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Posts Tagged ‘Carlisle Community Choir’

Today’s guest picture from our son Tony shows the East Wemyss dogs enjoying their day in the sun beside the Firth of Forth.

dogs in the sun

We had a pretty nice day here too, although a chilly wind reminded us that we still have some way to go before jumpers and coats can be light heartedly discarded.

Still, it was a treat to cycle to church in the sunshine and a selection of good hymns and an interesting address on the subject of ‘wheat and wine’ made for a good service.

We are just about at peak daffodil in the garden now and I took this picture of the middle lawn surrounded by them when we got back from church.

lawn and daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal has a good variety of different daffodils on show and the six below are by no means all that we have.

six daffodils

On the other hand, the lawn itself, although it may not look too bad in the picture above, is in a very poor state, full of both moss and lichen…

moss and lichen lawn

…with not a lot of grass about.

I averted my eyes from the lawn and enjoyed the flowers.  The grape hyacinths are getting very blue….

grape hyacinths very blue

…and one of the perennial wallflowers has produced its first flowers.

perennial wallflower

Fritillaries have arrived in the back border and may well be candidates for the mirror treatment in the course of time.

first fitillary

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the matching colours of this flower and the shrub behind it…

cowslip and spirea

…and I like the little flowers themselves.

little cowslip

I went for a very short walk to take a picture of our friend Mike’s cherry tree as this may be its last year in his garden and on the way, I admired our neighbour Hector’s flowering currant….

hector currant

…and having taken the picture of the  cherry (I was late and it is just past its best as far as colour goes)…

mike's cherry

…I took this picture of our neighbour Liz’s forsythia.

Liz forsythia

We are fortunate to be surrounded by so much colour at no expense to ourselves!

On our lawn a jackdaw looked round, doubtless wondering who had taken all the wool mulch away from the flowerbeds.

questing jackdaw

The other jackdaws have taken it all.

At the feeder, there were plenty of siskins, some waiting for a spare perch…

two siskins on pole

…and others dropping in as soon as there was an opportunity.

diving siskin

Such was the pressure on the sunflower hearts that occasionally a siskin would try the peanuts.

siskin eating peanuts

I was happy to see a brambling, but once again, only one came.

lone brambling

After lunch, we went off to sing with our Carlisle Choir.  We combined the visit with a little shopping where Mrs Tootlepedal acquired a few more plants for the garden while I stocked up on coffee beans and cheese.

At the choir, our proper conductor was back after two weeks off and we had an excellent practice.  I enjoy all the songs that we are singing which helps.

I made a sausage stew when we got home and while it was cooking, I went out for a short walk in some lovely evening light (we have an extra hour on our hands in the evening now).  I noticed a new little blue flower in the back border….

little blue flower

…and then I left the garden and walked past the church….

church in low sun

…and down to the river where I found a gathering of about 30 oyster catchers.

They were lined up along the edge of the Esk and I couldn’t get them all into one shot.

20 oyster ctachres

One of them stood out though.

oystercatcher and dramatic river

The river was in shadow and it was too late in the evening to get a satisfactory flying bird of the day picture when the birds took off for short hops along the bank…

flying oyster catchers

…but I still quite liked this impressionistic view as a group headed for the suspension bridge.

impression of flying oyster catchers

The sausage stew turned out well and a little gentle telly watching rounded off the day.

A horizontal and streamlined goldfinch with its eye on the prize is the flying bird of the day.

horizontal flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo’s visit to Vancouver  and shows that they have silly cars there as well as silly buildings.  By the time that you make a car this small, you would be better off on an electric bicycle.  I might get into such a car but I don’t think that I would ever be able to get out again.

vancouver car

Mrs Tootlepedal was already up and about this morning when I got up but she wasn’t feeling well enough to sing in the church choir so I went off on my own.  Once again we had a very small choir but there were some enjoyable hymns to sing so we did our best.

The forecast had hinted at rain by the time that church was over and there were a few drops but the day stayed largely dry.  I had to fill the feeders as the traffic had been heavy once again and as soon as they were filled, birds started to arrive.

goldfinch and siskin

The arrivals were almost all chaffinches, goldfinches and siskins but it is good to see a busy feeder even if there is not a great variety of different birds.

traffic stacking at feeder

The birds are working on a controlled stacking system copied from Heathrow airport.

My foot was very sore after yesterday’s cycling efforts which was a bit of a disappointment to me as the cycling itself had been very pain free.  As a result, I limited my walking to the garden and didn’t stay out long when I was there.

