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Posts Tagged ‘Buccleuch Centre’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who is beginning to get about again.  She visited the south bank of the Thames and admired the view of St Paul’s and the “Wobbly Millennium Bridge”  (now stabilised).

thames suspension bridge

Our weather is coming from the east at the moment so the temperature has dropped well into single figures and with a brisk wind blowing, it was not a day for idling around outside.

All the same, I had to go out after breakfast to return the key of the room where we had had our camera club meeting last night but I walked briskly and only stopped for one quick test of my new phone’s camera on the way.

sdr

The wind was coming from the left so by the time that I got home, a little sunshine had arrived and I tested the phone camera on a couple of the few remaining flowers in the garden.

sdrdav

The berberis is getting very thin on top now.

dav

I am still trying to get a balance between exercise and rest for my leg so I spent a quiet morning in, intending to go for a walk in the afternoon.

The birds provided a diversion.

There were goldfinch swirls….

goldfinch swirl

..and chaffinch twirls…

chaffinch twirl

…acrobatic landings….

one legged goldfinch landing

…and an anxious goldfinch hoping that a chaffinch had judged its braking distance correctly.

chaffinch pulling on brakes

Mrs Tootlepedal had put some breadcrumbs out on the lawn yesterday and two rather baffled jackdaws arrived today and wondered where they had all gone.

two curious jackdaws

On the whole, it was a quiet day and there were more chaffinches in the plum tree than on the feeder.

chaffinches in plum tree

After lunch, I went round to Nancy with a bank statement for the Archive Group and the experience of that very short walk made me reconsider my plan for a longer walk and I went home and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database instead.

Later Nancy came round with the completed accounts for the Archive Group for the year and happily, we are still solvent.

I partially made up for not going for a walk by doing a short spell on the bike to nowhere in the garage later in the afternoon and was pleased to find that my leg is continuing to improve.

This was successfully tested by a walk to the Buccleuch Centre in the evening where Mrs Tootlepedal and I watched a screened performance of the “The Madness of George III” by Alan Bennett at the Nottingham Playhouse.  I had seen the film some time ago and wondered if I would enjoy the play as much.  As it turned out, I enjoyed the play more as it was an excellent production and the immediacy of the live drama was very emotionally touching.

It says it is going to be colder still tomorrow.  I will have to think about putting the winter tyres on the car soon, not to mention looking out the winter undergarments for the driver.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who met an unexpected animal at St Pancras.  She thinks that there may be more roaming the streets of London.

20180918_120742

I had a day of steady but gentle activity today.  It was rather grey in the morning so I was happy to look at the hymns for next Sunday’s service and then entertain Sandy for a cup of coffee.  We arranged to go for a walk in the afternoon.

When he left, I went out into the garden to see what was going on and enjoyed a dahlia…

dahlia (2)

…and the promise of many more fuchsia flowers to come if the frost keeps away.

fuchsia buds

We are still getting a steady stream of butterflies…

red admiral butterfly

…and Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she saw no less than seven at the same time on this buddleia in the afternoon.

I kept an eye on the bird feeder…

busy feeder

…but there was nothing unusual to see.

goldfinch and chaffinch

I get the feeling that the quality and sharpness has gone out of my flying bird pictures lately so it might be a good idea to take my bird watching camera to get a service to see if I can blame it for the problem.  It may well be me though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off to visit the RBS mobile bank (which only comes once a week) and then we drove down to Longtown to collect her new glasses to go with her new improved eyesight.

Since we were close at hand, we went off for lunch at a garden centre before coming home again.

I didn’t have to long to sit down before Sandy arrived for our walk and we headed south for a couple of short strolls along the river using the old main road, now by-passed and just the place for a quiet stroll.

We are a bit worried that if they persist, the brisk winds will dry out the trees’ leaves and everything will turn brown rather than giving us good autumn colour so we took in all the colour we could see meanwhile.

