Posts Tagged ‘Becks’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was visiting Nottingham University when he took this picture of the main buildings in the background behind the lake and a very interesting looking mini golf course with giant acorns.

andrew nottingham

We woke to a sunny day but as the thermometer had dropped several degrees and a very biting northerly wind was blowing, I wasn’t tempted to go further than the garden before church.  In spite of the cold, definite signs of spring are all about.

crocus, daff, sarcococca

The church choir, though small in number, sang away heartily at the hymns and a short anthem and at the practice after the service we agreed to try something a little more ambitious for Easter.  Time will tell if we have bitten off more than we can chew but our organist and choirmaster is so enthusiastic that it will be fun trying.

When we got home, I fortified myself against the chill with a cup of coffee and went for a walk. Yesterday’s day of rest had made my sore foot worse if anything so I thought that perhaps exercise might be a good idea.

I aimed for a route which would have the wind at my back when I was exposed and which would find me in the shelter of hedges and the valley on my way home.    This took me along the track to the Becks Burn and back along the road.  It worked out well.

When I read other people’s blogs, I often long for some context for their pictures and words so I took the chance to show Wauchope Cottage tucked into the heart of the new town of Langholm

wauchope cottage from scotts knowe

Our white front door can be seen in the centre of the picture with the walnut tree in front of the house.

A little further up the hill, I could now see the new town in the foreground with the old town behind and Whita Hill providing the backdrop.

view from scotts knowe

I noticed a healthy looking polypody fern on a wall near Holmwood.

fern front and back

If you could get out of the wind and into the sun, it was a pleasant day for walking.

becks track

Although the fields along the track are still fairly green…

becks track field

…the rough pasture on the hills is losing its colour and we won’t get our green hills fully back now until May.

warbla from becks track

The felled trees in the wood provided some pretty patterns.

felled tree stump

I was passed by a jogger after I had crossed the Becks Burn and was impressed as he sped up the hill on the far side.

jogger in becks wood

The road back down into the valley was richly dressed with catkins in the hedge…

catkin panel

…and when I got down to the Wauchope road, I had a good time looking at various very healthy lichens on the walls.

four lichens

I filled the feeder when I got home and watched the birds for a while.  Two male chaffinches showed off their fine colouring in the sunshine…

two colourful chaffinches

…while a female looked unavailingly for a free perch.

chaffinch approaching goldfinches

This goldfinch had found one and was keeping a close eye on it as he approached.

goldfinch looking for a perch

Another goldfinch had a friend who was kindly keeping the sun off him as he ate.

slave goldfinch

After lunch, we drove down to Carlisle in glorious sunshine to attend our community choir there.  The wind was gusting at 40 mph so for once I wasn’t at all unhappy not to be cycling on a sunny day.

Unlike the church choir, the Carlisle choir was very well attended with about 100 members enjoying an excellent and productive practice.  My time spent trying to learn the songs for our Manchester competition paid off and I found that I was fairly confident in the two that we sang today.  It was lucky that we didn’t sing the third one, as I have a lot of work to do on that still.

We paused outside the chip shop in Langholm on our way home for long enough for a poke of chips to insert itself into the car as if by magic and eating the chips with the last of my tapsi flavoured sausage stew brought a satisfactory day to a close.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, applying the brakes and looking keenly for a free space at the feeder.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found plenty of sunshine when she went to visit the Limehouse Cut Canal a couple of days ago.

Limehouse Cut canal 27.10.17 008

We had some pleasant sunshine here today as well but as it came with a brisk and chilly north wind, I thought it better to go for walk after making a venison stew for the slow cooker rather than venture out on my bike.  I have had a bit of a froggy throat for a few days and with a choir practice coming up in the afternoon, it seemed more sensible.

After my walk with Sandy up to the monument on Friday, I headed for the opposite side of the valley today and walked up Warbla.

I kept an eye out for fungus and lichen at the start of my walk and saw both.

lichen and fungus

There is some autumn colour left….

Autumn colour

…but there are more leaves on the ground now than on the trees on general.

I wasn’t following a yellow brick road as I climbed up the hill but I did have an emerald green grassy track to guide me to the summit…

warbla track

…and plenty of views if I needed an excuse to catch my breath for a moment.

Becks Farm

It wasn’t as windy and cold as I feared it might be when I got to the top of the hill and I stopped for a while and had a good look around.

Larches lightened up a wood on the far side of the river.

view from Warbla

There was a mixture of sunshine and cloud and I enjoyed this view of the monument just catching a bit of the sunshine.

monument from Warbla

There was a well sheltered spot below.

