Posts Tagged ‘Burns supper’

Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s southern venture and shows a row of bathing huts on the Isle of Sheppey. He was not tempted to use one and go for a dip.

beach huts sheppey

We had another sunny but chilly day today so I went for a walk in the morning after waving at a visiting robin.


In spite of the good sunshine, it was rather hazy…


…and the conditions meant that there were a lot of persistent vapour trails from passing aircraft which spoilt what should have been a clear blue sky.

I enjoyed my walk even though there wasn’t a great deal to catch the eye.  I caught the eye of two sheep in a field as I passed.


I walked down through the woods, across the Becks Burn and up the other side.  The sun shining through trees at any time of the year always seems beautiful to me.

Becks wood

Some trees may be a bit past their best though.

hallcrofts tree

I walked down the road from Hallcrofts to the Lockerbie road, enjoying the view of Whita…


and noting that the frost was still lying where the sun’s rays hadn’t rested.

There were catkins all around, these two on the left of the road…


…and a big flourish of them at the gate of a house on the other side.


Down in the bottom of the valley, things were icier…


…though the lichen on the right seemed totally unaffected.

A log covered with moss was really catching the sunshine and glowing like gold.

mossy log

The little patch of red near the tip of the log looked worth a closer examination.


I pottered back along Gaskell’s Walk but had to keep my eyes well down as there were many icy patches along the way and as I had been warned about them by a fellow walker in passing, I thought that I would look very silly if I slipped and fell on one of them.

I stopped and admired the view over the town when I got near the end of the walk.

Castle Hill

I walked past Stubholm farm house and went down to the Murtholm before coming back along the river.  A flash of green turned out to be a honeysuckle, one of the first plants of the year to put out leaves.


I wanted to check to see if I could find the the tree with the script lichen again.  I could.

script lichen

As I had walked along, I had been serenaded by many birds which were either invisible in spite of sounding to be quite near me or were too quick for my camera but when I came to rover near the church, I could miss a dipper standing on a rock singing loudly.


I wish I could find one standing in some sunshine and not quite so far away as my collection of indifferent dipper photos is now far too large.  But they are always fun to watch and to listen to.

I spent the afternoon hunched over my computer making notes for a Burns Supper which I am attending with Mrs Tootlepedal this evening.  In a foolish moment, I agreed to be chairman for this function, proving as a friend remarked the other day, that apparently you can never have enough fuel for the furnace of self esteem.  In spite of the strain of trying to remember what I should do, I will enjoy the evening but as it will go on late into the night, I am posting an early blog today in case I am not back home before tomorrow!

The flying bird of the day is an unmasked chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a friendly squirrel which approached my sister Mary in the hope of a snack.


After yesterday’s gloomy and damp afternoon, I was more than pleased to wake up to this view from the bedroom window this morning.

Whita in snow

After breakfast (and a little lie down to get my strength up), I looked out of the kitchen window….


…to see some visitors….


..and then set off to climb up to the monument to enjoy the snowscape.

It didn’t take me long to be able to look back over the town.

Langholm in snow

My route ahead was a challenge.

Whita in snow

But I plugged away and in the course of time was able to enjoy the views from the top of the hill.  I looked east into the Tarras valley….

Tarras in snow

…and north up the Ewes valley.

Ewes valley

I would have liked to linger a little longer but there was a brisk and biting north easterly wind blowing…

trig point whita in snow

monument in snow

…so I was soon on my way back down amid the snow covered tussocks.

snowy tussocks, Whita

Luckily I had my Yaktrax in my pocket and I put them on for the downhill section.  They were useful and I leapt from boulder to tussock with great confidence.

Near the end, I walked down the golf course which wasn’t looking quite as green as it was yesterday…

golf course in snow

…and got home in time for lunch.  I was very grateful for my new knee as I wouldn’t have been able to contemplate this walk last year.

I had time to look out of the window again….

chaffinches in winter sun


…before I had to go off to see the dentist for a routine check up.    Sadly, I am going to have to go back and see him again soon.

It was such a lovely day that when I got back, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out for a walk round Gaskell’s.

We noticed a huge and quite old fungus on a tree stump which we have passed many times.  It has been hidden until recently by some scrub which has now been cleared.


 It was very nice to be out in the sun but we had to keep our eyes down as the tracks and paths were very icy in places.  It was a relief to come out on the road at the Auld Stane Bridge where we could look about and walk at the same time.

It was hard to relate my snowy morning walk to the mellow sunshine on the fields beside the road.

Wauchope field

..but we had a glimpse of Whita and the golden light as we came back into the town.

whita and meikleholm

Using his advanced tea kettle detector skills, Mike Tinker arrived just as the pot was being filled and enjoyed a slice of Selkirk bannock with his cuppa.  He told us that an article in his morning paper had said that the hair frost, which I had seen yesterday, was present in dead branches which had been infected with a certain fungus and this fungus had caused the holes through which the frozen moisture is exuded.

In the evening, we went off to the Ewes SWRI Burns supper where we had an excellent meal, listened to some well delivered speeches, were enthralled by Grace’s renowned recitation of Tam o’ Shanter and generally had a good time.  Luke and I played four tunes on our flutes.  Luke played very well throughout and I played better for the second pair than I did for the first two.  It was incredibly hot in the hall and it took me a bit of time to get the feel right.

