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Posts Tagged ‘Easton’s Walk’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who like Dr Foster went to Gloucester but, unlike him,  found that the weather was fine.  She enjoyed a singing day in this lovely building.

gloucester

Our fine weather continued and with the breeze still coming from the south, we had an even warmer day than yesterday.  The watering seems to have encouraged the azaleas (though it may just have been another sunny day that did the trick) and there was a lot more colour about when I went out for a walk round the garden after breakfast.

azaleas coming out

Every flower had turned its face to the welcome sun.

poppy and peony

There were colourful corners about.

colourful corner

…and the clematis by the front door has finally plucked up the courage to open its buds and see what life is like outside.

front ddor clematis

Among the flowers, I found a siskin having a rest on the pond bridge.

siskin on pond bridge

I went in to make coffee in preparation for the arrival of Dropscone (with scones) and I got so excited when he came in that I knocked over the full coffee pot which was standing om the counter top, covering the counter top, my hand and the floor with a rich stream of coffee and grounds. I said a bad word and put my hand under a cold tap.

On the advice of Dropscone, I got old newspapers out and laid them over as much of the mess as I could before keeping Dropscone happy with a cup from yesterday’s coffee pot while I got everything as clean and dry.  Mrs Tootlepedal came in, took one look at the carnage and went out again.

Thanks to the good work of the much reviled mainstream media in soaking up the excess liquid, it didn’t take as long as I thought it might to get tidied up and I was soon able to sit and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a scone while Dropscone told me of his recent golfing triumphs.

After Dropscone left, I decided to test out some shoe advice I had received from our daughter Annie and go for a walk.  It proved to be good advice and I managed to walk a mile without too much trouble.

I went round Easton’s Walk and as I strolled through the park, I saw that a wood carver had been busy on a fallen tree.

carving in park

My main object was to see if the wild garlic was out and it didn’t take long to see and smell the pretty white flowers…

wild garlic may

…which lined my walk on all sides.

wild garlic panel

The were still some bluebells out so it was a walk to exercise the nose as well as the eye.

late bluebells

Although garlic and bluebells were by far the most numerous flowers to be seen, other plants were available…

wildflowers eastons walk

…and the first sighting of vigorous grasses…

grass seed

…were a hint of more pollen to come.

The hawthorns which are in a  position to catch the sun are coming out and it will not be long until there is blossom everywhere.

hawthorn stubholm

It was a glorious day to be out for a walk even with slightly sore feet…

stubholm track

…and my mellow mood was enhanced by azaleas and rhododendrons in the park.

azalea and rhododendron in park

We have so little rain lately that our rivers are reduced to a trickle and I could see a reflection of the suspension bridge in the Wauchope above the Kirk Bridge.

suspension bridge reflection

When I got back home, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a short course on how not to set the customers on fire at the Buccleuch Centre where she is a volunteer.

She had spent the morning slaving over her Embroiderers’ Guild branch accounts as she is the treasurer and had finished up with that most annoying of all accounting errors, a difference of £1 in the balances.  I trained as an accountant for a few years after leaving school so while she was out, I went over the books and pinned the error down to a slight mistreatment in the recording of the petty cash and when this was regularised, the books balanced and all was well.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and before I could even show her the books, she whisked me out of the house to record an emperor moth which she noticed sunning itself on the side of a building on Henry Street.  It was worth looking at…

emperor moth

…but annoyingly, it wouldn’t spread its wings for me, so we left it to bask and went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal got her accounts ready to print and then we went out into the garden and finished off netting the fruit cages.  It was still very warm but the sky had clouded over and it felt for a while as though we might get a thunderstorm.  Happily, the rain stayed away and we completed the task and went in for a cup of tea and a moment to watch the birds.

Two goldfinches were in hot competition for the same feeder…

goldfinch competing

…and when I looked, I saw that some bad bird had made off with the perch from the opposite side of the feeder which might account for the pushing and shoving.