View from warbla

And the play of light and shade up the Ewes valley was good to see, both in close up…

View from warbla

…and in the wider view.

View from warbla

In spite of the chilly wind, I found myself in company at the top of the hill.

warbla trig point with family

There was no question as to who was the king of the castle but they all had fun.

warbla trig point with family

I left them them to it and walked back down the track until I dropped down the side of the hill and into the Wauchope valley.

Wauchope valley

I often cycle along the road in the picture and you can that it is very well sheltered which is why I use it as my outdoor gym on very windy days.

The hawthorns in the foreground are very bright and cheery with their red berries but as you can see most of the other trees are bare now.

One good thing about this is that it gives me a better chance of taking bridge pictures.

Becks burn bridge

A cow took a dim view of me as I walked past when I got to the road.

wauchope cow

After a last picture….

manse brae hedge

…I arrived home just as Mrs Tootlepedal got back from singing in the church choir.

She got to work on her path and I enjoyed the flowers.



There are fewer every day but the survivors are still looking good.

Then it was time to go in and have lunch and, of course, to set up the camera at the kitchen window.

In spite of the sunshine, or perhaps because of the sunshine, there weren’t many birds about today and they were coming and going to the feeder for very quick visits so I didn’t get much satisfaction.

dunnock, chaffinch and sparrow

A dunnock, chaffinch and sparrow not visiting the feeder.

A neat blue tit did arrive.

blue tit

The blue tits often find the sunflower seeds a bit too much of a mouthful

After lunch there was time for more work on the path and I did a bit of slightly pointless dead heading and was impressed with the hardy nature of a red admiral butterfly which was haunting the dahlias but unfortunately not posing for pictures.

Soon it was time to go to Carlisle and sing.  My croaky throat just lasted the course but I will need to find some soothing mixture for it tomorrow.

The forecast is for slightly frosty weather overnight but then a return to warmer nights again so it will be interesting to see what survives in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, concentrating hard as it approaches the feeder.




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Today’s guest picture shows what is needed to stop erosion at a very popular hill top.  My brother Andrew visited the  summit of Mam Tor in the Peak District and took this striking picture on the way.

Mam torAs the main roads are generally free of lorries on a Sunday, I used to go up and down the A7 quite a lot on Sunday mornings while Mrs Tootlepedal was singing in the church choir.  This year, because of the recovery from my knee operation and the persistently miserable weather, I haven’t had many opportunities so I was really pleased to find a Sunday morning and some good weather arriving at the same time today.

Thinking of the wind direction, I headed south, hoping for a breeze behind me on my way home.  The wind was light enough not to be a problem either way though and I made good progress down to Longtown and then to Newtown on the Roman Wall. The fairly speedy bike stopped there and took a selfie at its favourite bench….

Newtown bench

No puddles under benches today

…while I took the chance to eat  a banana before turning to complete the twenty miles back home.

Although the wind wasn’t quite as helpful as I had hoped, I was a little quicker going back than going out but in spite of trying quite hard, I arrived back two minutes later than I would have wished.  Still 15.9 mph is nearly as good as 16 mph. (No, it isn’t)

I took a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home.

yellow crocosmia and lily

We noticed two new arrivals

But couldn’t ignore the latest poppies.

poppiespoppiesI don’t think that we have had poppies with so many layers before.

There are two clematis entwined in a philadephus next to the pond…

clematis…at least, I think it is two different plants as they have six and four petals respectively but they look remarkably similar.  Can the same clematis have different numbers of petals?  These are self sown so Mrs Tootlepedal could shed no light on the question.

After lunch, we sat and watched the final events of the World Athletics Championships and then went off for a walk as it was still a very fine, dry day.

We went along to the Becks burn again, passing through the woods there…

Becks wood… but this time, instead of turning back to the town when we emerged from the trees, we turned towards the hills.

Becks viewThe road was lined with flowers old and new….

wild flowers…and one which caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

Wild flowerI had seen some of this beside the road at Gair earlier in the week but nowhere else.  They look like a seed heads at first sight but a closer look shows that they are flowers.  I have no idea what they are and would welcome suggestions.

Our walk continued along the ‘Crab Apple Loaning’.  The are reasons for the name of this lane.

crab apples

And here they are.

It was fairly dry after all the rain….

Crab apple loaning…and very restful to stroll along.

Crab apple loaningThings changed with a vengeance when we got to the open hill at the end of the lane.

