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Posts Tagged ‘Castleholm’

Today’s guest picture is another from our friend Bruce’s Highland tour.  It shows McCaig’s Tower in Oban, a prominent granite folly overlooking the town.

oban folly

It was a rotten day here, rainy, cold and with gusty winds.  It was hard to see the birds at the feeder…

coal tit with seed

…but much easier to see Dropscone coming round with scones in his hand.  He is going to Glasgow for a week’s holiday at the weekend so I was glad that he was able to fit a little coffee drinking in before he went.  We were drinking some of the ‘awful lot of coffee’ from Brazil today  and it went well with the scones.

Dropscone left but the rain kept coming….

chaffinches

…and I stayed indoors and made some sweet potato soup for lunch and did the crossword.

The rain eased off a little after lunch so I put on my wellies and a big woolly hat, picked up my golfing brolly and went for a damp walk over three bridges.

There was very little to see but against the general greyness, a gull stood out…

sitting gull

…and a bare tree too.

bare tree

Although it was only a degree or two warmer than yesterday and it was drizzling, somehow walking was more pleasant so I extended my planned walk and went along the road to the pheasant hatchery…

pheasant hatchery road

…before walking back along the riverside path, looking across the field to the misty slopes of Castle Hill.

misty trees castleholm

One advantage of winter is that bridges are more visible once the leaves are off the trees.

Duchess Bridge

I was quite ready for a warming cup of tea and a slice of toast when I got home.

Since outdoor activity was off the menu now, I made use of my time by putting a parish magazine from 1967 onto the Archive website.  Sandy is scanning and formatting these and I add them to our collection.  (Those with time to kill can wander through them here.)

Then I put a week of the newspaper index into the database.  It was not an entirely wasted day.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a nourishing pasta dish for our tea and then I went to the final rehearsal of Langholm Sings before our concert in Lockerbie on Friday.  We sang through the whole programme which was reassuring but it might be a slight exaggeration to say that we were note perfect.  Fingers crossed for the concert.

Flying birds of the day were very hard to come by in the rain and gloom so this goldfinch was the best that I could manage.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She is getting out and about again after a hip operation and was able to enjoy the colour in Regents Park today.

regents park

We had a very lovely sunny day today, though with the wind coming from the east, it was lovelier if you could find a sheltered spot.

When I went to bed last night, I gave my sore leg a gentle massage as I generally do but on this occasion, I hit upon just the right spot to work on with the result that when I woke up, the pain had gone down dramatically.

It was with a light heart therefore that I cycled along with Mrs Tootlepedal to the Buccleuch Centre where a small group of singers from Langholm Sings had been asked to sing carols at the British Heart Foundation coffee morning.   We had no accompaniment so did the best we could and this must have not been too bad because after we had paused and had a cup of coffee, we were asked to sing again.  Although it is a bit early for carols, it was an enjoyable occasion and got the day off to a good start.

Things got better when Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out to cycle the three and a bit miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse to test out my leg.

Mrs Tootlepedal led the way….

Mrs T cycling

…and I followed behind, taking things very easily up any hills.

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped to examine a telegraph pole and I considered the mystery of why some rosebay willowherb  still keeps its white seed heads…

rosebay willowherb

…while others are quite bare.

There were a lot of catkins on the trees along our way.

catkins

The wind had blown us up the hill on our way out but although it was chilly when it was in our face coming back, it wasn’t very strong and I could appreciate the fine weather and the leafless scenery…

bare tree and monument

…and it all made for another enjoyable experience.

And my leg didn’t hurt.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on a pantomime costume which she is making up and I went to look for flying birds.

I had set the camera up when we got back from cycling but a builder arrived to fix some broken tiles and that put paid to bird watching so I headed off for the Kilngreen in the hope of finding some black headed gulls in the air.

There was a line of them at the meeting of the waters…

gulls at meeting of waters

…but none in the air.

When I walked towards them, they rose up but instead of flying about in a useful way, they settled down immediately on the fence posts beside the Ewes water.

gulls in post

I waited hopefully but the gulls refused to leave their posts.  I nobly resisted the temptation to say “Boo!” very loudly.

