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Archive for the ‘Views’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was bowled over by this burst of colour as he walked through the Nottingham Arboretum today.

Nottingham Arboretum

I had a good day today.  The weather was kind when I needed it to be kind and it only rained when I was safely back indoors watching rugby.  Even the rugby was kind when after a rather nerve racking first half, Scotland ran away with the game against Fiji.

In addition, I seem to be completely recovered from the minor ailment in the middle of the week and my leg is steadily improving, though it has to be said that it is steadily but slowly improving.

Still, it was well enough for me to set my old fairly speedy bike up on a turbo trainer in the garage and have a couple of careful five minutes of pedalling to nowhere during the day.  Alert readers may recall that the fairly speedy bike has a crack in its frame and worry about my safety but with no potholes to go over and no log lorries to fall off in front of, I am confident that the frame can stand a little light stationary pedalling.  Time will tell though and if you hear a strangled cry, you will know that I was wrong.

I had had quite an energetic day yesterday so I took the morning quietly and spent time watching the birds.

After a bright chaffinch start….

sunlit chaffinch

…things turned gloomier for a while….

grumpy chaffinch

I was reminded of Mrs May greeting the approach of Boris Johnson.

…and I was treated to a spectacular last minute handbrake turn…

handbrake turn chaffinch

Then the chaffinches were superseded by a small flock of goldfinches who showed a regrettable lack of courtesy towards greenfinches…

goldfinch kicking goldfinch

…and towards other goldfinches.

goldfinch kicking greenfinch

I took yet another coal tit picture, partly because I like these little birds…

coal tit with seed

…and partly to record the fact that we seem to have two pairs of regulars in and around the garden at the moment.  I hope that they stay for the winter.

As the forecast was for rain later, I went for a walk in the early afternoon before having a late lunch.

I included a short hill in my walk for the first time since pulling my muscle and was pleased to get to the top without making things worse.  From there I had a gentle stroll along the Stubholm track.

I had chosen a good moment for a November walk…

Easton's Walk November

…and I got an early hint of Christmas from some cheerful holly berries beside the track.

holly

I could look down and see the Community Centre where Mrs Tootlepedal would spend the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and beyond it, the suspension bridge, the Langholm bridge and the Sawmill Bridge over the far two of which I had taken my flat walk on Friday.

three bridges

For the most part, leaves are now on the ground rather than on the trees…

Upper road

…though as I looked across the Murtholm fields towards the Round House, a few patches of colour were stubbornly hanging on.

 

roundhouse from Murtholm end

There has been enough rain lately to get the little streams flowing freely off the hill and into the Esk.

little stream

I walked back home across the Beechy Plains beside the river…

Beechy Plains (2)

…were every other tree seemed to have a mysterious message for me written in script lichen.

script lichen

Other lichens were available.  This one was on the cut end of a felled tree trunk  above the path.

lichen by riverside

I was happy to see that keen volunteers have been renewing the route signs on the Langholm Walks posts.  This one is in the park.

Langholm Walks post

It makes the walks look more inviting when the waymarkers are bright and new.

I got back to the house just in time to wave Mrs Tootlepedal goodbye as she went off to embroider.

There are still a few select blooms about in the garden.

garden flowers november

But very few.

Once home, I had scrambled eggs on toast for my lunch and settled down to watch the rugby.  It is a  tribute to the capacity of the Scotland rugby XV to make terrible mistakes that even with a lead of thirty points and only a few minutes to go, I was still feeling slightly nervous that something bad would happen.

It didn’t though and Mrs Tootlepedal came home so all was well with the world (as long as I didn’t watch the news).

I rounded off the day by cooking myself an evening meal of pan fried lamb’s kidneys in a spicy red wine sauce on a bed of rice.  Happy days indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

As a footnote I add the information that Mrs Tootlepedal is worried about the dam that runs behind our house.  There has been a report that there are plans afoot to fill it in.  When it looks as gentle and inviting as it did when I went on my walk today…

dam under threat

…you can see why she would like to stay as it is.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy’s adventures in Thailand.  They are very thorough there and even elephants have to be washed up after meals.

