Posts Tagged ‘Auld Stane Brig’

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.


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…



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


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.


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.


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…


…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.


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.


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.


We finally got going again and crossed the bridge…


….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.


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.



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.


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.


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


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…


…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.




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


Two small ones


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.


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.





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The guest picture of the day is another from my sister Mary’s recent visit to the lake District.

view of lake District

I had hoped to get up early and beat the oncoming rain with a quick bike ride  but when I woke at six o’clock, the rain was already beating on the windows so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

The rain continued until late afternoon so it was a day for getting some of those things done which I had promised to do but hadn’t.

There were moments when the rain eased up to the merest drizzle and I could get out into the garden to investigate a flash of colour hidden deep in the back border.  It turned out to be a lily.


Not the most conspicuous bloom

But I didn’t stay out long  and was soon back inside having coffee with Sandy and then occasionally staring out of the window.

a siskin

A siskin waiting for space on the feeder.


There was always a queue

I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Sandy has started to help with this task and has taken a great load off my shoulders for which I am very grateful but I still need to do my share so some more rainy days will help me get going.

I made some picture cards to sell for Archive Group funds and did some work to get Langholm Heritage DVDs about the mills and the railways ready to sell in the Information Hub so I was quite pleased with the miserable weather.  Every cloud etc etc.

When the rain finally stopped, I went out into the garden.  It was wet out there…

wet day in the garden

…quite wet…


…but as always there were flowers and promises of flowers to enjoy.


Although it was still rather gloomy, the clouds didn’t look threatening so I went off for a short walk, hoping for the best.

becks track

Another very green track

There was a lot to look at on the way and quite a lot looking at me too.

horse and cow

horse in stable

There was a lot of this yellow flower about.  It looks like a member of the pea family.

yellow wildflower

And a bit of this one too. I don’t know what it is at all.

yellow wildflower

There was red coloured grassy stuff.

red grass

And umbellifera too.


They are often covered in insects. Maybe the rain had kept them off today.

The red clover has prospered this year and the wild raspberries look as though they are going to provide a feast soon.

clover and raspberries

I came down past the Auld Stane Brig, nestling among the trees…

Auld Stane Brig

..and was surprised to see how much water there was going down the Wauchope.  It was rushing over the caul at Pool Corner…

Pool Corner

…and barging into the middle of the stream where it joined the Esk.

Wauchope and Esk

It had obviously been raining harder to the west of the town than to the north as the Esk had hardly risen at all.

Some might think that a day like this was good weather for ducks but I don’t think that this pile of ducklings, huddled together beside the Wauchope, would agree.


A variegated hosta caught my eye as I got back to the house and the weather finally brightened up a bit.


My Friday night orchestra, Alison, had bought a trio sonata by J J Quantz from a second hand bookshop when she was in Wales recently and the cads had not told her that one of the parts was missing so I had a bit of fun putting it on to the computer and I think it will be enjoyable to play from a first look at it.  I am rather slow at doing this so it will provide me with a handy occupation for wet days to come.

No flower of the day today as it was too wet and grey.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow




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Today’s guest picture is  a shot of one of my sister Mary’s favourite haunts, the Queen Mary’s garden, Regent’s Park.

Queen Mary's garden, Regent's ParkIt was my morning duty to spend a couple of hours in the Information Hub in the High Street, giving out information to any local or visitor who might require it.  This was an opportunity to hit two targets with one arrow as it was also the day to hang the photographs for our camera club exhibition. Sandy kindly appeared to give me a lift up with the pictures and help with the hanging and we soon had a decent display on the walls.

After the pictures were hung, I had to hang about for another hour and a bit, not giving out any information although I did force anyone who came in for any reason to look at the pictures.  They were very grateful to have them drawn to their attention.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at a church choir practice while I but as soon as I got back, she suggested a trip to cut some bracken to put on the top of her vegetable beds as winter protection.  As the sun had rather surprisingly come out, I went with her, camera in hand.

We were held up by some partridges….

partridges…who seemed to think that they had the right of way.

We got to our chosen spot and Mrs Tootlepedal was soon hard at work.

bracken cuttingI was acting as bracken donkey, carrying the bracken from cutter to car but in between trips, I looked about.


There was fresh looking fungi on and around tree stumps

turkey tails

And some fine turkey tails in this year’s shade, brown.

Some slime mould (I think) proved hard to shoot without my macro lens.

slime mold

It is very small

Although it was sunny, the mist was never far away.

Barnglieshhead roadWith the back of the car well filled, we headed for home.

