Posts Tagged ‘embroidery’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He knows that I enjoy his photographs of teapots so he sent me this teapot cascade from Derby. (He was going for a cup of coffee when he passed it.)

derby teapots

It was another very grey and gloomy morning today, with occasional drizzle to make things even gloomier.

I took the weather as an excuse to have a lie in and a very leisurely breakfast.  In fact it was so leisurely that I had to get dressed in a hurry when Sandy checked to see if coffee was available.

After coffee, Sandy went off with a plum or two for company and I retired back indoors to put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Sandy, who had woken early, told me that he had put a week in well before breakfast so between us, we should be catching up on the data miners.

It was too damp and gloomy for a walk, a pedal, photography or any gardening so I did the crossword and then made tomato and courgette soup for lunch, following a recipe that Sandy had suggested.  It was very tasty.

The weather was improving little by little as the day went on and after had I done some business in the town and helped Mrs Tootlepedal with the insertion of some press stud fasteners into fabric, I thought that the day was nice enough to warrant a cycle ride.

It was quite late by now so I settled for a quick dash round my Canonbie circuit and thanks to a helpful wind, it was quite quick and I only  stopped twice for to take a picture.

In previous years, people have suggested that this tree at Hagg-on Esk resembles an excited poodle.

poodle tree

Sometimes I see it and sometimes I don’t.  It may be a jockey on a horse rearing out of the starting gate…or it may just be a tree.

By the time that I got back to Langholm, the shadows were lengthening but it was turning out to be a lovely evening…

Langholm Distillery late august

…and I was able to take the camera out into the garden when I got home.

It hadn’t taken much sunshine to bring the butterflies out.  For every coloured butterfly this summer, there have been five white ones…

white butterfly

…and there was only one peacock out today.

peacock butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted a lot of fancy cosmos this year and they have enjoyed the weather a lot.

fancy cosmos

On top of the compost bins, the snowberry peeped out at the evening sunshine.


I should have picked the sweet peas and taken them inside to encourage more to grow but I shot them in situ today.

sweet pea 2sweet pea 3

Mrs Tootlepedal has surrounded the plum tree with white hostas.

white hostas

And her 50p geranium is proving excellent value for money.

cheap geranium

The dahlia of the day had a bee visiting of course.

fancy dahlia

The poppies have not enjoyed the weather at all but a few keep battling on.

pale poppy

And after seeing the dicentra seed pods recently, I was surprised to notice this bunch of  fresh looking flowers and even more surprised to see that one of them had attracted a bee.

white dicentra with bee august

Elsewhere, a bee and a dahlia had become almost indistinguishable.

red dahlia with bee 2

Mrs Tootlepedal has greatly reduced the amount of sedum in the garden from previous years but we still have some and it is just beginning to show some colour.

sedum buds

During the day, Ross, the joiner, had been hard at work putting new doors into our garage.  After forty years of struggling with an intractable folding door system which opened inwards, we decided that it was time for a change and Ross has put in two hinged doors that open outward….

new garage doors

…immediately creating a lot more space inside.   In an exciting development, I hope to have a picture of the doors standing open in tomorrow’s post.  And before anyone asks, we don’t use the garage for our car.  It is the home of bicycles and lawn mowers….and quite a lot of ‘stuff’ besides.

While I was out, Mrs Tootlepedal had completed her press stud work and the resulting black out blind was in place upstairs, press studded onto a Velux window.

blackout blind

She likes to have a project and she always has some spare material about.

Mrs Tootlepedal then made a really tasty one pot sausage and tomato penne dish for our tea so a day which had started out looking most unpromising, turned out very well in the end.

I even found a pigeon in retreat as an elegant  flying bird of the day.

flying pigeon



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Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Mary in the Japanese Garden in Holland Park, London, England a few days ago. That is a nice international medley of names to go with a delightful picture taken on a dull day.

Japanese Garden Holland Park

After our very brief burst of springlike weather yesterday, we were back in the groove today with ten tenths cloud, occasional rain and a cold and uncharitable wind blowing.  It was rather disappointing.

However, there was plenty of activity going on to keep my mind off the missing sunshine.

I started with a walk after breakfast and I enjoyed the daffodils along the river bank in Caroline Street.  They brought a welcome touch of colour to a dull day.

daffodils on Wauchope

And for my daffodil of the day, I chose one from the clumps along the banks of the Esk between the bridges.


