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Posts Tagged ‘Duchess Bridge’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  I have seen many murmurations of starlings before but I have never seen one where the starlings murmured in the actual shape of a starling.   She was on the Somerset levels when she took this amazing picture.

Ham Wall on the Avalon Marshes

We had another morning of family fun with Matilda and her parents and then, after a light but creative lunch, Al, Clare and Matilda got into their car and drove off to Edinburgh.  There was no argument, it had been a very good Christmas, and we were sad to see them go.

On the down side, as is probably inevitable over the Christmas period, too much eating had gone on, and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt that a good walk was needed to help shoogle down some of the surplus calories.

We started off at two o’clock and it was already very grey as we walked up the road past Holmwood…..

P1010144

The camera needed its flash to record another concrete fence post with a mossy head.  This one looked as though it needed a hair cut.

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The ways of walls are curious.  This one beside the road was absolutely covered in moss until it wasn’t.  Why the moss had chosen to stop there is one of the questions that may never be answered.

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And just round the corner, the moss gave way to a huge collection of spleenwort.  The wall is covered with it for many metres.

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We turned off the main road and walked along the quiet back road to Potholm.  Even on a grey day, the country has its charms…

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…and the mist was rising off the hills as we went along.

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Our plan was to walk to Potholm along one side of the Esk, cross the bridge and walk back to Langholm on the other side of the river.  We paused to consider our options though when a furious fusillade of shots rang out across the valley.   A pheasant shoot was taking place along our route home.

Would it be finished by the time that we got there?  We thought that it would, and walked on.   There must have been a lot of pheasants about though because the shooting went on for ages and we were across the bridge at Potholm before it stopped.

I looked back from the bridge at Milnholm farmhouse, judiciously perched on a little ridge above the floodplain.

P1010151

I had been a bit worried that it might be dark before we got home and the forecast had been for a good chance of rain on the way, but it stayed dry.  It even got a little brighter at one moment so we could look back down the valley and the see the way that we had come.

Our road is hidden behind the wall that runs along the top of the fields.

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As we passed the lonesome pine, we could hear gamekeepers whistling to their dogs as they collected the ‘bag’ for the day.

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The shooting had finished by the time we got to the scene and we were able to walk past unscathed.

When we were passing the pheasant hatchery, we noticed another victim of the wet and windy weather.  Our trees grow in shallow soil.

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By the time that we got to the Duchess Bridge, it was too dark to take pictures…

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…but we were very pleased to get home while it was still light enough to be able to walk in comfort.  We had managed 5 miles in just under two hours and it had been warm enough for us to unbutton our coats and I had taken off my new Christmas gloves too.

The trouble about having a good walk to shake down too much eating is that it gives you an appetite.  I had two slices of Christmas cake with my post walk cup of tea. Ah well, I can always have another walk tomorrow.

It’s very quiet here with no-one to play Ludo and Snakes and Ladders with me.

The flying birds of the day are a small flock of gulls, disturbed by the pheasant shooters and looking for somewhere with a bit of peace and quiet.

P1010150

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony on a walk in East Wemyss, the land of eternal sunshine.

east wemyss sunset

Our weather got warmer today but there was not a hint of sunshine here as Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled to church to hear our potential new minister preach a sermon before the congregation voted on whether to accept his nomination for the position.

There was a good turnout and the choir was in the middle of singing an anthem when the lights suddenly went out.  We battled on gamely, peering at the music in the ecclesiastical gloom but it was all in vain because a few seconds later the organ gave up as its wind ran out with a sigh.

With great presence of mind, our organist zipped downstairs from the gallery and accompanied the last hymn of the service from a handy upright piano near the lectern.

Was it an omen?  We don’t know because the queue of church members to vote was so long that we had to leave long before the result was announced.

We got home in time for a cup of coffee before taking my stepmother Patricia for a final walk before she caught the train home.

