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Archive for the ‘Singing’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my much travelled Somerset correspondent, Venetia, who has turned up in Seville and was impressed by the orderly queue she found there.

Seville

The promised better weather was a bit slow in coming today and didn’t arrive until we were leaving for Carlisle and our afternoon choir practice.  I suppose that this was predictable but it was still annoying.

Mrs Tootlepedal was well enough to go off to sing in the church choir in the morning but I wasn’t feeling at my peak so I was happy enough to stay at home and make a beef stew for the slow cooker and stare out of the kitchen window while I cooked.

There was no shortage of interest.  The sparrows got in first after I had filled the feeder but goldfinches soon arrived.

goldfinch and sparrows

…and started bickering.  If only they would queue in an orderly manner like the people of Seville, there would be plenty of seed for them all.

goldfinches

I was startled to look up and see a starling among the  small birds.

starling

One the stew was safely in the slow cooker, I went upstairs and enjoyed the luxury of a hot bath as I had been generally feeling a little chilled both yesterday and this morning.

The bath warmed me up well and when I came back down, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from church.

Naturally she didn’t waste much time before getting out into the garden in spite of a blustery wind and a hint of drizzle.  I went out to dead head some dahlias and poppies and to take a picture or two to brighten another dull day.

The nasturtiums are continuing to do well…

nasturtiums

…and the overnight rain had not knocked everything else down.

rose, poppy, fuchsia

The vegetable garden is still providing food.  Mrs Tootlepedal admired her pak choi which is coming on well….

pak choi

…..and picked a handsome turnip to go with the slow cooked stew in the evening.

turnip

After lunch, I had time for another look out of the kitchen window. The action had not let up.

The birds were coming in from every angle.

busy feeder

Although the birds always seem very accurate in their approach to the feeder as far as the naked eye is concerned, the camera catches the little adjustments they make as they come in to land.

sparrow landing

Knowing that I was soon going to have to go to Carlisle, the light improved a bit and I took four portraits of our regular customers.

_DSC8097_DSC8100_DSC8101_DSC8105

The hot bath (and a paracetamol) had worked wonders on my well being by the time we got to choir practice and I was able to sing much better than I had feared. We had two enjoyable songs to practise today which helped a lot although one bar of very unsympathetic leaps and jumps in one of the songs proved a step too far. Why a composer should decide to stick a single very tricky bar in the middle of an otherwise very singable piece is a mystery to me.  Perhaps he just hates tenors.

The light of the setting sun was glorious as we drove home and this only emphasised the fact that since the clocks go back next weekend, this would be the last time for months that we will drive home from choir in daylight.

The stew was good, the turnip was delicious and to round off a day which had turned out well, Mrs Tootlepedal made a baked rice pudding to follow. Simply heaven.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

And so is the other flying bird of the day but it is a different bird.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son and shows a pleasant reservoir near Edinburgh round which he walks his dogs.

reservoir

After yesterday’s warm, calm and sunny weather, today was rather chilly, always grey and sometimes rainy.  It came after yet more heavy rain overnight so everything is decidedly damp.  It got me down a bit and I had a indifferent day, largely wasted.

I did make some soup for lunch but that was the only noticeable activity of the morning apart from a dahlia census….

dahlias

…which I conducted because Attila the Gardener is threatening to have them all up any day now.

I checked on the poppies too.

poppies

Alert readers will realise that one of the poppies is a rose but five is an awkward number for a frame so it got included to make up numbers.

It has been so frost free that odd unseasonal flowers keep on appearing.  Today I noticed two blooms on the Weigela.

weigela

I did put the camera up at the kitchen window and there was continuous activity at the seed feeder.

busy feeder

Sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches competed for spare places at the feeder

goldfinch

Leading to some face to face confrontations

sparrow and goldfinches

A sparrow gives a goldfinch a hard stare

sparrows

Another one actually assaults a fellow sparrow

There were some peaceful moments though.

A chaffinch tries to remember what he came out for.

chaffinch

A collared dove displays very fashionable bootees.

collared dove

A robin practices his “Rod Steiger as Napoleon”  pose

robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who is pretty well recovered now, went off for an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I sieved a bit of compost and mowed the drying green.  Both these tasks were made tricky because of the general sogginess so I stopped gardening and rang Sandy to see if he fancied an outing.

He did.

It was really too grey for a proper walk so we went to the bird hide at the Moorland Feeders for a while.  I saw coal tits, blue tits and great tits….

