Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘flute’ Category

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 »

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s recent holiday.  As well as waterfalls and wonderful views, he and Marianne also saw this.

alpaca from Tony

We had the coldest night of the year so far and woke to a frosty scene.

frosty leaves

It was chilly but the birds were active.  A dunnock looked in soon after breakfast.

dunnock

The ground was pretty hard but that didn’t discourage a small group of jackdaws from pecking vigorously at the middle lawn.

two jackdaws pecking

We left the jackdaws to it and went off to take part in the Remembrance Day service in the church.  It was an unusual day for the choir as the hymns were accompanied by the town band and not our organist but we had some rousing hymns to sing so we didn’t mind.

After the service, we watched for a while as wreaths were laid at the war memorial and then headed home.

After a cup of coffee, I went out for a short walk to see how my feet would behave.  I was a bit shocked by how sore they were yesterday so I hoped to find out that that was just an aberration…and take in some nice weather at the same time.

It really was a lovely day and the calm state of the Wauchope as it passed under the Kirk Brig shows how lucky we have been here when there has been so much rain not very far away.

kirk brig reflective

I passed the war memorial with its wreaths….

war memorial remembrance day

…and some tough minded wild flowers and an interesting stick…

two wild flowers

…on my way up to the track at the Stubholm.

The sun made the best of what autumn colour is left…

stubholm track november

…and picked out some very red berries on a mature holly tree beside the track.

holly berries

A little further along, a combination of very yellow leaves and the direct sunshine produced a dazzling display which was a delight to me but which completely threw the processor in my camera which couldn’t cope with it at all.

stubholm tracj dazzle

As my current pocket camera had resisted all entreaties to behave and continued to be very stubborn when it came to taking any pictures at all, I was carrying my old Lumix with me.  It is in poor condition and I only use it on cycle trips now. Still, it did its best today even if it couldn’t cope with the leaf/sun combination.

It noted a small crop of fungus on an old log on the ground…

fungus on old log

…and a curious flaky growth on a branch above my head.  I don’t know whether this is a fungus or a lichen.

fungus on branch

And it enjoyed looking back over the town from a vantage point.

view from stubholm bank

I walked along this very autumnal path…

top path at end of stubholm

…which took me down to the river bank and back home.  My feet behaved very well.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I ordered a new camera.  It may be possible to live without champagne and caviar, but it is impossible to live without a good quality pocket camera.   (The camera on my phone is not great at all unless conditions are perfect.)

After this, I had a little time to watch the birds and was pleased to see that the/a blue tit had visited again…

blue tit looking up

…and that a mixed bag of finches and sparrows was on the feeder (I had replaced the missing perch).

full feeder

I didn’t have time for a longer walk, a short bike ride or more bird watching as we went off to Carlisle straight after lunch because we wanted to do some shopping before going to our Carlisle choir.

Our choir conductor has just won a prestigious singing prize in a competition in London so she was in a very cheerful mood.  She communicated this cheeriness to us and we had a very enjoyable and progressive practice.

Among the things that I bought on our shopping trip was a swish new feeder for the birds.  I have put it out already so I will be very interested to see what they make of it tomorrow.  The store where I bought it is having a closing down sale so I got it at an advantageous price.

I didn’t have enough standing around time today to catch a flying bird so this one, which was flying half a second before I took the picture, will have to do as the nearly flying bird of the day.

nearly flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has combined some good autumn colour with a grebe.

grebe

My plan for the day was to leap out of bed early and go for a cycle ride and then go to see the physio for a check up.  I managed half the plan. The physio was very helpful and has discharged me with admonitions to keep doing the exercises but not to do do them too much.  I shall pay attention.

The high spot of the cycle free morning (I did not leap out of bed) was the arrival of a huge parcel which when opened, revealed its very modest contents.

big parcel small contents

I know this sort of thing makes sense to someone but it doesn’t make sense to me.