I waited a bit more, and it has to be admitted that there are worse places to hang about than the Kilngreen on a sunny day….

kilngreen on an sunny november day

…but in the end, I gave up and set off towards the Sawmill Brig with a view to walking round the Castleholm.

I hadn’t gone very far though before something disturbed the gulls and they whizzed past me in all directions.

gull and lampost

flying gull with trees

I snapped away for a while and then crossed the Sawmill Brig, admired the moss on the Castleholm wall…

moss on wall

…and walked back down to the edge of the river and cautiously approached the posts where the gulls were back in their positions.

gulls on Castleholm posts

gull on Castleholm posts

Obligingly, one or two of them took off and gave me a low level fly past.

 

gull above ewes water

I left them to themselves and continued my walk along the path beside the river.

Intrigued by Mrs Tootlepedal’s new found interest in electricity poles, I stopped to check on one near the cricket club.  It had many carved inscriptions on it…

electricity pole castleholm

I couldn’t interpret any of them.

The horizontal line was quite low so I take it that this means that the pole is well planted in the ground.  It didn’t have a stay at any rate.

One advantage of the season is that bridges come more into view as the leaves disappear and I could see the Jubilee Bridge well before I got to it.

jubilee bridge november

I looked back from the bridge towards the path that I had come along.  I still think of it as ‘the new path’ but it is looking quite well integrated now.

new path november

There was enough sunshine left for a walk round the garden when I got home…

november colour in garden

…and then I retired indoors to rest my leg before I got too cocky and did something to set it off again.

Having manged a six mile bike ride and walked a mile and a half, I was very pleased to find that my leg was still pretty much pain free by the end of the day.  I will give it another rub on the same spot tonight!

I settled down to watch Scotland play South Africa at rugby football and after a scintillating first half in which both teams played an open and interesting game, the second half was a disappointment as South Africa closed the game down and Scotland reverted to making crucial mistakes when under pressure.

The defeat was not unexpected though as South Africa are one of top teams in the world.   What was much more surprising was that the Scottish association football team actually managed to win a vital game in the evening and by a handsome margin.

It is a clear night here so I am going to keep an eye out for shooting stars as there are supposed to be some around in the early hours but in the  meantime, I leave you with a high flying gull as the flying bird of the day.  It makes a welcome change from the interminable chaffinches.

flying gull in sky

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who walked though five villages the other day and looked at one of them across a valley. This is Holbrook seen from Horsley.

Holbrook from Horsley

I was expecting a wet day today but after some heavy rain overnight, it was quite dry and calm in the morning and Dropscone was able to cycle round with treacle scones at coffee time.

I had a quick look round the garden before he came.

A couple of frosty mornings while I was away have done for a lot of the flowers but the nasturtiums under the protection of the front wall of the house are still looking excellent.

nasturtium

Sadly, only a very few fuchsias are left standing…or more accurately, hanging.

fuchsia

Dropscone has been checking on the well being of his tin knees which are now ten and twelve years old.  He got them put in at different hospitals and as a result, he had to go to two different places to get them x-rayed as one hospital couldn’t possibly x-ray another hospital’s knee.  This was rather annoying but he is pleased that the check has been completed.

I put the camera on its tripod at the kitchen window and took a variety of shots during the morning, while the weather was still dry.

A small flock of goldfinches were keeping the usual chaffinches at bay today…

goldfinch and chaffinch

…although one chaffinch at least made it to the feeder.

landing chaffinch

The birds have been complaining to their agents that I do not do them justice with my obsession with grainy shots of them in flight so I took some grainy head and shoulder shots today instead.

portrait goldfinch

Goldfinch

portrait greenfincj

Greenfinch

portrait sparrow

Sparrow

They are all very handsome.

It was still dry when Dropscone left after coffee so I had another look round the garden…

delphinium october

veg garden flower

…and then I took a chance and went for a short ‘three bridges’ walk to seek out autumn colour.

