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Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  It shows Tony getting some sausage making tips at the ‘Bowhouse Food Weekend’ in St Monans yesterday.  Marianne tells me that they intend to eat the sausages that he made.  They are very brave.

Tony at St Monans

After two days of miserable rain and wind, the weather gods relented and laid on a calm, fairly warm and dry day today, ideal for cycling.  Of course they knew that I had choirs to go to both in the morning and the afternoon with no time for serious cycling in between so they must have laughed themselves silly.

Still, the choirs were very enjoyable so I had no complaints.

After the church choir,  I had time to walk round the garden.

We have a little horizontal cotoneaster against the house with bright red berries and colourful leaves.

berries and leaves

Wet flowers were to be found. The striking clematis in the top row is is the only flower that the plant has produced all year.

Octcober flowers

We have our own autumn colour provided by the climbing hydrangea and one of the azaleas.

hydrangea and azalea in autumn

I looked at the birds while I attended to the tricky culinary task of preparing baked beans on toast for my lunch.

A collared dove appeared and didn’t start a fight.  This was possibly because it was the only dove there.

Collared dove at rest

There were several goldfinches only too ready to argue.

goldfinches sparring

I got the chance to catch  welcome visits from a dunnock…

dunnock Oct

…and a robin.

october robin

After my baked beans, I had just enough time to go for an amble round Easton’s Walk.

As I got to the Wauchope Water, I found that it had gone down enough to allow a dipper to do some dipping in the calmer current near the bank.

dipper dipping

The recent rain has encouraged the moss on the park wall.

spangles moss

I came down the track to the edge of the Murtholm fields….

Easton's Walk in autumn

…and enjoyed the colourful trees behind the farmhouse at the far end.

Murtholm in autumn

As I walked back along the river to the park, I spotted two ghostly fungi, one on a fallen tree…

white fungus

…and one unusually white one, part of a small bunch of fungi on the banking in the shadow of old tree roots.

very white gungus

The thorny hedge round the war memorial provided a resting place for water droplets.

thorn hedge with raindrops

When I got home, the sight of the winter jasmine in full flower at the back door  was a reminder of the march of the seasons.

winter jasmine

The weather gods had one last little joke to play.  The sun came out just as I was preparing to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir so I only had time for a glance out of the kitchen window to watch a siskin hanging about…

siskin depending

…and a chaffinch weighing up his options …

flying chaffinch in sun

…before I went off to Carlisle to sing, driving down the road in beautiful weather and muttering under my breath as I went.

Our new musical director continues to be very lively and amusing so we all worked hard for her in return and as a result, we had a useful practice.

I am hoping for some kindly cycling weather tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in torpedo mode as it heads for the feeder.

flying sparrow missile

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who walked though five villages the other day and looked at one of them across a valley. This is Holbrook seen from Horsley.

Holbrook from Horsley

I was expecting a wet day today but after some heavy rain overnight, it was quite dry and calm in the morning and Dropscone was able to cycle round with treacle scones at coffee time.

I had a quick look round the garden before he came.

A couple of frosty mornings while I was away have done for a lot of the flowers but the nasturtiums under the protection of the front wall of the house are still looking excellent.

nasturtium

Sadly, only a very few fuchsias are left standing…or more accurately, hanging.

fuchsia

Dropscone has been checking on the well being of his tin knees which are now ten and twelve years old.  He got them put in at different hospitals and as a result, he had to go to two different places to get them x-rayed as one hospital couldn’t possibly x-ray another hospital’s knee.  This was rather annoying but he is pleased that the check has been completed.

I put the camera on its tripod at the kitchen window and took a variety of shots during the morning, while the weather was still dry.

A small flock of goldfinches were keeping the usual chaffinches at bay today…

goldfinch and chaffinch

…although one chaffinch at least made it to the feeder.

landing chaffinch

The birds have been complaining to their agents that I do not do them justice with my obsession with grainy shots of them in flight so I took some grainy head and shoulder shots today instead.

portrait goldfinch

Goldfinch

portrait greenfincj

Greenfinch

portrait sparrow

Sparrow

They are all very handsome.

