Posts Tagged ‘Eskdalemuir’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  The seals have returned to East Wemyss.

more seals

We had another frosty morning here but it wasn’t hard enough to any harm and the upside was another sunny day to follow.  The sunshine led to a lot a photographs being taken, too many of which appear in this post….but it was a lovely day.

The bees have been encouraged by seeing me pollinating the plum blossom and have started in on the job themselves.

bee on plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepedal showed me a willow twig which she had stuck into the ground and which is doing what willows do and growing vigorously.  Nearby the last of the daffodils is coming into flower.

willow and daffodil

Sandy came round for coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal and I arranged to go on an outing with him to make the best of the sunny day. He went home to get organised and I had time to mow the front lawn and watch the birds squabble…

siskins shouting

…and get very up close and personal…

goldfinch embracing siskin

…before we went round to the garage to put petrol in the car and then to pick Sandy up.

We needed the fuel because we had a grand tour in mind, starting by driving north to Eskdalemuir.

Upper Eskdale can be a severe place to live in winter but on a lovely spring morning, it bears a marked resemblance to Shangri-La

Upper eskdale

We stopped at The Hub, a community centre in the old school in the village, for a light lunch and we took the chance while we were there to arrange a date later in the year for a camera club exhibition.

Then we continued north, crossing the county boundary and driving down into the Ettrick valley.  It is a picturesque but narrow road and we were lucky that we had parked to enjoy the scenery when this large log lorry whizzed by.

Road to Ettrick

We turned left at Tushielaw and followed the trail of the lonesome pine…

Road to Gordon Arms

…over the hill and down into the Yarrow valley.  There we turned west and headed for St St Mary’s Loch, a beautiful sight at any time but particularly so when the weather is fine.

St Mary's Loch first sight

At the far end of the Loch, which is three miles long, a small bridge crosses the very short stream…

Bridge between St Mary's Loch and Loch o the Lowes

…which flows between St Mary’s Loch and the Loch o’ the Lowes…

Loch o' the Lowes

…where we parked the car and went for a little walk.

We crossed the bridge between the lochs and walked past fine pine trees…

St Mary's Loch pines

…until we came to the track along the south shore of St Mary’s Loch.

St Mary's Loch reflections (4)

We stopped for some moments of reflection…

St Mary's Loch reflections (3)St Mary's Loch reflections (2)St Mary's Loch reflections

…and then headed along the shore towards a wood we could see about half a mile away.

St Mary's Loch view (2)

The loch sits in a bowl surrounded by fine hills.

St Mary's Loch view

As we walked along, we were serenaded by oyster catchers.

oyster catchers St Mary's Loch

Sandy and I walked along a track across sheep cropped grass while Mrs Tootlepedal chose the pebbly shore…

Mrs T at St Mary's Loch

…but she called us down to the waterside to see a strange phenomenon.  Every rock and stone under the water at the edge of the loch was covered in bubbles.

St Mary's Loch bubbles

We had never seen anything like this and wondered whether it was small plants or algae on the rocks ‘breathing out’.  There was no smell so it didn’t seem as though it might be decaying vegetable matter.  We would welcome suggestions from anyone who might have come across this before.

Leaving the bubbly rocks, we walked on towards the wood…

St Mary's Loch wood

…admiring a fine house on the other side of the water.

Big house St Mary's Loch

An information board in the wood told us that it was ‘The March Wood’, and described it as ‘a magical place’.

We didn’t disagree.

March wood St Mary's Loch (4)

March wood St Mary's Loch (3)

It had a rich history connected with William Wallace and royal hunts among other things and it was no hardship to spend a few peaceful minutes there..

March wood St Mary's Loch (2)

Someone is taking care of the wood and new trees are being planted.

March wood St Mary's Loch

We walked back to the yacht club at the head of the loch…

St Mary's Loch yacht club jetty

…and on the way Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed a hearty laugh when a well-intentioned stranger leapt up from a bench where he was sitting and asked me if I need a helping hand as I climbed over a stile.  I didn’t realise that I looked that bad.

As we stood and chatted, a pair of spirited canoeists passed us as great speed.