As I approached my first bridge, the pedestrian suspension bridge across the Esk, I couldn’t fail to be struck by the poplars beside the church.

river esk oct 12

And as I walked along towards my second bridge, this colourful garden hit me in the eye.

bar brae garden

I didn’t cross the town bridge today but I did look back at it from the Kilngreen…

autumn over the town bridge

…and I looked up the Esk from the same point.

esk from meeting of waters

I was pleased to see that for once I had all my ducks in a row.

ducks in a row

The Sawmill Brig over the Ewes Water was my second crossing.

sawmill brig october

And once across, I could admire the Langholm Castle ruins on the Castleholm…

castle in autumn

..and the glow of the trees at the start of the Lodge walks.

lodge walks oct

Across the playing fields, the trees on the far bank of the Esk were well worth a glance…

Castleholm trees oct

…or two.

castleholm trees oct (2)

Although not as brilliant as the maples that draw the tourists to New England in the fall, they give me a lot of quiet pleasure.

As the rain was threatening to come, I crossed the Duchess Bridge as my third bridge…

duchess brig in autumn

…and scuttled home as quickly as I could, propelled onward by a short but sharp little shower that encouraged me not to linger and look for fungi.

I did see this little specimen as I went through a gate on the Castleholm…

fungus on gatepost

…but mostly I had eyes only for yew deciduous trees on my walk today.

I got home in good time for lunch and shortly afterwards, the rain started in earnest….

feeder in the rain

…and kept going for several hours.

It has stopped as I write this but if the forecast is to be believed, it will start again in the early hours of the morning and rain until tea time tomorrow.

I will have a quiet day in.

Mike Tinker braved the rain and dropped in for a cup of tea and he told me that there has been an invasion of chaffinches from the continent.  I should recognise them if they arrive in the garden as they are more colourful than the natives.

Mrs Tootlepedal is doing well in the south but is looking forward to coming home next week and getting to work on preparing the garden for the winter.

I tried to catch a flying goldfinch but only managed another chaffinch today to be the flying bird of the day. They hover very obligingly.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s trip to Madeira.

madeira

The forecasters are having a hard time at present getting the details of the weather correct, largely I suspect because the weather is so unusual these days that their computer models are not provided with enough helpful historic data.  All the same, various forecasts were pretty sure that we were going to get rain and possibly thunderstorms in the afternoon today.

We spent the day waiting…..in vain.

Partly as a result of this and partly because I didn’t feel at my best, I had a slightly wasted day and hardly did anything useful or interesting.  I had a moment of helpfulness when we got the petrol driven soil cultivator out and used it to to improve the paths between the new beds in the veg garden.  And I mowed some of the greenhouse grass.  But that was it.

I had time hanging heavy on my hands so I took a lot of flower pictures.

If you want white then the bridal wreath spirea is the plant for you.

spirea

It has a lot of little flowers per every square inch.

The first pink was out today and it is very white too.

pink

I went in search of bright colour and found it behind the house where the oriental poppies are enormous.

oriental poppyoriental poppy

A new rose has arrived.

rosa complicata

And I found a bee on a lily leaf in the pond.  Perhaps it had been having a swim or a drink.

bee in pond

After a while with few bees, it is good to see and hear numbers of both honey and bumble bees about.  Now I am waiting for some more butterflies to turn up.

I made some soup for lunch and then we were delighted to welcome a few drops of rain but they turned out to be a false alarm and soon gave up.  There were rumbles of thunder and dark clouds but these too were to produce nothing though I heard later that there was a storm in Hawick, 20 miles up the road.

In desperation, I went for a walk, reckoning that this would be bound to make it rain.

I saw the oyster catchers beside the Esk and noted that they had two youngsters with them.  I managed to catch one each of the parents and children.

oyster catcher with young

I crossed the Langholm Bridge, bought an ice cream from the van and spent some time watching pied and grey wagtails flitting about.  It looked as though the grey wagtails might be feeding young in a nest on the bank.

grey wagtail

Looking back at the town bridge, I saw its railings reflected in the trickle of water going down the river below.

Langholm Bridge

Just below the Sawmill Brig, there is a fine display of knapweed on a stony island in the Ewes Water (though it wasn’t an island today as the water was so low).

knapweed

We are in a very green season as a stroll up the Lodge Walks….