I prepared a  pot of mince for the slow of cooker and went out when I had finished.

I like this avenue of little daffodils and the sharp eyed will just be able to see the ground level telephone wire going across the grass at the far end.

row of daffs and fallen wire

Signs of things happening are all around.  I saw the first colour in a tulip of the year…

first tulip bud

…and a little cluster of buds on the silver pear.

silver pear buds

When I went back in to make some coffee, I had time to look at the busy feeder again. A siskin was giving a chaffinch a hard time for undue encroachment…

siskins ganging up on chaffinch

…and a female of the species showed that it was deadlier than the male by trampling on an unsuspecting  siskin in return.

stamping chaffinch on siskin

I switched between indoor and outdoor activities and went out to consider the grape hyacinths.  Mrs Tootlepedal is not going for a continuous river of blue this year but she has several promising pools developing.

pool of hyacinths

Back inside again, I saw a chaffinch trying to get organised for a landing…

wonky chaffunch

…and a goldfinch who had safely arrived using a mixed overhand and underhand grip.

secure goldfinch

On my next garden excursion, I walked across the road to talk to our neighbour Liz and in the course of a very interesting conversation about sore feet, I admired her mossy gatepost…

Liz's mossy gatepost

…and she directed my attention to some more moss a bit further along her wall.

Liz's mossy wall

As I went back inside, the sun came out and a goldfinch showed off the pattern on its wings.

flying goldfinch

I had time for one last excursion to the garden where I wondered what had leapt up and taken this chunk out of the trumpet of a daffodil and left the rest untouched….

eaten daffodil

…and was impressed by the growth in the tree peony in the back bed.

tree peony bud

As Mrs Tootlepedal was not feeling at her best, I left her watching Gardeners’ World on the telly and went off after lunch to do some shopping on my way to sing with our Carlisle choir.  As I not only remembered to write a shopping list but I also remembered to take it with me, the shopping was very satisfactory.

The choir was most enjoyable and we had a lot of good singing but as Ellen, our proper conductor,  wasn’t there for the second week running, we didn’t get quite as much done as we should have.  It is interesting to get different conductors and you can always learn something from a new approach but it doesn’t get the songs for our next concert practised as thoroughly as they would be if Ellen was in charge.

It was really good to drive home in broad daylight as the long winter months have finally come to an end.

The slow cooked mince turned out well and we had it with mashed potatoes and spinach for our tea.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s  guest picture was sent to me by Laurie, a proud resident of the state of Maine.  While our spring is creeping over the windowsill, her winter is still being delivered…though it is gift wrapped.

laurie's ice

Sitting and singing was the order of the day which made it a bit annoying that this was also the day when we got the first pleasant and sunny morning for some time.  Even if I hadn’t had singing to do though, my foot is still stopping me from making any vigorous use of a good day.

I was able to walk to church, and without a coat on which was a relief after the sleety snow of last week.  As far as bad weather goes, there have been floods to the south of us and snow storms to the north of us so we have been very fortunate.

With only five members of the choir present this week, we had to tailor our ambitions to our resources but there was still enough singing to keep us busy.

When I got home, I checked on our bird visitors and spotted the spotted jackdaw again…

Mottled jackdaw in plum tree

…and followed that up by admiring a very smooth pigeon in the same tree.

pigeon in the plum tree

It was quite chilly but the wind had dropped a bit so a walk round the garden was enjoyable enough and there were developments to see.

The grape hyacinths are coming along nicely…

grape hyacinth back bed

…as are the euphorbias.

euphorbia first flowers

I was pleased to see new growth appearing on the well pruned branches of the espalier apples…

apple buds

…and I was quite impressed by the amount of rain that has fallen during the week (as recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge).

rain gauge march 19

I am still in foot resting mode so I went back in and listened to the radio and watched the birds at the same time.  It is not just women who can multitask.

busy feeder chaffinches

I went back into the garden to hang out some washing and my eye was caught by the many varieties of moss to be seen beside the drying green.  There is a pile of old stones as well as some logs there and they have given the moss good homes.

garden moss with pints

The stones had a tapestry of different colours…

garden moss stone

…and shapes…

garden moss on old wall

but the log crop was the greenest and freshest looking.

garden moss with seed heads log

This is a detail of one of the mosses on the stones. garden moss stone closer

Like many things, the more you look at it, the more interesting moss becomes (in my view at least).

There was so much traffic on the feeder that I put a second one out and it soon attracted a clientele of its own.

two birds in the rian

The sharp eyed may notice a little drizzle in that last shot.  That had started as soon as I had hung the washing out of course, but it soon stopped and the washing had pretty well dried by the time that I had to take it in when I left to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir.

