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Archive for the ‘Tootling’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my fellow veteran cyclist Paul.  He likes the Lake District and visited this very fine looking vegetable garden at Lingholm in the summer a couple of years ago.

veg garden Lingholm

It was much calmer when we got up than we had feared it might be, and it soon became apparent that the storm had passed us by.  In fact, I was just thinking that I perhaps ought to have gone for an early cycle ride rather than inviting Sandy round for coffee when a sudden very heavy shower persuaded me that I had made the right decision.

The shower had stopped by the time that Sandy came and we had a pleasant chat over coffee and biscuits.  It started to rain again just as he left and it kept raining, with occasional  short breaks, for the rest of the daylight hours.  I stayed indoors.

The birds didn’t like the weather much and there was no sign of them until a small flock of goldfinches suddenly settled in the walnut tree around midday.

goldfinches in walnut

Even then they were reluctant to come to the feeder and it took a couple of minutes until the first one flew down.

goldfinch in rain

But it soon got onto the feeder…

goldfinchon feeder in rain

…and within another minute, it was all action…

busy feeder in rain

…with queues.

busy feeder and pole

It was still a miserable day though.

siskin in rain

I made some soup for lunch and then spent a happy afternoon at my computer  transposing some trios down a fourth to suit a different set of recorders.

The reason for the transposition was that that one of the usual recorder quartet was poorly and there were only three of us at our monthly tootle tonight.  With due respect for the missing member, it was quite a treat to play some different music and the three of us had a most enjoyable time.  As a result, it didn’t feel like a wasted day in spite of the rain.

All the same, we are badly in need of a spell of settled reasonable weather.  Sadly, the forecast is for more changeable windy and wet weather so I don’t know when another cycle ride will take place.  I just can’t summon up much enthusiasm for cycling when it is cold, wet and windy.

I hope to squeeze a walk in between showers tomorrow.

I did manage to catch a rather gloomy goldfinch as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another that Bruce took on the misty morning of December 18th.  I use it in particular because it is now five days since we saw any sun and it is good to be reminded that the sun does come out here from time to time.

bruce's misty morning

In real life, rather than recollection, we had another grey and sunless day here, so I was very happy to be cheered up by the arrival at coffee time of Dropscone.  On this occasion he brought with him not only his excellent scones but his grandson Leo as well.

Leo, who is seven, lives in Glasgow so I had not met him before.  Leo turned out to be a splendid fellow with a good appetite.  He ate one of the scones so I had less than usual but he had such a charming smile that I didn’t begrudge him his scone at all.  Like our granddaughter Matilda, he goes to dancing classes and he demonstrated some fine street dancing moves to Mrs Tootlepedal and me.

When he had taken his grandfather off, I watched the birds for a bit.   It was too gloomy to get good pictures but a robin is always welcome.

robin on tray

I washed out my new feeder and put the old one in its place.  The goldfinches were quite happy to use either.

goldfinches on old feeder

A siskin appeared when there were no perches available and in spite of being smaller than the goldfinches by some way…

siskin approaching

…it weighed up the situation…

siskin thinking

…and attacked.

siskin attacking

On this occasion though, it failed to dislodge the incumbent and flew off, leaving the feeder to more goldfinches (and a chaffinch).

goldfinches

I made some red and green lentil soup for lunch and then, in conference with Mrs Tootlepedal, considered how best to use the extra second of daylight that we had today.  Unfortunately, we over considered the matter and the second had gone before we could use it.  We shall have to be a bit sharper tomorrow.

Yesterday’s forecast had said that it would start to rain at 2 o’clock and it did.  Today’s forecast said that it would start to rain at 2 o’clock and I took the view that judging by its record, the forecast could not possibly be accurate two days running.  I got my bicycle out.

I was distracted by two jackdaws with white feathers on a neighbour’s roof…

two jackdaws with white feathers

…but I got going and hoped for the best.

