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Posts Tagged ‘Carlisle Community Choir’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo of Manitoba.  She was at a grand opening of a feed mill at a Hutterite colony in Alberta last week when a friend pointed out this American robin’s well stocked nest.

Mary Jo's eggs

After yesterday’s endless rain, we had endless sunshine today.  It was very welcome.  Of course the weather gods will have their little laugh, so the sunshine came on a day when we had to be indoors for a lot of the time.

All the same, after making a stew for the slow cooker and going to sing at our usual church service, there was time for a walk round the garden.

It was full of bees.

three bees

I was particularly happy to catch a bee on a lupin so that I could combine two favourite subjects in one shot…

bee on blue lupin

…but it was the chives that were scoring highest in the bee popularity stakes today.

two bees on chive

New flowers are out and the pick of the day was this iris with its petals outlined in white.

new iris 1

I liked it so much that I took pictures of it with different cameras.

new iris 2

Foxgloves are popping up all over the garden…

foxglove flower

…and a new set of blue Polemonium have appeared.

blue polemonium

I took some other pictures more because I liked the general effect of the situation than for any floral novelty.

An oriental poppy seed head beside the dam can be seen out of our back window…

poppy seed head dam

…and it looks as thought this lamium is concealing a fierce science fiction beast behind its  petals.

lamium with mask

This euphorbia is fading with added colour…

fading euphorbia

…and two tropaeolum flowers were crossing swords on the yew bush.

two tropaeolum

But my favourite of the morning was this very cool picture of potential plums.

young plums

I didn’t have long to wander about though, as it was the day of our end of term concert with the Carlisle Community Choir and we had to be at the venue for an early practice.

We picked up another choir member on the way and got to our new concert venue in a local school in plenty of time.  Ellen, our conductor, is very careful to make sure that we can enjoy our concerts so the practice was not too demanding and had a break in the middle.  As a result, I was ready for the big event and had a good time singing almost all of the notes that were required.

One of the highlights of the concert for me was the solo performance of our accompanist, Christine, who poured so many notes into semi improvised arrangements of Dream a Little Dream of Me and Somewhere over the Rainbow that it seemed that the piano might explode.  Just my cup of tea.

When we got home, the sun was still shining and I had time to mow both the lawns while the potatoes were cooking. The lawns are not big and when the ground is firm and the grass is short enough so that I don’t have to use a box, lawn mowing is a speedy business.  It is slightly surprising that the lawns are still firm, as Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge was showing five inches of rain over the past two weeks, but that shows just how dry it was in the weeks before the rain started.

After tea, I went for a walk.  To be more correct….as my feet are still perfectly alright as long as I don’t use them at all, I went for a slow cycle ride round one of my favourite evening walks.

I enjoyed the evening light and took two pictures of bridges which I didn’t cross, the suspension bridge…

view of whita june evening

…and the bridge to the church…

willows by chirch brig

…and one of the sawmill Brig,  which I did cross.

sawmill brig june evening

I saw oyster catchers before I crossed the Sawmill Brig….

one legged oyster ctatcher and pal

…and a magnificent rhododendron lurking in the shadows as I crossed it.

rhododendron from sawmill brig

Everything around us is green after the rain but the finishing straight of the race course on the Castleholm was the greenest thing of the day.

race course finishing straight

With both the Langholm and Carlisle choirs finished until September, I shall find time hanging heavy on my hands.  I am hopeful that a little fine weather may let me get out on my bike a bit more to fill up the unforgiving hours.  Looking at the forecast, it seems that this hope may not be realised.  Ah well.

The flying bird of the day is one of our regular sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who saw this all electric hire car getting a charge in a street the other day.

blue city car

It was warmer today but no less grey in the morning and we were pleased to get to church and back before it started to rain.  As I may have mentioned, our organist Henry was recently elected to act as the town’s standard bearer or cornet at our Common Riding at the end of July.  This means that he has many obligations and duties to perform in the weeks leading up to the great day so he will have little time to think of the church choir.  As a result, we are having a very quiet time as far as singing in church goes with a standby organist on duty again today.  As we are also short of a minister, there was rather a subdued air about the service this morning.

