Posts Tagged ‘Carlisle cathedral’

Today’s guest picture is another of my brother’s Derby insects.  He suspects that the face of this grasshopper might have been modelled on our prime minister after recent events.


We finally got a reasonably calm and occasionally sunny morning today and as it was a good day for gardening, it was almost inevitable that Mrs Tootlepedal should have had an all day embroidering workshop arranged.  To add to her misfortune, by the time that she returned home after the workshop, she began to feel a bit poorly and had to retire to bed and thus the whole day was wasted from a gardening point of view.

I was luckier and able to make the most of it as far as my unhelpful foot allowed.  Although it was quite chilly at a mere 5°C at 10 o’clock, I managed to get my cycling kit on and tested my foot by cycling 14 miles on my new bike.  I took a few pictures to celebrate being out and about as I went along.

As it is getting late as I write this, I append them with the general comment that I enjoyed the views.

glencorf burn march

cleuchfoot gorse

cleuchfoot tree

bigholms tree

Bigholm farm

The cycling was pretty painless but I could feel my foot complaining if I had to go up any sort of a hill, so I kept to a low gear and took my time.

Just before I got home, I passed my neighbour Liz, who also has a troublesome foot.  She was walking her dog and I as I thought that we both might benefit from a cup of coffee, I invited her to drop in when she had got home.

I had time to get changed and make the coffee (and tidy the kitchen table) before she arrived.  The coffee was consumed to a background of really interesting foot conversation.   When Liz left, I had a quick scout round the garden and noticed that more of the fancy cowslip flowers had appeared…

three cowslips

…and the magnolia bud is developing but not flowering yet.

magnolia bud opening

I went back in to prepare some soup for my lunch and watched the birds while it was cooking.

There were a lot of siskins about again.

siskin in a hurry

I liked this chaffinch checking out the feeder spaces.

angelic chaffinch

The siskins are not above giving each other a hearty kick if they want a perch…

pre stamping siskin

…while some chaffinches may suffer from bad breath it appears.

female chaffinch blown away

A goldfinch kept an eye on proceedings in an avuncular way, maybe auditioning for a role as a wise old owl.

goldfinch pondering

The siskins kept nibbling.

siskin feederful

As my foot was a bit too sore for a walk but had not got much worse after my short morning cycle, I went for a flat ride on my slow bike after lunch, with plenty of stops to watch the oyster catchers on the Esk…

oyster catchers composite

…and to go on a very short walk up the track at Whitshiels to admire the moss…

mossy stone

…and a little glade.

glade at whitshiels

The larches are just about to come out and it will soon feel much more like spring.

I cycled back through the town, passing this sensational shrub opposite the Townfoot tollbar…

yellow bush

…and made my way down to the Penton road where I took the obligatory picture of Skippers Bridge…


..fighting my way past some recently fallen branches to get to the waterside…

fallen branches

…and then went further along the road until I got to the mossy wall.

mossy wall

Then I pedalled back home, stopping at the Co-op to purchase some fish cakes for my tea.

All in all, it was a very satisfactory five miles, though it has to be admitted that my foot was more sore by the end of the day than it was at the beginning so I will have to moderate my enthusiasm for cycling.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had arranged to go to Carlisle in the evening to hear our friend Sue singing in the Cathedral with the Cumbrian Rural Choirs, who get together once a year for a major sing.  Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t feel up to going, but as she was well enough to look after herself, I went off on my own.

There was a big audience and the best seat I could get was a hard wooden bench in the back of the choir stalls.  I sat under the blue sky ceiling of the cathedral and enjoyed the music.


The choirs, complete with a very good professional orchestra and four excellent soloists, sang  the setting of The Seven Last Words of Christ by Haydn and Mozart’s Requiem.  As this amounted to nearly two hours of music sung in German and Latin, it was a tribute both to the composers and the performers, that I hardly noticed the uncomfortable seat at all.

I really enjoyed the Haydn, which I had never heard before.  There was a translation of the German in the programme and I always feel that it makes listening to church music much more enjoyable if you can get a feel of how the music and the words go together rather than just listening to some pleasant sounds.  The programme notes said that this piece is not often performed as it consists of seven adagios one after another, but I found it rolled on without dragging at all. It ends with a terrific earthquake.