It was drizzling faintly  so I thought that I might get ten miles in and get wet in the process, but as I went on, the drizzle stopped and I got fifteen satisfactory miles in and stayed dry.  However, I shouldn’t be too smug about my view of the weather forecast because while I was out pedalling in the country, it did rain in Langholm itself and Mrs Tootlepedal got quite wet cycling to the shops.

It was too grey to take pictures but I recorded a tree at Wauchope School just to prove that I did go out.

tree at Wauchope School

And I liked this shot of the cattle tucking into a treat at the foot of Warbla.

cows having food

I thought for a moment that I had spotted a two headed animal.  My camera, operating in auto mode, thought that I needed the help of the flash because it was so gloomy and I liked the resultant stars in the eyes of the cows.

double headed cow

Just at the top of the little hill before I got back to Langholm, I noticed that a rather strange streak of fungus was still thriving beside the road.  I first saw these fungi almost a month ago and I am surprised to see them still there and so untouched.

fungus at top of manse brae

This one looked as though a neat elf had been tidying up.

fungus with leaf

The two nearest the hedge are a good size and although something has had a nibble at one of them, they must be unappetising in some way to have lasted so long.

big fungus

Our friend Mike Tinker’s tea radar was functioning well and he arrived on time for a cup after I had got home.  He had kindly brought a packet of ginger biscuits as a gift so he was even more welcome than usual.

After I had polished off a biscuit or two, I had to pop out to the health centre for my three monthly vitamin B12 top up and this went off so painlessly and punctually that I was back in plenty of time to greet my flute pupil Luke.

Our work on improving his counting is paying off and we played sonatas by Finger and Loeillet pretty successfully.

After our evening meal, I brought in the Christmas tree and Mrs Tootlepedal started decorating it.    We realise that this is too early as it is not yet Christmas Eve, but what the heck, live dangerously is our motto.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch going off to find a feeder with more spaces on it.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gunta, a correspondent and fellow blogger who lives in SW Oregon.  Knowing that I like bridges, she has sent me this fine example, one of the most notable bridges in the Pacific Northwest.  It crosses the Rogue River near its mouth.

Rogue River

We are only a day or two away from the shortest day of the year and there was no mistake about that here as the weather varied from quite gloomy to very gloomy.  In two weeks time, things will start to look up again, but it couldn’t have been much darker than it was today.

I was hoping for treacle scones to cheer things up but Dropscone had been sent off by his daughter Susan to do some necessary seasonal shopping  and was unavailable.

I watched the birds instead.

Siskins are messy eaters.  I don’t know how they do it.  Food flies off in every direction.

messy siskin

Birds were flying off in every direction too.

busy feeder

We had mostly siskins and goldfinches again and when chaffinches tried to get a seat at the table, they were given a frosty welcome.

chaffinch visiting goldfinches and siskins

In general, I idled the morning away and eventually cycled round to our new corner shop with a camera in my pocket and hoping to see something interesting at the river side on my way.  Not a bird was to be seen.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have a lunch with her ex work colleagues and I contemplated a grey cycle ride while she was away, as it was reasonably warm and the wind was light.

Luckily she rang me up to remind me that my Langholm choir was due to sing carols at the old folks’ lunch at the Day Centre.  That put the kibosh on cycling and left me just enough time for a quick wander round Gaskell’s Walk.

I like to keep an eye on fences and I was impressed by the full head of moss on this concrete post at Pool Corner.

mossy fence post

Even in winter, a little valley still has charm.  This is the Becks Burn just before it joins the Wauchope Water.

Becks burn at wauchope road

A bit further on, a burst of red and pale green caught my attention.  The bottom half of the branches on a hawthorn bush were covered in lichen with hardly a haw to be seen and the top half was covered with haws with hardly a scrap of lichen about.  Nature is mysterious in its ways.

haws and lichen

Some vandal, trying to be helpful, had put a discarded welly boot over the top of a fence post at the Auld Stane Brig, doubtless thinking that the boot’s owner would come and rescue it.  As this fence post is home to a lovely little lichen garden, I was worried but when I pulled the welly off, I found that the garden had survived.

