so the welcome for them is a bit ambivalent.

Nasturtiums are in the same camp.

nasturtium

It feels that the later flowers are a bit early this year but we have had an untypical weather pattern to contend with so maybe the flowers are confused.

We are not short of colourful corners though.

colourful corner

Spirea, ligularia, nasturtium and roses

One thing that caught my eye today were these petals on this clematis which have neatly curled up to make a point.

clematis

After lunch, we settled down to watch a short but exciting stage of the Tour de France.  I took the precaution of changing into my cycling gear, pumping up the tyres on the fairly speedy bike and filling the water bottle  before I started watching the telly so that as soon as the race finished, I could get going and not loll about just thinking about going.

This cunning plan worked well and I was soon off on the twenty mile trip down to Canonbie and back.  Tuesday’s long ride had left my legs in fine fettle and I pedalled away very happily, easily able to persuade myself that the casual spectator would have had a hard time distinguishing between me and a real cyclist.

in spite of the best efforts of Genghis the Grasscutter, wild flowers are still to be seen beside the Wauchope road.

orchid and harebell

Sometimes in large numbers.

Yellow agrimony

Yellow agrimony

I took a closer look at the agrimony and the thistle too.

Yellow agrimony and thistle

I need three things to come together for a vigorous ride – good legs, good breathing and a friendly breeze and today for once, I had all three.  After I had taken the wild flower pictures,  I pressed on, enjoying the feeling of going well.  It may sound a bit silly but so pleasant is the sensation of cycling when all is going well that it is easy to day dream a bit and remember younger days.

Small hills soon put a stop to that sort of thing but it is not a bad thing to have some illusions in life.

I stopped for a second look at wild flowers when I was nearly home.  The knapweed is glorious on the old A7.

knapweed

Mixed in with it were some greater birdsfoot trefoil (thanks to Clare Pooley for the ID) and a clump of bright yellow flowers which Mrs Tootlepedal thinks is yellow bedstraw.

trefoil and yellow flowers

To my great delight, I managed to achieve an average speed of 15 mph for the Canonbie circuit today for the first time this year and it goes to show what a good idea it is to watch some top class cyclists going like the wind just before you set off for a ride.

There was time for another walk round the garden when I got home.

The lilies on land are thriving….

lilies

…and there is a lily on the water in the pond too…

Water Lily

….though it is a bit cramped for space.

The rose of the day is Special Grandma which is flowering freely.

Special Grandma

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and more wind was expended in blowing my flute as Alison and I played through the three excellent pieces which Alison bought on her recent Welsh holiday.  I will not be short of music to practise for some weeks or  months yet.

The flying bird of the day was resting on a hedge.

blackbird

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who started a journey north by going to Kentish Town Station where she was quite surprised to find a garden on the platform.

Kentish Town Station

We had a better day today with just a hint of warmth, although no one would have called a high summer day.

I had to spend two hours in the morning not taking advantage of the good weather while I sat in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place from ten until twelve.  I was able to take advantage of the peace and quiet though (just two visitors to welcome) by getting a couple of weeks of the newspaper index put into the Archive Group database so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was still helping out at the Buccleuch Centre but she was soon back home and out in the garden.

I went out too.

By the front lawn, two blackbirds sat upon a hedge.  One stayed for a picture….

blackbird

…and the other flew off, stood on one leg and gave me a hard stare.

blackbird

The Rosa Wren nearby drew my attention away from the blackbird.

Rosa Wren

It is bursting with blossom.

Rosa Wren

 

I walked through the garden.

In the back border, I noticed a clematis covered up by other plants and Mrs Tootlepedal kindly stepped forward and drew aside the curtain.

Clematis

Its name is Ernest Markham

Beside it, a pink geranium stood out.

geranium

Mrs Tootlepedal has some knapweed in one of the flower beds…

knapweed

…and it is a plant which is popular with bees.

knapweed with bee

High above the knapweed, Bobbie James looks light and airy…

Bobbie James

…while further along the fence, the Ginger Syllabub has entered a rather blowsy period…

ginger syllabub

..and like Blanche Dubois, it is perhaps past its best.

The fancy geums are also coming to an end but they have been very good value and lasted a long time so we say goodbye to them with gratitude.

