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Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

Today’s guest picture is another Bermuda view from Joyce.  She tells me that this is the causeway to St George at dawn.

causeway to St George dawn 1

The forecast for today was  not promising but after a very heavy shower overnight with added hail, it was quite a decent day when we got up, and there were none of the threatened icy patches as I walked up to the town after breakfast to do some archiving business.

As I walked back, a buzzing in the sky made me look back towards Whita and I could that the helicopter, which Ada had seen on the ground yesterday, had taken to the air today.  I couldn’t work out what it was carrying though.

helicopter with loo

When I got home, I met Riley, suitably clad for possible rain, just about to take our neighbour Liz out for a walk.

riley

I went in and had coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and did an easy crossword.  An ice bun may well have mysteriously disappeared during this process.

Then I went for a walk myself.  The forecast offered a twenty percent chance of rain and I hadn’t gone far before I got 100% of a sharp fall of sleet followed by some quite fierce hail.  Luckily I had my new coat on and was well armoured against the slings and arrows of outrageous weather.

And fortunately, the shower exhausted itself quite quickly and I could soon see signs of sunshine.

sun after sleet

I crossed the Becks Burn and followed the road down to the Auld Stane Brig, which I crossed when I came to it…

auld stane brig

…and then walked up the track onto the hill on the other side of the Wauchope Water and enjoyed a tree as I went.

tree on warbla slope

Although our local hills were snow free, the higher hills further up the valley were showing a light covering.

snow up[ the valley

But if you picked the right direction to look, it was a very nice day by now (especially if you were wearing a warm coat).

looking over holmwood

Looking back at the track that I had followed below the fields on the opposite side of the valley, it was hard to believe that I had been in a hailstorm not long before.

looking over becks

I enjoyed a bit of lichen on a boulder…

warbla lichen

…and the view up the Esk Valley…

view from warbla

…and was just about to head down hill to the town when that buzzing was audible again.

The helicopter was back at work.

helicopter with load

It was carrying a big bucket but behind it on the ground, I could see that what it had been carrying when I saw it in the morning, the ubiquitous portable loo for the convenience of the pylon workers.

loo on whita

It delivered its bucket load and headed back.

helicopter going

I could see the pylon on which the work is being done.  It stands beside the sixth green on the golf course and Dropscone is forbidden to play while the helicopter is at work.

pylon on golf course

It returned remarkably soon with another load…

helicopter returning

…and I stood watching on the hillside while it made several trips.

When it was away getting a fresh load, I looked around.

windmills craig

I was using my Lumix which has a very good zoom lens to take the helicopter pictures and I pulled back to show you just how far away I was.

whita in sunshine

You can see the pylon on top corner of the golf course directly below the monument.  Considering that I was holding the camera in a rather cold hand with no support, it is evident that the Lumix is a wonderful camera for wandering photographer.

A look at the map tells me that I was about 0.8 of a mile away.  I walked down the hill a bit and rested the camera on a walks direction post to get as good a close up of the helicopter as I could.  This let me see that it very fairly calls itself a “Skyhook”.

helicopter close up

I had a late lunch when I got home and then, as the weather still seemed pretty good, I got out my bicycle and pedalled eleven miles at a slow pace with so many clothes on that I found it hard to move my legs at all as in spite of the sunshine, the windchill made the temperature a virtual one degree C.

The busy day continued when I got home with first a visit from Mike Tinker and his finely honed tea radar and then the arrival of my flute pupil, Luke with his flute.

After Luke had gone, there was just time for some brisket of beef with nourishing vegetables, expertly cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal, for my tea and then it was time for the January Camera Club meeting.

We had a new member and enough old members to make for a good meeting with a fine selection of photographs from both home and abroad to entertain us until the tea break.  After that we settled down to watch a very well put together audio visual presentation of his holiday in Thailand which Sandy had prepared.  That rounded off an enjoyable meeting and a pretty full day.