Indeed, it was looking very healthy…

lichen fence post garden

…but I didn’t put the welly back.

One of the advantages of winter walking is that when the leaves fall off the trees, you can see things better.  I enjoyed the swirling waters of the Wauchope rushing through a rocky ravine below the path.

wauchope from Gaskells track

The silver birches which have sprung up since the conifer plantation along the path was felled have turned a rather rich brown colour.

brown silver birches

There was no escaping the fact that it was a gloomy day though, unsuitable for taking pictures and with the clouds firmly clamped on the hills.

clouds down on Whita

The sheep looked up from their grazing as I passed.  We have a good variety of sheep around the town.

inquisitive sheep

As I came down the steps that lead to the park, I noticed that someone had cleared the path that circles the big tree next to the playground.

I thought that this resulted in a rather cinematic image and fully expected to see a beautiful but sad person, pacing slowly round the circle accompanied by mournful mood music.

park circle

No such person appeared and I walked on.

Even the trees looked sad today.

sad tree at church

When I got home, I saw a blackbird on a neighbour’s roof and a collared dove on a wire.

blackbird and dove

The only bright spot in the garden itself was some snowberries.

snow berries garden

I had just enough time for a bowl of soup before I went off to sing carols.  A good number of choir members had turned out for the occasion and we gave a lusty rendition of several favourite songs and were rewarded with a good round of applause when we finished….or perhaps because we had finished.  Sometimes it is hard to tell.

By the time that I got home, it was too dark to do anything outside so I sat at the computer and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group index and practised my flute, with the computer playing the continuo part, until Mrs Tootlepedal came home from yet another meeting of the proposed moorland buyout group.  They are working very hard on the project.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable play.  I wasn’t playing particularly well myself in spite of the earlier practice, but just making music is always a cheerful thing to do.

With Christmas fast approaching, I fear that there is no alternative but to go shopping ourselves tomorrow.  If the weather forecast is right, I might get a short pedal in before we go.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many goldfinches.  In the poor light, this was the best that I could do.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She felt that the size and quality of bridges on the blog needed moving up a notch or two.  She was boating on the Thames recently and thought that this one would do the trick.

Tower Bridge

Having said in a recent post that there were few blackbirds in the garden, the blackbird community set out to prove me wrong.  There were several blackbirds in the garden today and this one made sure that I didn’t overlook the fact.

blackbird close up

It was dry and cool and exceedingly gloomy when we got up so that it almost felt as though it was still night time as we ate our breakfast.

In an attempt to lighten the gloom, I checked to see if Sandy was up for a cup of coffee in spite of his bad back.  He was and although he was, like the weather, a bit gloomy when he arrived, which anyone who has suffered from a bad back can well understand, coffee and conversation with the Tootlepedals perked him up a lot and he was smiling cheerfully as he left.

We then addressed ourselves to Christmas matters by addressing a good number of Christmas cards and while Mrs Tootlepedal was finishing the job, I made some leek and potato soup for lunch.

While the soup was cooking, I checked on the birds.  The light had improved enough for me to be able to a picture or two.

A siskin and a goldfinch had spotted something interesting over there.

siskin and goldfinch looking

A male and female chaffinch exercised their wings.

greenfinch and chaffinch wings

Flying chaffinches were to be seen coming from above….

high flying chaffinch

…the middle…

middle flying chaffinch

…and below.

low flying chaffinch

An unsuccessful fly through by a sparrowhawk put paid to any more bird watching and I went and had the soup.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I discussed a walk but I felt that my legs were in need of a cycle ride and in the end, we both went out on our bikes but individually and separately.

