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Posts Tagged ‘Carlisle Community Choir’

Today’s guest picture shows a rather more ornate bench than our new one.  Venetia sent the picture to me but couldn’t say what it was like to sit on the bench as it is too tall for her to get up  on to.  A triumph of art over practicality.

venetia's seat

The short spell of good weather continued today and it was a pleasure to go out into the garden after breakfast and be greeted by genuinely warm air.

I took the picture of the daffodil of the day at quarter to nine in the morning when we were sitting on the new bench enjoying the sunshine.

double daffodil

The morning sun brought out the best in a bunch of yellow tulips too.

yellow tulips

We didn’t have as long as we would have liked to enjoy the glorious weather as it was soon time to go to sing in the church choir.  Probably because it is a holiday weekend, the choir was rather short handed so we all felt a bit exposed but we had a good sing.

We had a little time to work or wander  in the garden when we got back.  I turned my attention away from the large and showy to the tiny…

small garden flowers

…and then spent some time stalking a peacock butterfly round the garden until it was polite enough to stop for a moment (though it didn’t fully stretch out its wings).

peacock butterfly

Then  we had a cup of coffee and went on a short walk to see if the good weather had brought the bluebells on.

The walk was most enjoyable with a lot to see on the way.

I stopped to check if the lichen on the park wall was enjoying the heat.

It was…..

red lichen

…but just behind the lichen was something that I found even more interesting.

What I took to be moss was sprouting in a way that I have never noticed before.

moss

I did some research on the internet and couldn’t find anything like it so I may be mistaken in thinking that it was moss but it certainly looked like it.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very struck by the huge bracket fungus on an old tree stump nearby….

bracket fungus

…but my eye was taken by a tiny oxalis growing on a damp wall as we climbed up the slope to the Stubholm.

oxalis

It was a beautiful day for a walk.

stubholm tree

Most of the wild garlic was still waiting to come out in spite of the warmer weather but one or two plants were giving a taste of things to come.

wild garlic

Did I mention that it was a beautiful day for a walk?

Easton's walk

Mr Grumpy was out enjoying himself too.

heron

And the view down the river from below the church was spring at its springiest.

River Esk

The only black mark was the fact that the bluebells were not much farther on than they had been when I last walked by a few days ago.  I shall have to be patient.

We had time to visit the garden again before lunch.  The euphorbia continues to attract flies.

fly on euphorbia

I think that this is a hoverfly.  It seemed too small to be a bee.

…and the tulips continued to attract me.  This one is my current favourite.

orange tulip

 

…as it glows more than the others.

tulip centres

After lunch, we headed off to Carlisle for a little shopping and a lot of singing with our Carlisle choir.  It did cross our mind that it was far too nice a day to spend more of it inside but we have a concert coming up soon so we didn’t like to miss a practice.

It was still warm enough to sit outside in the garden when we got home and we were serenaded by two competing blackbirds who were singing fit to bust from a nearby roof  and holly tree.

blackbirds

The very last daffodil has come into flower….

daffodil

…and soon the age of the daffodil will be past.

I mowed the middle lawn and then we went in for a delicious lamb stew prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal in the slow cooker.

I didn’t get any chance today to linger indoors and look out of the kitchen window so the flying bird of the day is a frog which turned up in the pond among all the tadpoles.

frog in pond

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Today’s guest picture comes from a boat trip that Dropscone took while on his holiday in Majorca.  He saw these  interesting rocks.

majorca cave

The forecast drop in temperature came about but it was not quite as dramatic as it might have been.  All the same, some light drizzle and clouds made the day seem very gloomy compared with the last two days.

It rained while we singing in the church choir in the morning but by the time that we emerged, it had stopped again and I paid a visit to the dam at the back of our house before going inside.  On our side of the new bridge, aubretia is beginning to drip down the concrete…

aubretia

…and on the other side of the new bridge, our neighbour Liz has a striking clump of marsh marigold.

marsh marigold

In the garden, evidence of the morning drizzle was to be seen…

daffodil

…and so I turned up the flower of a dog’s tooth violet to get a sunnier view of it.

dog's tooth violet

I went in and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker, checking on the birds outside from time to time.

The siskins seem to have found somewhere more attractive to eat and we are left with mostly goldfinches and chaffinches at the moment…

busy feeder

…who are always ready to exchange a few well chosen words.

