Posts Tagged ‘Carlisle’

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…


…the old guildhall, now a restaurant….


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


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 from my daughter’s working trip to Venice.  After the storm had passed, she got a better view out of her office window.


We woke to a brilliantly sunny morning and I got up into my cycle clothes, ready for a pedal in the sun.  A look at the thermometer, which was showing a meagre 7°C, suggested that a leisurely breakfast and a good read of the morning papers might be a good idea.

I did get going when the the thermometer hit 9° but it still seemed quite chilly even in the sun.   I couldn’t complain about the views today though….


…but the one of the locals seemed a bit miffed by me standing in her line of vision.

Bloch cow

I cycled an extended loop, taking in Kirkpatrick Fleming and Gretna on my way to Canonbie.  I didn’t stop too often for photos as I had a busy afternoon in mind but the call of this little stream was too much for me….

The Black Sark

…especially as it had a nice bridge over it with some convenient steps so that an elderly photographer could get down on to its bank with ease and dignity.

Black sark Bridge

Every bridge should have such a set of steps.

Black sark Bridge

The reason for cycling an extended Canonbie loop was twofold, first because it was such a beautiful sunny day, with big blue skies….

Gretna road

…and secondly because the 34 miles took me over 500 miles for the month, a total which I consider a minor triumph these days.  One of the best things about being retired is that I can make good use of whatever sunny moments there are in a day so in spite of the rotten August weather, I managed to get out fifteen times during the month and hardly got rained on at all.

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and she was literally surrounded with butterflies at times.  There must have been more than twenty peacocks and red admirals flitting about and it was a great sight to see them fill the air above the flowers.

I found a peacock on a calendula….

peacock butterfly on calendula

…and a red admiral on a Michaelmas daisy.

red admiral butterfly

And the shining dahlia had visitors all afternoon.

dahlia with red admiral butterfly

There were poppies and bees again but I noticed a Welsh poppy which I thought compared very well with the Shirley poppies…

Welsh poppy

…and not all the insects were bees.

hoverfly on cosmos

A hoverfly on a cosmos

I do like the Shirley poppies when they have just come out and still have that crumpled paper look.

Shirley poppy

Among the poppies, the cornflowers are a bit overshadowed but they are always well worth a look.


There is a single salvia among the phlox but it is looking better every day.


Oddly, the camera sees it as much more purple and less blue than my eyes sees it but it is still a pretty flower.


Among all the flowers, the seed pods of the tree peony are rather subdued but quite impressive at the same time.

tree peony pods

The main business of the afternoon was a shopping trip to Carlisle, where many necessities were purchased. These included three big bags of farmyard manure, three small bags of coffee beans from around the world (Rwanda, Malabar, Java) and four smaller bags of tea leaves from India and Ceylon.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have different views of what a necessity is.

It is wonderful to get such treats in a very small city tucked into the far north western corner of England but although you may think that Carlisle might be a little provincial and perhaps even dull, I can report that for today at least, it was a very hip place indeed.


Seen beside the road to the station

I had to wait in the car for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal visited a shop, no hardship in a car park with this fine view of the city walls…

City walls and carlisle cathedral

…and I was almost as surprised as she was when she came back to the car and revealed that she had been into a clothes shop and actually bought some clothes.

We rounded off our shopping with a visit to a discount supermarket and arrived home, tired but happy.  For the first time, I used my phone to pay for our parking time in Carlisle and I must say it is a useful thing to know exactly how long you have left on the virtual meter as being even a minute over time can incur a substantial fine in these days of cash strapped councils.

We passed though brief showers of rain both on the way down and the way back but the sun was shining brightly when we got home and the butterflies were still flitting about.

I ignored them though and took a picture of two nicotiana catching the evening rays.


We had a refreshing cup of Broken Orange Pekoe tea when we went in.

My body was somewhat tired by the end of the day but my spirit was refreshed by the sunshine.

No flying bird of the day today but its place is taken by a fine display of rolls made from scratch by my son Tony.  He tells me that they reminded him of the rolls he used to buy from Dropscone’s bakery when he was a boy.

Tony's rolls


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The weather was very good yesterday so my sister Mary went down the Thames and paid another visit to Greenwich.  Today’s guest picture shows her view of the planetarium there.

The Planetarium

It was a miserable wet and colourless day here as our mini spell of good new year weather ran into the buffers.   It was hardly worth looking out of the window as there were no birds about and if there had been, they would have been hard to see.

no birds

A typical scene

Luckily we had better things to do than sit at home and feel gloomy so we got into the car and drove to Carlisle.    We were after good things and it wasn’t too long after we arrived there that many good things fell into our shopping bag.  I am talking about dates and prunes, cheese and more cheese, tea leaves and coffee beans.