As it turned out to be a cold and windy morning with quite a lot of miserable drizzle about, I was quite pleased with the lack of leaping out of bed and enjoyed a gentle stroll round the garden to see what flowers are surviving…

surviving nasturtium

lamium november

poentilla november

…and to pick up a few more of the excellent walnut crop.

fallen walnut

Most of our colour will come from shrubs until the the spring bulbs arrive.

spireas

I watched the birds as well and recorded a crow in the plum tree, a rare visitor to our garden, though we do see quite a few rooks.

crow on plum tree

A chaffinch is a more regular sight.

chaffinch on plum tree

Under the feeder, a robin…

robin on ground

…and a dunnock kept a wary eye out for cats.

dunnock by feeder pole

While up above, a blue tit snatched a seed before flying off.

blue tit tucking in

There were plenty of birds about and a goldfinch seeing a fellow being assaulted by a greenfinch headed for safety.

busy feeder

A female chaffinch made a neat landing.

female chaffinch landing

After carefully checking on the trains, we drove across to Lockerbie and caught a reasonably punctual train to Edinburgh

Matilda’s parents went off to a parents meeting at her school and we had a very entertaining time with Matilda.  There was creative dance, shooting Grandpa with a bow and arrow, and games of Carcassone and Pelmanism.

Al and Clare returned with good reports of Matilda and we enjoyed another excellent meal before setting off home.

The train home was late and as we are setting off at the crack of dawn tomorrow to catch another train, this time to Glasgow, our fingers are firmly crossed.

This also explains this brief post.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in a queue

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He just wants us to know that there are starlings in East Wemyss too.

starling wemyss

The forecast was for a reasonable morning with some rain at lunchtime and rising wind during the day.  I should therefore have gone out cycling as soon as possible and worried about other things later on.

As it happened, the idea of having a coffee and biscuit with Sandy proved more powerful than the idea of cycling so coffee and a biscuit (or two) it was.

When he left, there were birds to look at….

sparrow

…and a window to clean to make it easier to look at the birds.

A collared dove looked down on the cleaned window with approval.

collared dove

A blue tit eyed up the feeder…

blue tit waiting

…and having got there, took a seed and made off again.

blue tit with big seed

The sunflower hearts are too big for blue tits to eat, so they take them away to a tree where they hold them down with a claw and peck at them.

One chaffinch took a moment to rest on the plum tree before heading for the feeder…

chaffinch

…and another made sure to line up neatly with the other branches on Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree.

symmetrical chaffinch

A goldfinch appeared…

goldfinch

…and soon a small gang of them monopolised the feeder.

three goldfiches

I was hoping for a flying bird but unless you have a lot of time to stand and wait, you need more than a gang of three to turn up.  The feeder should ideally be fully occupied with non flying birds and then the flying birds have to hang in the air waiting for an opportunity to land.

In the absence of flying, I turned round and looked at the window on the opposite side of the room.  Pot plants make good subjects because they don’t suddenly dart off before you can get the camera focused.

pot plant

The expected lunchtime rain didn’t materialise, so after a healthy lunch of sardines, I got my bike out and went off for a ride.  I had the wind behind me as I started but as there were some unreliable looking clouds behind me too, I kept an open mind on where and how far I should go.

It was grey day and with the threat of rain about, I didn’t stop a lot but this colourful and neatly trimmed hedge at Mossknowe seemed worth a look.

hedge mossknowe

Just up the road, was an imposing tree with a good complement of leaves still on its branches.

tree with leaves mossknowe

When I got to the Annan road, I headed west.  I was planning to turn left and check to see if there were any migratory geese about near the border, but as the moment of route decision got nearer  so did the threatening clouds.

Looking to my right, the skies seemed clearer so instead of turning left, I went on a bit,  passing these leafy trees…

trees near milltown of sark

… and turned right at Chapelknowe.  I had gone about three yards up the road from the junction when it started to rain quite heavily.  I stopped and put my rain jacket on and about three yards later, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started.

How I laughed.