Although it hasn’t rained a lot lately, the lack of sun has meant that things are generally rather damp and we had to mind our heads when walking under dangling conifer branches.

dripping conifet

We walked up the river to the Duchess Bridge…

duchess bridge through mossy tree

…where Patricia and Mrs Tootlepedal paused to check on the river below.

pat and Mrs t on duchess bridge

We crossed the bridge and I noted a very pale fungus beside the Lodge Walks…

white fungus

…down which we walked  towards the Sawmill Brig…

walkers on lodge walks

…noting a late leafy tree…

late autumn leaves lodge walks

…and a profusion of bright red berries at the gate…

red berries lodge walks

…before we got to the bridge and leaned over it in the hope of seeing a dipper or two.

There were no dippers to be seen today so I took a picture, staring straight down at the water below, of a sapling growing out of the cutwater of the bridge.

tree on butress sawmill brig

We introduced Patricia to Mr Grumpy who was standing on one leg today…

heron

…and noted a rook who was taking advantage of the free parking provided by our local authority on the Kilngreen.

rook parking

Looking down the High Street as we got to the Town Bridge, we could see the fine Christmas tree, freshly installed in front of the Town Hall.

town christmas tree 2019

As you can see from the Town hall clock, it was nearly one o’clock and we had time for a bowl of Mrs Tootlepedal’s leek and potato soup before driving off to Carlisle where we put Patricia on to the London train and then, having waved her goodbye, we went on to a practice with the Carlisle Community choir.

We worked hard at the practice as we have a concert in two weeks and by the time that we got home, we were ready for a sit down.  It has been a couple of busy weeks.

I didn’t have a chance to catch a flying bird at the feeder today so a rook making use of a bench on the Kilngreen is standing in for the flying bird of the day.

rook on becnh

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend and former colleague, Marjorie.  She came upon these stunning fungi on a walk a few days ago.

blue fungus

It was a dry but grey morning and the forecast was not too bad for the rest of the day so my mind turned to cycling.

Before I set off, I had coffee and a slice of toast to think about and the birds to to watch as well.

They must have been reading the blog because after yesterday’s complaint about not enough birds, they came in better numbers today and the feeder was soon filled with goldfinches…

full feeder goldfinches

…with more anxious to join in.

This made for photo opportunities…

attacking goldfinch

…and bad tempered exchanges…

two goldfinches sparring

…and curious chaffinches.

chaffinch approac hing

The goldfinches in possession of a perch tried to ignore outside distractions and kept their heads well down while they could for the most part.

goldfinches tucking in

In the end, I put down the bird watching camera and packed my cycling camera into the pocket of a stout waterproof bright yellow jacket and got out my bicycle, noting two particoloured jackdaws at the apples as I set off.

two spotty jackdaws

There was a brisk north easterly wind blowing and it pushed me over Callister and along the newly surfaced road past the quarry to Paddockhole.  I stopped there for half a banana and a look at the bridge.

The bridge has a bright red metal plate screwed to the parapet and when I looked at the parapet, I could see that turning lorries may have been knocking into it a bit, hence the need for the warning and protective plate…

paddockhole brodge medley

…but the parapet was sound enough to be home to a nice pixie cup lichen among the moss and  a fallen beech nut.

The reason for the lorry traffic over the bridge is a new windfarm in the area so the narrow road after the bridge is being widened and lay-bys are being put in to cope with the construction vehicles.

Luckily there was very little traffic on the road as I battled up the hill alongside the Water of Milk straight into the brisk wind.  I was heading for the watershed between the Water of Milk and the River Esk and it took me some time.

It was lucky that I had my stout rainproof jacket on as it was drizzling at this point.  It was a bit annoying to look to my right and see the Ewe Hill wind farm bathed in sunshine.

ewe hill windfarm in sun

I pressed on, crossing little bridges over little streams…

bridge on crossdykes road

…until I got to the sunlit uplands on the top of the hill.  I love this section of road.

sunlit uplands baillieghill

To my right I could see more wind turbines making good use of the enthusiastic breeze…

new turnbines bailiehill

…and once I had got over the hill, I could see the Esk valley stretching in front of me.  The road follows that line of trees along the right side of the valley.

esk valley from bailliehill

The rain had blown over by now and I enjoyed a sunny trip back down the river into Langholm.  Larches stood out in the sunshine.

larch plantation

With seven miles to go, I stopped for the other half of my banana and a drink at the Enzieholm bridge.  Naturally, I had a look at the parapet while I was there.

enzieholm bridge medley

There was some good autumn colour on a hedge at Bentpath village…

colour at bentpath

…and I stopped to take a close up of a larch beside the road further on just to show that they really are golden at this time of year.

a golden larch

I had a look back at the Douglen Cleuch…

view of douglen

..before climbing the last hill of the day and swooping down into the town.  It was only a 26 miles ride but because of the wind and several hills to climb, it had seemed like more and I was very satisfied as it had felt like a proper outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy painting the hall while I was away.  It is looking very exciting already.

