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Posts Tagged ‘Castleholm’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo.  She escaped just in time from the Manitoba snow storm and arrived in London to find that it was raining a lot instead.  In the end the rain stopped for long enough for her to visit Kew Gardens where she encountered these  splendidly prickly plants.

kew

After our short spell of better weather, the weather gods had decided to bring us back down to earth today and it was raining heavily when we got up.   Mrs Tootlepedal bravely cycled off in the rain on business after breakfast while I did the sensible thing and stayed at home and arranged to have coffee with Sandy and Dropscone.

Dropscone brought his usual supply of good scones and we sconed, sipped and chatted away as the rain fell.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the town and we squeezed another cup from the pot for her.

After coffee, I had time to do the crossword and start a tarte tatin off before we had lunch,  After lunch, the rain finally eased off and I was able to get out into the garden.

There were birds posing for me all over the place.

The rather scruffy male blackbird is looking better…

blackbird improving

…even though the female doesn’t think much of him yet.

fierce balckbird

The sparrows often have a bath in the dam behind the house and then, like this one, flit up up onto the lilac to have a flutter and a shoogle to get dry again.

fluffy sparrow

A bird skulked in the shadows on the fence…

dunnock on fence

…before flying up into the rowan tree to reveal that it was a dunnock or hedge sparrow.  It is obviously a bit slow in learning the difference between a fence, a tree and a hedge.

dunnock in rowan

As you can see, the sun had come out by this time, so I took a quick look at some clematis…

two clematis

…and a fuchsia which is coming out ridiculously late for the first time this year, together with a dahlia which is hanging on very well after looking as though it was well past it.

fuchsia and dahlia

Then, as it was too good a day to miss by now, I got my bike out and checked to see how my legs were feeling after two busy days.

It turned out that they were feeling fine and they carried me round my customary twenty mile Canonbie circuit slowly but without complaining.

There is a spot along the way where the grass always turns golden brown at this time of year.

brown hillside Kerr

I didn’t stop for many pictures as this is a well documented ride already but I needed a breather after 15 miles so I took a look up stream from the Hollows Bridge…

view from hollows bridge october

…and a bit later on was much struck by the golden colour of some bracken on the old A7

bracken old A7

The sun is getting low in the sky all day now and the trees on the far bank were casting interesting shadows on the old distillery building as I crossed Skippers Bridge.

Distllery from Skippers october

When I got home, I turned out the tarte tatin and while Mrs Tootlepedal made a pot of tea, I cut a couple of slices of the tarte to go with it.  I added some ice cream to my slice and in my view, it would be hard to find a better after-ride refreshment.

I was so refreshed indeed that after I had had a shower, I went out for a short walk.  I was motivated partly by the tarte, partly by the lovely evening light and mostly by the fact that my physio has told me to walk more.

It is not long until the clocks go back so evening walks at this time of day will disappear for some months so I was pleased to able to enjoy such a beautiful light today.

The shadows were falling fast but I had time to enjoy some gentle autumn colour on my way.  The pictures speak for themselves, I think.

tree at church

Esk in evening light

looking up esk

trees by A7 kilngreen

lodge october evening

By the time that I had crossed two bridges and was approaching the third, the sun was ready to sink behind the hill and the shadows were lengthening…

castleholm october evening

…until the monument was in the sun but most of the New Town was in the shade.

Whita in sun town in shadow

I swept  a lot of walnut leaves off the front lawn when I got home.

We had courgette fritters for tea and then I went to sing with the Langholm choir.  Because of some illness going round, we had a select turnout, but we had a most enjoyable sing all the same.

As the sun went down on my walk in the afternoon, it began to feel a little chilly and I was wondering if we would have a frost tonight.  However, it was still quite warm when I walked home from the choir and when I looked at our thermometer a moment ago, it said that it is 9 degrees C.  The forecast claims that it won’t get lower than 5 degrees overnight.  We have been very lucky to have kept our flowers for so long and it looks as thought they may still be there tomorrow.

No flying bird of the day today but I was happy to see a starling back perching on the holly tree again.

starling back on holly

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Today’s guest picture is the last from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan visited Loch Ness but resisted the charms of the cruise boat and drove round the loch by car instead.  They didn’t see a monster.