_DSC3414

Once the stew was started, I took a second walk round the garden.

The hyacinths looked cheerful enough…

grape hyacinth

…but the tulips were missing the sunshine and stubbornly refused to display their charms.

closed tulips

After lunch, I had time for another quick look round.

There are some weather conditions which seem to make the hellebores lift up their heads. I haven’t quite pinned down what the requirements are but today was one of the days when it happened.

hellebores

The hellebores have been very good value this year and have been out for ages.

Something has been eating the petals of the daffodil of the day.

daffodil

We made an early start on the trip to Carlisle for our afternoon choir as we had some shopping in mind.

We visited a bookshop first and then went to a specialist tea and coffee supplier where I bought tea from India, China and Sri Lanka to go with the African teas that I am currently drinking.  Two packets of coffee beans from Nicaragua and Brazil also found their way into the shopping bag.  Sometimes, we take the wonders of international trade for granted but I reflect on a small part of it every day as I drink tea and coffee.  And am grateful.

We concluded the shopping by going to a well known clothing store where I bought a shirt just like that.   My ability to make such a bold and swift decision was greatly helped by the fact that my personal shopping adviser was holding my hand and she suggested that a shirt might be a good thing to buy.

The afternoon choir session did not turn out as expected.

We got there to find that our conductor and accompanist, who come down from Glasgow each week, had found that railway maintenance which should have stopped in time for them to get to the practice was still ongoing and they were trapped on the wrong side of it.

In the absence of anyone else, a pianist from the choir stepped forward to act as accompanist and I got the chance to take the choir for a shortened session.  As there is nothing more magical than waving your arms about in a casual way and being greeted by the sound of glorious singing, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The sun had come out by the time that we finished and the evening was so lovely that we took a longer and more scenic way than usual to drive home.

The stew was good too so the day ended very well.

A collared dove sat in the plum tree.

collared dove

I checked a weather site for local weather and it said that yesterday’s high was 69.3°F and today’s was 60°F and tomorrow’s will be 51°F.  This translates roughly as a drop from 20°C to 10°C so we will back to feeling the chill again.   April showers are also likely and I may be a bit pressed to get as many miles in on the slow bike as I would like before the new bike arrives with the new month.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

A literal footnote:  Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture to cheer me up.  It shows her husband leaving his mark on lawn in Denmark that is so mossy that it makes mine look not too bad at all.

moss in Denmark

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a child friendly door that took Mary Jo’s fancy on her visit to Copenhagen.  Clever marketing.

copenhagen door

We could hardly believe it when we got another warm and pleasant day today.  It made cycling to church to sing in the choir a treat and gave us every incentive to get out in the garden when we got back.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent her time productively while I wandered around taking pictures.

Things are coming on.

Old friends are getting better…

cowslip

…and new ones are coming to join them.

primrose

Grape hyacinths are appearing everywhere…

muscari

..and the scillas are bunching up nicely.

scilla

We are getting nearer to peak daffodil each day…

daffodil

…and some flowers which have been modestly out for quite a bit in the chilly weather are throwing out more colour in the warmth.

primrose

primula

There are exciting hints of delights to come (though the magnolia is taking its time).

magnolia and tulip

…and some shrubs are showing colour too, like this spirea.

spirea

I had a lot of choice but this was my daffodil of the day.

daffodil

Putting down my camera, I picked up the lawn mower and gave some moss a fright.

lawn care

This was the first mowing of the reshaped middle lawn.  There is evidence of some grass growing on it which is a relief after a long, cold, damp spell when it looked as though it was going to be totally mossy.  There is a lot of work to be done before that one beautiful week in late June or early July when the currently speckled mossy area will look like a proper grassy lawn.  (It starts to go downhill again shortly afterwards.)

In the afternoon we combined some shopping, including getting some slabs for Mrs Tootlepedal’s new bench area, with singing with our Carlisle choir.  Our musical director, Andrew was back for the first time for a while and it was a treat to get the meticulous attention which he plays both to our singing and to the learning of new songs.

Just so that we didn’t get carried away, it was raining gently when we came out of the practice but it had stopped by the time that we got home and our warmer spell looks set to continue for a while at least.