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

…sometimes at the same time.

coal tit and great tit

There were lots and lots of chaffinches too…

chaffinch

….but it was chilly sitting in the hide and no unusual birds turned up so we drove back down the hill, stopping at my favourite spot…

Skippers Bridge

….which was also looking rather grey today.

There is a bit of colour in the trees along the river here….

River Esk at Skippers

…but in general, the trees seem to be losing their leaves without putting on much of a display for us.

We drove on down the river and stopped again.  There were spots of colour to be seen…

autumn colour

…and some impressive roots on a river side tree….

riverside roots

…but there seem to be as many bare trees about as trees with leaves on.faded autumn colour

We might have explored a bit more, as it was the sort of day when fungus might be found but some persistent rain persuaded us that home was the place to be.

Sandy dropped me off and I spent some useful time practising songs for tomorrow’s rehearsal with our Carlisle choir.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting which had been very successful (and well supplied with delicious cakes) and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

In spite of the much heralded arrival in Britain of Storm Brian, the forecast for Langholm tomorrow is quite cheerful.   I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches having an argument.

flying goldfinches

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently visited Banwell Castle and sent me this picture of the gatehouse.  I am glad to see that they festoon potential photographic subjects with telephone wires down there as well as up here.

Banwell castle Gatehouse

The best weather of the day today was in the morning when it was calm and sunny so it was unfortunate that I had agreed to act as a substitute welcomer in the Welcome to Langholm office from 10am to 12 noon.

Still, I got a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and welcomed several visitors and both supplied them with information and extracted a little money for booklets from them so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I looked out through the kitchen window to see if the goldfinches had come back to the feeder.

They had…

goldfinch

…in numbers…

goldfinch

…and in squabbling mood.

goldfinch

They looked even better when the sun came out.

goldfinch

They were joined by sparrows…

sparrow and goldfinch

…and chaffinches, this one wearing a bird ringer’s ring on his leg…

chaffinch

…and blue tits.

blue tit

This is a very satisfactory start for the new feeder season.

After lunch, we went out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not quite back to 100% yet but she was able to do some good work in the garden today.  I had a look round.

The poppies are continuing to do well and to attract insects.

hoverfly on poppy

I didn’t see the bee creeping up on this one when I took the picture.

bee approaching poppy

Recently there have been several pictures of fuchsias with a pot marigold in the background.  I reversed that today.

pot marigold

I didn’t hang around in the garden though as I wanted to make use of a good afternoon for cycling.

After a few outings on wet roads, my fairly speedy bike needed a wash and lubrication so I was a while before I got going but I got out in plenty of time to do thirty miles or even a bit more.

In the event, perhaps because of the dust from the Sahara which Ophelia brought up with her, thirty miles was quite enough and cycling was a rather weird experience with my brain in turmoil as I tried to sort out what I was actually thinking from snippets of dreams and imagination that confused me as I pedalled along.   There are days when being an asthmatic cyclist is not the best thing to be.  A say with Saharan dust in the air is one of those.

Luckily, my cycling reflexes were in good order and as I went at a very modest average speed, I was able to get along quite safely although my concentration was anywhere but on the road ahead.

I must have been aware of my surroundings a bit though, as I stopped to take a few pictures as I went round.

There were various shades of autumn as I went along.

View of windmills

It was a good day for a pedal although it was one of those days when the wind seemed to be against for an awful lot of the journey.

autumn colour

Hedges have been clipped but the frequent rain showers have swept the roads clean so there were no thorny problems for me to avoid.

clipped hedges

The roads were quiet which was perhaps lucky as I was pedalling in a bit of a dwam.

KPF road

Gilnockie Tower was looking quite crisp as I passed.

Hollows Tower

And the distillery looked very cosy tucked in among the autumn leaves.

Langholm Distillery from skippers bridge

I fear that we are not going to get a really colourful show of autumn colour this year but perhaps there is still time.  I think we need a few cooler mornings to set thing off.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me the work that she had been doing in the garden in my absence.  She has great plans for the autumn and winter so that she will be ready for a bright new gardening year.  I will try to record developments as they happen.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and as there were four tenors and only one bass, I jumped ship and went off to sing bass (with variable success).  It was probably quite a good idea as my voice was suffering a bit from the dusty bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch one while the sun was out.

flying goldfinch

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A better day

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  A primrose has just bloomed in her garden.  The world is turned upside down.

primrose

Our spell of warm but wet and grey weather continued today but with added wind, a precursor to a visit from Ophelia.

