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Archive for the ‘Singing’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to the west coast.  He has acquired a new pocket camera and as well as taking fine scenic pictures (more of them in later posts), he pointed it at a young buzzard on a pole.

Bruce's buzzard

We had another fine and sunny day today, though a bit colder than we have been getting lately.  After yesterday’s successful cycle and walk combination, I was quite happy to have a quiet day of singing today and let things settle down in the leg department in spite of the good weather.

We had one less hymn to sing than usual in church as our visiting minister unexpectedly burst into song himself between the readings. We had a good choir practice after the service to make up for the shortfall though.

When I got home, there was a little sunlight falling on the feeder…

coal tit and goldfinch…but very few birds actually coming to the feeder and those that arrived almost always managed to catch a shadow.

I had to look to the plum tree for clearer shots.

pigeon in plum tree

Some time ago Mrs Tootlepedal cut the head off the sunflower that unexpectedly came up behind the feeders but she left the stalk standing and it acts as a convenient perch for birds waiting to come to the feeder….

unshadowed chaffinch

..and a tweak to the camera settings produced a satisfactory result.

shadowed chaffinch

As the sun moved round, the feeder soon fell back into deep shadow so I went out into the garden for some sunshine.  Once again, the berberis was ablaze but it is beginning to lose its leaves and I fear that fire will soon be out.

blazing berberis

The winter jasmine is doing well.

winter jsmine

In spite of the sun, it was quite chilly outside so I didn’t linger long and went back in.

The bird watching was a wash out.

dark birds at feeder

 

We had another visit from a jackdaw with white feathers.

jackdaw with white

After lunch, it was soon time to combine a little shopping in Carlisle with our Community Choir practice.  Once again, our energetic conductor Ellen gave us plenty of work to do and by the end of the session my voice was feeling the strain a bit.  I must make sure that I do my vocal exercises conscientiously.

As it is now pitch dark by the time that we get back from choir in Carlisle, Sundays have become a short day from a photographic point of view but as I enjoy the singing, I can’t really complain about that.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird today and a visiting jackdaw was most unhappy about this failure.

jackdaw staring

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She is getting out and about again after a hip operation and was able to enjoy the colour in Regents Park today.

regents park

We had a very lovely sunny day today, though with the wind coming from the east, it was lovelier if you could find a sheltered spot.

When I went to bed last night, I gave my sore leg a gentle massage as I generally do but on this occasion, I hit upon just the right spot to work on with the result that when I woke up, the pain had gone down dramatically.

It was with a light heart therefore that I cycled along with Mrs Tootlepedal to the Buccleuch Centre where a small group of singers from Langholm Sings had been asked to sing carols at the British Heart Foundation coffee morning.   We had no accompaniment so did the best we could and this must have not been too bad because after we had paused and had a cup of coffee, we were asked to sing again.  Although it is a bit early for carols, it was an enjoyable occasion and got the day off to a good start.

Things got better when Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out to cycle the three and a bit miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse to test out my leg.

Mrs Tootlepedal led the way….

Mrs T cycling

…and I followed behind, taking things very easily up any hills.

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped to examine a telegraph pole and I considered the mystery of why some rosebay willowherb  still keeps its white seed heads…

rosebay willowherb

…while others are quite bare.

There were a lot of catkins on the trees along our way.

catkins

The wind had blown us up the hill on our way out but although it was chilly when it was in our face coming back, it wasn’t very strong and I could appreciate the fine weather and the leafless scenery…

bare tree and monument

…and it all made for another enjoyable experience.

And my leg didn’t hurt.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on a pantomime costume which she is making up and I went to look for flying birds.

I had set the camera up when we got back from cycling but a builder arrived to fix some broken tiles and that put paid to bird watching so I headed off for the Kilngreen in the hope of finding some black headed gulls in the air.

There was a line of them at the meeting of the waters…

gulls at meeting of waters

…but none in the air.

When I walked towards them, they rose up but instead of flying about in a useful way, they settled down immediately on the fence posts beside the Ewes water.

gulls in post

I waited hopefully but the gulls refused to leave their posts.  I nobly resisted the temptation to say “Boo!” very loudly.

I waited a bit more, and it has to be admitted that there are worse places to hang about than the Kilngreen on a sunny day….

kilngreen on an sunny november day

…but in the end, I gave up and set off towards the Sawmill Brig with a view to walking round the Castleholm.

I hadn’t gone very far though before something disturbed the gulls and they whizzed past me in all directions.

gull and lampost

flying gull with trees

I snapped away for a while and then crossed the Sawmill Brig, admired the moss on the Castleholm wall…

moss on wall

…and walked back down to the edge of the river and cautiously approached the posts where the gulls were back in their positions.

gulls on Castleholm posts

gull on Castleholm posts

Obligingly, one or two of them took off and gave me a low level fly past.