I was starving so I went in for lunch while Mrs Tootlepedal laid the bracken on one of the vegetable beds.

After lunch, I had a quick look at the birds…

blue tit…and took a walk round the garden.


Not only good looking poppies but insects too.

cosmos and ginger syllabub

Other flowers were trying their hardest.  I had to hold the rose up by hand to get the picture.

I should have gone for a pedal but the persistently damp weather has got to my breathing and I could only summon up enough energy for a walk.  The sun was still out when I set off round Gaskell’s and the Becks.  As always, the park wall was full of interest…

pixie cup and moss…and there were refreshments to be had along the way.


Amazingly late blackberries and very tasty too.

As I went along, the mist started to creep down the valley and soon the sun was blotted out.  It was warm and still though so walking was a pleasure and the views were fine

Auld Stane BrigWhen I got into the woods, I remembered that Mrs Tootlepedal had told me of a waterfall a bit further up the Becks Burn from the bridge that we cross.  I went in search of it.

On my way, I passed an enormous fungus.


Dinner plate size.

I found the little cascade but it was in a dark spot in the woods and I would have had to stand in the middle of the stream with a tripod for a good shot.  As I had neither wellies nor a tripod, I took the best shot that I could as a reminder to myself to go back and try again later.

Becks Burn

Certainly worth another visit

The fungus that had carpeted the wood on my last visit had largely gone but the strange white fingers were still sticking out of the ground in places and some large fungus by a stable had been there so long that it had mould on it.

fungusIn spite of the gathering mist, the track was quite colourful….

Becks path…but by the time that I got back to the town, things were looking pretty gloomy again.

view from Scott's KnoweMrs Tootlepedal had just finished some hard gardening work when I got home and we were both pleased to sit down to a cup of tea.

In the early evening, my flute pupil Luke came and showed that he now has the ability to play quietly in a sustained style which is a useful step forward.

Then I went off to our monthly camera club meeting where we had the double pleasure of two new members and a raft of interesting pictures to look at.  Several members brought in more pictures for our exhibition so I will go up and hang them in the morning (before you ask…the pictures, not the members).

I managed to catch a flying bird of the day while the weak sun was out.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Bruce, who found a nice to day celebrate Christmas on the Isle of Arran.

arranBecause of the uncertainty surrounding my knee operation, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had made no arrangements to entertain or to be entertained at Christmas this year and so we spent a very peaceful day in our own company.

In the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in church and I took a short walk to work up an appetite for the feast which she was preparing for our lunch.

My knee was in a co-operative mood so I stretched my maximum distance by another three tenths of a mile and walked out to the Auld Stane Brig on the Wauchope road.

As this involved, like the Grand Old Duke of York, walking up a hill and then walking back down it again, I was interested to see how the knee held up.  It held up well.

Wauchope roadIt was a sunny day and with the temperature at 4 degrees C, walking was a pleasure.

Meikleholm HillI would have liked to be in the sunshine on the top of the hill rather than in the shadows in the valley but that will have to wait.  The Auld Stane Brig itself was in the sunshine…

Auld Stane brig…and I was pleased to find that my favourite fencepost there was still rich in lichen…

lichen…as was the stonework of the bridge.

lichenI have photographed the lichen here often but I make no excuse for doing it again today as I was so pleased to have got there under my own steam.  I got back too.

WhitaYou can see how low the sun is in the sky at this time of year.

Our Christmas lunch, turkey with all the trimmings, was excellent but it did mean that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had to go out for a walk afterwards to shoogle it down a little.

We set off on the opposite direction from my morning walk….

The morning walk on the left and the afternoon walk on the right.

The morning walk on the left and the afternoon walk on the right.

…and walked past the Kilngreen and round the bottom of the Castleholm, crossing the Town Bridge, the Sawmill Bridge and the Jubilee Bridge on our route.

The light was fading as we went so I only had time for one picture.

The esk

Looking up the Esk from the Kilngreen

We stopped just before we got home and were treated to shortbread, tea and sherry, according to taste, by Alison and Mike Tinker.  It was very cosy sitting in front of their log burning stove but the need to put a packet of frozen peas on my knee shifted us from our chairs and we completed our circuit.

This was easily my best walking day so far, with a distance of just under three miles between the two walks, and this was the best Christmas present that I could have had.

Although there was a sunny morning, the amount of cooking going on meant that there weren’t many opportunities to look out of the window.


A blackbird grateful that no one had baked it in a pie.


The sunshine didn’t reach the feeder until I had put the camera away.

Between the walking and the eating, I shall hope to sleep well tonight.