It was so full indeed that I had no time for bird watching and so the snowdrops beside the dam are taking the place of any flying bird of the day.

snowdrops

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  The parakeets in Hyde Park are so tame that this one came to her friend Garth’s hand without even being offered food.

parakeet and garth

In spite of being in a spell of high pressure which usually brings sunny weather, we have been getting a lot of cloud.  This has been trapped near the ground and is reluctant to disperse.  As a result we didn’t have any views to enjoy when we caught the train back north after our visit to Evie and other relatives.

What we did have was a punctual train.  We were beginning to think that we might have become railway train Jonahs, bringing lateness and delay in our wake whenever we boarded a train but today’s journey put paid to that idea.   As the train wasn’t even very full, we had a most comfortable trip and caught the bus from Carlisle to Langholm with time to spare.

Although we have had a delightful time in the south, we were still very pleased to get back home…

welcome home

…even if it was even greyer in Langholm than it had been on the way up.

A few snowdrops in the garden promised a brighter future.

snowdrops Jan 23

After a revivifying cup of tea, I took my legs out for a little stretch.  It was reasonably warm at 8°C and there wasn’t much wind so it wasn’t a hardship to be out but there wasn’t a lot of light left in the day.

I walked round Pool Corner…

pool corner grey evening

…along towards the Auld Stane Brig…

tree at churchyard

…where I checked on the fencepost lichen garden…

lichen fence post

…and then returned by the track towards the town.

gaskell's walk

Meikleholm Hill was entirely encased in cloud…

no view of Meikleholm Hill

…but on the other side of the valley there was a slight lift so that I could see the mast on Warbla for a while,

warbla in mist

The was no chance of seeing the monument on Whita though.

stubholm in low lcoud

We had lightly boiled eggs for our tea and will go to bed early in an effort to be fit to face local life again tomorrow after the excitements of the great metropolis.

I shall take this opportunity to thank  my sisters Susan and Mary for accommodating Mrs Tootlepedal and me during our stay, and Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother and sister in law for our welcome to Marlow.  We saw nine relatives (plus two alternative grandparents) in two days which is a very reasonable return of relatives per hour spent.

I have filled the bird feeder up to the top and hope for a visit from some garden birds tomorrow but in the meantime, the only flying bird action that I saw today was a noisy parliament of rooks having a break in their discussion while I was on my walk.

flying rooks

Note: I don’t know what happened to the posts from my phone while I was away.  They didn’t have any allowance for comments for some reason.  The ways of WordPress are often mysterious and as far as I know, it wasn’t anything that I had done.  I am hoping that comments will be enabled on this post now I am back at my computer.

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Today’s guest picture comes from a Welsh correspondent Keiron.  He saw this fine tree in Ystradgynlais a day or two ago and thought that I might like it as I am fond of trees.

Ystradgynlais tree

It was a sunny day here today, but as it was also freezing when we got up, we were in no hurry to get the active part of the day going and sat and read the papers after breakfast until it was time for coffee.

The birds were not very active either, and the only birds that came near the feeder in the morning were a pair of chaffinches.

frosty chaffinch

Stimulated by our cup of coffee, we leapt gently into action and went for a walk.  We did think of a drive to a start point but we couldn’t think of one which we both fancied so we settled for the walk from the town up the River Esk to Potholm and back again.

We had done this walk three weeks ago an a very gloomy day so this time we decided to go round it in the opposite direction, starting by crossing the river by the Langholm Bridge.

There were plenty of gulls to be seen on the river when we looked from the bridge….

view from Langholm Bridge

…and I had my bird camera with me, so we stopped for a moment to enjoy the black headed gulls in flight and on the ground.

four gull panel

It was a grand day for a walk, and if you could get out of the chilly wind, there was even a hint of warmth from the sun.

Although we were walking a familiar route, it didn’t stop us enjoying the sights as we went along through the woods…

road to Holmhead

…over culverts….

bridge on Longfauld track

…and past tree plantations.

young spruce in winter

The views up the valley were delightful in the sunshine.

view of Milnholm

Rather to her surprise, Mrs Tootlepedal had read recently that beech tree leaf litter is slow to rot and does not contain much in the way of useful nutrients  and with that in mind, the clear ground under the beech trees which we passed was explained.

beech wood longfauld

I have always liked the openness of beech woods but I had never understood that the beech leaves themselves were probably suppressing the competition on the forest floor.