I was hoping to catch the goosanders but had to make do with an oyster catcher again.

oyster catcher

It wasn’t very inviting walking weather so I did more leg stretching than looking around just to keep myself warm but I couldn’t help noticing a rather strange set of fungi on a fallen tree by the river bank.


They are just normal bracket fungi but the way that they sat on the tree trunk made it look as though they were floating.

I did look to see if there were any more hazel catkins and flowers about but once again I saw few catkins and only two flowers.

hazel catkin and flower

It is hard to say whether more will arrive with some warmer weather or if this is all that there will be in such a miserable spring.

There were occasional signs of life elsewhere among the lichen covered branches of the trees.

lichen and buds

And I passed a party of cheerful Tuesday walkers who had stopped to pay their respects to a small dog.


I was pleased to get home and a have a cup of coffee but I did take a quick look round the garden first….

tree peony

…where the tree peony is looking healthy and I at last got a half decent picture of the pulmonaria flowers.


I also took a moment to check on the birds.

There were a lot about.

siskin and greenfinch

A chaffinch needed only a one footed attack to dislodge a fellow from the feeder.


After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal, Patricia, our guest, and I went off to Hawick in the car to visit a small exhibition of work there by Mrs Tootlepedal’s Embroiderers’ Guild group.  She hadn’t been able to go to the opening as she was visiting her mother at the time.

The exhibition had been very well mounted…

EG exhibition Hawick

…in a small gallery in the Textile Towerhouse.  It had gone down so well with visitors that a notice pointing out that the exhibits were not for sale had had to be put up.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a couple of old favourite pieces in the show and one of her newer pieces figured on the poster which was pleasing.


Stumpwork on the left and the new piece at the bottom right of the poster. 

We had an excellent lunch, rather surprisingly accompanied by live string playing from students of Trinity College, London.

We walked back to car, passing many bridges in the town….

hawick bridge

…both old….


…and new…


…and then drove home by way of Whitrope Summit and Hermitage, passing another bridge…

Copshaw road bridge

…Hermitage Castle…

Hermitage Castle…and a cottage at the back of beyond.

Hermitage road

In spite of the heavy clouds hanging low on the hills or perhaps even because of them, it was  a peaceful and picturesque drive.

It would have been nice to get out of the car for a walk but it really was cold and unpleasant even though the rain had stopped so we were happy to go straight home.

The birds had been busy and I filled the feeders again as the lowering of the seed level was leading to regrettable behaviour.

chaffinch stamping on goldfinch

I had hoped to go for a cycle ride when we got back from our outing but the wind was far too brisk to make cycling anything else but a chore so I found useful things to do indoors until Patricia kindly took us out for a meal at the Douglas  Hotel in the evening.

The food was excellent as usual.  It is not often that we eat out at all so to get two good meals out on the same day was a great treat.  It hasn’t done my slimming regime any good though.  My new bike when it comes will be a kilogram and a half heavier than the old fairly speedy one so I need to lose a couple of kilograms from my body weight to make up the difference.  This is proving hard in the cold weather when a bit of comfort eating is always likely.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, probably looking for someone to kick.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture of a gannet family comes from my brother Andrew’s recent visit to Whitby.  He had to lean right over the cliff to get it.


In general, today was not entirely satisfactory.  For a start, it rained pretty well all day in a mean spirited and miserable sort of way.  The clouds were so thick that any ray of light that penetrated them was strangled at birth.

As a result, I took no pictures at all but that was partly because I was quite busy.

I began with a visit to the Archive Centre which is in a bit of a mess after some building work and will need some tidying up.  Luckily volunteers are at hand and we hope to make a start on Wednesday.

Then Sandy and I drove up to Eskdalemuir through the mist and rain with a car full of pictures for a camera club exhibition in the old school there, now a community centre called The Hub.

We were a bit handicapped when we got there as we found that the previous exhibitionist had not only removed all her work but all the picture hanging hooks too.

Luckily Sharon, who is my flute pupil Luke’s mum as well as being the hub manager, was on hand to be very helpful so we did what we could and left the hanging for her to do tomorrow.  She took a picture of us looking very relaxed about the whole situation.

Tom and Sandy at the Hub

Appearances can be deceptive.

All this took longer than we expected and it was lunch time when I got home.

I had some stuff to print out for the exhibition and once again, a simple task was made impossible.  This time my printer resolutely refused to admit that it was on or connected to the network when it was both plainly on and connected.  This is the sort of thing that drives a man mad and probably resulted from a recent firmware update, whatever that was.

After what seemed like an age of raging against the machine, I did what I should have done from the start and reinstalled the printer on the system.