I just had time to go for a nine mile bike ride on the slow bike before tea and when I started out, I was very pleased to see our friendly partridge trying to work out a reason for crossing the road in Henry Street  (you can see the loss of feathers on its neck)…

Partridge and oyster catcher

…and I came across an oyster catcher nesting in the middle of the bus park at the Rugby Club near the end of my ride.  It got up when I stopped and stamped off in a huff so I took a quick shot and pedalled off apologetically.

In the evening, I went to the last practice of Langholm Sings under the direction of Mary my singing teacher, who has been our conductor for the past few years.  I will miss her when she has gone and rather annoyingly, I will also miss her final concert with the choir as we will be on holiday next week.  We had a very good sing though.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch heading towards the missing perch.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was bowled over by this burst of colour as he walked through the Nottingham Arboretum today.

Nottingham Arboretum

I had a good day today.  The weather was kind when I needed it to be kind and it only rained when I was safely back indoors watching rugby.  Even the rugby was kind when after a rather nerve racking first half, Scotland ran away with the game against Fiji.

In addition, I seem to be completely recovered from the minor ailment in the middle of the week and my leg is steadily improving, though it has to be said that it is steadily but slowly improving.

Still, it was well enough for me to set my old fairly speedy bike up on a turbo trainer in the garage and have a couple of careful five minutes of pedalling to nowhere during the day.  Alert readers may recall that the fairly speedy bike has a crack in its frame and worry about my safety but with no potholes to go over and no log lorries to fall off in front of, I am confident that the frame can stand a little light stationary pedalling.  Time will tell though and if you hear a strangled cry, you will know that I was wrong.

I had had quite an energetic day yesterday so I took the morning quietly and spent time watching the birds.

After a bright chaffinch start….

sunlit chaffinch

…things turned gloomier for a while….

grumpy chaffinch

I was reminded of Mrs May greeting the approach of Boris Johnson.

…and I was treated to a spectacular last minute handbrake turn…

handbrake turn chaffinch

Then the chaffinches were superseded by a small flock of goldfinches who showed a regrettable lack of courtesy towards greenfinches…

goldfinch kicking goldfinch

…and towards other goldfinches.

goldfinch kicking greenfinch

I took yet another coal tit picture, partly because I like these little birds…

coal tit with seed

…and partly to record the fact that we seem to have two pairs of regulars in and around the garden at the moment.  I hope that they stay for the winter.

As the forecast was for rain later, I went for a walk in the early afternoon before having a late lunch.

I included a short hill in my walk for the first time since pulling my muscle and was pleased to get to the top without making things worse.  From there I had a gentle stroll along the Stubholm track.

I had chosen a good moment for a November walk…

Easton's Walk November

…and I got an early hint of Christmas from some cheerful holly berries beside the track.

holly

I could look down and see the Community Centre where Mrs Tootlepedal would spend the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and beyond it, the suspension bridge, the Langholm bridge and the Sawmill Bridge over the far two of which I had taken my flat walk on Friday.

three bridges

For the most part, leaves are now on the ground rather than on the trees…

Upper road

…though as I looked across the Murtholm fields towards the Round House, a few patches of colour were stubbornly hanging on.

 

roundhouse from Murtholm end

There has been enough rain lately to get the little streams flowing freely off the hill and into the Esk.

little stream

I walked back home across the Beechy Plains beside the river…

Beechy Plains (2)

…were every other tree seemed to have a mysterious message for me written in script lichen.

script lichen

Other lichens were available.  This one was on the cut end of a felled tree trunk  above the path.

lichen by riverside

I was happy to see that keen volunteers have been renewing the route signs on the Langholm Walks posts.  This one is in the park.

Langholm Walks post

It makes the walks look more inviting when the waymarkers are bright and new.

I got back to the house just in time to wave Mrs Tootlepedal goodbye as she went off to embroider.

There are still a few select blooms about in the garden.

garden flowers november

But very few.

Once home, I had scrambled eggs on toast for my lunch and settled down to watch the rugby.  It is a  tribute to the capacity of the Scotland rugby XV to make terrible mistakes that even with a lead of thirty points and only a few minutes to go, I was still feeling slightly nervous that something bad would happen.