It was still dry when Dropscone left after coffee so I had another look round the garden…

delphinium october

veg garden flower

…and then I took a chance and went for a short ‘three bridges’ walk to seek out autumn colour.

As I approached my first bridge, the pedestrian suspension bridge across the Esk, I couldn’t fail to be struck by the poplars beside the church.

river esk oct 12

And as I walked along towards my second bridge, this colourful garden hit me in the eye.

bar brae garden

I didn’t cross the town bridge today but I did look back at it from the Kilngreen…

autumn over the town bridge

…and I looked up the Esk from the same point.

esk from meeting of waters

I was pleased to see that for once I had all my ducks in a row.

ducks in a row

The Sawmill Brig over the Ewes Water was my second crossing.

sawmill brig october

And once across, I could admire the Langholm Castle ruins on the Castleholm…

castle in autumn

..and the glow of the trees at the start of the Lodge walks.

lodge walks oct

Across the playing fields, the trees on the far bank of the Esk were well worth a glance…

Castleholm trees oct

…or two.

castleholm trees oct (2)

Although not as brilliant as the maples that draw the tourists to New England in the fall, they give me a lot of quiet pleasure.

As the rain was threatening to come, I crossed the Duchess Bridge as my third bridge…

duchess brig in autumn

…and scuttled home as quickly as I could, propelled onward by a short but sharp little shower that encouraged me not to linger and look for fungi.

I did see this little specimen as I went through a gate on the Castleholm…

fungus on gatepost

…but mostly I had eyes only for yew deciduous trees on my walk today.

I got home in good time for lunch and shortly afterwards, the rain started in earnest….

feeder in the rain

…and kept going for several hours.

It has stopped as I write this but if the forecast is to be believed, it will start again in the early hours of the morning and rain until tea time tomorrow.

I will have a quiet day in.

Mike Tinker braved the rain and dropped in for a cup of tea and he told me that there has been an invasion of chaffinches from the continent.  I should recognise them if they arrive in the garden as they are more colourful than the natives.

Mrs Tootlepedal is doing well in the south but is looking forward to coming home next week and getting to work on preparing the garden for the winter.

I tried to catch a flying goldfinch but only managed another chaffinch today to be the flying bird of the day. They hover very obligingly.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who was at the Roxburghe Golf course when he came across a reminder of the strong winds that battered us last month.

roxburghe tree snap

There was a brisk wind here today but not as brisk as the one that had knocked that tree to bits.

I had time for a quick look at the birds after breakfast….

low flying chaffinch

A chaffinch trying to sneak past the window without getting its picture taken.

…before the wind  blew me down the road to Brampton as I went off in the car for a singing lesson from the lady who conducts the Langholm Choir.  I was a bit worried in case the car gave me warning messages again but the garage had done the trick and everything went smoothly.

Mary turned out to be an excellent teacher, patient, supportive and very clear in her suggestions.  It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks as the saying goes but she managed very well and I came away with a good idea of what to work at and a bit of confidence in my ability to sing which had been lacking before.  We are going to arrange another couple of lessons when time permits.

I had a meeting arranged in Langholm at midday so I couldn’t stay around to explore the surrounding area which would have been fun and found myself back home in time for lunch.

Two friends of Mrs Tootlepedal came to visit the garden after lunch and when I went out to see them, I noticed the butterfly of the day on a dahlia.

buttefly on yellow dahlia

When they left I had a look about.

Most of the dahlias have come to the end of their useful life but one or two still look good…

last dahlia

…and others still had bees visiting.