It printed.

It is not printing now as I write this.  I shall go mad.

I did have a very enjoyable play with Isabel and Mike in the evening which was a bright spot in a grey day.

The only butterfly that I saw today was in an unfinished embroidery which Mrs Tootlepedal started at the Producers’ Market on Saturday so it is the flying bird of the day.


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Today’s guest picture shows a friendly squirrel which approached my sister Mary in the hope of a snack.


After yesterday’s gloomy and damp afternoon, I was more than pleased to wake up to this view from the bedroom window this morning.

Whita in snow

After breakfast (and a little lie down to get my strength up), I looked out of the kitchen window….


…to see some visitors….


..and then set off to climb up to the monument to enjoy the snowscape.

It didn’t take me long to be able to look back over the town.

Langholm in snow

My route ahead was a challenge.

Whita in snow

But I plugged away and in the course of time was able to enjoy the views from the top of the hill.  I looked east into the Tarras valley….

Tarras in snow

…and north up the Ewes valley.

Ewes valley

I would have liked to linger a little longer but there was a brisk and biting north easterly wind blowing…

trig point whita in snow

monument in snow

…so I was soon on my way back down amid the snow covered tussocks.

snowy tussocks, Whita

Luckily I had my Yaktrax in my pocket and I put them on for the downhill section.  They were useful and I leapt from boulder to tussock with great confidence.

Near the end, I walked down the golf course which wasn’t looking quite as green as it was yesterday…

golf course in snow

…and got home in time for lunch.  I was very grateful for my new knee as I wouldn’t have been able to contemplate this walk last year.

I had time to look out of the window again….

chaffinches in winter sun


…before I had to go off to see the dentist for a routine check up.    Sadly, I am going to have to go back and see him again soon.

It was such a lovely day that when I got back, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out for a walk round Gaskell’s.

We noticed a huge and quite old fungus on a tree stump which we have passed many times.  It has been hidden until recently by some scrub which has now been cleared.


 It was very nice to be out in the sun but we had to keep our eyes down as the tracks and paths were very icy in places.  It was a relief to come out on the road at the Auld Stane Bridge where we could look about and walk at the same time.

It was hard to relate my snowy morning walk to the mellow sunshine on the fields beside the road.

Wauchope field

..but we had a glimpse of Whita and the golden light as we came back into the town.

whita and meikleholm

Using his advanced tea kettle detector skills, Mike Tinker arrived just as the pot was being filled and enjoyed a slice of Selkirk bannock with his cuppa.  He told us that an article in his morning paper had said that the hair frost, which I had seen yesterday, was present in dead branches which had been infected with a certain fungus and this fungus had caused the holes through which the frozen moisture is exuded.

In the evening, we went off to the Ewes SWRI Burns supper where we had an excellent meal, listened to some well delivered speeches, were enthralled by Grace’s renowned recitation of Tam o’ Shanter and generally had a good time.  Luke and I played four tunes on our flutes.  Luke played very well throughout and I played better for the second pair than I did for the first two.  It was incredibly hot in the hall and it took me a bit of time to get the feel right.

It was -4°C when we came out.    Definitely a winter’s day today.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

I owe Evelyn Carlyle a deep apology as I inadvertently put her embroidery into last night’s post upside down.  I blame the lateness of the hour, old age and natural stupidity on my part.  I have rectified this in the post and put it here the right way up .

Evelyn Carlyle embroidery

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Today’s picture was sent by my younger son and daughter-in-law who are in Boston on holiday.

boston 3

We had, as the title suggests, wall to wall sunshine today.  There absolutely wasn’t a cloud in the sky and for most of the day there wasn’t much wind either.  It may be three or four weeks late but this was spring at its springiest and very welcome indeed.

It was pretty cool first thing after a clear night so I dillied and dallied after our guests had gone until the temperature had warmed up a bit.  I spent a little time looking out of the kitchen window of course….

siskin trampling

A little siskin trampling brightens any day

…but in the end I got going.  The sky was blue, the hedges green and the air was full of bird song.  I passed curlews, blackbirds, chaffinches, larks, peacocks…..peacocks?  Well, just one peacock.


Unmistakably a peacock beside the road at the Bigholms.

I had a pliable route plan depending on how I felt but a few miles of cycling along roads like this…

Near Middlebie

…made me feel very good.  I was also cycling into what wind there was which gave me hopes of a wind assisted return to Langholm so I kept pedalling on through, Waterbeck, Middlebie, Ecclefechan and Hoddom until I got to Dalton.

