Archive for the ‘Slot car racing’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker.  He was photographed by his companion on a walk where the stepping stones left quite a lot to be desired.  How the photographer got to the other side of the steam is not recorded.

Stepping stones 4.4.17

We had another dry and occasionally sunny day but the wind was still very chilly and gusty and so I cravenly decided that there might well be other things to fill my day with than cycling.

They were good things though.

I started with entertaining Dropscone to coffee and eating his excellent scones.   His golf form is still not quite as consistent as he would like and I heard some harrowing tales of stray shots.

When he left, carrying a small gift of rhubarb with him,  I walked round the garden.

, cuckoo flower, primula and magnolia


I noticed the forsythia in particular as it appeared as the answer to a question in the semi final of University Challenge this week.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent quite a lot of the day grappling with Embroiderers’ Group paperwork so I did my best to keep from interrupting her by making myself busy in the garden and in the course of the day I did some daffodil dead heading, compost sieving, log sawing and grass cutting.  These simple tasks keep me quite happy and fill up many unforgiving hours as I have to have several little rests between and even during the activities.

I found some time to watch the birds too.

Goldfinches were flying horizontally and vertically which is a neat trick.

flying goldfinches

Chaffinches were squaring up to each other.

chaffinches squabbling

You can’t get much squarer up than that

The feeders were perpetually in demand.

busy feeder

And perch holders were subject to many pieces of advice as to where to go.

busy feeder

I made some bread in the bread machine and after lunch, I went out for a walk, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal at her work.

I took a favourite route down the river to Skippers Bridge and then back through the woods above the old railway line.

With the sun firmly behind the clouds at this point in the day, it was a day for looking at things closely rather than admiring the views.

A tree seemed to have a rather curious eye on me, a bit like an lizard perhaps and maybe a little tired from trying to decipher the script lichen on the trunk beside it.

script lichen

In spite of many signs of spring, the trees are still generally leafless…

Murtholm trees

The tree on this side of the river blends into those on the far bank.

One tree, at the end of the Hallpath track is slowly devouring a neighbourhood watch notice, eating a little more every year.

neighbourhood watch notice

There were flowers, wild and tame to see along the way and mosses too.

flowers and moss

I walked back down to the river when I got to the town, passing the spot where they hold the annual car diving competition…

car sign

…and seeing a good selection of riverside birds of varying sizes.

grey wagtail, oyster catcher and herring gull

There were lots of the grey wagtails about but they were too quick for my little camera.

I was beginning to think about going home and coming back with the Nikon in the hope of getting some better wagtail pictures when my eye was caught by a pair of goosanders on a stony reef in the river.  They were snoozing in the sun which had just come out.


They must have been very happy because if you even so much as think about approaching a sitting or standing  goosander, it normally instantly gets up and flies away but on this occasion, they were both quite content to loaf about while I walked a little closer and snapped away.

male goosander

female goosander

I hope to see many goosanderlings later in the year.

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and a slice of toast and marmalade with Mrs Tootlepedal who had finished her business and Mike Tinker who had come round to relate his adventures with the non existent stepping stones.  The secret was revealed. He and the photographer  forded the river a little further downstream.

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir, Langholm Sings and although the evening had because so sunlit and tranquil by this time that being outside was almost mandatory, I still enjoyed the practice  a lot.   We have got some relatively undemanding and thoroughly tuneful songs to sing so it is possible just to relax and enjoy the music.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very happy too when I got home because she had been watching the International Space Station cruising across the skies above the town.  I was sorry to have missed it.

The flying bird of the day is another goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is a second from Joyce’s holiday in Florida. It must have been a jolt to come back home to snow.florida

Never mind Canada, it was snowing in Langholm this morning. When I looked out of the bedroom window, there was a mini blizzard in progress but happily by the time I had found my slippers and got the camera out to record it, it had stopped. In fact the day was rather sunny until the late afternoon when the rain came on and by 10 o’clock you couldn’t tell it had been snowing at all.

I had decided even before I saw the snow to have a couple of days rest from cycling to see if I can get a bit of oomph back into my legs. Instead, I prepared more of the Heritage DVDs and I am now down to 50 left to do. Dropscone had also thought better of cycling and he came round for coffee with some girdle scones. After coffee, I went up to the Archive Centre to copy more of the DVDs and while I was on my way there, I took the opportunity to refresh my supplies of mince from the butcher.

After lunch, I made some girdle scones of my own for the Heritage Trail committee meeting. They must have been all right because when I looked, there were none left. We have only got the children’s booklet to finish and then our work will be done. I hope the Heritage Lottery people like it all.

