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Posts Tagged ‘Auld Stane Brig’

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the pre Christmas fun in Edinburgh.  He saw salmon being smoked.

smoking salmon

We had another frosty but bright day today with the temperature once again struggling to get above zero.

Most of the morning was spent getting everything packed and ready for the departure of our guests who were heading back to Edinburgh after lunch, hoping to get the best of the driving conditions for the trip.

Among all the action, I didn’t get much chance to look out of the kitchen widow until Matilda and her parents had gone but perhaps I wouldn’t have seen much as Alistair spotted the sparrowhawk paying us a visit and picking up an unfortunate small bird on its way.

Once we had waved our guests off and shed a sorrowful tear, I did a little robin spotting….

robins

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off to see how the felling of the Becks wood was going on.

It was still really chilly as the frost in the garden showed….

garden ice

…but it was a glorious December day for a walk….

View from Scott's Knowe

…and as long as we stayed in the sunshine, it even felt quite warm.

The felling of the Becks wood is going on apace.

Becks wood felling

We were able to watch the skilled operator cutting trees, lifting them up and snedding and slicing them with ease.

Becks wood felling

It won’t take him long to clear the whole wood.

We obviously couldn’t go through the wood so we turned back and walked down to the Wauchope road through the field, taking a party of visiting walkers with us.  They had been hoping to do the Becks walk and were pleased to get some guidance on an alternative route.

When we got down to the road, Mrs Tootlepedal headed for home and I crossed the Auld Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig

…and headed for a track up the hill.

On my way I passed a curious frozen puddle with a translucent centre….

frozen puddle

…and yet another example of hair ice.

hair ice

It was cold in the trees and I was pleased to come back into the sunshine when I got onto the hill.

There were trees to be seen at the bottom of the hill….

trees

….a sheep on sentry duty on the track further up…

sheep on warbla

…and a blasted hawthorn, survivor of many gales.

tree on warbla

I could see snow on the hills just outside the town….

Snowy view

…and the moon hanging in the sky above the track.

Moon over warbla

I could look back across the Wauchope Water and see the wood which is being felled.  I don’t know how much of the wood will go but it will be missed when it is gone.

Becks wood

When I got to the track back down to the Stubholm, I noticed a strange black line down the centre of the roadway.  A second look showed me that it was my shadow and I stood with my legs apart to take a picture of it.

long shadow

It is not every day that I find myself on a gently sloping track with the sun low and  dead behind me so this might well be my only chance to prove that in the right conditions, I can have a fifty yard long shadow.  (I paced it out.)

As the sun got lower, the light got more golden.  We may not have had a very colourful autumn this year but we are getting some enjoyably colourful winter afternoons now on the days when the sun shines.

Meikleholm Hill

Whita in winter

I walked down the hill with care as there were some icy bits to avoid but I was able to keep my eyes open enough to see some fungus on a tree on the Stubholm track….

fungus

…and some lichen on the park wall.

lichen

It is a constant source of wonder to me that two stones in the same wall, just a yard or two apart should have different lichen on them.

The house seemed very quiet when I got back.

A look at the forecast in the evening revealed a very confident prediction of snow for tomorrow and I am not so old yet that I don’t consider the first snow of winter to be an exciting event so I hope that we do get some.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving a siskin the hard stare.

flying chaffinch and siskin

Here is a little video of the three eating machine for those with 20 seconds to waste.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working hard in Zurich at the moment but found time to admire this trio of trees ageing differentially.

Zurich trees

Yesterday we had a sunny morning and a grey afternoon (and by the time that we went to bed, the inevitable rain had returned).  Today we had a grey and drizzly morning which was extremely depressing but by the afternoon, the clouds had broken and a cheerful sun appeared.

As a result, we spent a quiet morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal engaged in domestic tasks while I went off to the producers’ market and made some judicious purchases of fish, honey and a variety of beef, lamb and venison for slow cooked stews over the next month.