A7 layby

river at Broomholm

river at seven sisters

hollows bridge downstream

hollows bridge upstream

Esk from Byreburnfoot brodge

It was very enjoyable having a leisurely walk, well sheltered from the breeze, along the river in good company.

We looked about as we went and Sandy spotted a snail on a dandelion…

dandelion with snail and fly

…which turned out to have a fly as a friend.

We disturbed a small flock of mallards on one of our visits to the river bank but they flew off before we could get a good shot.

flying ducks

There are fungi everywhere this year…

fungus

…and quite a lot of them are providing food for wild life.

fungus 2

We could have done with some sunshine to bring a bit of sparkle to the leaves…

byreburn road

…but of course it waited until we got into the car to go home before the sun came out.

Mike Tinker joined us for a cup of tea and remarked that his house seemed very quiet and empty now his visitors had left.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a concert given by Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, two of our favourite musicians.  They have visited Langholm regularly over the past years and we go to see them whenever we can, as they provide all the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable night out.

For those of you who don’t know them, they are a pair of comfortably built, affable and experienced traditional musicians of the highest quality, playing fiddle (Aly Bain) and accordion (Phil Cunningham).  They are happy to let their music speak for itself so it is played without affectation or over amplification.  The music itself always has the most gorgeous line and does not have an ounce of surplus fat on it.

The music is not the only thing that speaks as Aly and Phil keep up a running commentary between numbers and this is almost as good as the music and contains many jokes and anecdotes that are now old friends and all the more welcome for that.  All in all, it was another evening of great warmth and good cheer.

The flying bird of the day is well up to my current standard, i.e. not very good….and it is only just qualifying as a flying bird at all.

chaffinch landing

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent, Fiona.  She travelled as far as Durham, took a trip on the river and looked up at the cathedral as she drew near.

Durham

It was a dull, often rainy and always windy day today so I wasn’t unhappy to spend most of the morning going off with Mrs Tootlepedal to get our eyes tested in Longtown and following that with a trip to buy bird food and a visit to a local garden centre to look at but not buy decorative bark chippings.

The eye tests went well and Mrs Tootlepedal received the thumbs up for her cataract operation and is now just waiting for her new  glasses to arrive.  I was much the same as ever and my old glasses will do for another year so we were both happy.

While we were not buying decorative bark chippings, we had a toasted tea cake and a cup of coffee in the garden centre cafe so it was a morning well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal had business to do on the computer when we got home as part of the very bureaucratic administration for her Embroiderers’ Guild group so I set up the tripod in the kitchen, made some soup and watched the birds.

Feeling that our old bird feeders were getting on a bit, I had bought a shiny new feeder at the bird food shop.  I put it out and waited for visitors.

goldfinch on new feeder

A goldfinch was among the first but it was soon joined by a chaffinch…

chaffinch approaching new feeder

…a blue tit…

blue tit on new feeder

…another chaffinch….

another chaffinch and the new feeder

…and another blue tit…

blue tit coming to new feeder

…and another chaffinch!

flying chaffinch at new feeder

It had passed the bird magnet test.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s admin took some time and when she had finished, I settled down to do some admin of my own for the Archive Group.

When I had finished, it was time for a cup of tea and we were joined by Mike Tinker who had kindly brought round some more liquid fertiliser from his wormery for the benefit of our garden.

The day had always been warm for the time of year and since it wasn’t raining, we went out to do a bit after gardening when Mike left.

I was looking around at one point and saw a green blob on the ground.  C;loser inspection showed that it was a fallen walnut and more inspection found many more fallen walnuts.  The walnuts don’t always contain much in the way of a kernel as we live too far to the north for reliable development but this year, after the warm summer, we may be luckier.

walnuts in the garden

I hope we will be as Mrs Tootlepedal likes walnuts a lot.

I noticed other things too.

Mrs Tootlepedal was keen for me to take a picture of the Virginia creeper on the fence as it is now at its best, even on a gloomy day like today…

vigini creeper

…and it tends to disappear very quickly once it is over.