We moved on and said goodbye to the loch…

farewell to St mary's Loch

…as we went up to examine the impressive statue of  James Hogg, who lived from 1770 to 1835. Commonly referred to as The Ettrick Shepherd, he was a poet and novelist who wrote in both Scots and English and who became one of the most unlikely literary figures ever to emerge from Scotland.

Poet's monument

The monument was unveiled on 28 June 1860 in front of a crowd of 2000 people who had gathered for the event.

What makes it especially interesting to us is that it was made from a single block of sandstone cut from the quarry on Whita Hill above Langholm.  The block was so big that the whole town turned out to watch it being brought down off the hill by cart.

Leaving the loch and the monument, we kept going westward and descended the steep hill down towards Moffat…

Moffat Water valley

…passing the Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall on our way.  We thought of stopping there too but the call of a cup of tea and a toasted teacake in Moffat was too strong to resist and we headed on with pausing.

The tea and teacake were just what we wanted and gave us strength for the journey home (after we had visited the garden centre in the middle of the town). The final stage of our tour was a dull but speedy affair involving the motorway.  After sixty miles on narrow and twisting roads, the dullness was very acceptable.

The whole trip was just under 100 miles and was a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.  I notice that Sandy has put an account of the trip on his blog and if you have a moment, I can recommend a visit as he has taken some very nice pictures of our day indeed (better than mine).  You can find his story here.

The flying bird of the day is a resident chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who visited the the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi and thought that possibly this advertising poster, commissioned from Toulouse-Lautrec in 1896 by the Simpson Chain Company, might possibly be of interest to me.  It was indeed.

Toulouse Lautrec poster

If you are interested there is more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson_Chain 

I had the intention of taking my new belt driven bicycle out for a spin after breakfast but what with one thing and another (things to do, cold northerly winds, lassitude, mental instability etc), I didn’t get out until midday.

I had a quick look at the garden in the morning…


…and couldn’t resist another look at the anemones, radiant in the sunshine.

I enjoyed watching a bee literally getting stuck into a rhododendron flower…

bee and tulip

…and admired the colour of the tulip.

When I finally got going, I chose a route which I hoped would see me battling the breeze on my way up to the county border above Eskdalemuir and then getting swooshed back down to Langholm with the wind behind me.

Alas, my calculation was out and I had a crosswind to annoy me in both directions.  However, it was a lovely sunny day and the cool north easterly breeze stopped me from cooking in the sunshine so “mustn’t grumble”.

It is quite a hilly route by my standards and I have to be careful of my tin* knee when going up steep hills so I was lucky to have my new gears working well today.  The new bike’s hub has a choice of really good low gears which let me get up the hills without putting too much strain on my legs and I enjoyed the journey up to the border at 1000 ft above sea level.

I snapped away as I went along.

It was a great day for wide views and closer looks.


wild flowers

This is the Esk at Bentpath.

Esk at bentpath

bluebells at bentpath

I saw a lot of orange tip butterflies on my way and even spent some time on the Shaw Rigg chasing up and down the road on foot trying to catch a male who kept stopping and then flitting onwards just before I got the camera into focus.  I had to settle for this shot of the female which annoyingly doesn’t have the orange tip to her wings.

female orange tip butterfly

Wherever I looked there were beautiful corners…

esk view

…prehistoric stone circles…

stone curcles

…and wide panoramas.

Upper esk valley

This one was looking up the upper Esk valley over Eskdalemuir to the hills behind.   Sharp eyed readers may spot a curious white tower in the middle distance.  I passed it later.

On a sunny day Eskdalemuir is uniformly lovely.

Upper esk valley

And this is the white tower a few miles north of Eskdalemuir village.

samye Ling
It is part of the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery which has a beautiful temple.  It is not the first thing that you might expect to see in the Scottish Borders but the community has been here for 50 years and is part and parcel of this part of the world now.

Leaving the monastery behind, I headed up the single track road to the county boundary.  It is one of my favourite sections of road as the records show that in five miles the gradient is so steady that you only lose 15 meters in the course of climbing 432 metres.

