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Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, who is on a choir visit to the Netherlands.  In between singing , they were taken to see a parachute drop, part of the 75th anniversary Operation Market Garden commemorations in this area of The Netherlands.

parachutes

Our dry weather continued  today but it was rather misty when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland Feeders after breakfast.

laverock hide road mist

I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is on holiday in Bulgaria and quite apart from the gloomy weather, there were hardly any birds about so we didn’t hang around after I had topped up the birdseed.

Instead, we drove back through the town and up the hill onto the Langholm moor to see if there were any swirling misty pictures to be taken.  There weren’t.

The clouds were just sitting on the tops of the hills, spoiling the view.

ewes valley misty hilltops

Even the tops of the turbines were hidden.

wind turbines in low cloud

We pottered back down the hill, putting the charge back into our car’s battery as we went and got home in time for coffee.

In the dam behind the house, birds were drinking and bathing.

starling and greenfinch

After coffee, I had a walk round the garden.

A grey headed blackbird was supervising affairs.

grey headed blackbird

Clematis, mallow and cosmos are still providing us with some rich colour…

three deep red flowers

…and red admiral butterflies could be seen on many different flowers.

three red admiral butterflies

We haven’t had any really cold mornings yet so there are still roses doing their best.

princess margareta rose

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with how healthy the whole of this new rose plant is looking.

new rose

She puts it down to good soil preparation and wishes that she had the time and energy to treat the whole garden so well.

She moved some nerines and was worried that they might not survive in their new location but they have not just survived, they are flourishing.

good nerine

As is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.  It has had  a couple of very poor years but after an inauspicious start to the summer, it has produced a lot of late flowers and is looking better than it has done for some time.

back wall fuchsia

Not bad for a very old plant that has been largely left to its own devices over the years.

back wall fuchsia blossom

Once again, the garden was full of butterflies in spite of the cloudy conditions.

A peacock stuck out its tongue for me.

peacock butterfly panel

And there were at least three small tortoiseshells about in varying conditions.

small tortoiseshell butterfly panel

Our visit to the garden was cut short by the need to go up to the town. Mrs Tootlepedal’s trip was to visit the bank which comes in a van for 45 minutes each week, and mine was to visit the health centre for a routine vitamin top up.

After lunch we went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents, and we were very shocked to find that our train was on time.

We  bought a new card game on our way to their house, and it turned out that Matilda has learned a new game herself as well.  She beat me at both of them.  I must remember never to play Matilda at cards for money when she grows up.

There was a stunning evening sky as we caught the bus back to the station after another delicious meal cooked by Alistair, but it was beyond the capacity of my phone camera to do it justice.  Instead I took a picture of the impressive array of cranes which are massed at the end of Princes Street for the rebuilding of the St James Centre.

burst

Our train home was also on time but the drive back to Langholm from Lockerbie was slowed by some foggy patches along the way.  This is not unexpected at this time of year but it was very unwelcome all the same.

Still, we got home safely.

The flying bird of the day, a fluffy young sparrow, is lying flat out on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.  Flying is a tiring business.

plump young sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sharon’s trip to Orkney.  Her shot shows the famous Skara Brae site.

Skara Brae

It is a brief post with few photographs today as the morning was perfectly miserable with nothing but a few soggy dahlias to look at from the shelter of the front door…

wet dahlias

…and buckets of that thin but penetrating rain drifting across the garden.

rain

I put up my brolly and walked up to the town to see the physiotherapist.  I have been fairly religiously doing the back exercises that she gave me last month and they have been very beneficial.  She gave me some more sound advice on what to do and what not to do and I will see her again next month, by which time I hope that some better weather will have given me some walking opportunities.

It was still miserably wet as we drove across to Lockerbie in the afternoon to catch the train to Edinburgh.  However, as the train was only two minutes late leaving and bang on time in arriving, and the rain had stopped by the time that we had got to Edinburgh, we arrived at Matilda’s in very good order.