Lodge Walks

…and across the Castleholm showed.

Castleholm

I walked across to a favourite tree, a red horse-chestnut…

red chestnut

…and took a closer look at the flowers which are just going over.

red chestnut

The racecourse was a sea of buttercups….

race course castleholm with buttercups

…which may account for the state of my shoes when I got home.

shoes with buttercup dust

There was no trouble in finding grasses, nettles and plantains on my way.

wild grasses and nettle

My favourite wild thing though was the corydalis that lives on the wall at the top of the Scholars’ Field.

corydalis

Far from making it rain, my walk made the sun come out….

clouds

…and all the big clouds slipped past the town.  Ironically, as soon as the sun came out, it also started to rain but this was another half hearted effort and Mrs Tootlepedal had to water the vegetable garden again.  I watered the gooseberries, strawberries and sunflowers.

I had another look for new flowers and found a pretty Sweet William…

Sweet william

I was feeling far from my peak by this time but fortunately, Mrs Tootlepedal whipped up a wonderfully tasty meal of Eggs Florentine (spinach from the garden) followed by delicious Scottish strawberries on a meringue base topped with whipped cream.

The whole thing was a taste sensation and an outright indulgence and it was just what the doctor ordered as after I had eaten, I suddenly felt perky enough to get out the new bike and enjoy 16 miles in the late evening sunshine.  The meal and the unexpected bike ride made an otherwise rather dull  day seem quite cheerful in the end.

Now if it would just rain overnight….

They say that there is a chance of rain tomorrow but we will believe when we see it.

The flower of the day is a Butter and Sugar Iris.

butter and sugar irisbutter and sugar iris

A wonderful plant which managed to capture about ten of the raindrops that fell today.

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Today’s guest picture reflects the sun, sea and sand being currently enjoyed by Sandy, who is in the Canary Islands having fun.

Sandy's hols

I must apologise for any more than my usual incoherence in today’s post as after several eventful days, I am feeling a bit tired.

I daresay though, that I am not as tired as the visitor we entertained today.  Loyal blog reader, Mary Jo from Manitoba, had decided that our new bench needed an international test inspection and so she came up from London, where she is taking a short holiday, to visit Langholm.

I met her at Carlisle station and brought her to the Muckle Toon.

She declared that the bench was fully up to standard…

Mary Jo

…having tested it in the company of Mrs Tootlepedal.

And then went back to London.

To say that she is a seasoned traveller is to understate her tolerance to going great distances without complaining.  Next time she comes, we hope that she will stay a bit longer.

She was not our only visitor today because as we were touring the garden with her, I saw a large white butterfly settle on a daffodil..

white butterfly

… and then move to a dicentra.

white butterfly

Unlike the butterfly, which soon flitted away, Mary Jo stayed long enough to have a walk, a bite of lunch and a short drive before departing.

She wanted to walk along the Lodge Walks so we did that and here she is in company with Mrs Tootlepedal showing that in spite of the sunshine on the Kilngreen…

Sawmill Brig

…. a brisk and chilly wind meant that coats were still required.

Mary Jo on the Lodge walks

We were not the only ones enjoying a walk and the Lodge walks are not far from being at their spring best.

Lodge walks

But as we said to Mary Jo, “If only you had come next week….”

There were wild flowers to decorate our walk…

Lodge walks wild flowers

…good views of the monument…

monument

…some trees in leaf….

spring leavesspring leaves

…and more wild flowers on our way.

wild flowers Scholars Field

When we got back to the garden, the sharp eyed Mary Jo spotted a bee on the dicentra….

bee on dicentra

…and took a picture of her hosts perched proudly on the new, thoroughly tested, bench…

Mrs and Mrs TP on the bench

…coats still firmly on against the chill.

I took a picture of a tulip and we went in for a late lunch.

tulip

After lunch, we drove up onto the Langholm Moor in the hope of seeing hen harriers and goats.

We saw a meadow pipit…

meadow pipit

… a sheep….

sheep

… a view of the Ewes valley…

Ewes valley

….two buzzards hunting over the hill…

buzzard

_DSC3662

…but no hen harriers.