It didn’t though and Mrs Tootlepedal came home so all was well with the world (as long as I didn’t watch the news).

I rounded off the day by cooking myself an evening meal of pan fried lamb’s kidneys in a spicy red wine sauce on a bed of rice.  Happy days indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

As a footnote I add the information that Mrs Tootlepedal is worried about the dam that runs behind our house.  There has been a report that there are plans afoot to fill it in.  When it looks as gentle and inviting as it did when I went on my walk today…

dam under threat

…you can see why she would like to stay as it is.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of Dropscone’s walks with his new camera.  He saw this vision of sunshine through a hole in the wall about ten days ago.

New roads door

There was no vision of sunshine here today as yet another morning of wind and drizzle kept our spirits low.

Luckily we had the writing, stamping and posting of Christmas cards to take our mind off the weather and I walked up to the post office to send them away after lunch.

As it had stopped raining, I kept walking.  I went along the riverside path which has the hole into which I fell in August and I was very careful to keep  my eyes down until I had passed it.

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like this path because she feels that she is liable to be swept away by a small landslide as the bank is both steep and soggy.  The powers that be share her concerns and have been planting lots of shrubs and trees to try to stabilise things.  It is early days still….

easton's walk

…but already a small landslip through the middle of the new planting….

eastons walk

…doesn’t bode well for the future of the scheme.  We shall see.

I kept my camera in my pocket until I was near the end of my walk when first a fine mossy wall….

mossy wall

…and then a bold horsewoman fording the Wauchope caught my eye.

fording the wauchope

She kindly posed her horse so that I could get a good shot.  When I said that the shot was spoiled by a branch hiding her face, she laughed and said that only the horse mattered and plunged on through the foaming waters.

fording the wauchope

 She told me that the recent flood had helped the crossing by filling up some gaps with fresh gravel.

The early evening was filled with activity as the annual general meeting of the Archive Group took place.  The high spot of the meeting was the decision to have our annual dinner in an entirely new venue.  We were giddy with the excitement of it all. Otherwise, the meeting passed without any points of order or demands for resignations and we will potter on for another year much as before.

After tea, Sandy and I went up to the Archive Centre to continue the pottering process and put two weeks of the newspaper index into the database.

It really wasn’t a day for taking flying bird pictures and for once, I didn’t even try.

goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows Lincoln Cathedral, seen from the Castle walls.  It was taken by my sister Mary on a recent visit.

Lincoln cathedral, from the Castle wallsWe woke to heavy rain and strong winds but as Mrs Tootlepedal and my sister Susan went off to church and I spent the time inside sorting out the framing of my pictures for the exhibition, we didn’t much mind the weather.  The forecast correctly predicted that the skies would clear by eleven and it soon turned into a reasonable if breezy day.

During this period, I dialled the number for the customer services for my phone supplier with some trepidation, a good book and an easy chair to hand and was stunned to get the whole problem sorted out in a few minutes.  Perhaps firms have finally learned that annoying their customers is not good business.  I even got £10 taken of my next bill.

As well as my sister, we were visited by my older son Tony and his partner Marianne,  who stopped off on their way back to Edinburgh from a weekend in the Lake District.  The hotel that they stayed in allows guests to bring one dog and they had taken one of their three dogs with  them.  Tara was very excited when she came into the house but calmed down when I promised to take her photograph.

She sat well for the portrait.

TaraTony is always looking to be helpful.  Last time he visited, he plastered a wall and today he got a ladder out and cleared a leaking and blocked gutter along the back of the house for us in no time.  What with getting computer advice from one and home improvement from the other, we are very well off for useful sons

They didn’t stay for lunch as Tony had work to see to when they got back home.

With all this excitement, I didn’t pick up a camera until the early afternoon and didn’t even have time for a leisurely garden tour.  I took one picture of the new peony, which had survived the overnight rain well…..

 peony….and had a couple of quick looks out of the kitchen window….

busy feeder

The feeder was busy as ever….

sparrows

…mostly with sparrows

…before I went off to the church fête with Susan and Mrs Tootlepedal.