Mrs Tootlepedal was a little better in the morning but still felt it best to retire to bed after breakfast.  I considered cycling but felt the wind was too strong to make it anything else but a relentless slog so I went for a walk instead.

It wasn’t really a day for taking pictures but by the time that I had got home, my shutter finger seemed to have twitched quite a lot.

Fallen leaves showed more colour than the leaves on the trees.

fallen leaves

Except this very colourful garden tree.

colour

The ducks were pleased to have calmer swimming conditions.

swimming ducks

A snowberry along the roadside.

snowberry

I walked to Whitshiels and followed the track through the woods, spotting fungus as I went.

Whitshiels fungus

And then got out onto the open hillside where I could see the first leafless tree of the season….

leafless tree

…a hawthorn nearly smothered in lichen…

hawthorn with lichen

…not much of a view up the Ewes valley…

Ewes valley in mist

…and a lot of brown hillside.

Whita in Autumn

I walked along the track from the Newcastleton road to the top of the Kirkwynd from which I could look down at Hillhead….

Hillhead

…and when I got the the Kirkwynd, I took a diversion across the golf course to see if there was any fungus there.

There was….

golf course fungus

…an amazing amount of fungus…

golf course fungus

…on every side.

The course was looking very well kept considering all the wet weather…

Langholm golf course

…but it was not surprising to find that nobody was playing as it was absolutely sodden underfoot.

Langholm golf course

It will take some really good days to dry it out.

Langholm golf course

I walked back down to the town, passing a blank eyed disused church…

EU Church

…the old Temperance Hotel, now happily selling drinks of all sorts…

Eskdale Hotel

…the Town Hall, now a shadow of its former self, a branch office of the district council with limited opening hours….

Town Hall

…and the turtle, now safely back on dry land and looking pretty well unharmed.

The turtle

There was time to admire two beautiful fuchsias….

fuchsiafuchsia

…before I went in to have a shower and a shave followed by a light lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.   This in turn was followed by  a trip to Carlisle by myself to go to the choir practice.

On my way, I bought a stout tray to put under the bird feeders to collect the fallen seed which otherwise drops to the ground and makes a soggy mess on wet days.

The choir practice was excellent and the homework had paid off so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

When I returned. Mrs Tootlepedal was up and about and cooking fish pie for tea so things are looking up….

…except that our phone line has failed and I am having great difficulty preparing this post and Ophelia promises to bring us any amount of wind and rain over the next few days.

I don’t suppose that you can expect to have everything run smoothly though because, as they say, into every life a little rain must fall.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s recent visit to Bath with my two other sisters.  They had some good weather  when they visited the Abbey.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

We had some thoroughly rotten weather here.  It rained on and off all day and the thick cloud made it feel like the middle of winter as far as the light went.  The fact that it was pleasantly warm only made the whole thing more annoying.

Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit better today but still confined to bed for the most part.  Sandy came round for a late coffee and then I took Mrs Tootlepedal off to see the doctor.  She coincidentally had an appointment on other matter which was handy.

While she waited for the doctor, I took a stroll down to the river in the drizzle to see whether the turtle had survived yesterday’s minor flood.

Turtle

It is a very well constructed animal.

I had a look round while I was there.  It wasn’t a day for standing around and admiring the view….

River Esk in flood

…because there wasn’t a view to admire.

Mist on Whita

The trees beside the river were doing their best though.

Autumn colour on Esk

The goosander family, with some mallards too,  were lurking in a calm spot below the church for the second day running.

Mallard and goosander

This one was looking a little cheesed off with the weather.  Fishing must be tricky when the water is running so quickly.

goosander

I collected Mrs Tootlepedal and went home.  I cooked some soup for lunch and ate it by myself while Mrs Tootlepedal nibbled on a bit of toast upstairs.

I had a crossword to do and some more songs to look at and I nipped out to look at some flowers during a lull in the rain.  Although the garden is definitely beginning to look rather ragged, there is still a range of colours…..

Feverfew and nicotianaclematis and calendulanasturtiums

….but the drizzle returned and I went back in again.  Thus the afternoon was passing slowly when Sandy rang up and suggested a walk as it had temporarily stopped raining yet again.  By the time he had arrived though, it was back to raining heavily so we killed a little time considering some Archive problems with the database and then, as it had calmed down to a drizzle, we went out.

