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Posts Tagged ‘Buccleuch Centre’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  She was joined by a jackdaw for breakfast at Kenwood House, but it came too late as she had cleared her plate.

jackdaw for breakfast

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon so I might, if I had been energetic and well organised, gone out for an early pedal.  What I managed was a leisurely walk round the garden instead.

Outside, on the front wall of the house, everything was abuzz.  A cotoneaster horizontalis was attracting a lot of bees…

bees on contoneaster horizontalis

…although it hardly looked as though the flowers were open enough to let a bee in.

There was more buzzing at the other end of the middle lawn where the nectaroscordum had attarcted a different set of bees altogether.

bees on nectaroscordum

In fact, wherever we looked, there were more bees on flowers….

four bees on flowers

…and it was very good to see several different types of bumble bee.

Mrs Tootlepedal has some pretty plants which she wants to put out in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.  Unfortunately, because of the nearby bird feeder, pigeons and other birds tend to come and perch on the chimney pot, crushing any plants there.  We therefore decided to move the feeder pole to outside the dining room window, hoping that the birds would go with it and leave the chimney pot unmolested.

A blackbird soon arrived to check out the situation…

blackbird on hedge

…and it was followed by a siskin…

siskin on new feeder

…and then a goldfinch became the first customer.

goldfinch on new feeder

Soon it was business as usual in the new position.

full new feeder

In between times, I mowed the  front lawn and went up to the the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin top up.

When I got back, I had time to spot a white butterfly

butter white

…before we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to have a light lunch and listen to an illustrated lecture from the interesting young man who is running the Wild Eskdale project.  Kevin, the project leader, has two aims, outdoor education for youngsters and environmental tourism for visitors.  He demonstrated that there is more than enough wild life and scenery around the town to satisfy the most demanding visitor and we hope that his project is a great success. Those interested can see more here.

In spite of a gloomy forecast, it wasn’t raining when we got home and I had time to admire the 20cm flowers on the peony….

big peonies

…and an even bigger bee on the nectaroscordum…

large bee on nectaroscordum

…before I decided to defy the forecast and go for a bike ride.

There are fields of buttercups to be seen…

meadow of buttercups

…and the roads are still lined with cow parsley  in places…

verges of cow parsley callister

….and when I looked down as I took the parsley picture, I saw that there is a lot of English plaintain about too.

english plaintains

It was a much calmer day than yesterday so I cycled to the top of Callister before turning and coming sedately back down the hill back to the town.

I took a turn along the river and saw a lone gull…

gull by Esk

…and pair of oyster catchers along the water’s edge…

oyster catcher by Esk

…before deciding that the weather looked good enough to add another six miles to my total by going back up the road as far as Wauchope Schoolhouse.

I paused to have a look at my favourite little cascade at Bessie Bells on the way…

wauchope cascade june

…and this may have been a mistake because the rain started when I was still two miles from home and I got quite wet in the last ten minutes of my ride.

Still, I was pleased to have got another 20 miles to add to my miles for the week and after a cup of tea and a slice of toast, everything was fine.

Fine indoors that is, because it rained steadily for the rest of the day outside.  I kept an eye on the re-positioned feeder and noted a redpoll…

redpoll on new feeder

…and a mixed bag of chaffinch, siskin and sparrows…

busy new feeder

…so it seems that the new position is going down well with the birds.

We were visited by our friend Bruce who brought with him a bird ringer’s band.  He had recovered it from a siskin which had suffered a fatal accident when it crashed into one of his windows on the 10th May.  I took a picture of the ring beside the tip of a ball point pen to show how tiny the ring has to be to fit on the leg of a siskin, a bird which weighs about 13 grams.

 

siskin bird ring

Bruce had read the number on the ring and had sent it to the BTO, the British Trust for Ornithology, the body responsible for bird ringing volunteers in the UK.  In return he received a note saying that the siskin had been ringed (rung?) in Thetford, Norfolk, 386km away to the south of us.   It had been recorded there on the 9th April so in spite of its diminutive size, it had flown 386km north in a month.  Who knows where the siskin pictured at the top of this post has come from, though it might well be locally born and bred.

