Posts Tagged ‘Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser’

My sister Mary may have been walking in the Lake District but my brother Andrew has been drinking coffee in Bridlington.  Here is his view as he sipped.


We woke up to another morning of glum weather, cold and windy and with as much rain as we could possibly want….


…if not a little more.

This let me put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and since it was the last week of 1895, it was a good moment as it is always cheering to start on a new year.

The rain continued until, like yesterday, it eased off in the afternoon for long enough to let me get out for a little walk again

I started by walking round the garden.

candelabra primula

The candelabra primula seemed unaffected by the two days of rain

sweet william

The sweet william looked a little more downcast


And the aquilegia looked washed out

I left the garden and headed down to the river to see where all the rain had gone.

Langholm Bridge

It was water under the bridge.

Suspension Bridge

The river was well up but far from full.  It is very brown with the peat that is washed out from the land.

I walked on past the Kilngreen where a small group were keen to point that even ducks didn’t think that this was good weather.


The ice cream van was at it station in the middle of an empty car park with a faint drizzle in the air, the epitome of optimism.  Naturally I bought myself a small cone and enjoyed it as I walked over the Sawmill Brig…


A touch of colour on the bank of the Ewes Water

…and onto the Lodge Walks.

Passing one of the recently felled tree stumps, I thought that I saw a curious fungus or lichen but closer inspection revealed that it was  a small crowd of snails.


One posed for me.


I know nothing about snails (there’s a surprise) and some research shows me that this might be Cepaea sylvatica but as always, I am prepared to be enlightened by knowledgeable readers.

There are some fine rhododendrons along the Lodge walks and they brought a bit more brightness to a grey day.


As well as being pretty damp, it was also quite windy and I had a hard time taking plant life pictures but there was a lot to tempt me into trying.

Some above my head….

tree seeds

…some beside my feet…


…and some half way in between.


I stood on the Duchess Bridge and looked downstream.  At this time of year, the river here runs through a canyon of green.

River Esk

The nuthatches have left the nest at the bridge so there was nothing to detain me there and I walked on home, happy to have found a dry moment in the day.

The honeysuckle in the hedge facing the road gave me a warm welcome…


…and after a quick look at a knapweed…


…I went in for a cup of tea and a Jaffa cake.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent a busy couple of hours helping in the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar while I was out enjoying my walk and in the evening, I went back there in the rain for a very well attended meeting about our local newspaper, The Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser.  This is the same newspaper which the Archive Group members have been indexing since its first publication in 1848.  It has recently been threatened with closure by its latest owners, a Carlisle newspaper group.

In response, a group of concerned local people, with the financial support of local charitable trusts and some individuals have raised enough money to achieve a community buyout and the paper is now owned by a community company based in Langholm.    It has a business plan and a lot of local support so we all hope that the new venture is successful and that the E&L, as it is always known, will continue for many years to come.

The first issue of the new ownership was published today and I am happy to say that it has a picture of Skippers Bridge in it which I took a week or so ago so I really feel part of this grand venture.

This was the picture.

Skippers Bridge


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Today’s guest picture, kindly sent to me by Mary Jo from the land of proper snow, is designed to stop me moaning about our weather.  It won’t work though.  She tells me that she is currently looking after three houses and is keeping very fit shovelling snow.

Canada snow

We had a rather nice day here, with the thermometer showing a balmy 5°C.  It still took me quite a time to get myself organised to go out on my fairly speedy bike.  I had plenty of time while I footled about to look out of the window.  I am still waiting hopefully for the return of the long tailed tits but once again, I had to make do with short tailed coal and blue tits.

coal tit and blue tit

Visitors to the feeder were rather distracted this morning…

chaffinch and goldfinch

…although some concentrated hard on hitting the spot.


The Christmas robin is working overtime.


And a wood pigeon stalked through the undergrowth.

wood pigeon

I finally got going and it turned out to be an excellent day for December cycling.  The roads had mostly dried out, the wind was light (and helpful on the way home) and the sun made a really good effort to shine.

