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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony in East Wemyss, the land of eternal sunshine. It is not the sharpest picture that he has ever taken, but I thought that it was unusual enough to fill the guest spot.

forth sunset

We had a cool but sunny day here. The temperature was near enough to freezing when we went to church in the morning to persuade me to walk rather than cycle. Mrs Tootlepedal was braver and pedalled.

The choir had rather an adventurous time with some unfamiliar and unrehearsed hymns but fortunately the new minister sang the hymns quite loudly with his microphone turned well up, so there must have been some doubt as to whether anyone heard us anyway.

It was still fine when we got home, and this gave me the opportunity to watch some birds while cooking lentil soup for lunch.

An old friend was present…

robin

…and at least two of our dunnocks have avoided the cat peril…

dunnock on hedge

…and were happy to pose for me.

dunnock on twig

Three hungry goldfinches turned up but they were the only ones to arrive while I was watching.

three goldfinches

A jackdaw dropped in but didn’t stay.

jackdaw on pole

After we had eaten some soup for our lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.

At three miles and mostly along the flat, it was less testing than yesterday’s outing but I was still very pleased to find that my feet were in full working order and carried me along without complaint.

Mrs Tootlepedal had some embroidery stuff to deliver to a friend and our route to her house took us along the river. Mrs Tootlepedal walked boldly under some alarmingly sloping trees, looking for all the world like Little Red Riding Hood going to visit her granny (only in blue of course).

Leaning trees

We crossed the Duchess Bridge and walked along the low road to Holmhead…

low road in winter sun

…and then to the North Lodge where the parcel was delivered.

I took the chance to go a few yards further on so that I could enjoy the view up the Esk valley…

looking up from North Lodge

…and note possibly the barest bare tree that I have ever taken a picture of.

totally bare tree

We walked back along the path above the Lodge Walks, enjoying the pines that are left when the spruces are felled…

pines after felling

There are a good variety of conifers left and we liked the different cones. I think that the one on the left might be Western Hemlock but I am not good at identifying trees.

two conifers

As we were sheltered from the breeze by the woods on our right, it was a fine afternoon for walking. Whita was looking at its best when we came to the end of the trees and got a clear view.

whita from Pathhead

There is not much colour about at the moment apart from green and brown, but a vibrant dogwood in a garden did its best to brighten things up.

dogwood

We came down the hill to the Sawmill Brig, where I was hoping to see a dipper but this little robin on the mossy parapet was the only bird about.

robin on sawmill brig

I had seen two dippers on the rocks beside the Kirk Brig when I came out of church in the morning but of course I had no camera with me then. It was annoying but typical that when I had a camera, the dippers were conspicuous by their absence.

After a few rainy days earlier on, the water in the rivers has dropped a lot and only half of the Sawmill Brig was needed to deal with the flow today.

sawmill brig low water

The white duck was floating quietly on the Ewes water as we went along the Kilngreen.

white duck

There had been dark talk of snow in the forecasts but there was no sign of it in Langholm and this impressive cloud was the nearest thing to bad weather that we got.

dark cloud

As our Carlisle Choir is on holiday for the next few weeks and Strictly Come Dancing has finished for the year, we were a bit short of entertainment for a Sunday so we went to Carlisle and paid another visit to the pictures.

We saw a well reviewed film called Knives Out. I was a bit doubtful about it when I found that it lasted for two hours which is a long time to sit around. However, my fears were misplaced and the film was great fun from first to last and the two hours sped by. The film was chock full with ideas, but even at two hours there was not enough room to develop them all, so many promising threads were discarded along the way. It must have been tough for the writer/director to know what to throw away as the film developed.

With a few more cold days to come, I am hoping to get more walking practice in during next week. Strike while the iron is cold is my motto.

A chaffinch appears as the flying bird of the day. I might have to adjust the feeder so that birds approach it into the sun!

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony and the kingdom of everlasting sunshine, East Wemyss.  If you look closely, you might see a seal on the rock in the foreground and perhaps a cormorant too.

wemyss seascape

After our recent sunny spell, we went back to rather grey and gloomy today, but the silver lining in the clouds was a rise in the temperature to above zero.  It was a curious day because in spite of the higher temperature, the dampness in the air made it feel colder and rawer than the recent much colder but drier days.

And although the thermometer had only gone up to two degrees, by lunchtime the roads and paths were miraculously cleared of frost and ice.

