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Archive for the ‘Lochmaben’ Category

Today’s picture is another from Venetia’s African odyssey in the course of which she seems to have seen just about everything you could expect to see if things went really well on such a visit.

Elephant crossing,

After the excitement of yesterday’s outing, I had a quiet day today.  The weather was quiet too, with a tiny spot of sun and a single drop of rain, but it was mostly grey and unemotional.

Although Mrs Tootlepedal is still a bit under the weather,  she managed to go out and sort out posters in the Welcome to Langholm office for forthcoming Buccleuch Centre events.  I had a look at the birds.

It was a hard stare and shouting day.

siskin warning chaffinch

I was suffering a bit from yesterday’s walk so I measured out visits to the garden in small doses but made the most of my time while I was out.

I started with a check on the developing magnolia…

magnolia flower

…and then set about shifting some more compost from Bin B into Bin C.  In spite of having a good cover on Bin B, the amount of rain we have had has made the compost wet and heavy so I am moving a modest amount at a time but I have got down to needing one more go after today’s effort.  Perhaps because of the moisture, the compost is full of worms this year which is a good thing.

I also sieved some of the compost in Bin D but as it is wet too, the sieving is more tedious than it should be so there is quite a lot of that left to do.

I took a picture of a newly flourishing bergenia…

bergenia

…and went back in looked out at the birds again.

They were still shouting.

goldfinch shouting

I had some nourishing soup for my lunch and watched the birds whizzing round the feeder…

busy feeder

…and I was delighted to see a stranger among the chaffinches, siskins and goldfinches.  A redpoll had come to call.

chaffinch and redpoll

I paid another visit to the garden to gather the material for a panel of primroses and primula…

primrose and primula

…and while I was out, I got the mower out and put the blades up high enough for me to be able to walk across the front lawn pretending that I was mowing it.

Basically I was just squashing moss, although a few blades of grass here and there stuck up enough to end up in the grass box.  It is the first step in a process that I hope will end up with the lawn looking quite respectable for one or two weeks in the middle of summer before the moss starts its inexorable return.  It is a pointless but amusing exercise.

I retired to my computer and added a new parish magazine from 1968, which Sandy had scanned and formatted, to our Archive Group website.

I was thinking of a very short walk or slow cycle ride but there was a hint of drizzle so I went back to my computer and put the accompaniment for the last movement of one of the pieces which I am playing with Luke into the kind programme that plays the keyboard and the cello part for us.

I got bored of sitting around in the end and in spite of the poor light, I went off on the slow bike to see if there were any birds down by the river.  Because the light was poor, there were birds on all sides.

I saw a pair of oyster catchers showing that one leg or two is all the same to them.

two oysdtercatchers with legs

I saw Mr Grumpy standing on the rock where the big gull usually stands.

mr grumpy in Esk

I saw a pair of goosanders both standing  out of the water for long enough for me to get a shot of them…

male goosander preening

…though the female had lost her head.

female goosander headless

All these were on the short stretch between the suspension and the town bridges.

I crossed the town bridge and stopped at the Kilngreen where a pied wagtail posed for a moment…

pied wagtail ewes

…while two mallards tried to sneak off unnoticed behind my back,

ducks sneaking off

I was talking to a fellow cyclist when a dipper flew past but it was too quick for me and all that was left was to catch the fine show of daffodils along the bank up to the Sawmill Brig.

ewes water daffodils

I pedalled gently across the bridge, up the Lodge Walks and then back along the riverside path….

Castleholm pine tree

…and then I went through the town up to Pool Corner where this fine crop of catkins caught my eye.

dangly catkins

I had one final look round the garden when I got home…

orange trumpet daffodil

…and enjoyed two of the different daffodils that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted over the years.

red trumpet daffodil

That pretty well concluded the excitement for the day apart from watching our local heroine Jilly making it through another day of Masterchef.

A chaffinch looking a bit uncomfortable is the flying bird of the day.

cricked chaffinch

Note: I see that Sandy has put a set of pictures from our walk at Watchtree yesterday onto his blog.  Those interested can see them here.

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(First a note about yesterday’s guest picture which I claimed was taken by Tony in the morning, In fact, it was taken by his partner Marianne in the afternoon but apart from that, I was completely correct.)

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently strayed far enough from home to arrive in Marseille where her hotel had an enticing pool – though not quite enticing enough to tempt her in for a swim as it was unheated.

Marseille pool

We had a very unheated day today with temperatures very close to freezing in the morning and back below zero in the evening.

The sun shone throughout the day which made enforced leg resting a bit hard to bear. Things are improving though and I was able to totter to church in the morning to sing with the choir.