Sandy was impressed by the fungus and the goosanders and took a picture or two with his new camera.  I pointed the Lumix at the side of the church.

Parish Church

We walked along the Esk.  I was hoping to see the dipper again but we only saw fallen leaves.

fallen leaves

There were mallards on the Kilngreen, contemplating the rushing waters of the Ewes.

kilngreen mallards

This heron was standing in Mr Grumpy’s spot so I suppose it is Mr Grumpy but he looks a lot neater and more cheerful than when I last saw him.

heron

The Lodge gates looked gloomy.

Lodge gates

I had to use a flash to take a picture of these traditional toadstools beside the walk.

toadstools

As well as for these duller fungi a little further on.

fungi

It really was gloomy although it was only four o’clock and as it had started to rain quite heavily again, we didn’t dally any longer and headed for home.

Misty on the castleholm

Once indoors, I only ventured out as far as the shops to buy some stuff for my tea and otherwise, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a very quiet evening in.

There is rain on the Met Office forecast for every day for the next seven days except for Tuesday.  There is a gale warning for Tuesday.

No flying bird of the day today for obvious reasons.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and shows one of the greens on the golf course he was visiting last week in Spain.  Tough conditions out there.

golf course

We had far from Spanish weather here today.  It had rained heavily over night and it was still raining heavily when we got up.  It continued to rain all morning and only stopped in the middle of the afternoon.

Under these circumstances, I was very fortunate to have the company of both Dropscone and Sandy for coffee.  An additional bonus was the treacle scones that Dropscone provided for the occasion.   Dropscone has been on holiday in Spain and Sandy in Portugal and they had both enjoyed excellent weather so the rain was a bit of a shock to their systems but they were bearing up bravely.

I put on some stout waterproof clothing after they had left and walked down to see how much of the rain had got into the rivers.

Wauchope and turtle

The Wauchope was flowing freely and the turtle in the Esk was learning how to swim.

Waterside birds were to be seen in spite of the rain.

gull and dipper

The dipper was very busy but taking care not to be washed away and the gull was standing very still on its rather precarious rock perch.

I looked down the River Esk from the suspension bridge.

River esk

To say that our weather is changeable at the moment is a bit of an understatement.

I didn’t stay out long and went home and did the crossword.

Once the rain had eased off to a drizzle after lunch, I went out for a second look.  The water had risen but we were far from a big flood…

Esk and turtle

…although the turtle’s need for swimming lessons seemed pressing.

I took the opportunity to visit a large crop of fungus on the bank of the Wauchope by the church wall.

fungus beside church

They are related to a tree that had to be felled because it had become dangerous.

Nearby, seven goosanders were resting on the bank of the Esk.  I couldn’t get them all in one shot so I settled for these three…

goosanders

…and this one which had gone for a swim.

goosander

I had a look up the Wauchope from the Park Bridge…

Wauchope in flood

…and then went home again and did some work on songs for both my choirs.  I was concentrating hard on the music and was surprised when I turned to the window and saw that the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  I shot out into the garden.

Crown princess margareta

Crown Princess Margareta is getting special care from the gardener and we hope that it will do really well next year.

Nasturtiums

A splash of colour against the wall of the house

poppy

A battered poppy doing its best

A young blackbird was taking advantage of the sunshine to have a bath in our pond…

blackbird

…watched from on high by a starling.

starling

I tried to contact Sandy with a view to going for a walk but when he didn’t reply (I found out later that he was busy at the Archive Centre), I went off by myself.

The sun went in almost as soon as I started out.

I visited the riverside.  Just where the dam comes out into the Esk, I came across a dipper busy in the long grass beside the Esk.

dipper

I walked along to the Town Bridge and once again marvelled at the sound construction which has let it withstand this sort of pressure…

Langholm Bridge in flood

… since 1775.

I looked back down river from the bridge…

River esk in Autumn

…and then walked over the bridge and onto the Kilngreen.

The Esk and the Ewes looked quite full when I got down to their level…

Esk and Ewes

…but they were safely contained within their banks.

As I walked towards the Sawmill Brig, a heron flew past me and when I was on the bridge, I could see another dipper on the rocks below.

Heron and dipper

By the this time, the clouds had come back but I walked on, hoping that all the rain that was in the clouds had already been discharged.

I walked up the Lodge Walks and enjoyed the trees lining the walks and those on the Castleholm and lower slopes of the hill beyond the river.

