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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who was in Edinburgh yesterday and was comforted by the up to date police protection afforded to its citizens.

Edinburgh Police

I had much better weather for my trip to the Moorland Feeders today and it was only a pity that the birds stayed away in great numbers.  I suspect that a sparrow hawk must have been in the vicinity.

The pheasants aren’t frightened of anyone or anything, being hand reared.

pheasant

…and occasional chaffinches popped up here and there.

chaffinch

A  single woodpecker paid a flying visit…

woodpecker

…and that was about it so I didn’t stay long.

I saw a crow on the top of the walnut tree when I got home and my new lens made light of the distance.

crow in walnut tree

I didn’t have long to look round the garden but I was happy to see that the sunshine had brought the bees back…

bees on poppy

..in force…

bees on poppy

…and a butterfly or two too.

red admiral butterfly

This one was looking a bit ‘end of season’.

The reason that I didn’t have long to garden wander was that I wanted to get a quick pedal in before lunch.

The wind was a bit lighter today so I went over the hill…

View from tarcoon

The view from Tarcoon

…and down to Canonbie and then back along the banks of the Esk….

Esk at Byreburnfoot

…which had plenty of water in it after yesterday’s rain.

I chose this spot to take the river picture because in previous years I have seen a lot of fungus there…

fungus at Byreburnfoot

…and they have come back again this year.  There were dozens of these fungi sprouting on a plain patch of mown grass.

I had been blown down to the bottom of the by-pass by a friendly breeze so the journey back to Langholm was a bit more like hard work and as I was under some time pressure, I didn’t stop for more pictures.

I went  fast enough to have left time for another quick look round the garden after a shower and lunch.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta has made a welcome reappearance

poppy

This poppy had given the bees all it could give.

I saw another butterfly…or perhaps the same one revisiting,  It was hard to tell at this angle.

red admiral butterfly

Then I drove off to Lockerbie with Mrs Tootlepedal to catch the train to Edinburgh.

I admired a fine set of faintly nautical looking hinges on a doorway in Lockerbie opposite the spot where we parked our car.

Lockerbie hinges

Lockerbie station has two just platforms, up and down, with a passing line behind the down platform but looking south from the bridge, It must have been busier at one time.

Lockerbie station

The train was late again but only mildly and the countryside looked lovely as we swept past so all was forgiven.

When we got to Edinburgh, Matilda was in splendid form and gave me a very even match at Pelmanism before trouncing me at Snap.  There was more fun before tea time when we were terrorised by a monster….

matilda monster

…who surely can’t have been related to this studious little girl studying her miniature cow.

matilda

All too soon it was time to catch the train back to Lockerbie.  The bus arrived so promptly and drove so swiftly that I had time to look around at Waverley Station and enjoyed this circle of ornamental youngsters round the skylight in the waiting room.

Waverley station

Our drive home from Lockerbie was illuminated by a brilliant moon.  I tried my new lens out on it when I got home and was pleased with a quick hand held shot from an upstairs window.

moon

There was not much choice but I managed to get a flying bird of the day at the Moorland Feeders this morning….just.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working in Zurich this week and took a picture of the sunset there this evening.

Zurich sunset

There was no chance of a sunset here today…or a sunrise…or a sun anything as the sun was conspicuous by its absence all day.  The forecast told me that if I was up sharp, I might be able to get up to the Moorland Feeders, where I was filling in for absent friends, before the rain started for the day.

I took them at their word and they were quite right so I filled the feeders and sat in the hide for a while  before the rain started.  It might not have been raining but it was very gloomy so only brightly coloured birds which came close were available to snap.  It was my lucky day.

Greater spotted woodpecker

A greater spotted woodpecker coming close

Greater spotted woodpecker

And a greater spotted woodpecker coming closer…

Greater spotted woodpecker

…and then going away again

When it flew off, I took the hint and went away too.  I was glad to have got a brief glimpse of a goldfinch, the first of the autumn while I was there.

goldfinch

It was still raining when I got home and it rained on and off in a half hearted way for the rest of the day.  It was that annoying sort of rain which kept looking as though it had stopped but by the time that I had got outside to check, it had started again.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal got on with repainting the doors in the hall and I put a week and a bit of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.