We hadn’t reckoned on just how wet the hillside would be and crossing the trackless waste was really hard work.

The track to GlencorfOne moment Mrs Tootlepedal was there….and the next she had disappeared into a bottomless bog.

I exaggerate a bit.

But not much. In the mile or so until we got to the Cleuchfoot road, we hardly took two steps without having to hop from tussock to tussock, suck our feet out of a squelchy bog or leap across a marshy rivulet.  It was harder work than we expected and there were moments when we felt that we might have bitten off more than we could chew.

We finally arrived at the Glencorf Burn…

Glencorf burn…and struggled along it until we hit the road.

The three miles back home along the Wauchope road were blessedly easy walking but felt quite a long way.  We had things to look at as we went along though.

ruined cottage

Hard to beat as a picturesque location but needing some work done as they say.

Bonnie purple heather

Bonnie purple heather

interesting flower

And another interesting flower, unknown to us.

We were more than pleased to get a sit down and a cup of tea after our hard working six miles but we didn’t have long to relax before it was time to go out again.  This time we were headed for the Buccleuch Centre and a concert.

There was a small but select audience to hear Jeff Barnhart, an excellent jazz pianist, give us an enjoyable selection of eclectic Americana with his wife Anne pitching in with some decidedly hot flute playing and good singing.  This is the third time I have heard Jeff and his infectious good humour, combined with a wide repertoire and some adventurous improvisation always makes him good value.  Anne displayed some ferociously impressive ‘blue’ flute technique and together they rounded off our day in fine style.

In all this, my opportunities for catching a flying bird of the day were limited and this chaffinch turned up after the light had gone.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s visit to Sydney on his way back to the UK from NZ.  He said it was hot there and here is the proof.

hot birdIt was far from hot here this morning and the thermometer was only just grazing 5°C when I set out for a pedal after breakfast.  Dropscone is enjoying the fleshpots of the south west of England on holiday so I was on my own and this was lucky as it took me a long time to warm my old muscles up in the chilly weather.

Once I got going though, I enjoyed myself without trying to go too fast.  I took a route that avoided any possible hedge trimmings and ended up at Paddockhole bridge which was looking quite pretty.

PaddockholeOne advantage of the late season is that when the leaves come off the trees, you can see the bridges better but….

leaves on road….the down side is that many of the leaves fall on the road making for slippery surfaces where the aged cyclist has to take care.

I took care and got home safely.

The birds were in a topsy turvy mood.

chaffinchesFor once the weather was well behaved and it waited until I was snugly indoors before it started to rain.  I idled the rest of the morning away over a tricky crossword and a packet of ginger biscuits.

After lunch (I am currently addicted to goat’s cheese and tomato open sandwiches), the weather behaved well again and the rain stopped so, since Mrs Tootlepedal and I were in the mood for some fresh air, we went for a walk round the Becks.

The larch trees are very attractive just now…..

larches at pool corner

Larches on the bank behind Pool Corner

…..and I am enjoying them a bit more than usual because there is a larch disease sweeping the country and the local estate is busy cutting down most of their larches as a preventative measure.  This may well be the last golden larch autumn for some time in our area. As we walked up the road to Hallcrofts, we passed several trees  so covered in lichen that you could hardly see any wood on them at all.lichenI had Mrs Tootlepedal on special interest look out and she spotted the first catkins of the season that we have seen.catkinsOnce we were in the woods and across the Becks Burn, there were plenty of fungi to be seen, even if there wasn’t much light to see them with.  (I had intended to bring a torch to brighten up any items of interest but it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I forgot to put it in my pocket.)

fungi on trees at Becks

There were fungi of all sizes on the trees.

fungi on ground at Becks

And others growing out of the ground. Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that the white ones may be cap-less fungi

Once we got up to the path that runs along the hillside, the light was a little better.  Once again the weather was in mellow mood and although it had been drizzling while we were in the shelter of the trees, it stopped when we got out into the open.

I like this track.  It has some fine examples of rural architecture….

huts….oak trees…

oak tree…interesting tree stumps….

tree stumps….fine views of Warbla in late autumn….

warbla….and more fungi and even a wild flower.

flower and fungiAs we got to the end of the track, we could see low mist creeping up the Esk valley from the south and resting gently over the town.

Mist over Langholm

I may have given this picture a little tickle-up treatment.

