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Posts Tagged ‘Ewes Valley’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday on the Northumberland coast.  He saw a boat temporarily going nowhere.

dennis' boat

I should have mentioned in yesterday’s post that since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea which we ate with lemon and castor sugar.  They disappeared so quickly that I didn’t have time to take a picture of them.  This was why I forgot to mention them.  I have got so used to taking pictures these days that if I haven’t got a picture, then it probably didn’t happen.

What definitely did happen today was that the sun shone.  All day.  It was accompanied by a very chilly and quite strong wind but we didn’t care.

I started my active day off by walking up to Sandy’s for a cup of coffee and a chat. The route took me up the hill to Holmwood and I could look back over the sunlit town, take in a touch of spring…

town, spring holmwood yellow crocus

…wonder why such a fine house as Holmwood House is still derelict and admire an eye popping burst of yellow crocuses on Jimmy’s Brae.

Sandy was remarkably cheerful for a man confined to barracks for several weeks.  As he has a supply of ginger biscuits, I will certainly be back.

When I got home, there was no time to rest as Mrs Tootlepedal had agreed to a walk and chosen the Langholm Moor as the way to go.  We drove up the hill, and when we parked the car at the White Yett, we could see snowy hills across the Esk, the pylon helicopter parked at its base, (it was probably too windy for it too fly), and my favourite sunlit view up the Ewes Valley.

helicopter turbines ewes

I took a closer look at the snow capped hills.

snow up ewes

It was a good day to be up and about.

We crossed over the col between the Esk and the Little Tarras Valley and saw more snowy hills at the top of Tarras.

tarras valley snow

Our walk was a simple one, down this road for a bit…

road to harrier corner

…and then back up it again.

I enjoyed the winter colours…

tarras valley browns

…and Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for a sight of a hen harrier.  She was very happy when she spotted one through her binoculars, and even though it was far too far away to photograph, I could see it with the naked eye as it ranged across the moor looking for food.

On our way back up the road, we were struck by some very green moss beside the road.

It was Polytrichum Communale (I think) and it was positively glowing in the sunshine.  You can see it in the centre of the panel below.  Nearby, we saw a clump which had been pushed over.  You can see it on the left in the panel below and it shows just how long the stems of this moss are.  Somehow I don’t expect moss to have stems that long.  My moss book says that they can be 40 cm long.

mosses on whita

On the right of the moss panel, you can see some of the sphagnum moss which we expect to find all over our moorland.

When we got home, it was time for lunch and hot soup and bread and cheese was just what was required after experiencing the chilly wind on our way back to the car.

After lunch, I thought about cycling but carelessly managed to think about the very chilly wind too so I watched the birds for a bit.

I was happy to see a blue tit on the feeder…

blue tit

…and I had a good time watching birds enjoying the sunshine.  I especially liked the blackbird sunbathing on the hedge.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree continues to be popular.

birds in sun

There was plenty of action but my conscience got the better of me..

birds in shadow

…and I left the birds to it and got changed for cycling.

I went out into to the garden and wasted a bit more time being distracted by crocuses…

crocus panel

…which were enjoying the sunshine too.

open crocus

This is what a hellebore would look like if I was lying on the ground looking up at it…

hellebore from below

…but as I am too old and stout to creep under a hellebore, the shot above was taken by sticking my hand under the flower with a camera in it and hoping for the best.

I finally managed to get out on my bike. It was theoretically about five or six degrees celsius but the wind chill factor brought that down to zero or one degree and I made slow progress up the hill against the twenty mile a hour breeze.

It looked as though my sunny day might come to end as I went up Callister but the brisk wind at least had the merit of blowing these clouds away before they could rain on me.

clouds over callister

To add a couple of miles to my trip, I took a diversion up the Cleuchfoot road, both on my way up and my way back.  It is a gentle little valley with the Logan Water running down the middle of it.

cleuchfoot valley

I found my tree of the day there.

tree cleuchfoot road

I managed a slow but enjoyable twenty miles and this took me over 100 miles for the month.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to rest when I got home becuase I had arranged with Mrs Tootlepedal to combine some recycling at Longtown with a view of the starling murmuration there.  This was very time dependent and we got to Longtown to find the starlings in full flow over the High Street.

longtown starlings 26 feb 5

And i mean in full flow.  You had to be very careful when you looked up not to get an unwanted present in the eye.