In the gap between mowing the lawn and going to Carlisle, I had sardines on toast for my lunch and an opportunity to look out of the kitchen window.  The usual suspects were busy…

busy feeder

…and sometimes, very busy.

busy feeder

The redpolls have become a permanent fixture for a while at least, returning every day…

redpoll

…and I was particularly pleased to see a newcomer at the feeder today in the shape of a tree sparrow.

tree sparrow

I had been thinking only a day or two ago that it would be nice to see a tree sparrow and hey presto, one appeared.  Now I am thinking that it would be nice to win the lottery.

Any spare moments during the day were taken up by battling with an intransigent crossword puzzle.  In the end, I had to ring up my sister Mary to share notes on the more convoluted answers and between us we puzzled out the setter’s obscurities to our mutual satisfaction.

The flying bird of the day is one of our standard chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s recent trip to America.  As well as wild life in Wyoming, she saw still life in Thousand Oaks.

Thousand Oaks

We had a second fine sunny day today, frosty at dawn but warm enough for the rest of the day to make being outside a pleasure.

So it was a pity that it coincided with the one day of the week where thanks to choirs, we spend a lot of time indoors but these things  can’t be helped so we enjoyed the singing and we enjoyed the sun.

After the church choir, Mrs Tootlepedal made a chicken stew in the slow cooker and then found some time for gardening while I sneaked out for a dozen miles on the slow bike just to keep the miles ticking over while the sun shone.

I stopped for a view at the Bigholms…

view at Bigholms

…and as well as admiring the fine tree in the view…

tree at Bigholms

…I took a picture to show how thin the soil is under our scenery.

peat at Bigholms

The dark layer is peat.

While I was stopped for the view, I looked at a concrete fence post beside the road as I don’t like to waste a stop if I can help it.

lichen at Bigholms

I had a look round the garden when I got in and noted that a little bunch of the miniature Tete a Tete daffodils has come out…

jetfire daffodil

…though we are still waiting for the main daffodils to do their thing.

The crocuses were enjoying the sun…

crocuses

…but there was nothing new to see so I went inside, had a shower and set up the camera at the kitchen window.

The feeder had been unoccupied while Mrs Tootlepedal worked nearby but when she came in, visitors arrived.

chaffinches

They were mostly chaffinches, flying in….

flying chaffinch

…from the plum tree and…

_DSC2560

…sometimes getting into arguments with each other.

flying chaffinch

Sometimes a goldfinch stood in their way…

flying chaffinch

…and sometimes a greenfinch…

flying chaffinch and greenfinch

..but it was good to see the feeder busy.

I didn’t catch a flying greenfinch but I did notice one of the few goldfinches arriving.

flying goldfinch

I didn’t have long to enjoy the birds though as the moment to leave for Carlisle and our choir came all too soon.

We had our substitute conductor again this week as our musical director was busy with one of his many other duties and she gave us a thorough workout.  It was made all the harder from my point of view as my voice, which had been a bit husky in church, took a turn for the worse and I croaked my way inelegantly through the practice.

By the time that we had got home, I was even croakier and wondered whether I had picked up some unhelpful ailment but a couple of paracetamols and a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent chicken stew improved things a lot.  I am hoping that all will be well in the morning.

I was even more perked up when I discovered that I had got a worthy contender for the position of flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew in Derby.  They had a spot of snow there.

Derby snow

We had a spot of snow too but not nearly so much as they did and this was the scene that welcomed us when we got up this morning.

snowy lawn

The chaffinches watched the continuing arrival of more snow rather morosely.

chaffinches and snowflake

And the daffodils and crocuses looked a bit oppressed.

daffs in snow

We went off to church where there was a rather diminished choir and came back in a mini blizzard but luckily the snow didn’t stick…

snowy lawn

…and the road surfaces must have been quite warm because in spite of the thermometer staying at a miserable 1 degree above freezing, the snow on the roads melted and we felt that it would be completely safe to drive to Carlisle after lunch for our other choir.

Over lunch, I kept and eye on the bird feeders.  The feeder  traffic was totally chaffinch.

Sometimes they all watched what was going on with interest…

chaffinches

…and sometimes, eating was  more attractive than watching squabbling…

chaffinches

…and sometimes there was so much going on that a bird simply couldn’t watch it all.

flying  chaffinch

In the snow below, a steady stream of visitors provided interest.

robin

Two old friends, a robin and a dunnock…

dunnock

…and two less frequent visitors, a wood pigeon…

pigeon

…and a collared dove.

collared dove

A blackbird kept everyone in order,  a teacher perhaps in a former life.

blackbird

The roads stayed clear and the trip to Carlisle was completed satisfactorily.  We had a substitute conductor today as Andrew had another choir’s concert to worry about.  Alison has taken us before and she is very good but as she thinks that we are bit better at picking things up quickly than we actually are it was a challenging session for someone who had not sung one of the pieces before and the other only once some years ago.