To hold my purchases, I had taken along a very stout store bag which Mary Jo from Manitoba had given to us when we met in London and I was quite surprised when a lady at the venison stall said, “I know where that comes from.”  And even more surprised when it turned out that she did know where it came from as she had spent time in Canada and in Manitoba itself.  It’s a small world, as they say.

I put the bad weather to good use when I got home by practising choir songs and putting another one into the computer.  Because I don’t play the piano, the computer gives me a lot of help when I meet a new song.

We had a good lunch and then, as the day had brightened, we went out into the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal set about improving her new path and I did some dead heading and shredding before I got my camera out.

bees on dahlia

The honey lady at the producers’ market had told me that the bees are very hungry at the moment and they were tucking in at the dahlias as soon as the sun came out.

The poppies and cornflowers were quieter.

poppy and cornflower

The absence of really cold mornings has allowed the cream coloured potentilla in the garden to keep flowering and has encouraged the Ooh La La Clematis to have a second go.

clematis and potentilla

A butterfly was to be seen clinging to the back of a dahlia, presumably to get some sun on its wings.

red admiral

It was looking in good condition

The weather seemed to be set fair so I got my cycling gear on and set off up the Wauchope road on the fairly speedy bike.

My confidence in the steady state of the weather turned out to be misplaced and I soon found myself pedalling through a curtain of drizzle.  There was still plenty of sunshine about though and I had the wit to stop and look behind me.

rainbow over wauchopedale

The rain subsided and I pedalled on until I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse where I considered my options.  I had planned to do a triple Cleughfoot recycling route and the weather looking back to Langholm appeared fair enough…

Wauchope Schoolhouse looking east

…but behind Cleughfoot things looked very threatening.

black clouds

I decided to risk sticking to my plan and pedalled as  fast as I could uphill and into the wind towards the black clouds, stopping briefly to admire a combination of sloes and haws….

sloes and haws

…before turning at the top of the road and whizzing back downhill and downwind as fast as I could, hoping to outrun any rain.

The sloe photo opportunity proved my downfall though as I was caught by the shower and had to stop to put my rain jacket on to protect my camera.  Still, it was only just the edge of the rain and I was soon back in sunshine and when I got to Langholm, I stopped in our garden where Mrs Tootlepedal said it had hardly rained at all.

I decided to let the shower get well past before going up the road again and this gave me a chance to admire the nasturtiums and calendula at the end of the drive….

nasturtiums and calendula

…and an unusually dark solo nasturtium flower beside the new path.

nasturtium

The sedum shone so brightly…

sedum

…that it seemed to be giving me the all clear so I set off on my second lap.  In spite of some gloomy looking clouds, it stayed dry and I was enjoying myself when I went over a slight bump in the road and my water bottle fell out of its cage.

I had to stop and retrieve the bottle from the verge and when I realised that I was within a few yards of my favourite cascade, I took this as a sign and clambered down the bank to have a look.

Wauchope cascade

There was not as much water going down the river as I had expected but it is still a lovely spot.

Because I had been delayed by the rain, I was a bit behind schedule so I abandoned the third repetition and only did enough to bring up twenty miles.  I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine to go for a walk so I got changed quickly and set off to walk round the Becks before the sun went down.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had done a hard couple of hours work on the path, thought that a cup of tea was a better option so I went by myself.

The difference between the miserable morning and the sunlit late afternoon was chalk and cheese.

Whita Hill

It was a pleasure to be out and about.

Becks track

Warbla

I walked down through the woods and across the Becks Burn, keeping an eye for fungus in dark places.  I saw this crop of tiny fungi on a dead branch.

Becks fungi

They were smaller than my fingernail

I was pleased to come out into the sunshine though as it was muddy underfoot in the woods and there were many opportunities to put a foot wrong and end in an undignified position.

As I walked down the hill towards the Wauchope road, the Auld Stane Brig caught the last of the sunshine.

Auld Stane Brig

I was very surprised to see an umbellifer in flower as I walked along the road, but bearing in mind the hunger of the bees, I was less surprised to see that they had spotted it too.

umbellifer with bees

The bee keeping lady told me that the bees are waiting for the ivy flowers to come out to provide them with a last big feed before shutting down for winter.