Thanks to the rain when we got home, it seemed like a good time to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so I did that.

The rain eased off and after lunch and I had a quick look at the bird. Once again, sparrows were the chief visitors.  Although they are common and often ignored, they are quite decorative in their own way.

decorative sparrow

Almost every time that I looked, there was  a sparrow looming up.

sparrow looming

I did see a single siskin…

sparrow and siskin

…and a great tit and a blue tit visited at moments when I didn’t have a camera to hand.

The second most common birds at present are jackdaws.

jackdaw looking keen

I had time for a walk round the garden.  The climbing hydrangea is gradually getting little specks of white all over it.  It should look very fine quite soon.

climbing hydrangea

There were some new flowers to be seen like this foxglove..

wet foxglove

…but generally, it was a day for spotting rain drops on roses…

wet yellow rosewet rose

…and geraniums.

wet geranium

…but no brown paper parcels.

The flowers beside the bird feeders, which I look at through the kitchen window when the birds have flown away, make a pretty picture.

flowers beside feeder

I didn’t have long to hang around as it was soon time to get in our little white electric thingy and go to Carlisle for a choir practice.  I had various reasons for getting an electric car but none of them were about what it would be like actually driving it, so it is a great bonus that it turns out to be a wonderful car to drive.  Just tootling along the familiar road to Carlisle at a modest speed brings me great satisfaction.

We had a new venue for our choir practice today, the large chapel of a local private school.  It proved to have very hard pews to sit on and quite an echoing acoustic so it took a bit of getting used to.  We are having our concert there next week and then using it as our permanent home when we start again in Autumn.  I may have to bring my own cushion.

When we came out after a really good sing, the day had miraculously turned from cool and grey to warm and sunny and there was a spring in everybody’s step as they went on their way.

It was still fine when we got home and I considered a bike ride but a very vigorous breeze and a rather overgrown hedge along the road…

hedge before trimmin June

…made me think that getting the hedge cut would be the best thing to do.  With Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, it didn’t take too long to get the hedge to look like this…

hedge after trimming june

…and the trimmings tucked away in the compost bin.

As I passed the front door, I couldn’t help stopping to note the clematis in the sunshine there.  It has lasted very well, possibly because it is in a sheltered spot against the wall of the house.

front door azaleas in sun

Turning to look the other way, I could see the azalea at the left hand end of the lawn which has spoiled Mrs Tootlepedal’s colour scheme by not coming into flower at all this year.

front lawn evening

Looking back from the far end of the lawn, it is only too easy to spot the large pale areas which are mostly moss..

front lawn looking back

…but considering that I seriously thinking of abandoning all hope of grass earlier this year, it has come on pretty well and the new moss eating treatment seems to be paying off.

As the sun was still out, I would have liked to take a few flower pictures but the wind was so strong…

windblown leaves

…that it would have been a waste of time to try.

I went in and we had a nourishing bowl of sausage stew with new potatoes for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is a male sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby and the local football team has a very important match tomorrow so this large football has been placed so that supporters can write encouraging comments on it.  I asked Andrew if he had written anything but he said that hadn’t because he was lost for words.

Derby football

My feet are still not made for walking at the moment so it was lucky that I had two choirs to go to today to help me pass the time,

We started with the church choir.  It was a children’s service today and all the hymns were in unison.  This was good as I hadn’t sung for some time so I welcomed the chance to do some uninhibited warbling to get my voice back in action.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal got busy in the garden and I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and pottered about taking more garden pictures.