I noticed that another clematis had sneaked a flower out behind my back…

late white clematis

…and all three buds on the Lilian Austin had lived up to their promise.

triple Lilian Austin

The Japanese anemones are still out in numbers…

bright Japanese anemone

…and the last of the hostas have a few flowers left.

dark hosta

It was far too windy to make cycling a pleasure but it was sunny enough to make being outside a good idea so I went for a walk up Meikleholm Hill.

There is an old tree stump beside the track up onto the hill that acts as a fungus collection and it was well supplied with specimens today.

fungus on Meikleholm track

A bit further up the track, I came upon another casualty of the recent strong winds.

fallen tree on Meikleholm track

I was amazed by how shallow the root system was , being no more than a foot in depth and with no roots protruding through the banking that the falling tree had lifted up.

fallen tree roots on Meikleholm track

On the other hand, it was very wide.  It is wonderful that any trees stand up at all on our very shallow soils.

There were no sheep or cattle on the hill today so I had a peaceful walk on a rich growth of grass.  There were not many wild flowers to be seen….

yarrow

…because the sheep had made a good job of eating everything interesting before they left.  However, there were a great number of these small fungi scattered all over the hillside.

mushrooms on Meiklholm Hill

And of course there were any amount of views…

Esk valley from Meikleholm Hill

…with just a hint of autumn about them…

Casdtleholm from Meikleholm Hill

…though the hint was quite marked in places.

track on Meikleholm Hill

I caught the town lying below me in a sunny moment…

view of Langholm from Meikleholm Hill

…but as I walked back down the hill, ominous clouds rolled up overhead and I abandoned a plan to extend my stroll and walked back in the company of another camera club member whom I met on the way.

Needless to say, almost as soon as I had decided to go straight home, the clouds vanished as if by magic and it was a bright day again when I got back to the garden.

When I went in, I found Mrs Tootlepedal chatting to our neighbour Liz who most unluckily broke a bone in her foot recently and is now hobbling about on crutches.  She had told me about the fallen tree on the Meikleholm track.  She had seen it on one of her last walks before her accident.

When Liz left, Mrs Tootlepedal came out to join me in the garden and I took on the role of Attila the gardener’s henchman and dug up a lot of the worst affected dahlias in one of the front beds and shredded them.  I laid their shredded remains reverently on Mrs Tootlepedal’s new bed along the fence as a green mulch.  Life goes on.

Mrs Tootlepedal edged the lawns and then we went in.  I noted some cheerful colour on my way.

red flowers october

I made  baked eggs and spinach in a cheese sauce for my evening meal and picked some of our autumn raspberries for my pudding.

We had a quiet evening in.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the kitchen earlier on so I went to look at the birds from an upstairs window and from there took this picture of the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch concentrating

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited Tamworth recently and found the castle gardens looking well kept.

Tamworth

We had another fine day here today and indeed there was only 1 cm of rain in Mary Jo’s rain gauge when I looked this evening so we have had a pretty dry week.  It has been a windy month though and the wind was nagging away again this morning.  I did get into my cycling gear but some really heavy gusts persuaded me that yesterday’s ride was enough for the time being and I changed back into my lounging around clothes and lounged around in a very professional manner for the rest of morning and a lot of the afternoon.

I roused myself enough to cycle round to the corner shop to get materials to make a sausage stew and then had to rouse myself again to go back and get the sausages which  had forgotten to buy.

I filled the bird feeder and had a brief look at the birds.

chaffinch posing

chaffinch arguing

The women’s race in the cycling world championships gave both Mrs Tootlepedal and me a good excuse to watch others taking exercise but when it finished, we thought that the sunny day made some outdoor activity more or less compulsory.  She did some gardening and I went for a walk after spending a few minutes looking for flowers in the garden.

late september flowers

As long as there are flowers with butterflies in them, I will keep taking their pictures.

buttefly on dahlia

My walk was a short three bridges affair because although it was sunny, there was a distinct nip in the air from the breeze.