It was still slippery in spots in the morning so Mrs Tootlepedal had to take care when she cycled off to a meeting about the community land buy out and I had to go cannily when I cycled to our ex-corner shop for milk and a cauliflower.

I got back safely though and was able to welcome a determined goldfinch to the feeder.

goldfinch december

It stood its ground while chaffinches circled around.

busy feeder

We seem to have a pair of dunnocks in the garden at the moment, this one…

one of dunnock pair

…and this one.

other of dunnock pair

I think they must be a pair becuase I read that they are quite fractious birds and if it was two males, then they would be trying to chase each other away.

I couldn’t find any reliable guide to tell me how to distinguish a male from a female.

A blackbird made a face at me when I asked it to pose prettily.

blackbird making facw

I have had a sore back and have not been sleeping quite as well as I would wish so I had a very quiet morning, doing nothing more active than my visit to the shop and making some dull soup for lunch.  A toasted tea cake with my coffee kept me cheerful though.
(If you like tea cakes, I can thoroughly recommend Dan Lepard’s Top Tea Cake recipe from his book ‘Short and Sweet’.  His kneading method is brilliant for people with arthritic hands)

After a bowl of the dull soup (which was enhanced by some onion gravy granules to good effect), I went off for a walk.  Although I enjoy walking up hills, coming down them again doesn’t suit my feet at the moment so I stuck to the flat today, and did an extended three bridges.

I had it in mind to take a portrait of the handsome white duck that hangs about with the mallards at the Kilngreen if it was there.

It was there but it wasn’t co-operating.

diving white duck

However, after some preparatory preening…

preening white duck

…it finally posed for a portrait.

posing white duck

Mr Grumpy was not amused to find that he wasn’t the star of the show today.

grumpy heron

Then I focussed on trees.

This one looks green enough but the green is entirely moss and lichen with not a leaf in sight…

castleholm mossy tree

…whereas this one still had a great many leaves hanging on.

castleholm leafy tree

My final one, standing between the pheasant rearing houses, had neither moss nor leaves.

pheasant pen tree

Although there was no ice or white frost left on the track that I was walking along, there was still plenty to be seen on the branches of trees that had not seen the sun lately…

frosty branches

…and this little tree trunk looked as though it had been iced by a pâtissier

iced gtree trunk

…and a fungus beside the path was fully iced too.  Very curious.

iced fungus

I had thought that going along this track might put me in danger of slipping and falling but as it was, I could stride out with some confidence.  This was lucky because it was remarkably raw and I didn’t stop a lot for pictures, although hair ice is always a temptation.

haor ice Lodge

As I got near home, I could see that Whita had retained its own little cloud for the afternoon…

Whita in low cloud

…with the monument peeping shyly through.

monument in low cloud

On my way past his house, I called in at Mike Tinker’s to collect some photographs which he had been given to pass on to the Archive Group, and he returned the compliment an hour later when he joined Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake. (Tea cakes have a habit of mysteriously disappearing.  I made twelve on Saturday and the last one is going to a good home as I write this.)

Then Luke came round and we played a sonata by Hadyn and worked at a little Bach partita.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening from the Old Vic of a performance by the National Theatre of Present Laughter by Noel Coward .  She enjoyed it thoroughly and I must say that this new idea of screening these London plays nationally is a very good one.

I found several moments during the day to practise choir songs but was left with a strong feeling that more practice is still needed.

The temperature is due to rise a little more tomorrow, so the prospect of a bicycle ride may not be too far off.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day again.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a new contributor, Paul.  Like myself, he is a cyclist and obviously a keen photographer.  He is not absolutely sure but he thinks that this delightful shot was taken at Blea Tarn in the Lake District.

blea tarn

We had another cold and sunny day today, but it was even colder than yesterday with temperatures hitting -7°C overnight.  It was still -3° after breakfast.  Mrs Tootlepedal had left very early to catch a bus from Canonbie to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate with a group of embroiderers so I was left on my own.

I went to the new corner shop, did the crossword and then watched the birds for a while as the day warmed up a little.  The goldfinches, which must come from a distance, are not interested in visiting the garden while it is so cold but there were a few resident birds about.

robin dunnock blackbird

Traffic was thin though,  so I went for a walk down to the river to see if I could find some more.

The Kilngreen was quite busy with ducks, gulls and rooks…

duck, gulls and rook

…and reindeer.

reindeer on kilngreen

Wait a minute!  Reindeer???