 

gull above ewes water

I left them to themselves and continued my walk along the path beside the river.

Intrigued by Mrs Tootlepedal’s new found interest in electricity poles, I stopped to check on one near the cricket club.  It had many carved inscriptions on it…

electricity pole castleholm

I couldn’t interpret any of them.

The horizontal line was quite low so I take it that this means that the pole is well planted in the ground.  It didn’t have a stay at any rate.

One advantage of the season is that bridges come more into view as the leaves disappear and I could see the Jubilee Bridge well before I got to it.

jubilee bridge november

I looked back from the bridge towards the path that I had come along.  I still think of it as ‘the new path’ but it is looking quite well integrated now.

new path november

There was enough sunshine left for a walk round the garden when I got home…

november colour in garden

…and then I retired indoors to rest my leg before I got too cocky and did something to set it off again.

Having manged a six mile bike ride and walked a mile and a half, I was very pleased to find that my leg was still pretty much pain free by the end of the day.  I will give it another rub on the same spot tonight!

I settled down to watch Scotland play South Africa at rugby football and after a scintillating first half in which both teams played an open and interesting game, the second half was a disappointment as South Africa closed the game down and Scotland reverted to making crucial mistakes when under pressure.

The defeat was not unexpected though as South Africa are one of top teams in the world.   What was much more surprising was that the Scottish association football team actually managed to win a vital game in the evening and by a handsome margin.

It is a clear night here so I am going to keep an eye out for shooting stars as there are supposed to be some around in the early hours but in the  meantime, I leave you with a high flying gull as the flying bird of the day.  It makes a welcome change from the interminable chaffinches.

flying gull in sky

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Today needed a splash of colour so I was grateful to our daughter Annie for sending me this cheerful guest picture of the day, even though there might be a hint of commercialism in these Carnaby Street lights.

Christmas carnaby

We had a very grey day indeed, with quite a lot of added rain so it wasn’t much hardship to spend almost every minute of it indoors.

Serious leg resting was the order of the day but I was up to making a pot of coffee and welcoming some scones and their maker…..

drop at coffee

…to liven up my morning.

While Dropscone and I were sipping and chatting, Mrs Tootlepedal was out in  the garden speaking to a man from a power company.  He had come to inspect the two electricity poles on our land.   They have been condemned as requiring replacement for some years and inspectors keep arriving to inspect them again but replacements never happen.

It must have been an interesting chat because after Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal dragged me out into the rain to look at the poles.

garden pole

As you can see, the one in the middle of the vegetable garden has got a stay and Mrs Tootlepedal had learned that this was because it is not deeply planted.  The inspector could tell this because of the height of the planting mark….

garden pole carving

…on the pole.  It was above head height which indicates a shallow depth in the ground.  The inspector remarked that the DCC marking indicated that the pole had been planted before 1950 so it has survived a good long time.

The other pole near our gate is differently marked…

gate pole

…and the lower marking of IF tells the experienced eye that it is deeply planted and needs no stay.  It is considerably younger that the other pole but still needs replacing.  Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t learn what the other curious carvings mean.

I was so excited by all this that I had to go in and sit down for several hours.

Luckily I had a lot to do and I did it so the time passed well enough.

A visit from Mike Tinker and an excellent meal, prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal followed and then it was time to totter off (very gently) and sing with the Langholm choir.  We were a bit short of numbers as some members were involved in a play performance but we had a good sing and I enjoyed myself.

I managed the walk back home without doing my leg a mischief so for a miserably wet and windy day, it was good enough to be entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

It was far too gloomy to be able to catch a flying bird and indeed most of the birds seemed to following my example and keeping out of the weather so there is no flying bird of the day.

It is supposed to be a sunny day, at least in the morning, tomorrow so normal service should be resumed as far as the FBotD goes.

 

 

 

 

 

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It was so gloomy today that I have looked back to Venetia’s Marseille trip for some sunshine to lighten up the post.  This fine boat is called Sherakhan.  It is registered in Rotterdam, and you can charter her with its 19-strong crew and space for 26 guests, for a mere half million dollars per week;  Mrs T and I are thinking of hiring it next week for a bit of a change and some sea air.

marseille charter

It was Remembrance Day today and it was a pity that an already sombre day should have been made much greyer by persistent rain in the morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with the church choir.  The choir was only 11 strong and as the music for the service was provided by the Town Band, it probably didn’t make much difference to the total sound whether we sang or not.  However, we did sing a short unaccompanied hymn as an anthem so we did contribute our bit to the service.