There were times when the sky was full of starlings…

longtown starlings 26 feb 4

..making pretty patterns.

longtown starlings 26 feb 2

There were at least two separate flocks and I kept hoping that I would be able to record some of the twisting patterns which are characteristic of these murmurations but either I was too close or the starlings were not in the mood

longtown starlings 26 feb 3

The starlings are right over the centre of the town and the locals are probably quite fed up with having to wash their cars all the time and look carefully where they are stepping.

As it grew darker, the birds got lower in the sky…

black starlings

and soon they were diving down into the trees where they will spend the night.

longtown starlings 26 feb 1

It is quite a sight.  One moment the sky is alive with thousands of birds, and the next, they have all disappeared completely with a sudden whoosh.

I will have to wash the car tomorrow but it was worth it.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chafinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He had a moment to wander around in Borrowash this morning and was surprised to find a giraffe in the woods.  You can see it too if you look carefully.  It didn’t move a lot, he tells me.

giraffe at Borrowash

Last night I had wondered whether we would wake to a winter wonderland or sodden slush and when the curtains opened this morning, the reality was somewhere between the two.  There had been more snow overnight and the hills had a good covering but there was still plenty of green to be seen in the garden and the roads were slushy.

The sun was shining and I thought that I ought to visit the winter wonderland and ignore the slush, so I put my walking boots on and headed for the hills.

I carefully chose our smallest hill and stopped on the way to look back over the town.  It was a good day to be out and about.

langholm and whita snow

I got a short way up the Meikleholm  Hill track and stopped to catch my breath and look around.  Sunshine on snow, if it is not too deep, brings out details and I could see a fan shape near a pylon on the lower sloped of Whita across the the other side of the town.

pylon in snow

A glimpse of some snowy hills encouraged me to climb a bit higher…

view from Meikleholm Hill

…but I met the  owner of these footprints and he told me that it was very cold and windy on the top of the hill…

strange footsteps

…and as it was clouding over and the forecast had suggested a good chance of more snow, I chickened out and walked back down off the hill and onto the Becks track.  I settled for a walk across the Becks Burn and back home by the road.  I hoped that I would get back before the snow started again.

My friend Ada had sent me message a day or two ago to say that primroses were out along the track so I kept my eyes open and saw one for myself.  Shortly afterwards I passed a fine display of catkins.

primrose and catkins

I got down to the Auld Stane Brig and thought about heading home along the road.

But the clouds had moved away and the sun was out again, so I thought that I might have time to climb up the lower slopes of Warbla and come back down the track to the park to make my walk a little more interesting.

I wasn’t the only one to have used the track today…

warbla path

…and this was no surprise as dog walkers get everywhere.

This short track was quite steep and even a little snow makes walking harder work and I was happy to stop and look back across the Wauchope from time to time.

The light on Calfield Rig was interesting.

calfield rig

And I could have stood for a long time looking at the snowy slopes…

calfield

…but it was chilly so I walked up the path a bit and then had another look in a different direction.  The light and shade there were interesting too.

view over holmwood snow

I got to the point where my path met the main track from the top of Warbla and turned to go down to the town. Then I turned back and looked up the track to the summit.

warbla track snow

It was irresistible so I telephoned Mrs Tootlepedal to tell her of my whereabouts and then set off up the hill.

It was quite hard to make quick progress as I had to keep stopping to look around, both to enjoy the wider view as sunshine and clouds alternated in a brisk wind…

clouds and sun on snow

…and to use the zoom on the Lumix to focus in on small details that caught the eye on distant hills.  There was some deep snow on Bauchle Hill further up the Esk valley.

detail Bauchle Hill

I pressed on though, using the helpful footprints in the snow left by a pair of dog walkers who had gone up the track before me.  Without the help of the dog walkers, I don’t think that I could have continued as the wind had blown quite a bit of snow onto the track and it was well over six inches deep at times.  I would have skipped through that as a boy but it was a more serious consideration now.

