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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Lights’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was watching this team of rowers battling into a very strong wind during the recent storm when he heard unsympathetic onlookers on the bank shouting, “Faster!”

nottingham rowers

The wind had dropped here today but it was still raining when we got up.  I looked at Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge in the evening and found that there has been three inches of rain this week.

I went along to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and replenished our supplies of cheese, honey and fish and meat.  There were plenty of stalls and a good crowd of buyers so every one seemed happy.

When I got home, I peered at the birds and found that most of our visitors were goldfinches again…

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…with the now familiar coal tits in evidence…

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…and the jackdaw with the white feathers too.

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The rain persisted all morning but I had a stubborn crossword to struggle with so the time passed and after lunch, the rain eased off and I got ready to go out for a cycle ride.

I was just leaving when my neighbour Liz phoned and told me to look at her garage roof.

I looked and saw two partridges.  The partridges are birds that are put out for shooting parties to take pot shots at so these two had sensibly got out of the woods and into the town where they will only be subject to people shooting them with a camera.

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I hoped that when I got back from my cycle ride that I would find them in the pear tree in our garden and thus solve the Christmas present question.

There were still a few drops of rain about when I set off up the road but it wasn’t too cold, the rain soon stopped and the wind was behind me so I was contented enough.

The light didn’t improve though and I only stopped once on my 12 mile ride.

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A quick walk round the garden when I got back also only produced a single shot. The snowberries seemed appropriate for the first official day of winter.

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The partridges were in our garden when I cycled in, but I alarmed them and they scurried off so I didn’t get a chance to put out seed to tempt them into the pear tree.

I didn’t have long to get changed.

The town’s Christmas lights were due to be switched on and our choir had been asked to go and sing carols with a group of players from the Langholm Town Band.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me and we squeezed onto this little platform outside the Town Hall, looking for all the world like a Punch and Judy show.

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We sang twice and in between efforts, I sneaked along the road to see the reindeer in the yard of the Buck Hotel, regular visitors to his event.

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This one was getting a feed of lichen.

The High Street was very festive with a good crowd out to welcome Mrs and Mrs Santa Claus, listen to the band and see a variety of entertaining turns as they gathered outside the Eskdale Hotel waiting for the  big switch on.

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The lights came on right on schedule and the Christmas tree looked very fine.

mde

Cars had to make their way carefully between the throng…

sdr

…and there was some of the fun of the fair for younger people.

sdr

There was even a flurry of snow but it has to be said that this came from two ingenious snow guns.

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It was a very cheerful event.

I enjoyed a small fillet of sea bass for my tea, a fish that I had never cooked before.  I will certainly cook it again as it extremely easy to cook and it turned out to be very tasty.

The varied activities, combined with unusually interesting programmes on the telly in the evening, left me feeling that winter hasn’t been bad so far.  Long may this happy state of affairs continue.

The flying bird of the day wasn’t available so a posing partridge is standing in.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She was very taken by this festive shop front.

festive shop

We had a slightly warmer but very much greyer day today with only the occasional glimpse of sunshine.  It was still pretty chilly when I walked along to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre to buy those necessities of life, fish, cheese, honey and venison.

I added a luxury or two in the form of some haggis and a pound of mince.

The arrival in the last two months of a cheese man from Cumbria with an enticing selection of farm produced cheese has brightened my life immeasurably.  Sadly, owing to being somewhat overweight after an inactive November, I can only look with longing at the cheese that I have purchased as eating it would make me even stouter.

I looked out of the window when I got home in the hope that the finches would have returned.

There weren’t many about  and the reason for their absence is still a mystery.  I don’t think it can be a sparrowhawk threat as the robins were still about and quite happy to pose on a twig.

robin

And there were several dunnocks….

dunnock

…a coal tit….

coal tit

…and more robins…

robin

…as well as a fruitarian blackbird.

blackbird with apple

A few chaffinches did finally arrive…

chaffinch

…with some looking as though they had had a big night out when it came to staying steady on the perches.

chaffinches

But on the whole, there were just a fraction of our usual visitors.

With cheese in mind, I had an early lunch and got the fairly speedy bike out.  I had intended to do thirty miles but it took me so long to put on the many layers of clothes required to keep me warm and the toil of trying to pedal with all the layers in place meant that I was quite pleased to have an excuse to cut the ride down to twenty miles.

The excuse came when I turned onto a narrow road and found not only a man cutting hedges, always a risk to cyclists as hawthorn twigs tend to end up in the road, but also large mounds of semi frozen slush over the road as well.

I turned for home….but not before taking a picture of a passing tree…

tree

…and the nearby farm.

farm

I stopped once again on the way home to look up the valley towards Winterhope….Callister view

…and noticed more windmills on the top of the hill than I expected.

windmills

I haven’t been along this road in this direction for some time but as far as I can remember, there weren’t as many turbines as this last time I came past.  The row on the right weren’t turning in the wind so I think that they must have been added to the Ewe Hill windfarm fairly recently.

