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Posts Tagged ‘Criffel’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  With all that dog walking going on, the household wellies need somewhere to have a good rest when they get home.

welly rack

Our wintery weather continued with the temperature in low single figures all day.  We had been threatened with snow but got occasional sunny spells interrupted by heavy showers of rain and sleet instead.

I had a moment to watch the birds after breakfast.  There was blackbird about…

blackbird on chimney

…and the fake tree was drawing in customers waiting for a perch at the feeder.

chaffinch on fake tree

I took no pictures in the garden in the morning as I had to set off quite promptly to go to the hospital in Dumfries for my foot x-ray.

This was an entirely satisfactory process as the road over to Dumfries was very traffic free, I got a parking spot a few yards from the main entrance to the hospital (a very rare occurrence), was in and out of the x-ray department before my appointment time had even arrived, spent some useful cheese buying time in the farm shop which is just next to the hospital and where I also bought a packet of tasty parkin biscuits and finally took the scenic road home along the banks of the Nith Estuary.

There were some impressive rain clouds about when I looked down river from the dock at Glencaple where I had parked  to eat some of the parkins…

foreboding view from Glencaple

…and I could see small rain showers on the slopes of Criffel across the water…

criffel with rain shower

…but fortunately, the rain stayed away from where I was, Criffel emerged from the cloud..

criffel in sun

…and I had time for a very short stroll among banks of gorse…caerlaverock gorse

…past clumps of primroses…

caerlaverock primroses

…and through a delightful wood…

caerlaverock wood

…before a hint of rain sent me back to the car, encouraged by loud cries from passing flights of geese.

clouds with geese nith estuary

The drive home was largely free from traffic but I did have to battle through some sharp rain showers on the way.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a very busy time helping out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop as they had had over 60 people for lunch, and we were both happy to have a quiet moment or two when we got home.

The sunflower hearts are going down at great speed so I was happy to see some siskins trying the peanuts.  They had various styles of approach to getting at the nuts, vertical head down….

vertical siskin on nuts down

…vertical head up….

vertical siskin on nuts up

…and horizontal.

horizontal siskin on nuts

Meanwhile, competition for places at the sunflower seed feeder was intense.

very busy feeder

I had already filled the feeder once today.

Other forms of bird food were available.

blackbird and fat ball

The redpoll was back.

redpoll

I took some advice on the little blue flower that has just come out and I can report that it is a brunnera.

brunnera

I put in some work on practising two short sets of Scottish tunes to play on my descant recorder at the concert in the evening and was distracted by the ever rolling catastrophe of the Brexit reporting on the telly.  The reporting and the process are equally catastrophic in my view as the contradictions inherent in the process are still largely unacknowledged by those promoting various schemes and those who are ignoring the realities are largely unchallenged in all the excitement of who is up and who is down.

Still, it all makes for something to talk about and I had an entertaining discussion with my choir friend Mike when I gave him a lift up to the Langholm Sings concert at the Westerkirk WRI meeting.

The concert itself, considering that we had had no practice and were without an accompanist or conductor, went better than might have been expected.  There were ten singers and the choir did five four part songs while three members sang unaccompanied solos (very nicely), one recited Daffodils by Wordsworth (also very nicely) and one tootled away merrily.

The audience was very polite and appreciative and we got a quiz half way through the concert and  an excellent light meal afterwards, as you would expect from a WRI meeting so the evening was much more enjoyable than I had anticipated.

The black spot of the day was receiving a debit card through the post from a bank that I do not use.  This indicated that some fraudster had opened an account in my name and required phoning up the bank in question.  After registering my complaint and having it acknowledged that an unauthorised account had been opened, the bank said that I would have to talk to their fraud department.  Crooks must have been very busy lately as they couldn’t put me through because the lines were fully engaged but they promised that the fraud department would ring me back.  I am still waiting at the time of writing.  This sort of thing takes some of the pleasure out of life.