Road to Ettrick

The climb is gentle, the scenery delightful and the only fly in the ointment is the need to avoid the large and speedy timber lorries that come hurtling up and down the road.  Luckily they make such a noise that you get plenty of advance warning.

I stopped for a light lunch at an abandoned sheep fold in the forest at the top of the hill…

sheep fauld

…and was quite pleased not to be driving in a car on such narrow roads when log lorries were on the go.


The trip home wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked as the cross wind nagged and pestered and I had to keep a sharp eye out for the many potholes on the way.  This didn’t make for relaxed riding.

I chose a slightly different route for my return which  gave me other views, including the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers…

meeting of black and white esk

…and a new selection of wild flowers.

wild flowers

As I got near to Langholm, I saw a farmer rolling his grass pastures…

rolling the grass

..and reflected that I could do with a good roller for my lawns.

I took a last look round…

valley north of langholm

…and was grateful for a quirk in the wind which pushed me up the final climb and then down into the town.

I had only done just over 40 miles but with over 2000ft of climbing, it felt like quite a long ride and my average speed was very modest.  I don’t do many hilly rides so it was a pleasure to have managed one without taking any harm to my joints.

When I got in, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a cup of tea on the new bench in the garden and I kept leaping up to photograph more flowers.

There were a lot to choose from.  They included a fine display of lilac blossom and the first sighting of a new yellow tulip, just out today…..

lilac and tulips

…as well the first of the white clematis on the wall round the back door, one of the few remaining daffodils and some of the very hardy grape hyacinths which have been out in frost, rain and sunshine for weeks.

hyacinth, daffodil and clematis

After a nourishing evening meal of corned beef hash, I went off to sing with our Langholm Choir.  For some reason the cycling had reduced my voice to the merest croak so I wasn’t much use but I was able to hit some impressively low notes.

The flying bird of the day was far too busy hitting some high notes of his own to be flying about.

blackbird singing

*Tin knee:  Actually it is likely that my new bike and my artificial knee are made of the same material, titanium.

Those interested can see details of my bike ride here.




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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 some delightfully green weeping willows in Parliament Hill Fields in London.  They were noticed by my sister Mary.

Weeping willows, Parliament Hill Fields

We woke to a beautifully sunny day and as darkness fell, it fell on a beautifully sunny day and in between…it was beautifully sunny.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent a happy day in the garden doing all sorts of useful things.  She only left to collect some more manure from her new manure mine.

I had a little problem in the morning.  I was hoping for a cycle ride of a reasonable length but with the morning sunny but decidedly cool and the afternoon promising to be nice and warm, the choice of suitable clothing was a tricky one.  In the end, I waited until midday when the temperature had risen enough to let me make a sensible choice.

I wandered round the garden while I was waiting.  The sun had brought things out.



When I finally got going, I varied my usual route.  With the wind being on the gentle side, I decided to take the hilly route north out of the town following the Esk valley.  Luckily the gentle breeze was on hand to blow me up the hills to Eskdalemuir.  I stopped to take a picture of the Girdle Stanes, one of the stone circles beside the route.

Girdle stanes

At Eskdalemuir, I turned left, climbed out of the White Esk valley and headed towards the Black Esk and beyond.  I got a nice prospect or two as I went over the hills.

View from above Eskdalemuir

You are never far from an electricity wire round here!

I had my lunch at an ugly bridge over the Dryfe Water north of Lockerbie.

Dryfe water

I was walking about trying to find a way down to the river bank to take a picture of it as it is obviously a repaired old stone bridge, when a kind lady emerged from a nearby house to ask if I was lost.  I told her that I was just trying to photograph the bridge and she was very surprised.  “We hate it,” she said.  She told me that the original parapet had been demolished by an articulated lorry and looking at me in a sympathetic way, offered me a cup of tea.  I reluctantly turned it down and she told me I could find a much nicer looking bridge a short way along the road.

She was right.

dryfe water bridge

It involved a short diversion from my route and a plunge down to the river with the consequent climb back up but I thought that it was well worth it.