Yes reindeer.  Some of the Cairngorm reindeer herd are on tour, appearing at pre-Christmas events all over the country.  These ones had stayed at the company’s Yorkshire base over night.

reindeer head

There were old and young animals…

reindeer panel

…and they ate the Kilngreen grass and the ready prepared food with equal eagerness.

When they time came, they were led out onto the main road….

reindeer leaving kilngreen

…where they disappeared into the low sunshine as they made their way to the stable at the Buck Hotel where they would be an attraction at the town’s switching on the lights event.

reindeer going to the Buck

I followed them down the High Street but didn’t go into the Buck Hotel, preferring to head up the Kirk Wynd and on to Whita Hill.

There are plenty of haws on the hawthorns waiting for the birds to get hungry enough to eat them and disperse the seeds.

hawthorn

In contrast to the colour of the berries, a stand of rosebay willowherb stalks looked very monchrome and I helped it by taking the picture in monochrome too.

rosebay willowherb

Looking back as I climbed up the track, the valley below was already deep in shadow and looked very cold.  The sun struggles to get above the hills at this time of year and lying at 55° North, we are on the same parallel as Manitoba, bits of Alaska and much of Russia so if it wasn’t for the gulf stream, this shot might well show a lot of snow and not much else.  The effect of climate warming on the Gulf Stream is something that not enough people in government are worrying about.

chilly valley

Still, I couldn’t complain about the weather for my walk today and if I kept in the sun it was bracing but very pleasant all the same.

ewes valley sunny

It was still freezing though.  This puddle reminded of a painting of doves but I can’t pin down the artist.

icy puddle whita

It s difficult for me to capture on camera as I would like, but I do enjoy the intersecting lines of trees and hills as I walk.

potholm hill

This little scene cheers me up every time that I pass it.

view from copshaw road

When I got back to the Kilngreen, the reindeer were long gone but the gulls were at their posts.

gulls on post

I walked up to the Buccleuch Centre and a gathering of folk caught my eye.  Mrs Claus was waiting for her husband.  He appeared along with Santa’s little helper…

Santa and friends

…and they were joined by a group of volunteers who were going to control the traffic.  The alert reader will notice my flute playing friend Luke and his mother in the panel above.  Mrs and Mrs C chatted for a while.

Soon we were joined by the appropriately dressed Langholm Pipe Band and they led off a small procession…

pipe band santa

… of a unicyclist….

unicycle santa

…and Santa on his sleigh (but sadly, with not a reindeer in sight).

 

santa in TT road

I left them to their chilly fun and went back home to have a bowl of warming soup.  Then I made some tea cake dough and left it to rise while I went back up to the town to sing carols with the Langholm Choir at the switching on of the lights.

There was quite a buzz in the Market Place…

fun inmarket place

..and we sang away lustily, accompanied by members of the town brass band until the moment of switch on came.

christmas tree lights

I then scuttled home, crossing the suspension bridge and admiring the lights on the Town Bridge as I went…

lights on bridge

…and knocked back the tea cake dough and divided it into individual cakes and put it in the boiler cupboard to rise.

I was expecting Mrs Tootlepedal back from  her trip to Harrogate but she rang me to say that the bus was stuck on the A66.  Luckily the driver was able to turn round and take a diversion to join the motorway at Tebay so she got home in the end, but much later than expected. There had been a bad crash ahead of them on the A66. She was grateful for a freshly baked tea cake to give her sustenance.

We are due to have another freezing day tomorrow but then things should warm up a bit so we may get more birds back in the garden again.

In the absence of domestic flying birds, one of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who was spotted by a deer on one of his walks.

ant's deer

It was another grey day today but although it promised to rain for quite a lot of the day, we got nothing worse than a few spots every now and again.

I went off to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and was very disappointed to find that neither the  fishmonger nor the cheesemonger were present.  I made do with some stewing steak and honey and made my way home again.

As it wasn’t raining, I mowed the front and middle lawns and was pleased to find a fair amount of grass growing on both.  Then, following up a suggestion from the gardener, I went into the greenhouse to check on the argyranthemum.  It was a surprise to me to find that it has such a cheerful flower.

argyranthemum

I look forward to seeing it out in the garden in due course.

Things were generally looking quite cheerful in the garden in spite of the cloudy weather and the two and half inches of rain which we have had this week.

six flowers

I went out to look at the hedge along the road and found that it need trimming.  While I was there,  I looked back into the garden and saw the view which the passer by gets.

garden from road

I looked at some of the paler flowers…

four yellow and white flowers

…and went indoors to look at the birds and have lunch.