On our way down, we passed this magnificent display of hanging baskets on  the front of the Theatre Royal Bar.

Edinburgh hanging baskets

I have to admit that I actually took this picture when we passed it last week in the sunshine rather on the grey day today.

Matilda was in a very sunny mood when we arrived and we enjoyed spelling out words and playing cards with her before having another excellent pasta alla Norma from Alistair for our tea after which we Matilda treated us to a very enjoyable display of improvised ballet. So we had a good time.

The weather had cleared up by the time that we went to catch the bus back to the station and I could almost have said that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, except that there was one.

single cloud

The train back was punctual and our drive home was illuminated by a lovely moon at which I had a close look when I got home.

No flying bird of the day today because of the rain but a high flying celestial object does quite well instead.

nearly full moon

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Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.

oznor

A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.

 

Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight

 

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After my brother Andrew’s artistic nut weevil yesterday, today’s guest picture from Venetia’s African adventure shows the real thing, dung beetles on elephant droppings.  You can hardly get more down to earth than that.

dung beetles

We had a busy day.  We just had time for a cup of coffee and a quick wave at the birds on our feeder…

four bords at feeder

…before setting off to drive the 40 miles to Tweedbank to catch the train to Edinburgh with my sister Susan.  It is her 85th birthday tomorrow and she was anxious to celebrate this auspicious occasion a day early by meeting our two sons and their partners and especially Matilda whom she has never met.

We managed to combine this with some cultural activity and as soon as we had got off the train, we visited the City Art Centre which is conveniently right next to the station.  Here we had some nourishing soup and sourdough bread in the cafe and then went to explore an exhibition of Edinburgh street photography of the 1950s and 1960s by Robert Blomfield, a medical student and later a doctor in the city.

We had been advised to see this exhibition by Sandy and his advice was very sound.  It turned out to be wonderful.   You can get a taste of what we saw here, though the website’s images don’t convey the full power of the prints that we saw.

After we had visited the exhibition, we were joined at the art gallery’s cafe by our son Tony and his partner Marianne who came from their work to see us. We had an hour of good conversation, tea and a fancy cake with them. I congratulated Tony on the many excellent photographs which he has taken while walking his dogs and whihc I have used as guest pictures of the day.  When it was time for them to go home (to walk their dogs), we walked along the road a few hundred yards, crossing over the railway station and heading for the National Gallery under which the trains disappear.

nat gallery from waverley

On our way along Princes Street, I was struck by these hard working little fellows holding the world on their shoulders.

princes street

The Scottish National Gallery is not particularly large but it holds a delightful selection of works and I recorded some of my favourites on my phone as we went along.

burst

dav

dav

This still life was painted in oils on copper and it gave it a tremendously vivid quality.

dav

Some of us needed a moment to recover from the sensory overload.

susan napping 85th

We left the gallery and walked past the Scottish Academy….

scottish academy

…back down to Princes Street where we caught a bus which took us down Leith Walk where we met Matilda, who had kindly brought our son Alistair and his wife Clare to have a meal with us at an Italian restaurant.

Once again, we enjoyed good conversation while we ate.  The restaurant is very well adjusted to coping with children and gives them a sheet of puzzles and some crayons to pass the time while their elders chatter on.  Here we can see Matilda explaining the finer points of one of the puzzles to her mother.

mde

After we finished the meal and before we parted company, Matilda showed us her latest dance routine in the street while her father moved along beside her, playing the music from his phone.

mde

She is going to her first dancing competition next month and has learned her routine very well already.

As she danced off to go to bed, we caught a bus back to the railway station, jumped on the train back to Tweedbank with a minute to spare and enjoyed a trouble free journey home to round off a most satisfactory day where everything ran like clockwork for once.

We have to thank my sister Susan for suggesting such a good way to spend a day.

Today’s flying bird is having a quiet moment of peace as it wonders if there is a screw loose somewhere.

siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Ada’s trip to Tenerife.  She saw lots of this attractive tree heather while she was there.