As I plodded up the hill, the day got darker….

grey tree neasr chapelknow

…so I kept my rain jacket on until I got so hot that I had to stop and take it off again.  About three hundred yards later, it started to rain quite heavily again but this time I was ready for it and pedalled on regardless.  I soon came out into the dry again.

I had chosen a route that would make the best of the wind and I had it generally behind me for the first eighteen miles.   The nine miles back home directly into the wind were harder work and I was pleased to stop at the bottom of Callister to photograph this well defended bridge at Falford.

falford bridge

Then it started to rain again and this time, it didn’t stop.  I was only seven miles from home though so I was quite happy to tuck my glasses in my back pocket, wrap up my camera and phone, and pedal along without putting my rain jacket back on.  The rain was not heavy and it was tolerably warm so in spite of the elements against me, I enjoyed the ride back.

I ended up doing just under twenty eight miles and because of the route alteration, I found myself going round some familiar roads in the opposite direction to my usual custom.  It is surprising how novel going the ‘wrong way’ down a road feels, no matter how often you have gone along it in in the other direction.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke arrived and we had another progressive session.  He has been practising at home and showed marked improvement which was very satisfactory.  Because no one showed me how to practice properly when I was young, I got very discouraged when I put in some time but didn’t seem to get any better, so it is good to see Luke getting value from the time he has spent.

In response to popular demand, the venison stew made a reappearance for our evening meal.

I didn’t have the patience to wait long enough for a flying bird at the feeder today so a dogwood across the garden, shot through the window while I was waiting hopefully, is the best that I can do.

dogwood

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from that inveterate traveller Bruce.  He looked in on a tea dance at the famous Tower Ballroom in Blackpool but did not venture onto the floor himself.  Doubtless things will be a bit more lurid on 16th November when Strictly comes to town.

tower ballroom

Finally our spell of mild autumn weather came to an end today and we woke up to a frosty garden.

first frosts

It wasn’t very frosty though and things warmed up gently through the morning. I wondered if the frost would have encouraged some autumn colour, so after breakfast I went out for a short three bridges walk.

I was waved off by a hosta positively glowing in the sunshine.

golden hosta

Sadly, the autumn colour was mainly on the river bank…

leaves on ground

…though it was still a glorious morning for a walk.

meeting of the waters late october

The ducks seemed to think that it was good weather for them too…

female mallard

…as they cruised up and down the Ewes Water, occasionally ducking.

male mallard

I fear that autumn colour is not going to figure this year and the trees behind the Sawmill Brig have lost interest in the whole thing.

sawmill brig autumn

The old Episcopalian Church on the Lodge Walks was looking attractive.  It is a pity that no use can be found for this building.

episcopla church october

The trees across the Castleholm were rather dull….

trees on castleholm

…but the sunny day made for good views.  I was interested to see the hill cattle had chosen to graze near the top of the hill where I would have thought that it would be chillier.  Perhaps they got more sun up there.

cattle on Timpen

With two months still to go until the shortest day, it is slightly depressing to find the sun so low in the sky even at this time of year but it does provide some Hitchcock like shots on a walk.

low shadows n walk

When I got back, I settled down and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to demount her embroiderers’ group exhibition in the Welcome to Langholm hub, I did the crossword, made coffee and bread and followed that up with another tarte tatin.   We have quite a few apples in hand and the making (and eating) of tarte tatin is my approved way of dealing with them at the moment.

After lunch, with the thermometer showing 7°C, I wrapped up well and went out for a pedal.  The larches are doing their best to provide some autumn colour.  These ones are at Pool Corner.larches pool corner

I was a few miles up the road when I met a cyclist coming the other way.  He drew to a halt and it turned out to be Sandy out for a spin on his e-bike.  He was doing an adventurous circuit with quite a few hills in it.

sandy cycling

After some chat, he set off to pedal home to Langholm…

sandy cycling off

…and I cycled on up to the top of Callister.