There was not a lot of fungus to be seen but I liked this colourful clump on a tree stump at Potholm..

tree stump fungus

…and this pale outbreak on a growing sapling near by.

fungus on sapling

As I had my bird camera with me, we kept an eye out for buzzards on the way.  The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted quite a few, but they were circling high in the sky and my 300mm lens could not get very close to them.

two high buzzards

At one time, we could see five at the same time, but all them out of range.

A robin in a tree at Potholm as we came down to the bridge was more co-operative and sang loudly to make sure that we didn’t miss it.

robin at Potholm

On the bank below the robin, snowdrops were talking about spring.

snowdrops at Potholm

We stopped at the bridge for a small snack…

potholm bridge

…and then we headed homewards along the road.  The fields were astonishingly green.

green fields milnholm

A  young cow regarded us with curiosity.

cow on potholm road

And the wall beside the road offered a feast of lichen.

six lichen on potholm road wall

At the end of the Potholm road, we joined the main road back into Langholm.  It is lined with concrete posts which hold the metal bars which stop errant cars falling down the steep slope into the river below.  Two of the posts caught my eye.

two concrete fence posts B709

We got home after 5.4 miles, quite ready for a cup of tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal had enough strength left to cycle down to the Co-op to do some shopping so that she could make a dahl for our evening meal and I had enough strength left to eat it.  It was very good and rounded off a peacefully pleasant day very well.

One of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day,

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent, Venetia.  She visited the wonderfully named ‘The Newt’ estate where she came across this excellent sinuous bridge.

bridge the newt

Although we are not completely free from the threat of wet and windy weather yet, we awoke to a grey but dry day today.  The wind was still too brisk to make cycling fun though.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal had some business to attend to and I went to our shop for supplies.  We had a cup of coffee when we had both returned and then we went for a walk.

Mrs Tootlepedal likes a bit of novelty in a walk if she can get it, so we drove three miles out of town and embarked on a walk up the track alongside the Esk from the Burnfoot Bridge to the Bentpath bridge and back again.

burnfoot and benty bridges

Burnfoot Bridge on the left and Bentpath Bridge on the right.

It was a well chosen route as it was sheltered from the brisk and chilly wind for the most part.

Although we were not far from Langholm, it was noticeable that the walls were built in a different style to the ones round us, using smaller stones probably collected from the river.

burnfoot track wall

The end of one of the walls gave a neat demonstration of their sloping construction.

wall end westerhall track

We didn’t see much of the river itself as there are trees along the bank all the way, but we did get some very pleasant views of the rolling country on the other side of the track.

Burnfoot track view

As we walked on, the rough track became a smooth road and we entered the grounds of the Westerhall estate, which has impressive stone gateposts at each end.

westerhall estate gates

A little sunshine at this point made the walk even more enjoyable.

westerhall road 2

Westerhall has some lovely woods and interesting buildings among them.

westerhall buildings

The grounds are well looked after and a broad grass avenue leads up the hill away from the house. The sharp eyed will be able to spot another little building in the distance at the top of the hill.

westerhall ride

In fact several grassy paths lead through the woodland with some rather grand steps on the way.

westerhall steps

We stuck to the road though…

westerhall road

…and walked on until we got to the church and churchyard at the village of Bentpath.

westerkirk mausoleum and church

Among the graves, some bearing the names of many different members of the same family, there is a mausoleum designed by Robert Adams which was built for John Johnstone.  The mausoleum is a fine example of the use of the Greek Doric Order in a building. It actually contains the remains of John’s father, Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall (1726-94). The mausoleum is built in ashlar, with a prominent lead covered dome. The front features two pairs of columns supporting a pediment and frieze decorated with ox-skulls.

You can still see the ox skull decorations and one of the gravestones beside the mausoleum has a spectacular show of moss and algae.

Westerkirk churchyard

On our way through the estate, we had seen a good looking example of an orange witch hazel….

westerhall witch hazel

…and when we got to the bridge at Bentpath, there was an even finer yellow variety.

witch hazel at bridge

It was just behind a very nicely situated bench…

seat at benty bridge

…where we had a sit down and a snack as it was one o’clock and lunchtime.  I had bought some dates with me but Mrs Tootlepedal had gone for a banana.  To make things perfect, we only needed a glass of wine and a loaf of bread but we hadn’t brought those.