There was plenty of music at the fête, as both the town’s brass band….Langholm Town Band…and the pipe band….

Langholm pipe band….were playing, though not at the same time.

As you can see, the fête was blessed with fine weather and after having spent a little money, I left Mrs Tootlepedal and Susan to walk home and took myself off along the path by the river with Pocketcam in hand.

This path has been subject to a number of small landslides over the past few years and I was interested to see a lot of new planting….

new planting…on the unstable bank above the path.  I peered into some of the tubes to see what plants they held but was none the wiser.  I imagine it will be shrubs with good root systems to help hold the bank together.

I was still looking at the right hand side of the path, where there were interesting little plants like this….

Easton's walk..and this….

Easton's walk…when to my great surprise I found myself sitting at path level with one leg doubled up beneath me.  I was mystified for a moment as to how this unexpected state of affairs had come about and, more importantly, where my other leg was but all became plain when I noticed that my un-doubled up leg was sticking straight down into a large hole on the left hand side of the path which I had failed to notice.

Two things were good about this.  One was that my new knee was on the straight leg and the hole was so deep that my foot was hanging in fresh air and my knee had not got banged at all.  The other was that my doubled up  leg had gone straight down and not twisted  and rather to my surprise, I was able to get up and walk rather gingerly onwards.

I learned in my hill running days that if you can keep going after a fall, you can often walk off minor sprains and strains so I continued round Easton’s Walk, trying not to limp.

I paid a little more attention to the path than to the wild flowers beside it on this part of my walk but I didn’t meet any more large holes.  I did see some pretty roses in the hedge.

hedge rosehedge roseI was wondering whether it would be a good idea to extend my walk to aid recovery when a look across a field made up my mind for me….

Stubholm …and I headed for home.

I took a picture of a plant growing out of the park wall as I went past.  It has an unusually high stem to flower ratio.  The flowers are so few and so small that you can hardly see them at all.

wall flowerAlong the way,  I noticed that my thumb was a bit sore and when I checked Pocketcam, I found that the viewing screen had been cracked and realised that I must have hit the ground with the camera in my hand when I fell.  The crack doesn’t seem to have affected the camera’s working parts and I am keeping my fingers crossed (with some light groaning) that the accident won’t have any long term bad effects on Pocketcam…..or my thumb.

A sore ankle, thumb and hip are lingering mementoes of my lack of concentration and we will have to see what tomorrow brings in the way of aches and pains but I am walking about quite freely and was able to make omelettes for our tea without any trouble so I am hoping for the best.

An excursion to Hadrian’s Wall with Susan  is planned for tomorrow and I will try not to fall over while we are there.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture shows the world’s greatest small person in reflective mood at a party.

MatildaAfter breakfast, I waved good bye to Mrs Tootlepedal as she set off to Dumfries with three colleagues from the Ewes WRI group to take part in a competition for 15 minutes of prose and poetry readings on the theme of childhood.  This competition covered groups from the whole of the South of Scotland and was a new venture for the Ewes group who were asked to enter to represent their larger local area.

I got a text from her in the afternoon to say that the group had won the handsome trophy, surprising no one more than themselves.  However, having heard all the other entries, Mrs Tootlepedal did feel that there had been no luck about the outcome and the four ladies were quietly pleased that their hard work had borne fruit.

In her absence, I spent a second very peaceful day, lazing about the house and only going for a short walk after lunch.

I had all the time in the world to admire the blossom on the plum tree.

plum tree with chaffinchI set up the camera on a tripod at the kitchen window and sat at the table with the wireless remote to hand doing the crossword and snapping birds simultaneously.

wet feederThe rainy morning helped me to avoid any strenuous activity.  The rain stopped from time to time and the light was reasonable.

chaffinchThe rain had brought a few siskins to the feeder and they were as rude as ever….

siskinsiskin and chaffinch…though not always successfully.