I stopped to check the time and have a snack at Ecclefechan.


Just after 11 am.

At Dalton, I turned and headed down to Annan and the Solway shore.  I crossed the river Annan twice, first at Hoddom and then in Annan itself.

Annan bridges

Once through Annan, the wind was at my back and obligingly increased in strength so I was able to nip along quite smartly.  It all felt so good that I made a short diversion to Brow Houses just to enjoy the sight of the Solway with the tide fully in.


As I went through Gretna, I had to slow down to pass an unusual vehicle with care.

Gretna cart

It was off to fetch a blushing bride for a Gretna wedding no doubt.

The friendly wind pushed me home through Canonbie where Ii crossed the Esk.  Later in the day I would cross the Esk again but this time by car at Longtown.

Esk bridges

Life must have been hard work for travellers before all these handsome bridges were built.

I had a slightly worrying twinge in my left calf muscle as I pedalled along but it didn’t get worse if I didn’t push too hard.  Luckily by the time it started hurting, the road was mostly flat so I ignored it and arrived home having completed 54 miles at a shade over 14 mph.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day while I was out,  visiting garden events on the Buccleuch Centre (she bought some leeks) and an art gallery in the High Street (she nearly bought a painting but not quite).  When I arrived she had already planted out the leeks and was busy on other tasks in the garden.

The garden looked very cheerful in the sunshine.

Back path

The back path is moving into a blue and pink mode now that the snowdrops and daffodils have disappeared.

There are still some new tulips coming out.


And I was more than happy to see some bee sized bees at work on the apples and broad beans.

bees at work

A little frog lay basking on the traditional lily pad in the pond.

frog on lily pad

And a redpoll and siskin glowed in the sun.

redpoll and siskin

It was such a lovely evening that I rang Sandy up and we drove down to Longtown to introduce Mrs Tootlepedal to a very nice riverside walk which Sandy had shown me a month or so ago.

The willows beside the river where in flower.


Our walk took us along the river bank and then round a set of ponds.  I was surprised not to see more water birds about but the whole area is so pretty that it was a pleasure to wander around even without snapping away at birds all the time.

Ponds at Longtown

ponds at Longtown

ponds at Longtown

Ponds at Longtown

Ponds at Longtown

There were two swans in one of the ponds.

two swans

Mrs Tootlepedal thoroughly enjoyed her walk, as did Sandy and I but I was more than ready for a little sit down and some food by the time we got home.

One milestone was reached today.  Ever since Mrs Tootlepedal was a nun in the local production of the Sound of Music in March, she has been beavering away at an embroidery giving a nun’s eye view of the song, “Climb every mountain.”  You will no doubt recall the injunction to climb every mountain, ford every stream and follow every rainbow.  Here is her realisation of that dream.  ( I have put it in at a good size so that those interested in needlework can click on it for a better view.)


The sharp eyed will notice a thread hanging on the left hand side of the picture and although Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had definitely finished it, she now tells me that she has put some more French knots in since I took the photo.

It will be hard to get a better day than today.

The flying bird of the day was a gull which we met on our walk.






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Today’s picture, sent from NZ by my brother Andrew, shows my sister-in-law Catherine sitting beside a boat that was probably the most famous vessel in the world in 1985.

Rainbow Warrior III at dockside

Of course it is summer in NZ but far from that over here.  We had a typical winter’s day with a brisk wind and plenty of sleet and rain.

My sister Susan and Mrs Tootlepedal went off to church in the car because it was so miserable outside.  It didn’t stop the birds being busy though.  They didn’t seem to known that it was Sunday and behaved in a very pushy manner.

chaffinch and greenfinch

A lady chaffinch has no compunction in booting a greenfinch off its perch.

A brambling waits patiently in the plum tree

A brambling waits patiently in the plum tree


Another one is not so polite.

As you can see, the sleet was quite heavy but it didn’t turn to snow and by lunchtime, it had taken a break.


A chaffinch swimming towards the feeder in light drizzle.


Another chaffinch dropping in.

The light rain tempted us out for that traditional pastime for a Sunday after lunch, a short family walk.  In search of a bit of shelter from the elements, we drove down to the Hollows and walked along the old A7.  The rain had stopped by the time we started and being well protected from any wind, our walk was pleasant enough.

The ladies of the party pass a mossy bank.

The ladies of the party pass a mossy bank.