We didn’t stop for long and were soon on our way back to the car.

We stopped to admire the very unusual semicircular bridge over the Kirk Burn…

kirk burn bridge westerhall

…and the Kirk Burn itself which was splashing down towards the Esk in fine style.

westerhall kirk burn

The grounds of Westerhall have a lot of good looking rhododendrons and azaleas and we intend to come back when they are out in the spring.  In the meantime, a big patch of dogwood was giving a little winter colour.

westerhall dogwood

I had taken nearly fifty pictures on the outward leg so we didn’t stop for many on the way back.  We did stop to look at buzzards circling too high in the sky to be within camera range.  Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a hen harrier hunting over the hill as we drove towards Burnfoot on our way to the walk and she thought that she might have spotted it again as we walked, but it flew out of range before she could get her binoculars on it so it may just have been another buzzard.

The sight of Burnfoot House tucked in below Douglen Hill…

 

burnfoot and dowglen hill

…signalled that we were nearly at the end of our walk.

We had covered just under four and half miles and thanks to taking many photos and watching many buzzards, we had spent almost exactly two very rewarding hours in going the distance.

By the time that we had had a bowl of soup and a cracker with cheese when we got home to add to our very light lunch at Bentpath, the light was beginning to fail.  Mrs Tootlepedal did go out into the garden with a view to doing something useful but it was too gloomy and too chilly and too windy so she came back in.

Perhaps because of the stiff breeze, gusting up to 40 mph according to the Met Office, there were no birds on the feeder at all today when I looked.  The only bird that I did see was this dunnock in the mirk of the late afternoon, and so it is the non flying bird of the day.

dunnock

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  It is a horrible evening here so I was pleased to find his cheerful picture of life on the river at Chester last week.

chester

We were promised a visit from Storm Brendan later in the day so it was good to find a quiet, dry morning when we got up.

The birds didn’t seem very interested in getting some food in before the storm came though and all that was to be seen was a goldfinch on the feeder and a crow in the walnut tree.

goldfinch and crow

I cycled up to the town to do some Archive Group business and called in at our not so near corner shop of the way home to stock up on a few necessities.  Then it was time for a coffee and finally, I got out for a walk.

I did think about a cycle ride but the prospect of a strengthening wind made a 5 mile walk more attractive.

I had only got as far as the back wall of the house when I had to stop to note snowdrops almost out beside the dam.

dam snowdrops

I hadn’t got much further before I was detained by a dipper which was living up to its name by doing some vigorous dipping in the Wauchope above the Kirk Brig.

dipping dipper

They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.

In the end, I had to go on and I walked through the town and along to the track to the oak woods and the Moorland Project bird hide.

It was muddy and slippery, so I had to keep more of an eye on where I was walking than interesting things but this fallen tree was large enough to attract my attention.

felled tree with fungus

And the oak trees are hard to miss when you get to them.

oak tree near jenny noble

I didn’t want to hang about too much in case the threatened rain came in before schedule so I pressed on to the bird hide.  I had heard at second hand that the hide was closed as a result of the larch disease which will lead to the trees at the hide being felled soon.  I wondered if this meant that the trees had already been felled but when I got there, the hide and trees were still there and the notice on the hide door read as follows:

laverock hide notice

I was in time, the hide was still open and the feeders had been filled by one of the volunteers.

I sat in the hide for a few minutes and was rewarded with a good supply of peanut eaters.

Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….

two coal tits

…two blue tits…

two blue tits

…and a great tit with a chaffinch with other things on its mind.

great tit and chaffinch

A green finch arrived and checked to see if the peanuts on the other side of the feeder were any tastier.

inquisitive greenfinch

There were plenty of puddles about and a pheasant was happy to use one as a drinking fountain.

drinking pheasant

There had been some sunshine om my walk out but the clouds were coming up from the west so I didn’t stop long and was soon on my way home along the road.