A pigeon was taking time out on a garden seat…

pigeon ion chair

…while the sparrows rushed busily about.

two sparrows incoming

After lunch, we went to a recital by our church organist Henry, seen here consulting with his page turner.

henry at the organ

He played the recital which he used for his degree examination recently.  Mrs Tootlepedal had heard him play it in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh last month but it was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The recital is part of a series held to raise money for the restoration of the church organ.  I hope that they succeed in raising the substantial funds required as the organ is a delight to listen to, very clear and mellow in tone so that the audience doesn’t get the battering that some of the bigger cathedral organs administer.

We enjoyed a cup of tea and some dainty cakes after the performance and then we went home.

Once home, I spent some useful time practising the songs for our Carlisle Choir concert which is coming up next week and then I checked the weather forecast as I was thinking about a cycle ride.  Unfortunately the forecast was very gloomy, promising heavy rain shortly so I gave up the idea of pedalling and sieved some compost instead and had another walk round the garden.

A rhododendron which has been threatening to flower for some weeks, has finally got its act together.  It was worth the wait.

late flowering rhododendron

And on every side, hostas are growing.

four hostas june

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t  rain so I decided to put a brolly in my pocket and go for a walk until it started.

The recent rain has put a little water into the rivers but they are still pretty low as this view of the Kirk Brig shows.

daisies beside Wauchope

Beside the Esk, I spotted a pair of ducks.  The male was looking very calm while the female was making a big splash.

drake and duck

I crossed the river and walked along the Kilngreen under the supervision of a black headed gull.

black headed gull on post

The clouds were well down on the hills round the town…

cloud on Timpen

…but on the Castleholm, a cricket match was in full swing.

cricket in prgress

I didn’t stop to watch the game and turned to admire an ornamental horse chestnut tree instead.

red chestnut

I continued round the new path and enjoyed the new growth all around me, both looking up..

cones and wildflowers castleholm

…and down.

It was gloomy in the corner by the two noble fir trees and female and male fruits had an air of mystery about them.

noble firs castleholm

There were flowers beside the path including a lot of crosswort…

wild flowers castleholm

…and an unknown (to me) yellow flower and a superb hawthorn.

As I walked over the Jubilee Bridge and round the Scholars’ Field, the trees were full of interest…

tree fruits castleholm

…and there was lots to see at ground level too.

four wild flowers scholars

When I got home, I was amazed at how many pictures I had taken on such an unpromising day.  I have bunged a lot of them into the panels in spite of the poor quality of many of them just to show what I saw.

I was also rather annoyed to find that as time went on, there was no hint whatsoever of any of the forecast rain and much as I had enjoyed my walk, I could easily have gone for a decent cycle ride which would have done me more good.

Still, the lawns are cut, the compost buckets are full and I saw a lot of interesting things on my walk so I should regard it as a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life even it didn’t have a pedal in it.

The poor light made getting a good flying bird picture tricky so I have put in a gender balanced pair of sparrows today.

twi flying sparrows

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother.  He took while he was waiting for a few stragglers to catch up at the end of a recent group walk.  As they had been going for nine miles, I am not surprised that there was a bit of straggling.

heart group walk

It will be a bit of a rushed post as I was in Carlisle for a concert with out Carlisle choir and I got back quite late.

It was a generally sunny and pleasant day with the pleasure slightly moderated by a brisk and chilly wind again.

The was enough sun to persuade the tulips to open and to illuminate an advantageously priced bargain from a garden centre.

april garden flowers

While I was having coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone, Steve delivered two new vegetable garden bed frames.  Mrs Tootlepedal was not well today as she is suffering from a persistent cold so the beds have not been put in place yet.

new bed frames

Whereas it was early chaffinches yesterday, it was siskins first today…

sisins at home

…and the chaffinches didn’t get much of a look in.

siskins on feeder

When the siskins left, the chaffinches piled in.

chaffinches landing

A goldfinch found a quiet moment to think deeply about food.

goldfinch concentrating

And later on, some greenfinches turned up.

two greendfinches

And a single redpoll dropped in.

redpoll on tio of feeder

I sieved a bit of compost and  made some soup for lunch and then went for a short walk to stretch my legs.

I did a three bridges to keep on the flat today.

The lady’s smock on the banks of the river has come out.

lady's smock

The two sets of oyster catchers were in their usual positions.  They are creatures of habit.