I especially liked an azalea with teeth.

azalea with teeth

The rowan has come out and it looks as though there should be enough berries for all the birds when the time comes.

rowan blossom

I looked in the greenhouse as I went past with the mower and had to go back in later with the camera later to record the wonderful flower power of the fuchsia which is still waiting to find a home in the garden.

fuchsia in green hiuse

Outside the greenhouse, the lupins are reaching for the sky.

lupins

We have had some measurable rain at last and Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure mustard looks grateful.

mustard

The overnight rain had rather beaten down the cow parsley stems but they soon recovered and made a pretty picture with the sweet rocket in the back border.

cowparsley and sweet rocket

I noticed that a good many exhausted male flowers had fallen onto the lawns from the walnut tree and looking up, I could see potential nuts in the making.

walnuts

Elsewhere, there were more signs of fruits to come, with both apples and plums looking promising.

apple plum apple

Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased to see  that a ranunculus had survived from last year.  It is a challenge for me though, as I find it very had to get a good picture of it.

ranunculus

The hostas are looking very healthy.

hostas

I made some potato soup to go with bread and cheese for lunch and while I was inside, I watched the birds.

The sparrows have almost taken over the feeder at the moment, although there is a redpoll lurking round the back in this picture…

sparrows on feeder

…and a blue tit enjoyed the peanuts without any competition.

blue tit

Down below, a dunnock considered tucking in to the fat balls.

dunnock consider ingfat balls

In the plum tree, the reason for the sparrow keenness for food was being demonstrated.

sparrow feeding young

You have probably heard of the goose step and the turkey trot, but we got a pigeon strut today.

strutting pigeon

When I wasn’t watching the birds, the flowers around the feeder seen through the kitchen window gave me plenty to look at.

geums through wndow

I went briefly back into the garden after lunch and took a close look at the wonderful complexity of one of the euphorbias.

euphorbia in flower

Among all the colour, there is still a world of white out there.

white flowers

Hidden away in a shady corner of the garden, the doronicum is flowering away.  It has been in flower since mid march and shows no sign of stopping.

doronicum

In the afternoon, we went down to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle community Choir.  We have been meeting in the same church for six years but we are changing to a new venue (hopefully with better lighting) so this was our last sing from the familiar pews.  We spent the time practising two delightful songs so it was a good way to say goodbye.  We have one more meeting before our summer concert so there will have to be some serious home practice in the coming days.

The flying bird of the day is a young sparrow, grown up enough to feed itself now.

flying baby sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison.  They are on holiday on the shore of Loch Feochan in Argyll and this is the view from their front window.  They have chosen a good week for their trip.

Loch Feochan

We had a day of perfect weather here too, although there was still some winter chill left in the breeze.  The recent spell of dry weather means that pollen has been very heavy recently and our shiny new car often ends the day covered in a fine film of powder. This doesn’t help my asthma and although it doesn’t leave me gasping in the gutter it may explain why I found myself trying to sing a different hymn from everyone else at one stage during the morning’s church service.  Still, I managed to get home safely after the service and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

Looking out of the kitchen window while I cooked, I watched our siskins monopolising the feeder again.

siskins

…or rather , nearly monopolising it, as the occasional sparrow did sneak in.

sparrow on feeder

I noticed something quite unusual going on beneath the feeder.  A greenfinch was diving in and out of a mini jungle of old daffodil leaves and guddling about furiously.  I don’t know what it was looking for at all.

greenfinch among daffodil leaves

When the stew was on, I had a short walk round the garden.  Pulsatilla Corner was looking quite exciting.

pulsatilla seehead

…and I spent quite a lot of time waiting for a male orange tip butterfly to settle down for long enough to let me take a picture.  It was too restless for me though and I had to make do with a female who did hang around for a few seconds.  Although the females don’t have orange tips to their wings, they are beautifully decorated all the same.

orange tip butterfly female

It was such a pleasant morning that I thought that I would try a little more gentle cycling therapy to stretch my sore ankle and took the slow bike out for a seven mile potter up and down the Wauchope road.