It is hard to convey the sheer pleasure that can be got from contemplating our hills while out on a walk and I don’t have the camera or the skills to do them full justice but even in the middle of winter, this is a very pleasant prospect.

view from Broomholmshiels

In hot weather, the sheep that you can see in the field in the foreground of the picture above often make use of the shade of a tree beside the road.  Looking at the exposed roots of the tree, I wondered if the sheep were responsible for these scratches.

sheep scraped root

On my side of the fence there was a good show of xanthoria parietina lichen.

xanthoria parietina lichen

I set off down the hill at a good pace and I wasn’t intending to stop again but when a cladonia lichen winks at you from a wall across the road, it would be rude not to stop.  This one was so big and bright that it looked like a flower.

british soldier lichen

The river had dropped enough to let me take a picture of Skippers Bridge when I got there.  As the light was dull, I thought that it would make a change to show the bridge at work instead of the usual still life portrait.

I feel slightly nervous when I see lorries of this size crossing the bridge as they seem vastly too big for it….

skippers bridge with lorry

…but the bridge has stood up well to fairly constant traffic for over 300 years and will doubtless outlast us all.

I got home before the weather broke and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She went out on business in the afternoon and was not as lucky as me, as it was raining very heavily by the time that she bicycled home.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and my flute pupil came in the early evening.  Mike got wet but Luke was lucky to find a gap in the rain when he came.

As I write this in the late evening, the wind is soughing round the house but the rain has stopped, temporarily at least.  Weather reports show severe gales on exposed western coasts but we are on the very edge of the storm so we are quite lucky so far.  Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is that dipper, pushing off low over the river to find more food.

flying dipper

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s visit to Liverpool.  He bumped into a bunch of lads on the street but they  gave him the cold shoulder.

beatles

Just as I was going to bed (rather late) last night, I was tempted to look out of the window and a bright and almost full moon made me go and get my camera.

moon nearly full

It is a pity that the skies are not clear tonight as not only is the moon full but there is a lunar eclipse which would have been fun to watch.

Still, you can’t have everything and I did start the day off with coffee and treacle scones as Dropscone arrived bearing gifts.  He also brought a very sad tale with him.

He told me that he had lost nine balls in one round while playing golf recently.  I was shocked and worried that he had forgotten how to play properly.  However, it turned out that it wasn’t incompetence but a thieving crow (or crows) that was responsible for the mayhem.  The Langholm Golf Club has been plagued by crows brazenly stealing golf balls from the middle of the fairway for the last couple of weeks.

Dropscone estimates that as many as 100 balls may have been pilfered.  Somewhere around the town, there must be a huge stash but no-one has been able to pinpoint its whereabouts yet.

I checked some of my informants.

This goldfinch claimed that it knows nothing.

goldfinch close up

And a green finch was insulted by even being asked about it.

greenfinch staring

And a dunnock ignored my questions entirely.

dunnock on kerb

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided on a walk.  It had been freezing in the early morning but the temperature had got up to 4 degrees C, too cold for worry free cycling but fine for a winter walk.  I had a stroll round the garden before we went, and liked the droplets on the perennial nasturtium.

nasturtium with droplets

Many of the hills round the town had low cloud down on them as we drove off in the car but when we parked near the top of Callister five miles away, there was sunshine to greet our walk along the forestry track.

westwater walk

We last walked along this track three months ago and this second visit was well worth while as the track is home to all sorts of interesting things, such as pixie cup lichen growing on flat ground, not a common sight…

pixie cup lichen on ground

…and self seeded Christmas trees along the verge…

self seeded xmas tree

….as well as some very bright red moss sporangia.

red moss sporanges

We had to look where we were going when we got to a shady section of the track higher up the hill as there was still some snow lying…

snow on westwater track

…but at least we were in the sunshine while neighbouring hills still had their heads in the clouds.

clouds on hills

We could see the Ewe Hill Wind farm on the horizon at our turning point…

ewes windfarm from westwater track

…where we paused for a moment and wondered whether we should go down a steep hill in the hope of finding a different way back to the road.

clouds and blue sky

As you can see from the picture above, there was plenty of blue sky about but you had to look straight up to see it.  We decided against going down the hill and retraced our steps.