There was a pair of goosanders there too but they slipped away as soon as they noticed me and I could only catch the female.

oystercatcher and goosander

Some non standard ducks were lying about.

two odd ducks

I went round the new path at the bottom of the Castleholm and saw spiky things, both new and old.

pine blossom

The noble fir at the corner was showing very bright new growth and some fresh fir cones.

noble fir cone

Signs of life on the deciduous trees were to be seen.

new growth

And the coming of spring and summer was heralded by the arrival of the posts and rails ready to be put up for the race track. (Flat racing obviously.)

flat racecourse

I walked up to the Duchess Bridge and down the path on the far bank of the river.  I was only able to do this because someone with a big saw had come along and sawed off a tree which had fallen across the path in the recent storm.

fallen tree

There were wild flowers to see on my way.

wildflowers early april

And a large bumble bee was enjoying the blossom on Mike’s cherry tree as I went past.

bee on cherry

I left Mrs Tootlepedal recuperating at home and went to Carlisle in the early evening for a benefit concert in a church for a local ‘hospice at home’ charity.  The full choir was singing three songs and the rest of the concert was made up of turns by groups of choir members and their friends and solos from our conductor and accompanist.  It was a mixed programme with a capella singing, a violinist playing the mediation from Thais (very beautifully), a ukulele group and other cheerful singing groups.  Our accompanist played a Bach fugue on the church organ and our conductor sang a Jerome Kern song which brought the house down.

The choir sang their songs well and all in all, it was a good evening with the size of the audience the only mild disappointment.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Footnote:  During the day, my doctor rang up to say that my recent x-ray showed that I do not have a stress fracture in my foot.  However, the x-ray did show that I had serious arthritis in my big toe joint and other arthritic joints elsewhere on the foot so it was no wonder that it has been a bit sore.  The fact that there is no bone damage is good though, as it means that I can go back to cycling (if the weather permits) without fear of making things worse.  Grinning and bearing it is the prescription, allied to the hope that the arthritis may go away as it often does (and using spongy insoles for my shoes).

Finger crossed.  I would cross my toes too but I can’t.  🙂

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mike and Alison’s New Zealand adventure.  Mike thought correctly that it might warm me up.  He tells me that it shows Mapua with Rabbit Island in the background.

mapua-rabbit-island

At the other end of the earth from Mapua, we had a suitably dark and grey occasion here as we approach the shortest day.

Sandy has been suffering from a cold too but he was improved enough to venture out for a cup of coffee this morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal had made some mince pies last night and these went down very well with the Monsoon Malabar.

I took a moment to look out of the window after coffee and was rewarded with a display of landing skills from the chaffinches.

Chaffinches landing

A robin arrived….

robin

And a chaffinch posed prettily for those who like a more restful bird shot.

chaffinch

Over lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be a volunteer at the Buccleuch Centre and I thought that a walk in the woods might be a good idea, especially as a friend had suggested a spot where I might find some bullfinches and/or redpolls.

I didn’t want to walk too far so I set out in the car to get to a convenient spot but I hadn’t gone far before a slightly stuttering engine and two warning lights suggested that a visit to the garage might be prudent.  As I was just outside the garage when the warning lights came on, this wasn’t too difficult to arrange and having the left the car in the care of the mechanics, I walked on regardless.

A walked up Hallpath, past an intriguing wall….

Hallpath wall

Why the same wall should be so different just a few yards apart is a mystery to me.

…along an undulating track…

Round house track

…until I came to the spot where the birds might lurk.  There were certainly a good number of small birds high in the trees but the light was so poor that I had no way of telling what they were.

I turned off the main track and struck up the hill towards open ground….

View of Meikleholm Hill

It’s a wonderful spot for electricity wires getting in your view.

…but even when I got clear of the trees, the view didn’t improve much.

Misty view of langholm

I was following a well worn path…

 

Whita

…and heading for the pylon on the right….

whita pylon

I thought it might look more impressive in black and white

I walked on past the pylon until I came to my favourite stile…

stile at Whita quarry

…and was very surprised to see a gorse bush in full flower on the other side of the wall.

gorse on Whita

From there, my route was across the face of the hill on the old quarry track.  I passed a sheep sensibly lying down with its back to the increasingly gusty wind.

sheep on Whita

After passing a lonely tree…

whita tree

…I dropped back into the town by way of the golf course and the Kirk Wynd.

Town Hall

The clock told me that I had been out for just under an hour which was quite enough as it was threatening to turn from mist into drizzle.