Geums

After lunch, I was tempted by the Tour on the telly but managed to resist it long enough to get the fairly speedy bike out, pump up the tyres and head off down to Canonbie and back.  A brisk wind kept me concentrating on just cycling for most of the trip but I did stop to admire the bus shelter  at the Hollows…

Bus shelter, Hollows

…and some wild knapweed on the old A7.

Knapweed

Knapweed

It was growing among the meadowsweet in a really rich roadside verge.

Wild flowers in verge Auchenrivock diversion

I kept to a steady speed and had enough energy when I got home to saw a few logs, sieve a couple of buckets of compost, have a shower, see the finish of the Tour stage and be ready for my flute pupil Luke when he arrived for another go at our Haydn sonata.  I had asked him to be sure to find a little time to practise through the week and it turned out that he had.  Nothing could be more satisfactory.

After tea, for which Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared a roasted shoulder of lamb, I went off for more music with Mike and Isabel.  This was to be our last evening of playing for a month so it was especially enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is still sitting and still giving me a hard stare.

blackbird

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Today’s  guest picture was taken by my brother Andrew on a recent visit to Birmingham.  It is a city of many canals.

Birmingham canal

I had slept very badly and was enjoying a much needed lie in and snooze when the phone rang twice.  My mild irritation was assuaged when I discovered that it was Dropscone offering to bring round the traditional Friday treacle scones at coffee time.  This galvanised me enough to get me out of bed and, after a light breakfast, out into the garden to survey the damage to the delphiniums.

It was considerable.

damaged delphiniums

The wind and the rain had been too much for them.

Mrs Tootlepedal got busy with the secateurs…..

damaged delphiniums

…but the flowers were not discarded and by the end of the day they were brightening up the kitchen…

damaged delphiniums

…assisted by some surplus Bobbie James, Philadelphus and Sweet William.

It makes washing up a whole new experience.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was wielding the snippers, I was doing some snapping.

It is best to take pictures of the roses in the morning…..

roses

Clockwise from top left: Crown Princess Margareta, Ginger Syllabub, Lilian Austin and the Wren

…because if you leave it until the afternoon or evening, they tend to get covered in little flies.

Queen of Denmark

The Queen of Denmark suffering from lèse-majesté

After yesterday’s wind and rain, there was even a drop of golden sun today….

bee on geranium

…but only a drop or two.  It didn’t last.

I like to peer closely at a Lamb’s Ear….

Lamb's ear

…just because they seem so much more like textiles than plants.

I had to peer very closely to find the lily that is hidden behind the dogwood and the tree peony.  It is doing well in its hideaway, protected from the unkind elements.

lily

Dropscone arrived on schedule and we enjoyed scones from the Old Town of Langholm and coffee from Peru.  Kings and princes can only gawp in envy at our good fortune.

After Dropscone departed, I mowed the greenhouse grass and had another walk round the garden.

There are a few clematis on the go at the moment…

clematis

This one is against the wall beside the front door

…but there are more to come.

I walked out of the garden and had a look at the colour along the back wall of the house.

back wall

These are all growing on a narrow strip of poor soil between the back of the house and the dam.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been out having coffee with ex work colleagues and when she came back we had lunch and then, while she went out to work in the garden, I got into my cycling clothes and gave my fairly speedy bike a thorough wash and brush up.

The result was a very silent ride when I went out for the 20 mile round trip to Canonbie and back.

The smooth running of the bike may explain the cheerful nature of my pedalling which got me round the route in a record time for this year so far.   Once again, the direction of the brisk wind was such that it kindly blew me down to the bottom of Canonbie at an average of 16 mph and then didn’t hurt me too much on the way back.

I only stopped once as there was always a threat of rain in the air but I did find a good place to stop at.  It was rich in interest.

There were these….

orchid, trefoil, plantain and daisy

…and these…

umbelifer, campion, rattle and clover

…and these too…

insects, flies, soldier beetles

…all within a couple of paces of where I stopped the bike.

And those were by no means all that I could have photographed.

When I got back, things were going so well that I mowed the middle and front lawns to complete my happiness.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still busy trimming hedges and planting out even more poppies so I had another walk round with the camera.