Our musical director wasn’t there.  She had been held up in Belfast when her flight back to Scotland hadn’t been able to take off because of the weather, but as she had been there for a solo singing competition which she had won, we couldn’t hold it against her.

Our usual accompanist took the practice in her place and did a first rate job.  One of the choir members acted as an accompanist and we had a thoroughly satisfactory session.

I had a well cooked poke of fish and chips from our local chip shop for my evening meal when I got back to Langholm and that rounded off a good day….except for that fact that three hours of sitting in hard backed wooden church pews (our Carlisle choir meets in a church) had done my sore foot no favours, even though I had hardly walked a step all day.

I have kept my favourite photograph from the garden tour this morning back until the end of the post because I thought it deserved a special place.   Could anything look more luxuriant and inviting than this magnolia bud?  I don’t think so.

magnolia bud

The sunny weather did let me get a rather crisper flying chaffinch of the day than I have managed lately.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who saw this pink elephant but swears that she hadn’t touched a drop of drink all day.  I believe her.

pink elephant

It is going to be a rushed post today as I went to Carlisle to sing with our Carlisle choir at the local music festival in two classes and as there were eight choirs in the first class and seven in the second, it turned into a long evening and I haven’t even had my tea yet.

I had two visitors in the morning, a frog in the pond among potential frogs…

frog and tadpoles

…and Sandy who dropped in for coffee and to give me advice on getting my printer to print satisfactory pictures for the forthcoming exhibition.

His advice was sound and I spent most of the rest of the morning printing out pictures, a very slow business.

I did have time to walk round the garden.  The daffodils are looking better all the time…

clump of daffodils

…and some of the fancy ones are coming out too.

fancy daffodil

There was a brisk traffic at the bird feeder.

busy feeder

After lunch I went for a walk on my slow bike by which I mean that I bicycled slowly along a route which I would normally have walked as I am trying to rest my sore foot.

Signs of spring are all around, with the ducks pairing up…

two ducks

…and daffodils nodding their heads at the vigorous ripples on the Ewes Water.

dafodils beside ewes

It was sunny but windy and there was occasional rain so I thought that this little scene on the Castleholm summed the day up well.

puddle on castleholm

There were more signs of spring as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge and headed home.

tree budsanother dandelion

I liked the way that the shadows of the playing field fence lay so neatly on the path.

scholars fence shadow

When I got home, I had time to cut a couple of mounts for my exhibition pictures before I left for Carlisle and the choir competition.

I had given myself plenty of time and I had a few minutes to walk round the city centre before going to the warm up.

I noted the old town hall, now a tourist information point…

dav

…the old guildhall, now a restaurant….

dig

…and the very old  cathedral which is still a cathedral.

burst

We sang well at the music festival but the competition sang even better so we  we had to relinquish our grip on the trophy that we won last year.  My heart sank a bit at the prospect of sitting through 13 other choir performances but in the event, it was an entertaining evening with lots of variety in the choirs (everything from a male voice choir to several school ensembles) and lots of variety in the musical offerings (everything from Bruckner to ‘Blame it on the Boogie’).

The winning choir, an all ladies ensemble, was sensational and well worth being beaten by.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with its eye on a free perch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another insect from Derby’s shopping centre as spotted by my brother Andrew.  I am still not clear what the insects are doing there.

derby insect

The man in the gritter lorry whom I met yesterday was obviously doing useful work as this was the scene that greeted us when we got up this morning.

snowstorm march

Although it was coming down in great lumps, the snow was actually quite sleety and after some initial settling…

snowy hellebores march

…it soon melted away leaving just a suggestion on the lawns…

snowy lawn march

…although the hilltops were still showing a good covering.

monument in snow march

It was sleeting so hard at ten o’clock that we drove the few hundred yards to the church in our car instead of cycling as we usually do.  There, as part of a small choir of seven, we sang as lustily as we could.

The snow had stopped by the time that we got home and the chaffinches were coming to collect their food in large numbers…

lots of chaffinches

…and the feeder, which I had filled before going to church, was visibly going down.

very busy feeder

Some thought it better to take a moment away from the mayhem and reflect on life from the top of the sunflower stalk.

chaffinch on the stalk

Among the chaffinches an occasional goldfinch turned up….

busy feeder chaffinches

…but they might have been better staying at home as the sparowhawk paid us a visit and one of the goldfinches was not paying enough attention as the other birds flew off at top speed.

hawk on lawn with goldfinch

It is sad to see one of our little birds come to such an unfortunate end but sparrowhawks need food too.