When I had tottered back home again, I slow marched through the garden.

In spite of the near zero start to the day, flowers are still blooming.

winter jasmine

The winter jasmine is a cheat as it has just started.

red nasturtium

There are still lots of nasturtiums along the wall of the house, both in red….

yellow nasturtium

…and in yellow.

lilian austin late october

Lilian Austin hasn’t given up yet…

last fuschia bud

…and the fuchsias have still got a lot to give potentially.

late lamium

The lamium….

perservering strawberry

…and the ornamental strawberry continue to delight…..

tatty viola

…but the  violas are looking past their best…

last of the clematis

…as are the clematis.

However, rather to my surprise, I saw a bee hard at work.

late october bee

The chaffinches were still giving the new feeder a wary look.

flying chaffinch

I put my enforced rest to good use by going indoors and entering a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, and then after lunch, we drove back to church for a choir practice.

Our organist and choir master had accepted an invitation to take part in a four choir mini festival in a neighbouring church and had decided that we would sing the Hallelujah chorus as one of our two contributions.  Luckily, he had acquired a few extra outside singers to help us and we had a good practice.

Then we got the first treat of the day as a reward, a slap up afternoon tea in the Eskdale Hotel with a mountain of sandwiches, sausage rolls and fancy cakes.

Fortified by this, we drove over to Lochmaben, about 25 miles away, with two other choir members in the back and Mrs Tootlepedal at the wheel.

I had not known what to expect from the event but Lochmaben church turned out to be very charming and comfortable and the mini festival was most enjoyable with the efforts of the choirs being interspersed with singing of some old favourite hymns. Our turn went off pretty well so the whole thing was another treat…..(especially as it didn’t go on too long.)

And then there were more cups of tea and more fancy cakes so that was the third treat.

When it came to driving home, the temperature dipped below zero but as the roads were dry, there was no danger of ice to alarm us and we got home safely.

My leg got through all this excitement with no trouble and steady improvement continues but it will be another quiet day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch which plucked up its courage and approached the new feeder directly.

flying chaffinch 28 Oct

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my neighbour Liz.  She has been on holiday in Spain but must have strayed into Portugal because she tells me that these are Portuguese fishermen mending their nets.

net mending

It was rather chilly and the cloud was clamped on the hills when I got up.  It was nearly windless so I thought very hard about going for a cycle ride and had to weigh up the damp, cold conditions against the lack of wind.  My cough has not disappeared.  At one stage, I got into quite a heated argument with myself but in the end, sense prevailed and I invited Sandy round for a cup of coffee instead.

After coffee, I checked on the garden birds….

chaffinch

…and then I went out for a short walk with the hope of finding some misty shots involving bare trees for dramatic effect.  I found a dipper, a dripping conifer and some birch leaves….

dipper

…but no dramatic misty treescapes.

However, there was some curiously striped mist about…

misty view

…and a hint of a hilltop above the mist…

misty view

…and this was enough to suggest that a drive up to the White Yett might provide a shot worth taking or two and so, on a whim and a prayer, off I went.

Things looked promising as I went up the hill…

windmills in mist

…and more promising the higher I went…

mist from Whita

…higher and higher…

P1050358

And the promise was fulfilled when I got to the car park.

mist from Whita

I don’t think I have seen mist in such well defined streams before.

mist from Whita

I decided that a walk up to the monument was called for and as I went up, I kept snapping.

Timpen hill was like an island in an icy sea.

 

mist from Whita

The mist was filling the col between Timpen and the windmills on Craig and Ewe Hill

P1050378

On the other side of the town, the mist had smothered the Wauchope valley and I was very glad that I had decided not to cycle there earlier in the day.  It would have been dark and damp.

mist from Whita

The stripes of mist were most unusual and thanks to the cool and very still day, they stayed where they were for long enough for me to enjoy them thoroughly.mist from Whita

Once at the top of the hill, I expected to see the Solway plain full of mist too but it was pretty clear so that I could see the Gretna wind farm on this side of the firth  and the Lake District Hills on the far side. ..

Solway Firth

…but as you can see, they had some low level mist on the English shore too.

I could have sat up there for some time but I had an afternoon appointment so I reluctantly came back down to the car, taking a shot or two on the way of course…

windmills and mist

…including a panorama to try to give an impression of how neatly the mist was wrapped round the hills.  You can click on the panorama for a closer look.

mist panorama

As I came down, I saw two things of interest.  The first was a bird perched on a snow pole.  When I looked at the picture for the first time, I thought that it was only a stray chaffinch but a closer look tells me that it is something else.

bird on pole

(Helpful readers have told me that it is a stonechat,  I am grateful to them.)

