Posts Tagged ‘Autumn’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is taking an interest in wildlife now that he has moved to the country from the city and recently spotted and identified a yellowhammer.


We had another grey and gloomy morning here and the memories of the fine summer months are slipping ever faster into oblivion as winter looms up ahead.

I didn’t have time to sit and mope however as we went off after breakfast to sing in the church choir.  It was a day when the hymns all seemed to have innumerable verses and since the service was followed by a choir practice, both Mrs Tootlepedal and myself felt the need for a quiet sit down when we got home.

I filled the bird feeder and looked out of the winter while I made coffee.

Goldfinches were very much to the fore today….

busy feeder oct 18

…and sparrows and chaffinches  had to look sharp if they wanted a seat at the table.

goldfinch threatening chaffinch

After a coffee and a rest, the weather looked settled enough to risk a stroll so I snapped one of the flourishing nasturtiums at the front door…

yellow nasturtium oct

…and set off round Gaskell’s Walk to see what I could see.  The light was subdued.

I saw the larches at Pool Corner beginning to change colour.

larches turning

I saw a fine beech hedge which has been allowed to get a bit out of hand

big beech hedge

The walls were topped with droplet bespangled mosses.

moss with dropletsThe trees on the bank above the river have adopted a variety of angles.

gaskell's Walk with leaning trees

Brambles provided a splash of red.

red bramble leaf

There was one last sloe on the bush at Stubholm.

last sloe

The trees in the park are still colourful but the poplars beside the Esk in the background are over.


Park colour

I like looking at the park wall.

park wall lichen panel

I didn’t linger as long as I would have liked on my walk as it started to rain but it had stopped again by the time that I got home and I had enough time for a very short walk round the garden.

Not dead yet.

late poppy

very late delphinium

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to do a bit of shopping and sing with our Carlisle choir.

Our new conductor is a relentless ball of energy and keeps us hard at work.  She likes a crisp pace and after a hard singing morning, I had pretty well ground to a halt by the end of the session but in spite of that, it had been a very enjoyable day’s singing and my throat stood up to the work pretty well.  I think that my recent singing lesson has had a mildly beneficial effect on my technique but I am hoping to get a couple more lessons soon as there is plenty of scope for improvement yet.

Of course the weather had greatly improved as soon as we got inside the practice room and it was a lovely evening as we drove home.   The clocks go back next week so this will be the last time that we come home from our Carlisle choir in daylight for some months and even today, it was pretty well dark by the time that we got home.

To celebrate the arrival of the flock of goldfinches, the flying bird of the day is a double goldfinch helping.

flying goldfinch 1

Another open and shut case.

flying goldfinch 2




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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Her cat brought in a most unexpected visitor not long ago.  Luckily it wasn’t an adder but a harmless grass snake and it survived.

grass snake

We were promised some rough and windy weather  from Storm Ali and we got some rough and windy weather with gusts between 50 and 60 mph in the middle of the day.  Luckily the rain stayed away for the most part and we got off lightly.  30 miles to our west, Dumfries declared a major emergency such was the strength of the wind there and 100 miles to the north, winds of over 100 mph were recorded so on the whole, we can’t complain.

We were distracted from the weather by the arrival of an old university friend for coffee and lunch and catching up with his news gave us plenty to do while we ignored the roaring sounds outside.

We walked along to the Buccleuch Centre to lunch in a comparatively calm moment and then watched as twigs, leaves and small branches whistled past the windows propelled by a savage gust.

The strongest gusts had gone by the time that Murray left to go back to Carlisle so Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden and shook our heads at fallen plants but also picked up a great number of walnuts which had descended from above.

I filled the bird feeder and wondered whether the birds had enough strength to battle the winds.

They had, though they could only approach the feeder into the wind at the start and had to fly round the feeder to get the correct landing path.


goldfinches and chaffunch

As the winds continued to gradually ease off, the birds filled up the perches….

chaffinch approaching goldfinch

…though the ones waiting higher up in the plum tree still had to hold on tight and keep their heads into the wind.

windy goldfinch in plum tree

It started to rain again so we went inside but after a while, it stopped and I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk down one side of the river to the Skippers Bridge with a return up the other bank.