Tenerife tree heather

It was another day when we couldn’t see much here as once again it was very grey and drizzly.  It has been reasonably warm though and there are flowers just waiting for a sunny day to spring into action.

soggy flowers

As I was walking round the garden in search of flowers, I heard a familiar purring sound and when I looked towards the pond, I saw that the frog clock was working well and they had returned on schedule.

frog in pond from behind

They are amazingly punctual.  I checked on past years and found that they seem to arrive within a two or three day window each year.  Day length rather than warmth or rain must be the determining factor.

They had got to work pretty smartly.

frogspawn

It wasn’t very attractive standing around getting rained on so I went back in and watched the birds.  My timing was off and I caught this chaffinch half a second too late.

landing chaffinch

It was a lot drier looking at the hellebore through the kitchen window.

hellebores from kitchen

This shot summed the morning up.

drips

It got a little drier and I nipped out to have another look for frogs.  There were half a dozen visible in the pond but this was the only one who hung around for a portrait shot.

frog in pond

After lunch, we set off to catch the train to Edinburgh and as we travelled, the weather improved until by the time that we got to Edinburgh, the sun was out, the wind had dropped and it was a very pleasant day.  The neat and regular houses in the New Town were looking handsome…

dig

…and the view across the Forth from the top deck of the bus as we went down the hill from Queen Street was worth the journey on its own.

dig

When we were walking from the station to catch the bus, we passed a splendid show of crocuses in Princes Street Gardens…

dig

…although a tourist was clashing with the muted colours of the flowers.

We arrived at Matilda’s house just as she got back from nursery and for the next three hours we had fun.  First Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda did their now famous dishwashering dancing as they filled the dishwasher and set it off and then Matilda and I played throwing and catching, setting Grandpa’s feet on fire (“It’s only pretend Grandpa, it won’t hurt.”) and then Matilda enjoyed being trapped and released by both Granny and Grandpa in turn. Matilda is growing up fast and gave me a sound thrashing at a bout of arm wrestling.  This was all very energetic so it was lucky that once again Al and Clare provided us with a splendid meal to restore our strength before we caught the bus back to the station.

Very unusually, our trains, both up and down, were bang on time.   Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch seen from an upstairs window for a change.

flying chaffinch from above

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Today’s just picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother, Mike.  He planted some daffodils to brighten the road verge opposite his house and is pleased that his work has born fruit.  Being 300 miles south of Langholm, his daffodils are already out.

Mike daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle after an early breakfast to help sort out the music library for  our Carlisle choir.  This is a big job with 130 copies of every piece of music we sing needing to be sorted and stored.

While she was gone I looked out into the garden on another grey day.

The feeder was busy…

busy feeder

…and on the mossy lawn, a pigeon was putting its best foot forward.

pigeon on lawn

I had put out some fat balls and they had attracted jackdaws.

jackdaws on feeder

There was no shortage of flying birds to be seen even if there was a bit of a shortage of light to see them by.

flying chaffinches and goldfinches

Sandy came round for coffee.  He was in an exceptionally good mood because he had just enjoyed a thoroughly good night’s sleep, a thing so rare as to be be priced above pearls.

While we sipped and chatted, we were joined by some greenfinches…

flying greenfinches

…and a very unusually marked jackdaw.  I have never seen one like this before.

speckled jackdaw

After coffee, we went up to visit the Moorland project feeders in the glade at the Laverock hide as it was Sandy’s day to act as feeder filler.  After filling the feeders, we lurked in the hide for a while.  There were plenty of birds about, mostly chaffinches but with a good number of great and blue tits too.

blue and great tits Laverock

As with my garden, there were no winter visitors to be seen at all.  This is a bit worrying as there seems to be no reason not see our usual migrants.  I hope it is a one off and  not a sign of things to come.

