Posts Tagged ‘bonfire’

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s visit to Kedlestone Hall.  Looking over the reflective bridge, he could see the hall itself, as this very fine picture shows.

Keddlestone Hall

We woke to a rather gloomy, occasionally rainy morning but we were able to cycle to church to sing with the choir, although once again, the bike seat needed drying carefully before I could cycle home after the service.

When I got home, I made a venison stew for the slow cooker and then drove off to our local recycling point to get rid of a small mountain of paper and do a little shopping. The weather had taken a turn for the better while I was cooking but by the time that I got back home after shopping, it had started to drizzle again, so I gave up any thought of going for a walk and mooched around drinking coffee and occasionally looking out of the window.

There was quite a bit of traffic out there to catch the eye.

A blue tit….

blue tit on bigus tree

…a goldfinch…


…and a chaffinch all tried the seeds.


It didn’t rain much and I had time for a walk round the garden where I saw the autumn colours of a self seeded rowan tree that is growing near the new bench…

new rowan

…and a selection of good looking black and white berries with some rather tired flowers.

berries and flowers november

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the Community choir.  After the fun of last weekend in Glasgow, it was back to the serious business of singing Christmas songs for our forthcoming concert today.  A potential new tenor had come to try out the choir but at the end of the practice, he told me that he wasn’t coming back as he couldn’t stand all this gloomy Christmas music.

Perhaps it was the way that we were singing them.

After the practice, we scuttled back home and I picked up my camera and walked back to the Langholm Bridge.

A group of enterprising people with the good of the town at heart have raised funds and organised a bonfire and firework display.  I could see that the bonfire was well alight by the time that I got to the bridge….

bonfire from bridge

…and I walked onward to the Kilngreen to enjoy a closer view.  It was an impressive sight.

binfire from kilngreen

A good crowd had assemble to enjoy the fun.

crowd watching fire

Someone told that when the pipe band had led the procession to the bonfire up the High Street to the Kilngreen, the High Street had been full from the bridge right back to the Town Hall.

I took his picture.

big dave at the binfire

After a while, the fireworks began.  At first, a modest display of cheerfully coloured but quiet illuminations set the scene…

first fireworks

…followed by some extravagant gestures…

fireworks 2019 1

…but soon things warmed up with some interesting cross fire…

fireworks 2019 2

…with enough smoke to make me glad to be standing upwind of the explosions.

fireworks 2019 3

The display had an excellent variety of effects from the traditional starbursts…

fireworks 2019 4

…to a loud and noisy section which painted the sky with dazzling flowers of light.

fireworks 2019 5

As well as big bangs and bags of sparkle, there was colour…

fireworks 2019 6

…and fountains…

fireworks 2019 7

…and curious curly whirly things.

fireworks 2019 8

There were trees of light…

fireworks 2019 9

…and spectacular lichens.

fireworks 2019 10

The show seemed to go for ever, though in real life I think that it lasted for about a quarter of an hour.  When it finished, the crowd gave a heartfelt round of applause to the organisers and the display designers.

If the purpose of a festival of fire at this time of year is to lift the spirits as we head into the winter months, this one certainly succeeded and I wish that I could have done it more justice with my camera.  It was a thoroughgoing treat.

Venison stew with boiled potatoes and Brussels sprouts was waiting for me when I got home as Mrs Tootlepedal was not so keen on rushing out to see the fireworks as I was.

The flying bird of the day is a rather impressionistic sparrow taken at the gloomiest part of the morning.

vague flying sparrow


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When he isn’t digging up roots in his garden, he is admiring the many fine views from his front door.

east wemyss view

After yesterday’s incessant rain, we got a kinder day today and I was able to take a walk round the garden after breakfast to see what flowers had survived the cold and the rain.

As the man who sold the evening paper in Carlisle used to shout, there are not many left but there were some whites about…

white flowers november

…although they were not in show condition.