Still, I got high enough to look back down over the town….

wide view from warbla snow

…and as I got to the flatter part of the track near the summit, the snow got thinner because much of it had been blown away by the strong winds and I was able to stride out with youthful exuberance (almost).

The views from the top were well worth any effort I had had to expend in getting up the hill.

ewes valley snow

Thanks to the rapid passing of the clouds, the light was different every time I looked and it would have been very tempting to spend quite a bit of time on the top of the hill taking pictures…

langholm sun and clouds snow

…but as you can see from the snow glued to the trig point, the wind was brisk and the windchill factor was enough to make standing around for too long unattractive…

trig point warbla

…quite apart from the possibility of being literally blown over while taking pictures of Whita.

whita from warbla snow

So I took one last picture….

Langholm and ewes valley snow

…looked at some looming clouds coming up behind me, and scuttled back down the hill as fast as my legs (and two stout walking poles) would carry me.

As it turned out, there was no need for a rush as the snow didn’t start again until well into the afternoon.  But I had had the best of the day’s sunshine while I was out on the hill so I was happy.

I was also happy to sit down for some lunch after a strenuous four and a half mile outing.

I had a quick look at the birds in a sunny moment after lunch.

The pigeon was back…

pigeon

…and when the snow started again, the siskins were queuing up to kick…

three siskins and a kicking

…and shout at each other.

three siskins and a dunk

I settled down to the computer and put in some useful time entering more of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and learning songs for a choir competition when we will have to do without books.

Mrs Tootlepedal found a dry spell to cycle about the town, combining some business with some shopping and when she go back, she made an excellent chicken stew for our tea.

We should be going to Edinburgh tomorrow to see Matilda but with more snow forecast, I think it most likely that we will stay at home.

The flying birds of the day are that flock of siskins which was back again.  They love to perch on the walnut tree, leap into the air, swirl about a bit and then settle back in the tree.  Perhaps, like me, they get a bit cold if they have to stand around too long.

siskin flock in walnut

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Today’s guest post is another from Joyce’s Bermuda collection.  As well as glorious beaches she visited the zoo at Flatt Island where she found this lovely lemur.

ring tailedlemur flatts village aquarium

When we woke up, we were very pleased to find the Norwegian weather forecast had been reliable and we had a second sunny day in succession.  What was even more satisfactory was that there was no sign of the strong winds with which we had been threatened so it was as good a day as one could reasonably expect in early February.

We had to wait in for the gas man to come and service our boiler so I had time to admire the smash and grab technique of the robin…

smash and grab robin

…and cycle to the corner shop, passing an oyster catcher on the way.

oyster catcher on gravel

When I got home again, there were starlings on every side.

There was one on top of Irving’s holly tree and one  on top of the walnut tree …

starling on walnut and holly

…and when I went round the back of the house to investigate loud twittering, I found many more starlings in a bush at the back of Henry Street. (There were noisy sparrows in there too.)

starlings back henry street

While the gas boiler inspection was going on, I walked round the garden.

The crocuses had opened to greet the sunshine…

first open crocus

…and there were signs of life all over the place.

wallflower, euphorbia, crocus, magnolia

In defence of the often criticised service industries, I have to report that the gas engineer came on time, did the job cheerfully and quickly, and went on his way with a smile.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning at the computer on the proposed community land purchase business and she had more to do after lunch.  While she slaved away, I took the opportunity to test my cycling head to see if there was any dizziness still in it.

I got the slow bike out because it has wide handlebars for a steadier grip and it doesn’t have toe clips on the pedals so if I needed to stop quickly, I could put my foot down immediately.  I cycled at a very sensible pace so that I wouldn’t put pressure on my breathing. As a result, I enjoyed the outing.

It was still a lovely day…

field near Bloch

…and I stopped after three miles for a little rest and a chance to view a favourite cascade on the Wauchope Water.

I took a bird’s eye view from above…

Wauchope Schoolhouse cascade from above

…and a trout’s eye view from below.

Wauchope Schoolhouse cascade from below

I turned up the Cleuchfoot road and followed the Logan Water for a mile.