There was a nippy wind blowing in our faces as we went back towards the car and I was pleased to have my new jacket with a capacious hood to protect me from the chill.   Mrs Tootlepedal kindly took a picture of the jacket in action in reply to request for a picture from a couple of readers.

new jacket

Although my ankles may look a bit exposed, they are well covered by water and windproof socks which do a good job of keeping my feet warm, and my shoes are waterproof too so I was very snug

Another wind farm at the Craig came into view on our way home and as the sun had down a good job of clearing snow from the track….

viw of craig windfarm from westwater track

…I was able to have a good look for lichen…

three sorts of lichen

…as we walked back into the sun towards the car.

Mrs Tootlepedal had her big coat on too.Mrs T westwater track

Although it wasn’t a long walk, it had felt very good to be out and about and we enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as the weather tomorrow looks as though it is going to be quite bad with rain and a gale, and not suitable for outdoor life at all.

After our long day yesterday, we were happy to have a quiet time once we got home and we let the rest of the day drift away peacefully.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gunta and shows that although her siskins on the west coast of the USA are not quite the same as ours, they do behave in a similar manner.

pine_siskins-24

We had a very windy day here today and there was frequent rain too, so Sandy did well to find a dry moment to walk down and have coffee with us.  His luck didn’t last though and I had to drive him back home through a downpour.

While we were drinking coffee, we were entertained by the desperate efforts of a jackdaw to hang onto a walnut tree twig in the stiff wind.

jackdaw flapping

(I think it is a jackdaw, it might be a crow.)

When I came back from taking Sandy home, it was time to take down the Christmas decorations as it was Twelfth Night today.  The Christmas tree, cleared of its tinsel and lights, was put out to get used to being outside again.   It will go back into a bed when the weather is better.  It is lurking in the shelter of the wheelie bin to protect it from the wind.

christmas tree outside

I went back in and watched the birds.

A robin was checking to see whether there was anything interesting up there.

robin peering

Perhaps it was counting goldfinches.

four goldfinches

I was happy to see any birds in the wind and rain but it was a rare moment when all the perches were in use on the feeder.

two siskins two goldfinches

And with the wind rocking the boat, birds had to hold on tight down here too.

goldfinch hanging on

It was a day for doing things indoors so I made some leek and potato soup for lunch and after lunch, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Then I practised some choir songs.  We are going to have to learn songs off by heart so an early start is essential for me as I find retaining words and music very difficult.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that there won’t be clapping too.

Mrs Tootlepedal bravely cycled off to the shops and when she returned, she reported that the rain had stopped so I put on my new coat and took it out for a walk.

There were a lot of ducks about.  This bold bunch were swimming in the Esk through the waves below the Town Bridge…

esk ducks rough

…while this squad sailed in smoother waters nearer the bank.

esk ducks smooth

I crossed the bridge and found even more ducks resting on the banks of the Ewes Water.

kilngreen duck bankers

The light had got very gloomy by this time so I tried to sneak past the ducks without disturbing them.

I was spotted though.

white duck hiding

On the far back of the river, a familiar figure stood guard.

heron

At this point, the rain started again and got steadily heavier, giving my new coat a good test which it passed with flying colours.

The rain then stopped before I got home so I was quite dry when I joined Mrs Tootlepedal and our friend Mike, whose tea radar was once again finely honed, for a refreshing cup and some shortbread.

After Mike had gone, my flute pupil Luke turned up and we had fun playing.  The persistently damp weather doesn’t do our breathing any favours and we ran out of puff from time to time, but we did our best.

Because of the lack of colour in recent posts, I thought that I should take advantage of the Christmas season to put in two cut flower pictures, the first a gift from Clare and Alistair which is lasting well…

christmas flowers

…and the second a bunch of Alstroemeria which Mrs Tootlepedal bought to brighten the house.  They have repaid the purchase price handsomely.

alstroemeria

Flying birds were at  a premium in the gloom today and this was my best effort.

flying goldfinch

It is a mark of what the day was like that it almost seemed brighter after dark when the rain and wind subsided than it had been during the day.  The forecast is for tomorrow to be even worse .

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