We saw a young man trying out a drone with many coloured lights on it at the Kilngreen as we went past….

drone…and I did think of making it flying bird of the day but as I don’t think these things are to be encouraged (and I didn’t have the right camera with me anyway), I have stuck to the traditional flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from a walk that my daughter Annie took in the Chilterns earlier this month, just to show that they have good views in England too.

chiltern view

I should start by saying a warm thank you to all those who wished me happy birthday and to those who have offered their hopes of a speedy recovery from my bug.  Their wishes and hopes have been fulfilled.

I had a really good night’s sleep which helped me to feel a lot better when I woke up this morning but having eaten no more than a single slice of toast and a handful of dates yesterday, I was still feeling a bit peely-wally in the morning and was happy to sit quietly until Dropscone appeared bearing a nutritious scone to have with our coffee.

I did look out of the window before he came and was pleased to see a great tit back on the feeder.

chaffinch and great tit

The chaffinch looked a little more dubious about it though.

While we were sipping our coffee, my friend Bruce rang up and suggested that I look out of the window at Whita Hill behind the house.

Whita HillI think the the line of mist had thinned out slightly in the time it took me to pick up the camera and climb the stairs.

After coffee, I took a quick walk round the garden and was pleased to find a fine crop of home grown fungus on a tree stump on the edge of our drying green.


I am trying to use my fungus book and considered Hypholoma fasciculare as a suggestion. I am always ready to be proved wrong.

There is a regular robin coming to the feeder but it ainvariably waits until I have not got a camera to hand before it arrives and leaves as soon as I pick one up.  I had to make do with a goldfinch….

goldfinch….who was soon joined by a friend, and blue tit and a greenfinch….

goldfinch and greenfinch…until a small group of greenfinches claimed the feeder for themselves.

greenfinchesThe greenfinches left as suddenly as they arrived and I put down the camera and made some healthy broth for our lunch.

We had been promised a frosty morning but it was above freezing when I woke up and it was a pleasant sunny day by the the early afternoon.  I did think of a little cycle ride but decided that a short walk was more sensible so I set out to see if some exercise would turn out to be a good idea.

It was.  I felt better for the walk and as always, enjoyed the chance to take a few pictures as I toddled along.

fungus lichen

The fungus was fading but the lichen was very vibrant.

I went down to the Becks burn through the woods.

WoodThe old wall in the middle of the trees is a pointer to how many of the woods round Langholm are fairly recent commercial plantations.

Coming out of the woods on the Hallcrofts road, I thought that the time was right for a gnarly tree shot….

tree…pondered on the very interesting question of why one fence post should have a small mushroom crop on it….

fence posts…while one a few yards away should be absolutely smothered in moss….

Whita…and enjoyed a view of Whita looking very different from the morning when it was wreathed in mist.

I was watched with interest by two horses, one on each side of the Becks Burn valley.

horsesAs I walked down towards the Wauchope road, there was a contrast in the light as I looked back towards the Old Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig….and forwards towards Wauchope churchyard….

Wauchope road….but both views were equally agreeable.

Although it was very quiet at ground level, a glance at the skies above were a reminder that we live under a very busy air route…

con trails…with planes going in all directions.

I was pleased to see that one of the fungi that I had photographed on my last walk down the road had survived the chilly morning.

fungusSearching through my little book of toadstools, I wondered whether this might be a Clitocybe infundibuliformis.

When I got home, I took a shot of the front lawn to show that we are now almost wholly dependant on the golden box balls for some brightness.

front lawnWe are still a month away from the shortest day but it looked pretty gloomy at quarter past three, even on a fine afternoon.  You have to be out quickly with the camera after lunch these days or the light has flown.

I should have had an afternoon of flute playing with Mile and Isabel, an evening flute lesson with Luke and a visit to the Liddesdale Camera Club with Sandy in the evening but I was anxious not to pass my bug onto anyone else so I kept myself to myself and stayed in.

My son Tony rang from Edinburgh in the evening to say that he too and his some of his family and workmates had been laid low by the bug and my Newcastle correspondent tells me that her family have been victims as well so I think we can safely say, in the phrase much loved by Langholmites, “There’s been a lot  of it going about.”

The other phone call I received was from the hospital inviting me to visit them on Sunday to get my new knee.  I was surprised that they have got an operating list for a Sunday and just hope that surgeon is not too upset at missing his golf when he is working on me.

I hope to be fully back to normal health tomorrow and might even be considering a gentle pedal.

In spite of the visiting greenfinches, the flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who arrived with some decent light.


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