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Today’s guest picture is another brightener for a gloomy day from Venetia.  She was much struck by the glow from a neighbour’s flame tree in Somerset this morning.

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There was not much brightness here today at all and it rained sporadically and unpredictably off and on all day.

I started the day by putting another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and felt pretty pleased to be getting very near the bottom of the pile of waiting forms.

Then we entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee and followed that by going off to see an exhibition which he had helped to set up in the Social Club in the town.

It was a worth a visit.

To mark the centenary of the ending of the Great War, local schoolchildren have done an enormous amount of research into how the war had affected Langholm.  They had produced pen portraits and where possible, photographs of the many casualties of the war and it was shocking to see a map of the town with every affected household marked in red.  There were streets where it seemed that almost every house had suffered loss and the exhibition really brought home the extent of the damage to the town and its people.  It affected me more than any other memorial I have seen over recent weeks and made the bellicose posturings of many of today’s politicians even harder to bear.

I turned to the birds when we got home for a bit of cheer.

Goldfinches were back…

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…but not in great numbers so there was plenty of room for chaffinches too.

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Some visitors raised an eyebrow at the quality of the food on offer…

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…but others got stuck right in.

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Once again we were blessed with several coal tits, both in the plum tree…

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…and off the plum tree on their way to the feeder…

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…and having a snack when they got there.

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My joy at getting near to the bottom of my pile of newspaper data sheets was greatly tempered by finding that Nancy, our head data miner, had kindly dropped off another four weeks of the newspaper index to build the pile up again.  Ah well, we are getting near the end of another year (1898) and the 20th century beckons.

I had had a short pedal on the bike to nowhere after breakfast and as it was raining again after lunch, I had another short pedal then too.  Of course it cleared up as soon as I got off the bike so I thought that I would risk a short walk to somewhere to go with the cycling to nowhere.

This was not a great idea as it started to rain again soon after I left home and my leg thought that I had done more than enough already so I turned and came home after only a few hundred yards, walking with a pronounced limp (L.I.M.P….pronounced limp, folks © Spike Milligan).

I passed some points of interest (to me) on my brief outing.

The peltigera lichen is enjoying the weather even if I am not.

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And having shown the dam along the back of our house a few days ago, I though I might show the sluice which controls the flow into the dam from the pool at Pool Corner.

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It may not look much but it was doing a good job of holding back the water which was pouring over the caul.

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Like the photographer, the larches at Pool Corner are showing the passing of time and their golden branches have got thin on top, the gold fading to silver.

 

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When I got home from my curtailed outing, I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practised some singing so the day was by no means wasted.

The early evening was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly fluting session and we tootled away merrily.

The flying bird of the day is one of the coal tits.  They are very nippy little birds so getting a good flying shot on a gloomy day is very hard and I couldn’t get a better one than this.

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It was so gloomy today that I have looked back to Venetia’s Marseille trip for some sunshine to lighten up the post.  This fine boat is called Sherakhan.  It is registered in Rotterdam, and you can charter her with its 19-strong crew and space for 26 guests, for a mere half million dollars per week;  Mrs T and I are thinking of hiring it next week for a bit of a change and some sea air.

marseille charter

It was Remembrance Day today and it was a pity that an already sombre day should have been made much greyer by persistent rain in the morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with the church choir.  The choir was only 11 strong and as the music for the service was provided by the Town Band, it probably didn’t make much difference to the total sound whether we sang or not.  However, we did sing a short unaccompanied hymn as an anthem so we did contribute our bit to the service.

I had made a pasta sauce in the slow cooker after breakfast and when we got back home, I made some lentil and vegetable soup for lunch and watched the birds.  A sparrow hawk had made an unavailing fly past down our drive just before I got the camera set up so I had to wait a while for the small birds to come back.  When they did arrive, it turned out to be goldfinch time.

goldfinches on two feeders

There were other birds too.  I can just see a chaffinch hiding behind the feeder here.

set of goldfinches

…and a coal tit was not afraid to share with bigger birds.

goldfinches with coal tit

The goldfinches came in scruffy…

scruffy goldfinch

…and smart turnouts.

smart goldfinch

This one looked very secure while waiting its turn on the feeder pole….

goldfinch perching

…but for coal tits with smaller feet, the wet and breezy weather made hanging on a trickier matter.

coal tits hanging on

A greenfinch looked as fed up with the weather as we were.

damp greenfinch

We didn’t have long to look at the birds though and after lunch, we went off to Carlisle to stock up with cheese and dates (and other necessities of life) and sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.

We set off in pouring rain but fortunately, the day brightened up a bit and the rain had stopped by the time that we got to Carlisle.

We are in full Christmas concert mode with the choir so we had a cheery couple of hours with tinkling bells and general good news.

The singing lessons and the speech therapist’s exercises are paying off and my voice stood up to a heavy day of warbling very well.  I hope to get back to exercising my leg tomorrow but looking at the forecast, the indoor bike may be as far as I can travel.

Among the mass of goldfinches, a chaffinch once again managed to capture the honour of being the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

Progress

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.

 

 

 

The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Mary.  She has been recovering from a hip operation and hasn’t been able to get about taking pictures lately so she kindly sent me this picture of Darwin’s house in Kent which she visited in August.