The weather took a turn for the better after lunch and when the sun threatened to come out, I went for a stroll round Easton’s Walk.  We have some way to go before everything is green….

Stubholm track…but I was delighted to see a bluebell (completewith insect visitor) in the woods beside the track…

bluebell…the first of a multitude to come I hope.

By the time that I got back to the park, the sky was blue and the poplars beside the river looked very fine, both when I was looking up to them….

poplars…and when I was walking along under them.

poplarsWhen I got home, there was time for a garden inspection.  Mrs Tootlepedal is aiming for a stream of hyacinths flowing through the flowerbeds round the front lawn.  The plan is developing well.

stream of hyacinthsI inspected the potential fruit crop and was happy to see gooseberry, apple and blackcurrant all looking promising.

fruitThe sound of bees was reassuring.

I chopped a few more logs for our wood pile and then mowed the grass round the greenhouse and on the drying green.

I had one last look at the plum blossom….

plum blossom…and a blackbird….

blackbird…before it was time to welcome Mrs Tootlepedal home, have a cup of tea and set out for a visit to Cockermouth in Cumbria.

We were going to see a performance by an amateur group.of a version of the Beggars’ Opera, with music adapted from the version written by Benjamin Britten.  The reason for our interest in this show was the presence of  no less than three of my fellow tenors from our Carlisle choir among the cast.

The drive down in the evening sunshine was glorious with the Lake District hills looking at their best so the forty miles passed very pleasantly.  We brought a sandwich to sustain us, admired the blue clock faces on the handsome church beside the car park…

cockermouth church…and went into the small theatre for the show.

The small size of the stage was a definite handicap to the production which lacked a bit of pace as a result but my three choir colleagues all did their bits with enthusiasm.  I can’t say that I think that Britten’s approach to the songs suits the show and the musical director’s rather careful tempos didn’t help.  The end result was a certain lack of out and out gaeity in the satire which is probably needed to contrast with the more sentimental moments.  The cast worked really hard though and the audience appreciated their efforts wholeheartedly.

The drive home in the dark was accomplished safely and unsurprisingly, Mrs Tootlepedal was quite tired when we got back.

The flying bird of the day is a down to earth chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows Dunstanburgh Castle on the north-east coast of England.  Gavin walked past it in the sunshine while on the Craster coastal walk yesterday.

Dunstanburgh CastleThe authorities have decided that a single day of crisp sunshine was all that we deserved and we were back to the warm, wet and grey weather again today.  This at least let me get another two weeks of the newspaper index into the database during the day as well as finding time for a little flute and singing practice.

I did peer through the murky gloom to see if I could see any birds outside the kitchen window.

goldfinches

I could just see these goldfinches which arrived at noon.

goldfinch and greenfinch

A goldfinch and greenfinch try some formation landing

Later in the afternoon there was almost a glimpse of sunshine and I got quite excited…..

sparrow and goldfinch…but it soon faded away.

There is still colour in the garden and it is remarkable to find a sweet pea in flower at the end of October.

sweet peaThe clematis are hanging in but looking increasingly battered.

clematisIn the end, I got overcome by cabin fever and ignoring a light drizzle, I went for a walk through the park, along the Esk  and back along the top of the bank.

There are some leaves left on the trees in the park….

park tree…but a lot are now lying on the ground.

park leavesI concentrated on objects close to the path…..

tree roots

The exposed roots are the reason that Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t joined me on the walk. She rightly thinks that this path is dangerous.

…because there were no views to be had today.

low cloud

There was not a hill to be seen

My walk under the trees….

Beechy Plains….was well sheltered from the drizzle and it was pleasantly warm as I walked along.  There are still a lot of leaves on the trees in places in spite of the recent strong winds.