However, as we were on our way back to the town, we did see a goat.

wild goat

All too soon, it was time to take Mary Jo back to Carlisle for her train to London.  She has sent me a message to say she is back safely, having enjoyed the day.

I found going about 200 miles to Glasgow and back yesterday quite tiring so I wouldn’t be surprised to find that after 600 miles on the train today, Mary Jo sleeps quite well.

We called in at a late opening garden centre on our way back from Carlisle and Mrs Tootlepedal added a few more plants to her collection.

It was absolutely lovely and rather amazing to see a blog reader from Canada in our garden, the second Canadian reader who has visited us in the last 12 months and it is a tribute to the wonderful world of blogging that such a friendship can be created out of nothing more than some agitated electrons.

I am hoping for some rain tomorrow so I have an excuse for a very quiet day.

The flying bird of the day is one of the hunting buzzards.

_DSC3663

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my next door neighbour Irving who is spending the festive season visiting his son and family in Florida.  The picture shows some of the  20 to 30 ibis they see outside the house every day.

photo(1)

We had another sunny day here today but the temperature was at zero when we got up and not much higher at any time during the day.

pigeon

A pigeon looking as though it wasn’t enjoying walking on our frozen lawn.

Luckily there were no ice covered pavements or treacherous patches on paths so it was a good day to get some of the very fresh air that was available.

In the morning, Alistair and Clare went off to sample the delights of shopping at Gretna leaving Matilda to look after us.  We attempted to go for a walk with her but it turned out that her father had gone off with her pink gloves in his pocket and no amount of differently coloured substitutes would do so the walk was abandoned on account of cold fingers and we waited for the gloves to come back from Gretna.

The sun had got round to the bird feeders by this time so I had a quick look out of the kitchen window….

chaffinch and goldfinches

…where there was a lot of activity.

I caught a couple of peaceful moments too.

siskin

 

greenfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal made some green lentil soup and we enjoyed it with a light lunch of cold cuts when the shoppers returned.

Then, since the gloves had arrived, we set off for a walk to feed the ducks.

We took the sunny side of the street which gave the photographer quite a big problem, when trying to get a picture of the group without his shadow appearing in the shot.

I tried this side….

Matilda, Al and Clare

…and that side but the shadow was always in the way.

In the end, I lurked behind Mrs Tootlepedal and took this shot…

Matilda, Al and Clare

…which was the best that I could do.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, except those left by people impatient to be somewhere else…

jet plane

…but since it was one of the days when the vapour trails disappeared almost as soon as they were formed, we could ignore them.

In the sun, it was very pleasant (as long as you had the right gloves on)…

Meeting of the waters

…and Matilda had a lot of fun playing on the equipment on the Kilngreen…

play park with matilda

That dratted shadow appeared again!

play park with matilda

…while I looked at passing black headed gulls….

black headed gulls

…which had been attracted by another party of bird feeders.

black headed gulls

Then Matilda came to feed the ducks…

duck

…who responded with gratitude to some good seed and pink pellets.

_DSC0436

Light is a funny thing, as they say considering that the heads of the ducks on the left and right in the panel above are the same colour when they face in the same direction but totally different when they look in opposite directions.

While Matilda fed the ducks, I looked at passing gulls again.

_DSC0439

_DSC0448

We continued out walk across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm where those with the taste for such things, had a happy time smashing the ice in the puddles while I looked for trees.

castleholm tree

When we reluctantly left the icy puddles, we walked mostly into the shade and the difference in temperature was quite marked…

icicle

…so we didn’t dilly dally again as we headed for home, pausing only to admire the moon which was floating above the monument.

_DSC0451

Matilda needed a little assistance from her father on the final stages of the journey home and I wondered, looking at her hands….

P1060252

…whether her parents are feeding her enough.  (The pink gloves are underneath the other ones)

After a quiet moment for relaxation and refreshment when we got home, the rest of the afternoon was spent having unremitting fun including snap, Pelmanism, dancing, playing ‘duck, duck, goose’ and putting on mermaid entertainments (impresario:  Madam Matilda).