On the bird feeder front, in response to complaints from the gardener about the mess the feeders make, we bodged up a couple of trays from a plastic container and I put one on the plum tree feeeder and one on the nyger seed feeder. I was interested to see what the birds would make of it. We had another wave of siskins today so there were plenty of birds to try the new system out.


Before the alterations


The new seed catcher


Back to business as usual


With an additional customer


Quite a crowd


...and a redpoll gives it the final seal of approval

It certainly caught a lot of seed and at the end of the day, I emptied this back into the feeder. I am going to do this three times and then throw the residue away. It should keep the flower bed underneath a lot cleaner. I don’t quite know what will happen if it rains a lot. Perhaps we will have to fashion a roof for it as well.

At the sunflower seed feeder, there was more than the usual frantic flapping.

what happened next

What happened next? I couldn't fire the camera quickly enough to see.

chaffinch dogfight

Chaffinch aerobatics

chaffinch whirlygig

The Red Chaffinches formation air display team in action

In the evening, Les, Grant and I removed the car racing track from the bowling green pavilion and laid it down for its summer rest in our garage. It is always sad to put it away at the end of the racing season but it is also a sign of longer cycling days to come.

I finish with a not very great picture of a redpoll on the wing simply because it is the only time I have been able to catch one in the air. They seem to sneak up on the feeders when I am not looking.



Read Full Post »

I asked for pictures to put in the picture of the day spot and I got six sent today so I am going to have two contrasting pictures of the day today. The first from my sister Susan shows spring in Regent’s Park, London and the second from Joyce Lewis shows the view from her house in Canada. Spring in Regent's Park


Quite a change from her visit to Florida

We were somewhere in between here in Langholm today. It was still coldish (3.4º) when I got the slow bike out for a pedal round the morning run. Dropscone had business to see to so I was by myself. This was lucky because I felt like a very slow ride. Even Dropscone’s heart monitor regime wouldn’t have let him go as slow as I went today but I was happy just to potter along. Since I took a photo of Mosspaul on Saturday I thought it only fair to do the same for the Cross Keys in Canonbie. This is an old coaching inn.

cross keys

The Cross Keys in 1904 from Joyce Barker's collection in the Langholm Photo Archive


..and today. Not much difference.

I think Dr Barlow was right and the recent influx of siskins was just a passing flock on their way somewhere else because they have all gone. There seem to be no redpolls any more and even the goldfinches were very thin on the ground today.

Chaffinches are by far the most numerous birds in the garden at the moment.

chaffinch 1

Approaching the feeder

chaffinch 2

Nearly there

chaffinch brambling

How did that happen?


A brambling getting stuck in

coal tit

An elusive coal tit


Things are more sedate on the other feeder. Here is a chaffinch pretending to be a parrot.

I can’t resist a frog shot so here is today’s. I love the way they just sit with the nose out of the water. They remind me of the ladies swimming  in the evening at Aphissos (near where my sister had a house in Greece at one time).


I spent some time in the afternoon sieving last year’s compost to make room for the new season’s material which is piling up already. I am still trying to take the perfect snowdrop picture. This is not it.


While I was taking this shot, I heard a characteristic cry overhead and saw this oyster  catcher flying over the garden.


After this excitement, I spent some time time spent preparing more of those Heritage DVDs and then it was time to go to Carlisle to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal from the station after her visit to see her mother in hospital. Her brother reported in the evening that granny had got out of bed for a very short time today for the first time since her operation  so that is literally a step in the right direction.

As well as Mrs Tootlepedal ‘s return, we also welcomed back one of our regular B&B guests who is staying for a week.

In the evening, I went to the bowling club to take the car racing track down with Grant.


The track in all its glory (modelled on the Brands Hatch club circuit of 1958)


45 minutes later


The whole track in one box

I told Grant, who is a good photographer, that I had taken a picture of an oyster catcher and he said that he wanted to shoot one too. It turned out that he didn’t mean with a camera at all. They fly over his house, which is next to the river, at three in the morning making their loud cries and waking everybody up.

There was one goldfinch today. I hope my nyger seed won’t go to waste and we will see more goldfinches tomorrow. The chaffinches don’t go for it. Perhaps the feeder is too narrow for their beaks.