The rain is supposed to stop by tomorrow morning so I might get out for a pedal for the third day running.  This would be very welcome, as my feet are still not up to much in the way of walking.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, eyeing up the new feeder site.

flying chaffinch new feeder

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s African odyssey.  She is putting a full account of the trip on her blog which can be found here.

hippos,

Yesterday’s rest had improved my foot a little but as there is still some way to go, I had another day where I didn’t venture out of house or garden on foot until well into the evening.  I did pay two visits to shops, pedalling very sedately on my slow bike.

It was warm enough outside for Mrs Tootlepedal to get some useful gardening in.  My role was limited to sporadic supervision though I helped to lift up the little bridge over our pond.  It turned out to be acting not just as a bridge but as a home  from home for a pair of frogs too.

two frogs

I don’t know who was more surprised, them or us.

We lifted the bridge to see if we could spot a leak in the pond liner as our pond had mysteriously and suddenly gone down a lot..

empty pond

It had been absolutely full two days ago.  We filled it up and will look anxiously tomorrow to see whether it has gone down again.

I wandered around the garden but as it was a damp and misty day, there wasn’t a lot to see except the  inevitable moss which is taking over the world…

moss elder

…and any amount of rather unusual raindrop patterns on leaves…

another leaf with raindrops

…in every corner…

lupin with raindrops

…of the flower beds…

leaf with raindrops

….and on euphorbia flowers.

euphorbia with raindrops

The forsythia was  doing its best to brighten things up…

forsythia

…and pulmonarias are trying to help too.

pulmonaria

I spent most of the day indoors, killing time by doing this and that and occasionally peering through the gloom at the bird feeders.

The siskins were thoroughly at home today…

four siskins

…although they had to fight off the attentions of chaffinches….

siskin under pressure from chaffinch

…and goldfinches…

siskin under pressure from goldfinch

…not to mention other siskins.

siskin under pressure from siskin

The main business of the day was a visit to the Buccleuch Centre in the evening to see the Langholm Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of My Fair Lady.

You always hope when you go to see a production involving friends that you are going to be able to look them in the eye afterwards and say well done without feeling shifty.  This show amply fulfilled that hope with a crisp production, good acting, excellent stage crew work and some really first class singing without a single weak member of the cast or chorus.   The show itself is one of my favourite musicals, with a good story, some very witty dialogue and a fistful of memorable tunes.  Time in the auditorium passed in the twinkling of an eye.

I am really beginning to feel the lack of exercise so I fear that I will have to put in some time on the bike to nowhere in the garage starting from tomorrow before I forget how to pedal altogether.

It wasn’t a good day for taking pictures of flying birds as the mist never lifted from the hills so I have put in two mediocre efforts, neither of which are chaffinches.

flying siskinflying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia who got to see the wonderful Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘The Smoke that Thunders’, better known perhaps as the Victoria Falls, on her African trip.

Victoria Falls

Our spell of very poor cycling and photographing weather continued with yet more rain, accompanied by a chilly wind today to make matters worse.  We had had a clear spell but as it had been over night, all it gave us was an early morning frost and then it went away.

Since it was actually Susan’s birthday today, we pulled out all the stops to celebrate the occasion.

susan's birthday

It could hardly have been grander.

Sadly, the birthday girl didn’t stay long as she had arranged to meet my brother and one of my other sisters in Derby for another celebratory meal so Mrs Tootlepedal took her off to catch the train south from Carlisle.

I stayed at home as I had had enough driving yesterday and went up to theArchive Centre base to put a new ink cartridge in our printer.  To my relief, I had ordered the correct one and the printer worked.

When I got home, I watched the birds for a bit.