Logan Water

I looked politely at the lichen on the wall when I parked my bike for that photo.

wall lichen

In the end, I managed ten miles in just over an hour and got home without having to stop for a dizzy spell.  This was most satisfactory and if the weather stays friendly, I will try to go a little further tomorrow.

Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her work by the time that I got back, and she kindly agreed to forgo a gardening opportunity and come for a walk with me instead.

We went along the Lamb Hill….

Lamb Hill tree

…and on to the road to Newcastleton.

There is a gap in the trees there which gives a fine view up the Ewes valley.  I like the way that the hills meet each other on the diagonal just as a child might draw hills in a colouring book..

view from Copshaw road

We walked up the road and then took the path across the lower slopes of Whita which leads to Whita Well.   We couldn’t see much ahead of us as we were walking straight into the sun but when we stopped and looked back, we were well rewarded for our little climb.

ewes valley from Whita

After a soggy start, the path across the hill became very acceptable.

grass path on Whita

Above us, we could see the monument pointing out where to look to find the moon.

monument and point

When we got to Whita Well, we came to the bench which kind people have put there for the convenience of elderly walkers who are in need of a sit down.

We sat down.

bench at whita well

We were well sheltered from the light breeze, and it was a great treat after so many damp and gloomy days to sit in the sun and take in the rays.

As we walked back down to the town, we passed a good show of gorse, though it wasn’t warm enough to generate the coconut scent that gorse has in summer.

gorse at whita well

We also passed this sign at the top of the golf course.

helicopter warning sign

It was laid flat on the ground though as the helicopter wasn’t flying today.

We got home after two and a half miles of quite hard work and were very happy to have a sit down, a cup of tea, and several slices of fruity malt loaf which doubtless more than made up for any calories we might have expended while going up the hill.

Although the atmospheric pressure is due to stay high tomorrow, we might find ourselves in some misty conditions and the temperature might be low enough for a morning frost.  Looking at the BBC weather forecast for the temperature in the afternoon, I find it is two degrees better than the Norwegian offering, so I will opt for the BBC this time.

The slow cooked lamb stew made a third and final appearance for tea, this time in the guise of a light curry with rice.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

A literal footnote:  Sandy has sent me a message to say that his operation has gone well.  Thank you for the kind wishes that you expressed.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was out walking his dogs this morning.

bruce's morning mist

Bruce took his photograph at half past eleven this morning when, as you can see, it was misty on the Castleholm.

I had looked out of the window after breakfast and only seen sunshine and frost but when I went outside, I could see mist on the hills so I thought that this would be a good moment to rush up the hill (in a car) and see if I could look down from above to get some “sea of mist” shots.

It was before ten when I left and it was quite misty as I drove over the bridge on my to the White Yett so my hopes were high.  Sadly, my optimism went down in inverse ratio to the height I gained as I went up the hill and when I got to the car park, it was apparent that I had left things too late.

I left the car and walked up the track to the monument, looking down as I went.  There was only a trickle of mist running along the very bottom of the Ewes valley…

light mist ewes valley

…and not much more running along the length of the Esk.light mist over town

There were places where the mist was a bit thicker…

mist up esk valley

It was beautiful day though and the views were lovely so I wasn’t as unhappy about the lack of mist as I might have been.

mist over whole town

I should have got out earlier because the mist had risen up and was now sitting in an impressive line along the top of the hills along the Ewes valley.

clouds on ewes hill tops

As I walked, the clouds lifted a bit more and across the town, I could see the wind turbines, which had been in the clouds in previous pictures, quite clearly now.

craig windmills with diggerThe sharp eyed reader may notice something beside the left hand turbine tower in the shot above.  A closer examination shows that it is one of those machines with a lifting platform reaching up to a blade.

When I got to the summit, I walked a few yards past the monument and looked over the wall into a misty England.

view over misty england

Turning round, and looking the other way, all was clear as crystal.

monument december

I was happy to see a very decorative patch of lichen enjoying life at 1000 ft above sea level.

lichen at monument

Although I hadn’t seen as much mist as I would have liked, it was a delightful short walk and the sun took the edge off a sub zero temperature as I walked back down to the car…

sun and shadow at monument

…and made everything look very cheerful.

lichen at white yett

The mist really was very local, lying close to the rivers and very low, as you can see from this picture which I took when I was almost back down the hill and into the town…

mist over rugby club

…and it was still there when Bruce was walking his dogs an hour later (assuming the clock on his camera is set correctly.)

I made a pot of coffee and had a cup with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home and I was pleased to warm my hands up after exposing my shutter finger to the chilly breeze on the hill.

Fortified by the coffee, I had a look at the birds.  There were a lot about today, the most this winter so far.

Goldfinches arrived with and without the use of wings…

goldfinches wings

…and jackdaws looked on disapprovingly as usual.

quizzocal jackdaw

The robin took a more quizzical view…

quizzical robin on stalk

…and a green finch showed that it too could manage without any wing flapping.

no wings greenfinch

I waited in for a delivery of hand made soap after lunch and then went for a short walk.  After the brilliantly sunny morning, the afternoon was a disappointment, being very grey and gloomy, so taking pictures was hard work.

A pheasant at the lodge was bright enough to show off its exotic colours…

pheasant at lodge

…and I saw two lots of fungus, the first a crop looking so like a heap of fallen leaves that I almost passed it by without noticing it…

fungus lodge walks

…and the second gleaming brightly on a tree branch.

fungus duchess bridge

It wasn’t as cold as when the sun had been out in the morning but it wasn’t really a great time for a photographic walk so I pressed on home, taking a final picture suitable to the conditions.

moss and fern tree

Darkness fell soon after I got home.  Following a recommendation from Sandy, we have started to watch the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials on the i-player and this was a perfect opportunity to take in three episodes before we had our evening meal.  It is very gripping.

Checking on the train company showed that they had managed to run more of their trains today than yesterday, so we are hoping that this improvement will continue tomorrow and we will be able to find a train to go to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which flew over my head as I walked along th Kilngreen this afternoon.

flying gull

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Today’s guest post is another from one of fellow cyclist Paul’s visits to the Lake District.  It shows Derwent Water looking at its best.

derwent water

We had a day of sunshine day here, a welcome break in a succession of grey, wet and windy days which is due to resume tomorrow in spades.

We made the best of it.

I did some shopping and paid a modest but welcome income tax refund into the bank before coming home for coffee.

I stopped on the suspension bridge as I cycled over it, looked up river and thought that Langholm is not a bad place to live.

River Esk December

After coffee, I had time to look at a blackbird….

blackbird on hedge

…and enjoy the plumage on a dunnock, looking a bit brighter than usual in the sunshine…

dunnock's back

…before driving up to the White Yett with Mrs Tootlepedal to have a walk in the sun.

I stopped on the way up and upset some sheep on a knoll who did not know which way to look when they saw me taking their picture.

sheep on knoll

Looking back down the hill, I could see that when the spruces were felled in the plantation beside the road, a group of pines were left standing tall.  They glowed.

pines on Copshaw road

I was tempted by the beautiful day into taking another panorama.  A click on the picture will give you the wider view.

whita panorama

We parked at the MacDiarmid memorial and walked up the track towards the monument.  We didn’t visit the monument today though, as after a few hundred yards, we turned off to our left and followed the track round the contour of the hill to the Castle Craigs.

The track is used by the cornet and his mounted followers on Common Riding Day and is marked by a couple of cairns along the way.  This is the first of them….

first cairn on castle craigs track

…and this is the second.

second cairn on castle craigs track

The picture above shows one of the downsides of taking photos in low winter sun, the tendency of the photographer to intrude into the picture!

Looking back to the hill on the other side of the road, I liked the sinuous curve of the wall and the clear contrast between the land that is grazed on the left and the land that was used for grouse shooting for many years on the right.  It shows that whatever we are looking at and however beautiful it may be, it is not a natural scene but one that is heavily influenced by the hand of man.

whita wall

(That intrusive photographer just crept into the scene again.)

As well as the views, there was plenty of interest along the track with moss, lichen and quartz intrusions into the sandstone rock just three of the things that caught my eye.

moss, lichen and rock Castle craigs

We puddled along a rather soggy track until we came to the cairn at the Castle Craigs itself.

castle craig cairn from bleow
it is a solidly built piece of stonework designed to hold the town’s standard during the ceremonies on Common Riding Day.  There is a handy bench near it where Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment…

castle craig cairn

…taking in the view across the Tarras Valley.

view from castle craigs

We were well wrapped up, as in spite of the sunshine, it was not warm in the wind.

We stayed for a while, and then walked back to the car, enjoying the vista of rolling hills at the top of the Ewes Valley….

rolling hills ewes

…and the intentionally rusted Corten steel on the MacDiarmid memorial.  It made a very harmonious picture today.

macdiarmid memorial rust

Looking at the memorial from the other side brought out the intention of the artist, Jake Harvey, that it should be read like a book of the poet’s life and works.

macdiarmid memorial open book

We rolled back down the hill to the town, using gravity to charge the battery of the Zoe as we went.  After the recent dull weather, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt spiritually and physically refreshed by our outing.

After lunch, I got well wrapped up and went out again, this time on my bicycle.

I stopped half way up Callister to record a favourite gate….

gate with buzzard

…and was annoyed to find that that persistent photographer had crept into the frame yet again.  I was also vexed when I had put my camera back in my pocket to find a buzzard flying lazily over my head.  It had gone of course before I could get my camera out again.  When I looked at the photograph on my computer later on, I could see the buzzard perched in plain sight on the top of the second tree from the extreme right of the picture!

When I got to my turning point at the far end of Callister, it was evident that it wasn’t an entirely cloudless day…

cloud in the sky

…but I wasn’t complaining.

I took a little diversion to Cleuchfoot on my way home and this gave me the opportunity to add to my winter tree collection.

cleuchfoot trees

I managed to fit in twenty miles by going through the town and out of the other side for a mile or two and got home before the light had begun to fade.  The thermometer was showing 3.8°C when I arrived back so I was happy to sit down in the warm kitchen and have a cup of tea and a slice of toast with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We were joined by Mike Tinker for a while and when he left, I had time for a shower before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

We are making good progress at the moment and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger (accompanied by the computer on keyboard).  The computer sets an unyielding tempo which we have to stick to in a military fashion but it is a great deal better than having no accompanist at all.

So it was a day with a tootle and a pedal, which is always good, and since it had a bonus walk with Mrs Tootlepedal in it too, it was definitely a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

Another peril of a sunny day in December is the deep shadows cast by the low sun so I have an unilluminated chaffinch as flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a real trouper from Manitoba.  Lucie sent the picture to me and tells me that on the day that she took it,  Manitoba was at -8c, and the little pansy was still going strong despite having been covered in four inches of snow and suffering several below freezing days

Lucie's flower

We had another frosty morning here but a generally sunny day so after coffee, while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to make some purchases relating to repainting our hallway, I brushed the leaves off the lawns, collected another good handful of fallen walnuts, checked out the floral survivors of the frosts…

four after frost flowers

…and went for a walk.

The falling of the leaves has let more light into the river bank near Pool Corner…

Wauchope above pool corner

…but there were still some bright leafy moments here and there along my walk…

manse brae tree

…although we are also well  into the ‘bare tree’ time for taking photos.

leafless tree

As you can see, there are some grey clouds in the background of the picture above and for a moment, a light drizzle threatened to spoil my walk.  It was a false alarm though and the drizzle fizzled out after only a minute or two, and the sun shone again.

It lit up a couple of characters who were as interested in me as I was in them.

balck cow

grey cow

The frosty mornings haven’t affected the lichens on the fence post at the Auld Stane Brig.

lichen fence post

Why this particular fence post out of the thousands around here should have such a flourishing lichen garden is one of life’s little mysteries.