Thai washing up

I rose at my usual time and did both vocal and leg exercises before Dropscone arrived for coffee bringing scones with him.

I wasn’t feeling very well before he came and even his good conversation and fine scones couldn’t get me back to full perkiness by the time that he left.

It was fairly warm with the temperature in double figures but a brisk breeze and very grey skies didn’t make going outside seem attractive so I sat at my computer and put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database while Mrs Tootlepedal worked away at her rocking horse restoration.

Because i was not feeling well, I had a very light lunch and stared idly out of the window at the birds instead of eating properly.

There were no redpolls or woodpeckers today so I spent some time training the goldfinches and chaffinches to fly in synchro.

coming and going at the feeder

Not bad for a first effort.

Coal tits are very small birds and I have some very small seeds out for them but they prefer the sunflower hearts…

big mouth

…even though they can’t swallow them.  The birds have to take the seeds off to a handy branch and peck at them while they are held under their feet.

There was steady traffic for most of the time and the birds kept an eye out for any perch vacancies.

heading for a perch

If I got bored with the birds, I could enjoy the spirea instead.

spirea through the window

By the time that the afternoon began to wear on, I got so bored that I went out for a short walk to test my dodgy leg.

The leg turned out to be pretty dodgy and so the walk was even shorter than I had intended and consisted of a turn round the park and then back home again.

I took a few pictures along the way which I will put in without comment as I am still feeling very part worn.

Wauchope Water from park brigpark wall lichenleaves in the parkMeikleholm Hill november

I took one flower picture in our garden…

helenium

…and then retired to bed for an hour or so.  I got up to see how I was doing and this turned out to be a mistake as I found myself in a reverse eating scenario so I went back to bed again.

I got up in the evening and enjoyed a nice glass of water for my tea and that concluded the fun for the day.  I know that I am keen to lose the weight that I have been putting on recently but this method was a bit drastic so I hope that I am back to normal tomorrow.

To make up for the lack of content in today’s post, I am putting in two flying birds of day….head down and wings up…

flying chaffinch wings up

…and head up and wings down.

Flying chaffinch wings down

 

 

 

 

 

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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 Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been walking on Cocklawburn beach where the sharp eyed may spy very small fossils.

Cocklawburn beach

We had another bright and sunny day here today but out of the sun, it was pretty chilly with the thermometer below zero when we woke up and staying firmly in single figures all day.

I had to go up to the town after breakfast and enjoyed the frost outlined shadows on the suspension bridge…

suspension bridge with ice

…and the two tone moss on the Day Centre car park wall.

icy moss1

The frozen side looked like this on closer inspection.

icy moss2

I visited a friend in the Langholm Reference Library to ask if the library would be happy to take some of the articles that we have collected over the years in the Archive Centre for which we will not have room when we move.  He was quite excited by the possibility and I walked along to the Centre to fetch a couple of sample boxes.

When I got them back to the library, Ron emptied them out and began recording the contents.  “I love doing this sort of thing,” he said to me.  A very useful man to know.

While I was along at the Archive Centre, I popped into the garage next door to pay my bill and stopped on the forecourt on my way out to admire the view.

warbla from the garage

On my way home, I noticed that the copper beeches at the entrance to the park were catching the low sun.

park in November

My  sore leg stood up to the walk and carrying the boxes very well so I hope that yesterday’s incident will not have done any lasting harm. This is a relief.

When I got home, it was time for coffee and a crossword and then I watched the birds for a bit.

I was struck by the resemblance between a pigeon in the plum tree and myself: largely sedentary, rather fat and definitely lacking in a bit of gruntle.

fat pigeon

The feeder was busy, first with chaffinches….

chaffinches on feeder

…and then with greenfinches (no room for chaffinches any more)…

greenfinches and approaching chaffinch

…and then with goldfinches.

three goldfinches

It is entertaining to get a steady changing of the guard.

In the plum tree, one of the blue tits was enjoying pecking at a desiccated plum…

blue tit with old plum

…and among the plants beneath the feeder, I saw one of the blackbirds which have returned to the garden lately.

first autumn blackbird

We get quite a few migrating blackbirds in the garden over the winter.

The goldfinches set about making a fuss at the feeder, sometimes from a distance…

goldfinches at feeder

…and sometimes up close and personal.

goldfinches squabbling

I didn’t want to tax my leg too much so I spent a little time after lunch walking gently round the garden.

The delphinium is still droopy but defiant…

droopy delphinium

…but there are very few flowers left and I had to look at the stem of a tree peony to get some colour…

tree peony

…though the sedums are hanging on.

sedum

And then I went in and took to lurking near my computer for an hour or so until I went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to.

She was busy as always and had piled up stuff ready for shredding.  I sieved some more of the compost in Bin D and then shredded about half of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pile.  The evenings are really drawing in now so between the gathering gloom and the chill, I didn’t stay out long and went in for a cup of tea.

Our neighbour Liz dropped in to say that she had seen some small flocks of starlings gathering at Longtown so maybe we will have to go down to Gretna soon to see if there are enough about for a murmuration. The numbers of starlings have dropped a lot in recent years and I don’t think that we will ever see sights like this one in 2011 again

starlings

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their first traditional Friday night visit for several weeks and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights and caught up on news, Alison and I put rusty fingers into action on flute and keyboard.  It was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to spy an empty perch on a busy feeder day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s non-guest picture is the return of the embroidery of the Wallace Monument just because I enjoyed it so much (and it’s a better picture than the one that I took with my phone).

Mrs T Wallace embroidery

Today’s post is going to crush the two days of our mini-break into one so there are a lot of pictures but I will try and keep the waffle to a minimum.  (Some of this appeared in yesterday’s post so I am sorry if regular readers get a sense of deja vu.)

Matilda and her parents had invited us to walk round the enchanted forest in Faskally Woods near Pitlochry with them and in addition had arranged an overnight stay in Pitlochry to make the 350 miles of driving there and back more manageable.

Day 1: outward bound

So we drove up yesterday, stopping off in Stirling to visit the Wallace Monument, erected in memory of William Wallace, a Scottish hero, who may or may not have been of Welsh stock (he was definitely not American or blue in the face).

The monument sits on a steep knoll, high above the car park…

Wallace Monument from below

…and it was a stiff climb for us to reach it and see the tapestry on display there.  We were rewarded by some fine views over Stirling and the river Forth.

View over Stirling

The castle was opposite us but was not looking at its best as they have got the builders in at the moment.

View over Stirling with castle

After lunching in the cafe below the monument, we drove north, taking the scenic route to Pitlochry through Crieff and Aberfeldy.  If you ever have some time to spare on a sunny late October day, it might be hard to find a better place to spend it.

view of perthshire

Quite apart from the stunning hill and glen scenery and the brilliant autumn colour, the roads in this part of rural Perthshire are pothole free, a real treat for us.

They are narrow and often winding though so there were no chances to stop and record the country.  Indeed, if we had stopped to take every picturesque shot that was worthy of recording, we would never have got to Pitlochry.

Even the main road as we got near to the town was stunning (and it had a lay by too).

A9 near Pitlochry

The view from the hotel car park was good…

view from Piltochry hotel car park

…and the one from our bedroom window was better.view from Piltochry hotel window

We met up with Matilda and her parents at the hotel.  They had been enjoying all the delights of Crieff Hydro for a couple of days and were in very good form.

The Enchanted Forest at Faskally is a highly popular autumn event and requires a lot of organisation to make it work well so we had to be at the appointed place at the appointed time to get ferried to the venue by bus.  Everything went like clockwork and we were soon sitting in a yurt listening to a story teller relating a tale of the hare who rescued the light when evil beings had stolen it.

By the time that we came out of the tent, darkness had fallen in the forest and we followed the trail, stopping from time to time for food opportunities on the way.

There was a lot to like for children of all ages up to 76.

enchanted forest1enchanted forest 2enchanted forest 3enchanted forest 4enchanted forest 5enchanted forest 6enchanted forest 7enchanted forest 8

After two and a half hours, we had finished our tour and a bus was on hand to whisk us back to our hotel and a good night’s sleep.

Day two: homeward bound

After an excellent breakfast, Matilda took her parents home and we went for a short excursion.  We drove through more beautiful autumn colour, far better than the rather subdued stuff we have round Langholm.  Even on a relatively dull morning, everything was tinged with gold and it was hard to keep my eyes on the road.  Our destination was the famous Queen’s View over Loch Tummel.

We parked the car and followed a path through the woods…

Queens View Loch Tummel 1

…looked across the valley…

Queens View Loch Tummel 2

…and then took in the view…

Queens View Loch Tummel 3

…which was well worth a second look.

Queens View Loch Tummel 4

The eye can cope with dull light much better than the camera can and it is hard to convey just how much pleasure was to be got just by standing and staring.

After drinking in the scene, we walked back to the car…

Queens View Loch Tummel 5

..enjoying the varieties of colour and the luxuriance of the lichen among the trees.

lichen on pilochry tree

We crossed back over the River Tummel…

River tummel from bridge

…and headed for the fish ladder….

salmon ladder Pitlochry dam

…which helps salmon get past the large hydro electric dam at Pitlochry…

Pitlochry dam

…which would otherwise block their return to their spawning grounds.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to visit the viewing  chamber which lets you see the fish as they swim upstream as it is closed but the sight of the trees on the banks of the loch created by the the dam was some consolation.

 

View from Pitlochry dam

We might have gone for a cup of coffee in the cafe and visitor centre above the dam…

cafe Pitlochry dam

…but the call of home was strong and we headed south, avoiding the 2568 (estimated) bends on the scenic route and taking the main roads instead.

The autumn colour was just as sensational and it was a pity to see the colour draining out of the trees as we drove south.  Why the colour should be so much better in Perthshire than it is in Dumfriesshire is a mystery to me.

We stopped a couple of times for a break and a snack on our way and at our second stop, the Annandale Water services, we enjoyed a good view of geese, heading for a swim…

geese at annandale water services

…in the waters that give the service station its name.

annandale water services

There are service stations with poorer views than this.

We got home in good time and in good order, having had a really good couple of days out.  Matilda (and her parents) are really thoughtful people.

I didn’t have the time or energy to find a flying bird of the day today but I was really pleased to find that Crown Princess Margareta is having a final fling for the year so she is the flower of the day.

Crown princess margareta October

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison who are on holiday in Wales.  It is a picture of a small church near Hundred House.  It has, as Mike points out, big bells and sunshine.

hundred house church

I was doubly surprised this morning as the forecast had talked of strong winds and rain in Scotland.  We must have been close enough to England to steal some of its fine weather as it was a lovely if chilly morning when we got up. That was the first surprise.

The second surprise was that I managed to get my cycling clothes on and get out for a ride before ten o’clock even though the temperature was still a nippy 5°C.  We were very sheltered from the wind in Wauchope Street so I started off with high hopes of a gentle ride but in the real world the wind was a bit fresher and I had to work hard on the outward journey of a 34 circuit.  Still, this gave me a wind assisted ride home which is the prime purpose of route planning for the elderly cyclist.

I didn’t stop much as I didn’t want to get cold but I enjoyed the larches on the Lockerbie road both before the new landslip…

The wauchope road in autumn

…and after it.

autumn near bigholms

I was nearing home when my eye was caught by one of the few bits of colour in the verges.  I thought it might be some sort of hogweed but I am not sure.

hogweed

There won’t be many days left when there is both some sun and some colour by the river so I took the obligatory picture as I crossed the Skippers Bridge.

distillery 22 Oct

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, clearing and tidying annuals and resetting some peonies.  I did some shredding and picked a reasonable bowl of raspberries.

The garden doesn’t look very colourful from the road as you pass it by but if you peer about, there are still quite a lot of flowers about.  Here are some of them.

garden flowers 22 OcTgarden flowers 22 OcT 2

The Welsh poppy was another surprise.

I filled the bird feeders and went in to have a shower.  Mrs Tootlepedal called up to say that we were being invaded by jackdaws.

You might think that they would be grateful for some food but this one was very cross that I hadn’t filled the feeders before going out cycling.