We dead headed the dahlias but even they are beginning to show a little wear and tear.

sunny reggae dahlia

The rose mallows made a great show when they came out in July but they have faded away and now only one or two are left.

rose mallow

Two surprises were to be seen, one rather late – a fresh foxglove in the back of a bed…

late foxglove

…and one very early – a wallflower which has lost its internal clock altogether.

early wallflower

It shouldn’t have come out until next spring.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to act as a volunteer front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and after a while, I went along to buy a ticket and watch the show there.  It was a screening of a concert by Jonas Kaufmann, the celebrated tenor,

He is a wonderful singer and he was joined by a sensational mezzo soprano called Anita Rachvelishvili and they sang a selection from Cavalleria Rusticana (which I could take or leave) followed by numerous well known Italian songs which were absolutely delightful.

Anita Rachvelishvili’s ability to switch from a full blown operatic style to a much more intimate style for the songs and excel at both bowled our audience over and as Jonas is a great treat whatever he sings, we had a really good evening.  What put the icing on the concert for me was that the members of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, who were providing the accompaniment, seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the audience.

We are promised heavy wind and rain from our first named storm of the autumn tomorrow so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the reality turns out to be not as bad as the warning.

“Much of Scotland is due to be battered by high winds and heavy rain as the first named storm of the season sweeps in. The Met Office has issued weather warnings and said Storm Ali could bring winds of 80mph and a danger to life from flying debris. An amber warning is in place for large parts of the country between 08:00 and 17:00 on Wednesday. Travel disruption and huge waves in coastal areas are also expected.”

The storm is named after Mrs Tootlepedal so it might well be quite impressive.

Meantime, the flying bird of the day is a tiny coal tit who will have to keep out of harm’s way tomorrow.

flying coal tit

 

 

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Our friend Gavin must have been in Yorkshire today as he sent me this shot of the breakaway in the Tour de Yorkshire going through Leyburn for my guest picture.

tour de yorkshire

The promised better weather arrived today but it took its time and didn’t really arrive until the afternoon.

As a result, I cycled along the road to the producers’ market in just a hint of drizzle.  Still, the purchase of fish, cheese and good meat cheered me up.  The trouble with buying seasonal local food though is that it is seasonal and local so there was no honey or venison at the moment.  It makes the anticipation for their return to the market all the keener.

Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t letting a little dull weather spoil her gardening and spent almost all of the day hard at work.  I helped where I could and took time out to mow the front lawn and take a few pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal said today that she sometimes wishes that she could freeze garden time at this time of year because she loves the colourful state of things so much.

I took a  few pictures to try to capture some of that feeling.

Who could resist this?

tulips and daffs

Mind you if the colour was like this all the time, maybe we wouldn’t appreciate it as much as we do when it comes after a long, cold, grey six months.

The tulips are in full swing.

tulips

In all shapes and colours….

tulips

…and designs.

_DSC3809

And some have friends too.

fly on tulip

We have dead headed daffodils by the bucket full but still plenty survive…

daffs

…to take their place as daffodil of the day.

daff

There are other colours, even though they are not as prominent as the tulips and daffs.

pulsatillasilver pearviolet

And I was pleased to see bees busy all over the garden, although the fruit pollination is what I like to see best.

bees in garden

While I was looking at flowers, creatures big and small intruded into the frame.

The small were very small.

insects on flowers

And the big came in the form of a blackbird which flew onto a garden seat a few feet away from me, gave me a very hard stare and then did its keep fit routine…

blackbird

…breaking off to give me some more hard stares from time to time.

And in between, a lone butterfly appeared.

comma butterfly

I think that this is a comma, a rare visitor for us.

In the afternoon, we were visited by Mike with his daughter Liz and her husband and daughter.  Liz is a professional gardener and had come to look at a sick shrub to suggest a course of action.  Targeted pruning was suggested and Mrs Tootlepedal will put this into action.