You can learn a lot from the newspaper index.  In 1854 there were only 12 advertisements for food in the whole year but by 1874, there were 116.  There were 140 by 1894 but the biggest item advertised by far was tea, which was obviously a big seller by then.

I went out to our corner shop to buy food (but not tea) and noticed an unusually long array of collared doves on the wire by the dam as I left the house.

collared doves

I don’t know enough about collared doves to say whether this might be one happy family or just a gathering of friends.

At lunch time, I noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal had brought a couple of nasturtium flowers into the kitchen…

nasturtiums

Their cheerful colour brightened the day up a bit and made me look closer too.

nasturtiums

I did go out to check the rain.  It was light but persistent.  Flowers looked a bit depressed.

P1030684

mint and chives

There is some colour in the vegetable garden though

clematis

and a very low flying clematis

We picked some runner and French beans and ate them for our lunch.  Even if the rain had stopped, it would have been too soggy for gardening.

It was one of those days which felt colder than the thermometer said that it should be so after lunch, I lit a fire in the front room and settled down to put music into the computer for practice purposes.  With about sixteen new songs on hand for Christmas concerts with my two choirs, I have plenty to get on with.

I kept on thinking about going for a walk in the rain but settled for making rolls with the help of the bread making machine instead.  They turned out well.

rolls

When they had come out of the oven, I had another look out into the garden at four o’clock.

colourful corner

In spite of the efforts of the flowers to persuade me that it wasn’t too bad….

dahlia

…I wasn’t tempted to stay out as it was too gloomy for a photographic walk by now so I took a picture of a crow on the roof…

crow

…and came back in and made a sausage stew for my tea.

It too turned out well and I was in a good mood in spite of some heavier rain when I went off for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  The attendance was a bit thin, possibly because of a showing of La La Land at the Buccleuch Centre at the same time.  I was happy to miss the film, which we have already seen and judged pretty dull, and very much enjoyed the practice.  All the songs and carols that we are preparing have their charms.

I am going back to the Moorland Feeders tomorrow morning, this time as a substitute for Sandy, who is sunning himself elsewhere, and I hope for better weather.

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from a visit to Wakefield that my brother made a few weeks ago.   The theatre there is a  handsome but modest building as befits a down to earth town.

Opera House Wakefield

After some quite heavy rain overnight and a rather misty, murky morning,  today turned into a very pleasant day.  I might well have gone cycling after breakfast but I decided to postpone any decision about that until I had gone up to the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is basking in the sun somewhere in the far south.

I was greeted by a rather grumpy pheasant who only got off the gate to let me through with the greatest reluctance.

pheasant

I filled the feeders and found that it was warm enough to sit in the hide without a coat (which was just as well as I hadn’t bought one) and so I sat for a while and enjoyed the birds.

There were the usual suspects both big….

woodepecker and pheasant

…and small.

Greenfinch and coal tit

Greenfinch and coal tit

Great tit and blue tit

Great tit and blue tit

And one or two less usual things as well.

one legged chaffinch

A one legged chaffinch looking fit and well

blackbird

A blackbird on top of the tall feeder

squabbling chaffinches

And the first squabbling chaffinches of the season

There was also a major fungus outbreak at the foot of a tree near the hide.

feeder furngus

I made it home perfectly in time for coffee and then I decided not to go cycling again.

It was a great day to be out in the garden though so I went out into the garden.

I was pleased to see, along with the usual red admirals….

red admirals

Ten a penny this year

…that we had a small tortoiseshell in the garden as well.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

These have been very scarce this year.

There was no shortage of bees and hoverflies (and smaller flies too) once again.

cornflower with hoverfly

icelandic poppy with hoverfly

bee on dahlia

It is very gratifying to find that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted so many attractive flowers   that the garden is filled with flight and sound on any vaguely sunny day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy developing her new plans for the middle lawn and flower beds and while she was working, she noticed that our silver pear tree had actually produced a few silver pears.

silver pear

They are very small.