The Mozart was good but the text was not so interesting as the Haydn and as the parts were often singing different words at the same time, it didn’t have quite the same emotional impact for me.  I sang it at a scratch performance a year or so ago and had more fun singing it then than listening to it now.  I don’t want to complain though. The performance was good and the music is lovely.  Also, it might have made a difference if it had been done in the first half of the concert while my mind and body were still fresh.

A flying siskin rounds off the post in the important position of the flying bird of the day.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is a cheery looking cottage with a rather mournful sign.  My friend Bruce visited it in the village of Eyam in the Derbyshire dales.

plague cottage

Our spell of grey, cold and windy weather continued today and as I woke up with a pain in my side which had come from who knows where and wouldn’t go away, I got progressively gloomier as the day went on.

I started with a stroll round the garden to find the daffodil of the day…

daffodil…and then tested out the ability of the Lumix to take a bird picture through the kitchen window…


…and followed that by brief walk with Patricia to stretch her legs before catching the train back to London.  We walked along the river between the suspension bridge and the town bridge and then walked back along the other side.

I had hoped for some bird life to show our visitor and was pleased to see a dipper flitting about the river.  It did so much flitting that I couldn’t get a picture of it and once again had to settle for a more obliging oyster catcher.

oyster catcher

After coffee, we went off to Carlisle where Patricia caught her London train and Mrs Tootlepedal, after a brief burst of shopping and a light lunch, caught the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  Meanwhile, I visited the bike shop to organise the pedal specification for my new bike (still two weeks away) and then went home, passing the cathedral….

Carlisle cathedral

…and a splendid bank of municipal daffodils on my way back to the car.

carlisle daffs

Once home, I had time for a light lunch of soup and cheese before an old friend came round to get my help in booking flights to and from Barcelona.   As she has no access to a computer, she finds it impossible to do this for herself.   With a bit of a struggle, we managed to find suitable flights and booked them but as I don’t fly, it was all new and sometimes baffling to me.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all turns out right.

I gave my friend a lift home and then took a walk round the garden, looking both down…


…and up…


..and managing to avoid the outstretched grasp of the silver pear in between.

silver pear

I did think about a cycle ride but my ribs were sore and the wind was biting so I went back indoors and watched the birds in a glum sort of way.

Once again, there were plenty to watch in spite of occasional (unsuccessful) fly throughs from the sparrowhawk.

busy feeder

The siskins were not here today but there were a lot of goldfinches so the seed still went down at a good speed…

busy feeder

…and the regular chaffinches were as anxious to make their feelings known as ever…


…either behind the back or face to face.


We have been getting visits from quite a few pigeons lately.  They always seem to have slightly pursed lips and a disapproving air about them.


Having discarded thoughts of cycling, my gloomy mood kept me from walking too and I just slouched about the house looking mean, moody but far from magnificent for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, I picked up Susan and we drove to Carlisle where the healing properties of playing recorder music with a sympathetic group came to the fore and cheered me up enormously.

I was cheered even more by going to the station after finishing playing, to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the Edinburgh train before coming back to Langholm

We are going to have a quiet day tomorrow.

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

flying goldfinch



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Today’s picture shows a camel which impressed Mary Jo from Manitoba when she went to have a look at Queen Victoria’s modest tribute to her husband, the Albert Memorial.

Albert memorial

It is a rather brief post today as everything in the garden was very soggy after some heavy overnight rain…


A well sheltered dahlia had got through the night well

…and we had to have an early lunch before things were able to dry up because we had a concert in Carlisle Cathedral to prepare for.

We saw a splendid display of ink cap fungus in the car park when we got to the city.

carlisle fungus

After driving through another tremendous shower on the way to there, we were pleased to find the cathedral bathed in sunshine when we arrived.

Carlisle Cathedral

The concert was chiefly given by the Glasgow Phoenix Choir but our Carlisle choir had three songs to do as a starter for each half.  This meant an afternoon spent practising as the concert had arrived at very short notice and we were a bit underprepared and getting organised as far as things like seating and singing a couple of songs with the other choir went.

After the practice, we had a couple of hours to kill before the performance so we went to Rickerby Park in the centre of the town to have a picnic tea to restore our strength.

The car park was full of the cars of dog walkers….

Rickerby park

…but we were the only picnickers.

Rickerby park

To tell you the truth, it was perhaps a little chilly for eating outside but the light was gorgeous and if you could find a spot sheltered from the wind, it was not too bad.