Cleuchfoot view

It was very hazy but not as bad as parts of England where thick fog persisted for the whole day.

I stopped to admire some passing trees.

tree at Tarcoon

One had had a very brutal haircut.

tree at Glenzier

I wanted to have another look at the windmills at Gretna….

Gretna windmills

..which are not actually turning yet.

Because I was cycling in the opposite direction as I went past them, I couldn’t find the exact spot where I took my picture yesterday but I am sure that it was I and not the camera that was confused and the pylons are indeed in front of the turbines at the spot where I took the shot.

I cycled on through Gretna Green down to the border and into England.  I hadn’t really planned a route but it was such a nice day that I headed on south with vague ideas of an interesting route home but when it came to the stop to eat my banana at the twenty mile mark, it became apparent that the banana was still sitting on the kitchen table and not resting snugly in my back pocket.

As I didn’t have any money on me, I was stymied and had to take a short and sensible route home.  I pedalled gently along, stopping from time to time for a drink of water and a rest….

Longtown bridge

The Longtown bridge provided a good excuse for a pause

…and got home after 37 miles feeling quite peckish.

Still, the ride took me up to 4100 miles for the year so I feel that I have thoroughly met my target.  I am now considering what I should take as my target for next year.  4000 again? 4200? 4500?  Or an ambitious 5000?  It all depends on health and weather so I might settle for a modest target and secretly hope to beat it.

I had time for a look in the garden when I got home and was impressed by the amount of rain over the festive season recorded by our scientific rain gauge.

rain gauge

A tiny flower had a tear in its eye.


I did some energy topping up and had a shower  and had time to exchange a few words with Mike Tinker who had dropped by before I had to go off to the Health Centre for a routine visit.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been slaving over a tricky jigsaw puzzle which our older son gave her for Christmas and she finally finished it today.  Tony had asked me for a photo of Mrs Tootlepedal and her mother and if I had known what it was for, I would have given him a higher resolution photo but it turned out surprisingly well in the end.


It was a very good idea for a present and I might well think about it myself next year.

In the evening, I went out to a public meeting in the Buccleuch Centre to discuss the future of our local paper, The Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser.  The current owners, a Carlisle based newspaper group, are planning to close it and there a scheme afoot to form a Community Interest Company here to take it over and run it as a non profit making business.

The non profit making bit will be all too easy to achieve but running it as a business will require a lot of expertise, goodwill and enthusiasm.  There was a good turnout at the meeting so we may be able to hope for the best.

The leaf of the day is made up of these green shoots of growth…..

green shoots of growth

….and the better light this morning gave me the chance to take a slightly more respectable flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s guest picture brings a welcome shaft of sunshine from Almeria in south-east Spain, described by Bruce who visited it on his grand tour, as the home of all those tasteless tomatoes that you wished you hadn’t bought.

AlmeriaHere in south-west Scotland, we had a day of unadulterated meteorological gloominess.   It was cold and wet and altogether a really grand day for staying indoors.

I did make a token effort to photograph a bird or two…

goldfinches…but it wasn’t worthwhile.   Even with the ISO at 4000, flying birds were too quick for me.

flying chaffinchSo I turned my mind to sitting and relaxing which I accomplished with grace and dignity for the rest of the day.  I did spend some of the sitting time doing useful things like putting three weeks of the newspaper index into the database (one by myself at home, one with Sandy’s help in the afternoon still at home and one in the Archive Centre in the evening, so a nice variety there.)

While Sandy was round in the afternoon, he made a mount for a woodpecker picture of mine which is to be used as one of the prizes in a forthcoming raffle.  I only hope that the winner is not too disappointed that they didn’t bag the bottle of sherry instead.

I also sorted out some pictures of vintage vehicles for the next camera club competition.  I had misread the instructions and thought that the class was for vintage machinery, a much more wide ranging subject, and a result I have quite a collection of fairly interesting photos of old machinery but very few of vintage vehicles.  However, by scraping around,  I have dug up six shots.