In spite of the efforts of the council to mow down every wild flower in sight, there are some about.

wild flowers up wauchope

And there were any amount of male orange tip butterflies too.  I kept on stopping to try to snap one but they kept on going and once again, I had to make do with more stable female specimens. As they were flying alongside male orange tip butterflies, I naturally assumed that they were females orange tips but when I looked at the shots on the computer, it became plain they they are green-veined white butterflies.

green veined white

This may explain why the male orange tip wasn’t hanging around.

To add insult to injury, a male orange tip actually came right up to my bicycle when I stopped at Wauchope Schoolhouse to take a picture of the locals there…

two bulls at schoolhouse

…and it actually sniffed at my front fork before heading off seconds before I could get my camera to focus on it.  I’ll get one, one of these days.

The trip back to Langholm was very enjoyable with the wind behind and the sun on my back.  I went down to the river before I went home and was happy to see an oyster catcher on the gravel beside the Esk.

oyster catcher by esk

I got back in time to have a plate of soup for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has been doing some heavy spring cleaning over the past two days.  Spring has a lot to answer for.

After lunch we had the pleasure of gliding down to Carlisle in the the zingy little white thingy and in the sunshine, life felt very good.

Our choir practice was good fun.  Our conductor is always cheerful and full of zest but the fine weather had topped up her energy levels to “extra high” and she was on sparkling form and drove us onwards and upwards.  Two of our more senior choir members got married this week and in celebration, they came out to the front and the choir serenaded them with the appropriately entitled “O Love”.  They were much touched.  We were moved too.

The journey home was as enjoyable as the trip down.  For some reason, the air, which has tended to be rather hazy in recent weeks, magically cleared up today and the views were every fine.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back and found flowers old and new enjoying the day.

four eveining light flowers

This is the  first allium to make it to a perfect sphere.

allium sphere

When we had finished disposing of some of the stew with parsnips for our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to spring cleaning and I went for a three bridges ‘walk’ on my slow bicycle to enjoy the evening light.

It certainly was enjoyable.

from Town Bridge evening light

And because the wind had dropped, it was still quite warm.

reflections in Ewes

I met a bunch of cyclists on the Kilngreen.  They were packing their bikes back into cars after a group outing.  They had just completed a hilly 102 mile ride round St Mary’s Loch.  I felt envious but a bit guilty too because we had done pretty well the same trip with Sandy not long ago but had needed a car to get round.

I pedalled gently on and was submerged in a sea of green

trees in spring

It was balm to the soul and banished any negative thoughts from my mind.

trees on Castleholm

I cycled back along the new path and enjoyed the variety of shapes and colours among the pine and fir trees that I passed.

An elaborate candelabra on a pine…

pine candelabra

…and the incipient cones…

noble fir female

…and packed male flowers on the noble firs.

noble fir male

And the best thing of all about the day was the fact that the gentle cycling seems to have eased off my sore ankle a lot.  It is now only mildly painful and quite supple.  If this remains true tomorrow morning, I will be very happy indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, getting ready to kick a friend off the feeder.

flying siskin in attack mode

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, a keen fisherman.  Knowing that we have not got much water in our rivers at the moment, he sent me this view of the Einag Falls. They are on a tributary of the river Oykel in the Highlands where he was fishing three weeks ago.  He adds that he caught  two fish.

Einag Falls

After some showery days, the weather gods knew that we had a two choir day today so they arranged for a fine day with no rain.  How we laughed.

The flowers in the garden are having a difficult time with the changeable weather so some are starting to come out and then sticking and others are coming out a bit early and then going over more quickly than usual.

tulip and trout lily

The trout lilies are on the way out and I have dead headed tulips which should  only just be by now.

Still, there are plenty of promising buds just waiting for warmer and steadier weather.

clematis bud

And the trees have gone green in a rush.

My feet are still annoying me so after church, I went out for a cycle ride round my short three bridges walk as fortunately cycling is pain free.