Lodge walks

Meikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill trees

I crossed the raging river by the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess bridge in Autumn

…and got home without seeing a drop of rain.

In the evening, I went out to a Langholm Sings choir practice and enjoyed myself more than I thought that I would when I found that the songs were a bit easier to get right than I had feared.  The “getting right” is still more potential than actual but then that is what practices are for.

I am hoping that the recent progression of rainy, sunny, rainy days will lead to tomorrow being sunny.  It would be only fair.

 

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Today’s guest picture is volunteer Venetia’s current favourite exhibit at the Somerset Museum of Rural Life, a mechanical vacuum cleaner.

mechanical vacuum cleaner

I had a very traditional Sunday today, courtesy of the favourable weather.  If the weather is kind, I like to cycle along our main roads on a Sunday because they are largely lorry free and have the advantage of being the least hilly of any of our local roads.  This means that I can put my nose as near the front wheel as I can get it and pedal steadily along without interruption.

And that is what I did this morning.  It was occasionally sunny, 11°C and with a light crosswind.  I couldn’t expect better conditions in October.   Because of choir practice in Carlisle in the afternoon, I was time limited though and settled for a familiar jaunt down to Newtown on the Roman Wall and back, a distance of forty miles.

I stopped at Newtown for a breather.

Newtown bench

A bike, a bench, a banana and a bottle of water, all the ingredients of a Sunday morning ride.

I have had a bit of difficulty getting really motivated to get my bike out recently.  Once out on the bike, things are fine but getting started has been hard.  This has partly been down to the poor weather in the summer months but it occurred to me as I was pedalling along today in good conditions that the other reason is my ever decreasing average speeds.

I took up regular cycling very late in life and as a result was able to set myself targets for speed and distance as I got fitter but the reality is clicking in now and I have to come to terms with the fact that there are no more improvements to made  and I can only get slower each year.    I shall just have to learn to look at cycling a bit differently.  Still, I managed 15 mph today so I am not dead yet.

I had time for a look round the garden when I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was already out there having got back from singing in the church choir.

The mild weather has let a campanula have a second go…

campanula

…and the revived sweet rocket had attracted a customer.

sweer rocket and hoverfly.

The bees and hoverflies have given the poppies a good going over….

poppy

…but have ignored the Japanese anemone nearby.

Japanese anemone

Perhaps the smell is wrong.

Not all the poppies have been thoroughly trashed.

poppies

…but they almost all seem to have been visited.  That is probably why the dahlias now seem to be popular with bumble bees and honey bees alike.

bee and bumble bee

I like hoverflies because  their sharp patterns make them very visible to the camera.

hoverfly on poppy

From a photographic point of view, smaller flies, although quite interesting in close up…

fly on marigold

…can spoil the bigger picture.

Pot Marigold

Once again, I asked myself, “Can you have too many fuchsia pictures?”  Once again, the answer was, “Not as far as I am concerned.”

Fuchsia

One of the ones which Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted this year and which have done well

P1030846

A new one which she bought as a treat for me.

The clematis are surviving well.

clematis

I had time for a last look at an outstanding dahlia….

dahlia

…and something in the vegetable garden that Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is Pak Choi…

Pak Choi

…before I had to go in to make some soup and have a shower.

For many years, I have been mashing up my vegetable soups through an old plastic hand powered Moulinex rotary masher which we bought on a trip to France.  Lately I had become a bit concerned that with wear and tear, I might be mashing in more plastic with the vegetables than is desirable.  With that in mind, we bought a modestly priced electric masher when we were in Edinburgh on Thursday and I gave it a test run today.  It certainly mashed the vegetables and the resulting soup was very good.  Obviously not every modern invention is the work of the devil.

After lunch, there was another moment in the garden…

dark nasturtium

The inner workings of the dark nasturtium from yesterday’s post

…and another red admiral butterfly.

red admiral butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was listening to a program on the radio about what astonishing travellers red admiral butterflies are and they certainly fly round our garden at great speed before finding just the right flower to settle on.

The choir practice in Carlisle was a very hard working session.  Because our first two practices of the season were devoted to the pieces for the concert with the Phoenix Choir, we have less time to prepare for our Christmas concert and Andrew, our conductor, is driving us on.  More homework is needed.  Luckily the pieces are enjoyable so a bit of hard work doesn’t go amiss.

The flying bird of the day is my current favourite among the poppies.

poppy

 

 

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