The rain had stopped by the time we parked below the mediaeval city walls…

Carlisle city walls

We had to stop and watch some blackbirds picking berries off trees in the car park…


…but luckily we didn’t have to stop at the old Sally Port and pay our tithes as the notice on the wall tells us that former visitors had to.

Sally Port

The centre of the town was quiet and the amusements in the Market Place were locked and silent…

Carlisle helter skelter

…but this did mean that the elegant old town hall was easy to see for once.

Carlisle Town hall

As well as edible goodies, we were in the city to pick up our daughter Annie from the London train.

In the car park outside the station, waiting buses reminded us that the line from Carlisle to Settle has still not been fully repaired after a landslide during last winter’s storms.

Buses rail replacement

The winter has been so gentle this year that it is sometimes hard to remember the devastation that was caused in Cumbria a year ago.

The Citadel Station roof has been wrapped up so thoroughly while it is being replaced that it looks like a giant Christmas present.

Carlisle Station

But our train arrived bang on time…

Virgin train on time at Carlisle

…and deposited our daughter safely onto the platform…

Annie and Ally

…where she was warmly greeted by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Although the most valuable package had been picked up, we hadn’t finished our raids on the Carlisle shops yet and with guidance from Annie, we bought a new washing machine and a sound bar for our telly.

Laden with good things we returned home.

While Annie and I had been acquiring the sound bar, Mrs Tootlepedal had been watching long tailed tits in the car park trees.  She had seen a flock of waxwings on a rowan tree in the centre of Edinburgh yesterday so she has seen a lot more interesting birds over the last couple of days than I have.  It’s not fair.

Some shop bought crumpets might have found their way into our bag among the other good things and we enjoyed these with a cup of tea when we got home.  Buying them was certainly a lot easier than making them.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a good music session.  Neither of us has been practising so it was just as well that we were able to stop between movements for a glass of fizzy white wine.

During the evening, the skies above the house were filled with the sounds of geese calling to each other….

It was extremely misty and there were some bright lights on at the sports pitch and we think that the geese had got disorientated and were circling round waiting for the night to end before heading onwards.  It was rather distressing to hear their plaintive calls.

They have been circling and calling for several hours already.

The calling geese are the flying birds of the day.


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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s niece Hilary.  It shows that Mr Gumpy’s family is spread all over Europe as this is one of his many cousins regarding Lake Zürich with a dyspeptic eye.

swiss heron

I regarded the world with a rather disgruntled eye myself today as I woke up with a cold and not even the very welcome return of Mrs Tootlepedal in the evening could make it go away.

I was feeling so out of sorts that I wasn’t even able to eat both the scones that Dropsocne brought to our morning coffee and he had to take one away with him when he went.  This was unprecedented.

I had to do a bit of cleaning and tidying to make sure the house was ready for the return of Mrs Tootlepedal and this left me with a few moments to look out of the kitchen window.  Annoyingly, it was a better day and I would have liked to go for a walk or a pedal but the furthest that I got was a trip to the river to try find a dipper.

It was not hard to find, as it was sitting in the middle of the river singing loudly…


…but it was too far away to get a good photograph and whenever I moved to get closer, it moved to get further away….


…and in the end, I gave up and went back home.

I made some soup using a leek from the garden and then sat down to rest before going to Carlisle.

There was steady trickle of birds to the feeder during the day including a starling who had to improvise to get at the seed….


…and a blackbird who couldn’t believe what it was seeing.


Mostly the visitors were the usual suspects, goldfinches and chaffinches.

chaffinch and goldfinch

The ringed goldfinch seems to have suffered an injury but it seemed quite perky

I am always surprised by how keen the birds are to cram onto a single perch when there are other perches free.


goldfinch and chaffinch


There must be some method in this madness but I can’t see what it is.

Chaffinches displayed various flying the styles – The Compact….


…and The Expansive.


My general state of cold induced grumpiness came and went during the day and luckily I was at my most cheery when the time came to go to Carlisle and I was able to combine collecting Mrs Tootlepedal with a little shopping.

Carlisle was looking very festive….

Carlisle lights

…but was not too busy so I got parked easily and did my shopping without trouble.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s train was bang on time and we were soon home and enjoying a nice cup of tea.  Sadly there were no biscuits left but I had made a fresh loaf of bread so that went down well.

I felt really seedy after our evening meal and fell asleep in front of the telly.  As the news was particularly harrowing, this was probably a sound policy.

I hope that a good night’s sleep will see the cold symptoms off and that tomorrow will be a new day and I will be a better companion for Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is that goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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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 was taken by my brother on a trip to Yorkshire at the end of last month.  It shows Rievaulx Abbey.  I think that they have let the place go a bit.

Rievaulx abbey

I had a full day but without any great excitement as I didn’t get back home until ten o’clock, this will be a brief post, at least as far as worlds go.

I got up early and put in some useful time choosing and printing pictures to be entered into our Cattle Show at the end of the month.