The other interesting sight was Sandy.  I had sent him a  text to say that there was interesting mist and he had come up for a look for himself.

I didn’t have time to stay and chat as that afternoon appointment was looming up and I needed to have lunch before I went.

I combined lunch with staring out of the window.

There was the usual charm offensive…

blue tit and robin

….and an offensive charm too (goldfinch flocks are called charms)…

goldfinch and siskin

…but the siskins can more than hold their own when it comes to being offensive.

siskin and goldfinch

I couldn’t stay for long as I had to drive over to Powfoot on the Scottish side of the Solway shore to visit my physiotherapist.

The local health authorities have made it almost impossible to see an NHS physio so it was lucky that I know and have used the services of an excellent private physio, even though it costs me money.

A few weeks ago, I injured my left bicep by reaching gently behind me to pick something off a shelf and in the process, damaged my long head tendon.  Two visits to the doctor hadn’t provided me with either much information or a referral to an NHS physio so I was in search of good advice and, if possible, a miracle cure.

I purposely arrived in enough time to go down to the Solway shore.

The tide was out, there was no wind and the scene was eerily quiet.

solway and lake district

I don’t think that I have ever been able to see the reflections of the Anthorn radio masts in the sea before and may well never see them again.

Anthorn

It was hard to choose whether the views from the hill or the shore were better but it was a great privilege to have been able to see them both in one day.

I went to my appointment and discovered that the tendon was irreparably burst and wasn’t going to miraculously join up again so that my bicep would never recover its natural good looks.  This dashed my hopes of appearing in the Mr Universe competition.

On the up side, it turns out that as there are other tendons about, the  loss of one is not a disaster and I should, with care and attention, not do any further damage and be able to gradually improve the situation with judicious light exercise.

As the physio then eased my arthritic shoulder and freed up my neck so that I can actually turn my head now, I considered it money well spent and drove back very cheerfully.

I might have stopped on the way and waved at the starlings at Gretna but I hadn’t brought the right lens with me so I went straight home.

In the evening, I went out to the Langholm Sings choir practice and got shouted at by the pianist.  Deservedly.   But I was tired and my cough hasn’t gone away so I felt a bit hard done by.

I did get a flying goldfinch of the day before I went to Powfoot.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo, my Manitoba correspondent, and indicates that perhaps I should stop complaining about the weather here.

manitoba snow

In fact, we had a pretty good day here today with lots of sunshine in the morning and early afternoon.  This left me frustrated again by not being able to cycle on such an eminently suitable day for cycling.  Everyone I meet seems to have the cold too so there really is a lot of it going about.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a whole day embroidery workshop so I was left on my own to go to the Producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre.  To my great joy, a cheese seller has appeared so I was able to add cheese to my purchases of honey, fish, beef and venison.

I had a cup of coffee with Mike Tinker while I was there and he too is finding it hard to throw off a cold so we indulged in a little mutual sympathy.

I got home and downloaded the shopping and seeing that the forecast was for clouds later, I went out for a walk while the going was good.

I keep hoping that a bit of fresh air will blow the cold away but really, I just like taking a bit of exercise on a good day.

I walked along the river and Kilngreen without seeing anything to detain me and when I had crossed the Sawmill Brig, I headed up the hill past the estate offices.  There is a wall beside the road  that almost always has peltigera lichen and there was some there today.

peltigera lichen

Once I got out of the wood, the pattern of sunshine and shadow on a beech hedge made me look twice.

beech hedge

The hedge is completely smooth in spite of appearances.

I followed the track along above the rugby ground and dodged the soggiest bits while enjoying the strong contrast of light and shade.

Pathhead track

It has gates too.

Pathhead track

What I didn’t expect to come across on a sunny and dry day was this.

Rainbow on Pathhead track

It shows just how much moisture there is in the air when you can get half a rainbow without any rain.

Although I miss the autumn colour, I enjoyed the bare trees that I passed on my way.

trees on Pathhead track

There are still needles on the larch trees among the spruces.

Larch and spruces

This track took me about a mile and a half north of the town and when I got to the end of it, I turned back down to the main road, crossed the High Mill Brig…..

High Mill Brig

…and further downstream, I passed the more utilitarian modern bridge to the rugby pitch and caravan site.

Rugby Club Bridge

When I got back to the Sawmill Brig, I made my route into a figure of eight and crossed the bridge again and took the new path across the Castleholm to the Jubilee Bridge.

I looked up as I went.