The feeder is going down very steadily at the moment and needs to be filled at least once a day.  I put this down to the siskins who are regular visitors and keen eaters…

four siskins

…and keen arguers too.

siskins attack each other

There are still plenty of chaffinches ready to make a dash for the feeder when the siskins go off.

pair of incoming chaffinches

I did go out for a walk round the garden but it was too wet and windy to be fun.

daffodil in wet

I made some soup for my lunch and settled down to a quiet afternoon of doing the crossword and putting music on to the computer.

I did look out of the window at one point and I saw two partridges in the garden (right under the pear tree) so I went out to try to get a picture, but they sloped off before I could shoot them.

Luckily for me, one turned up later just outside the kitchen window and…

partridge head turned

…gave me a hard stare and portrait pose.

partridge

While I was looking at the partridge, I noticed a blackbird so I took a gloomy shot just to record that it had been there….

blackbird

…and then a sparrow popped up too.

sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely, having visited a garden centre where she made many judicious purchases, including a tiny plant just for me. I hope to show pictures of its development if I can mange to keep it alive.

It is an argyranthemum.

Argyranthemum

I have put it in a pot and watered it and it hasn’t died yet.  A good start, I think.

In the evening we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a performance by an enterprising troupe of Japanese style drummers, Mugenkyo Taiko, who are based in southern Scotland, not far from us.  We have seen them before and enjoyed them so we were in optimistic mood as we settled down for the concert.

We were not disappointed and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.   I had a minor grump as they brought fewer drummers with them than before, and so there was more talking this time to allow them to recover between numbers.   The grump was only because, if offered a choice, I would much prefer to hear a Taiko drummer drumming than hear him or her talking.  Still the chat was educational so I shouldn’t grumble.

For those who are interested to find out what a Japanese style drumming group are doing in Scotland, here is a link to their website.

There were five drummers tonight and when they were all busy at the same time knocking six bells out of their instruments, it made a powerful and moving sound.

A stately chaffinch outshone the siskins when it came to the choice of flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Canada.  Lucie, who sent it to me, is scratching her head as to why she can’t find people anxious to share a cup of tea with her on her patio when there are such comfortable looking cushions to sit on.

Lucie's snowy pergola

At least Lucie has had some sunshine.  We got another grey day today but not as windy as it has been for which we were grateful.

The sunshine in my life was metaphorical in the form of Sandy who came round for a coffee in a very cheerful mood.  His foot is a lot less sore and he has been sleeping exceptionally well so no wonder he was smiling.

As well as Sandy, we had plenty of other visitors today and I had to fill the feeder twice, a rare occurrence this year.

The siskins have wasted no time in making their presence felt as can be seen by this picture of a diminutive siskin blowing an incoming chaffinch away.

chaffinch blown away by siskin

A chaffinch did manage an unimpeded landing a little while later.

elgant chaffinch

Meanwhile the siskins took to creeping round the feeder to surprise goldfinches.

siskin sneaking past feeder

After Sandy left, I decided to go for a cycle ride as the forecast offered a few dry hours before the rain came.   It was still pretty breezy with gusts of up to 20 mph so I took things easy as I went round my customary Canonbie 20 mile circuit and kept my eyes open for things to photograph…

…like trees shaped by the prevailing wind…

bare tree chapelhill

…and more trees with some branched pruned by the passing winds…

bare tree Canonbie road

…and even more trees, this time standing in a relatively sheltered spot.

bare tree neat Canonbie

When I came to bridges, I stopped.

This is the Canonbie Bridge, low and wide…

Canonbie bridge

…and this is the Hollows bridge a mile or two up the road, high and handsome.

hollows bridge arch

Landowners grossly neglect their responsibility to provide uninterrupted views of river bridges for passing photographers as you can see from the Hollows bridge and this picture of another good looking bridge, a mile or two up the road which is almost submerged in trees and bushes, whereas….

old A7 bridge

…this ugly road bridge a few yards away is as clean as a whistle (and they have been cutting down more trees near it).road bridge

There is no justice….