Read Full Post »

Today’s picture shows why the morning ride was not an attractive option.rain

Instead of pedalling, I buckled down to do some of the final work on the DVD before today’s committee meeting. Arthur Bell came round and I took the opportunity to show him three sections to check that I hadn’t made any major factual errors. He gave me the go ahead although he had a modest reservation or two. This was a relief and I wrote the project to a disc and went up to the Archive Centre to make copies. Then I came home and got the key to the Archive Centre, went back up and then made the copies. (The people who prepare a sound copy of the E&L  Advertiser for visually impaired readers  use the Archive Centre for their recording and they have a very nifty machine which will make 7 copies of an hour long DVD in less than ten minutes and which we are allowed to use.)

After lunch, I made some girdle scones for the committee meeting using Dropscone’s recipe and trying to copy the method that he had shown me last week. Not only was his recipe sound but his method must have been good because the scones turned out really well and they will definitely figure in my cookery again.


I must add that they were very healthy scones too because I forgot to put in the salt but it didn’t seem to matter as they were all eaten by the committee, myself and Mrs Tootlepedal.

I was able to snatch a damp picture or two out of the windows.

wet goldfinch flying

It really was persistently wet today

There were not many bramblings about today. I expect they have got fed up with the constant bickering between the goldfinches and the siskins.

siskin goldfinch

..and the chaffinches too.

siskin goldfinch chaffinch flying

The committee meeting went well and almost everything will be ready for the launch next week. We will have three display panels, a substantial (32 page, I think) guide book and the DVD ready and a children’s’ booklet under development. I hope people like the work but, as usual, I expect that there will be those who would have done it better, think the whole thing is a waste of time, can’t think why we didn’t include this, can’t think why we did include that etc. etc. My policy under these circumstances is always to try to blame someone else.

In the evening, I went to the bowling club and enjoyed a really good night of slot car racing with Grant and Les. We had three tracks running smoothly, well matched cars and many close races. Who, in the words of the song, could ask for anything more? We will have to take the track down in a fortnight and another season will have gone by.

I leave you with a frog. The volume of croaking in the pond is building steadily.


Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is a sign of spring from the garden. You may be able to see from the blue label beside these early crocuses that Mrs Tootlepedal expects them to flower in early March so, in spite of the cold winter, we may not be behind in the growing season.crocus

Both Dropscone and Chuck were busy today so I went out in near perfect conditions by myself for a morning ride o to Grange Quarry on the Lockerbie road and back. It was lucky that I was by myself because the legs were not in cycling mood at all and it took me two hours to do the twenty miles which is at least twenty minutes longer than I would normally hope to take, even on my slow bike.  As a result I was happy to stop for a moment when I was grinding up Callister to take this picture with my little camera of another beautiful valley. This is the road to Winterhope reservoir.


Whatever was slowing me down had disappeared by the end of the day when I felt very perky.  This may have had something to do with the beautiful sunshine that developed by lunchtime.

Dropscone dropped round after my ride with some messages for me and he had a cup of coffee and then gave me a master class in girdle scone making for my Heritage Trail committee meeting in the afternoon. The results were very good and I had to have several to test if they were OK.


Four ready and four cooking.

The meeting went well, as did the scones, and I remarked afterwards that I really must get down to some serious work on the DVD, Seeing as the deadline is looming ever nearer, this time I had better actually do it as well as saying I am going to do it. While I was at the meeting, Mrs Tootlepedal was carrying on with the massive task of getting the garden ready for the new season.

There is a children’s booklet to go with the heritage trail and I did some work for that. The meeting and the very slow cycling had cut down my opportunities for peering at birds and I missed the best of the sunlight but as a consolation, I found this little creature in the pond.


There is some frog spawn there too which is very very early and my frog spawn expert (Dr Tinker) tells me that the white dots on the top of the spawn are a very bad sign.


I did see a bird or two…


A brambling basking in the sun


A chaffinch has found a discarded sunflower seed

After taking these two photos, I went to the Archive Centre to copy some discs of hen harriers for the Moorland Project.  Then I cooked a lamb stew for my tea with dumplings. You can’t go far wrong with a lamb stew.

After tea, I went with Adrian, our winter B & B guest, to the bowling club for an hour of slot car racing which we both enjoyed a lot.

On my return, I put a week of the E&L into the database and felt that I had had an infinitely better day today than yesterday (which wasn’t too hard).

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is a benchmark on the old railway bridge at Broomholmbench mark

Once more we woke to pouring rain. It was another day without a pedal. Once again the upside of this was that I did as much work on the DVD as a very slow computer would let me.  After an hour or so of frustration, I transferred all the related files to my laptop which has a bigger on board memeory and lets me work more quickly. I have decided on the layout and the files to use. Now all I have to do is fit them together. This is not as straightforward as it sounds because every time you move one thing, lots of other things get out of position. As usual, part of the trouble is that I am using underpowered software but beggars cannot be choosers.