Almost every tree beside the river is in leaf now…

river esk from suspension brig late april

…and the Lodge Walks are looking beautiful.

lodge walks late april

The Castleholm is surrounded by varied greens…

trees green castleholm

…and there is even a tinge starting to show on the hills behind.

trees and timoen

Spring is in full fling.

green growth castleholm

As I crossed the Jubilee Bridge, I could just see the Duchess Bridge behind the new foliage.

duchess bridge among leaves

When I got home, I inspected the Charles Ross apple on the fence…

Charles ross apple blossom

..and was very pleased to find a solitary bee hard at work,

bee on apple blossom

The Ballerina tulips are lasting well…

ballerina tulip standing

…and we are still waiting for others to open.

leaning tulip

We combined the trip to our Carlisle Choir with some shopping which included cheese, coffee and dates.  As the choir practice was enjoyable as well as hard working, this made for a good way to spend time even if it was indoors on a fine day.

The forecast is offering us a couple of warmer, dry days to come so we have forgiven the weather gods for their little joke.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds and for some reason, there weren’t many birds to watch anyway after some very busy days at the feeder.

This didn’t stop a siskin and a goldfinch going beak to beak….

siskin goldfinch eyeball

…but the flying bird of the day turns out to be a small white butterfly instead.

white butterfly

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Today’s guest post comes from my brother Andrew’s trip to Anglesey.  He and my sister Mary had a coffee while admiring this view of Puffin Island.  The bell in the lighthouse tolled every 20 seconds while they sipped but Andrew told me not to ask for whom the bell tolled.

puffin island anglesey

It is a short post today because although I did quite a lot, it almost all involved sitting down and singing, with the church choir in the morning and with the Carlisle Community Choir in the afternoon.

When I wasn’t sitting singing, I was mainly just sitting as the wind was even colder and meaner today than it was yesterday and there was no mitigating sunshine to cheer things up.

I might have gone for a walk or even a cycle ride between choirs, but with my foot still giving me trouble as a result of recent cycle rides and the wind seeking out every crevice in my clothing, neither option seemed very attractive so I stayed in, had a coffee, and watched the birds

There were plenty of goldfinches to watch….

lots of goldfinches

…though chaffinches were falling over themselves to get at the seed.  (I love it when a figure of speech comes to life.)

chaffinch pile up

The flock of siskins which has been visiting seems to have moved on and I only saw one or two today.  In their place, a number of redpolls have started coming regularly  I was just about to photograph a full house of redpolls when a chaffinch barged in and took the fourth perch..

three redpolls

…and the dislodged redpoll had to go to the other feeder.  The bright red chest is the  plumage of the male.

redpoll with red breast

I did get out as far as the garden but the cold weather meant that there was not much development to record.  Indeed the cold and the wind had battered one tulip badly before it had even opened its petals properly.

battered tulip

Near the pond, red primroses and blue grape hyacinths jostled each other for position

primrose and grape hyacincths

In the pond itself, marsh marigolds have come out.

marsh marigolds

The trout lilies are doing well but are hanging their heads in the chill and since I couldn’t be bothered to go in and fetch a mirror, I cheated and held one up to show the pretty flower.

trout lily

I soon went back in and when I got bored of looking at the birds, I looked at the packed flower beds round the feeder instead.

flowwers below feeder

We fitted a little shopping in when we went to Carlisle to sing after lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some bark chippings for mulch and I bought a small teapot (and some loose tea) so we were both satisfied.

At church in the morning, we had sung six hymns, a short introit and an anthem, followed by two goes through the Hallelujah Chorus as a practice for the service next week so I was more than pleased to find that I still had a voice to sing in the afternoon.  Our Carlisle conductor is so cheery and encouraging, and the music that she has chosen is so enjoyable to sing that all thoughts of sore toes and cold winds were banished from my mind.

I had made a ragu sauce with mince in the slow cooker before church and it went down well with some linguine when we got back from Carlisle, leaving us enough time to watch the final holes of the Masters Golf.

Altogether it was a day of good quality sitting around.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  (I have cheated and painted out the feeder that it was just about to land on.)