I settled for some boring miles up and down to Callister and Mrs Tootlepedal chose a more interesting five mile route round Potholm.

The sun was out as I started the ride and things looked quite good as I passed a favourite tree near Bigholms.

bigholms tree

When I looked at the wall beside the road, there was even a touch of spring about.

sring in the air

However, by the time that I got to the top of Callister, the blue sky was retreating and clouds were coming up from the south…

callister as evening falls

…and the light was fading again.

callister tree

I wanted to get twenty miles in before the light faded entirely so I scurried back down the hill to Langholm and then came back up the road for a couple of miles to make up the distance.

The sun was almost gone as I turned…

blochburn sky

…and a light sprinkling of rain added wings to my heels for the last two miles home.

We had a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie for our tea and then, having had my pedal, it was time for a tootle as the other members of the recorder group arrived for the last play of 2019.  Mrs Tootlepedal left us to it and went off to watch a screening of the Nutcracker Suite at the Buccleuch Centre.

We had a most enjoyable tootle and we are already looking forward to the fist tootle of 2020.  Jenny and Sue who have a 20 mile drive to get home may not be enjoying that so much as it was quite foggy on their way here tonight.  During the day I was on the phone to my brother and he told me that the temperature in Derby hadn’t got above two degrees all day because of winter fog, so we were lucky here.

In spite of the layers of flying chaffinches, a goldfinch is the flying bird of the day because I like its ‘Look mum, no hands!’ attitude.

flying goldfinch no arms

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony.   Just to show that the sun doesn’t always shine in East Wemyss, he has sent me this lovely picture of one of his dogs on a walk in the dark.

burst

We had a chilly but not freezing day here, and as it didn’t rain, we looked on the bright side.

It was cold enough to persuade me that it might be a good idea to catch up on some archive work while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to stuff brochures with the spring programme of events into envelopes at the Buccleuch Centre.  The centre currently has 33 volunteers helping out, a testament to the value which the town puts on having such a good resource.

I added another parish magazine to the Archive Group website and then put a week of the newspaper index into the database.  This edition covered the death of Queen Victoria, a historic moment if ever there was one.

In between times, I watched the birds and was pleased to see a few siskins at the feeder.

two siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal left a few sunflower stalks standing near the feeder when the flowers were over, and the birds are very grateful to her because the stalks make a good place to stand and ponder, as this chaffinch is doing.

chaffinch on stalk

There were a great many flying birds at one particular moment but the reflections of a glimmer of sun in the window made the resulting picture look rather odd.

many flying birds

Jackdaws like the fat balls but don’t find it easy to get a grip on the feeder and get beak to ball.

jackdaw at fat balls

After lunch, I went out for a walk.  I could have gone cycling, as it was probably just warm enough not to have icy patches on the roads, but with a forecast of thirty mile an hour gusts and a very chilly wind, it wasn’t an attractive option.

I have been working hard in the last few months on doing exercises to improve my back and foot joints so I thought that instead of taking things easily after walking five miles in Saturday and three miles on Sunday, another briskish five mile walk today would be a good test to see if things really had got better as far as walking went.

I set out with the intention of not stopping until I had got out of the town but the sight of these severely cropped shrubs still carrying a good crop of berries made me pause for a moment.

berries on pruned bushes

Someone had told me that they had seen a lot of woodpeckers knocking about at the Moorland Project bird hide, so I thought that the hide would make a good target for my walk.  I had walked in much the same direction on Saturday but this time I went round the circuit in the opposite direction, and took the usual path through the woods instead of venturing onto the hill.

The path was muddy but fairly level so I made good progress…

track to round house

…and I especially enjoyed the oak wood from start…

oak wood near jenny nobles

..to finish…

end of oak wood

…not least becuase the sun came out.