Rather annoyingly, after a brilliantly sunny morning, a few stray clouds had turned up to hide the sun…
clouds from callister

…but out to the west, the sea was glistening where the clouds had cleared.

shining sea from callister

It didn’t take long for them to clear where I was and I cycled home in golden splendour.

golden wauchopedale

I was going to cycle through the town and out of the other side but I came upon a man with a tractor cutting the roadside hedge.  As this often involves covering the road with sharp hawthorn fragments, I turned back and did two circuits of the New Town to make up my twenty miles.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal kindly cut my hair and after I had had a shower, my flute pupil Luke turned up.  Thanks to some improved teaching and some home practice, he is really getting a grip on the counting.  We are also both working on approaching high notes with confidence rather than terror, and that is showing improvement too.

The weather looks set fair for the next few days so I am hoping to be able to add a few more miles to my October total before the end of the month.  Since the clocks have gone back, I will have to make an effort to get started sooner as the evenings are really drawing in now and I don’t have good enough equipment (or the courage) to cycle in the dark.

We have put the bird feeder out and I hope that normal service will be resumed as soon as the birds notice that food is now available.  In the meantime, I didn’t see a flying bird today, so a reflective Mr Grumpy, spotted from the Town Bridge on my cycle ride, will have to do.

reflective heron

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is the last from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan visited Loch Ness but resisted the charms of the cruise boat and drove round the loch by car instead.  They didn’t see a monster.

Loch ness cruiser

It was another gloomy, damp day here with the clouds hanging low over the  town and frequent spells of miserable drizzle to make things damper and gloomier.

Mrs Tootlepedal found a nearly dry moment to take our visitor Riley for a walk after breakfast, and Riley enjoyed a well earned rest when he got back.

riley

I had a pretty good rest all morning myself and it was only interrupted by the arrival of Sandy for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.  He had had a very good ride on his new electric bike yesterday and was full of praise for the way it had carried him up steep roads and over the hill and far away.  He has written about his trip here.   This might interest anyone thinking about getting an e-bike.

When he left, I went out into the garden to see if it was raining.

It was.

sparrow in rain on fence

Looking around, I could see that our power lines were busy.  I don’t usually expect to see a robin perching on one.

robin on wire

I do expect to see starlings at present.  They were adopting varying formations today,

three starlings on wirefour starlings on wire

A blackbird preferred to remain at a lower level and took the chair.

blackbird on chair staring

Sandy went off to the Archive Centre and brought back some sheets of the newspaper index for me to put onto the database.  Spurred by this, I caught up on my backlog, and it looks as though there will be plenty more gloomy weather to come which will encourage me to put in these new sheets soon.

As the afternoon wore on, the drizzle stopped and I found myself with just enough time for a quick three bridges walk before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

I nodded at some flowers as I left the garden…

roses and dahlia panel

…and walked down to the suspension bridge from which I looked up river towards the first bridge that I would cross…

 

Town Bridge October

…and down river to where the poplars are just beginning to change colour.

poplars beside Esk

The best leaf colour of the day was lying in a gutter beside the bridge..

fallen leaves

…and there is a bit of worry that the leaves may fall off the trees this year without giving us a good show of autumn tints.

I walked along the river bank and crossed the town bridge.  I was hoping to see some riverside birds, but the only one that I came across was Mr Grumpy, standing on one leg.

heron one leg

I then walked up to the Sawmill Bridge and crossed it.

sawmill brig

Looking up the Lodge Walks from under the canopy, the trees look pretty green still…

lodge walks inside

…but looking at the same trees from outside in the field, they look rather brown.

lodge walks outside

Across the Castleholm, there was a mild show of colour but the birch trees have lost all their leaves already and give the scene a rather blurred look.

trees across castleholm

A little burst of sunshine appeared but it lit up Whita Hill and the monument while I remained under a cloud.

sunshine on whita

When I got to the Jubilee Bridge, the third of my three bridges, something had changed since my last walk.

jubilee bridge october

I realised that I could see more of the bridge than usual and this turned out to be because someone had cut down one of the two big trees that stood beside the bridge.

felled tree jubilee bridge

Why they should have done this is a mystery at present.