The park and the river Eden were looking at their best.

River eden

Rickerby park

Rickerby park

There was even a herd of cows to make the scene look truly pastoral.

Rickerby park

Back at the cathedral, which has a spectacular ceiling….

carlisle cathedral

…I enjoyed listening to the Phoenix choir a lot and they had three splendid soloists to add a bit of variety to their menu.  I can’t speak for the whole of our choir but I felt that the tenors in particular were a lot better in the first half when we sang really well than in the second by which time, a little fatigue may have set in.

As we drove home, we noticed that the temperature had dropped to 4°C so there may be some damage to see when we get up.  We are going back to Carlisle again tomorrow for our regular choir practice so we will have done a lot of singing over the weekend.

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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 a view of the River Trent near Swarkestone Bridge.  My brother Andrew took the shot while out with his walking group.

River Trent

The wind was in the process of moving round from east to west today but it did it very gently and gave us a wonderfully sunny autumn morning on the way.  It was cool enough to put ice on the car windscreen but not cold enough to produce a ground frost.

It would have been a grand day to be going about taking autumn mist and colour pictures but I didn’t have much time to spare so I rushed out after breakfast and took a few without going far from the house.

suspension bridge

River Esk in langholm


Buccleuch park in autumn

The reason for my haste was the need to be in Carlisle for a rehearsal for our community choir concert in the cathedral.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a prior engagement so I went by myself and arrived in perfect time for the practice.

Because the concert was in the middle of a working day, we were by no means at full strength but all the same we must have been about 60 or 70 strong so even in a venue as grand as the cathedral…

Carlisle Cathedral

…we were fairly squeezed in.

We had our practice and then assembled again for the concert.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that all the available seats in the audience had been taken, especially as there was  small charge for entry and we gave our best effort to the occasion.

A member of the audience, who happens to be a reader of this blog, told me afterwards that she had thoroughly enjoyed the concert so that made the work that went into it worthwhile.

The cathedral itself was positively glowing in the brilliant sunshine when we came out.

Carlisle cathedral

…and I enjoyed the walk back beneath the old city walls….

Carlisle City walls

…to the car park below.

Carlisle City walls

It was a golden day.

I drove home, had a cup of tea and a slice of bread and then got changed as quickly as possible to make some use of such a fine day on my bicycle.  It was unfortunate that such a good cycling day should coincide with a concert but such is life.

I did spend a few minutes looking out of the kitchen window while I was waiting for my tea to cool.

I have put a cage on the fat ball feeder to discourage jackdaws from eating me out of house and home and this makes taking pictures of the birds visiting it a bit tricky…

Two blue birds

…but as it also helps to protect them from any sparrowhawk raids, it is worth it.

The goldfinches were using the sunflower seed feeder.


A goldfinch gets a rude welcome…


…but having landed, starts shouting equally rudely

I went round my Canonbie twenty miler but in the opposite direction to my usual tour.  Considering that it starts and finishes at the same place, the amount of climb and descent must be equal whichever way you go but it seemed much harder going round the ‘wrong’ way and as the sun had gone in and it was feeling quite chilly, I didn’t stop to take any pictures but concentrated on getting home as soon as possible.

Mrs Tootlepedal had come home from her engagement and was busy planting out daffodils and exchanging views on life over the garden hedge with Stan, one of Langholm’s finest photographers.


While we talked, a flurry of excitement from the bird feeder heralded a flying visit from the sparrowhawk but it came and went so swiftly that we couldn’t tell whether it had caught a small bird napping or not.

There wasn’t enough light left to make a walk worthwhile so I had a quick wander round the garden….



…where there was more than enough late October colour to keep an old man happy.




Lilian Austin and Crown Princess Margareta


Yarrow, a gift from our friend Jenny’s garden

We have had a long flowering season after a slow start this year.

Then  it was time for a shower and our evening meal (which featured the third and last appearance of the slow cooked venison stew) and a good sit down.

The wind should  have completed its turn by tomorrow and it is due to be quite brisk so I may have a quiet day and catch up on business.  I have done 400 miles on the bike already this month so I am well up on my schedule.

The flower of the day is a marigold….