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t really approve of garden owners who let their plants impinge on the public highway but there can’t be any objection when it is a magnificent fuchsia like this one.

fuchsia

There was just enough light left when I got home to let me enjoy a last look at the spiky dahlias.

spiky dahlias

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to volunteer at a concert in the Buccleuch Centre and I sat down and watched Strictly Come Dancing and admired the relentless energy of the professional dancers.

I am hoping that the weather is kind and that it will let me out for a morning ride tomorrow.  A ride tomorrow would make this a good week for cycling and go some way to making up for my poor efforts in September.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa and, appropriately enough since he is a great rugby man, it shows some springboks.

springbok

The first named storm of the year was visiting Britain overnight and we were warned that Aileen would bring heavy and persistent rain overnight and well into the morning so it was no surprise to find the sun shining when we got up.

It turned out that Aileen had stayed well to the south of us.

I went up to the town to do some business and then walked round the garden.  The variety of Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppies never fails to delight me.

poppies

And they continue to attract bees in numbers.

poppies with bees

And of course, some of them are simply beautiful.

poppy

As well as some good weather, the morning brought Dropscone, complete with a batch of excellent scones for coffee.  He has recently been to Aberdeen on golfing business so it was good to see that he had got back without losing another wheel on the way.  He had crossed over the new Forth bridge on his trip but told us that it was far less exciting to drive over than to look at from a distance as it has tall panels each side of the roadway which severely restrict the driver’s view.

When he left, I got the mower out and mowed the middle lawn.  After the overnight rain, the lawn was fairly squelchy and the mowing involved quite a lot of worm cast squashing as Mrs Tootlepedal kindly pointed out to me when I had finished.  All the same, if you didn’t look too closely, which I didn’t, things looked quite cheerful.

Middle lawn

Rudbeckia, lilies, cosmos, nasturtium and poppies are still giving the lawn a colourful border.

There are three colours of potentilla in the garden.  They are not all flowering freely but if you look hard, you can find them.

potentilla

All through the day, sudden heavy rain showers interrupted the better weather….

clouds

The next shower lining up

…..and the gardening was a very on and off business.  In spite of quite a lot of sunshine, the rain was heavy enough when it came to make the garden soggier at the end of the day than it had been at the start.

Even so, the nerines round the chimney pot are doing very well.

nerines

We managed to repair the wires on the espalier apples and turn all the compost from Bin B into Bin C and then from Bin A into Bin B so we are ready to start the whole composting cycle again.

The wet roads and the constant threat of a shower put me off proper cycling but I did go out on the slow bike later in the day to see if I could see a dipper by the river.

I could.

dipper

It was on the same rock as last time.

I saw another even more patient bird while I was out.

carved owl

As the rain was holding off, I cycled along to Pool Corner and watched the Wauchope flowing over the caul there.

Pool Corner

It is very soothing watching running water but the road out of the town…..

Pool Corner

…looked inviting so I pedalled up the Manse Brae and along the road at the top….

Springhill

…just far enough to be able to turn off and get a good view of Warbla and the Auld Stane Brig.

Warbla

Those are grey clouds and not blue skies behind the hill so I didn’t push my luck and turned and pedalled back down the hill while it was still sunny.  I was not best pleased therefore when it started to rain quite hard out of a blue sky and I scuttled back home as fast as I could.

But……every cloud has a silver lining they say and this rain had a multicoloured bonus for me.

rainbow over Henry Street

I was happy.

After tea, I went off to the first meeting of the new season of the Langholm Community Choir.  There was quite a good turnout and some new music that I liked so it was an enjoyable evening and a good start to the new session.

Instead of a flying bird of the day, I am showing two pictures of butterflies.  There were plenty of them about today between showers.  I don’t know where they go in the rain but it can’t be far away because they appeared almost immediately after the sun came out. It was  day for red admirals.