Flying birds of the day however, bring it back again.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is from our son Tony and shows that the temperature was lower in Fife than it was here this morning.

frosty wemyss walk

We had been promised a day of freezing fog so it was a pleasant surprise to find no fog and a temperature of two degrees above zero when we got up.   It was still too cold for cycling though as I am resolved not to risk hitting any icy patches this winter so I had a relaxing morning of chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and making ginger biscuits.

I had a good deal of time to stare out of the window and was happy to see one or two birds making a welcome re-appearance at the feeder.

I caught a great tit in the plum tree…

great tit in plum tree

…a redpoll on the feeder…

redpoll in december

…and a blackbird on the ground below.

blackbird head

There were visits from a robin and a blue tit too but these went unrecorded as they were too quick for me.

The jackdaws were back again…

jackdaw on chimney

…but there was still not a great number of finches.  I met two neighbours this morning, one of whom reported that his garden was short of small birds and the other who had many sparrows but no finches.

It was still only 2°C at lunch time but it was such a nice day that a walk was in order even if cycling was not on the menu so after  a cheese and chutney sandwich, I set off to walk up to the monument.

There were no flowers to be seen except the occasional gorse bush but some bright lichen on a small bush beside the track caught my eye.

lichen on Kirk Wynd

I was resolved to see if I could walk up the hill to the monument without stopping but one or two views compelled me to pause for a second or two.

ewes valley december

This is what lay ahead.

up to the monument

Although the ground looks a bit rough, there is a path all the way to the top and I was soon looking back on the lower hills across the valley…Castle hill

…and it didn’t take me too long to get to the top of the hill and look over the wall across the Tarras valley.  The camera makes it all look rather flat but it would be very hard work to walk across the moor, down across the river and then up to that hill in the distance which is quite a bit higher than Whita.

tinnis hill

Looking out to the west, I could see Criffel, 30 miles away, rising above a sea of mist over the Nith estuary.   We were obviously getting the best of the weather.

Criffel above mist

Looking around I could see a mixture of commercial forest and sheep grazing grounds.  It seems as though we are going to have more forestry and less sheep round here in the future as the grants system makes timber more profitable than meat at the moment.

grazing and woodland

I took a zig zag route back down the hill as the direct route is steep and would have been hard on my knees and as I walked down the track towards the White Yett, the low sun picked out these heather clumps…

heather lumps

…and I cast a long shadow as I went.

big shadow on whita

I didn’t go right down to the road but followed the track that the riders come up at the Common Riding back down towards the golf course.

Below me, I could see that the woodcutters had left the pines standing when they otherwise cleared felled the wood at Hillhead.

pines left at Hillhead

I passed a small tree as i came down the hill.  Trees like this are very scarce where the ground has sheep on it but once the sheep are taken off, trees start to grow quickly.

tree on whita

A little cairn marked my route down the hill…

 

cairn on Birnie Braes

…and I came safely back to the top of the golf course with my knees intact.

Looking down towards England, I could see the Lake District hills in the distance, looming over the mist covered Solway plain.

mist over solway

We were still mist free and the golf course was very peaceful….

5th green

…as I walked down the side of the course without being disturbed by cries of “fore!” or being hit by a golf ball.

I timed my three and a half mile walk well as I got home just as the sun dipped below the hills and a distinct chill came over the town.

Once inside, a cup of tea and some delicious ginger biscuits refreshed body and spirit and I was fully recovered when Luke arrived for some flute playing.  We played the Loeillet sonata which we have been working on and it went very well, with some good ornamentation and some faster tempi.  Although practice hasn’t made us perfect yet, we are definitely making progress.

The forecast is once again offering us fog tomorrow so I hope that we end up with another sunny day like today.

We are well prepared for Christmas Day and intend to have a quiet but jolly time.  I wish all readers of the blog a Happy Christmas and I hope that they have held Santa’s hand firmly when presents were being considered so that nobody is disappointed.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch enjoying the sunshine.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture involves an elaborate play on words.  Whereas a recent guest picture showed a links in Spain where Dropscone played golf and photographed, today’s guest picture shows a lynx in Spain which Venetia saw and photographed.

lynx

We had another dry and sunny day today, the third without rain in a row.  We are beginning to worry that something has gone wrong with the weather.