It was lucky that Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the time preparing us a feast of parsnip and potato gnocchi and sweet potato and spinach saag aloo as we badly needed the fuel.

All in all, it was voted a very successful day and we should all sleep well tonight.

In spite of the gulls, I have gone for a garden chaffinch as flying bird of the day, mainly because I really like the sceptical air with which the flier is being viewed by the perching bird.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another mode of transport spotted by my friend Bruce on his jaunt in the south.  This time he was at Pickering.

Pickering railway

It was raining in the very early hours of the morning but by the time that we got up, the rain had gone and the sun had appeared.  To stop us getting too carried away with joy, the temperature and gone done and the wind had got up but we realise that we can’t have everything so we were quite happy.

The better weather allowed Mrs Tootlepedal to hang out some washing and then get out into the garden.  It let me get out for a walk.

Sandy had a dentist’s appointment so I went on my own, passing the ducks on the Kilngreen…..

mallards at Kilngreen

…crossing the sawmill Brig and strolling up the Lodge Walks on my way.

Lodge walks

It wasn’t sunny all the time and when the sun went in, it was decidedly chilly but when the sun came out, things looked quite cheerful.

Castleholm trees

The trees are losing their leaves at a steady rate and sometimes the road felt more wintery than autumnal…

Castleholm trees

…but a look across towards the sunlit woods on the slopes of Timpen brought a smile.

The larch trees are beginning to turn and that always makes for colourful hillsides.

Castleholm trees

I walked down to the bank of the Esk at the far end of the pheasant hatchery…

River esk opposite the Breckonwrae

…a task made more difficult by the fact that the estate has felled all the conifers there.

Timpen from Pheasant hatchery

The felling makes a bit of a mess of the ground but it does improve the views a lot.

The relatively warm weather means that there is still plenty of grass in the fields and the cattle were too busy munching away to spare me a look as i passed by.

Casteholm cattle

I could have gone through this gate on my way back….

Casteholm gate

….but I chose to cross the Duchess Bridge and walk along the leaf strewn path on the other side of the river.

Leafy path beside Esk

I was more concerned with broader views than smaller things on this particular walk but I did notice a small crop of fungus in a mossy nest on the top of a fence post.

fence post fungus

Mrs Tootlepedal was down at the river collecting stones for her new path when I got back but she soon returned and got to work in the garden.

I took a picture of a dahlia underneath the walnut tree…

dahlia

…and mowed the front lawn.  There was plenty of grass to be cut but the brilliant emerald green surface when I had finished owed more to moss than anything else.

I did a little dead heading and then went into have lunch.

Over lunch, I set the camera up at the kitchen window and had a look out from time to time.

There were hordes of sparrows…

sparrows

….flocks of chaffinches…

chaffinches

…and occasional goldfinches trying to get in on the act.

goldfinch, sparrow and chaffinch

The robin was more helpful today and posed in a nice sunny spot for me.

robin

Finally, the sparrows and chaffinches took a break and a couple of goldfinches could enjoy a seed in peace.

goldfinches

I had hoped to get out for a good cycle ride today but the very brisk and chilly wind made it hard to get motivated.  I finally got out in the afternoon and used my ‘outdoor gym’ to do twenty breezy miles up and down the road to Cleughfoot twice (with a little bit added on for decimal purposes).

The sky had got a bit hazy and although it was still sunny, the sun wasn’t doing much in the way of warming me up and the breeze was boisterous enough to make me very happy to stop when I did. It took me over 350  miles for the month, which is my target, with a few days still in hand so that was satisfying.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s path is developing…

Mrs T's new path

…but an apparently simple thing like this requires enormous amounts of measuring, stamping, using spirit levels and string and doing and redoing things until they are absolutely right.  She is not rushing the job because there is nothing worse than a path that doesn’t look right when  it is finished.  It looks at you with reproachful eyes for the rest of its life.

Beside the path, the sweet rocket is still in flower.

sweet rocket

In the evening, I went off to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  Our regular conductor was off and as it is never easy for another conductor to take someone else’s choir, it wasn’t the most productive of sessions but I enjoyed it all the same.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in the best of the sunshine.

flying goldfinch

 

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