As I had time on my hands, I have put them in a gallery here just to practice using galleries which have been a mystery to me hitherto.

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They are not the most exciting pictures in the world but they are all that I have.

There was a brief respite from the rain when Sandy and I went up to the Archive Centre in the evening but it had started again by the time we returned home.

The flying bird of the day is a gloomy chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture shows a fine mountain view taken by my brother Andrew in NZ when he was tramping to Silica Rapids at Whakapapa at the beginning of this month.  I may have remarked before that he is an exceptionally active chap.  The building in the foreground is a hotel.

Tramping to Silica Rapids at Whakapapa Sept 2014 - 1I was by no means an active chap myself today and the most energetic thing that I did in the morning was to make a pot of coffee for a gathering of Dropscone, Arthur and Sandy who sat round our kitchen table and enjoyed one of Dropscone’s girdle scones and a slice of Selkirk bannock while sipping.

It was a fairly dismal morning, grey and drizzly as this picture of a perching chaffinch demonstrates…

chaffinch in rain…and so it was no great hardship for me to have coffee and conversation rather than to try to keep up with Dropscone in the wet.

I am still rather upset by the failure of the independence referendum and when the conversation turned to renewable energy this morning, I found myself arguing both that when it come to renewable energy, the politicians have been made complete fools of by the big energy companies and also that people who feel that all politicians are fools are fools themselves because they are playing the game of the big energy companies who want discredited politicians to be thought of as fools so that they, the companies, can get away with doing whatever they want without regulation or responsibility.  I shall have to calm down.

After the coffee party split up, I went out and turned some compost.

It wasn’t a good day for carrying the camera so I was pleased to be able to catch a dunnock in a quiet moment.

dunnockTaking their cue from me, the chaffinches were in a bickering mood in the gloom too.

chaffincheschaffinchesI turned some more compost.

Health and safety warning:  Those of a nervous disposition should stop reading now as the next section deals with compost and may be too exciting for them.

I finished turning the compost today and here is a picture of bin C and bin D with the freshly turned compost.

c ompostThe sharp eyed will notice that bin D on the right is smaller than bin C on the left.  By the time that Mrs Tootlepedal has used the compost from bin D, the compost in bin C will have handily reduced itself in size and will fit comfortably into bin D.

compostHere are bins A and B.  By the end of the day the last of bin B had gone into bin A and it will stay there until next spring when it will be transported into bin C.  Bin A has removable sections to make getting the compost out an easy task.  The half glimpsed plastic bin on the left has been filled by Mrs Tootlepedal has got shreddings in it and will rot down at its own pace unless I feel very perky.

You can see that when it comes to elegant compost bins, no expense has been spared.

After lunch, the drizzle faded away and as it was pleasantly warm in the west wind, Sandy and I went off for a leisurely short pedal just to get the legs turning over.  Sandy has really taken to cycling and did a 34 mile circuit on Sunday which surprised even him.

It was still very grey and by the time we had got back and had a cup of tea and a biscuit, it really felt as though evening had come, although it was only four o’clock.

I took Pocketcam out when I had finished the composting just to see how it would cope with the poor light.

sweet pea

The sweet peas would brighten even the darkest day


A gaudy clematis shone out too.

Poking through the fence was a ginger syllabub rose which has been encouraged by the recent good weather to have a go at flowering for the first time this year.

ginger syllabub rose

Mrs Tootlepedal moved it which is why it didn’t flower earlier.

The Shirley poppies are slowly going over but but the Michaelmas daisies and the astrantia are holding on bravely.

daisies and astrantiaA couple of readers have commented on the marigolds so I asked Mrs Tootlepedal what their Sunday name is and she tells me that they are Calendula officinalis.  Wikipedia tells me that they have a variety of common names: pot marigold, ruddles, common marigold, garden marigold, English marigold, or Scottish marigold.   In our garden they are Scottish marigolds.

marigoldIn the evening, Sandy and I went off to the Archive Centre where we put 100 entries into the newspaper database.  We enjoyed a well earned glass of wine after that but the sad fact is that I am falling ever further behind the eager data miners who are about three months ahead of me.  I will have to pull my socks up and make a determined effort to catch up soon or I will be overwhelmed.  Too much good weather and too many cycling miles over the summer have been my downfall.