Nearby, a cotoneaster was much brighter.

cotoneaster

The walnuts keep falling off the walnut tree, some of them assisted by jackdaws and crows like this one which was perched on the very top of the tree this morning.

crow

I think that there may be a walnut just to the right of the bird.

Soon it was time for lunch and I decided not to go to Edinburgh with Mrs Tootlepedal to see Matilda this week.

After Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to catch the train at Lockerbie, I decided not to go cycling once again but I did get the slow bike out to deliver a message to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, with more cash from the Welcome to Langholm sales desk.  They sell postcards, local history books and DVDs on our behalf.

Since I was on my bike, I continued along the waterside in the hope of seeing the dipper.  It was not there but a goosander kindly took its place and posed for me.

Goosander

It really was a lovely afternoon so I pedalled gently on across the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge Walks

My intention was to take another picture of the tiny fungi on a tree stump which I had seen on a recent walk but they had faded away almost to dust.  I looked around and saw a wonderful display of more conventional fungi on a tree stump on the other side of the road.

tree stump fungus

A veritable feast of fungus

tree stump fungus

A close up

I cycled gently home across the Castleholm and even on such a warm and sunny day, I could easily see why they had had to cancel our local agricultural show while we were away in Marseille.  Putting my foot down incautiously while pausing to admire the view  all too easily led to my whole foot and ankle disappearing into the glaur.  It has rained a lot recently.

When I got home, there was still plenty of time for a trip to Canonbie (or even further afield) but once again I decided not to cycle.

Instead, I retired indoors, practised the awkward song for our concert on Saturday (and all the easier ones a swell) and then had a long relaxing bath followed by a snooze.

It had been hard making so many decisions during the day and I needed a rest.

However, I have got my asthma medicine properly organised again and hope to be a great deal perkier tomorrow.

At last, a traditional flying bird of the day.  This was at the Moorland Feeders.  I am looking  forward to getting the garden feeders up again in the not too distant future.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows an array of Mr Grumpy’s London cousins lining up on the banks of the Serpentine.  It was taken yesterday by my sister Mary. There is a flourishing herony in the park there.

Hyde park heronsIt didn’t matter what the weather was like here today as I wasn’t going anywhere so I was secretly pleased that it was another chilly and grey day until the late afternoon.  I wouldn’t have been happy to sit with my leg up if it had been a fine cycling day.

I was determined to give my knee a thorough rest and apart from going out to open the greenhouse and water the tomato plant and taking a picture of a new flower….

Alstroemeria

It is an Alstroemeria

…and some plums….

plums

We have plenty of plums but will they ever ripen?

…I managed some pro resting for most of the day.  I limited my standing up and looking out of the kitchen window to a very brief spell but it did include a visit from a crow.

crowIt hung about until it was sure that I had taken a good picture and then flew off without further ado.  The goldfinches have found a better place to go as there are none in the garden at all just now and our feeders are visited by sparrows, siskins and chaffinches with the occasional greenfinch and blue tit for variety.

sparrowsI was fortunate to have chosen a day of rest which was well supplied with mindless sport to watch on the telly with the Tour de France, the Davis Cup and the Open Golf meaning that the only thing that got any exercise today was my channel changing finger.

The brighter weather in the afternoon did tempt me out into the garden just to stretch my legs a little and I took the opportunity to pick some gooseberries and make myself some stewed gooseberries for my tea.  They were delicious.

Our neighbours Liz and Ken came in for a stroll round the garden while I was outside.  I hope she will come and pick some gooseberries too as the bush is loaded down with far more than I can eat and it would be a pity to waste them.

We were looking at the ornamental clover when a bee interrupted us.

bee in cloverThis picture is therefore a visual demonstration of what “being in clover” might be like.