Beside the suspension bridge as I crossed the Esk, an old friend was standing on a rock….

heron

Facing him, a duck had found a rock of its own.

duck

When I got home, I had time to look at a robin trying all the feeders in turn….

robin

…before the light disappeared completely.

Although it takes a week before the days actually start getting longer again, it is good to know that tomorrow is the literal depth of winter and it will be uphill towards the sunlit uplands from then on.

I got a call from the garage saying that inexpensive repairs were required and these should be completed by tomorrow.   I may complain about computers in cars from time to time but it is undoubtedly a good thing to be able to hook up your car to a machine and have it tell you within moments exactly what is wrong.

I am still suffering mildly from my cold and so the rest of the day was spent in gentle activity indoors until we went off to a film in the Buccleuch Centre in the evening.

As the film was White Christmas, this turned out to be a cheerful way to round off a dull day.

The flower of the day is a tiny yellow flower which I found on the practise fairway at the golf club…

yellow flower december

…and the flying bird of the day is an expansive chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture’s subject was spotted in the window of what she called a ‘posh shop’ in Mayfair by my sister Susan.  It must be quite posh indeed if it is selling this.

Elephant

We woke to another day of undiluted blue sky.  There was an additional factor though.  This was the view of the green hill I walking on yesterday as seen from our garden today.

Castle Hill in snow

The snow wasn’t deep and had largely gone by the end of the day.  There was only the merest sprinkling of snow in the town itself but it was enough to provide some seriously slippery patches of ice for the unwary pedestrian.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I had to pick our steps carefully as she headed to the church…

Langholm Parish Church

…for a choir practice and I headed to the Archive Centre to read the meter.

With the meter read,   I picked my way carefully along to the Kilngreen in pursuit of oyster catchers.  There were none to be seen and I had to content myself with a passing duck or two…

ducks

…and a sedentary flock of gulls.

black headed gulls

You can see the light sprinkling of icy snow in the picture above and I spent some time wondering whether I should put on my Yaktrax and go for a walk.  I took a picture of the Kilngreen and the Meeting of the Waters while I pondered…

Meeting of the waters

…and another of a view of Whita across the Esk as I walked home, still pondering…

Whita

…and then I made myself a cup of coffee while I was still trying to make my mind up and in the end I had spent so much time swithering that the opportunity had slipped past and I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Database instead.  At least I was at no risk of slipping over indoors.

While I was tapping away, I received a call from Dropscone to say that the doctors wouldn’t let him out of hospital for a day or two yet as they weren’t happy that his lung was in good enough condition.  He was understandably fed up but at least it made me feel a bit better about not having risked a fall in the icy conditions.

I had a look out of the kitchen window from time to time but the feeder remained in deep shade and I had to look elsewhere to see birds.

chaffinch and sparrow

When the feeder finally came into the light, the birds were most uncooperative and flew everywhere except into the centre of my lens.

uncooperative birds

Some bird lovers in the town have seen no goldfinches in their gardens this winter at all so I am pleased that we have  small flock of regular visitors to brighten us up.  They were here again today.

goldfinches

As usual though our stock-in-trade are the chaffinches.

sparring chaffinches

After lunch, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and we had an enjoyable session.  We played two Telemann sonatas and two Mozart Divertimentos so we weren’t lacking in good quality stuff to play.  We did our best to do the material some justice.

When I got  home, I noticed a blackbird tucking into the coconut treat…

blackbird

..and then I had a cup of tea with Mike Tinker, shifted some compost from Bin C to Bin D and finally enjoyed a phone conversation with a customer services person from the Archive Centre power providers.

I have formally complained about the incomprehensible bills they keep sending in spite of having many meter readings and they keep asking for more meter readings.  They asked for some today.   I gave them some and pointed out that their bills are incomprehensible.  They sucked their teeth and said that they would get back to me.  I was remarkably calm.

The International Space Station was due to fly over Langholm at tea time so we went out to look.  It was a very good night for staring into the sky.  I saw the moon very clearly….

half moon

…but only caught a glimpse of the space station as I had got bored and drifted off before it came.

After tea,  my flute pupil Luke came and for the first time we played through all four movements of a Loeillet trio sonata which we have been practising for some time, accompanied by my computer at the harpsichord.  We had to stop and restart a couple of times but we got through and were very proud of ourselves.

Our short but very welcome spell of calm, cold and sunny weather looks to be coming to an end but it has been a real pleasure to have had a few days when we weren’t in danger of being either blown away or flooded.  People have been very cheerful as they walked round the town.

The flying bird of the day is a late afternoon chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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