I had a pleasantly busy day today, with plenty to do and people to talk to and this made up for the quality of the day itself which was dull and grey, very dull and grey.

After breakfast, I went up to the Archive Centre where I met Sandy and we were joined by Ron, one of the trustees of the Langholm Reference Library.  He is providing a home for all the various bits and pieces which the Archive Group have collected over the years and came to see what we had got.

He was able to take all that we wanted and we put it in some handy boxes which, with great foresight, Ron had brought with him.  We loaded the boxes into Sandy’s car and off it all went to the library to be catalogued and stored.   I wish everything in the world went as smoothly as this bit of business.

Leaving Sandy and Ron to do anything that looked like heavy lifting or hard work, I went round the corner and got a lift home from Dropscone, accompanied by some his traditional Friday treacle scones.  We ate these while drinking some coffee.   Dropscone has recently suffered an attack of torticollis and so he is well up the pecking order when it comes to interesting ailments.

After he had gone off, I spotted an interesting bird in the garden and took this very interesting picture of it.

 

I did mention that it was a very dull day.  But I must admit that in my haste to capture the bird, I failed to check my camera settings.

The camera was recording in RAW and it shows shows just how much the camera records that it doesn’t tell you about when I can reveal that after processing the image, I could find this welcome visitor under all the gloom

I hope to get a chance to look at the robin again soon with the right camera settings in place.

I then grappled with a very contorted crossword which was in the end  even duller than the weather.  I got fed up and went out into the garden.

It was too grey and windy to take pictures so instead of going for a walk, I did a little gardening.  I shredded and sieved and shifted the contents of compost bin C into compost bin D.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I followed on to take a picture of her waving to to the world.  My camera skills again let me down and by the time that I got organised, she was hard at work.

Once again, I discarded any idea of a walk and made myself useful.  I shredded, and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and then did a little digging of what will be our fruit cage area next year (if everything goes to plan).

By this time, although it was still quite early, the light was so poor that we went in and had a cup of tea.  That concluded the active part of the day.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on the news, Alison and I played duets.  We got out a Telemann sonata which we haven’t played for years and found that we remembered it remarkably well and resolved to put in a bit of practice and play it again soon.

As it was too gloomy to take a flying bird picture today, I have delved into the archives to find a rare shot of a flying robin from four years ago.

flying robin

 

Today’s guest picture is another blast of sunshine from the past.  This time it is a pleasant valley scene from one of my brother Andrew’s Derbyshire walks in early October.

derbyshire

After a rather restless night, I got up to a sunny morning and a much improved interior economy and after a quiet morning, I was back to normal by lunchtime and able to eat without any ill effects.

I didn’t take any risks though and did nothing more energetic than have a walk round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

The berberis was positively glowing….

BERBERIS

…and the special Grandma was having a final fling.

special grandma

The display of rose hips is easily the best that I can remember and many roses that don’t usually have any are covered with them after the good summer.

rose hips

There is no denying that we are well on the way to winter though.

red leaf

It is good to have blackbirds back in the garden as they have been pretty scarce since July.

blackbirds

I didn’t stay out long and when the sun went in so did I, and I was soon back in the kitchen looking out of the window.

It was an extremely quiet day for birds.

lonely chaffinch

I haven’t been able to work out why the feeder can be mobbed one day and deserted the next.

Even the sight of plenty of available perches didn’t discourage some uncouth pushing and shoving.

pointless violence

After lunch, I tested my constitution and my leg by going for a short walk over three bridges.

As I came to the river, I could see glowing trees in a garden on the hillside opposite…

yellow trees

…and golden willows below me on the river bank.

willows beside esk

Wherever I looked on my walk, there always seemed to be a defiant patch of colour among the leafless branches.

autumn colour November

I was impressed by the careful relaying of turfs on the site of the big bonfire on Sunday.

bonfire patch

After I crossed my second bridge, I met a fellow camera club member walking his dog and spent my time chatting rather than snapping and it was only when we went our separate ways that I took the camera out again to record a little more late colour.

Lodge tree

I crossed my third bridge and made my way quietly home…

duchess bridge tree

…only pausing for a wild flower on the edge of the Scholars’ Field.

november wild flower

My leg is working but still sore and there is no chance of getting on my bike for a while yet but my constitution was unruffled by the walk so I was happy.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy watching a YouTube video on sharpening woodwork tools so I realised that she had left the garden and gone back to rocking horse restoration.  I settled down to put a couple more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  My lack of cycling may be regrettable but it has let me catch up (a bit) on the backlog of data.

My friend Susan wasn’t available to come to our monthly recorder group meeting today so I had to drive myself to Carlisle.  The effort was very worthwhile as we had an excellent evening of music.  One of other members was unwell so we were a quartet  tonight and this made for a change with some different music to play.

Having been 150 miles ahead of my mileage schedule at the beginning of October. I am now 200 miles behind and with no hope of catching up, I am officially abandoning any targets for the year and will take any miles that I can squeeze in as a bonus.

Once again there are two flying birds of the day, this time goldfinches, one with wings in…

flying goldfinch in

…and one with wings out.

flying goldfinch out

Variety is the spice of life.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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