It was -4°C when we came out.    Definitely a winter’s day today.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

I owe Evelyn Carlyle a deep apology as I inadvertently put her embroidery into last night’s post upside down.  I blame the lateness of the hour, old age and natural stupidity on my part.  I have rectified this in the post and put it here the right way up .

Evelyn Carlyle embroidery

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Today’s guest picture show a fine reconstructed Saxon helmet from Sutton Hoo, complete with designer sunglasses, spotted by my brother on a visit to the British Museum.

Sutton Hoo helmet

Thanks to the late night at the Gilnockie Burns supper which didn’t finish until after midnight, I wasted the best weather of the day by lying in bed and thinking, “That looks quite nice out there.”

By the time I actually had got up and been to the producers’ market, the clouds had crept up again.    I did get organised to go out for a wet and windy walk after lunch but by the time I had got organised, it had become too wet and windy and I got disorganised again and wasted the rest of the day watching international rugby on the telly.

It was too dark to take decent pictures so I took a couple just for the sake of it.


And that was my day.  I might mention that I didn’t enjoy the Burns supper as much as I had hoped, apart from the meal which was excellent.  The chief male speakers were very confident and expert speakers but their stock in trade was a steady stream of either coarse or misogynist jokes which sat uneasily among exhortations to celebrate Burns’ humanity.  The jokes were funny enough in their way but I feel that I have heard an awful lot of these over the years and perhaps it is time to move on.  The bright spot was that one of the organisers gave me an excellent poem which she had written about last year’s event which took place in in very snowy conditions.

An elliptical chaffinch to end with.


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Today’s guest picture is another from Zyriacus, showing a fine view of his local river.


The weather gods had really decided to stick the boot in today to punish me for leaving my work on the toast until the last minute.  Instead of some nice grey drizzle, the morning was aburst with sunlight on every side with a glorious golden light.  I was stuck once more in front of the computer tearing my hair out as the ideas fizzed and popped and the words to express them drooped and sagged.

I had to junk about half of what I had already written and rethink how to use the material I had collected.  After a moment of despair, a cup of coffee and a peek out of the kitchen window got me going again and I was able to knock out a presentable toast with only the final section to go in time for a late lunch.

You can see just how sunny the morning had been both for the flying…..



…and the perching birds.



The blackbirds got to eat their pellets peacefully without any intervention from jackdaws or any internal discord…


…though the chaffinches did help them quite a lot.

The sunshine didn’t make all the birds happy.

chaffinch and goldfinch

After lunch, just to give my brain a break, I drove up the road to fill the Moorland feeders and naturally the sun went in as soon as we set out.  Mrs Tootlepedal came up with me and set off to walk home while I dallied for a moment, camera in hand.

The birds at the feeders are still just the regulars.


There was an odd siskin or two about.  I liked the chaffinch's hair stylist's work a lot.

There was an odd siskin or two about.  I liked the chaffinch’s hair stylist’s work a lot.

blue tit

Blue tits are scarce this year.  This one is ringed so is a regular.

great tits

There’s a ring on the great tit too.

great tit

The long black stripe shows that this one  is a male.

I didn’t stay long as it started to rain and Mrs Tootlepedal, who had gone a good distance by the time I caught up with her, was quite pleased to get a lift home.  We stopped in the town and I went to pick up some coffee beans which I had ordered.  I bought some Iranian dates while I was in the shop.  These will count as nearly Mediterranean.

They sell bird feeding stuff too and I asked if they had a similar seed feeder to the one I use in the garden and to my surprise, they gave me one for free as they had used it themselves but it didn’t suit their yard.  This is excellent as it will give me a good opportunity to hang one feeder out while the other is being properly cleaned.

When  we got home, I took a picture of a clump of snowdrops which is developing nicely and some primulas which have never stopped flowering all winter.

winter flowersAfter a cup of tea, I sat down for the last time and finished off the toast.  A weight came off my shoulders.

When the evening came, I put on my best bib and tucker and trundled up the road to the Crown Hotel where a good audience of over 50 people met in the Assembly Room for the Rotary Club of Langholm’s Burns Supper.

Everything about the evening was well organised except that the person delivering the toast to the haggis, under orders to be brief no doubt, omitted my two favourite verses.  I append them here.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

This may well be a warning to anyone about to embark on a Mediterranean diet.  If I end up like a withered rash (rush), I’ll know that I have only myself to blame.

As well as the toast to the immortal memory of Burns which was my department, a Burns supper always has songs and tonight we were exceptionally blest to have two young singers from the town, Glen and Rebecca,  who gave us beautiful renderings of four of Burn’s love songs.  Billy Young, the man to whom the task of reciting Tam o’ Shanter was given was more than well up to the task and delighted the audience with the dramatic immediacy of his recitation.

The toast itself was politely received although the dim light and my poor eyesight meant that I had to hold the sheets rather closer to my nose than was ideal.  I must have looked a bit like a buzzard hovering over some carrion.   No one shouted abuse or walked out so I count that as a triumph but I will have to wait until a third party tells me what a second party said to them, before I can find truly how it was received.

There was only one other toast and reply, To the Lasses, and this was very well done so to cap an excellent evening off, we were finished  by half past ten and I won a box of biscuits in the raffle.

I end with a flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch



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