I saw two lonely gulls beside the river….

gulls by river

…and an old friend near the Town Bridge.

heron

I looked back as I crossed the bridge….

bewteen the bridges

…and then headed along the Kilngreen and across the Sawmill Brig onto the Castleholm.

I enjoyed the sunny views….

Trees from castleholm

…and the hints of autumn colour….

trees on back of Lodge walks

…which were quite pronounced in a few places.

autumn colour

Sadly this promising spot of colour had been laid low by the recent storm.

fallen tree castleholm

There were several crops of fungus on old tree stumps…

fungus on Duchess Bridge path

…and I wondered if I could see a small gnome glaring at me from the back of this bunch.

fungus on Castleholm

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work and I thought that I ought to try to be useful so I mowed the middle and front lawns with the mower blades set suitably high for a late season cut.  I was surprised how much growth there had been in the grass and was able to add a handy amount to the compost bin.

I had to have a sit down when I had finished.

mown lawn september

The dry week had left the lawns quite easy to mow and although the moss is making a come back, they are looking as well as can be expected at this time of year.

When I was putting the grass in the compost bin, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out how well the leycesteria formosa is doing.

leycestera

It was an uninvited guest but it is looking so good that it may well become part of the new planting scheme at the back of the vegetable garden next year.

I made the sausage stew and ate some of it for my tea.

We have a busy day of singing ahead tomorrow so I have finished my cycling for September.  In spite of some very windy weather, I have managed to keep up to my mileage target for the year although I didn’t get as many miles in as I had hoped.  I will need a kindly October or some very good wet weather clothing to keep me up to scratch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch caught in one of the cloudy moments of an otherwise lovely day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who met an unexpected animal at St Pancras.  She thinks that there may be more roaming the streets of London.

20180918_120742

I had a day of steady but gentle activity today.  It was rather grey in the morning so I was happy to look at the hymns for next Sunday’s service and then entertain Sandy for a cup of coffee.  We arranged to go for a walk in the afternoon.

When he left, I went out into the garden to see what was going on and enjoyed a dahlia…

dahlia (2)

…and the promise of many more fuchsia flowers to come if the frost keeps away.

fuchsia buds

We are still getting a steady stream of butterflies…

red admiral butterfly

…and Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she saw no less than seven at the same time on this buddleia in the afternoon.

I kept an eye on the bird feeder…

busy feeder

…but there was nothing unusual to see.

goldfinch and chaffinch

I get the feeling that the quality and sharpness has gone out of my flying bird pictures lately so it might be a good idea to take my bird watching camera to get a service to see if I can blame it for the problem.  It may well be me though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off to visit the RBS mobile bank (which only comes once a week) and then we drove down to Longtown to collect her new glasses to go with her new improved eyesight.

Since we were close at hand, we went off for lunch at a garden centre before coming home again.

I didn’t have to long to sit down before Sandy arrived for our walk and we headed south for a couple of short strolls along the river using the old main road, now by-passed and just the place for a quiet stroll.

We are a bit worried that if they persist, the brisk winds will dry out the trees’ leaves and everything will turn brown rather than giving us good autumn colour so we took in all the colour we could see meanwhile.

A7 layby

river at Broomholm

river at seven sisters

hollows bridge downstream

hollows bridge upstream

Esk from Byreburnfoot brodge

It was very enjoyable having a leisurely walk, well sheltered from the breeze, along the river in good company.

We looked about as we went and Sandy spotted a snail on a dandelion…

dandelion with snail and fly

…which turned out to have a fly as a friend.

We disturbed a small flock of mallards on one of our visits to the river bank but they flew off before we could get a good shot.

flying ducks

There are fungi everywhere this year…

fungus

…and quite a lot of them are providing food for wild life.

fungus 2

We could have done with some sunshine to bring a bit of sparkle to the leaves…

byreburn road

…but of course it waited until we got into the car to go home before the sun came out.