Two more clematis caught my eye…

clematis

…along with the dancing feet of the honeysuckle…

honeysuckle

…the wild gestures of the Christmas Tree…

Christmas tree

…the first hosta flowers…

hosta

…and a pretty well perfect iris.

iris

I retired indoors for a shower and took the opportunity to lean out of an upstairs window and use the panorama function of the camera to get a general view of the garden.

garden panorama June 17

Click on the picture for an enlarged version.

To round off a good day, Mike and Alison came round in the evening.  They have been on holiday in Wales and they like to browse the many bookshops there.  Alison had discovered no less than three second hand pieces of music for us to play.  They are by Nicholas Chedeville (1705-1782), Nicola Matteis, (c 1675) and Marin Marais (1656-1728) all published 50 or 60 years ago.  They are approachable pieces but they all have plenty of problems requiring serious practice for both of us so we won’t be short of something to do when the long winter evenings begin to draw in.

The forecast for tomorrow is good so I hope to start July as I have finished June, with a an enjoyable bike ride and the chance to take a few pictures.

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a day or two ago.  It seems like a very good place to visit at this time of year.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17

We had yet another dry and windy day today but it was a bit warmer than it has been and by the afternoon, it was very pleasant in the garden.

I couldn’t take advantage of the morning sunshine as I was on duty in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place, ready and willing to give out advice and information to any passing tourists.   In the absence of floods of visitors (there were four), I was entertained by Dropscone, who dropped in, and kept busy by Archive Group work when he went so the time passed agreeably.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home.  I had a look round and was very pleased to see an Aglais Io, better known as a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly

…the first of the year in the garden.

As I looked at the butterfly, a sparrow sang out from the rowan tree nearby.

singing sparrow

The trillium was fully out….

trillium

…and was looking very handsome.

The early tulips are beginning to go over but there are still some looking very good….

tulip

…and there is no doubt that a little sunshine goes well with a tulip.

After lunch, we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  We have bought a battery powered hedge trimmer and the new battery technology is very smart so the machine is quite light to use and the battery lasts well and charges quickly.  It made doing the job quite enjoyable.

road hedge

Before

road hedge

After – half an hour later

Unfortunately, there is an old fence in the middle of the hedge and it makes it impossible to trim it with knife edge creases but we like the informal air the wobbly edge gives the hedge….and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

While I was recovering from the hedge trimming, I wandered about aimlessly, greeting some old friends as I went along.

bright flowers

It was a lovely afternoon

The parrot tulips have come fully out…

parrot tulip

…but I am a bit disappointed with the results which were a bit messy.  Maybe the frosty mornings didn’t do them any favours.  They may develop so I will keep an eye on them.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s dark tulips from Alnwick have survived the frosts and winds well and are looking very striking.

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of weed out of the pond and we put the hose on to fill it up a bit but the tadpoles seem quite unaffected by the disturbance.

tadpoles

I was soon feeling perky again after my rest so I got the scarifying machine out and scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.  It didn’t have quite as much moss as I expected and the task was quite easy and soon completed.

The lawn looked very reasonable for this time of year…

middle lawn after scarifying

…but it didn’t take long for the wrecking crew to arrive and mess it up again.

jackdaws on lawn

I went in for another rest and while I was inside, I looked out of the kitchen window at the birds…

siskins

A pair of siskins looking each other in the eye

perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

Today’s perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

…and out of an upstairs window at the gardener at work planting poppies and cornflowers.

siskins

The daffodils are gone and we are in the time of tulips

The front lawn looked so inviting that when my flute pupil Luke rang to say that he couldn’t come for his lesson, I went out and scarified and mowed it as well.  This turned out to be much harder work than the middle lawn and it took a big effort to clear all the moss off it.

As a result, I didn’t have long for my tea before it was time to go out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We played our way through all or part of six sonatas and felt that we had done very well by the time that we had finished.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….

chaffinch

…and I don’t suppose that you thought that I could walk past the anemone on such a cheerful day without stopping for a glance.  You were right, I couldn’t.

anemone

Hand painted by mother nature.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s walk up Blencathra last week.  He got this splendid view of the Lake District as he climbed.