Generally, it was a most enjoyable ride with wild flowers beginning to appear in quantity in the verges.  I saw celandines on my left as I went out and on my right as I was homeward bound.

wild flower verges

The gorse was looking good too.


As I neared home, I was quite surprised to find that the new windmill is visible from several places.  They have worked fast and the twirly bit on the top is now in place.

Ewe Hill windmill

A final six mile downhill and downwind section finished off my ride in fine style.  Those interested can click on the map for more details.

garmin 19 April 2016

Mrs Tootlepedal was resting from her gardening endeavours when I got back so after a cup of tea and a shower and a quick check on the bird feeder…

redpoll and siskin

A redpoll managed to dislodge a siskin from a perch.

…we drove up onto the Langholm moor to see if we could see any hen harriers.

We saw a buzzard flapping along above the skyline but it wasn’t long before a hen harrier appeared too and after some sparring…

hen harrier and buzzard

…drove it off.

It was very pleasant up on the hill in the warmth of the early evening.

On our way down, we stopped at the quarry where I had seen the toads spawning. I was interested to see what might have developed but there was no sign of toads and little sign of ‘toadpoles’.  Only one of the puddles seemed to have any life at all…

toad spawn and duck

…and we wondered if a pair of ducks, who seem to be resident in the quarry, are happily dining on them.

The low sun picked out the shrubs beside the lawn when we got home…


…and Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out this charming daffodil to me as we took a final walk round the garden.


Did I mention that the tulips were out?


And there are more to come.


A starling watched us as we walked about.


We were both quite pleased after a busy day that we had no activities in the evening other than a quiet sit down.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.


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In the absence of any guest pictures, I am repairing an omission for which I was rebuked by a reader after my Common Riding post. This is a shot of the Chinook helicopter which flew low over the town to check what was going on in the middle of the proceedings yesterday .

chinookLife was at a rather slower tempo today after the excitements of the Common Riding but we didn’t entirely waste a day of pleasant sunshine.

I started off by going to the monthly producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre and stocking up with fish, meat, cheese and honey.  I was surprised to get the honey as I thought that our local beekeeper and her bees might have been struggling in the recent poor weather but she had plenty of fresh stock and was in a cheerful mood.

There had been some tremendously heavy showers of rain as I went to bed last night and I fully expected to see the flowers in the garden battered to the ground this morning.  Apart from the David Austin roses and the delphiniums, which were definitely the worse for wear, other flowers were still standing up well.

lilies and nasturtiums

poppyNext, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to Eskdalemuir to collect the pictures from our photographic exhibition at The Hub there.  On a sunny day like today, it is hard to distinguish Eskdalemuir from Shangri-La…

Eskdalemuir…but on a more normal day (when it it raining and the wind is blowing) there is no such difficulty.

We collected the pictures (and the money for several that had been sold) and stopped for a coffee.  A group of Harley Davidson riding motor cyclists from Yorkshire on a tour were also having coffee and they allowed me to take a picture of one of their beautifully shiny machines.

motorbike at the HubAs The Hub had already catered for a large party of cyclists on a 300 km Audax ride from Galashiels to Alston and back, they were having a busy morning for a place in the middle of nowhere.

Because it was such a nice day, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a walk through the woods to Bessie’s Hill forts would be a good idea.  I visited this spot with Sandy in spring but Mrs Tootlepedal has never been there.  It is one of the sites on the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail.

By a stroke of good fortune, the Forestry Commission had sent someone out very recently to strim the trail through the woods….

Bessie's hill…so the going couldn’t have been better.

The short walk through the mossy woods was delightful…

Bessie's hill…and the view from the top was as good as ever.

Bessie's hill viewThere are two forts and from the surrounding mound of the upper fort you can get a good view of the lower one.

Bessie's hill fortOddly enough, when you walk onto the summit of  the lower fort, which we did, you don’t get any feeling of being above the ramparts and ditches or of the shape of the ground at all.

As well as the forts, there was much else to enjoy on the walk.

