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Today’s guest picture comes from my recorder playing friend Susan.  She works in Carlisle and had to take the bus to work today as access to her car parking space was impossible.  The lake on the right of the picture is in fact a riverside park and only a temporary lake.

susan's flood carlisle

They may have had too much water in Carlisle but we had snow in Langholm today and this was the view from an upstairs window when we got up.

garden snowy morning

As you can see, there wasn’t a lot of snow in the town but I could see quite a good covering on our hills when I went to the shop after breakfast.

timpen with snow

When I got back home, i discovered that the snow had brought an influx of birds to the feeder and there was a queue in the plum tree.

birds in plum tree

Susan’s father, Dropscone dropped in on his way home from the gym, not to have coffee but to get some documents copied.  He needed them for a battle with the council which was trying to charge him for removing a water meter which didn’t exist.

As soon as he left, more snow arrived.

snowy day

It came down quite heavily but the temperature was just high enough that as soon as the snow hit the ground, it melted.  This continued through the day and although it really snowed quite a lot, there was less snow in the garden by tea time than there had been at breakfast time.

I spent time talking on the phone to insurance companies about our car insurance.  Two minutes on the phone to one company got £100 knocked off their renewal quotation.  Who knows what I might have got it down to if had stayed on the line longer.  I find this sort of thing rather depressing but it does give a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘an old and valued customer’.  They are trying to take advantage of their old customers and extract extra value from them.

I cheered myself up by checking on the birds. The snow had encouraged birds to visit the feeder.

There were some siskins….

a few siskins

…and a lone pigeon.

pigeon

Because it was such a miserable day, Mrs Tootlepedal hit on the happy idea of asking some of our neighbours over for lunch.  I bought some rolls and pate from the shop, while Mrs Tootlepedal made leek and potato soup (the last leek of the year from the garden) and a sticky toffee pudding.

Our neighbours Liz and Margaret and Liz’s daughter, Jane joined us for lunch and we ignored the sleety snow while we tucked in to good food and enjoyed good conversation.  We all agreed that Mrs Tootlepedal had had  a very good idea.

As we ate, we noticed more and more birds arriving outside so I went to check on the feeder.  I was distracted on my way by the sight of two unusual jackdaws on the dam side of the house.

mottled jackdaw

They are a regular pair and we often see them in the garden and round about.

I was even more distracted when two more jackdaws started what looked a serious argument…

jackdaw fight 1

…and for a moment i feared that this might lead to a fatality…

jackdaw fight 2

…but the fight stopped as suddenly as it started and all the jackdaws flew off.

When I turned round and looked at the feeder, I found that it was indeed very busy with a mixture of chaffinch, goldfinch and siskin.

busy feeder chaffinch goldfinch siskin

Very busy indeed.

busy feeder chaffinch goldfinch siskin 2

As time went on and the snow came and went, gradually all the birds on the feeder turned into siskins…

siskin crowd

…and there were a lot of siskins.

many siskins

Far more than we have seen hitherto this year.

flight of soskins

At one time, we counted well over 50 siskins on and around the feeder, the plum tree and the walnut tree.

I put out a second feeder to cope with the rush and by the time that I had got back inside and looked out again, they were both very busy.

two feeders out with siskins

After our lunch visitors had gone, I mooched about for a bit and then decided that I would go out for a walk come what may.  The snow showers had been heavy but none had lasted long so I waited for a gap in the weather, put on waterproof boots and trousers, topped that off with my new warm coat and set out.

There was quite a lot of snow on Whita…

whita with snow

…and the monument on the top of the hill looked very artistic.

monument with snow

Although I was well wrapped up and ready for anything, I was still pleased when the sun came out just as I left the town.

 

wet day at pool corner

As you can see, it was still pretty damp and I was glad that I had wellies on.

haws with raindrops

We have had  light frost, strong winds, heavy rain and now snow over the past few days but the lichens have positively enjoyed the weather and were looking better than ever as I passed them on wall and fence post today.

lichens

The sun persisted as I walked along Gaskells…

gaskell's snowy day

…but when I extended my walk to take in Easton’s on my way back, the snow started again and I had to keep my head well down and my camera in my pocket for the rest of the way.

It must have got a little colder as night fell because as I write this in the evening, more snow is falling, and this time it is settling.  It is still just above freezing so it will be interesting to see if we are going to wake up to a winter wonderland tomorrow morning or just a heap of sodden slush.

We are in for a few cold days and then it is going to warm up a bit to herald the arrival of another storm (called Dennis this time) next weekend.    You can have too much of this sort of thing.  I have always thought that it was a bad idea to give storms names.  It gives them ideas above their station.  You used to get one or two a year in the good old days and now we are getting them once a week!

Still, it stops us getting bored.