Noble Fir and fern

Cones and a fern

And across.

ivy

Ivy

And down.

wild flowers on the scholars field

Three wild flowers round the Scholars’ Field.

I got home in time to have a look for garden survivors….

garden flowers november

…and have an excellent pie which I had obtained at the Producers’ Market for my lunch and then I found myself at a bit of a loose end.

I put the camera up and stared out of the kitchen window.

The sun came and went which didn’t help my camera settings but there were plenty of birds about today.

chaffinchpigeonchaffinch and greenfinchrobin

I had bought some mixed seeds as a change from endless sunflower hearts and put them out in a second feeder but there was no demand for them at all until quite late on when a single coal tit arrived and sampled the quality.

coal tit on seed feeder

We will have to wait to see if it tells its friends about this new opportunity or keeps it to itself.

We were threatened with rain showers in the afternoon but when none came. I went out and sieved a little compost and cleared up a pile of nettles on the drying green, the result of some recent garden tidying by Attila the Gardener.

As I was going out in the evening, I went back in and looked at the photographs that I had taken so far and by the time that I had finished doing that, Mrs Tootlepedal was back from a hard day’s embroidering.

We had a cup of tea and watched some rain.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be a front of house manager at the Buccleuch Centre and I followed on to be a customer.  She went home when the show started but I stayed to enjoy an excellent concert by Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood.  Because we watched a recording of Strictly Come Dancing when I got home, it is too late to put a commentary on the concert here if I am to post before midnight so all I will say is that the programme was varied and enjoyed by a good audience.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches.

chaffinches flying

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce.  He came across this fine view on the hill road to Roberton near Hawick a week or so ago.

Bruce's view

After a rather slack period for cycling recently, a dry and calm day today was an excellent opportunity to get the fairly speedy bike out and put in a few miles.  The tyres needed pumping up and the chain needed cleaning but I was soon ready to go.

My intention was to see how my legs felt and adjust the distance accordingly but I got a bit overcome by taking pictures as I pedalled along and lost a few potential miles on the way.  Still, I did 64 miles and took 50 pictures so that seems like a good balance.  Readers will be pleased to know that not all the pics made it into the post!

I started with a big surprise only a mile or so from the house when I saw the hillside above Bessie Bell’s covered in bluebells.

Bruce's view

Another visit on foot is on my to do list.

The verges were full of wild flowers and the first three that I met were these.

wild flowers

I have forgotten what the golden spikes are called but the other two are speedwell and geum

I started my ride among the hills and I hoped to get some good pictures of the 22 windmills on the new Ewe Hill windfarm by going up the hill towards Corrie Common.  I could see the windmills (just) but in the rather poor light, my camera couldn’t so i will have to try again on a brighter day.

I did get a splendid view down into the valley on the far side of Corrie Common though and even on a gloomy day, it is a very pleasing prospect.

 

view from Corrie Common

Click on the pic for a bigger picture

The only fly in the ointment is that very poor road surface takes the fun out of going down the hill into the valley.

The little stream at the bottom is very picturesque…

Corrie common

…and the bridge has the usual gate to stop any sheep making a break for freedom by swimming.

corrie common road

I pedalled on over the hill to Boreland, a very pretty road even on a rather grey day…

road to Boreland

…and then turned west and descended into Annandale.  On the way down, I was stopped several times by wild flowers crying out to be photographed.

red campion, cranesbill, hawthorn and more bluebells

Sometimes I couldn’t fail to notice them.

red campion

A bank of red campion

When I got to Lochmaben,  I had a stop for a banana and a little rest beside the Mill Loch, a very peaceful place for a sit down…

Mill Loch Lochmabe

Mill Loch Lochmaben

…and then I pedalled on down the valley to Dalton and Hoddom.

I passed several flourishing horse chestnut trees.  I was not the only one interested in the flowers.

horse chestnut

I like this rather Hansel and Gretel like lodge at Hoddom Castle…

Hoddom Lodge

…and I looked up at the Repentance Tower on the hill above the road.

Repentance Tower

I couldn’t cross my favourite bridge over the River Annan at Hoddom without taking a picture…

Hoddom Bridge

…and I noticed some more wild flowers beside the river bank path while I was there.

broom

Broom is arriving as the gorse begins to fade

dandelion and buttercup

From Hoddom, I headed to Ecclefechan and then went down the old main road to Gretna where I fortified the inner man with an excellent plate of egg and chips.

From Gretna, I took a direct route home as all my photo stops (and the egg and chips) had added a lot of time to my trip.

I did stop for a few more pictures.