Jackdaw hard stare

They kept coming in for some time…

jackdaws at the feeder

…and there were several with white markings among them.

pied jackdaw

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to change the posters for the Buccleuch Centre in the Tourist hub in the town and I went for a walk.

Here and there autumn colour can be seen…

Looking over Pool Corner

…but the tree tunnel onto Meikleholm Hill shows that it is a very half in half situation with many trees now leafless.

the Meikleholm hill tunnel

I didn’t go through the tunnel but walked along the track with the intention of crossing the Becks Burn, following the road down to the Auld Stane Brig and then walking up the track you can see in the picture below onto the lower slopes of Warbla.

above the auld stane brig

I was foiled though as forestry machines were working and there was no access to the track through the felled wood.  My back up plan to go down to the Auld Stane Bridge through the field and then go up the track was also foiled by finding the field full of cattle.

Looking over Wauchope Churchyard

The dark trees in the background are growing in the Wauchope Graveyard.

Luckily I met Stan from the camera club who was out walking his dogs and we had a good talk about camera matters as I walked back along the track with him, so I didn’t have a wasted journey after all.

Back home, the jackdaws had left the feeders to the usual suspects.

busy feeder

Then it was time for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

My flute pupil Luke came and we played Quantz and Haydn.  Having to pay attention to technique while trying to give Luke a lead has been very beneficial to my own rather rudimentary flute playing skills.  My recent singing  lesson has improved my breathing too so that when I went to play with Mike and Isabel in the evening, I was able to enjoy playing Mozart and Telemann without getting as puffed out as usual.

All in all, a day with a walk in the middle sandwiched by pedalling in the morning and tootling in the evening is definitely one for the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is one of the jackdaws.

flying jackaw

Matilda is taking Mrs Tootlepedal and me out for a treat in the Highlands tomorrow so I don’t know if a post will be forthcoming but I will take my phone with me and do my best.

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to my by my sister Susan and shows a little autumn colour in her road in the heart of the big city.

autumn Ld Mgt Rd

I was faced with the task of finding the ideal moment for a bicycle ride somewhere between a cold morning and a wet afternoon and by exercising great skill* I found the perfect time.

It was still only 5°C when I set off  but there had been no sign of frost earlier so I wasn’t worried about hitting icy patches in shady places.  The wind was light but I was still pleased when some some sunshine made an appearance, as my legs always go round a little more enthusiastically when there is a bit of warmth about.

I was going round my customary 20 mile Canonbie route and had intended not to stop at all for photographs but the sight of my favourite Highland cattle in Canonbie grazing conveniently near the hedge was too good not to stop for an op.

highland coos

In spite of the fringe…

highland coo close up

…there must be room for a view as I got a steady stare with mouth open….

highland coo mouth open

…and mouth shut….

highland coo mouth shut

…as a blade of grass got a gentle rhythmical chewing.

Having stopped once, I thought that I might as well stop again to show Hollows Tower in autumn.

Hollows Tower October

The ride was well timed because by the time we had had a light lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal had cut my hair, it had started to rain.

I settled down to practise the hymns for Sunday’s service and hoped that the rain might pass so that I could get out for a walk but when I looked out of the kitchen window later on…

great tit in wet plum tree

…it had got wetter and darker and not at all like a good day for a walk.

The traffic at the bird feeders was very light indeed and it took some time before the great tit in the picture above left the plum tree and came down to the feeder pole…

great tit on feeder pole

…and finally joined a couple of chaffinches at the seeds.

great tit on feeder

It continued to drizzle on and off so I gave up all hope of a stroll, put my cycling gear in the washing machine and and went shopping with Mrs Tootlepedal instead.   We are now the proud owners of some very fine clothes hangers.

There was just enough light when we got back to see a robin perched on one of the chairs at the feeders.

robin on seat

I made myself an evening meal which involved kidneys, red wine, various herbs and spices, mushrooms, a sweet pepper and a bed of rice and that concluded the entertainment for the day.

The best flying bird of the day that I could manage was a rather vague chaffinch being shouted at by an angry incumbent.

flying chaffinch

*Or just luck.  I had turned down an offer of scones from Dropscone so I am glad that the ride turned out to be enjoyable.

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