Lake view

We were promised a chilly day with a brisk north wind and we got it.  Luckily we got some very bright and cheerful sunshine for most of the day so as long as you were out of the wind, life was sweet.

I was out of the wind for two hours in the morning but out of the sunshine too as I was sitting in the Welcome to Langholm office, catching up on putting the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database (now at over 80,000 entries).  I did welcome the occasional visitor too so it was time well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got back and I had a look at the azalea, which has survived a couple of chilly mornings very well….

azalea

…and one of the developing fantastical tulips….

parrot tulip

…which is unfolding very slowly.  I just hope that another chilly night tonight won’t discourage it entirely.

I went in and made some sweet potato soup for lunch and then ate it.  While the soup was cooking, I watched some appalling behaviour outside.

goldfinch and siskin

Shouting and kicking. The siskin toppled the goldfinch off the perch.

goldfinch and siskin

But another goldfinch soon returned the compliment.

It was too windy for an enjoyable cycle ride so I went for a walk with nuthatches in mind.  Sadly the nuthatches didn’t have me in mind at all and were conspicuous by their absence.  I was cheered up though by the appearance of the running rails for the Castleholm horse racing track which have appeared…

Horse racing rails

…and are waiting to be erected.

Having failed with the nuthatches, I thought that I might have a look for a dipper at the Sawmill Brig and this time, I was luckier.  It wasn’t plain sailing though as the dipper was living up to it’s name…

dipper

…but it did pause for a breather on a rock once or twice.

dipper

The rock was a bit too far away for a good shot but I had a lot of fun watching the dipper dipping.

Further downstream, after pausing for a cold ice cream from the Kilngreen van, I crossed the town bridge….

The Esk from Langholm Bridge

…..and was entertained by birds flying rather than swimming.

Large numbers of swallows and martins were swooping up and down the river.  I panned the camera vigorously in trying to get a shot or two of them in the air as they passed me and an interested onlooker might well have thought that my underwear was on fire as I twisted and turned violently.

swallows and martins

You have to be really lucky or skillful to get a good picture  of a flying swallow!  I did my best.

An oyster catcher was a more available target for my lens.

Oyster catcher

I walked on down the river, stopping to admire the cherry blossom….

cherry blossom

….and crossed the Kirk Brig and walked through the park and then along the river through the woods.

As I went along, the plaintive quacking of a duck could be heard.

duck and duckling

There were half a dozen tiny ducklings scooting about in all directions paying no attention to the quacking duck.  I wondered if something had frightened them.

I wasn’t really looking for ducks though. My target was early bluebells…

bluebell

…on the banks above the river.  I found some.

bluebells

They are not fully out yet but there were enough to make a pretty picture or two….

bluebells

…or three.

bluebells

I was rather surprised to find that I was walking in broad sunshine and light snow at the same time as I went along the Stubholm track but the snow faded away and the sunshine persisted so I continued my stroll by going along Gaskell’s walk.

In spite of the cold wind and the flurry of snow, it felt like spring in the sunshine.

Gaskells in spring

blackthorn

The countryside is definitely beginning to look greener now…

Meikleholm hill

…and my walk was very green.

Gaskells in spring

The bare trees will soon be covered.

tree

I got home and then immediately went out to collect our car from the garage where it had been serviced.  To my relief, no major faults were reported and I drove it home in a good frame of mind.

I got home in good time because not long afterwards, I looked out of the window and a snowstorm was raging.  Luckily, it was a storm in a teacup and was soon past.

My flute pupil Luke came and improved the day even more as he worked very hard and listened very carefully.  I am expecting good progress over the next month or so.

In the evening, I rounded the day off with a meeting of the Langholm Camera Club where we were treated to a very interesting demonstration of photo editing techniques by an ex professional photographer who has recently joined out group. He had much sound advice to impart and I only hope that I will be able to take it on board and improve my pictures.

I often put not very good pictures on the blog just to show things that I have seen rather than for the quality of the photographs but there is no doubt that I should set myself some targets to improve the quality of shots where I do have time to worry about settings and  composition.  I hope that readers will see the results in time.

The flying bird of the day is a study in yellow.

flying siskin

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