Posts Tagged ‘Carlisle Castle’

Today’s guest picture shows a pool at the Shining Cliff Woods near Matlock.  My brother paused there for lunch while out with his walking group.

Shining Cliffs

We had another fine and frosty morning but I didn’t have a great deal of time to enjoy it as there was a stew to make for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal was out at church and birds to watch as well.

The feeders were so busy that it was hard to catch a bird standing still…

busy feeders

…unless I looked up at the plum tree.

chaffinches and greenfinch in plum tree

I kept an eye out for the two robins and managed to take several robin pictures…



…without ever being able to catch both of them in the same shot.  In the end, I had to settle for two less than wonderful shots taken within a few seconds of each other just to prove that we do have two different robins.


I haven’t been able to establish whether they are two males competing for territory as they occasionally chase each other but don’t display the outright perpetual hospitality which I would expect.

There might just be room in the garden for two male robins or they might be a male and female or even, I suppose, two females as males and females look the same.  Time may give a clue.

Because the car is out of action, I had to catch a bus to Carlisle to get to the community choir practice.  I went on my own.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to have to miss our forthcoming concerts because she will be away visiting her mother.  She had the opportunity to see a screening of the Tales of Hoffman at the Buccleuch Centre and decided that this would be a chance not to be missed under the circumstances.

Buses are few and far between on a Sunday so I had to catch the midday bus which gave me quite a lot of time to spend in Carlisle.  As I walked across the suspension bridge on my way to catch the bus, my eye was caught by a flash of colour.  It was yet another robin.


I had two and a half hours to kill in Carlisle but Sundays have changed a lot since I was a boy and everything was shut so I was able to have fish chips for my lunch, buy some upmarket tea and coffee beans from my favourite shop, purchase delicious dates and prunes from another quality food outlet and walk through the town with my camera at the ready and get to the church bang on time for the practice.

There is an eclectic collection of buildings in the city.


The Citadel, built on the site of the original gate into the city from the south.

Shop in Carlisle

A mock Tudor extravagance just behind the Citadel


A bank built in the days when a bank was a symbol of stability

It was the day of the switching on of the Christmas Lights in the city centre and activities had already started.  These two rather flaky figures were wandering about.

Snow flakes

Snow flakes? Ice maidens? The ghost of Christmas past? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the churchyard at St Cuthbert’s some electric angels were being wired up.

St Cuthbert's

I left the city centre, walking past the Cathedral….

Carlisle Cathedral

…and the castle…

Carlisle castle

…and over the railway on a road bridge…

Main line train Carlisle

…and then over a river on an old railway bridge, now a cycle path.

Cycle path bridge Carlisle

A look back at the cathedral showed the extensive works being done at the other end of the building.

Carlisle Cathedral

Although the Christmas Lights were being switched on, it felt much more like an autumn day than a winter one.

As I left the cycle track ,which continued along the river, I passed through a flood gate…

flood gate

…an ever present reminder of the terrible floods which devastated the city in December last year.  Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen again this winter.

I only had the Shaddon Mill and Dixon’s Chimney to pass….

Dixon's mill

Built as a cotton mill in 1836

…before getting to the choir practice in good time.

We had an excellent work out and the pleasure of the singing was greatly amplified by the appearance of Dropscone at the end of the practice.  I would have had to have waited another two hours before the next bus home and he had kindly agreed to come and fetch me.  He had managed to combine this action as a Good Samaritan with some shopping on the way in so it was not an entirely wasted journey for him.

He got me home in plenty of time to watch the start of Andy Murray’s convincing win over Novak Djokovic in the ATP finals.  Mrs Tootlepedal had got back from her opera matinee a few minutes before my arrival.  She had found the Tales of Hoffman to be exactly the sort of thing which gives opera a good name – good music, wonderful singing, sumptuous costumes and  an interesting plot line.  It would be fair to say that the day ended with a particularly broad smile for both of us.

No flower or leaf today but a touch of greenery in the flying bird of the day nevertheless.

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture shows my stepmother Patricia enjoying the flowers in  Calke Abbey walled garden.  She had been taken there by my brother Andrew, who sent me this.

 Calke Abbey walled gardenIt was choir day in Carlisle today so I started the morning off by making a venison stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir.  When she got back, she just had time for a cup of coffee and a walk round the garden before she drove off to attend a farewell lunch for the organiser of the driving for the disabled group, who is going to live in Orkney.

This left me with a choice of catching the bus to Carlisle for the choir or cycling.  I seriously considered cycling as I would get a lift back from Mrs Tootlepedal but the practicalities of suitable clothing and arriving in good order to sing persuaded me to catch the bus.  Unfortunately, being Sunday, the service is rather infrequent and I had to leave a couple of hours earlier than would have been ideal.