…and bridges are not the only cause of photographic dissatisfaction.  Road furniture is a pest too as you can see from the junction at Canonbie where a lovely bank of snowdrops has been overwhelmed by clutter.

snowdrops and road signs

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy helping out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop so I took a look around and noticed that she has got the Christmas tree out of the greenhouse and is getting it acclimatised for life in the garden.

christmas tree in garden

In the ‘signs of spring category’, new life on a rose was encouraging.

rose leaf

I went inside where I had a late lunch, battled with the crossword and did a little bird watching.

The stalk of the sunflower makes a convenient stopping place for birds waiting for a vacant perch on the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

Some birds didn’t wait but made straight for the feeder…

horizontal chaffinch

…while others did their best to remove those who had got there first.

chaffinchs attack

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from a very busy session at the coffee shop and had a restorative cup of tea.  It must have been strong tea because as soon as she had downed it, we went off for a short expedition by car to the White Yett and then by foot up the track to the Monument.

Even on a dull day, the Ewes Valley is worth a look…

ewes valley

…and on any day at all, the lichens on the boulders beside the track and what I think is algae on the monument itself are very eye catching.

lichen and algae

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought her binoculars with her and took a moment at the summit to scan the skies for interesting birds…

Mrs T bird watching on whita

…in vain.

I looked down on the town, eight hundred feet below…

Langholm from Whita

…and then we went back down the track to the car before we got caught in the rain which was threatening to arrive.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of a performance of Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet company while my friend Susan arrived to take me to Carlisle where we had an excellent evening of tootling.  The ballet was very good too, Mrs tootlepedal reported.

It was raining lightly as Susan and I drove down to Carlisle and it was very wet as we drove home so I was lucky to get my cycle and walk in before the rain arrived.  Sometimes the weather goods relent and give a man a break.  However, it does say that it is going to rain all day tomorrow so it was just a small break.

Another horizontal chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Alert readers may remember a guest picture or two  showing the recent invasion of Derby by some rather scruffy members of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army.  My brother went to see the prince in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and asked him not to invade Derby again.  Answer came there none.

20181230_143942

After the excitements of yesterday, we had a very quiet day today, Mrs Tootlepedal because she was a bit tired after a hard days work and me because I wanted to rest my foot after walking more than I should have done in Edinburgh.

I wasn’t missing any cycling as the temperature only just rose above freezing all day though we were very ice free and I did risk cycling as far as the Buccleuch Centre to buy a ticket for an evening show.

I also had to do a bit of walking from and to our local garage as we had noticed last night that one of our headlight bulbs had expired.  They kindly replaced the bulb very promptly and the car is back in action again.

Apart from a visit from Drospcone for coffee and the subsequent consumption of high quality treacle scones, I had a very peaceful time, occasionally looking out of the window.

It was frosty first thing…

_dsc9465

…but the sun came out and things brightened up.

_dsc9474

A chaffinch with a misplaced sense of humour mocked my ambition to catch a good flying bird of the day…

_dsc9470

…and a pigeon arrived which looked not to be any great need of more bird food.

_dsc9486

Mike Tinker came round for afternoon tea with ginger biscuits so we had good company both in the morning and afternoon.

The highlight of the day was the show for which I had bought a ticket earlier on (Mrs Tootlepedal was doing front of house duties and did not require a ticket).

The event was an illustrated lecture by Laurie Campbell, a wild life photographer who lives not too far from us in the Scottish borders.

He is a photographer of great skill and artistry and on top of that, he is an expert in putting together a show of 400 hundred varied images of which every one is interesting and delivering it at a speed which maintains the interest of the audience from first to last.  Add to that a very pleasant and graceful manner of delivery packed full of interesting technical details and a dry sense of humour and you have the recipe for a perfect evening.

Those interested can visit his website here.

As I had time on my hands today, I managed to find several flying birds of the day.