Bessie's hill nature

There were elusive butterflies and tiny moths everywhere we walked

Bessie's hill nature

There was moss in clumps and in mounds

Bessie's hill nature

And sprouting

Bessie's hill nature

The first signs of heather coming into flower

Bessie's hill nature

Insects of all sorts and lichens too

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eyes spotted fungi, some quite large and some really tiny as we neared the end of the descent back to the car.

Bessie's hill fungusWe took a last look back up towards the ramparts of the lower fort…

Bessie's hill fort

You would have to be a fit person to attack up that hill.

…and drove quietly home.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal got stuck into the garden and I sieved some more compost, did some shreddding and a little tidying up under the bird feeders as well.  The mess that the birds make, especially the siskins who perpetually drop seed onto the ground, is the downside of the pleasure that I get from watching the birds feeding.

I walked round with my camera too.

phlox and buddleia

A variegated phlox and the new buddleia were glowing.  No butterflies on the buddleia yet though.

After that, my legs started complaining so I went inside, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal still working, and enjoyed what I thought was a well earned sit down.   Later in the evening, I converted a couple of pounds of our blackcurrants into a few pots of blackcurrant jam.  There are a lot left on the bush so if everything goes well, I shall make some blackcurrant jelly next.

All in all, I didn’t get much time to look out of the kitchen window so this was the best flying bird of the day that I could manage.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my son Tony and shows one method that he came across of making sure that your dog doesn’t get  attacked by swans while walking at Lake Windermere.

dog walkingI was interested to find out how my various joints would feel this morning after my experiment with the instant sit down method yesterday.  Checking from top to bottom, my thumb was bruised and sore but usable,  my hip was painless, my knee was fine and my ankle was quite swollen and rather tricky to walk on,

This was much better than I had feared and some credit must go to a relaxing bath last night and some credit to having fairly healthy muscles in the leg.  The swollen ankle was periodically treated with a judicious mixture of gentle exercise and frozen peas and by the end of the day, it was almost as good as new.  I count myself very lucky, as I could have done a fair bit of damage.

The morning was spent going no further than the garden.  The ladies were in very good form.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta

Lilian Austin

Lilian Austin

As were the astrantias.


A general view of them today instead of the usual close up.

A yellow iris has come out to join the others.

yellow irisMy sore thumb made holding my heavy camera a bit of a problem but I still managed to catch a blackbird making off with some seed…

blackbird…and a goldfinch hiding behind the feeder pole.

goldfinchMrs Tootlepedal had been at a coffee morning for her church choir and we had lunch when she came back.  After some discussion it was agreed that both my leg and my sister Susan would benefit from an excursion so Mrs Tootlepedal drove us up to Eskdalemuir.  We stopped at The Hub where I checked the exhibition space and then we went on to visit the Samye Ling Tibetan centre a mile or two further up the road.

I was here recently on a bike trip but today I had time to walk around and really appreciate the place.  It is not in any way short of statutes.

Some are in ponds large and small…

Samye Ling…and some are in various vegetable gardens.

Samye LingThere is a wealth of decoration on everything that has a spare inch.

Samye LingSamye LingI enjoyed taking a close look at the figures round the base of the large gateway.

gateway Samye Linggateway Samye LingThe smaller pond with the figure in it has a dragon to pour the water in at one side and a golden boy to pour it out at the other.

Small pond same lingWe were interested to see that modern technology is part and parcel of the site.  We liked these electrically powered gently turning prayer wheels a lot.

Samye LingAs well as the buildings, some peaceful landscaping has been done.

Samye LingSamye LingThe monks are very energetic and it seems as though every time I visit, some new works have been started.  The swallows have also been building and there were several nests to be seen with busy parents flitting to and fro.

swallows Samye LingNear the car park, there were some striking purple flowers.  The looked like knapweed but not quite like the wild flowers you would expect.  The bees were enjoying the pollen.

knapweed  Samye LingWe stopped off at The Hub on our way back down and had a light refreshment and then dawdled back down the west bank of the river Esk to Enzieholm and thence home.