The woods here are quite open and since almost everything is covered in moss or ferns, this area has a green feel even in the deepest winter.  The retaining wall on the left of the road has a wonderful variety of things growing on and out of it and I liked the little puffs of a bright green moss which look like a virulent sponge.

spongy moss

We pottered along the road for a while and then turned up the track to the Fairy Loup so that I could enjoy a decent waterfall after my failure to find a good one with Sandy on Wednesday.

Fairy Loup

There was a fair amount of water going down the stream.

Fairy Loup

We didn’t linger as it was only 2° and even sheltered from the wind, we could feel the cold.  For one reason or another (persistent wet weather, high winds, poor soil and forestry working among the suspects) the banks of the Byre Burn were strewn with fallen trees and scarred with landslips all the way along our walk.

fallen trees

moss and fern

Typical vegetation by the roadside.

We stopped to lean over the bridge when we got back to the old A7.

Esk weir

This is a natural weir in the river Esk

As we walked back to the car, we could hear the sound of a chainsaw.  Someone was working hard on the opposite bank of the river.

tree sawing

I could just see the the Hollows Bridge up river through the ever present branches of the trees lining the bank on our side.

Hollows bridge

We got home neatly in time for me to watch England play Ireland at rugby but it would have been better if we had continued walking as it was a boring game played in a niggly sort of way.

My sister Susan is turning her family history website  into a printed book with the help of one of these clever self publishing websites and we spent some time having a look at it and  considering one or two style issues which transferring web pages to print have raised.  I must say that the book looks very good on the website, much better than I expected that it would and I hope that the printing quality will match the technical skill of the programmers.  Susan has done an amazing amount of work in digging up stuff about our forbears and arranging it very well.  Just as she has found other books by previous members of the family useful, I am sure future generations of our family will look on her work very fondly.

She has gone for width rather than depth and has managed to track down some information on 30 out of the 32 members of the fifth generation back and so seriously is he taking it that she is even contemplating buying a little professional help to nail the last two.  I hope she finds them.

In the evening, we had a traditional Sunday roast with two veg and this rounded off a very good Sunday surprisingly well in view of the less than perfect weather.

I should say that for the past two days, the chief occupation of the ladies in the house has been as it should be at this time of the year.


I managed to find a flying chaffinch in the morning sleet.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s picture is of swans in the Longtown gravel pit. As Mrs Tootlepedal and my sister have both contributed swans to the blog, I thought I should do my bit too.swans

In any other year, today would have ranked as a very nice day for January but after the explosion of light of yesterday, it seemed rather dull.

It didn’t freeze overnight which was a blessing but it did mean that our visiting bird count was drastically reduced with no bramblings at all that I saw. There were a few birds about but none of the frantic desperation of the freezing weather of the last few days.


redpoll siskin

The only redpoll to show up shares the niger seed with a siskin

siskin goldfinch

Our two most regular winter visitors


There are lot of chaffinches at the moment

chaffinch sparrow

Coming in to land on the bird table

chaffinches sparrows

The chaffinch on the left is practising its funny walk

Just to show that looking put of the window is only half the battle in bird recognition, I am not at all sure what the bird below is. A sparrow? A Redpoll? I don’t know.


A little brown thing

After a leisurely breakfast, I put a week of the E&L into the database, answered some correspondence and read the many comments on the last two blogs. Thank you again to all those who took the time to make a comment, it is much appreciated.

To suit the quality of the day, I made a very dull lentil soup for lunch and then got out the bicycle for a welcome pedal. I went down the A7 as I often do on a Sunday when the traffic is light and turned off onto the Gretna road. The gravel pit was looking quite attractive in the slightly misty, very still conditions.

gravel pit

I went through Gretna Village and doubled back across the A75 to Gretna Green where I paused for a refreshing prune or two.

Just before I came to the border at Gretna, I stopped to take this picture looking across the M6 and the Solway to the Lake District hills.


After my pit stop at Gretna Green, I headed up the old Glasgow Road to Kirkpatrick Fleming where I was able to catch this picture of the busy M74 heading south.


Thank goodness they made it three lanes.

I am not as fit as I would like to be after the severe winter weather that we have been subjected to so the last ten miles of the journey back through Glenzier to the A7 and home were done at a very steady pace indeed. I managed to keep the average just above 15mph but it had been 16mph when I got to Gretna. However, I was pleased to have done the 34 miles at any speed and look forward to a few more days of good cycling weather according to the current forecast.

The evening was spent in more archive work while Mrs Tootlepedal made plans for a new embroidery. There may be birds in it. We shall see.


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