The bird feeder was busy from the start of the day after a very quiet day yesterday.

sparrows and grernfiches

Sparrows and greenfinches made up the bulk of the early visitors.

flying greenfinch

And roses provided some colour in their own way.

rose hips

I didn’t have long to enjoy nature as it was soon time to hobble along the road to sing in the church choir.  After the departure of our regular minister, Scott to a new parish, we got a temporary minister, also called Scott, but he has now been recalled to serve in America so the service was led by a group from the congregation, none of whom are called Scott.  They did an excellent job….and chose cheerful hymns.

The weather was still mellow when we got home after the service and a short choir practice so Mrs Tootlepedal set about some more tidying up work in the garden combined with some bulb planting and I wafted about trying to look like someone who really would be helping if his leg would let him.  I took pictures instead.

We are very near the end of the road

calendula and potentilla november

I filled the feeders and checked how long it would take the jackdaws to notice than I had put out some fat balls.

One minute.

two jackdaws

I don’t know how they do it.

There were ever more members of the tit family flying about the garden today, great tits, blue tits….

perching blue tit

….and enough coal tits  to start an argument.

sparrow coal tits

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a sparrow hawk in the plum tree but the small birds’ early warning system was functioning well and they got away unscathed.  The sparrow hawk flew off before I could pick up my camera.

After lunch we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there and during the tea break I was approached by a lady who had just joined the choir.  She told me her name and when and where we had met before and armed with this information, I recognised her immediately.  Everyone should be as helpful as this.

We had a good sing and the day was still dry and warm as we drove home, although the choir ends in darkness now that the clocks have gone back.  We were held up when we got to Langholm by a large procession led by the pipe band which was marching down the High Street.  They were going to the Kilngreen to enjoy a bonfire and a firework display.

I got home, got a couple of cameras out and hobbled back along to the town bridge in time to find that a good blaze had already started on the banks of the Ewes Water.

2018 bonfire

It was soon followed by a firework display which was very satisfactory to watch and to listen to but slightly less good to photograph as the pyrotechnicians had gone for more sound than brightly coloured light.  There were some effects which were new to me like this curling and fizzing white column which made intricate circles.

2018 white firework

There were a lot of silver and white effects….

2018 fireworks

…and the stillness of the evening meant that the smoke from the explosions hung around a lot.

cloudy fireworks 2018

There were very few of the rockets that shoot high into the sky and explode downwards…

traditional forework 2018

…but it was a most enjoyable experience, although it must have frightened the living daylights out of any of the local ducks as it was very, very loud.

I am beginning to realise that I have been much too optimistic about how long it is going to take for my leg to get better so I am going to stop mentioning it and suffer in silence from now on until I am able to get back to cycling.

Well, I may moan a bit from time to time.

The lawn made an excellent background for today’s low flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch




Read Full Post »

Today’s picture shows the ruptured rim of the front wheel of my speedy bike.

rim rupture

This is the third wheel that has broken in this fashion since I got the bike.  I don’t know what is causing it but the very potholed roads round here might have something to do with it.  I discovered it yesterday afternoon when I was cleaning my bike prior to a longish ride today.  Luckily, Levi at the bike shop was kind enough to lend me a spare wheel while he gets me a replacement.  So I started the day with a trip to Longtown to pick up the wheel.  I followed that with a visit to our Producers’ Market where I bought good things and then went home to put the tyre from my old wheel onto the new one.

I have been left in charge of the gerbera while Mrs Tootlepedal is away.  I have to water it every day.  It is doing OK so far.


After all this excitement, a cup of tea was called for and after that, I was finally ready to set out on the bike.  As it was 11 o’clock by this time, the ride had lost a little of its proposed length but on the other side of the balance was the fact that the temperature had risen from 3C to nearly 6C.  It was sunny and  nearly windless and as I was well wrapped up,  the riding conditions were very pleasant.  Since it was a weekend, I chose to go up the main road to Hawick and back.  Cycling up the Ewes valley on a sunny day is a great delight.  This picture shows the head of the valley.