I had made a pasta sauce in the slow cooker after breakfast and when we got back home, I made some lentil and vegetable soup for lunch and watched the birds.  A sparrow hawk had made an unavailing fly past down our drive just before I got the camera set up so I had to wait a while for the small birds to come back.  When they did arrive, it turned out to be goldfinch time.

goldfinches on two feeders

There were other birds too.  I can just see a chaffinch hiding behind the feeder here.

set of goldfinches

…and a coal tit was not afraid to share with bigger birds.

goldfinches with coal tit

The goldfinches came in scruffy…

scruffy goldfinch

…and smart turnouts.

smart goldfinch

This one looked very secure while waiting its turn on the feeder pole….

goldfinch perching

…but for coal tits with smaller feet, the wet and breezy weather made hanging on a trickier matter.

coal tits hanging on

A greenfinch looked as fed up with the weather as we were.

damp greenfinch

We didn’t have long to look at the birds though and after lunch, we went off to Carlisle to stock up with cheese and dates (and other necessities of life) and sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.

We set off in pouring rain but fortunately, the day brightened up a bit and the rain had stopped by the time that we got to Carlisle.

We are in full Christmas concert mode with the choir so we had a cheery couple of hours with tinkling bells and general good news.

The singing lessons and the speech therapist’s exercises are paying off and my voice stood up to a heavy day of warbling very well.  I hope to get back to exercising my leg tomorrow but looking at the forecast, the indoor bike may be as far as I can travel.

Among the mass of goldfinches, a chaffinch once again managed to capture the honour of being the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today turned out to be rather gloomy so I am very happy to have one of Venetia’s sunny Marseille shots as guest picture of the day.  The sky really is that blue in Marseille.

marseille building

It was a dry and warm day when we got up and as I had to drive thirty miles south for a singing lesson, I looked forward to taking my little camera with me and getting some good landscape shots of the north of England.

Things started well and I stopped just outside Langholm to enjoy the colourful planting beside the new section of the A7.

A7 autumn colour

Although the sun wasn’t out, the mixture of young larches and birches made a good show.

A7 autumn colour 2

I didn’t want to be late so I pressed on and hoped to get good views after my lesson was over.  This was a bad decision because by the time that I got to Hallbankgate, the day had got a lot gloomier and the hills were disappearing.

Penines in November

There were one or two striking patches of colour by the road on my way home…

The road to Brampton

…but by the time that I got to Brampton, it was raining and this was the last picture that I took on my trip.

the road in Brampton

The photo opportunities may have been disappointing but the singing lesson was both useful and enjoyable and made the trip very worthwhile.

Mary, our Langholm choir director, is an excellent teacher and makes learning both easy to understand and exciting to participate in.  There is something very satisfying in getting noticeably better results  than you were getting an hour before…and if only I could remember everything that Mary taught me, all would be well in the world.

I went la la la in the car all the way home.

When I got there, Mrs Tootlepedal had disappeared to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe so I had a lonely lunch, watched a lonely chaffinch…

solo chaffinch at feeder

…and then went off to meet Sandy and Nancy at the Archive Centre.

We did more work in preparation for our move to new premises later in the month and we got everything organised into the the ‘give to someone else’, ‘take with us’ and ‘chuck away’ categories.  archive centreWe have been in our present premises for 14 years and it will be strange for the data miners to have an different environment for their labours.  The new premises are in the middle of the town near the tourist information hub and we may get more interest in our work from visitors to the town as a result.

The days are so short now that by the time Sandy had kindly driven me home and we had had a cup of tea, the light had nearly gone and there was no chance of taking any more pictures.  Even so, between the singing lesson and the Archive Centre organising, it had been a very satisfactory day.  I hope to find a bit more to photograph tomorrow but the forecast is not very promising so maybe grateful readers will only have another short post to plough through.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, the sole flying bird that I saw today.

flying goldfinch november

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When he isn’t digging up roots in his garden, he is admiring the many fine views from his front door.

east wemyss view

After yesterday’s incessant rain, we got a kinder day today and I was able to take a walk round the garden after breakfast to see what flowers had survived the cold and the rain.

As the man who sold the evening paper in Carlisle used to shout, there are not many left but there were some whites about…

white flowers november

…although they were not in show condition.