Eastons Walk treeThe track along the top of the bank is one of my favourites at any time of year and I thought it looked very inviting today…

Stubholm track….but the increasing amount of rain persuaded me not to extend the walk along Gaskell’s and I dropped back down into the park.  The lichen on the park wall is growing all the time.

pixie cup lichen

It’s a jungle out there.  I wished that the light had been a bit better and that I had my macro lens with me.

lichen

This single stone in the wall was an art exhibition in itself

fern

The fern leaves are getting fruitier too.

The day didn’t get any brighter and I was soon back indoors.  In the evening, Sandy came to pick me up to go to the Archive Centre.  He has just had a short holiday in Oban and was unlucky that it coincided with some of the heaviest rain of the year there.  He was lucky however in that he did manage to avoid the worst of the landslips on the road home and arrive back safely.  You can see that the bad weather didn’t stop him from taking some nice pictures if you visit his account of the holiday here.

Our visit to the Archive Centre was a bit of a  complete waste of time as the internet connection stubbornly refused to work so we gave up and retired for a consolation glass of wine in the Eskdale before returning home for an early night.

The quality of the flying bird of the day shot is once again at the mercy of the grey clouds.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz, who lives just across the road but who has sent me this photograph of a geyser in the Maori Village at Whakarewarewe,New Zealand, from the other side of the world (where she is on holiday).

geyser NZ

We had a bit of a shock when we woke up to find a second consecutive sunny day in place.  Although there was an early frost to go with the sun shine, Dropscone and I only had to put back our morning run for an hour before we could enjoy our time in the sun.  The wind was not a severe as the last time that we had gone out together and we had a more evenly paced run to Waterbeck and back but took about the same time.

After coffee, I took a walk round the garden and found an new flower in bloom.

anenome

An anemone crouching under a daffodil.

And I couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of the many established scillas which don’t seem to mind the wind and the rain too much.

scilla

After a church choir practice,  Mrs Tootlepedal made herself busy collecting manure and then doing good work in the garden for most of the rest of the day.  I checked on the frogs….

tadpoles

There were hundreds of potential frogs in the pond.

…looked at the chaffinches…

chaffinch

Resting peacefully in the sunshine.

chaffinch

Hovering for the photographer

chaffinch

Coming into land

…before going off to play some trios with Mike and Isabel after lunch.  We played a very nice sonata called Il Pastor Fido which claims to be by Vivaldi on the frontispiece but when I looked it up on the internet, it turns out to be by Nicholas Chedéville who got it published under Vivaldi’s name.  It is still quite delightful.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was having a restorative snooze between the gardening and her evening opera society performance so I went off for a little walk in the sun.

I started by admiring the wall along the Wauchope beside the park.  It is moss heaven.

park wall

Then my way took me past little glens….

Eastons Walk

…up little hills…

Path to Stubholm

…along broad tracks….

Stubholm

..over new bridges…

Gaskells walk

…past lichens at the Auld Stane Brig…

Lichen

On a fence post

lichens

On the bridge itself

…along the road with celandines in the verge….

Pretty enough on the roadside but a pest in the garden.

Pretty enough on the roadside but a pest in the garden.

…past more mossy walls…

moss on wall

…on which a nuthatch might be found….

nuthatch

…and finally past some ivy on a tree by the old manse which was catching the sunlight in what I thought was a very attractive fashion.

ivy

I got home in time for an enjoyable lesson with my flute pupil Luke who is going to take his grade examination in a couple of weeks.

Then while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to wow the audience at the Buccleuch Centre, I drove Sandy over to Newcastleton for the final Liddesdale Camera Club meeting of the year.  This was the occasion when all the top three images and prints from previous competitions during the winter season are put up for judging for print and image of the year.  Aspiring photographers are often advised to pay attention to ‘The Rule of Thirds’ and I paid a lot of attention to it tonight as I came third in the prints, third in the digital images and third in the season long points competitions in both prints and images.

Must try harder, as it used to say on my reports from school.

Still, as a consolation, the judge said that the photograph which he and his wife had enjoyed most, even though it wasn’t the most technically refined of the entries, was this one.

birthday fun

Birthday fun

It is Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite too.

Thanks to the sunshine, I was able to catch a fine flying chaffinch today.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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