My three favourite trees on the old A7 were looking well in the spring garb….

three canonbie trees

…and there were two rather delicately shaded flowers beside Canonbie Bridge…

comfrey and forget me not

Comfrey and Forget-me-not

…as well full spring clothing at Hollows Bridge…

Hollows Bridge

…and a great number of Pyrenean Valerian flowers once I got within thee miles of Langholm.

pyrenean valerian

Here is a map of the trip and those with time hanging heavy on their hands can click on the map as usual to get further details of the ride.

garmin route 17 May 2017 elevation

You can see that the route was well chosen for an old man with all the climbing at the start and the wind mostly behind on the way home.

The hilly start into the wind meant that my average speed was pretty low but it was a most enjoyable outing.  I mean to get as much pleasure as I can from the scenery and the surroundings and be less bothered by average speeds now that the better weather has arrived.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was out and had completed her pea fortress.

pea fortress

Just let the sparrows try to get into that!

Our garden was full of flowers too….

garden flowers

…and it is always interesting to see the different ways that flowers set out to attract customers.

There are some very colourful aquilegias against the back wall of the house.

aquilegia

AKA Granny’s Bonnet or Columbine

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be Front-of-House at the Buccleuch Centre for a very peppy jazz concert from the Scottish Youth Jazz Orchestra while I went to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  We both enjoyed ourselves.

It was a very cheerful day for one that had little or no actual sunshine in it.

The flower of the day is a tulip which is not showing any signs of being a shrinking violet.

tulip

 

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Today’s guest picture is the final one from my Newcastle correspondent, Fiona’s trip to the Netherlands with her family for Easter. Her daughter Hannah is enjoying the prospect of a ride on one of the white bikes from the Hoge Veluwe National Park. They are included in the entrance to the park and you can just take one and ride around as much as you like.

white bikesIt is a rather brief blog today as I didn’t do much except sit around while Mrs Tootlepedal went to Edinburgh and then did more painting when she got back.

Fortunately the weather was ideal for sitting around, not too hot but nice and sunny and with nothing more than a light breeze.  I was hoping to get out early but at 3 degrees C it was too cold.  Cycling when the temperature is 3°C, if properly dressed for it, is not problem in winter but when spring comes, being properly dressed for 3° at breakfast means being boiled when it hits 10° at lunch time so I waited until it hit 6° and then set out, dressed for all occasions.

I had in mind a more adventurous ride than of late so I headed up to Bailliehill and Eskdalemuir.  This took me through Castle O’er on one of my favourite roads.

Castle O'er roadCastle O'er road…and looking back down the valley from near Eskdalemuir.

Castle O'er roadOnce at Eskdalemuir, I turned west and climbed out of the White Esk valley…

Eskdalemuir…and took the winding road across the hills via the Black Esk and Boreland to the Dryfe Water.

Boreland roadThis is a brilliant road for cycling as it is kept in very good condition for the use of timber wagons but as I only saw three today, they were not much of a bother to me.

I left the Dryfe Water behind and crossed first the motorway at Seven’s Croft and then the River Annan at Millhousebridge.

Annan

This is a very fine bridge but I can find no way of getting down to the riverside to photogrpah it.

My next stop was Lochmaben where I had a cup of hot chocolate and took pictures of the three lochs which give the town its name.

Lochmaben

This is Mill Loch

Kirk Loch

This is Kirk Loch which has a golf course on its shores.

Castle Loch

And finally Castle Loch, the biggest of the three

Castle Loch

It even has a yacht club.

By this time, the sun was dimmed  by some thin cloud which was welcome to me as a cyclist, as I was getting too warm, even though it meant that I didn’t get the phone out for any more pictures.  My route was in rather duller country from now on as I wisely decided that some flat roads would be helpful in getting me up to my target distance.

I stopped in Annan for a cheese toastie and a cup of tea before heading to Gretna, Canonbie and home.  Annoyingly i arrived with a  mile and a half still needed so I had to make a short excursion up the Wauchope road and back to get to my target of 73 and a bit miles.

The distance was significant as it matches my 73 and a bit years, a target that I hope to be able to hit for a few more years yet.

Judging by the bird feeder, there didn’t seem to have been many avian visitors during the day and I was strangely tired when it came to the thought of lifting up a heavy camera and staring out of the window so, for once, there are no chaffinch pictures today.

I had a couple of fish cakes for my tea and these gave me enough strength to go to our local community choir practice where we had another well organised sing.

Instead of a flying bird, I am putting in a map link to today’s ride for those with time hanging heavy on their hands.   Slow but steady was my motto and I was surprised how well my legs were still working by the end of it.

garmin route 8 April 2015

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