I had a look round the garden when I got home and was impressed by the staying power of the Rosy Cheeks rose and the very late phlox but the most arresting thing was the sudden appearance of a cowslip among the expected clematis, potentilla and wallflower.

six november flowers

I had a shower and than went for a walk.  I am supposed to keep exercising my feet and there was a little sunshine left so I headed off to see if I could find the fungi that Marjorie had photographed.

My usual friend was standing on the usual rock in the Esk…

gull on same rock

…and two goosanders were swimming up the river nearby.

two goodsanders

I should have been quicker to go walking as the sun was already sinking behind the hill and this was the last sunny view I got…

river esk november evening

…before crossing the Sawmill Brig and walking round the pheasant pens.  I didn’t find Marjorie’s fungi but I saw other varieties…

three fungi castleholm

… before I crossed the Duchess Bridge and made my way home.

duchess bridge november

As you can see, the bridge is in need of some TLC.

The slow cooked venison stew made a third and final appearance for our evening meal and it was followed by some tarte tatin which I had made when I got back from my walk.  I may need therapeutic help as I think that I have become addicted to tarte tatin.

When I checked, I discovered that the forecast for the next week is for some inclement and wintery weather with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees and plenty of rain so that made today’s ride and stroll even more pleasant in retrospect.

I apologise for an excessive number of pictures but it was an interesting day and here is a FBotD to round it off.

flying goldfinch

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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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Today’s guest picture is another blast of sunshine from the past.  This time it is a pleasant valley scene from one of my brother Andrew’s Derbyshire walks in early October.

derbyshire

After a rather restless night, I got up to a sunny morning and a much improved interior economy and after a quiet morning, I was back to normal by lunchtime and able to eat without any ill effects.

I didn’t take any risks though and did nothing more energetic than have a walk round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

The berberis was positively glowing….

BERBERIS

…and the special Grandma was having a final fling.

special grandma

The display of rose hips is easily the best that I can remember and many roses that don’t usually have any are covered with them after the good summer.

rose hips

There is no denying that we are well on the way to winter though.

red leaf

It is good to have blackbirds back in the garden as they have been pretty scarce since July.

blackbirds

I didn’t stay out long and when the sun went in so did I, and I was soon back in the kitchen looking out of the window.

It was an extremely quiet day for birds.

lonely chaffinch

I haven’t been able to work out why the feeder can be mobbed one day and deserted the next.

Even the sight of plenty of available perches didn’t discourage some uncouth pushing and shoving.

pointless violence

After lunch, I tested my constitution and my leg by going for a short walk over three bridges.

As I came to the river, I could see glowing trees in a garden on the hillside opposite…

yellow trees

…and golden willows below me on the river bank.

willows beside esk

Wherever I looked on my walk, there always seemed to be a defiant patch of colour among the leafless branches.

autumn colour November

I was impressed by the careful relaying of turfs on the site of the big bonfire on Sunday.

bonfire patch

After I crossed my second bridge, I met a fellow camera club member walking his dog and spent my time chatting rather than snapping and it was only when we went our separate ways that I took the camera out again to record a little more late colour.

Lodge tree

I crossed my third bridge and made my way quietly home…

duchess bridge tree

…only pausing for a wild flower on the edge of the Scholars’ Field.

november wild flower

My leg is working but still sore and there is no chance of getting on my bike for a while yet but my constitution was unruffled by the walk so I was happy.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy watching a YouTube video on sharpening woodwork tools so I realised that she had left the garden and gone back to rocking horse restoration.  I settled down to put a couple more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  My lack of cycling may be regrettable but it has let me catch up (a bit) on the backlog of data.