I stood on the bridge and looked upstream.

 

upriver from jubilee bridge october

And then I walked home and saluted a beautiful astrantia which welcomed me into the garden.

astrantia october

My flute pupil Luke came and we practised some new pieces which was exciting.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been looking at recipes and made a delicious red lentil dal to go with a second helping of the venison stew.  The day ended well.

There are two flying birds of the day today just because I didn’t have much else to do in the morning except look up at distant birds.

First, a rook flying high over the garden…

flying rook

…and then a starling, trying to find a better power line to perch on.

flying starling

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s visit to the low countries.  She found herself on a very straight section of an Amsterdam canal where one can see seven bridges in a row….if one has very good eyesight.

Amsterdam canal

It was a still and misty morning when we got up, and when I went to put the wheely bin out, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of web action in the hedge.

webby hedge

A helpful passer by pointed out a near perfect traditional web…

spider web

…but most of the webs were very fine and rather than having jewel like water droplets on them, the droplets were so fine that I had to enlarge the pictures before I could them.

webby wetness

I had hoped to go for  a cycle ride as it was not raining and there was hardly any wind, a perfect day to end September’s cycling, but unfortunately my slight cold had got worse and my chest was suggesting quite forcibly that any great exertion might not be a good thing.

I settled for bird watching…

bird not in hand

…and checking on the flowers.

six garden flowers

As they day warmed up, quite a few butterflies appeared and once again the few remaining buddleia flowers were a great draw.

three butterflies on buddeias

There are hardly any buddleia flowers left though, so other flowers were in use too…

three butterflies on various flowers

…though the sedums were not  popular at all.  This is a bit odd as they look to be in good condition and are usually a great magnet for butterflies.

After a while the mist cleared and the sun came out. It was pleasant enough for me to sit on the new bench for a while.  From it, I could admire the calendulas…

sunny calendula

…and the curly tongue of a butterfly on a rudbeckia…

butter with coiled tongue

…and a bee which didn’t mind sitting right next to me.

bee on rudbeckia close

Sitting on the bench made me think of the state of the lawn.  In spite of the rainy weather, it has been quite warm and the grass has been growing, so I got the mower out and gave the middle lawn a cut.

When I had cut it, I looked back at the bench.

midde lawn from far end

Although the lawn looks pretty good in the picture, it does have a lot of weeds in it…

weeds on lawn

…as I have gone off the idea of using weedkiller on the lawns.  I may have the strength to do some hand weeding over the next few weeks or I may just settle for having a green but weedy lawn.

I made some lentil and carrot soup for our lunch and then went off with Sandy to collect the pictures from the Camera Club’s exhibition at the Hub at Eskdalemuir.

The manager at the Hub was very enthusiastic about the exhibition and told us that it had been well received by visitors.   We had even sold three pictures.

Although the sun had gone in again, it was a fine afternoon with good light so the drive up and down the valley was no hardship at all.  I just wished that I had been able to get out on my bike.

When we got back, I dropped Sandy off at his house and then had a walk round our garden.  The St John’s Wort has got some late flowers and a fine selection of berries.

st john's wort with berries

After the success of mowing the middle lawn, I was going to mow the front lawn too, but when I looked at it, it seemed a bit tired so I got the scarifier out and gave it a light scarifying.  I was extremely pleased to find how little moss the sacrifier brought up, a great tribute to the moss eating lawn treatment.

I mowed off the results of the scarifying and the end result was quite satisfactory.

front lawn scarified

All this was more than enough exercise for the day and I went in and joined Mrs Tootlepedal who was relaxing after a little light gardening.

In the evening, while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke, she made courgette fritters to go with the last of the venison stew and a very successful tarte tatin.  I must say that as a way of eating apples, tarte tatin comes high on my list of good methods.

I think if anything, my cold seems to be getting a little worse so another day of good weather may go to waste tomorrow, but I can always hope for a miracle cure.

The (almost) flying bird of the day is a starling taking off from Irving’s holly tree.

nearly flying starling

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »