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Archive for the ‘Views’ Category

Mary Jo from Manitoba has answered my request for guest pictures and has sent me one not from Manitoba but from London.  It shows Abney Park in Stoke Newington, one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries of London.  It is a woodland memorial park and a local nature reserve.

Abney Park

It was another chilly day here with the wind coming from the north east, but at least it was dry.  Our electric car allows us to plug it into the household supply so that we can get the car nice and warm before we set off on a cold day, so I was quite snug as I drove south to have a final singing lesson from Mary, the former conductor of our Langholm choir.

This was my final lesson because Mary has made great improvements in my singing but even she cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  As I will never be a solo singer, what I have to do now is try to remember all that she has taught me when I sing innthe choir rather than load my brain up with more instructions that I couldn’t follow anyway.

I am very grateful to her for her patience and skill.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepdal had just about finished her first section of hall decoration so I made some lentil soup and we had a celebration lunch.

After lunch, I had a look to see if the new feeder was still pulling in customers.

It was attracting goldfinches again…

goldfinches chatting

…but it didn’t please a jackdaw who took a grumpy look and flew off.

jackdaw

The feeder got busier as I watched it…

busy feeder

..but it had quiet moments too and this goldfinch took the opportunity in one of these peaceful intervals to hone its Napoleon impression.

straight goldfinch

C’est Magnifique.

I did think of cycling as it was six degrees C in the afternoon but the north wind was gusting up to 20 mph and the ‘feels like’ temperature was a measly 2 degrees so I went for a walk instead.

I had my cycling camera with me once again as Pocket Camera has remained stubbornly dead and the replacement hadn’t come yet.

I pointed it at some tiny but bright lichen on a wall at the top of the golf course…

lichen with red

…and a few yards later, when I had got onto the open hill, I spotted a gorse flower.

november gorse flower

Gorse seems to be able to bloom in almost every month of the year.

I turned left and strolled along this grassy path among the dead bracken…

 

bracken track whita

…passing trees…

two trees whita

…of different types…

 

pine tree Copshaw road

…on my way to the road to Newcastleton and a grey view up the Ewes Valley.

ewes valley

I crossed the road and follwed a track across the hillside, past this trio of remarkable trees…

three old trees

…which continue to grow in spite of only just touching the ground and not having a lot of trunk.

old hollow tree

As I came back down the hill towards Whitshiels, I could see a river of larch running through the spruces on the far side of the valley.river of larch

…and many fungi growing in the grass at my feet.

fungus at whitshiels track

I followed the track down through the woods and walked over a carpet of larch needles as I got near to the main road.

larcgh covered whitshiels track

On the seltered bank of the Ewes Water there are still some autumn leaves.

colour by the river

Instead of heading straight home when I got back to the town, I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the new path on the Castleholm.

There were dozens and dozens of large cones on the noble firs beside the  when I took this picture in August….

noble fir cones castleholm

…but they must be very tasty because this is all that is left now.

eaten noble fir cone

It hasn’t snowed here yet but there was storm of snow berries beside the Esk as I walked along the river on my way home.

snowberry storm

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the replacement camera had arrived.  I used it to take a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal contemplating a repair job its predecessor.

camera repair

….whihc, after contemplation, was left for another day as we couldn’t find a good online guide to the job.

I nipped out in the fading loight to show that while almost every other flower in the garden has given up, Rosy Cheeks is still smiling (after a fashion).

rosy cheeks

I hope for some good weather to use the new camera tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s recent holiday.  As well as waterfalls and wonderful views, he and Marianne also saw this.

alpaca from Tony

We had the coldest night of the year so far and woke to a frosty scene.

frosty leaves

It was chilly but the birds were active.  A dunnock looked in soon after breakfast.

dunnock

The ground was pretty hard but that didn’t discourage a small group of jackdaws from pecking vigorously at the middle lawn.

two jackdaws pecking

We left the jackdaws to it and went off to take part in the Remembrance Day service in the church.  It was an unusual day for the choir as the hymns were accompanied by the town band and not our organist but we had some rousing hymns to sing so we didn’t mind.

After the service, we watched for a while as wreaths were laid at the war memorial and then headed home.

After a cup of coffee, I went out for a short walk to see how my feet would behave.  I was a bit shocked by how sore they were yesterday so I hoped to find out that that was just an aberration…and take in some nice weather at the same time.

It really was a lovely day and the calm state of the Wauchope as it passed under the Kirk Brig shows how lucky we have been here when there has been so much rain not very far away.

kirk brig reflective

I passed the war memorial with its wreaths….

war memorial remembrance day

…and some tough minded wild flowers and an interesting stick…

two wild flowers

…on my way up to the track at the Stubholm.

The sun made the best of what autumn colour is left…

stubholm track november

…and picked out some very red berries on a mature holly tree beside the track.

holly berries

A little further along, a combination of very yellow leaves and the direct sunshine produced a dazzling display which was a delight to me but which completely threw the processor in my camera which couldn’t cope with it at all.

stubholm tracj dazzle

As my current pocket camera had resisted all entreaties to behave and continued to be very stubborn when it came to taking any pictures at all, I was carrying my old Lumix with me.  It is in poor condition and I only use it on cycle trips now. Still, it did its best today even if it couldn’t cope with the leaf/sun combination.

It noted a small crop of fungus on an old log on the ground…

fungus on old log

…and a curious flaky growth on a branch above my head.  I don’t know whether this is a fungus or a lichen.

fungus on branch

And it enjoyed looking back over the town from a vantage point.

view from stubholm bank

I walked along this very autumnal path…

top path at end of stubholm

…which took me down to the river bank and back home.  My feet behaved very well.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I ordered a new camera.  It may be possible to live without champagne and caviar, but it is impossible to live without a good quality pocket camera.   (The camera on my phone is not great at all unless conditions are perfect.)

After this, I had a little time to watch the birds and was pleased to see that the/a blue tit had visited again…

blue tit looking up

…and that a mixed bag of finches and sparrows was on the feeder (I had replaced the missing perch).

full feeder

I didn’t have time for a longer walk, a short bike ride or more bird watching as we went off to Carlisle straight after lunch because we wanted to do some shopping before going to our Carlisle choir.

Our choir conductor has just won a prestigious singing prize in a competition in London so she was in a very cheerful mood.  She communicated this cheeriness to us and we had a very enjoyable and progressive practice.

Among the things that I bought on our shopping trip was a swish new feeder for the birds.  I have put it out already so I will be very interested to see what they make of it tomorrow.  The store where I bought it is having a closing down sale so I got it at an advantageous price.

I didn’t have enough standing around time today to catch a flying bird so this one, which was flying half a second before I took the picture, will have to do as the nearly flying bird of the day.

nearly flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby, one of the places affected by the recent heavy rain and found his route home blocked.  Luckily another route was possible so he got home safely.

derby underpass

After two visits to two cities in two days, I was very happy to have a quiet day at home today.  This decision was helped by a low single figure temperature and a cool wind to go with it.

I  roused myself enough to make some onion and potato soup for lunch and wave Mrs Tootlepedal off as she went to an embroidery meeting.

There was quite a lot of bird traffic in the garden in the morning so when I wasn’t doing anything else, which was most of the time, I watched the birds.

The chaffinches are beginning to return in larger numbers and they were hiding behind the old sunflower stalk…

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

…trying to stand up straight like their mothers taught them…

straight back chaffinch

…and flying off when they had had enough seed.

chaffinch fly by

One of the perches on the seed feeder has become unscrewed and fallen out, as a goldfinch discovered when it tried to perch on it.

goldfinch missing perch

Later on another goldfinch mastered the art of hanging on to the rim of the feeder.

goldfinch hanging on

Mrs Tootlepedal has put down some wire netting to stop the birds trampling down the soil near the feeder and the dunnocks are quite happy to tread on it.

dunnock on wire netting

Our robin was back again, looking pensive today.

sparrow on edge of tray

We only see one greenfinch at a time at the moment and it is hard to tell if it is always the same greenfinch coming every time, or a string of different greenfinches coming once each.

lone greenfinch

There are definitely at least two blue tits about as I have seen them at the same time but whether the seed fancier and the nut fancier are one and the same bird, I leave for others to decide.

blut tit on seed and nuts

After I had eaten my soup, I decided that I ought to stretch my legs a little at least and maybe see if I could find something interesting to photograph, so I went for a walk.

Although I did see a lot of black headed gulls…

four gulls on Ewes

…the walk was not a success.  Firstly, my sore feet played up, cutting down the distance I could walk considerably, and secondly my pocket camera gave up the ghost.  I had got sand in the zoom lens mechanism during our holiday in North Berwick in the spring and the camera has been moaning and groaning every time that I have turned it on since.  Finally, it has all got too much for it and it is refusing to focus at all.  It stayed firmly in my pocket and as I had a bird lens on my other camera, taking pictures of anything close was impossible.

I took a long view of some fading larches…

fading larches

…and admired some late colourful leaves…

late leaves

…before walking very carefully home.

As it was a very gloomy day and what little light there had been had faded, I didn’t even walk round the garden when I got home, but went straight in and found something reasonably useful to do at the computer.

I made a sausage and onion stew with green peppers and mushrooms for tea and then we sat down to watch Strictly followed by some excellent racing from the Glasgow velodrome World Cup meeting.  Watching other people taking vigorous exercise was the best way to finish off a slightly disappointing day.

I did get several flying bird pictures though and because I didn’t take any interesting pictures on my walk, I have put in joint flying birds of the day today to fill the gap.

A flying mallard passed me while I was gull watching…

flying duck

…and a traditional flying chaffinch of the day took a dim view of the missing perch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who, in spite of some grey weather, went down to the south bank of the Thames yesterday and enjoyed the view.

Thames

Here, our recent pattern of chilly mornings but dry days continued, although we didn’t get quite as much sun as we have had recently and as a result, it felt colder in the noticeable north easterly wind.

The bird feeder is failing as an avian magnet and no finches of any sort can be seen in the garden at the moment.  Fortunately, other birds are available and from the number of blackbirds about, it seems that we might be getting the first of our northern European winter visitors.

In the meantime, I spotted some old friends today…

dunnock, blackbird, starling

…and much to my surprise, Lilian Austin had waited for the chilly weather to arrive to make her farewell appearance of the year.

lilian austin late october

After morning coffee, I went off for a walk, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal in decorating mode with some cheerfully coloured paint, acquired at a very reasonable price from a DIY store which is closing down.

I started by going down to the river….

gull on rock in esk

…and then, as the river is low after our dry spell, I walked under the town bridge, looking back down the Esk as I did so.

from under town bridge

There was quite a contrast in mood when having climbed up the bank and crossed over the bridge, I arrived on the Kilngreen beside the placid Ewes Water.

ewes water calm

I walked over the Sawmill Brig and followed the track that goes along the little escarpment above the Ewes Water, passing the rugby club, a man digging out the ditch beside the track (ready for a certain prime minister perhaps?) and several fine bare trees.

I thought that under the clouds, this one might look well in black and white.

bandw tree

Beside the track, there is a wall and, as always, a wall is an interesting place.

interesting wall lichen

All this wall excitement was within a yard or two.

The clouds passed over as I walked and the day brightened up a bit, showing off the larches on the opposite side of the valley to advantage.

larches late october high mill

It is not only walls that have lichen.

hawthorn and oak lichen

I wanted to walk back on the opposite side of the river so I made my way down to the High Mill Bridge…

high mill brig

…which is coming up to a significant anniversary.

high mill brig date stone

By this time, the sun had come out so I made a little extension to my route by following the track north up the far side of the river once I had crossed the bridge.

In spite of the sun, the day was cool enough for there still to be ice on the puddles in shady spots.

icy puddle target burn track

I followed the track until I came to  this rather less substantial crossing of the Ewes Water, which I crossed…

bridge target burn

…and then recrossed and retraced my steps back to the main road.

It was a day for recrossing bridges as I also recrossed the Sawmill Brig on my way home via the Lodge Walks…

lodge walks late october

…and I was pleased to find this little crop of fungus beside the Scholars Field after I had crossed the Jubilee Bridge.

fungus beside scholars

Any walk with bridges, fungus and lichen is a good walk but throw in some bare trees, occasional wild flowers…

three wild flowers october

….and enough sunshine to make me take off my gloves and unzip my jacket, and a merely good walk becomes a really good walk.

I was very pleased to have had the full co-operation of my feet over the four miles of the walk.  My new insoles and exercises seem to be working well.

It was time for lunch when I got home and I quite impressed myself by having enough energy to get my bicycle out afterwards and go for a twenty mile cycle ride.  To be honest, it wasn’t really a twenty mile ride.  It was a ten mile ride which I did twice.

I didn’t want to spend too long cycling directly into the very chilly wind.

The sun only came out for a few minutes in the whole ride, just when I was turning at the five mile mark on Callister, but it was another golden moment…

view from callister october

…and I was welcomed home by a cheery primrose…

primrose october

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had finished her decorating and had cleared the dahlia bed while I was out cycling.  She doesn’t keep the dahlias over winter but will start again from seed next year.  I approve of this as it gives me different dahlias to look at each year.

Yesterday’s roast chicken provided another tasty evening meal today and fortified by this, I went off to sing with the Langholm Choir.

Our conductor was poorly but we have a very good accompanist, and he provided us with an excellent practice in her absence.

That rounded off a day which was firmly inscribed on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

I even found a flying bird of the day, courtesy of the black headed gulls at the Kilngreen.

flying gull

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a real trouper from Manitoba.  Lucie sent the picture to me and tells me that on the day that she took it,  Manitoba was at -8c, and the little pansy was still going strong despite having been covered in four inches of snow and suffering several below freezing days

Lucie's flower

We had another frosty morning here but a generally sunny day so after coffee, while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to make some purchases relating to repainting our hallway, I brushed the leaves off the lawns, collected another good handful of fallen walnuts, checked out the floral survivors of the frosts…

four after frost flowers

…and went for a walk.

The falling of the leaves has let more light into the river bank near Pool Corner…

Wauchope above pool corner

…but there were still some bright leafy moments here and there along my walk…

manse brae tree

…although we are also well  into the ‘bare tree’ time for taking photos.

leafless tree

As you can see, there are some grey clouds in the background of the picture above and for a moment, a light drizzle threatened to spoil my walk.  It was a false alarm though and the drizzle fizzled out after only a minute or two, and the sun shone again.

It lit up a couple of characters who were as interested in me as I was in them.

balck cow

grey cow

The frosty mornings haven’t affected the lichens on the fence post at the Auld Stane Brig.

lichen fence post

Why this particular fence post out of the thousands around here should have such a flourishing lichen garden is one of life’s little mysteries.

My stroll took me along Gaskell’s and Easton’s Walks.  There were fungi to be seen along Gaskell’s…

three gaskells fungi

…and the sun penetrated through the trees to light up the arrival of the Becks Burn into the mighty Wauchope.

becks burn meeting wauchope

I looked across at Meikleholm hill…

Meikleholm hill autumn

…before plunging through the autumn tunnel to the Stubholm and Easton’s walk.

stubholm track

It was definitely autumn in the Beechy Plains…

beechy plains

…but there was still plenty to look at as I went along.

acorn, script lichen and leaf

This fine bunch of daisies on the river bank at the park bridge made a cheerful end to my walk.

daisies by park brig late october

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Carlisle in time to have some for her lunch too.

The temperature had risen to 8°C by the time that lunch was over, so I wrapped up warmly and got my bike out of the garage.  I very nearly put it back again when I looked up and saw this.

rainbow from garden

That was the direction from which our weather was coming today.  I checked the forecast and it swore that it wasn’t raining in Langholm so in spite of the evidence of my eyes, I had faith and cycled off up the Wauchope road.

My faith was justified and it didn’t rain on me at all.  In fact it was more or less sunny the whole way.

There were no leaves left on the trees when I passed the Glencorf burn though.

glencorf burn october

I was doing an out and back ride, so I took this picture at the far end of Callister before I turned back towards Langholm

view over winterhope

…and this one at the other end of my ride, where in spite of some impressive cloud formations…

clouds up Ewes

…the top end of the Ewes valley was bathed in sunshine.

Ewes valley october

When I got home, after twenty gentle miles, I was greeted by these cheerful argyranthemums which had perked up in the sun after being rather droopy in the early morning frost.

last argyranthemums

Mrs Tootlepedal roasted a chicken for our tea and as I polished off the rest of the tarte tatin as pudding, any calories burned during my cycle ride were more than amply replaced by the evening meal.

Although the feeder has been out in the garden for two days now, no bird has visited it at all while I have been watching, so a dunnock is the standing in as flying bird of the day.

dunnock

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Today’s guest picture comes from that inveterate traveller Bruce.  He looked in on a tea dance at the famous Tower Ballroom in Blackpool but did not venture onto the floor himself.  Doubtless things will be a bit more lurid on 16th November when Strictly comes to town.

tower ballroom

Finally our spell of mild autumn weather came to an end today and we woke up to a frosty garden.

first frosts

It wasn’t very frosty though and things warmed up gently through the morning. I wondered if the frost would have encouraged some autumn colour, so after breakfast I went out for a short three bridges walk.

I was waved off by a hosta positively glowing in the sunshine.

golden hosta

Sadly, the autumn colour was mainly on the river bank…

leaves on ground

…though it was still a glorious morning for a walk.

meeting of the waters late october

The ducks seemed to think that it was good weather for them too…

female mallard

…as they cruised up and down the Ewes Water, occasionally ducking.

male mallard

I fear that autumn colour is not going to figure this year and the trees behind the Sawmill Brig have lost interest in the whole thing.

sawmill brig autumn

The old Episcopalian Church on the Lodge Walks was looking attractive.  It is a pity that no use can be found for this building.

episcopla church october

The trees across the Castleholm were rather dull….

trees on castleholm

…but the sunny day made for good views.  I was interested to see the hill cattle had chosen to graze near the top of the hill where I would have thought that it would be chillier.  Perhaps they got more sun up there.

cattle on Timpen

With two months still to go until the shortest day, it is slightly depressing to find the sun so low in the sky even at this time of year but it does provide some Hitchcock like shots on a walk.

low shadows n walk

When I got back, I settled down and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to demount her embroiderers’ group exhibition in the Welcome to Langholm hub, I did the crossword, made coffee and bread and followed that up with another tarte tatin.   We have quite a few apples in hand and the making (and eating) of tarte tatin is my approved way of dealing with them at the moment.

After lunch, with the thermometer showing 7°C, I wrapped up well and went out for a pedal.  The larches are doing their best to provide some autumn colour.  These ones are at Pool Corner.larches pool corner

I was a few miles up the road when I met a cyclist coming the other way.  He drew to a halt and it turned out to be Sandy out for a spin on his e-bike.  He was doing an adventurous circuit with quite a few hills in it.

sandy cycling

After some chat, he set off to pedal home to Langholm…

sandy cycling off

…and I cycled on up to the top of Callister.

Rather annoyingly, after a brilliantly sunny morning, a few stray clouds had turned up to hide the sun…
clouds from callister

…but out to the west, the sea was glistening where the clouds had cleared.

shining sea from callister

It didn’t take long for them to clear where I was and I cycled home in golden splendour.

golden wauchopedale

I was going to cycle through the town and out of the other side but I came upon a man with a tractor cutting the roadside hedge.  As this often involves covering the road with sharp hawthorn fragments, I turned back and did two circuits of the New Town to make up my twenty miles.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal kindly cut my hair and after I had had a shower, my flute pupil Luke turned up.  Thanks to some improved teaching and some home practice, he is really getting a grip on the counting.  We are also both working on approaching high notes with confidence rather than terror, and that is showing improvement too.

The weather looks set fair for the next few days so I am hoping to be able to add a few more miles to my October total before the end of the month.  Since the clocks have gone back, I will have to make an effort to get started sooner as the evenings are really drawing in now and I don’t have good enough equipment (or the courage) to cycle in the dark.