It didn’t take long for small birds to return to the feeder and they got the bonus of a ray of sunshine to warm them when they got there.

two siskins after the hawk

A couple of larger visitors also put in an appearance.  A blackbird did some paddling…

blackbird in tray

…and a jackdaw looked around for a new bit of the middle lawn to peck up.

jackdaw on lawn

After lunch, we went off to combine a little shopping with our Carlisle Community Choir practice.

The shopping went well as we had remembered our shopping list for once and we not only got everything on the list, but one or two other items which jumped into our trolley as we went along.  Still, you can’t have too much cheese in my view.

The choir practice was very enjoyable and after concentrating almost entirely on competition songs since the new year, it was good to get some new material to work on.  All the same, we are going to sing the three competition songs again this Thursday when we sing in the Carlisle Music Festival.  I hope my memory is up to the job.

The choir’s committee have been very active in ensuring that it is a genuine community choir open to anyone who wants to join, and members often sing in care homes and on other occasions when asked  by local organisations.  As a result, we have received a handsome cheque from the National Lottery to help our work and this was celebrated during our tea break.

dav

In a welcome sign of longer days in spite of the snow, it was still light when we got home after the practice, although the thermometer only showed a miserable 1°C.  The forecast for the next week is for very changeable, cool and windy weather though so the longer days may not be of much use to us for gardening or cycling.

After eating slow cooked mince with potatoes and broccoli for our evening meal, we finished off with a bowl of semolina, an ideal way to end a cold and wintery day.

One of the chaffinch horde is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from fellow choir member Neil who took this shot of us in the warm up room in the Northern College of Music just before we went on to sing in the Manchester Amateur Choir Competition.

carlisle choir

It was a long day, starting by leaving the house at 8.15 am in dry but dull conditions and arriving home at 10.30 pm in a snowstorm.  That last was rather unexpected but otherwise the day went very much to plan.

I remembered to pick up another choir member from Canonbie on my way to Carlisle which was a great triumph.

The coach down was comfortable, the weather improved  and the scenery was agreeable…

P1170251

…and everything was well organised when we got there.  There was enough time between our preliminary practice and the final warm up to let me go for a walk into the centre of Manchester in the light rain which had developed during our drive down the motorway.   As there was no wind and I had had the foresight to bring a small umbrella, the walk was grey but enjoyable.

There is a lot of building work going on and some of the old buildings are being demolished or overshadowed.  This tower does not look too bad…

old manchester

…until you see what it is really up against.

manchester building works

Some fine old university buildings have survived….

Manchester uni building

…and mysteriously I noticed other smaller buildings which had escaped the developers sledgehammer and they were all…

preserved pub 4

…as it turned out…

preserved pub 3

…those popular buildings…

preserved pub 2

….pubs.

preserved pub 1

There are some elegant modern buildings.  Like this station entrance

Manchester station

I walked along a section of canal which is really embedded into the heart of the city, crossing under several roads…

canal bridge 2 Manchester

…though with a nice rural touch here…

canal horse Manchester

…and with lots of locks tucked in amongst the roads and buildings.

canal bridge Manchester 1

You can’t get much more tucked in than this lock.

canal lock Manchester

I like the nifty gearing which allows the boat owners to open the heavy sluices on the lock gates.

canal lock mechanics

I was amused to see Archimedes sheltering from the rain under a railway bridge.

Archimedes in Manchester

Ironically, he was probably the only person who wasn’t getting wet in Manchester today.

I was walking through a university area when I spotted Archimedes and this rather knowledgeable decorative fence panel.

manchester science panel

I got back from my walk in good time to join the choir for our performance and it went as well as we could hope for.  I thoroughly enjoyed the singing which is a tribute to our new conductor Ellen.  The choice of music and the lack of any need to clap and sing at the same time (nightmare) as well as her cheerful manner and encouragement made the whole thing very stress free.

All the same, we didn’t win the competition.  This was no surprise as we were up against 22 other choirs from all over the country, some of them very well trained indeed.

The journey home started with heavy rain in Manchester and ended with snow lying in the streets of Carlisle while more was come down with a vengeance.  I was slightly worried about the trip home as we started off in a blizzard of sleety snow which made visibility in the town difficult to say the least.  The temperature was below freezing, the snow was lying in the streets and I was expecting things to get worse as we went north and climbed a couple of hundred feet.