Our way back took us past some more interesting fungus/slime mold/lichen?? on a tree stump….

curious growthsAnd there were occasional colourful leaves to entertain the eye.

leafleavesOnce home, there was just enough light left to enjoy Crown Princess Margareta…..

rose…and to watch the last set of leaves being blown off the walnut tree.  This proved too exciting and I had to go in and watch some paint dry.

I did some more idling in the gloaming as the light faded swiftly away and then in the evening went to Carlisle to play recorders.  I drove down by myself because Susan is on holiday with her father in the south.  We  had an excellent evening of playing which made a very pleasing finale to a day of gentle activity and refreshing resting.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.  There’s a novelty.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture, sent by my sister Mary, shows the Earl of Pembroke, Chancellor of the University 1617-30, in a design by Rubens, looking very pleased with himself in front of the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Rubens outside the Bodleian

It was an almost sunny day today.  All day it looked as though the sun was going to burst through the thin clouds but it never quite made it wholeheartedly.

Nevertheless it felt a good deal warmer than it has lately and it made quite a difference when I went out on my bike to repeat the double trip to the top of Callister and back which I had done on Thursday.  It was just as windy or even windier today but the extra warmth made pedalling a pleasure and although I didn’t seem to be trying any harder,  I took thirteen minutes less to do the 25 miles today than I did on Thursday.  Roll on summer.

When I got home I walked round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was working and shot one old friend…


A crocus surviving in a sheltered spot

…and one new arrival.


The first sign of a tulip this year.  Something has been eating its leaves.

After lunch, I went out with Mrs Tootlepedal to do some bird watching.  First we went to the moorland feeders.  Unfortunately, there was another photographer there already with his camper van parked right in front of the gate with a huge lens sticking out of the window.  Mrs Tootlepedal stayed in our car with binoculars in hand while I sneaked past the camper van  and got behind the screen.  Unsurprisingly, the birds weren’t very interested in coming too close to the camper van and I didn’t have much to look at.

Great tit

A great tit came close and gave me a sideways look.


There were several woodpeckers about but they stayed well away from me.

Only the pheasants weren’t bothered by the van at the gate.


I gave up quite soon and went back to the car.  Mrs Tootlepedal, unlike me, had been having a grand time watching lapwings on the hill and hen harriers in the sky above.  I got a glimpse of a harrier before it flew off.

hen harrier

Although there was blue sky about, the weather was very hazy and the hilltops were covered in mist…..

hazy weather

…so we drove round to the other side of the hill to see what things were like there.  They were just the same.  It looked as though it was sunny but it wasn’t.  We did catch a glimpse of a bird of prey not far off…

bird of prey

…but I am not convinced that this was another harrier.

It was very windy as well as being hazy so once again we didn’t stay too long and were soon back home.  Mrs Tootlepedal who had been gardening for most of the morning, went back to work again.  She is waging a war on celandine which is threatening to overwhelm one of her borders.  While she was at it, she trimmed and cleared and thinned and did many other wonderful things.

I rang up Sandy and went for a walk with him round the Becks.

The light wasn’t great but it was warm and sheltered and the walk was very enjoyable in itself.

Becks walk

There was a moment of sunshine but we were in a wood at the time.

There was plenty to look as as we walked along the Becks road.

There were strange signs…

sick pole

I didn’t realise that the pole had been ill.

…beautiful lichens….



…colourful conifers…


…and of course my favourite bridge view.

Auld Stane Brig

We visited the old Wauchope Graveyard on our back along the Wauchope road.  It is now closed and the gravestones are in many cases quite neglected.

Wauchope Graveyard

Because they are carved from different sorts of stone, there are many different lichens to see.  Here is just a small selection.

lichens and algae

The middle one is an algae not a lichen


We fell into conversation with a couple who were out walking and the lady showed us some very nice pictures which she had taken with her phone camera.  We suggested that she should get some of them printed and put them into our exhibition in June but contrary t0 all the evidence of the great number of pictures which she showed us, she said that she wasn’t really interested in photography.   Ah well.

They walked on and Sandy and I stopped to lift one of the small sheets that have been put down on top of a wall to offer protection for slow worms.  I was surprised to see that there were a couple of young worms there.

slow worm

We arrived home ready for a cup of tea and a biscuit.   I would have offered Sandy a crumpet but somebody had eaten them all already.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for the final performance of her show and I stayed in and watched bits of  two rugby games on the telly.  One had the commentary in Gaelic and the other in Welsh so I didn’t understand a word of either.  I didn’t feel that this was a great loss though as I could see what was going on perfectly well for myself.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin at our own feeder.




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