The expert party went on to look at a gift which Mrs Tootlepedal has recently received.  They considered what should be done with it…

bamboozled

….but I am sorry to say that they were bamboozled.

In between times. the feeder was busy with siskins, goldfinches, chaffinches and redpolls…

redpoll and siskinsredpoll and chaffinchgoldfinches

I had to refill it.

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had been watched by a robin while she worked which is good news because we haven’t seen one around for several weeks.

When we needed a rest, we watched bits of another good stage of the Tour de Yorkshire bike race on the telly.   I didn’t envy the riders at all as they ground up the 1 in 4 slope at Sutton Bank.  Even these superb athletes had to go at a very sedate pace to get up such a hill.   I would have needed a lift in a car!

In the evening we went to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to a jazz trio led by a very good lady singer who has lived locally for the last few years and with the piano played by our Langholm Sings accompanist, Nick.  He turned out to be a very accomplished jazz player with a great sense of rhythm and good invention and as the singer and bassist were very good too, it was just my cup of tea and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

In all the gardening, I didn’t have time to get a solo flying bird of the day so once again it is a pair, this time seen from behind.

siskin and chaffinch flying

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s sister, Elizabeth, who took advantage of a recent sunny day to climb up a hill and look down on the town.

Liz's picture of Langholm

Our warm spell continued but in the absence of any sunshine.

I had a busy morning, starting with a trip to the producers’ market to stock up on meat, fish and cheese, which with the help of any amount of good advice from concerned onlookers, I managed to accomplish.

Then there was just time to greet the return of the goldfinches to the feeder after a day off…

goldfinch

…before I got the slow bike out and went for a fifteen mile ride. I had a job to do after lunch so  I had a choice of a shorter ride in the morning or a longer one in the afternoon.  The forecast wasn’t very positive so I chose the short morning ride.

Unlike yesterday there were no views available….

View from Megsfield

….so I kept my eyes down today.  I stopped near the top of Callister on my way out to see what a bit of roadside wall might hold.  It turned out that it held quite a lot.

Every lichen seemed to have a red tip if you looked closely enough, whether it was tall and stringy…

lichen on Callister wall

…or short and fat among the moss…

P1080670

…or so tiny that you could hardly see it all.

lichen on Callister wall

I stopped at the bottom of the hill on my way back when I saw some clumps of wild primroses near the new bridge at Westwater Cottage.

wild primroses

So I had to have a look at the bridge while I was there…

Collin Bridge lichen

…and some very fine lichen on the parapet…

Collin Bridge lichen

…as well as a potential wild flower in the grass verge.

wild flower

My choice of a fifteen mile trip turned out to be well judged as it started to rain just after I got home and it kept raining until seven o’clock in the evening.

I had time to walk round the garden before the rain started and had another go at doing justice to the pulmonaria but the camera always seems more interested in the back of the plant than the front.  I shall keep trying.

pulmonaria

The magnolia was poking its nose out….

magnolia

…and so was a surprise frog in the pond.

frog

I chased after a bumble bee with no success so I took a picture of the developing primula and went in.

primula

Once in, I looked out.

The goldfinches were back in good numbers and blowing each other away in style.

goldfinch

Some, but not many, siskins joined in the fun…

goldfinch and siskin

..and once again, there was always a queue for a perch.

flying goldfinch

…with the chaffinches at the back of it.

_DSC3016

We had the usual suspects, goldfinches, siskins and chaffinches with a couple of redpolls arriving after I had put the camera away but I did see one unusual bird in the plum tree.

At first I thought that it was  a sparrow…

reed bunting

…but that didn’t look quite right so I had a close look when I put the picture on my computer and I think that it is a reed bunting, though I am always open to correction from knowledgeable readers.

reed bunting

It is a pleasure to have new visitors to the garden.

I did my lunchtime task, which was to open the meeting room for the Embroiderers’ Guild in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal and then retired home in heavy rain to waste the rest of the afternoon watching the early stages of the third round of the Masters golf tournament.