When I got to Broomholmshiels, I turned left and walked up the road towards the bird hide.  You can see the trees where the hide is on the horizon.

road to bird hide

My informant may have seen a lot of woodpeckers on her visit but I didn’t see a single one on mine. I did see great tits…

great tit

…blue tits …

coal and blue tit

and coal tits enjoying the peanuts…

coal tit

…and chaffinches and goldfinches having fun at the seed feeder.

chaffinch and goldfinch laverock hide

I believe that the trees here are soon to be felled as they are larches and have got signs of a disease which means the compulsory clearance of trees affected so I took a picture of the hide, the clearing and the comfortable bench inside the hide where I sat to watch the birds.

laverock hide triple panel

I didn’t stay long in the hide because although the sun was out, it was already getting low in the sky.  Soon I was on the road that leads down to the Esk.

road above Broomholm

Once again, I pressed on, trying to give my feet a good workout, but the mossy wall can’t be ignored entirely…

pixie cup on mossy wall

…and I passed another of the little stone cairns which carry a welcoming message for walkers.

Buccleuich walking cairn

These welcoming signs have been overtaken by events as thanks to a recent law, one can walk anywhere one likes on open land in Scotland as long as you behave sensibly and don’t damage crops or interfere with the legitimate activities of others.

I couldn’t pass Skippers Bridge for a second time without taking a picture…

skippers bridge mid december

…and an old  friend and an interesting log detained me for a moment or two.

heron and fungus

Just as I was crossing the bridge, a motorist hooted at me and I was just going to scowl at the car for interrupting my peaceful walk when I saw that it was Mrs Tootlepedal returning from getting her new specs adjusted in Longtown.  I waved cheerily instead and walked home along the Murtholm.

The light had gone by this time so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures but the dying sun tempted the camera out of my pocket just as I got to our front gate.

sunset december

The walk was about five and a quarter miles and because I am boringly interested in these sort of things, I can report that it took me 43 minutes to walk the two and a half miles up hill to the bird hide and 53 minutes to walk the two and three quarter miles back down the hill to the town.   I should have been able to go back more quickly than I went out but the eleven minutes that I spent sitting on the comfortable but hard wooden bench in the bird hide made my feet hurt far more than the walking to get there.  A lesson learned; don’t sit down in the middle of a walk.

Mrs Tootlepedal had beaten me home and I had just made a pot of tea when the finely honed tea radar of Mike Tinker clicked into action and he appeared bang on cue to join us.  We sipped and chatted and not long after he left, my flute pupil Luke arrived and he and I had an encouraging half hour of musical enjoyment.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had been making a fish pie for tea and her fish pie is a thing of joy when it comes to an evening meal, the day finished on a very good note.

The only fly in the ointment was the news that the train company that takes us to Edinburgh on a Thursday had introduced its new timetable today with such efficiency and competence that half its trains were either cancelled or horribly late.  We just hope that things are going to get better by Thursday.

A daring chaffinch effecting a handbrake turn is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Alison and Mike Tinker’s New Zealand visit.  As well as bridges, they have flowers over there too.

kowhai flower

I try to keep off politics in this blog, but I cannot hide the fact that the English results of our general election were a disappointment to me and will lead us into a cloudy future.  Our very unfair first past the post voting system meant that in the UK, the conservatives got a thumping majority in parliament with about 45% of the vote and in Scotland the SNP won nearly all the seats with roughly the same percentage of the vote.  This is ridiculous on both counts.  The result is that Boris Johnson can claim a ringing endorsement for leaving the EU with a percentage vote that was much smaller than the winning margin in the actual EU referendum and which would have seen Brexit defeated and Nicola Sturgeon can claim a ringing endorsement for a second referendum on independence with exactly the same share of the vote with which the nationalists lost that first independence referendum.   I weep.

Under the circumstances, I was happy to have a busy day to keep my mind off things, starting with coffee and scones with Dropscone.  It is fair to say that he was probably more satisfied with the overall election result than I was.

When he left, I took a quick look at the feeder and was happy to see any visitors at all as a cat had earlier made a determined, but luckily unavailing, assault on our birds.  I do not subscribe to the cats’ protection league.  If there was a league for protection from cats, I would subscribe to that.

bright goldfinch

A rare sparrow turned up to try out a fat ball…

sparrow on fat ball

…and the robin posed on the hedge.

robin on hedge

It was fine but chilly at 3 degrees C so I went for a short three bridges walk, hoping that it might warm  up a bit later on.

Among the black headed gulls at the Kilngreen, I spotted this larger juvenile.  I can’t tell what sort of gull it is and would welcome advice from knowledgeable readers.

young gull

I can recognise a heron though and I found Mr Grumpy looking unusually alert.  I thought that I was going to get a flying heron of the day shot for a moment but he was just stretching his wings and soon subsided unto a characteristic pose.

heron panel

I paused on the Sawmill Bridge to look for dippers.  I didn’t see any but I was impressed that I was on the bridge at exactly the right time to be able to photograph its shadow falling on the water below (and with my shadow just showing  on the parapet.)

sawmill brig shadow

The birch trees on the Lodge Walks are almost all bare now but the hornbeams…

lodge walks near shortest day

…still have a lot of keys attached.

hornbeam

The sun picked out a pine on the Castleholm…

sunlit pine

…and I was happy to see signs of things to come as I walked back along the path to the Jubilee Bridge.

bud and catkin december

I crossed the bridge and walked along the river bank behind the school where there were berries to be seen in abundance.  These are yew…

yew berries

…and this is a very productive snowberry bush.

snow berries

Its white berries made a contrast with some pink ones further down the bank.

snowberry panel

I bought a couple of meat pies from the butcher’s van beside the Buccleuch Centre and took them home where Mrs Tootlepedal and I ate them for lunch.

Fortified by my pie, I checked the thermometer and seeing that it had crept up to 4 degrees, I wrapped up and went out for a short cycle ride.

When the sun was out, it was lovely…

cleuchfoot road

…but some clouds came up from behind me and the catching the sun became a bit of a here and there affair.  I was here and the sun was mostly over there…

distant sun on hills

…so it got a bit chilly and I settled for fifteen miles in case it started to freeze.  I was encouraged to go home when I was passed by the council gritting lorry which sprayed me liberally with grit.  I took the hint.

I saw two mushrooms on my way, one in the sky…

mushroom cliud

…and the other with some friends beside the road.

fungus by wauchope road

I didn’t dilly dally when I stopped cycling and it wasn’t long before Mrs Tootlepedal and I were heading down to Longtown to pick up our new spectacles.  When we had collected them, we headed for Gretna and purchased some warm socks and gloves for the season.

It was dark by the time that we got home.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their traditional Friday evening visit and Mrs Tootlepedal cracked open a bottle of reasonably priced fizzy wine with which we we raised a toast to an uncertain future.

Alison and I then improved the day by playing some enjoyable music.

While I was at the Kilngreen on my walk, I tried to catch a flying bird of the day by tracking a gull with my pocket camera.  It nearly worked.

flying gull just

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Today’s guest post is another from one of fellow cyclist Paul’s visits to the Lake District.  It shows Derwent Water looking at its best.

derwent water

We had a day of sunshine day here, a welcome break in a succession of grey, wet and windy days which is due to resume tomorrow in spades.

We made the best of it.

I did some shopping and paid a modest but welcome income tax refund into the bank before coming home for coffee.

I stopped on the suspension bridge as I cycled over it, looked up river and thought that Langholm is not a bad place to live.

River Esk December

After coffee, I had time to look at a blackbird….

blackbird on hedge

…and enjoy the plumage on a dunnock, looking a bit brighter than usual in the sunshine…

dunnock's back

…before driving up to the White Yett with Mrs Tootlepedal to have a walk in the sun.

I stopped on the way up and upset some sheep on a knoll who did not know which way to look when they saw me taking their picture.

sheep on knoll

Looking back down the hill, I could see that when the spruces were felled in the plantation beside the road, a group of pines were left standing tall.  They glowed.

pines on Copshaw road

I was tempted by the beautiful day into taking another panorama.  A click on the picture will give you the wider view.

whita panorama

We parked at the MacDiarmid memorial and walked up the track towards the monument.  We didn’t visit the monument today though, as after a few hundred yards, we turned off to our left and followed the track round the contour of the hill to the Castle Craigs.

The track is used by the cornet and his mounted followers on Common Riding Day and is marked by a couple of cairns along the way.  This is the first of them….

first cairn on castle craigs track

…and this is the second.

second cairn on castle craigs track

The picture above shows one of the downsides of taking photos in low winter sun, the tendency of the photographer to intrude into the picture!

Looking back to the hill on the other side of the road, I liked the sinuous curve of the wall and the clear contrast between the land that is grazed on the left and the land that was used for grouse shooting for many years on the right.  It shows that whatever we are looking at and however beautiful it may be, it is not a natural scene but one that is heavily influenced by the hand of man.

whita wall

(That intrusive photographer just crept into the scene again.)

As well as the views, there was plenty of interest along the track with moss, lichen and quartz intrusions into the sandstone rock just three of the things that caught my eye.

moss, lichen and rock Castle craigs

We puddled along a rather soggy track until we came to the cairn at the Castle Craigs itself.

castle craig cairn from bleow
it is a solidly built piece of stonework designed to hold the town’s standard during the ceremonies on Common Riding Day.  There is a handy bench near it where Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment…

castle craig cairn

…taking in the view across the Tarras Valley.

view from castle craigs

We were well wrapped up, as in spite of the sunshine, it was not warm in the wind.

We stayed for a while, and then walked back to the car, enjoying the vista of rolling hills at the top of the Ewes Valley….

rolling hills ewes

…and the intentionally rusted Corten steel on the MacDiarmid memorial.  It made a very harmonious picture today.

macdiarmid memorial rust

Looking at the memorial from the other side brought out the intention of the artist, Jake Harvey, that it should be read like a book of the poet’s life and works.

macdiarmid memorial open book

We rolled back down the hill to the town, using gravity to charge the battery of the Zoe as we went.  After the recent dull weather, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt spiritually and physically refreshed by our outing.

After lunch, I got well wrapped up and went out again, this time on my bicycle.

I stopped half way up Callister to record a favourite gate….

gate with buzzard

…and was annoyed to find that that persistent photographer had crept into the frame yet again.  I was also vexed when I had put my camera back in my pocket to find a buzzard flying lazily over my head.  It had gone of course before I could get my camera out again.  When I looked at the photograph on my computer later on, I could see the buzzard perched in plain sight on the top of the second tree from the extreme right of the picture!

When I got to my turning point at the far end of Callister, it was evident that it wasn’t an entirely cloudless day…

cloud in the sky

…but I wasn’t complaining.

I took a little diversion to Cleuchfoot on my way home and this gave me the opportunity to add to my winter tree collection.

cleuchfoot trees

I managed to fit in twenty miles by going through the town and out of the other side for a mile or two and got home before the light had begun to fade.  The thermometer was showing 3.8°C when I arrived back so I was happy to sit down in the warm kitchen and have a cup of tea and a slice of toast with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We were joined by Mike Tinker for a while and when he left, I had time for a shower before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

We are making good progress at the moment and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger (accompanied by the computer on keyboard).  The computer sets an unyielding tempo which we have to stick to in a military fashion but it is a great deal better than having no accompanist at all.

So it was a day with a tootle and a pedal, which is always good, and since it had a bonus walk with Mrs Tootlepedal in it too, it was definitely a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

Another peril of a sunny day in December is the deep shadows cast by the low sun so I have an unilluminated chaffinch as flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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