It was another lovely day so when I had finished, I popped out into the garden to enjoy the flowers for a moment or two.

a shy poppy

A shy poppy lurking behind some taller ones.


The Fuchsia trying to prove that the full flowers are prettier than the unopened ones

And then it was time to drive to Carlisle where Mrs Tootlepedal was helping to prepare the music for our Carlisle Choir which starts soon.  I spent the time walking into the town centre to visit the mobile phone shop to get some advice.  I got some advice and walked back again, stopping to take a couple of pictures on my way.

Carlisle Guildhall

The top two floors of the old Guildhall

The Crown and Mitre Hotel

Two ladies watching over the guests at the The Crown and Mitre Hotel

Carlisle Cathedral

The unassuming side door to Carlisle Cathedral

When Mrs Tootlepedal had finished, we drove home and had lunch.  I had another moment to walk round the garden…


Three small dahlias

Golden Syllabub rose

Golden Syllabub rose making a late show after enjoying the recent warm weather

…and another to stare out of the kitchen window.

two sparrows

Two sparrows check each other out.


The back of a jackdaw


This one was a primary school headteacher in a former life.

….until it was time to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

We had fun in the garden picking raspberries and then sitting in the sun but all too soon it was time to catch the train again and then drive through the dark until we got home.

Dropscone has returned from his continental holiday so there may be a  chance of treacle scones tomorrow.

The flower of the day is a really zingy dahlia…


…and the flying bird is a distinctly fuzzy sparrow.




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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He talk a walk up Whita a few days ago and managed to find some really nice weather to take this picture of the McDiarmid memorial.

McDiarmid Memorial

We were short of good weather at the bottom of the hill today as it was grey and breezy.  I had to turn down both the offer of scones from Dropscone and a walk from Sandy as there were more important things to be done.

With only a week to go to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, we were reminded that Christmas must be coming too and after being very busy with choirs and concerts and social occasions, we felt that this was the day to do something about it.

There was a good deal of making lists and some ordering on-line and by telephone, which was only interrupted by the occasional glance out of the window.  It was black out there.


A blackbird checking out a few pellets which I had scattered.


And a jackdaw wondering where they had all gone.

There was very little traffic at the seed feeder…..

seed feeder

…and mostly the light wasn’t very good when there was some.

After an early lunch, we gathered all the lists up and set off to do some shopping.  Our first stop was Langholm High Street and then we went on to Carlisle to get some of the things that Langholm can’t supply.

It was quite a slow trip once we got near Carlisle.

Carlisle shopkeepers must be tearing their hair out.  Even those who weren’t flooded have been badly affected by the continued closure of the main bridge through the city.  As not even pedestrians are allowed to cross it, the journey from the north part of the city to the south has become a great trial.  If people can drive, it means a diversion of three or four miles to go 400 yards and if they can’t drive, there is no alternative way across the river as the only other bridge, a footbridge has been severely damaged too.

Traffic is very heavy on the remaining routes into the town centre and the loss of business to the shops must be very severe.

I bought a little lot of cheese at the cheese stall in the market….

cheese stall market carlisle

My favourite shopping experience in Carlisle

…and they were telling us that business was slow and that the traffic is so snarled up that even if they do take orders for Christmas cheese baskets, they are having difficulty guaranteeing that they will get the supplies in time.  I bought an extra piece of cheese.

We managed our shopping very well and with a final visit to purchase four different kinds of coffee beans and some promising leaf tea from the best smelling shop in the town (they roast their own coffee), we set off home.

I had been hoping to take some sparkly shots of the Christmas lights but our shopping had gone so well that it was still light by the time that we had finished and I had to settle for this rather ghostly nativity scene outside the church where we were singing on Sunday.

St Cuthbert's nativity

The traffic was very heavy getting out of the town and so we escaped as soon as we could and took a back road route to Gretna.  We were held up at a railway crossing…..

railway crossing

…and watched in wonder as a main line train roared past us.

railway crossing

I sometimes cycle across this crossing and it always makes me a bit nervous, even if he gates are firmly up and the lights are off.

Since our route took us close to it, we stopped off to visit the Gretna Gateway retail outlet.  We didn’t linger long but I bought some seeds to add to my next loaf in the breadmaker.  Not being a chaffinch, I don’t know quite how I will take to seeds but like sardines, they are supposed to be good for the brain so we shall see.

Tomorrow will be set aside for packing and posting and then we can relax.

I should say that when we got home, I had to ring an electricity company up to complain about a bill that the Archive Group has been sent.  This filled me with foreboding and I sat down, phone in hand ready for a long wait and incomprehensible questions.

However, after only a short dance with robot voices, I got through to a human being in Glasgow, who understood what I was saying, took our meter readings and promised to send me a new bill within a few days.  It was lucky that I was sitting down or I might have fallen over.

Flying birds were few and far between this morning and this was my best effort under time pressure.

flying goldfinch



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