Loch ness cruiser

It was another gloomy, damp day here with the clouds hanging low over the  town and frequent spells of miserable drizzle to make things damper and gloomier.

Mrs Tootlepedal found a nearly dry moment to take our visitor Riley for a walk after breakfast, and Riley enjoyed a well earned rest when he got back.

riley

I had a pretty good rest all morning myself and it was only interrupted by the arrival of Sandy for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.  He had had a very good ride on his new electric bike yesterday and was full of praise for the way it had carried him up steep roads and over the hill and far away.  He has written about his trip here.   This might interest anyone thinking about getting an e-bike.

When he left, I went out into the garden to see if it was raining.

It was.

sparrow in rain on fence

Looking around, I could see that our power lines were busy.  I don’t usually expect to see a robin perching on one.

robin on wire

I do expect to see starlings at present.  They were adopting varying formations today,

three starlings on wirefour starlings on wire

A blackbird preferred to remain at a lower level and took the chair.

blackbird on chair staring

Sandy went off to the Archive Centre and brought back some sheets of the newspaper index for me to put onto the database.  Spurred by this, I caught up on my backlog, and it looks as though there will be plenty more gloomy weather to come which will encourage me to put in these new sheets soon.

As the afternoon wore on, the drizzle stopped and I found myself with just enough time for a quick three bridges walk before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

I nodded at some flowers as I left the garden…

roses and dahlia panel

…and walked down to the suspension bridge from which I looked up river towards the first bridge that I would cross…

 

Town Bridge October

…and down river to where the poplars are just beginning to change colour.

poplars beside Esk

The best leaf colour of the day was lying in a gutter beside the bridge..

fallen leaves

…and there is a bit of worry that the leaves may fall off the trees this year without giving us a good show of autumn tints.

I walked along the river bank and crossed the town bridge.  I was hoping to see some riverside birds, but the only one that I came across was Mr Grumpy, standing on one leg.

heron one leg

I then walked up to the Sawmill Bridge and crossed it.

sawmill brig

Looking up the Lodge Walks from under the canopy, the trees look pretty green still…

lodge walks inside

…but looking at the same trees from outside in the field, they look rather brown.

lodge walks outside

Across the Castleholm, there was a mild show of colour but the birch trees have lost all their leaves already and give the scene a rather blurred look.

trees across castleholm

A little burst of sunshine appeared but it lit up Whita Hill and the monument while I remained under a cloud.

sunshine on whita

When I got to the Jubilee Bridge, the third of my three bridges, something had changed since my last walk.

jubilee bridge october

I realised that I could see more of the bridge than usual and this turned out to be because someone had cut down one of the two big trees that stood beside the bridge.

felled tree jubilee bridge

Why they should have done this is a mystery at present.

I stood on the bridge and looked upstream.

 

upriver from jubilee bridge october

And then I walked home and saluted a beautiful astrantia which welcomed me into the garden.

astrantia october

My flute pupil Luke came and we practised some new pieces which was exciting.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been looking at recipes and made a delicious red lentil dal to go with a second helping of the venison stew.  The day ended well.

There are two flying birds of the day today just because I didn’t have much else to do in the morning except look up at distant birds.

First, a rook flying high over the garden…

flying rook

…and then a starling, trying to find a better power line to perch on.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture is a second from my brother’s trip to Tamworth.  As well as the colourful gardens, he enjoyed the contrast between the Tamworth’s ancient bridge and the modern buildings behind it.

Tamworth Bridge

We woke up to sunshine.  It was hard to believe but it was undoubtedly there.  After breakfast, I went out into the garden to enjoy it.

The sunflowers looked more cheerful too.

sunflower group

The sedum is getting flushed with pink…

pink sedum

…and the last of the poppies are still hanging on…

deep red poppy

…but a nasturtium, positively sparkling with joy, took the prize.

sparkling nasturtium

There were even a few butterflies about.  The red admirals seem to like resting on hosta leaves to gather warmth.

buttefly on hosta

Sadly, the sunshine didn’t last for long and we were soon back to gusty winds and frequent rain showers.  I made some potato soup for lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a jackdaw making free with our plums.  The miscreant tried to hide behind a leaf when it saw us looking at it, but the well pecked plum in front of it was a giveaway.

jackdaw at the plums

In light of the poor weather, I devoted the afternoon to musical matters until Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea (and the last of the biscuits).