The flying bird of the day is an inevitable and rather fuzzy  chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my daughter.  She has worked out how to email pictures directly from her phone and sent me this nice waterfall from her recent Devon holiday.


The forecast was for a sunny day today and the forecast was right.  It seemed like a good day for cycling so after breakfast I got out the speedy bike, packed a banana or two and set off slowly in the general direction of Ecclefechan.  I was going slowly because the forecast had been a bit coy about a lively breeze in my face. My plan was to see how I felt when I got to Ecclefechan after 15 miles and adjust my route accordingly.

I felt very good so I pressed on to Lockerbie before swinging round and heading south.  I was now in the valley of the river Annan.  Annandale is broad and gentle compared with the narrower and hilly Eskdale.  I enjoyed the expansive views….


….and the quiet lanes.


I crossed the River Annan twice, once near Dalton on a metal bridge….

river annan bridge near dalton

…which is older than it looks….

river annan bridge near dalton

…and back again at Brydekirk where a splendidly pink public house can be seen in the background.

River annan bridge at Brydekirk

This bridge is in the village where Mrs Tootlepedal comes to help with the driving for the disabled.  It is just under 17 miles from Langholm by the direct route.  I had done 30 miles by this time but for the first time in the ride, the wind was now behind me and I resolved to add an extra mile or two to the homeward route to bring up a nice round 50 miles.

(Those interested may see the route here.   Dropscone did a route of his own today with just a little more climbing than me but in half the distance as he went over the hill to Newcastelton.  Hard work.)

My route home took me to Eaglesfield where I met a lady cyclist coming towards me looking for all the world like Emma Pooley on a training run.   It was Mrs Tootlepedal, who had decided to pedal the 34 miles to Brydekirk and back.   I caught a glimpse of her as she flashed past.

Mrs Tootlepdal in Eaglesfield

Her 34 miles were on top of the cycling that she had to do while accompanying the pony traps as they are driven along.  The organisers had decided to take the traps on an outing to Hoddom Castle for an ice cream treat and this involved another 6 miles cycling.    This might have daunted even the redoubtable Mrs Tootlepedal but for the fact that the volunteers have been provided with electric bicycles which made light of the journey.

I was at home while this was going on, having enjoyed my wind assisted 20 miles back and was just having a restorative cup of tea when a knock on the door heralded the arrival of Sandy.  He was wearing a cycling helmet.  He was planning a little ride and was looking for some company.  I was delighted.  We had a cup of tea and a biscuit and I got the slow bike out and we went off to Westwater.  Luckily Sandy had had a vigorous 15 mile ride yesterday and was quite happy with a shorter excursion today.

When we got to the bridge at Westwater, we spent a little time listening to the gurgling of the stream….


…and admired the shiny new bridge….

westwater bridge

It was slightly damaged in a flood but has been repaired.

…before being blown home.

This time I did get a good sit down before it was time to make my tea and then welcome Mrs Tootlepedal back.  She too had been grateful for the favouring gale.

Somewhere in all this, I found a moment to walk round the garden.

poppies and crocosmia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppy and crocosmia confection is coming on well, though it is annoying that the crocosmia in the veg garden is doing better than the one among the poppies.


Perhaps it has less competition

When I was looking at the veg garden crocosmia, I noticed a patch of odd colour on the phlox behind it.  It was a peacock butterfly stretching its wings in the sun.

peacock butterfly

Always a welcome visitor to the garden.

In the evening, Sandy appeared again and we went up the Archive Centre.  On our way, we went in to the Thomas Hope Hospital to visit Jean who is still stuck in there.  She has had to move house to a ground floor dwelling as the stairs to her old flat are now impossible for her but she can’t move in until all the arrangements have been properly made and meanwhile she is being well looked after but getting increasingly bored.