There had been a good deal of wind assisted leaf fall…

leafy path in park

…and acorns littered the paths and tracks.

acorns fallen

There are definite signs that the equinox is nearly upon us.

fist autumn colour

fallen leaf

I stopped to admire the Skippers Bridge, looking at it from below….

skippers at the equinox from downstream

…and above….

skippers at the equinox from upstream

…before walking along the newly repaired leaf and twig strewn pavement back towards the town.

fallen twigs and leaves

I had to brush this branch aside as I went along the riverside path…

branch across path

…and was also stopped in my tracks by this lovely show of clematis in the hedge.

sewage works clematis

I would like to see this in our garden but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is ‘rampageous’ and more trouble than it would be worth.

When I got to the suspension bridge, I noticed that the regular gull was standing in its regular spot on the edge of the river.

gull in Esk on rock

It seems as if it is waiting for a friend and I imagine it humming the gull equivalent of “I’m leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street until a certain little lady comes by.”

There was evidence of the brisk breeze under the town bridge.

tree washed up

There was a very short shower when I was at the far end of my walk but having had their little joke, the weather gods relented and turned off the rain again.  Gradually the clouds lifted, the wind died down and it morphed into a fairly calm and pleasant day by the evening.

The forecast is for improving weather over the next few days so I am hoping that my bicycle may see the light of day again.

I had a look round the garden when I came back and picked up more walnuts and took a couple of pictures.

veg garden seedswhite pansies

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir but had to come home without singing.  The session had been cancelled as our conductor had been warned that too many fallen trees on her route had made the journey unsafe.

Ah well, you can’t have everything and it was a small price to pay for escaping the worst of the storm.

Today’s flying bird is a diagonal chaffinch, sneaking up under the wind.

diagonal flying chaffinch




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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz.  She enjoyed this misty view on one of her morning walks recently.

Mist on Whita

There were no views at all when we woke up this morning, as the hills were shrouded in clouds and a fine drizzle was falling.  Luckily I had a stint in the Welcome to Langholm office to do so the miserable weather didn’t trouble me.

I was kept very busy putting  data into the Archive Group database while entertaining Dropscone, who had news of a recent golfing triumph to pass on and John, another friend, who was recovering from a visit to the physiotherapist nearby.  What with golf and creaking joint talk and two visits from tourists seeking a welcome and the computer work as well, the two hours passed in a flash.

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home but  I found Mrs Tootlepedal engrossed in the tricky matter of balancing some accounts rather than gardening.  After we had had a cup of coffee with our neighbour Liz, I foolishly offered to lend Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with her accounts and the afternoon was well under way by the time that the figures on both sides of the ledger had obediently fallen into place.  Although it is very annoying when columns don’t add up, it is very satisfying when they finally do.

Still, a lot of quite good weather had gone by unused which was a pity.  We went out into the garden and while Mrs Tootlepedal got down to work, I looked around.


A couple of cheery nasturtiums beside the front gate


A last look at a cardoon before Attila the gardener gives them the chop soon

I did a little much needed dead heading and upset a good number of bees and hoverflies who were looking for pollen.  At one moment, almost all of them chose the same poppy.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

We stood for some time watching the crowd, our mouths open in astonishment.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

After all, it was quite an astonishing sight.

Because my flute pupil Luke was due in the early evening, I didn’t have time to go for a cycle ride but it was such a pleasantly warm and calm day by now that I left Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work and went off for a short walk.

Beside the river I stopped to enjoy a wagtail wagging its tail and a dipper dipping.


The dipper was in all action mode, disappearing under the water for ages at a time and dabbing about vigorously when it emerged.

dipper dipping

It did pose for me for a brief moment though.


At the Kilngreen, I saw a lonely herring gull….

herring gull

…and some restful ducks.

ducks in the grass

This was my favourite.


Occasional sunshine brought out the colours which are beginning to appear all around.


Although there are plenty of fallen autumnal looking leaves about….

autumn leaves

…there are still many more on the trees.


The combination of many greens and some red and yellow meant that there was always a delight for the eye as I walked along.

early autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholm

I kept my eyes open for other smaller things.  This fungus on a tree stump interested me greatly.  I don’t think that I have seen anything like it before.

tree stump fungus

They growths are tiny and I thought that they were sprinkled crumbs when I first saw them

It was a really pleasant walk and I was sorry that I didn’t have the time to be out longer.

When I got back to the house, I reflected that it was lucky that we don’t shut the front gate very often…

nasturtiums on front gate

Our friend Mike Tinker was chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and she was telling him of great plans for improvements for next year.  I look forward to photographing the results.