This one may have been drying its wings after a shower.  The symmetry is astonishing (to me at least).

red admiral

This one was getting stuck in.

red admiral butterfly

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s visit to Nottingham.  As well as bridges, he saw this wheel.  Your town or city is unappealing if you don’t have a big wheel these days it seems.

Nottingham wheel

After a lonely breakfast, I checked on the vigour of the wind outside and decided that this would be a good day to stay indoors for a while and catch up on putting some of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I have been very slack lately and have not been doing my fair share of the work.

It took me quite a bit of time as there were one or two existing entries in the database that needed editing and by the time that I had put my week in, gone to the corner shop to get some milk and done the crossword there was not a lot of time to look out of the kitchen window.  It was fun when I did look out.

siskins and chaffinch

Some birds who were on the feeder were shouting at others as they approached….

goldfinch and chaffinch

…and others who were approaching were shouting at those who were on to get off

I went for a walk round the garden too.  The crocuses were looking very pretty.

washing green crocuses

white crocus

The pond was humming with frogs again today.

frogs in pond

Sandy rang up and we made an arrangement to meet for a walk in the afternoon.  Time was a bit tight so I made a quick leek and potato soup for lunch and then popped out for a short test run to see how the new rear gear mech was working on the fairly speedy bike.

It worked very well but the very brisk wind made testing it quite a trial.  I pedalled five miles up to Callister and in spite of trying quite hard, it took me 31 minutes.  By contrast, the return journey back to town took me 14 minutes.  I had time for a battle back up the road to Cleughfoot and another 20mph glide back home to complete 18 miles.

I topped my fuel up with a cup of tea and a roll and honey and was just changed and ready as Sandy appeared.

We walked along Gaskell’s and The Becks, starting along the river beside the park.

mossy wall at park

The glowing green of the wall at the park made me moss conscious and we looked for a few more examples as we went round.  They were not hard to find.

Moss on gaskells

Sandy’s sharp eye caught sight of a scarlet elf cup in a ditch near the Auld Stane Brig….

scarlet elf cup

…and I knew another place later in the walk where we should see more if they were out.  I was right and the example on the left is from Sandy’s ditch and the two on the right are from a large crop in the Becks wood.

The light was good enough for big views at the start of the walk….

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

…but the sun went in as we walked along and once we were in the wood, it was hard to get the cameras to focus.  We saw some bootlace fungus on a dead log and lots of hazel flowers in a dark corner.

bootlace fungus and hazel flowers

On the whole though, it was a better day for stretching the legs than taking pictures.

I did stop to take yet another picture of the Auld Stane Brig, just because I could…

Auld Stane Brig

…and a splendid gnarly tree beside it.

tree at auld stane brig

On our way back along the track after crossing the Becks Burn and coming up through the wood, we saw equines of various sizes…

pony

…some with very cheerful associates.

Ramsay and horse

When we got home, Sandy stayed for a cup of tea and a biscuit or three and then I made a  really delicious dish of baked eggs in a bed of spinach with a cheese sauce topping.  This is a recipe with so many variables (how much mustard in the sauce, how long to cook the spinach, has the cheese got enough bite, is the sauce too thick, too thin, are the eggs cooked properly or like bullets) that when you get them all right by sheer accident, eating it is like dining with the gods.  Tonight was such a night.

I had a shower and a shave and went off to the Langholm choir practice in a very good mood after such a generally pleasant afternoon of cycling, walking and eating.

The choir practice was enjoyable as well and it rounded off a day which was as good as any day without Mrs Tootlepedal in it can be.

There is a frog of the day….

frog

…and a flying bird of the day to go with it.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture not only comes from a guest, my son Alistair, but also shows a guest, his daughter Matilda, who has brought her parents down to Langholm for a short visit.

Matilda

We were making plans yesterday to go to Edinburgh to visit both our sons and their families over the New Year when our younger son, Al suggested that he and Clare might like to drive down with Matilda to visit us instead.  We were more than happy with this as the train service over the holiday period is rotten so we arranged another visit to Tony later on in  January and settled down to prepare the house for a VIP.