_dsc9468

_dsc9469

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A final question: can you have to many cute robin pictures?

_dsc9488

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony, proving that he can take in the bigger picture but not miss interesting detail at the same time.

tony's stone

Encouraged by the splendid picture of a loaf bread which our daughter Annie sent us, I checked the recipe which she had also sent me and decided that it might be within my capabilities to make a similar loaf.   It has an interesting method requiring no kneading at all and cooking in a Dutch oven so it was a journey into the unknown for me.

The result was pretty good for a first go and I would have had a picture for you if half of it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared already.  I can report that as it is made from what is virtually a batter rather than a stiff dough, it tastes much like a crusty crumpet and is very delicious, especially when it is still warm.  I will have another go.

I had plenty of time to look at birds this morning while I was cooking and for once, there were plenty of birds to look at…

busy feeder

…including another visit from our resident robin.

robin on chair

I liked these two goldfinches keeping a communal eye out…

two contrary goldfinches

..perhaps checking for siskins, one or two of which made a welcome re-appearance.

siskin

I did think of going for a cycle ride while the mixture was rising but a rather gloomy forecast persuaded me that a walk was a better option so I went along to check out the Becks wood.

It was reasonably warm but grey and windy so I resolved to try a few black and whites on my way.

bw bench

I thought that this old tree stump, entirely given over to moss deserved the full colour treatment….

moss covered stump

…as did this elegantly gesturing tree…

expressive tree

…but an old shack often looks better in monochrome.

shed bw

In among the hundreds of new trees in tubes in the recently felled Becks wood are some rather weedy looking survivors of the cull.  This one looked as though it was bending down to greet the newcomers.

bending tree bw

The wood has been thoroughly cleared of felled trees and brashings and the scale of the new planting is impressive.  Although some locals mourn the loss of the commercial conifer plantation, I for one look forward to the new deciduous wood and enjoy the much improved views in the meantime.

view down becks burn

I went through the wood, down the road and across the Auld Stane Brig before climbing up the lower slopes of Warbla on the far side of the valley.  I kept an eye out for interesting stones and was much struck by this one with lichens on it nearly as decorative as a Maori tattoo.

warbla stane with lichen

An old tree trunk posed for a picture.

rotting log

I had thought of taking the track to the top of the hill but when I looked around, I could see low clouds coming in from all sides…

mist coming down

… so I took a more direct route home through the Kernigal wood and along the Stubholm track..

bw wood walk

…before dropping down into the park and passing a favourite wall.

moss on wall

When I got back to our house, the snowdrops on the bank of the dam were out…

dam snowdrops flourishing

…as was much of the moss on the middle lawn which had been pecked by jackdaws…

lawn pecking

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had gone off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.

My timing was good as it started to drizzle as I got home and it kept it up for the rest of the day.

Left to myself, I baked the bread, did the crossword and settled down to trying to learn a Carlisle Choir song off by heart.  This was a thankless task because as soon as I had mastered one phrase, I found that I had forgotten the previous one.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and in the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for one of the highlights of its annual programme.   Fresh from touring China and playing in Inverness, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with 60 players, had come to play their Viennese New Year’s concert to a full house.  I cannot speak too highly of the privilege it is for us to get a full scale symphony orchestra playing in our town of 2500 inhabitants.  We sit so close to the orchestra that the experience is absolutely thrilling and the slightly dry acoustic, which the players find hard work, means that the audience can appreciate every note that is played by every instrument.

The conductor even told several very amusing jokes.

A grand night out in every way.

As we have a full singing day tomorrow, I am expecting the weather to take turn for the better.

Although there were a lot of birds, poor light made finding a good flying bird of the day hard work and this was the best that I managed.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows his efforts to teach his dogs to appreciate a fine sunset over the Forth last night.

wemyss dogs at sunset

We got a frosty morning without the benefit of any sunshine here and the temperature hardly rose at all for the rest of the day.  Still, as everyone remarked, at least it wasn’t raining.