Still, I had enough time to wander round the garden with my macro lens on the camera. I thought I should show a close up (or two) of the sort of bumble bee that has been visiting us in such great numbers.

bumble beebumble beeIf this is a white tailed bumble bee, which I think that it is, I read on the internet that they may live in burrows in colonies of up to 400 bees.  This might explain why we are getting so many at one time.

Once again, the bees were not our only visitors.

hoverfly and butterflyThe butterfly on the right is enjoying the sweetness of a fallen and rotting plum.

The late season has brought contrasting fortunes to our flowers.  The poppies, as you have seen, are doing well….

poppies and cosmos…but the cosmos on the right looks as though it might have left it too late to flower in spite of growing to a very healthy height.  It should have been in flower for some time by now in a more normal year.

After yesterday’s flood of birds, there was no more than a trickle today and it is very difficult to work out why this should be as the overcast conditions and temperature were very much the same as yesterday.  Perhaps a sparrowhawk had been patrolling the neighbourhood.

I caught the bus and was able to pass the time travelling to Carlisle in conversation with a friend.  This was a good thing as I don’t like bus travel as the seats are always too small for my legs and I find it very uncomfortable unless I am distracted.

Once in the city, I found a suitable place for a light lunch (spinach and goat’s cheese tart and a cup of coffee in the Old Fire Station bistro!) and with nearly two hours to spare, I headed off to Bitts Park for a post prandial stroll.

The park was full of interest, both unnatural and natural.

chairs and crocusThe path which I followed was lined with musical instruments….

Musical instruments Bitts park…all provided with handy mallets to strike them with.

There were more traditional things to see too.

Bitts park….and it was obvious that the Carlisle Parks Department have been working hard to make the park an attractive place for old people to walk around.  I noticed that there were no bees on the sedum here.

It said in my morning paper that the recent conditions of warm days and chilly nights should lead to an excellent display of autumn colour but only sporadic signs of this are on show at present.

autumn colour Bitts parkThe park is sited on the banks of the river Eden and I walked down to see the river….

River Eden…which was in reflective mood.

I followed the river upstream for a short way and passed under the Eden Bridge…

Eden Bridge…which carries the road to Scotland over it.  Before the Carlisle by-pass was built, this bridge carried virtually all the west coast traffic between England and Scotland and was the scene of some horrendous traffic jams as a result.

I walked back under the bridge and admired the very serene garden that sits in a hollow just beside the busy main road.

Bitts parkI left the park and followed a grassy path which runs below the ramparts of Carlisle castle.

Carlisle castleThis path is obviously not used by wild berry pickers as there were heavy crops of ripe blackberries and elderberries beside it.

brambles and elderberriesLeaving the castle, I headed into the centre of town, bought a newspaper and a mug of hot chocolate and read one and drank the other in the railway station cafe.

Then I had just enough time to walk to the church where our choir meets to be in time for our practice and meet Mrs Tootlepedal.

On my walks, I passed three of things which distinguish Carlisle, the castle, the cathedral and one of its public houses.

CarlisleCarlisle is notable for the fact that is was the home of the  ‘State Management Scheme’ which was the UK government’s take over of the brewing, distribution and sale of liquor in three regions of the United Kingdom from 1916 until 1973. The main focus of the scheme was centred on Carlisle and the surrounding district close to the armament factories at Gretna founded in 1916 to supply explosives and shells to the British Army during the First World War.

A central pillar of the scheme was the ethos of disinterested management; public house managers had no incentive to sell liquor, which supported the aim of reducing drunkenness and its effects on the arms industry. It had a ‘No Treating’ policy which operated from 1916 to 1919 forbidding the buying of rounds of drinks.

Another important feature of Carlisle is its place as a major railway junction and these two features could be seen at the same time from the path as I walked round the castle today.

Carlisle railway and brewery

The old brewery behind the main railway line.

I passed my last notable Carlisle landmark just before I got to the church.

Dixon's Lum

It is hard not to notice Dixon’s Lum. 

The small brick built terraces are very typical of Carlisle.

Our choir practice was very had working as we are entered into two choir competitions and our conductor is anxious that we should be as good as we possibly can be.  We are a bit short of men so if any local reader feels that a good sing under an excellent conductor would be just the thing for a Sunday afternoon, come along and join us.  There is no audition.

When we got home, the venison stew turned out well, as slow cooked stews always seem to do and now we are looking forward to a few days of wet and windy weather which will make a change from the incessant calm and sunny days of recent weeks.  Ah well, it couldn’t last for ever.