To my great relief, the temperature went up a degree or two and the snow eased off to rain and the drive home turned out to be no great problem in the end.

I was welcomed home by Mrs Tootlepedal who had decided not to go to Manchester this year.  She had had a very quiet day at home instead.

The flying bird of the day is floating.

canal goose

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony.  He has been looking up lately and as well as holes in clouds, he has seen the moon.

tony's moon

We had another fine sunny day here today and because the wind had dropped, it felt really warm and we were able to discard several layers of winter clothing.

We started the day with a visit to church to sing with the choir.  Because our local amateur operatic society was having a full day of rehearsals for their forthcoming show, we were a bit short of numbers but we gave it our best anyway.

When we got back to the house, we had a stroll round the garden.  I checked on the frogs and saw an odd sight…

two frog heads

…with two frogs looking as though they had been shot and mounted on a wooden board.  A second look showed me that they were in fact floating on top of a reflection of the bridge above them and if you look carefully, you can see the rest of their bodies under the water.

The rest of the pond was full of frogs.

frog panel

The garden is full of crocuses…

crocuses beside opath

…and other interesting things like a naturally dried sunflower head, a ladybird and the developing euphorbia.

sunflower, ladybird and euphorbia

I was just going about photographing things when I was hailed by neighbour Irving who was leaning over the garden fence.  He has been very poorly recently with a bad back and was keen to share some experiences with me as I have suffered from a bad back too in my time.

Irving on fence

He felt that after being ill, he was probably not at his best photographically and told me not to put his picture in the blog.  You can see that he is perhaps looking a little part worn still so I won’t use his picture.

During the day when she was between choirs, Mrs Tootlepedal completed the varnishing of the rocking horse.

rocking horse eyes

The dappling of a rocking horse is a very stylised business and she has settled for a fairly restrained version which I think is just the thing.

rocking horse varnished

We are waiting now for the arrival of the saddle, bridle, main and tail from the rocking horse shop and then the final stage of the work can begin.

We had a busy day at the feeder today with a good number of siskins flying in and out…

three flying siskins

…alongside the usual chaffinches and goldfinches…

three flying birds

…and a visiting starling showed off its iridescent colours.

starling on feeder

I had time for a short three bridges walk and spotted quite a few oyster catchers beside the river..

oyster catcher in sun

The sense of a spring day was heightened by the sight of the first blossoms on the trees which line the Esk between the suspension and the town bridges.

cherry blossom

At the Kilngreen, the crocuses are starting to come out along the banking and although they are not quite as showy as the Edinburgh display which I saw on Thursday…

kilngreen crocus bank

…they are not to be sniffed at.

kilngreen crocuses

I haven’t seen Mr Grumpy for some time, so it was good to see him back on guard beside the Ewes Water.

heron

I walked over the Sawmill Brig and walked up almost as far as the Lodge…

Lodge in Feb

…before crossing the Castleholm and taking the riverside path back towards the Jubilee bridge.  I was wondering if the spell of good weather might have tempted some hazel flowers to come out.

It had.

The catkins were open and if you look carefully, you can just see a little red female flower at the top of the picture.

hazel catkin and flower

This tree had several flowers out…

haxel flowers

…but I didn’t see any more as I walked along the path.  They have arrived early this year.  It has sometimes been almost a month later before I have seen them.

castelholm sunny feb

I called in on our friends Mike and Alison on our way home as Mike has been poorly with a chest infection.  I had seen him briefly on our way to church when he was on his way to buy a newspaper and looking far from well but he was much more cheerful by lunchtime and reported that he is on the mend.

When  I got home, I found the pond full to bursting with frogs.

many frogs in pond

I had time for a quick lunch and while I was  eating my soup, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed that a redpoll had arrived.  I put down my soup spoon and picked  up a camera and recorded this welcome arrival.

february redpoll

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle for a very hard working final practice before the Carlisle Community Choir goes to Manchester next week to compete in the Manchester Amateur Choir Competition.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not taking part this year so I will be going down by myself, except of course for the other eighty choir members who will be coming too.

I am hoping for good weather so I can wander about during the day taking pictures.

I had made a venison stew in the slow cooker in the morning and in spite of saying recently that we had used all the veg from our garden, I was happy to find that we still have some home grown turnips in store in our garage so one of them went in.  Thanks to the good summer, things have lasted well in storage this season.

The flying bird of the day was a lucky shot taken at the Kilngreen as I clicked my camera at random as a duck flew by down the river.  I must have moved it inadvertently at almost duck flying speed.

flyng duck

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