When they left, I stayed out long enough to catch a moss rose glowing gently…

moss rose…and the jungle lily reflecting back the sun.

lily

The sun shone through a geranium.

geranium

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are called Cranesbills because of the seed heads whihc you can see in the picture.

A lot of the hostas are in flower now.

hosta

Their flowers look better in a little low sunshine

I think that the garden looks at its best in a summer evening so I ventured out while I was in the middle of cooking my tea to try to show why.  I couldn’t do it justice but here’s a couple of views.

garden in eveninggarden in eveningFor all the flowers that are about, it is the restful greens of the shrubs, hedges and lawns that give it its tone.

The only bad thing about this very restful Sunday is that my knee was no better at the end of the day than it was at the start.  (For joint pain enthusiasts, I can report that it isn’t swollen, it isn’t hot and I can bend and straighten my leg freely without pain.  It is just mysteriously sore, especially when I walk but even when I am resting it.  I may have to seek medical advice if it doesn’t go away soon.)

I did get one flying bird but it was no better than my knee.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Newcastle correspondent who was visiting friends when a goldcrest crashed into a window.  It recovered and flew off but not before posing for a picture.

goldcrestThere was not a snow flake to be seen today but I waited for the temperature to drag itself up from the depths before venturing out for a short cycle ride to stretch my legs after a couple of quiet days.  The forecast was a bit gloomy so in spite of light winds, I stayed close to home with a trip to the top of Callister followed by a return trip to the bottom of Callister.

I am having to look after my knee when going up hill as it still tends to be a bit swollen and hot at night so I took the uphill sections carefully but made up for it by dashing back down the hill as fast as I could and just managed to squeeze my average speed for the 21 miles up to 14 mph exactly.  (I apologise to the old lady on the mobility scooter who I forced into the gutter as I sped along the last few metres of the trip in my bid to reach the magic number.)

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal called me out into the garden to look at some new flowers.

fritillaria

Fritillaria on the drying green

dicentra

Nearby some dicentra are trying their best

And the first aubretia are showing at the end of the drive.

aubretiaI walked around the rest of the garden.

primulas

I thought that these were primroses but Mrs T tells me that they are primulas because they have many flowers on each stalk.

There were more fritillaria in the back border….

fritillaria

Is that a bee in there?

fritillaria

Yes, it was a welcome bee.

fritillaria

Off to visit another flower.  I don’t know whether it has quite mastered collecting pollen yet.

And another dicentra.

dicentraAlthough they are not quite ready yet, the grape hyacinths are looking good.

grape hyacinthsThe first recorded bird of the day was a jackdaw looking for fat ball scraps.

Jackdaw

blackbird

A blackbird had found them

chaffinches

Chaffinches flew in and out on a regular basis.

Though some were more placid.

chaffinchI was thinking of a short walk after lunch but the light got very poor and some desultory raindrops threatened to justify the gloomy forecast so I settled down to try to do some serious practice of Mozart’s Requiem.   I have rashly enrolled to sing this work at a scratch performance on Saturday.  Sadly there are not enough hours in the day to allow me to master fitting the words to the music in the elaborate (and speedy) runs that keep cropping up so there will be quite a bit of miming on the day…unless the choir master is a genius.

I did have time to keep an eye on a crow which arrived within seconds of Mrs Tootlepedal putting out a few breadcrumbs.

crowMrs Tootlepedal generally kept herself occupied by preparing the floorboards round the edge of the front room for a geometrical pattern which she is going to paint on them.  The professional decorator appeared today and he is going to start work on Thursday so the end of the end wall saga is now really in sight.

After I had caused Mozart to rotate in his grave enough times, I had another look out of the window.

jackdaw

Another jackdaw but too late for any scraps. It flew off in a melancholy manner.