We didn’t stay too long and when Sandy stopped at the Co-op on our way back to buy a local paper (full of articles by Dropscone this week), I took the opportunity to get out too and walk home along the river in the hope of seeing something interesting.

The hope was amply fulfilled as I saw a goosander…

goosander

…two oyster catchers…

two oyster catchers

…three dippers…

dippers in esk

…and a single white duck.

white duck

It was still pretty grey and most of the birds were a bit too far away from the bank for good pictures but it was encouraging to see them.  I snapped the church too while I was passing…

church on a grey day

…and a bit of typical Langholm street life.  Dog walking is a popular activity in our town.

alan and dogs

When I got home, I made some soup and then dashed out into the garden when the sun came out.

sunny crocuses

I didn’t have time to enjoy the sunshine and go for a walk or a pedal though as I had to go off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was a day of sophisticated travel arrangements as Matilda and her family were flying back from a family party in Dublin over lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal planned to catch the train from Carlisle that I was aiming to catch 20 minutes later in Lockerbie.  It is on days like this that the mobile phone really comes into is own and the flight and train journey went smoothly as planned and we all met in Edinburgh on schedule.

Matilda then took Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a walk in the woods.  We scaled the heights…

sdr

…passed all sorts of interesting plants like this St John’s Wort…

dav

…and came out at the top of a small hill from which we could see Edinburgh Castle in the distance  over the roofs.

dig

The rest of the afternoon was spent in catching up on news of the trip to Ireland, being coached by Matilda in the proper use of the alphabet, watching clips from Matilda’s dancing school’s annual show on DVD and eating another tasty meal.

We got safely back to Lockerbie on the train and drove home as the temperature dropped back to freezing again.

It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow after a chilly start.  I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is one of the oyster catchers making off down river.

flying oyster catcher

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from the seasonal treats offered in Nottingham.  My brother didn’t just have the chance of curry, he could have had Belgian waffles too.

nottingham fun

It was my birthday today but since when you get to a certain age, just arriving at another birthday is a treat and a privilege, we didn’t make a lot of fuss about it and just enjoyed the day as it went along.

It was a colder and greyer day than ever today, with a touch of frost on the lawns when we woke up.  Under the circumstances, a brisk half hour on the bike to nowhere in the garage was the best way to start the day.

The morning was brightened up by the unexpected arrival of the Scott, our former minister, for coffee.  His coffee radar has obviously not been blunted by his weeks in his new parish in Glasgow.  We had a very interesting talk about the challenges his parishioners face  in one of the poorest parts of the city and we wish him well as he plays his part in trying to help people meet these challenges.

When he left, I spent a little wasted time peering out of the window to see if there was enough light to photograph a  bird or two.  There wasn’t really enough but I clicked away regardless.

There were birds to watch if I looked hard.

busy feeder again

And it was good to see a sparrow among the goldfinches.  The chaffinches always seem to be last at the feast when the feeder is busy.

busy feeder

A male blackbird was hard to pick out in the gloom…

male blackbird

…but a female stood out better.

female blackbird

After lunch, we went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  She welcomed me with a hug and a handsome handwritten birthday card and showed off a whirling light on a stick which was most impressive.

dav

Matilda treated us to a wonderful dance show to music by Tchaikovsky and Ravel and after tea, we played a family game of hide and seek.  Mrs Tootlepedal was the most successful hider.

The evening meal was worthy of anyone’s birthday.  A dish of crispy onion and mushroom dal with a coriander and ginger chutney, cooked by Alistair, followed by an orange and lemon chiffon pie, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and brought up on the train with us, provided a meal fit for a king.

On our way back to the station we passed rather bigger set of twirling lights on a stick, part of the Edinburgh Christmas fun.

edinburgh funfair

I was surprised to be able to catch a flying bird of the day at all today and even more surprised that it turned out to be a blue tit and not a chaffinch.

flying blue tit

I should add that Sandy has posted pictures of some of the people that he met on his recent Thai holiday.  You can see them here.

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