For once, a sunny and clear morning was accompanied by proper low autumn temperatures and there was a touch of frost about when we got up.  There are still a few leaves left on the plum tree where this pigeon was perching.

pigeon

It was too cold for cycling but ideal for walking so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off for her monthly coffee morning with ex work colleagues, Sandy and I had a coffee at home and then set off for the White Yett and a walk up to the monument.

It was the sort of day when you might expect a little early morning mist in the river valleys  and as we got up the hill, there was a hint of some here and there.

Hint of mist in Esk valley

But it didn’t amount to much and the sky was crystal clear as we took the track up to the monument.

Track to Monument

The sun obligingly provided the monument with a halo as we drew near.

Monument with halo

We enjoyed the sunny view over Langholm.

Langholm

A sheep was enjoying the view too.

sheep enjoying view

However, there was a bit of mist to the west and as we got near the top of Whita Hill, we could see the remains of the nuclear power station at Chapel Cross looming up through it.

Chapelcross in mist

Further to the west, Criffel could just be seen above a strip of cloud running up the Nith estuary.

Criffel

And when we got to the top of the hill, we could see the Lake District hills in the distance across a whole sea of mist covering the Solway plain.

Solway covered in mist

The camera can’t do justice to the scene at all.

To the south,  banks of mist shrouded the hills beyond the Tarras valley.

Eden valley in mist

I took a couple of pictures to try to convey the sense of a brilliant white sea lapping at the rising ground towards us.

police mast and mist

We walked past the police mast and looked down from the edge of the hill.

Mist over Canonbie

It was a splendid sight and we were very pleased to have been in the right place at the right time to see it.

Even as we stood there, the mist was beginning to lift.

Mist lifting

And turning back, it was a different day…

Monument in sun

…with Langholm below us bathed in sunshine.

Langholm from Whita

As you can imagine, we took a lot of pictures and I had a very hard time picking out a few for this post and I am fairly sure that there are quite a few others which might have been better than ones that I have used.  The trouble is that when I have too much choice, my brain goes to mush and I make bad decisions.

Still, I liked this picture of the McDiarmid Memorial as we came back down towards the car.

McDiarmid memorial

And you can’t go wrong in my view with a couple of lichen pictures to round a walk off.

lichen boulderlichen boulder

I had a look at the garden when I got home to see if any flowers had survived the cold morning.

garden flowers

It was lunchtime by this time and once again, I put the camera up at the kitchen window to see what was happening at the feeder both while I was preparing the meal and relaxing after it.

A goldfinch and a great tit sized up the possibilities…

goldfinch and great tit

…and then came down for a snack….

_DSC8225

…while once again any amount of flying chaffinches whizzed to and fro.

flying chaffinches

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to continue working on her new path and I put on a good many layers of clothes and cycled off into a eager and nipping wind.

For the first time for several months, I thought that it was worth putting my overshoes on because cold feet can be a big problem when cycling.

Still, it was delightfully sunny even if it wasn’t very warm….

Bigholms road

…and I enjoyed a thirty mile ride, particularly as the wind behaved itself and after punishing me for the first twelve miles, stayed in position and blew me home for the next eighteen.  You can see that I had made a sound route choice.

I had time to go over a few songs for our Carlisle choir before tea so I felt that I had made good use of the day.  I am only sorry that because we were shooting into the sun, I couldn’t properly convey the spirit raising joy of the brilliant white sea of mist that greeted us on our morning walk.  The scene will remain in my memory for some time.

Alison, my Friday evening orchestra, was not well so there were no sonatas today but I wasn’t entirely unhappy to have a quiet night in as the last few days seem to have been quite busy.

The flying bird of the day is one of the flotilla of chaffinches at full stretch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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