It was still raining off and on when he went, but I was confident that the worst was behind us and I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out for a short walk when it had finally stopped.

I carried an umbrella just in case but I had no need for it, as the evening turned out to be much like the early morning.

We passed a large number of ducks on the banks of the Ewes Water as we went along the Kilngreen…

ducks on kilngreen

…and there was an old friend there too.

heron on kilngreen

We walked across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm.  It was looking lush and green…

view of castleholm

…and the Lodge Walks had a refreshed look about them too.

lodge walks september

The gaps along the side of the Walks, where trees have been taken out, have made room for wild saplings to spring up.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this is an ash.

new ash tree

Even when the mature trees are still there, views can be gained by peering through the branches.

warbla from Lodge walks

We were passed by some traffic and looking back as it passed us, I wondered of whom it reminded me.  But there were too many choices so I stopped wondering and walked on.

horse rider

We went past the Lodge and came back down the other side of the Castleholm.  One of my favourite trees looks at its best at this time on a sunny evening.

pine tree castleholm

Looking across at the trees that line the Lodge walks, it was apparent that autumn is on its way as the leaves are just starting to lose a little colour here and there.

back of lodge walks

In the shade beside the paths on our way home, I could see red campion…

red campion

…and snowberries.

snowberry

After the gloom of the last few days, a sunny walk was most welcome and we had worked up an appetite for the rest of the sausage stew and some courgette fritters for our tea.  They went down well.

No flying bird of the day today.  Indeed this bird looks as though it has hardly got a feather to fly with.

moulting blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who passed the Bridge Inn at Duffield while on a bike ride.  As he had already fuelled up elsewhere, he took the picture and went on his way without calling in to sample the wares.

bridge inn Duffield

I know that I ought to be resting my Achilles tendon but I am feeling really exercise deprived and I might easily have done something inadvisable this morning had not the weather come to my rescue by producing another cold and grey day, ideally suited to sitting in and getting stuff done in the house.

I did stroll round the garden after breakfast.

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought some depressed ranunculus plants in a pot at a garden centre.  She gave them some care, divided them up, planted them out, watered them in and now they are rewarding her with a splendid show.

ranunculus

A berberis in a shady corner caught my eye, with its flowers brightening up a gloomy corner.

berberis

A blackbird was quite happy to help with getting the moss out of the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

I opened the greenhouse and was much struck by this handsome Fuchsia inside.

fuchsia in green house

Mrs Tootlepedal bought it recently and put it outside in the warm spell.  Then it got badly hit by the frosty mornings so Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed off the damage and gave it some shelter and now it is looking very well.

Just outside the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is covered in flowers from top to toe.

rosemary bush

I noticed that the geums are coming along nicely….

geum forest

…and then went inside to get warm.

Later on in the morning, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the sparrowhawk resting in the walnut tree after an unsuccessful fly through the garden.  It stayed there long enough for me to get a camera…

sparrowhawk in walnut tree

…but when I went out to see if I could get a closer shot, it flew off in disgust.  It didn’t take the little birds long to come back to the feeders.

siskin eating peanuts

The quarrelling pigeons were back again today and it went beyond hard stares and descended into flapping and waving which led to both birds losing their focus.

flapping pigeons

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and noticed that if you were shopping in Langholm’s High Street in 1899, you could acquire ‘all the latest London novelties’ from Mr Hyslop, the draper, who had just come back from a visit there.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out for an errand on her bicycle in the late afternoon and as the sun was shining, I went out with her and then turned off to do a little three bridges cycle instead of a walk by myself.

The copper beeches at the park bridge are looking good. two copper beeches

I didn’t go into the park but continued down to the waterside, and was happy to catch a glimpse of a grey wagtail at the Sawmill Brig.  It was living up to its name and waggling about a lot so I couldn’t get a very good picture.

grey wagtail

The trees that have been felled along the Lodge Walks have taken some of the magic away from the green tunnel that used to greet walkers…

lodge walks

…and you can see how big the gaps are when you look at the trees from the other side.

rear of lodge walks

The sun was disappearing rapidly behind the clouds by this time and the colours were rather subdued so I headed home (pedalling very gently)…

castleholm with dog walker

…noting this burst of blossom on a tree beside the Jubilee Bridge.