She was pleased to see us.

When we got to the Archive Centre, Sandy changed our window display to show some of our photographs from the First World War and I put two weeks of the newspaper index into the database.  All this took so long that we had to forgo our usual glass of wine afterwards.

I did catch a flying siskin of the day.

flying siskin


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Today’s guest picture is another bird at my daughter’s feeder in London.

annie's bird

I had no time to watch birds today as Mrs Tootlepedal, Pat and I went off to Edinburgh in the car straight after breakfast.  We had a dream drive on the way, with hardly any traffic to pass or to be passed by until we got right into Edinburgh.

The purpose of our visit was to deliver a lawn mower to Matilda’s parents so that they could get their small lawn into a state worthy of our granddaughter.  There is no knowing what the sight of an ill tended greensward might do to an impressionable child in her formative years.

When we arrived, Clare put Matilda into the care of her grandmother and came down to see to the mowing.  I had brought an electric hover mower with me to deal with weeks of neglect and after a whizz round with that, Clare and I took turns with the old fashioned push mower until things looked at least respectable.

Carlyle lawn

While this important work was going on, Matilda was looking after her great-grandmother, her grandmother and her father in turn.


She seemed to be able to keep them quite happy for a considerable time.

After lunch Clare had a visit from the health visitor to check on Matilda’s progress.  This was deemed to be thoroughly satisfactory so Matilda went off for a celebratory walk.  She had a guard of honour with her.

Walking in Edinburgh

Al and Clare are fortunate to have a handy garden not far from their house and we walked up though it until we got to this handsome church…

garden in Edinburgh

…where we turned back along a road with an imposing facade to say the least.

Edinburgh Royal Terrace

One of the charming things about walking round Edinburgh, especially near Al and Clare’s house, is that you often can catch glimpses of Arthur’s Seat when you pass a road end.

Arthur's seat

We had time for a cup of tea when we got back and then Matilda shared a joke with her grandmother….


…and we set off home again.

The glimpse of Arthur’s Seat led me into taking a detour round Holyrood Park as we started for home.  The road climbs round the hill and we stopped on the south side to admire the view over the Firth of Forth down to North Berwick.

view from Arthur's seat

Some people, more energetic than us, were admiring the view from the very top of the hill.

Arthur's Seat

The figures on the summit look strangely out of scale but one of the reasons that Arthur’s Seat is such a popular walk is that it is not very high.

We looked down at Duddingstone Loch at the foot of the hill.

Duddingstone Loch

Although it was cloudy, it was far too warm for us to expect to see anyone emulating the famous Dr Robert Walker…

Walker skating

….pictured here skating on the loch by Henry Raeburn in one of Scotland’s favourite paintings.

We took the A7 home and we were able to get another good look at the extensive workings  being undertaken to re-open the railway from Edinburgh to Galashiels.

Although the weather had been rather grey on our way back from Edinburgh, it had brightened up by the time we got home and I had a quick walk round the garden.  The garden is full of blackbirds…


…and roses.


Two Lilian Austin blooms show how this rose flowers and decays.

Lilian Austin

Luckily, there always seem to be new buds opening so as a bush it lasts well, even though the flowers pass quite quickly.

There are more lush poppies to be seen too….


…with their centres looking very like the sort of fancy cakes you get in upmarket tearooms.

After tea, I went up to the Archive Centre with Sandy and we put another week of the newspaper index into the database.  It is currently full of reports of the local celebrations for Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887.

Sandy told me that he had sat in at our photo exhibition for four hours on Wednesday and had only got four visitors.  I don’t know what we can do to get more people to look at it.  Those that come always seem to enjoy it.  I hope that I get a few more when I sit in on Saturday, which will be (hint for local readers) the last day.

The non flying flower of the day is a white rose.

white rose

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Today’s picture, which was sent by Bruce who has had a busy time on the east coast of Scotland, shows the famous Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth.  It is a  prominent nesting place for a huge colony of gannets.