The afternoon sunshine made the drive as pleasurable as the visit to the  monastery and it was just the sort of quiet excursion to suit a man with a dodgy ankle and a sister who these days enjoys life in the slow lane.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had another go at installing a mental metronome in his head.  We made progress from last week but it is not coming easily.  I will have to look closely at my teaching methods.  I can remember my younger son complaining to me some years ago.  He had a class of first year students to take when he was studying for his PhD and he told me that the students just wouldn’t learn properly.  “That’s easy enough, ” I replied.  “You are not teaching them properly then.”  He was much struck by this way of looking at things.

In the evening, my kind sister took us out for a meal.  The food was very good and what made the meal even better was the fact that we didn’t eat too much.

The flying bird of the day is a less stealthy goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a room with a view.  It was captured by Venetia while on holiday in Corrèze. She seems to have had plenty of interesting things to look at while she was inn France.

CorrezeWe had sunny spells and brisk winds again today but we were spared any showers which was a relief.  Once again though,  I failed to get out on my bike for one reason or another.

I did manage to some useful work in the garden instead.  I mowed the middle lawn and the grass paths on the front lawn too.  Then I raked one of the potential wild flower areas in the front lawn to try to get rid of as much moss as possible.

Having cast a critical eye on the state of health of the middle lawn, I gave the more pathetic parts of it a dose of liquid fertiliser.  I don’t expect to see much growth though until we get some warm weather.

I moved a couple more barrowfuls of compost from Bin A to Bin C but I have not included a photograph of this to avoid excessive excitement among the readership.

I ended the work with a good session of shredding of Mrs Tootlepedal’s spring prunings.

I wouldn’t like to pretend that this was continuous work as it was interrupted by periods of contemplation, crossword solving, sitting and thinking, lunch and sitting without thinking…..and taking a few pictures in the garden.

daisy and lilac

Two flowers coming out just in time to greet June


The last two daffodils which sadly are not quite going to make the first of June after all.


Two lonely flowers on azaleas surrounded by unopened petals

plum tree

It looks as though we may get some plums this year but the late frost has seen to at least  half of the flowers.


And only half of the clematis above the back door has come out so far.

Still, there are bees about which is encouraging.


A bee ranging over the lithodora


And finally finding the one it wants.

Because of the work in the garden, there were not a great many birds to be seen today but the usual suspects were about.

starling and chaffinch

A starling gives a chaffinch a curious look.


One chaffinch comes as another goes

During the day, Mrs Tootlepedal moved the old feeder from the elder to protect her flowerbed underneath and put it back on the pole outside the kitchen window.  This didn’t discourage the goldfinches.

goldfinchesThey may prefer it to the new feeder which some of them find a little awkward to land on.

goldfinchThough it is no problem to the blue tits.

blue titA well judged combination of gardening and idling filled the day and in the early evening, we drove up to Eskdalemuir to the new Hub which has been set up in the old school there.

The school lies across the road from the river Esk…

River Esk at eskdalemuirBoth Mrs Tootlepedal and I remarked that on a pleasant evening at this time of year, Eskdalemuir can easily be mistaken for Shangri-la.  It is a different matter though in the midst of winter when the winds are raging and the snow is falling.  Then it can be mistaken for hell.

The managers of the Hub had organised a day of music and I was there to contribute a little by playing some simple duets with my flute pupil Luke.  Luke was in very good form and not least because we adopted very sensible tempos, we played our pieces well and got rewarded with a warm round of applause.  I was very pleased for Luke who had practised hard and was touched to see that his playing had moved his proud grandmother, who was in the audience, to tears.

We didn’t stay to listen to more music but drove gently home by the road down the other bank of the river.  It is one of the benefits of living in a  less prosperous area of the country that we didn’t meet a single car on our 26 mile round trip.  In fact, I was able to sop in the middle of the road near Hopsrig and take a couple of pictures on our way home.

yellow flowers

Bright yellow flowers among the debris left by tree felling

bluebells at Hopsrig

Bluebells among the few remaining trees.

We will have a busy day of singing tomorrow with a rehearsal for our Carlisle choir and the second concert with our Langholm choir.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  It is not a good picture but I have used it anyway because I love the arc that a goldfinch’s wings make when they are fully extended.

flying goldfinch

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