She was due  to arrive in the early afternoon so I had time to look out of the window while the expert got things into a fit state in the spare rooms.

Birds put on their best behaviour…

Robin

Dunnock

…and even the light co-operated and put on its best performance for many days.

chaffinches

A gallery of glowing chaffinches

I wasn’t entirely idle but my eye was drawn to the feeders quite a lot.

chaffinch arriving

Good light…

goldfinch arriving

…better light….

chaffinch arriving

…best light.

After all the preparations had been made and a light lunch taken, there was still a moment to spare before the VIP’s estimated time of arrival so I sneaked out for a quick walk just to stretch the legs.

I didn’t have time to dally and the light had reverted to its usual greyness so I took few photos as I scampered round Gaskell’s Walk.

Auld Stane Brig

The Auld Stane Brig in winter

bramble leaves

The bramble leaves are still giving us a touch of green.

Marjorie

My friend and ex colleague Marjorie, whom I met near the end of the walk.

After a bit of rain a few days ago, things have dried up again so the walking was very good underfoot and the rivers are back to being an unseasonal trickle.

Wauchope at park

I got back in good time to welcome Al and Clare and Matilda who had found the drive from Edinburgh a lot less busy than they had expected.

Matilda was in excellent form and was soon tinkling away on the piano in the front room.

Matilda

Although she was looking at the music, she was improvising at the keyboard!

We had a good afternoon of playing, a substantial evening meal and then, after a duet…

Matilda

…Mrs Tootlepedal gave Matilda a bath and put her to bed.

Parents and grandparents then sat down to a moment or two of perfect peace.  It was a very good end to what has been an eventful year.

I didn’t get quite as good a flying bird of the day as the light deserved but it was better than most recent efforts.

flying chaffinch

May I take this opportunity to wish all those of you who have had the patience to read the posts through 2016, a very happy and prosperous 2017 and I hope that it brings you all that you deserve and wish for (and a little bit more).

I would also like to thank those excellent bloggers whose posts I regularly  read with interest and admiration for providing me with so much enjoyment through the past 52 weeks.  Long may this feast of words and pictures continue.

 

 

 

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Dropscone did Forth bridges while he was in Edinburgh.  He went over the rail bridge by train, walked back over the mile long road bridge on foot and found time to take this artistic misty picture of the new crossing in between times.

Forth bridge

We had another fine day today but it was decidedly chilly and never got above two degrees in our front garden all day.

I started the day off by going up to the Archive Centre to print out some sheets for the data miners and I had to watch my step pretty carefully as I went because there were some slippery spots on the way.

When I got home, I had a moment to look out of the window…

Two goldfinches threw themselves so far off the feeder in their battle that they almost reached some sunshine…

sparring goldfinches

…but by and large, the birds came and went anonymously.

chaffinch

I had arranged to have coffee with Sandy and when we had finished our cup (and a slice of fruity malt loaf), we set off for a walk.

The good thing about a little freezing weather is that it makes our often soggy and boggy tracks and paths very suitable for walking along dry shod so we enjoyed a very pleasant two and a half mile walk in good conditions.

We went up Jimmy’s Brae and followed the track to the Beck’s Burn

We weren’t expecting to find much of interest to photograph on our way but thanks to adopting a very stately pace, many things caught our eye as we went along.

A leafy tree is bonus at this time of year after frost…

leafy tree in December

…but we have had very calm weather on the whole which must have helped the leaves to stay in place.

Up on the hill, the hardy cattle grazed placidly.

Hill catlle

We got into the woods and I was taking a picture of this wall, which has been overtaken by tree planting…

Old wall, Becks Burn

…when I had a closer look at the twigs of the tree on the right.

catkins

A reminder that days will get longer again

As we walked down the slope to the bridge across the Becks Burn, a tree trunk arrested us.

fungus and lichen

Sandy tried to capture the fungus on one side of the trunk and I admired the luxuriant lichen on the other.