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who had been touring the border hills country when he stopped to take this picture of the waterfall known as The Grey Mare’s Tail.grey mare's tail

It was a theoretically warm day today with the thermometer registering 10 degrees but a very chilly northerly wind made it feel much cooler.  Still, it was dry as we cycled to church to sing in the choir so we weren’t complaining too much.

We had a cheerful set of hymns to sing today which made up for the grey weather.

When we got home, I took a general view from an upstairs window of the middle lawn which is currently surrounded by daffodils.  The shrubs are adding a bit of colour to the borders too.burst

 

Then I had a look at the birds while I drank a cup of coffee.  The sunflower hearts are quite big for the small birds’ beaks and there is a lot of spillage.

goldfinch untidy eater

There is always a ground squad about to make sure that none of the fallen seed is wasted.  I counted fifteen chaffinches waiting under the feeder for manna from heaven today.

Some of the chaffinches tried to get onto the perches but this one waved its wings ineffectually and didn’t shift any of the incumbents.

chaffinch waving at feeder

There was a steady churn of birds coming and going with some strong sentiments expressed along the way.

chaffinch in busy scene

There is not much happening in the garden at the moment so rather than walk around it, I went off for a pedal on my new bike.  I was well wrapped up and with the wind behind me, it was an unalloyed pleasure to cycle up to the top of the hill at Callister.  It was quite a bit harder to battle back down the hill into the town but I managed to go a little bit further than I did yesterday and a little bit faster too so I was quite happy.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had recovered her health well enough to have moved one of the new vegetable garden frames into place.  The new frames are intentionally narrower than the old frames so there will have to be some digging before they get fully settled in.

new bed in place

I noticed that more blossom had appeared on the plum tree so I recorded that fact before going for lunch.more plum blossom

After lunch, I had time to go through a few of the songs that we are doing with our Carlisle choir before it was time to go off to Carlisle to sing.  I spotted a goldfinch trying out the peanuts as I was getting ready to go out to the car.

goldfinch on nuts

It didn’t look very happy but it had a good nibble before it flew off.

Our choir practice was excellent.  Our conductor was in very good form and the choir was responsive so we got a lot done.  The current set of songs have a lot of good singing in them and are difficult enough to keep me working without being so hard as to make me depressed.

With two concerts, a church service and three practices since Tuesday, it has been a full week of singing and it is very heartening to find that the combination of speech therapy and singing lessons helped my previously creaky voice to survive.

We drove home in a sort of hazy sunshine but by the time that we got back to Langholm, it was all haze and no sunshine.  As we parked the car, I saw that the first of the Lithodora ‘Heavenly Blue’ flowers had appeared.

lithospermum

My camera resolutely refused to show just how blue the flower is so I will have to try again in a different light.

It had no problem even in the dim light with the glorious colour of the cowslippy things which are going from strength to strength….

cowslippy

…and it enjoyed the fresh green of a philadelphus by the hedge.

philadelphus

Although the light was fading now, there was enough left to show a redpoll visiting the feeder. It was just in time because although I had filled the feeder twice during the day, the seed was almost all gone again.

redpoll

I had made a slow cooked stew with a rolled shoulder of lamb in the morning before going to church and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some mashed  potatoes and cabbage to go with it and the result was entirely satisfactory.  The slow cooker is a wonderful thing.

Looking at the forecast, an easterly wind is set to continue for several days so spring may remain on hold for a while.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches, looking a bit uncertain of which is the best way to go.  You can’t avoid Brexit metaphors these days.

flying chaffinches

Footnote:  I don’t generally use a photograph if I haven’t taken it on the day of the post but I found that I had overlooked this one from last Wednesday.  It was too bright to waste.

It shows the eye popping display of flowers at the Houghton Hall Garden Centre.  This is where Mrs Tootlepedal found her cheerful primrose for the chimney pot, though hers came from a subsidiary bench where bargains were to be found.

dav

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