From time to time, I poked the camera out into the gloom to see what was there.


goldfinch siskin

Regular customers

This makes it look a lot cheerier than it was. When I had to up the shutter speed to catch the flying birds, it gave a much more accurate picture of the day.

brambling nearly there

A brambling nearly at the sunflower seed


flying brambling train

A brambling flies off with a single seed


flying bramblings one seed

Another brambling leaves with a seed


flying bramblings one seed 2

A second or two later


flying goldfinch conversation

The goldfinches like the seed too

After lunch, I made some scones for the Heritage Trail committee meeting while Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a four mile walk in the rain. She went along the Tarras road to Broomholmshiels and returned by the track past the Round House. She took a picture or two along the way and I have selected some. The picture at the top of the page was one of hers. Here are some more:

broomholm island

Looking down from the road at Broomholm Island and bridge




One of the many fine trees along the path


Skippers Bridge seen through the gap in the trees cut for the power cables

You can see that it was a damp day. The scones came out all right. I took the recipe from Mrs Beeton so there should be no problem with it.


Now I have discovered that they only take ten minutes to cook, they may well be on the menu again. I put the picture in to tantalise the committee members who didn’t turn up.

The committee meeting went well and progress is being made on all fronts. After the meeting, I put a week of the E&L into the database and now I am only a month behind but, of course, those busy indexers will have been working behind my back and I shall know the worst when I go up to the Archive Centre tomorrow evening.

After tea (baked eggs and spinach with a cheese sauce), I went to the bowling club and enjoyed a good night of slot car racing with both Les and Grant.


Read Full Post »

Today’s picture, taken by Dropscone, shows me practising my putting before playing nine holes of golf this afternoon.putting

The day started with a bonus as Chuck Muir joined Dropscone and me  for our morning ride. It was still pretty cool but there was no danger of meeting black ice so we wrapped up well and went round the morning run the right way. In spite of apparently zooming along at a good speed, we still took rather longer than I expected to do the trip. This is probably down to having to wear so many layers of clothing, the chilly wind and the long winter lay off. Or it might just be old age catching up with us.

After a cup of coffee and a slice of walnut cake, I said goodbye to the cyclists and went to help Mrs Tootlepedal dismantle two beds which we are giving to our daughter. They are being taken to London as a part load by a removal firm from Dumfries.

removersThe removal men were scheduled to come in the early afternoon but in fact arrived in the early evening. Their van was so big that they couldn’t bring it up Wauchope Street and they had to carry the beds and bedding down into Henry Street. The van was certainly big enough to take our beds as you can see from the picture of the last bed frame being put in the side door of what used to be called a pantechnicon.

We shall wait with interest to see if it does make it down to London.

I had missed playing golf at the weekend because of the freezing conditions so I decided to go up and play nine holes in the afternoon. The wind had got up quite a bit from the morning but the course was very playable and I enjoyed myself a lot. Dropscone had brought his camera with him so that admirers of great golf swings can look at our efforts and be amazed.


Dennis on the 4th tee


I played with Dropscone and Jim Murray who had both played in the winter competition on Saturday and Sunday so you can see that what they like doing is playing golf.



Jim on the 4th





When we were young we used to see three or fourballs of gentlemen of great vintage playing golf in the afternoons and wonder at the fact the people so old could still play. Now we are those people.



The author on the 4th

The author on the 4th

My back has been rather sore of late so I thought there was little point in trying to protect it as I usually do and I gave the ball several hearty swipes with gratifying results.  However, as I was only playing nine holes, it is difficult to say whether I could adopt this policy over eighteen holes without doing some serious damage.

In the morning I had had a little time to look at the birds and I noticed that the siskins had come back in force.


Two siskins in their usual position.

And when I looked down, there were more in this one little patch on the ground than I had counted in the whole garden yesterday for the garden bird count. What were they up to then?


There are two redpolls on the right and a goldfinch with its back to the camera.

I paid the bill for the service and MOT for the car today and I have worked out that it costs £16 a week just to put the car on the road before you even start driving it. Add 10p mile for petrol on top of that and it looks like an expensive luxury but it is hard to imagine life without it round here so Mrs Tootlepedal is just going to have to eat less.

In the evening, I went to the bowling club and enjoyed a fine session of slot car racing with Grant. On my return I put a week of the E&L into the database so as not entirely to waste the day on pleasure.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »