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It was a day of undiluted fun in London.

There was time to read the Sunday papers before we met up with my sisters Susan and Mary and stepmother Patricia for an early lunch at a French cafe in Camden Town.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal and I caught the tube from the legendary Mornington Crescent underground station down to Leicester Square to go to a film gala at the lavishly refurbished Odeon cinema.

When we arrived, Joe Cornish, the writer and director of the film, was being interviewed in front of a lively crowd.

He is our daughter Annie’s partner and they had kindly fixed up plum tickets for us to see Joe’s new film…

… The Kid Who Would Be King.

After testing out our seats…

.. which were quite comfortable and admiring the enormous screen….

… we met up with Annie…

… and milled around in the foyer goggling at stars of stage and screen.

Then we enjoyed the film itself, which collected a rousing ovation from the audience when it finished.

The amount of work and creative effort, not to mention the money, that goes into making a feature film is almost unimaginable so it is a great relief when the end product is as much good solid exciting fun as this film was to watch.

We were immensely proud of Joe.

As an added bonus, after all the film fun was over, we got a chauffeur driven car to take us to our next engagement which was a choral evensong at the church which my sisters attend.

The music was provided by a professional choir of four singers who were very accomplished and as one of the lessons was read by my sister Susan and the sermon was short and very much to the point, the whole service was most satisfactory.

It was followed by yet another meal out with my sisters, this time in an Italian restaurant.

We will definitely be needing a lie down when we get back to Langholm tomorrow!

What a great day thanks to all concerned and special congratulations to Joe for providing such an enjoyable film.

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Sitting pretty

I do have a guest picture today as our daughter gave me this handsome portrait of her cat Smudge to head today’s post.

After breakfast with my sister Mary, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit her mother and I bought a newspaper, walked past these colourful houses…

..and enjoyed some quality lounging on my sister Susan’s excellent reclining chair. I did the crossword in the morning and watched some rugby in the afternoon so it was a day well spent.

The lounging paid off and I was on pretty perky form when I set off to meet up with Mrs Tootlepedal. It was a fine…

…but chilly evening.

We met successfully south of the river and had a good meal with Annie and Joe (and Smudge). Annie’s cottage pie was a triumph

Joe has been very busy making a film recently and we are going to a gala showing of it tomorrow. We are very excited.

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Just visiting

Having a day or two in the deep south visiting family. After whizzing through snow capped sunny hills on our train…

…we arrived at a rather damp and miserable London.

A cheery meal with my sister Mary brought some metaphorical sunshine into our lives and we look forward to tomorrow with optimism.

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A helping hand

Today’s guest picture comes from son Tony who has been shooting at the moon with his new camera.  Unfortunately the copy that he sent me is undersized but it still looks good.


Mrs Tootlepedal is taking the colour pattern for her crochet blanket from a website which posts the design for the next fifteen rows each week so she was pleased to have finished this week’s ration before the next lot came on line.


She will need to grow bigger arms for next week’s shot.

There is not much in the way of a post today as we got up well before dawn to got to Edinburgh to try to be of assistance to Matilda’s father and mother as they took the final steps in moving house today.  Their new house is not yet ready so they had a complicated scheme of putting some things in store and taking some things to a flat where they are camping until the new house is ready.

This meant a lot of filling of boxes and trips in the car to the store and the flat and part of our duties was to keep Matilda entertained while this was going on.

We went to a cafe for beans on toast and then armed warfare broke out.

Matilda ready for battle….


…and grandpa ready to resist.


It was all go out there.


Mrs Tootlepedal was the official, war correspondent who took the pictures.

Then Matilda went to nursery and we helped her parents pack, tidy and clean before we had the privilege of collecting Matilda from nursery and bringing her home.

Mrs Tootlepedal did great work on fridge defrosting and cleaning while I played Pelmanism and snap with Matilda as the work went on.  We were using a pack of cats and kittens cards for our game and I made the acquaintance of the Maine Coon, a cat that I had never heard of but which I find really does exist.

We all had fun and in the end there was only one carload left to go by the time that we had to leave to catch our train home.

We arrived home nearly 15 hours after we had left, tired but satisfied.

No chance of a flying bird at all.



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Today’s guest picture from son Tony in East Wemyss goes to prove that you can find grumpy herons all over the place.

wemyss heron

It was a beautiful morning with a delicate sunrise but it was chilly enough at 4°C after breakfast to keep me from getting my bike out.  Instead, I walked up to the town where I did a bit of archive group business.  I asked Nancy, who was mining data in our new premises, for a suggestion for an interesting walk but she was unable to come up with one that hadn’t already figured in the blog.

Scratching my head, I went out into to the street and bumped into Mike Tinker.  He is a stalwart of the Langholm Walks group and suggested that I try Walk 5.  As this involves walking up steep rough ground and I hadn’t got either walking boots or my walking poles with me, Nancy and I hadn’t considered this.

However, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I resolved to take up Mike’s suggestion, trust to the ground being firm and the boggy bits few and far between and hope that I didn’t fall over on a slippery bit.

And, plucking up my courage, I headed out to try Walk 5

It starts with a stroll along the river out of the town and this led me past one of favourite bits of lichen which can be found on a fence just on the very edge of Langholm.  It is a grey and black lichen and so a black and white shot seemed like a good idea.

fungus on fence lands end

I crossed Skippers Bridge without taking a photograph and was soon walking up the track towards the hill.  I could see the mast on the top of Warbla (275m) in the distance and it seemed to be a good day to be up beside it so I pressed on.

distant view of mast on warbla

My hopes about the dry ground and lack of boggy bits were fully realised and though the hill is quite steep in places, I was able to stop and admire the view from time to time and get my breath back.

view from above skipperscleuch tarck

There was even some more lichen on a rock to detain me.

fungus on warbla

It wasn’t too long before I was able to look back down on the town, snugly tucked into its nest at the bottom of the hills.

langholm from walk 5

And then I was high enough to be able to look around at the neighbouring summits…

timpen from warbla

…and to look ahead to my immediate target.

approaching the mast warbla

When I got there, I was amply rewarded for the slog uphill across rough ground with superb views of hills streaked with sunshine and shadows…

view from warbla summit

…which I shared with a man and a dog who had reached the trig point from the opposite side of the hill.  We agreed that a better place to be on such a fine day would be hard to find.

man and dog on warbla

From the summit, I could look across the valley and stretching the zoom on the Lumix to its full extent, I could just make out the stile over the wall on Whita that I had crossed on a walk almost a week ago on another fine day.  It was about a mile away.

stile on whita from warbla

The hills looked just as good on the way down from the top as they had on the way up…

view from warbla

…and the track to the town was at its best.

green road on warbla

However, without my walking poles, I had to keep my head well down as I went along since there were plenty of opportunities to slip and slide on wet grass or slippery stones and I took no more views and only got the camera out to note this tree growing out of the top of a wall in a rather unlikely fashion….

tree on wall

…and got home safely with dry feet and no unexpected encounters between my backside and mother earth.

By coincidence, I met Nancy just as I got back.  She had been dropping off some of the results of her data mining for me to enter into the Archive Group’s newspaper database.  I’ll have to hope for some wet and windy weather which makes entering data a sensible thing to be doing.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and found some bright eyed birds at the garden feeder.

bright eyed birds

After lunch, the temperature had risen enough to make cycling a possibility so I got into my cycling gear, got my bike and set off.  In an exciting fashion I rode round the block and was home again in about three minutes.  It had started to rain heavily much to my surprise and annoyance.  There had been no sign of this sort of thing while I was out walking.

However, I kept my cycling gear on and after only a few minutes, the rain had disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and I set off again.

It was a lovely day for a pedal!

cleuchfoot road

The days are still short though and I only had time for 23 miles before it began to get gloomy.  Because I was pushed for time, I  took just that one picture on my ride which was of the scenically dull ‘up and down the road’ variety.  It was enjoyable pedalling though and my legs only reminded me of my morning walk once or twice.

I got home in time for a cup of tea and some Garibaldi biscuits which we had bought in Carlisle yesterday.  While eating the biscuits, I was able to reflect that too much of my life has been wasted not eating Garibaldi biscuits, an omission which I will try to correct in the years to come.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been out doing some useful gardening while I had been pedalling so we were both quite satisfied with our afternoon’s work.

After the tea and biscuits it was time for my flute pupil Luke to come and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger and worked on a bit of one by J J Quantz.

After Luke went, there was time to enjoy a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty puy lentil, leek and feta bake for tea before I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  Here we played Mozart, Boismortier and Schickhardt so that rounded off a very good all round sort of day.

I even found a satisfactory flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch wings closed


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On the go

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this bright and cheerful ride on such a wet and miserable day that no one had taken up its invitation to have fun.


We had a sporadically wet and always grey day today but it was reasonably warm and the wind was light enough to make walking about not too bad.

This was lucky as we spent a lot of time walking around in Edinburgh.

I had time to look at the birds after breakfast before we left but there is till very little traffic and after four days, the feeder has hardly gone down at all…

fairly full feeder

…and only the odd chaffinch as about this morning.


The morning train to Edinburgh was just as late as the afternoon one usually is but there is enough slack in the timetable to let it get to Edinburgh more or less on time so we were there in plenty of time to visit a bookshop before we met our son Tony for lunch.

We walked up Castle Street to the coffee house.


It is closed to traffic at the moment as it has Christmas stalls in it and we were pleased to get off the crowded pavements of Princes Street.

We exchanged some presents with Tony and then drifted along George Street, doing some very light shopping and admiring the Christmas decorations as we went.



As we had a bit of time in hand, we drifted into John Lewis and escaped with nothing more expensive than a packet of envelopes.  Then we went on to visit Matilda who had been to to show with her nursery school.  Her parents had gone with her and enjoyed it as much, if not more, than Matilda.

We had a good time playing at camping in the sitting room under a blanket and there was a good deal of hiding behind a door and saying, “Boo!” very loudly as an elderly gentleman snoozed on the couch.  How we laughed.

The visit ended as always with an excellent meal provided by Matilda’s father who is a first rate cook.

The train home was punctual and the drive from Lockerbie uneventful.

I almost got a flying bird of the day this morning but not quite.

almost flying chaffinch

Note:  I looked at the scientific rain gauge this morning and had to empty it out as it was registering five inches and was full.  I think that represents two weeks of rain but it might be three.  The countryside is beginning to look rather soggy.

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Today’s guest picture comes from the sister in law of my neighbour Liz.  Elaine was vising Cragside in Northumberland when she met Douglas. Douglas has been carved out of a Douglas fir.


Everything had calmed down here today and it was a reasonably dry day with the temperature at 6°C and much lighter winds.  As a result, I was able to walk up to our new Archive Group premises in the High Street with a lot fewer layers than recent outings have required.

I met with Nancy and Sandy there and we did a little organising of things that were still (literally) outstanding since our move and either threw or put them away.

Sandy then gave me a lift home and we had a cup of coffee before I went off for a short cycle ride.  A weak sun appeared as I pedalled up the road and the sheep were happy to be able to do a little basking.

sunny sheep

I went through some new road works and stopped to admire the completed repair of the recent landslip.first lockerbie roadworks completed

Just up the hill the repair gang were busy repairing a potential landslip.  It signals a rare outbreak of good sense that the roads department have made good use of the squad and their equipment while they were on the spot rather than dragging them out again later on.

second wauchope roadworks 2

It looks as though the second repair is going to use the same method as the first.

second wauchope roadworks

In spite of the weak sun, it was a rather gloomy day and I could see mist both on the top of the hills and lying on the ground down below.

mist at bottom of hills

I liked this little burst of steam rising from one of the banks beside the road as I pedalled home.

mist on top of a headland

I was only out for fifteen miles as it turns out that Christmas is getting near and there were things to be done.

After writing our Christmas cards, we set off six miles down the road to buy stamps and post the cards and a couple of parcels.  The post office in Langholm has closed so our nearest one is now in Canonbie, a small village.  Why it remains open while ours is closed is one of the great mysteries of life.  The post mistress at Canonbie, under the stress of a lot of extra work over Christmas, was only moderately grateful for the extra business.

We continued in a Christmas vein and went further down the road to the retail park at Gretna  where we did a little present shopping.

When we got home, it was soon time for Luke to come round and we put in some hard work on trying to play the ornaments in our sonata properly.  This is work in progress as they say.

I had made a venison stew in the slow cooker after breakfast and it made for a tasty evening meal.

Rather worryingly, there were virtually no birds in the garden today.  I filled the feeder when I got back yesterday afternoon and it hasn’t gone down at all.  This is most unusual and I am waiting anxiously to see if they come back tomorrow.

The non flying bird of the day is the only bird that I saw visiting the feeder today.

lonely bird


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