I had a last look round…


…and was pleased to spot a red admiral butterfly on a rudbeckia.

red admiral butterfly

We read in the paper this morning that it has been an exceptionally good year for red admiral butterflies and we have certainly seen a great many in our garden in the last few weeks.

Then I had to go in to get ready for the flute lesson which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I was quite pleased to have no further obligations for the day as I am feeling a little tired after dashing from end to end of the continent last week.  Somehow sitting in down in trains, although it is very enjoyable, is also quite tiring.

An early night won’t do me any harm.

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my Newcastle correspondent Fiona,  shows a selection of Newcastle bridges.

NewcastleWe had another misty morning here followed by a glorious afternoon.   We will be praying for rain before we know where we are if this goes on.

I started the day by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database because once again I have slipped behind in my work.

After that, I had time for a quick wave at a blue tit….

blue tit…and a look at the flowers.  There is a lot of yellow and orange about.

yellow and orangeOther colours were available too.

salvia, cornflower and poppies

Salvia, cornflower and poppies

…..and then came coffee and an excursion.  Sandy joined us both for coffee and the excursion.  The Tour of Britain was coming through Canonbie, only six miles away, so our plan was to cycle down to Canonbie, watch the tour passing and then cycle home,.  The plan worked well.  Mrs Tootlepedal set off first and Sandy and I followed and we met up on the steep hill coming out of the village where the road goes past my old school.

Aspiring  amateur cyclists pedalled up the road ahead of the professionals….

Cyclists at canonbie…no doubt hoping to impress the eager crowds assembled to watch the race.

Sandy and Mrs T at canonbieWatching cycle stage races is more interesting than watching paint dry….but only just.  There is a lot of waiting around as what seems like hundreds of police motorcyclists buzz past you and then a phalanx of motorbikes wakes you up to the arrival of the actual competitors.

Tour of Britain 2015A small breakaway group came first…..

Tour of Britain 2015…and soon whistled past me, even up the quite steep hill.

Tour of Britain 2015Then there was a six or seven minute wait until the rest of the field arrived.

Tour of Britain 2015

The peleton

They weren’t in any great hurry.  A member of the team of the race leader was heading the pack.

Tour of Britain 2015The other teams were sticking together behind him.

Tour of Britain 2015

MTN-Qhubeka and Saxo Tinkoff

Lotto Soudal

Lotto Soudal in red

Tour of Britain 2015

Team Sky in black and blue

They had time for a chat as they went up the hill.

Tour of Britain 2015And in a few minutes they were gone.

They were followed by a train of support vehicles and looking at them, I realise that the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service needs to up its game.

Tour of Britain 2015It was a beautiful day and there was a good number of people cheering the cyclists on as they went past us so it was fun to be there but as a spectator sport, the popularity of road cycling is a bit of a mystery.  After the procession had gone, we cycled back down the hill and paid a visit to Canonbie church.  Outside the church was one of those signs which Mrs Tootlepedal regards as essential for a complete cycle outing.

Canonbie ChurchAn enterprising group of Canonbie residents have opened a little cafe in the church and we were able to enjoy a filled roll and a cup of tea before starting the journey home.

Sandy took the long route back (he pedalled 23 miles in all) but Mrs Tootlepedal and I took the most direct route (13 miles there and back) so we parted at Canonbie bridge.

We stopped several times on the way home to enjoy the views of the river Esk…

EskEsk…and things of interest beside the road.

autumn colour

A touch of autumn colour

meadowsweet and umbellifera

The meadowsweet has gone to seed but other plants have a little colour left.

In all, it was a very enjoyable outing and by the time that we got back, the afternoon was really quite warm and we were able to drink our cup of tea in the shade of the walnut tree.  I sieved a little compost and mowed the greenhouse grass and the front lawn paths and actually got too hot, not something that I have experienced much this year.

I had to go inside to cool off.

In the evening, I went down to Carlisle in the car to play recorder with our recorder group.  Susan is in the highlands with her adventurous father so I drove myself down and we played as a quartet.  This was the first meeting of the group in Carlisle since our summer break and it was good to be back.

The flying bird of the day looks as though it could do with a new paint job.

flying bird

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Today’s guest picture, from my brother’s camera, speaks for itself.