Mike Tinker joined us for a cup of tea and remarked that his house seemed very quiet and empty now his visitors had left.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a concert given by Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, two of our favourite musicians.  They have visited Langholm regularly over the past years and we go to see them whenever we can, as they provide all the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable night out.

For those of you who don’t know them, they are a pair of comfortably built, affable and experienced traditional musicians of the highest quality, playing fiddle (Aly Bain) and accordion (Phil Cunningham).  They are happy to let their music speak for itself so it is played without affectation or over amplification.  The music itself always has the most gorgeous line and does not have an ounce of surplus fat on it.

The music is not the only thing that speaks as Aly and Phil keep up a running commentary between numbers and this is almost as good as the music and contains many jokes and anecdotes that are now old friends and all the more welcome for that.  All in all, it was another evening of great warmth and good cheer.

The flying bird of the day is well up to my current standard, i.e. not very good….and it is only just qualifying as a flying bird at all.

chaffinch landing

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony just to show that his life isn’t always glorious sunrises.

Fife stormy weather

We had a dry day today that became increasingly breezy as time passed.  If I had been extremely well prepared and keen, I could have got up at the crack of dawn and done twenty miles in calm conditions before breakfast…but I wasn’t and I didn’t.

What I did do was to have a late breakfast and then enjoy a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone when he came to call.  His golf is still causing him some grief but he did tell me that he had noticed the toadstools were out in force among the trees beside the fifth fairway on the golf course.

I couldn’t go up straight away as I had a visit to the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin B12 top up to fit in first.

I had a look at the birds when I got back and was happy to see a calm blue tit on the feeder pole…

blue tit on feeder pole

…and several lively chaffinches coming in for seed.

scary chaffinches

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe and after a light lunch, I headed up to the golf course on a toadstool quest.

On my way there, I saw horses at the bottom of the Kirk Wynd having a snack on the way to their field….

horse on Kirk Wynd

…and a bee having a snack on a dandelion at the top of the slope.

bee on dandelion

I was a bit worried about the toadstools when I passed the green keeper and he told me that they had been mowing the rough but when I got to the trees, there were still plenty to be seen.

They were a little past their best but there was a lot of variety and colour….

golf course fungus panel 1

…and both old and new were to be seen along with other varieties.

golf course fungus panel 2

This was the top toadstool of the day in my opinion.

golf course fungus star

While I was on the course, I took a moment to admire the wonderful new 7th tee, built since my golfing days….

seventh tee

…and the old shelter for benighted golfers on stormy days, still standing after many years but only just.

shelter on golf course

I left the course and headed for the open hill.

I had passed this way last in the middle of the dry spell and the wall at the gate onto the hill had had very little lichen or moss but the recent rains had got things going again…

lichen on moss at top of Kirk wynd

…and both lichen and moss were thriving.

The skies clouded over as I walked along the track to the quarry so I have taken the liberty of ‘zinging up’ the pictures that I took along the way a bit as otherwise the skies looked very dull in the images and the results didn’t reflect the pleasure that I got from the scenery.

My route took me along the hill with views up the Ewes Valley to the north…

 

view of ewes from whita

…past the town….

view of Langholm from Whita

…over the wall at the quarries…

wall and stile at quarry

…and down into the woods….

oak wood path

…which gave me some welcome shelter from the stiff breeze.

oak wood near round house

I walked down to the river at the Skippers Bridge and stopped for the obligatory picture opportunity.

Skippers bridge Sept 18

It is a tall bridge when viewed from the upstream side as can be seen by the tiny figure crossing it in the shot above.

Peering through arch of the bridge, I thought that the river was looking at its best.

Esk below skippers

(Not zinged up at all)

The recent storms have left a lot of broken trees and branches around and I saw a couple on my walk today.

fallen trees

I walked along the Beechy Plains on my way home and in the rather gloomy woods beside the river, I saw both script lichen and fungus…

Easton's walk

…of various sorts.

fungsu on tree stump

I ended my walk with a visit to our corner shop.  It really is on a corner.

corner shop

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought back a slice or two of a delicious sponge cake from the Buccleuch Centre and I ate them with a cup of tea while I rested for a while after battling the breeze.