Ewes Valley

When you cross over the col at Mosspaul, you soon find yourself in Teviotdale and here is the river Teviot itself.

I stopped at Victoria Park in Hawick and ate a couple of tomato rolls which I brought for fuel and set off home with the lightest of winds behind me.  Before I left, I took a picture of some trees in the park at Hawick just to show that Eskdale doesn’t have a monopoly on autumn colour.

Park at Hawick

I rolled into Langholm having done 45 miles at 16 mph and felt so good that I popped up to Wauchope School and back just to get the distance over 50 miles for the day.  There were all sorts of activities going on in the town.  I passed the rugby team just running onto the park to play against Musselburgh and when I got into Thomas Telford Road there was a queue of coaches  outside the Buccleuch Centre where that was a very large brass band contest going on.  I was just too late to hear the Langholm Junior band play.  I was sorry to have missed them but on a day like today, cycling takes preference.

When I got back, I was delighted to see that the second yellow rose had made it before the frosts.

yellow roses

The nasturtiums at the front gate are also hanging on. Even the encroaching scaffolding hasn’t put them off.


I had received an e-mail from Dropscone’s niece Hilary reminding about the starlings at Gretna and since it was such a lovely evening, I decided to go and see them for myself.  I was a bit stunned as I drove down the road to hit a bank of dense fog on the top of the Canonbie by-pass.  I didn’t think I would see many birds in ten tenths fog but I pressed on and just as suddenly as it had appeared, the fog disappeared and a wonderful sunset took its place.

sunset near Longtown

Seen from a lay-by just before Longtown

There is always an anxious moment when you go to Gretna to see the starlings. Will there be any starlings to see?  I drove up the old A74 north of Gretna Green and there they were.

starlings 1

They were a bit too far away for perfect starling viewing so I crossed the motorway and parked at the Gretna Services.  Now they were close.


I got out of the car and the sky above me was filled with birds.  The ground around me was gently being splattered with bird droppings so I sheltered under trees where I could and enjoyed the show.



The photographs simply cannot convey the wonder of watching the starlings at Gretna when you are this close.  They are never still for a moment and the air is full of movement and sound.  The chattering of the birds and the constantly changing note of the wing beats are mesmerising.


Some of the most spectacular moments come when the twists and turns produce vivid spiralling patterns in the sky.  From that point of view, I was a bit too close to the action tonight to get the best shots but the excitement of being so close to the birds more than made up for it.

starlings 6

Strange shapes appear out of nowhere


Often the sky was literally full of birds

The birds fly in from all sides, swelling the flock minute by minute and after some minutes of general swirling, they begin to head for the evening roost.


They are heading for the trees just behind the car park


There are many preliminary swoops


This was the beginning of the end

The starlings funnel down into the trees as though sucked by a giant vacuum cleaner at tremendous speed and with a tremendous amount of noise.


Last call

I took the first of these pictures at 16.29 and the last at 16.46 so in real time the action is quite  short but while you are there among it, standing amazed, it seems to go on for a much longer time.  If you are ever near enough to go, just before the sun goes down, go.

On my way home, I had to run the gauntlet of the thick fog on the Canonbie by-pass once again.

This was not the end of the day’s enjoyment.  Today is bonfire night and the scouts had made a great construction on the Kilngreen so putting on my warm gloves and my woolly hat, I went off to see it go up in flames.

Lighting the bonfire

There were no fireworks to go with the bonfire because the cost of insurance had made it too expensive. This is a pity but if people want to sue someone at the least excuse, we all have to live with the consequences.   The bonfire was quite exciting by itself.  I think the guy on top of the bonfire was either a banker or an insurance executive this year.




bonfire from the bridge

I took this shot as I walked home over the Langholm Bridge

I don’t expect to enjoy many better days than this one.  It almost reconciled me to the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had an exciting day driving back from Heathrow Airport along the motorways of the south.  She was seeing her brother and his wife off to South Africa.  My daughter Annie is going to Los Angeles.  I don’t imagine they will see any starlings there.

Read Full Post »