Rotorua Sept 2014 - 5

There was little or no wind and the thermometer was showing a very stingy 4.5°C when Dropscone, Scott and I set out for a morning pedal to Gair and back after breakfast.   As a result, the start of our journey was shrouded in a clammy mist which made things feel even colder. Happily, we came out of the mist and into sunshine after three or four miles.  The sun shining on the mist beside us as we climbed up the hill past Wauchope Schoolhouse gave rise to a natural phenomenon which I have never seen before, a white rainbow.

This is of course a contradiction in terms but it was a perfectly formed and quite small white arch, apparently just a few yards away from us and I wondered if my cycling glasses were removing the colour from it but a look over the top of them showed that this was not the case.  The effect was quite magical and the more so, as Dropscone observed, because we may never see such a sight again.

The ride itself was slightly unsatisfactory because we rarely managed to find a speed that suited all three of us at the same time but we got round safely and enjoyed the scones and coffee afterwards.

It was such a lovely day that when the coffee klatch broke up, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took the car up to the White Yett to see if the mist was still hanging around the valley below in a picturesque way.  We were a few minutes too late and the mist was visibly rising as we drove up the hill but there were still some photo opportunities to be had when we got there.

Craig hill from Whita

ewes valley with mistView from White yett

View from White yett

The memorial to Hugh McDiarmid, the Langholm burn poet.

We intended to drive home over the hill with the mist pouring over it which is featured in the second picture above but the road was shut due to timber felling so we turned back and used the direct route instead.

I had a quick walk round the garden when we got back.  There is still colour to be seen (and eaten).

autumn garden colour

And there are still a few insects to enjoy as well.

insect on delphinium

I enjoyed this one so much that I am taking the liberty of putting a second shot of it in.

insect on delphinium

It is visiting a pale delphinium.  What pleasure the macro lens gives.

Another cheese and tomato sandwich, the tomato taken from the rapidly dwindling tomato mountain (now just a molehill) made for a tasty lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal made the part of the crop which was too late to ripen into green tomato chutney this morning and the house was filled with appetising aromas.

After lunch, as the day was still fine, Mrs Tootlepedal and I ventured out for a short walk.  I had hoped that the recent rain would have led to an up-rush of fungi but either we weren’t looking in the right place or there wasn’t one.

Still, the walk along the riverside and back via Gaskell’s was very enjoyable in its own right.  Our way was very nearly blocked by a small landslide on the riverside path….


…and although the light was poor, I thought that the sight of the still upright tree stump which had been carried down onto the path by the mud slide was odd enough to merit a picture.

There were prettier sights to see as we went along.

leaves on beechy plain

A glimpse of autumn…

Stubholm Bank

…but if it wasn’t for the carpet of beech nuts below our feet, it might well have still been summer.

Castle Hill

The hills are brown but the trees are still mostly green

shy rabbit

The only rabbit we saw today.

fungus and lichen

Not the feast of fungus and lichen that we had hoped for.


Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are wild privet berries and poisonous.

ivy berries

I think that this is ivy.  It is popular with insects.  I can count three of them.

leaves and berries

I did my best to find some autumn colour

In the evening, Susan drove me to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  We had a very good evening of playing and the after-tootle biscuits were of a particularly high quality as well so that rounded off the day in fine style.

I didn’t have much time to stare out of the window today so the flying bird of the day is a snatched picture of a chaffinch.

flying chffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a giant head which my sister Mary encountered as part of an art fair in London.

Frieze Art Fair, Regent's Park 003

The forecast was very poor for the morning and Mrs Tootlepedal was out all day at an embroidery workshop so it it seemed like a good idea to take the opportunity to go shopping in Carlisle with Sandy for some photographic mount  boards and materials to make cards.  We found everything we needed and finished off with a bonus visit to Sainsbury’s where I acquired some fresh  fish which you can’t get in Langholm and topped up my cheese and coffee supplies.  You might think from reading my posts that my diet consists mainly of bread, cheese and coffee and you would be right.

The trees are beginning to turn and we hoped that after lunch, we might get out with the cameras but it started to rain very heavily so Sandy went home.  The rained stopped after a while but it was very grey so I popped out on the slow bike with the camera to take a few shots while I could.

I took a shot in the garden before I left.


An azalea

I went down to Skippers Bridge first,

autumn trees

On the way to Skippers

autumn trees

Looking upstream from the bridge

autumn trees

Looking downstream from below the bridge

I was urgently in need of a little sunlight to bring out the colours but it stayed overcast.  I cycled back through the town to the Kilngreen.

autumn trees

Looking back at the poplars in the park.