The chilly weather was encouraging birds to come to the feeder…

chilly feeder

….and I poked my nose out into the garden after breakfast to enjoy Jack Frost’s work.

garden frost

Sandy came round for coffee and we discussed Archive Group business.  He is busy cleaning and scanning a large set of photographic glass plates which are more than 100 years old and he is finding the results very interesting.  They will appear on our website in due course.

While we were chatting, an unexpected flash of colour caught my eye and I leapt up to see a brambling in the plum tree,

brambling in Plum tree december

This is the second one of the season but like the first, it seemed to be a lone bird and didn’t stay long.

Unlike the brambling, the dunnocks are permanent fixtures at the moment and are obviously managing to avoid the marauding cats which haunt our garden.

dunnock on chair

Otherwise the traffic was much as usual.

chaffinch and goldfinch frosty day

After coffee, I gave my spare laptop and the Archive Group projector a trial run and then went along to the Buccleuch Centre with them where I was able to prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch.  Not only did I get some excellent soup and sandwiches at the patrons’ lunch but I was allowed the privilege of showing the other patrons 100 of my photographs.  They put up with this without any complaint and I enjoyed showing a selection taken from every month from December 2017 to December 2018.

Mrs Tootlepedal was helping with the catering both for our lunch and the other customers in the coffee bar and she had a very busy time.  She was still working hard when I went home.

The afternoon was very still and I would dearly have liked to have gone for a quick cycle ride, as days with little wind are at a premium.  However, the thermometer was still only showing 2 degrees C so I allowed good sense to take control.  I really do not want to hit a patch of ice on my bike this winter and even if the road is 99% ice free, it is the other 1% that can do the damage.

I went for a walk.

It turned out to be a good decision because although the going underfoot was good, not only were there plenty of icy puddles…

icy puddle

…but there was also a rawness in the air that made it feel very cold so cycling would not have been fun at all.

When I got to the park, I found that someone had been improving on nature…

baubles in park tree

…and when I had passed through the park, I found that others had gone to the trouble of sweeping (or blowing) all the leaves off the path through the Beechy Plains.

swept beechy plains

This is the sort of thing that brings a smile to your face even when your nose and ears are tingling with the cold.

I walked along the Murtholm track, looking for points of interest on a grey day, such as a bright bramble leaf

winter bramble leaf

…and drops of water suspended on every square of the sheep fencing the whole way along the track….

droplets on sheep wire

…and evidence of the recent strong winds…

fallen branches

…and a very fresh and green looking shrub.   I am open to suggestions as to what it might be.  Some sort of ivy perhaps?

ivy

I looked up at Warbla where I had been standing in the beautiful sunshine yesterday…

Warbla on a frosty day

…and was very glad that I wasn’t up there today.

It was growing increasingly misty as I went towards Skippers Bridge and when I got to it, the view downstream from the bridge was gloomy.

misty from skippers

Where there is a bridge parapet or a wall, there is always lichen and there was a good selection on the bridge itself and the wall along the main road as I walked back.

skippers brodge lichen

There as lichen of a different sort on a wooden fence beside the path further on and one or two defiant daisies to add a touch of colour to my walk.

lichen adn saisy

I was surprised to see a very healthy looking fungus up a tree outside the back entrance to the Co-op store….

co-op fungus high

…and some more lower down the tree.

co-op fungus low

I was pleased to have managed to get a two mile walk in before the light completely faded but I was even more pleased to get home and into the warmth with a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

Waiting on my doorstep when I got back was a bottle of red wine. It turned out to be a present from Bob, the organiser of the patron’s lunch.  I found a good home for it while I was eating my evening meal and I am writing this post in a consequently very cheerful mood.  (Mrs Tootlepedal had a glass too.)

It is supposed to get progressively warmer over the next two days but as it is going to rain as well, this is not much consolation.

The flying bird of the day is outlined against the frosty lawn.

flying chffinch frosty

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