The flying bird of the day is one of that trickle of morning chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s picture, sent to me by the holidaying Dropscone, shows the Canal du Midi at Agen looking a lot less attractive than when Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled along it into Agen on our way from St Malo in 2006.


It was a lovely sunny day when we got up, although still chilly enough for snow to be lying on our lawns.  I only had enough time to take one quick shot of the bird feeder though…

haffinches and bramblings

…before we set off to Carlisle.  We were combining business with pleasure as the chief point of the trip was to meet my oldest sister Susan off the London train but we were fitting in some useful shopping too.

Our first port of call was the snazzy modern garden centre at Houghton Hall which arose like magic from a field beside the M6 a few years ago.

Houghton Hall

The fact that as well as stuff for the garden, it also has a craft shop, a museum of miniatures, a food shop, a model railway shop and a cafeteria may be helping it to survive in these hard times.  We were there primarily to buy seed potatoes for the forthcoming season so this was a significant marker in the turning of the seasons.  I added some lawn care products and two nice pieces of cheese to the shopping basket before we left.

We headed on to an office supplies store in the centre of town to add photographic paper, magic tape, computer disks for the choir and a large pack of biros to our haul before parking the car in the shadow of the historic city walls of Carlisle.

Carlisle city walls

Fortunately these days there are convenient steps which let Scottish invaders reach the cafes and shops.  We had intended to have a quick lunch in the crypt underneath this fine old fratry in the cathedral grounds…


…but so many other people had had the same idea that we were forced to look elsewhere.  Not far away we found a little cafe that obviously specialised in providing economic meals for the elderly which was just right for us and we had some well cooked scrambled eggs and a cup of tea.

It was still a fine sunny day so when Mrs Tootlepedal opted to visit a bookshop after our lunch, I chose to wander around in the open air with sandycam in my hand.  I headed for Carlisle Castle.

Carlisle castle

To get to the castle, I had to cross a busy road by an underpass.  This underpass was created at the time of the millennium and has been made into an artwork as well as a useful route.  In it you can see a polished stone carrying an inscription of part of the Bishop of Glasgow’s great curse.

cursing stone

This is a thoroughgoing curse first used against the border reivers  and I include a part of it here for any reader who may wish to use it in the course of telephone discussions with customer service departments of large companies or government departments.

In 1525 the reivers had become such a nuisance that the then Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, put a curse up all the reivers of the borderlands.

“I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain (innermost thoughts), their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their leggs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without.”

“I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home; I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house; I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds. I (bring ill wishes upon) their crops, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock. I (bring ill wishes upon) their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare.”

“May all the malevolent wishes and curses ever known, since the beginning of the world, to this hour, light on them. May the malediction of God, that fell upon Lucifer and all his fellows, that cast them from the high Heaven to the deep hell, light upon them.”

It didn’t have any effect of the reivers.  Only the threat of punishment and the summary execution of many of them made them change their ways.

I passed the stone curse by and made my way through the castle gate…

Castle gate

castle door

…into the courtyard, still used by the army today.   There I could see the entrance to the castle proper.


I didn’t have time to explore the castle so I went back through the underpass and returned to the old part of the town.  I admired the doorways of two of the houses in Abbey Street…

doorways in Abbey Street

…poked my nose into the grounds of the city’s museum to look at the Jacobean House…

Jacobean House

…and headed back towards the cathedral…

cathedral entrance

…before going back to car.  Mrs Tootlepedal joined me and we drove the few hundred yards to the station.  We had a few minutes to wait for the train and I was able to enjoy the sight of the well decorated rooftops of two hotels nearby.


These were built when seven different railway companies ran trains into Carlisle Station. It is down to four these days.  The company responsible for the London train delivered it to the platform to the exact minute and my sister emerged to a warm greeting.  The journey home was safely conducted and we revived her after the rigours of the 300 mile journey with a cup of tea and a dainty fairy cake.

When she had been safely ensconced in a comfortable chair with some sewing to do, I set off on the slower bike to make the most of the late afternoon sunshine.  I was greatly entertained by the cloudscape as I pedalled along to Callister and back.


I am finding it hard to stop taking pictures of gates at the moment…

callister gate

This one was at my five mile turning point

…perhaps I need to get out more…or less…I don’t know.  Anyway, I like wooden gates.

We enjoyed a fine shepherds pie, followed by a varied selection of cheeses for our tea.  Later in the evening we were joined by Mike and Alison and Alison and I played a few sonatas before joining the others.  It turns out that next month my sister and Mike and Alison will all be in New Zealand at the same time (but not in the same place).  It is a small world as they say.

We have been pretty lucky with our recent weather and I hope it continues over the weekend while my sister is here with us.

I had managed a quick flying chaffinch shot before we left in the morning.

flying chaffinch

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