I cooked a smoked fish kedgeree for my tea and then went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a concert where I met Sandy.  I was very vexed during the afternoon when a friend rang up to ask if I was going to the party to find that I had inadvertently double booked myself as I was also supposed to be going to a choir member’s birthday do today.

This was embarrassing but as the choice was driving thirty miles in the rain to the party which however enjoyable would go on very well without me or walking 200 yards to the Buccleuch Centre where I had bought an expensive ticket, I chose the short walk.

I just hoped that the concert would make the choice worthwhile.

It did.

It was by YolanDa Brown, a jazz, reggae, soul fusion saxophonist backed by a very well drilled, skilled and creative quartet.  You can find YolanDa on Youtube  and very pretty she sounds but the recording does no justice at all to her live show which was sensational.

It was loud and at times the rhythm was so funky that you risked breaking an ankle if you tried to tap your foot but the flow of inventive music was so overwhelmingly immersive that I came out at half time feeling pretty euphoric.  The whole thing was like being caught in a landslide of joy.

YolanDa is personally very charming as well as being extremely accomplished and she managed without any strain at all to get the entire largely elderly audience on its feet and rocking to a reggae beat.

The second half was better.

I should say that the audience was not large, especially for a band which was on a world tour including, Australia, America, Europe, Morocco and Langholm but the band didn’t stint and obviously loved playing the music as much as the audience enjoyed listening to it.

I walked home a happy man…and the rain had stopped.

The flying bird of the day is one of our loyal band of chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from  Dropscone’s recent seaside holiday on the east coast.  He climbed a dune to look at the beach and saw five people, two dogs and half a million razor clam shells.

razor clams

We had a third and bonus sunny day as the weather turned out better than expected.  It was frosty again at dawn so I was happy to entertain Dropscone (and scones) for coffee while the temperature climbed slowly up to cycling levels.

Before coffee, I had an early walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we saw the first bumblebee of the year.

bumble bee

It was so bright that it was hard to miss.   I think that it is probably a tree bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.

After coffee, Dropscone went off to play golf and I looked out of the kitchen window while making some carrot and parsnip soup for lunch.  Rather to Mrs Tootlepedal’s surprise, the parsnips came out of the vegetable garden after a hard winter in pretty good condition.

Rather to my surprise, there was a steady supply of flying chaffinches and some convenient sunshine for them to fly in.

We try to run a gender neutral blog so here are male chaffinches, both horizontal and vertical…

flying chaffinches

…and females with wings in and out.

flying chaffinches

Flying birds are like buses, sometimes you don’t see any and sometimes they all come at once.

After lunch, I went out for a pedal.  Because my throat was still a bit rusty, I started carefully but it soon became obvious that cycling was doing no harm so I put a bit of effort in.  For once, the wind was light and I enjoyed every mile of my usual twenty mile trip to Canonbie and back.

There were a few signs of life in the verges at last.

dandelion

I stopped to admire a handsome tree at the Bloch….

bloch tree

…and some cows in a field who were happy to sit for a picture.

cows

This one took her duties very seriously.

cow

In times past, I would have been worried to see cows lying down as this was thought of as a sign of impending rain but this is a myth and the sun stayed out for me, giving me a fine view of the northern English hills in the distance.

view from tarcoon

I took another picture of the lambs at the Hollows.

lambs

Who could resist them?

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very hard at work in the garden on her new design for the middle lawn and its surrounds.

new garden plan

It takes a lot of skill and energy to lay paving stones.

I had a look round while she toiled.

The winter aconites were soaking up the sun..

winter aconite

…and a welcome hint of a flower or two could be seen on the drumstick primulas.

drumstick primula

Dr Tinker, who was walking his daughter’s dog, Bob arrived in nice time to join us for a cup of tea and half a dainty cake.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we made some progress which was helped when I found out that it wasn’t us but the computer that was making a mistake in one movement of the sonata we were playing.  GIGO.