But it was all good fun.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared an evening meal in the slow cooker so we had a warm welcome home.

We have one more cold day in store and then things should warm up again.  Considering that in the south and west of the country roads were closed because of the snow, we seem to have got off lightly again.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  It had to be as there were no others.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows Langholm exile Tom getting ready to set off on the Capetown Cycle Tour  a few days ago.  He tells me that it is 109 kms around the peninsula, with great views but the route is hilly.

Tom biking in SA

He suggested that it might be just the thing for me next year but I fear that the bus fare to get there might be a bit steep too.

I should have been able to excite readers with a selection of exciting bird and frog pictures but I took the card out of my camera and put it down somewhere so sensible that I can’t find it all.  You will have to imagine the birds and frogs and this shouldn’t be too hard as they will be much the same as ever.

I had a quiet morning as Mrs Tootlepedal went off early  to visit Matilda in Edinburgh and I retired to bed until lunch time as I had had  a very poor night’s sleep.

The fact that it was raining all morning as well as being cold and windy made staying in bed seem like a really good idea.

In the afternoon, I went to Carlisle and discussed bikes with the bike shop man.  He showed me a picture of the crack in the fairly speedy bike…

cracked bike

…which looked quite serious to me.   It is possible to get an aluminium frame crack welded but I am not going to do it because if one has appeared, it seems likely that another one might follow it.  The bike has been bumping over our rotten roads for many years on high pressure tyres and I feel that it doesn’t owe me anything and can be gracefully retired.

Besides, it is exciting to be contemplating a new bike, even at my age.

Oh, Mrs Tootlepedal has just come in with the camera card which needed her skills to be found.  Here is a late bird and frog show.

A happy frog…

frog

…a cautious chaffinch…

chaffinch

…and a chaffinch catastrophe.  Ouch.

chaffinch

Back to the story in Carlisle:

After doing the new bike contemplation, I went to the station to meet Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had had a day of misfiring transport links with late buses and a missed train but had still managed to have an enjoyable lunch with Matilda and her father.

The reason for the early start and return was the need to be present as our Carlisle choir sang in the Carlisle Music Festival.  We were entered in two classes for open choirs, one with seven entries and one with four.  Rather to our surprise, we won the larger of the two classes and came second in the other.

The shield for the winning choir was enormous….

choir at Carlisle music festival

…which was only fair because our choir is enormous too.

choir at Carlisle music festival

This is about half of them.

Our very talented conductor can be seen in the back row looking justifiably proud of his work.

What with considering a new bicycle and singing in the choir, the day ended a great deal better than it had begun.

I even caught a flying bird of the day while I was having my sardine sandwich for lunch.

chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal and shows two fragments of the steampunk embroidery that she enjoyed so much yesterday.  The artist is Jan Johnson.

steampunk embroidery

We had the first genuinely warm and sunny day of the year and it was ideal for gardening and cycling so it was unfortunate that it coincided with our Sunday day of two choirs with no time for anything else but singing.

It was very welcome all the same and gave a really good lift to our spirits.

In between the church choir and the Carlisle community choir, there was time to look out of the window and walk round the garden.

Once again the garden was full of siskins….

siskins

…but among the familiar sights and sounds, the first redpoll of spring appeared as well.

redpoll

Out in the garden among the crocuses…

crocuscrocus

…fresh buds are a pointer of things to come.

spring buds

….and today we had many added bees…

bee on crocus

bee on crocus

…and the frogs in the pond were purring away.

frogs and spawn

They had been busy.

frog and spawn

Some were all for togetherness…

frogs

…while others preferred to hide their light under a bushel.

frog

We had to work hard in both choirs as two of the hymns in the morning had no less than seven verses and it was the last practice before a competition for our Carlisle choir in the afternoon.

The forecast says that we should keep clear of frost for the next few days so I am hoping to get out and about on the bike but it will have to be on my slow bike as the fairly speedy bike is going in for its annual service tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the frequently flying siskins.

siskin

 

 

 

 

 

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