I was even more pleased about cutting my trip short when I got home and it occurred to me that I was supposed to be singing with our local choir in the Market Place as part of the festive fun which goes along with the switching on of our Langholm Christmas Lights.

When I got to the Market Place, our leader Billy was looking around anxiously for some singers.

billy

The Market Place was en fete….

lights switch on

…and though it might look a little sparse at first sight, there were further stalls along the High Street, carved bears waiting round corners…..

carved bear

…and Santa’s reindeer behind the Buck Hotel.

reindeer

Many shops were offering little drinks and snacks  and a good number of people were on the move, enjoying the treats.

Quite a few singers turned up and we had a hearty unaccompanied swirl through several unison carols to the delight of a small but appreciative audience.  After a pause for refreshment, a number of players from the Town Band arrived and we sang another set of carols with them, this time to a larger but equally appreciative audience.

I don’t like to have too much excitement in my life at one time so when we had finished singing, I made my way home without waiting for the lights to be switched on.  The celestial lighting was more than good enough for me.

sunset

I had fish for my tea.

It looks as though the weather might be kind enough for another pedal tomorrow so December is turning out very well so far.

With not many birds to watch, this greenfinch was the best that I could for the flying bird of the day.

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is enjoying a city break in Edinburgh with his daughter Susan.  They climbed a hill and got this splendid view of Princes Street.

Edinburgh

I heard some rain when I woke up in the middle of the night but by the time that we got up in the morning, the weather had returned to the calm, dry state to which we have become accustomed recently.

It was above freezing so after breakfast I cycled along to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre and stocked up on good things.

There was time for a coffee and a look out of the window when I got back.  The garden was knee deep in robins…

robins

…or possibly one robin running around very vigorously….

robins

…though I definitely saw two different ones on the lawn….

robins

…at the same time.

robins

They seemed to be happy enough to share the space and were even walking off together when a third robin arrived and chased them both away.  This action was too quick for my shutter finger though.

Pairs of birds were the flavour of the day.

starlings

Two iridescent starlings

two goldfinches

Two goldfinches. The one on the right is wondering how the one on the left got into focus.

two goldfinches

They came down for a snack

I didn’t have long to hang about though as Mrs Tootlepedal is going to spend a week staying with her mother in the south and I had to take her to Carlisle to catch a train.  Well, I would have taken to her Carlisle to catch a train if we hadn’t found out that it was cancelled when we got to the station.

The overhead wires had been damaged further to the south and things looked pretty grim for the traveller.  We had arrived in plenty of time to catch the non existent train and luckily, she was directed onto a train to Preston leaving in five minutes and told that she would be able to change there and continue her journey south.

I waited until the train came in and waved her off.  The station at Carlisle is undergoing a complete roof rebuild and the platforms feel rather eerie at the moment.

Carlisle Station

I got home safely and even though she had only been gone about an hour, I was already so bored that I washed the car…

Clean car

I put this picture in for its rarity value.

…though I didn’t go as far as cleaning the hubcaps.

I might have gone for a short pedal but I had an appointment in the Market Place to sing some carols as part of the goings on to celebrate the switching on of our Christmas lights.

There was all sorts of fun.

This is my flute pupil Luke disguised as a turtle being embraced by his mother.

Luke as a ninja

You can see Spongebob Squarepants in the background and Buzz Lightyear was about too but quite what they had to do with either Christmas or Langholm was a secret that was not divulged…..but they were having a good time.

There was a good turnout of carol singers and we sang several carols unaccompanied until a section of the Town Band turned up…

Langholm Town band

… to give us a boost.  They had been playing at the producers’ market in the morning and then at Gretna Village in the afternoon so they had had a busy day of tootling.

Billy, the compère for the occasion made announcements and Scott, the minister, blessed the tree…

Billy and Scott

…and finally the great moment came and the lights were switched on.

Christmas lights

The large crowd cheered appreciatively and after a close up of one of the light panels that go across the street….

Christmas lights

…I headed for home.

The town bridge was lit up and made a pretty sight….

Town bridge lights

….as I approached the suspension bridge to cross the river.

The suspension bridge was lit up too for the first time this year but funds hadn’t been sufficient to stretch the lights the whole way across…

Suspension bridge lights

…so crossing the dark middle section might have required an act of faith but when you actually got onto the bridge, the way was clear…

Suspension bridge lights

…and I crossed fearlessly.

After a final look up the river from the middle of the bridge…

Langholm River Esk

…I went home, filled with the spirit of the season, and made myself some fish and chips for  tea.

The leaves of the day are Mrs Tootlepedal’s leeks just waiting to be turned into soup…

leeks

…and after yesterday’s feast of flying chaffinches, this was the best that I could do today.

flying chaffinch

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