My friend Susan wasn’t available to come to our monthly recorder group meeting today so I had to drive myself to Carlisle.  The effort was very worthwhile as we had an excellent evening of music.  One of other members was unwell so we were a quartet  tonight and this made for a change with some different music to play.

Having been 150 miles ahead of my mileage schedule at the beginning of October. I am now 200 miles behind and with no hope of catching up, I am officially abandoning any targets for the year and will take any miles that I can squeeze in as a bonus.

Once again there are two flying birds of the day, this time goldfinches, one with wings in…

flying goldfinch in

…and one with wings out.

flying goldfinch out

Variety is the spice of life.

 

 

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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 an owl spotted by Dropscone on his recent visit to Kent.  It was keeping an eye on things near a graveyard.

owl

We had another cold, grey and wet morning today with added icy patches so I was very happy to find things to do in the house.  The  ground is still rock solid and the rain was producing fine puddles on the lawn.

lawn puddle

Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and our neighbour Liz dropped in to recover with another cup of coffee from the shock of finding her drains blocked with water all over the kitchen floor.  Luckily, a plumber soon arrived and unblocked the pipe.

What with the visitors and the crossword (done to an accompaniment of Miff Mole and his Molers), the morning passed more pleasantly than it deserved.

It was soggy outside…..

goldfinch and siskin

…and the light was absolutely rotten so flying birds were out of the question.  The blackbirds were very much in evidence again…

blackbirds

…with the apples continuing to attract customers. I rarely looked out of the window and saw less than four blackbirds round the feeder and often as many as seven or eight.

Other birds dropped in too.

pigeon and dove

Finally, the weather took a turn for the better and the rain stopped.

chaffinch and goldfinch

I had to wait for the bread machine to deliver the dough for a batch of rolls before I could get out for a walk though and by that time, the light had begun to fade.

There was a hint of blue sky….

blue sky

…but the low and misty cloud that you can see in the picture above, persisted and it made sure that no sun came out to warm me on my way.

A glimpse of Mr Grumpy cheered me up…

heron

…and I enjoyed the duck in the foreground pretending to swim but sensibly keeping himself just out of the water by standing on a rock.

mallard

A goosander was quite happy to swim away as I came past.

goosander

It was still pretty chilly out but all traces of frost and snow had gone…

Meeting of the Waters

…and the morning’s ice had gone too, leaving me with a remarkably pleasant walk for a dull, cold day.

I passed the disused church on the Lodge Walks, reflecting that in its early life as a church for visitor’s to the Duke’s summer lodge, the ministers must have been chosen for their ability to play cricket as the first two appeared regularly on the pitch for Langholm Cricket Club matches.

Tin church

A flock of sheep found me interesting as I walked past them…

sheep and tree

The ram had his harness on.  It carries a block of paint which marks the ewes so that the shepherd knows which ones have had the benefit of his attention.

sheep and ram

As they were all facing me, I couldn’t tell if he had been doing his duty.

I was interested to see several protective cages with canes marked in red in them.

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These are an indication that replacements for the felled trees along the Lodge walks will soon be in place.

As always, there was lichen to look at.

lichen

And fungus too.

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Both of those were on the felled trees that are going to be replaced.

The light was fading fast so I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

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…and made my way home.

I met Mrs Tootlepedal, out on an errand, just as I reached Mike and Alison’s house and we dropped in to see if they would like to come round for scones and music tomorrow afternoon as we are busy in the evening.

This was agreed and while we there, we were entertained with nice cup of tea and several topless tarts.  (These were mince pies, which owing to a miscalculation of the available pastry, had been made without lids.  They were still delicious.)

As we left, I took a picture of this beautiful orchid on their kitchen windowsill.

P1060041

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we had a most enjoyable time.   The icing on the cake was seeing a shooting star flashing across the sky as we drove home.  A little research told me that this was one of the Geminids.

When I got back into the house, I went upstairs for a look out of the window. The sky was brilliantly clear thanks to the lack of any moon and Mrs Tootlepedal and I could see the Milky Way behind the usual constellations with the naked eye, a very rare thing for us.  Although we waited for a while, we didn’t see a shooting star.  The internet tells me that 2am will be the best time. That may be a bit late for me.

Owing to the poor light, no flying bird of the day today and owing to laziness, no inferior substitute either.

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