white blossom beside esk

Once back home, I had a last walk round the garden, enjoying the cow parsley above and the sweet woodruff below in the back border.

cow parsley and sweet woodruffe

The yellow azalea is doing its best to come out to join the pink one and the first yellow potentilla flower of the year has appeared nearby.

azalea and potentilla

There had been a light shower of rain earlier, which was welcome, but it had not been hard enough to wet the soil thoroughly.  It did make the lily of the valley shed tears apparently…

lily of the valley weeping

…and of course it gave me an excuse to take a picture of a spirea with droplets, one of my favourite subjects.

spirea with droplets

In between times, I practised choir songs and prepared some music for Luke.  Our wonderful Carlisle choir conductor has gone done in my personal popularity stakes a bit as she is making us learn another song off by heart.   As it is one of those songs where you sing the same words to slightly different notes each time they reappear (and they reappear a lot), so this means a lot of hard practice is required.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty quorn concoction made a welcome return to the tea table in the evening, this time in the guise of a shepherd’s pie.

There are two flying birds for the price of one today with a siskin coming and a goldfinch going.

two just flying birds

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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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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was visiting the Somerset Rural Life Museum with my Somerset correspondent Venetia not long ago when she came across this very patient horse.

mary somerset horse

It was a beautiful day today with not a cloud in the sky but as it was still below zero after breakfast, there was no chance of a cycle ride for me.  Unfortunately my foot was rather sore which was annoying so I didn’t think that a walk up one of our hills was a good idea either.

As a result, I hung around doing nothing much while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle in the bus to do some shopping.  In the end, I pulled myself together and went out to see if I could walk my sore foot off with a nice flat stroll.  I couldn’t but it didn’t get any worse and it was a lovely day for a walk so I wasn’t complaining (too much).

There were gulls dipping their feet in the icy waters of the river at the Kilngreen…

bathing gulls

…with others keen to join them.

gull landing in esk

Meanwhile there was a lot of gulls leaving their posts and flying past me both at low level…

flying gull 1

…and higher up too.

flying gull 2

I pottered on round the Castleholm and pheasant hatchery, enjoying frequent splashes of snowdrops as I went.

lodge gates snowdrops

The last time I walked this way, it was a very grey day and I took a black and white photo of the woods near Holmhead so I thought it only fair to show them in full colour today.

holmhead woods

I would have liked to be on the top of Timpen instead of looking up at it but…

timpen from pheasant hatchery

…there were interesting icy puddles to admire where I was….

frozen puddle mat and clear

…and a delightful view of a characteristic farm cottage…

breckonwrae

…colourful cones, fallen to the ground…

cones

…and quite a bit of hair ice too.

hair ice

The fungus which causes this phenomenon must be spreading as I am seeing more and more hair ice as I walk about.

As long as I was in the sunshine, it was a very kind day for a walk but in the shadows, the ground was still frost covered.

whita in sunshine and shade

The conditions underfoot were perfect, dry and ice free…

castleholm walk

…so I got home very content with my walk.   My foot was a different matter though and as I can’t work out what is wrong with it,  I will seek medical assistance next week unless it has magically cured itself.  Quite often just making an appointment with a doctor or a physio is sufficient to make ailments behave themselves.  I live in hope.

I had some soup for lunch and watched the birds for a while.  The goldfinches were back and I liked the beady eye that this one was casting on proceedings.

wary eyed goldfinch

A brambling appeared in the plum tree…

brambling in sun

…and since this is the third or fourth time that I have seen a single brambling lately, I am beginning to wonder if it always the same bird which has got detached from its friends.  Usually, if you see one brambling, you soon see more.

I had a walk round the garden and was pleased to see more signs of life, both potential….

peony shoots

…and actual.

first crocus

I would like to have made better use of such a fine day but apart from taking the car up to the garage in readiness for its MOT test tomorrow, I spent the rest of this fine day indoors.  At least I got some Archive Group work done so it wasn’t entirely wasted.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did some hard work on reading and playing demi-semi quavers.  They are not intrinsically hard to work out but it can be tricky working out how long you need to hold a crochet for when you have just been playing dozens of these little notes.

The rocking horse is still drying out upstairs and Mrs Tootlepedal has been visiting it and giving it a pat from time to time.

There is not one but two flying birds of the day today as the gulls flew past me in formation on my walk.

two flying gulls

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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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