Once across the burn and through the woods, we followed the road down to the Auld Stane Brig.  We followed it slowly though, as there were a thousand little icy treats to look at on the way.

frozen plants

Even the fence posts were worth a look.

frozen fence posts

It was quite surprising to find a bit of lichen that wasn’t covered in sparkling ice crystals.

lichen

We finally got going again and crossed the bridge…

p1070806

….and went along Gaskells Walk.

I was keeping an eye out for hair ice as I have seen it here before and I was not disappointed.  We saw several specimens before we finished our walk but none of them were terrifically photogenic.  These were the best two.

hair ice

There was some fungus still to be seen as well.

fungi

There was a ray of sunshine on a frosty glade beside the track and it was so appealing (to me at least) that I have put two pictures of it in.

Pool corner glade

Pool corner glade

Eskdaill Street  and Castle Hill were bathed in sunlight when we got to the top of the bank.

Eskdaill Street and Castle Hill

We walked to along to Stubholm and then came back along Eastons Walk, thoroughly satisfied with our outing.

Sandy went off home and I made some carrot and potato soup for lunch.

I had a look out of the window while it was cooking.

A robin was very busy trying to get into the blog.  It is hard to believe perhaps that all the pictures are of the same robin, taken within minutes, but they are.

robins

robins

I don’t know another bird that can change its shape so much just by turning its head.

The chaffinches approaching the feeder were less anonymous now.

chaffinch

I was going to do something interesting after lunch but the need to practise songs for concerts came first and then a visit to the chemist for a throat gargle and some joint ointment came second.  By the time that I was thinking of a third thing, it was almost dark so I had a cup of tea and another slice of fruity malt loaf and that was enough excitement for me.

The evening was devoted to tootling.  First my flute pupil Luke came and we made progress on a Telemann canon and then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and we made good progress on our new Mozart trio.  It would be hard to find a better use for a cold winter’s evening.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches finding a little light over a frosty lawn.

chaffinch flying

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz and shows a delightful little cascade on the Becks Burn.  She must have been standing in the middle of the stream to get this shot on her phone.

Becks Burn

We had another dry day today as the Scandinavian High stood firm but the sun was nowhere to be seen and nor was I because after breakfast I went back to bed.  I was suffering from generic unspecified feebleness and spent the day, even after I had got up again, doing very little indeed.  I did have the energy for some intermittent moaning and groaning though.

I had perked up by the evening though so it might just have been a little old age.

In complete contrast to me, Mrs Tootlepedal was in fighting form and transplanted a large azalea, fetched manure from the manure mine and generally went around the garden like a whirlwind.

I dead headed the poppies.

poppies

Attila the Gardener was not short of helpful advice over the garden hedge but that is what neighbours are for.

Ken

Ken told us that he had been out for a cycle ride and this inspired me to take a little exercise myself so I took a picture of some feverfew in our garden…

feverfew

…and went off for a short walk.  The afternoon was getting on though and the cloudy skies made for gloomy photographic conditions.

Bullock in field

The feeling was definitely autumnal and there were berries all around.

berries

berries

berries

There were fungi too to be seen but only in dark corners of the wood so the pictures are rather dim.

fungus

Two small ones

fungus

And one the size of a football.

Thanks to the New Hampshire Gardener, I now know that if I see a pretty fern, it might be worth looking behind the scenes.

fern

It is always a pleasure to look at the Auld Stane Brig as far as I am concerned.

Auld Stane Brig

There was just enough light to see a final flourish for the year from Special Grandma when I got back.

Sp[ecial Grandma

After tea, I walked up to the market Place to attend a meeting on plans for the development of the new Information Hub there.  It was very encouraging both for the number of volunteers who were present and for the enthusiasm of the owner and the manager of the premises to make a good job of using the place to offer visitors a real welcome to Langholm and locals a place to meet and find out what is going on in the town.

There were some excellent snacks as well.  Win win.

Sandy was at the meeting and kindly gave me a lift home.

No flying bird of the day today as my joints didn’t feel like holding up a heavy camera for any length of time but there is a flower of the day.

dahlia

 

 

 

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