The flying bird of the day is one of the fifty siskins.

flying siskin

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In response to a flood of (at least two) requests, today’s picture is a set of Dropscone’s treacle scones beside the ingredients.  The recipe is below.

scones

Recipe:

1 and a half cups of self raising flour.
Pinch of salt if required
Half cup of milk (your choice, full or skimmed)
2 spoons of treacle, infuse into milk (warm milk in microwave, first)
Put all into a bowl and mix. If too soft, add more flour, if too stiff, more milk.
Dust table with flour and mould into a round shape, but don’t over work.
Flatten and quarter and place into a dry frying pan or griddle. Turn when the bottom
is set. You can peek by lifting the corner with a knife.
Remove from pan and place on a wire rack.
PS Same ingredients for soda scones, just no treacle.

To get the best value from these scones, it is important to have cycled 20 miles before eating them.

We had treacle scones today and Dropscone and I did cycle 20 miles before eating them.  We made a change from our usual morning run and went to Waterbeck instead.  (The curious can find the details here.)

Thanks to the industrious work of the pothole gang who have been mending the road over the past couple of weeks, the surface is much improved, with only one section left to do.  Once again, the weather was warm and the wind was hardly significant.  We are going to find it very hard when the present spell of fine weather ends.  By general agreement this has been the best summer for many, many years.  Dropscone moderated his pace to my requirements and we got round in a reasonable time and without doing any damage to my back at all.

When he left, I took my customary walk round the garden.

As well as bees…

bee on hawkweed

A late flowering of the hawkweed attracts a bee

…and butterflies….

butterflies

…we have also got a million flies in the garden.

fly

Just one of them.

I have had to take back all the rude words that I used about the green and white clematis as it is looking better and better every day.

DSCF9279

After my shower, I had a quick look at the passing birds…

chaffinch

A chaffinch almost overshoots the target.

sparrows

Ever more sparrows appear. The one on the top left is a new youngster still wanting to be fed.

siskin up a tree

A siskin on the very top, of the plum tree

..admired the ever more potential plums…

potential plum

…had another check on the butterflies…

white butterfly

I spotted this one.

red admiral

This is a red admiral, the first of the year in our garden.  It flew off before I could get a good picture.

..admired some more flowers…

crocosmia

It’s hard to pass this crocosmia without the snapping finger twitching.

hosta

A good looking hosta

…and then sat down for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had returned from another morning’s archaeology fair worn out.   They had been using a magnetometer as well as the resistance measurer at the castle and it all required a lot of laying out of strings and tapes to keep everything clearly mapped.

Sandy had been helping with the archaeology in the morning too and whereas Mrs Tootlepedal returned for another session after lunch, he retired from the field as he suffers from sore feet and came round to see if an expedition of some sort was in order.  Thanks to bad feet and a sore back, we opted for an excursion  by motor car to visit Bewcastle on the English side of the border.

The road to Bewcastle is a treat to drive along as, once over the border, it runs through green and pleasant country along ridges offering pleasant prospects on all sides.

View from the  road to Bewcastle

A typical view

As you can see, the skies were still very hazy and the full extent of the views were hidden from us.  I have visited Bewcastle before but it was new to Sandy.  The church bell tower looks as though it has had a bit of trouble.  Perhaps the lightning conductor was put in place too late.

Bewcastle Church

The church has two faces, blank and windowed but is very charming inside with a fine gallery at the rear..

Bewcastle church

The church stands beside a ruined castle….

Bewcastle

Rather dull

…and in the middle of a Roman fort.  Here is Sandy standing on the edge of the fort.

Sandy on a roman fort

We spent some time watching several swallows (and we think, some house martins too) feeding what must be a very late second brood in the eaves of the church.

swallow

They were too quick for me most of the time but once or twice, I almost got lucky.

swallow

swallow

It is always enjoyable to watch these acrobatic birds in flight.

We left Bewcastle and headed further south along a road new to both me and Sandy.  It turned out to have even better views.  The picture below gives just a taste.  You can see the hills round Langholm on the horizon.

Looking at Langholm

In a rather annoying way, the weather magically cleared up as we drove home and we would have been able to take much better pictures if we had been an hour later…but such is life.

We drove as far as Lanercost Priory and as we had taken enough pictures by then, we didn’t stop and made our way home by main roads.  It was a very satisfactory tour and I intend to take Mrs Tootlepedal and Jean on it soon.  (Good teas can be had at Lanercost Priory tea rooms.)

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I were entertained to a slap up meal at the Douglas Hotel by my brother Andrew who was in the vicinity, having had a couple of days rushing up hills in the Lake District.  He is an equally energetic and generous chap.  I will be able to put some pictures from his adventures onto the blog as soon as he gets home and sorts them out.

The flying bird of the day is one for flying sparrow fanciers.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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