Bass rock

We were greeted by another wet and soggy morning.

downcast poppy

I was a bit downcast like the poppy and not just because of the rain.  I had mislaid my card wallet sometime after using it on Monday and a thorough search of the house and a trawl of possible places where I might have left had come up with no result.  Another burst of house searching brought no joy so reluctantly I had to telephone my bank and get the card blocked and a new one sent.

This means that I will have to touch Mrs Tootlepedal for the occasional fiver to keep body and soul together until the new card comes.

I went out into the garden to commune with the flowers for comfort.  There was enough there to cheer up Job himself.

irises of many shades

Irises of many shades

Mrs Tootlepedal is upset by the damage that the wind and rain had caused the blue flowers but they still looked lovely to me.

candelabra primulas

Three different shades of Candelabra Primulas

Mrs Tootlepedal has been very happy with the candelabra primulas and will replant them to give them more room each next year.


A delicate lupin defying the grey skies.


I like the Alliums for their geometry even after they have started to go over.

We don’t have the resources to plant a whole bed of Meconopsis like they had at Dalemain yesterday but we do have three of them in a row.


The ladies of the house, seeing that it was a wet day with nothing better to do, rearranged the sitting room and I was sent off to buy more cables to connect the TV in its new position.  Luckily it had stopped raining by this time.  When I came back, I made some green lentil soup for lunch and as we had a visitor, added some croutons.  This was declared very acceptable and we celebrated by going for a short cycle ride after Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from singing in the church choir at a funeral and I had mowed the front lawn.

The threat of rain was ever present but the peleton was in enthusiastic mood….


The peleton sweeps up a gentle rise.  Note the gaudy cycling shoes at the rear.

… as we pedalled up to the Collin bridge.

Collin bridge

Beauty and the bridge.

The pedal home was wind assisted and although there was a little drizzle, the whole trip was declared a great success.

I stopped on the way back to say hello to a fence post I like.

fence post

Quite striking at first sight…

fence post

…but fascinating close up

Annie has just acquired a little new plot to make a small garden  near her house in London so she and Mrs Tootlepedal were soon in deep discussion as they wandered round  our garden looking for suggestions and inspiration.

I took a few more pictures but returned to my favourites..

Candelabra Primulas

I went inside to make a cup of tea for the gardeners and when they came in, we enjoyed a small family of sparrows making good use of a wet day.

sparrows bathing in puddle

sparrows bathing in puddle

sparrow bathing in puddle

Having fun is a serious business.

Because of the dull colours in the background, the pictures aren’t quite as  exciting as actually watching the fun was.  I might try to improve them if I find time hanging heavy on my hands some day.

Other birds were available in dryer situations.

A blackbird was looking a bit hattered by his feeding responsibilities.  He is servicing a nest in the hydrangea on the house wall.

hattered blackbird

A great tit was calmer.

great tit

great tit

There were two great tits about, busy picking peanuts so I expect that there is a nest nearby.

It started to rain and even the birds not in puddles were looking a bit worse for wear.

blue tit

A bedraggled blue tit

Generally speaking, the last two days have seen a big improvement both in my sciatica and my toothache so I am a much more cheery bunny than I have been recently.  I was full of beans when Sandy came round to take me up to the Archive Centre after tea and we put two weeks of the newspaper index into the database as well as doing some printouts of articles for a researcher.  Sandy is gradually recovering from his pneumonia but Jean is still not feeling well enough to come and join us.  We hope to see her soon.

The non flying flower of the day is an Aquilegia.


Postscript: Long standing back problems often leave me with the feeling that I have got some thin cardboard under my feet when I wear shoes.  I got this feeling quite severely today when I went to put my shoes on for cycling.  The only difference was that today there really was some card under my feet.  It was my bank card which had got itself stuck in the toe of my shoe.  If I find the little elf that jammed it in there, I will give him what for.

Post postscript:  Sandy was telling me that he has cancelled his bank card no less than three times in the past and then found it on every occasion.  That cheered me up a lot.

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