I was expecting to go and play trios in the evening but the playing was cancelled so I went off with Mrs Tootlepedal to see a screening of Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Buccleuch Centre.  I didn’t know what to expect but in the event, I liked the slightly stylised  production a lot.  The setting, costumes and lighting were unfussy and bright (a very unusual thing in modern productions as far as I can see) and you could hear every word spoken. As the words are by Oscar Wilde this was a Good Thing.  What came over very clearly was the relevance of the play to Wilde’s own life and this gave genuine pathos to a witty production.

The flying bird of the day is one of the busy chaffinches and for once, the photograph has not been cropped at all which shows how favourable conditions were this morning.

flying chaffinch

My twenty miles today got me over three hundred miles for the month of March.  This is as much as I did in the first two months put together so things are looking up a bit. 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone’s niece Hilary.  It is of an Egyptian Vulture.  It was taken at Zurich Zoo on Saturday and makes Mr Grumpy look like a little ray of sunshine.

It is of an Egyptian Vulture. Taken at Zurich Zoo on Saturday.

Little rays of sunshine were in short supply here today as this was the view when we got up.

snowy garden

It wasn’t even good quality snow, just a soggy flump which turned to slush as it fell.

wet snow

It snowed quite a lot more during the day without adding to the sum total of snow on the ground at all.

Sandy came round for coffee as we are going to give an illustrated talk about the Archive Group in Canonbie tomorrow and we had to settle the details.  After he left, I walked through the slush up to the Archive Centre and made some copies of a DVD of the History of the Mills and Railway in Langholm.  We are going to show the DVD tomorrow and with luck, we might sell a copy or two for funds.

I had a look at the birds when I got back but things were still pretty gloomy.

goldfinch

The snow hadn’t stopped birds arriving but there weren’t very many.

busy feeder snow

I was pleased to see a couple of greenfinches.

greenfinches

After lunch, there was a moment when the sun came out so I put on my wellies and went for a short walk.

Whita snow

The hills looked better with a hint of sun on them…

snowy monument

…and if I had been feeling better, I would have rushed up to the monument while the going was good.

As it was, the recovery is still a work in progress so I settled for a very slow walk at a low level, taking my puffer before I set out and creeping up the only hill on my route.

Although it was very slushy rather than crisp, there was still a scenic view or two to be had.

Langholm Bridge snow

Sadly the sun didn’t make much of an effort and it soon clouded over.

Snowy scene

But snow brightens things up.

Ewesbank stream

It was an odd sort of walk.  There were fairly snowy bits….

Pathhead path

…with extensively snowy views to the left…

snowy whita

…but when I turned the corner at the end of the field, there was hardly a flake of snow to be seen.

path along top of woods

I was glad to have the shelter of the trees for the rest of my walk as it started to snow again and the wind got up so I would have been thoroughly wet if i had been in the open.

As it was, I kept my head down, admired a striking jelly fungus in the heart of the wood….

jelly fungus

…and got home, reasonably dry and content.

Even a short walk is lot to take on at the moment and I found myself fast asleep in front of the telly for most of the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, I had to decide whether I was fit enough to sit through a live screening of Rigoletto from Covent Garden at the Buccleuch Centre.  Mrs Tootlepedal was not up for a night out yet so I hummed and hawed about going and in the end, at the very last moment, decided that it might be worth the trouble.

I make a lot of decisions of variable quality but this was one of the very best that I have made recently.

The first scene in this production is appalling, treating the audience as if they are incapable of any imagination and showing the actors no respect at all but thereafter, the brooding setting and singing of Dimitri Platanias as Rigoletto and Lucy Crowe as Gilda transformed it into an evening of wonder and emotional satisfaction for me.

And when I came out, the town was carpeted with a fresh blanket of crisp white snow.

Henry Street in snow

The flying bird of the day was a tricky proposition and the only one that I could find was hiding.

busy feeder snow

 

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