Then I started the task of sanding down the garage doors which are going to be painted.  Luckily this didn’t require any great skill and I was able to get on with it while Mrs Tootlepedal did some shopping.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do front-of-house for a ballet screening and on this occasion, I left her to it and spent time messing about with the photo editor instead.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch.  There are a lot of them about.

flying chaffimnch sept 18

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Her cat brought in a most unexpected visitor not long ago.  Luckily it wasn’t an adder but a harmless grass snake and it survived.

grass snake

We were promised some rough and windy weather  from Storm Ali and we got some rough and windy weather with gusts between 50 and 60 mph in the middle of the day.  Luckily the rain stayed away for the most part and we got off lightly.  30 miles to our west, Dumfries declared a major emergency such was the strength of the wind there and 100 miles to the north, winds of over 100 mph were recorded so on the whole, we can’t complain.

We were distracted from the weather by the arrival of an old university friend for coffee and lunch and catching up with his news gave us plenty to do while we ignored the roaring sounds outside.

We walked along to the Buccleuch Centre to lunch in a comparatively calm moment and then watched as twigs, leaves and small branches whistled past the windows propelled by a savage gust.

The strongest gusts had gone by the time that Murray left to go back to Carlisle so Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden and shook our heads at fallen plants but also picked up a great number of walnuts which had descended from above.

I filled the bird feeder and wondered whether the birds had enough strength to battle the winds.

They had, though they could only approach the feeder into the wind at the start and had to fly round the feeder to get the correct landing path.

goldfinches

goldfinches and chaffunch

As the winds continued to gradually ease off, the birds filled up the perches….

chaffinch approaching goldfinch

…though the ones waiting higher up in the plum tree still had to hold on tight and keep their heads into the wind.

windy goldfinch in plum tree

It started to rain again so we went inside but after a while, it stopped and I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk down one side of the river to the Skippers Bridge with a return up the other bank.

There had been a good deal of wind assisted leaf fall…

leafy path in park

…and acorns littered the paths and tracks.

acorns fallen

There are definite signs that the equinox is nearly upon us.

fist autumn colour

fallen leaf

I stopped to admire the Skippers Bridge, looking at it from below….

skippers at the equinox from downstream

…and above….

skippers at the equinox from upstream

…before walking along the newly repaired leaf and twig strewn pavement back towards the town.

fallen twigs and leaves

I had to brush this branch aside as I went along the riverside path…

branch across path

…and was also stopped in my tracks by this lovely show of clematis in the hedge.

sewage works clematis

I would like to see this in our garden but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is ‘rampageous’ and more trouble than it would be worth.

When I got to the suspension bridge, I noticed that the regular gull was standing in its regular spot on the edge of the river.

gull in Esk on rock

It seems as if it is waiting for a friend and I imagine it humming the gull equivalent of “I’m leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street until a certain little lady comes by.”

There was evidence of the brisk breeze under the town bridge.

tree washed up

There was a very short shower when I was at the far end of my walk but having had their little joke, the weather gods relented and turned off the rain again.  Gradually the clouds lifted, the wind died down and it morphed into a fairly calm and pleasant day by the evening.

The forecast is for improving weather over the next few days so I am hoping that my bicycle may see the light of day again.

I had a look round the garden when I came back and picked up more walnuts and took a couple of pictures.

veg garden seedswhite pansies

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir but had to come home without singing.  The session had been cancelled as our conductor had been warned that too many fallen trees on her route had made the journey unsafe.

Ah well, you can’t have everything and it was a small price to pay for escaping the worst of the storm.

Today’s flying bird is a diagonal chaffinch, sneaking up under the wind.

diagonal flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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