We have put the bird feeder out and I hope that normal service will be resumed as soon as the birds notice that food is now available.  In the meantime, I didn’t see a flying bird today, so a reflective Mr Grumpy, spotted from the Town Bridge on my cycle ride, will have to do.

reflective heron

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s who visited Oslo on his Scandinavian  cruise.  He tells me that She Lies (Norwegian: hun ligger) is a public sculpture by Monica Bonvicini made of stainless steel and glass panels.  It is a permanent installation, floating on the water in the fjord and turns on its axis in line with the tide and wind, offering changing experiences through reflections from the water and its transparent surfaces.  I would add that it is not often that you see a window cleaner at work on a sculpture.

P1000870

I had a quiet morning in as although it was dry again, I wasn’t attracted to the idea of going for a cycle ride in very strong winds.  I did walk round the garden where thanks to the continuing mild mornings, there are plenty of flowers still blooming.  The panel below doesn’t show everything that’s out by any means.

garden flowers late october

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious ginger biscuits and then we cracked open some of our walnut crop and she made a walnut and banana loaf.  The biscuits have been well tested but the loaf is waiting for tomorrow for a try out.

After lunch, I practised songs for our Glasgow trip and then went off for a walk. Mrs Tootlepedal, having checked my proposed route and tested the wind, decided that gardening would be more fun.

I walked up through the town and onto the golf course.  My plan was to look for toadstools which often flourish there.

I think that i was too late this year and most of the fungus has flown.  What was left was a bit tattered.

golf course fungus

Still, it was a pleasure to be on the well maintained course and the views always are available to console a golfer after a poor shot and me after a fruitless fungus hunt.

golf course

This was my favourite view from the course today.

trees from golf course

I walked up to the top of the course and took the track onto the open hill, passing this fine wall…

whita wall

…which was rich with interest.

whita moss amnd lichen

I was soon high enough up to get good views back down over the town…Langholm from whita

….and away to the south over the Gretna windmills and the Solway Firth to the Lake District Hills which were nudging the clouds as they passed over.

skiddaw from whita

I took closer looks at the town…

dye house chimney

…where the poplars beside the church was very prominent…

poplars from whita

…and looking at the New Town, I could see our walnut tree in the middle of the picture.  (It is behind the much darker tree.)

new town from whita

I walked along the old track towards the quarry and leapt nimbly over the stile at the wall (that might not be an entirely true statement) before going down the hill on the far side of the wall.

The hill is not grazed intensively these days and young trees are able to grow without being nibbled before they can established themselves.

birch on whita

Going down the hill on a rough path requires all my concentration these days and if I try to look at the views as I descend, I am likely to fall over.  I didn’t fall over today but I had to stop if I wanted to look at the river below.

river esk from whita

The sun came out as I  walked through a newly established birch thicket…

new wood on whita

…and I had one last stop for a view…

looking over langholm

…before I came to the woods on the lower slopes of the hill and walked down to the river to take the obligatory shot of Skippers Bridge.

skippers arch in autumn

This shot had added interest today, because when I looked at the picture later, I noticed something which  I hadn’t seen at the time, a cormorant doing a little fishing under the bridge.

cormorant at skippers

I crossed the bridge, clambered down the bank on the far side and looked back.

skppers from up river

A quick check on the camera at this point showed me that I had already taken over 100 pictures, so I stuck it firmly in my pocket and resolved to take no more before I got home….

…but who can resist a goosander?

goosander

My walk was about three and a half miles long and I was very pleased with the co-operation that my feet offered as I went along. My new insoles are doing a good job.

Mrs Tootlepedal had just finished her gardening when I arrived back but she had enough energy left to cook a dish of smoked sausage and spinach with a cream cheese sauce served with penne.  I needed it to give me strength as it was soon time to go out to my Langholm choir practice.

Our regular conductor was not there but our accompanist did a very good job of directing us and playing at the same time so we had a useful session.

On my way home from my walk in the afternoon, I came across a gang of jackdaws finding something interesting to do in the middle of  Henry Street.  They wisely took off when a vehicle approached, allowing me to capture a double (low) flying bird of the day.

two flying jackdaws

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