It was replaced by a greenfinch.

greenfinchMy long stint in the kitchen hunched over the score was brightened by some of Mrs Tootlepedal’s daffodils which have found their way indoors.

indoor daffsWhat with school holidays meaning no flute lesson, camera club meetings meaning no trios, my Friday night orchestra visiting grandchildren in NZ and unexpected visitors leading to our recorder group being cancelled, I have been seriously starved on music lately so it was a pleasure to have a visit from my flute pupil Luke and play some duets with him.  He passed his recent grade examination so we are having some relaxed playing while he recovers from all the hard work.

After tea, I added to my musical day by going off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and we had a very enjoyable evening in spite of my lack of practice.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch caught in the morning’s brightest moment..

chaffinch

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A guest picture at last.  A spot beside the Kennet and Avon canal where my brother stopped for a sandwich.

I stopped here to eat my sandwich beside the canal

I am posting early in the afternoon in an effort to beat the current great internet slowdown in the evenings in Langholm.  So many people have complained that maybe things will be better anyway but I thought that I would take no chances.

The winter solstice is past and in celebration the sun came out today after some truly horrible days of wind and rain.  It is still quite windy and as it was only 3C when Mrs Tootlepedal went to sing in the church, I left the bike in the garage and turned my hand to preparing a simple bacon and sausage cassoulet for the slow cooker.

I then filled the seed feeder and left some out on the lawn for the fertilising gang who turned up within seconds of the door being closed.

chaffinches

There were chaffinches on all sides as usual.

chaffinch

All this took some time and having done it, I caught up with my emails as the internet was working well.  When Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church, she threw herself into some grouting. She is re-tiling the surround for the bath and as she is never happier than when grouting, I left her to it and took a short walk.  My focus was on gates and fungus but I allowed myself to be distracted as I walked round the Becks burn and back.

It was a pleasure to be able to see the town tucked under Whita hill after the gloom of the last few days.

Langholm

The white front door in the middle of the bottom of the pictures is ours and it shows how soon the ground begins to rise as you leave the town.  It is one of the pleasures of living here that it takes so few minutes before you are out in the country.

I saw my first gate as I walked past Holmwood.

gate at Holmwood

I walked along below the fields at the bottom of Meikleholm Hill, keeping an eye on tree stumps as I went.

Tree stump

This one had a lot going on.

While I was looking at tree stumps, others were looking at me.

Tup

An inquisitive tup stares me out.

Leaving the fields, I walked down to the Becks burn through the woods until I came to the bridge.

Becks bridge

Another bridge not built by Thomas Telford. It was actually built by John Murray for the Langholm Walks Group.

The bridge is a great boon as this walk would not have been possible on a day such as today before it was built because of the amount of water in the burn.

I came up through the woods on the other side of the stream and joined the road.  The sun caught some fungus (lichen?) on a dead branch beside the road.

bramch woth fungus

I am going to have to look at the web site on Scottish fungus which the New Hampshire gardener recommended and get to know more about this.

I passed gates on my right….

gate at Hallcrofts

…and on my left as well.

gate at Hallcrofts

If you ask why I took so many pictures of gates, I reply, “Because they were there.”   There is something essentially attractive about a wooden five bar gate (to me at any rate).

I also noticed a striking tree.

tree at hallcrofts

When I got down to the Wauchope road, I came to a more formal bridge across the Becks burn.

Becks bridge

I had one more gate to pass, this one in rather a sad state.

gate at Springhill

A bar short of a full gate as they say.

The stones in the walls round here are often interesting to look at in their own right.

wall at Springhill

The whole walk had taken less than an hour but the opportunity to get out of the house and breathe some fresh air was most welcome.

I put a little old bread out on the lawn when I got back and the jackdaws were as quick to get to it as the chaffinches had been to get at the seed in the morning.

jackdaws

When it had all gone, one of them sat in the plum tree and sulked.

jackdaw in plum tree

Nearby, a robin posed, not knowing that he was too late for the Christmas card.

robin on bird table

We had a visit from a member of the crow family.

crow

It didn’t stay long.

As I write this, Mrs Tootlepedal has gone off for fresh supplies of grout and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the connection holds up long enough for this abbreviated journal to get on line.

A flying chaffinch was to be seen.

flying chaffinch

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