Then I went across the sawmill bridge…..

Lodge walks

The Lodge Walks are still very green

…and onto the Castleholm.



I cycled back home by way of Mary Street and looked across the river at this tree which was trying its best but was only partly successful.


Once home, I took a picture of a marigold just to get a little colour onto this post.


I had a little time to look out of the kitchen window at a coal tit and a blue tit.

coal tit and blue tit

The plentiful supply of food around is keeping our visitors to a bare minimum and while this is saving me money on bird food, it is leading to an ordinate number of chaffinch pictures.  Still I am trying to record daily life so here is yet another chaffinch.


I hadn’t been back long before  Mrs Tootlepedal came home from her workshop.  The rain which had been on and off was in a an off spell and she suggested a pedal round Potholm.  This is a 5 mile circuit using forestry tracks and quiet roads and makes a change from our usual expeditions up the Wauchope road.  She was in sparkling form and I was so busy trying to keep up with her that I only had time for one quick snap as we went round.


Tea time for cows

We were well sheltered from what wind there was and it was very mild as well so we thoroughly enjoyed our outing.   Being Saturday evening, we then cooked our tea and settled down to watch Strictly Come Dancing on the telly and this rounded off a pleasantly busy day.

The flying bird of the day, caught in one of the brighter moments, is a chaffinch.






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Today’s guest picture is another from my nephew Dan.  It shows the celebrated bapistery in Florence.  I don’t know how he got up so high to take it. Perhaps he was hang gliding.  Although it is probably disrespectful to say so about such a famous building, to a model railway enthusiast like myself its clean lines and sharp corners make it look very like one of the pre-printed cardboard kits you get to assemble and put on your lay out.

Dan's big pic of FB

After yesterday’s burst of activity, I had a calmer day today.  It started with a gentle ten mile pedal after breakfast up to the new bridge with Mrs Tootlepedal.  The grass on the hills is turning a rich brown and although Mrs Tootlepedal says it will may get richer still, I stopped for a picture.


She stopped a few yards up the road to pick up a bottle which a passing motorist had thrown out of a car window.

Litter picking

Why motorists do this is a mystery and I was interested to see that some of the roads round Nimes which we pedalled along during our recent holiday were just as bad as ours.   Perhaps there are fanatical litter tourists who drive round beautiful parts of Europe throwing old bottles out of their cars as they go.  Mrs Tootlepedal, who in general is quite a peaceable person, thinks that shooting would be too good for them.  I agree.

We had time for a coffee when we got home and then I went off to the Health Centre where I got injections in both arms.  This was one more than usual but it was good because the nurse reckoned that I was recovered enough from my cold to get my annual flu injection.     I am now officially unable to moan about anything at all.   I won’t know what to do with myself.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work in the afternoon and Sandy, who had a day off, rang to see if I fancied an outing.  It was rather a grey day and not very promising and things went from bad to worse when Sandy couldn’t get his car to start and had to go for a new battery.  This meant we got together rather later than planned and while we were having a restorative cup of tea, the heavens opened and a heavy rain shower started that lasted for five hours.  While we were drinking the tea, I got a shock when I saw a sparrowhawk flying straight towards the kitchen window at speed but it had everything under control and executed a perfect handbrake turn and flew back out of the garden unscathed but without a catch.

Sandy and I didn’t fancy going out with the cameras in the rain so we  stayed in and  put the time to good use.  Dropscone had given me some 6×4 photo paper and as I had some blank folded cards, we had a look at how to make some gift cards to sell for Archive Group funds.    It is hard to get your head round which way up and where text should be placed for double sided folded prints but we cracked it and I printed out a couple of test cards.


One landscape and one portrait.

This was a really good use of a miserable afternoon and I was glad that Sandy was to hand or I might have given up without his advice and experience.

I didn’t have any time to get out in the garden or much time to look out of the window.  When I did, the chaffinches were coming and going as usual.


There was an incident at one point of the day.

chaffinches beak to beak

I don’t know what set this off.  There were spare perches at the time.

In the evening, the rain stopped just in time for us to go to our choir meeting.  We are practising for three performances in December and it was hard work as a lot of us didn’t know the pieces we were trying to sing but we battled on and should have something worth listening to in time.  I’ll be pleased when I have got my voice back properly and singing is a bit less of a trial.

The flying bird of the day was yet another chaffinch.






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