The bird feeder was busy from the start of the day after a very quiet day yesterday.

sparrows and grernfiches

Sparrows and greenfinches made up the bulk of the early visitors.

flying greenfinch

And roses provided some colour in their own way.

rose hips

I didn’t have long to enjoy nature as it was soon time to hobble along the road to sing in the church choir.  After the departure of our regular minister, Scott to a new parish, we got a temporary minister, also called Scott, but he has now been recalled to serve in America so the service was led by a group from the congregation, none of whom are called Scott.  They did an excellent job….and chose cheerful hymns.

The weather was still mellow when we got home after the service and a short choir practice so Mrs Tootlepedal set about some more tidying up work in the garden combined with some bulb planting and I wafted about trying to look like someone who really would be helping if his leg would let him.  I took pictures instead.

We are very near the end of the road

calendula and potentilla november

I filled the feeders and checked how long it would take the jackdaws to notice than I had put out some fat balls.

One minute.

two jackdaws

I don’t know how they do it.

There were ever more members of the tit family flying about the garden today, great tits, blue tits….

perching blue tit

….and enough coal tits  to start an argument.

sparrow coal tits

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a sparrow hawk in the plum tree but the small birds’ early warning system was functioning well and they got away unscathed.  The sparrow hawk flew off before I could pick up my camera.

After lunch we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there and during the tea break I was approached by a lady who had just joined the choir.  She told me her name and when and where we had met before and armed with this information, I recognised her immediately.  Everyone should be as helpful as this.

We had a good sing and the day was still dry and warm as we drove home, although the choir ends in darkness now that the clocks have gone back.  We were held up when we got to Langholm by a large procession led by the pipe band which was marching down the High Street.  They were going to the Kilngreen to enjoy a bonfire and a firework display.

I got home, got a couple of cameras out and hobbled back along to the town bridge in time to find that a good blaze had already started on the banks of the Ewes Water.

2018 bonfire

It was soon followed by a firework display which was very satisfactory to watch and to listen to but slightly less good to photograph as the pyrotechnicians had gone for more sound than brightly coloured light.  There were some effects which were new to me like this curling and fizzing white column which made intricate circles.

2018 white firework

There were a lot of silver and white effects….

2018 fireworks

…and the stillness of the evening meant that the smoke from the explosions hung around a lot.

cloudy fireworks 2018

There were very few of the rockets that shoot high into the sky and explode downwards…

traditional forework 2018

…but it was a most enjoyable experience, although it must have frightened the living daylights out of any of the local ducks as it was very, very loud.

I am beginning to realise that I have been much too optimistic about how long it is going to take for my leg to get better so I am going to stop mentioning it and suffer in silence from now on until I am able to get back to cycling.

Well, I may moan a bit from time to time.

The lawn made an excellent background for today’s low flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest pictures is another from Venetia’s visit to Marseille.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have had two very good visits to Marseille with my siblings so I make no apologies for another picture of a place of which I have happy memories.

Marseille sailing

Last night I foolishly let my thoughts stray to the idea of having  a short test ride on my slow bike this morning to see how my leg took to it.  The weather gods, who are ever alert to the slightest whim, promptly turned off the sunshine and got the rain back and all in all it was a very gloomy day and I gave up any thoughts of a ride.

Luckily Dropscone was alert to the weather too and knowing that I was stuck at home, he kindly came round with supplies of rescue scones which we ate with our coffee.

He was in a very cheerful mood as he had recently produced a good round of golf after several months of indifferent form.  And it was not just a fairly good round, it was good enough to win a competition with over 60 players.  Of course, the question now is: can he do it again?  I hope so.

After he left, I looked out of the window into the rain.  There were goldfinches about…

goldfinches in the rain

…and as you can see, some had taken more trouble getting dressed than others.

scruffy goldfinch

The smarter looking ones were giving each other the hard stare….

goldfinches staring

…and a green finch was keeping an eye out for incoming goldfinches.

greenfinch on goldfinch alert

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on an excursion to Longtown and I settled down to some computer work, a late lunch and a walk to the Archive Centre.

The walk went reasonably well as I managed to stop limping but it was still a slightly painful experience.

The reason for the visit was a meeting between Sandy, Nancy and myself to decide what we need to keep and what we can discard when we move to new premises next month.  Hard choices will have to made as we can’t take everything with us but we found it quite easy to pick some obvious items for the discard pile.  Other items are going to take more thinking about.  We paused for thought after about an hour.

Sandy gave me a lift home and we had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her outing.

It was still damp and grey so I headed back to m computer when Sandy went home and worked away while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea of baked marrow stuffed with mince and covered by a cheese sauce, the marrow grower’s version of lasagne.  It was so good that I am going to cook it again tomorrow for myself.

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and tried to put all the advice from singing teacher and speech therapist to good use.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch further from the feeder than yesterday’s capture and duller too.

flying chaffinch

 

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