…and the flying bird of the day is two goldfinches in combative mood.

flying goldfinches

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin, one of my neighbours, who wonders whether having the builders in can have caused this overnight outbreak of toadstools on his lawn.  I would be more worried about what has been taking the great bites out of them.

toadstoolsDropscone came round with some scones in hand to have a cup of coffee this morning but we hadn’t bothered with cycling first as the forty mile an hour gusts and the driving rain had made cycling an unattractive proposition.  In fact it made more or less everything rather gloomy and we are badly in need of a burst of sunshine to cheer us up as we are in a run of very grey days at present.

The wind and rain made bird pictures difficult to come by and I had settled for a chaffinch perching, or rather hanging on for grim death in the plum tree as my only shot of the  morning….

chaffinch in plum tree…until a robin popped in and brightened my day.

robinThe bird possibilities were not just limited by the weather.  Our local sparrowhawk spent a good deal of the morning flying low passes past the feeder too.  No small birds were harmed in this process but it kept the feeder pretty quiet.

I did pop out into the garden during a drier spell to see what the wind damage was like.  It was noticeable but not too severe.

casualties of the wind

The watering can was retrievable, the delphinium was not.

In the sheltered spot under the walnut tree and between two hedges, Lilian Austin survived

Lilian AustinAnd my favourite Fuchsia flourished.

FuchsiaBut the healthiest and sturdiest plant in the garden at the moment is Mrs Tootlepedal’s kale.

KaleShe is living on a kale heavy diet at the moment.

I was able to dig up, cook and eat some very tasty beetroot today.

After lunch Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off for Carlisle where we combined a little shopping with a visit to the infirmary for me.  I enjoyed two happy moments there.

The first was when I arrived twenty minutes early to get as far up the queue for the clinic as I could and met my consultant waiting at the desk.  Within minutes, I was consulting him and before my appointment time was even due, I was back out on the street.  This was very good and even better was the fact that he said that I could stop taking the medicine for my rheumatoid arthritis and see if I was one of the fifty per cent who don’t need to start on it again.

As it is the sort of medicine where you have to have a blood test every month to see if it is doing more harm than good (and you can’t drink alcohol when you are on it), I will be pleased if it turns out that I am in the lucky half of the draw. Interestingly, the consultant says that the figures that say 50% can stop are very consistent but there is no way of predicting who will be in which 50 %.  I am feeling very optimistic that I will be one of the lucky ones.

Here is a picture of the original part of the Cumberland Infirmary, a building which I hope that I won’t have to see for a while at least.

Carlisle InfirmaryHaving been given my discharge, I walked back to town to join Mrs Tootlepedal in a shopping extravaganza which included a new pair of shoes and some delicious cheese.  On my way into the centre of town, I passed through the cathedral precinct and got my phone out to snap a building which can only be described as a very desirable residence…

Cathedral Close…although from the shuttered windows, it looks as though it might be offices now, at least in part.

The shoe shop was offering three pairs of shoes for the price of two and since Mrs Tootlepedal and I both bought a pair, we were entitled to a third pair.  After considering the wisdom of buying one shoe each, we settled for a second pair for Mrs Tootlepedal.

Although it is still October, the centre of Carlisle is already getting dressed up for the Christmas shopping spree….

roundabout….but we haven’t had the obligatory German Market yet as far as I know.

My flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and we worked hard on some Grade Three pieces, which should be well within his capability with some practice.   They will stretch him a bit and this can only be a good thing.

During the day, I prepared another sourdough loaf using Sue’s excellent starter and it came out very well.

sourdough loafIn the evening, I went over to Newcastleton to the Liddesdale Camera Club.  Sandy is away enjoying some gales and heavy rain in the West Highlands so I went by myself.  We were treated to a judgement on our entries in an open competition by a very competent and expert competition photographer.  He had many useful things to say and I hope to have learned quite a lot  from the evening.

Competition photographers, he told us, start with what comes out of the camera and then make an image using one or more photographs as a basis for the finished work.    This makes for some striking images but the connection between them and real life is often tenuous and not being very good either with design or colour and being very short of patience too, I find it hard to produce work of this nature so unsurprisingly, my efforts this week didn’t detain him very long.

I would like to produce some good images though so I shall persevere even it means taking pictures in RAW format which I find adds a lot of work at the end of the day.

I shan’t stop taking dodgy pictures of flying chaffinches in poor light though.

flying chaffinch

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