My stroll took me along Gaskell’s and Easton’s Walks.  There were fungi to be seen along Gaskell’s…

three gaskells fungi

…and the sun penetrated through the trees to light up the arrival of the Becks Burn into the mighty Wauchope.

becks burn meeting wauchope

I looked across at Meikleholm hill…

Meikleholm hill autumn

…before plunging through the autumn tunnel to the Stubholm and Easton’s walk.

stubholm track

It was definitely autumn in the Beechy Plains…

beechy plains

…but there was still plenty to look at as I went along.

acorn, script lichen and leaf

This fine bunch of daisies on the river bank at the park bridge made a cheerful end to my walk.

daisies by park brig late october

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Carlisle in time to have some for her lunch too.

The temperature had risen to 8°C by the time that lunch was over, so I wrapped up warmly and got my bike out of the garage.  I very nearly put it back again when I looked up and saw this.

rainbow from garden

That was the direction from which our weather was coming today.  I checked the forecast and it swore that it wasn’t raining in Langholm so in spite of the evidence of my eyes, I had faith and cycled off up the Wauchope road.

My faith was justified and it didn’t rain on me at all.  In fact it was more or less sunny the whole way.

There were no leaves left on the trees when I passed the Glencorf burn though.

glencorf burn october

I was doing an out and back ride, so I took this picture at the far end of Callister before I turned back towards Langholm

view over winterhope

…and this one at the other end of my ride, where in spite of some impressive cloud formations…

clouds up Ewes

…the top end of the Ewes valley was bathed in sunshine.

Ewes valley october

When I got home, after twenty gentle miles, I was greeted by these cheerful argyranthemums which had perked up in the sun after being rather droopy in the early morning frost.

last argyranthemums

Mrs Tootlepedal roasted a chicken for our tea and as I polished off the rest of the tarte tatin as pudding, any calories burned during my cycle ride were more than amply replaced by the evening meal.

Although the feeder has been out in the garden for two days now, no bird has visited it at all while I have been watching, so a dunnock is the standing in as flying bird of the day.

dunnock

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent Highland tour.  He and his daughter came upon an art deco tidal swimming pool near Banff.  They didn’t go for a dip though as it was closed.   Money is being found for repairs so maybe next time?

Outdoot swimming Tarlair near banff

I woke to a heavy cold and some heavy rain to go with it.  The rain suited the situation perfectly and I was easily able to while away the hours until the rain stopped by hanging around and feeling sorry for myself.

As the weather improved, I felt better and I was able to potter round the garden just before lunch and admire the sedum, Rosy Cheeks and a clematis in the colourful section…

sedum rosy cheek clematis

…and Japanese anemones, feverfew and the phinal phlox of the season in the white goods department.

anemone feverfew phlox

The undoubted champion of surviving the rain was the fuchsia under the walnut tree.

fuchsia

Talking of walnuts, I was able to pick up half a dozen more walnuts and Mrs Tootlepedal had them as part of her lunch menu.

A chaffinch visited the plum tree and the picture shows that it won’t be long before the leaves have fallen.

chaffinch in shabby plum tree

The holly leaves will not fall (we hope) and will continue to provide shelter for starlings and a place for them to perch as well.

single starling on holly

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we might drive up onto the Langholm Moor so that she could collect some bracken to lay on her vegetable beds over the winter.

I had recovered enough to welcome a little outing and the weather had recovered from the morning rain too, so we were able to enjoy the view up the Ewes Valley…

ewes velley october

…and over the moor, when we had got past the White Yett.  The moor is brown as you can see and there was plenty of bracken to collect…

across Langholm Moor october

….but once we had filled the boot of the car, we crossed the Tarras water and went up the hill on the other side.  The little burn that chatters down the hill beside the road there was well worth stopping for.

Langholm Moor burn

The rain meant that there was plenty of water flowing over the many steps as it comes down the hill…

Langholm Moor burn cascade

…and the underlying peat gave the water a rich colour.

Langholm Moor burn view

Although it is only a miniature landscape, it is one of my favourite spots…

Langholm Moor burn with tree

…especially as I like cascades.   I liked this one so much…

Langholm Moor burn tributary

…that I took two pictures of it.

Langholm Moor burn tributary cascade

We were hoping to see some goats as we drove back over the Tarras bridge…

tarras brig copshaw road

…but on this occasion, all our goats were sheep so we ignored them and headed home.

Where I found a butterfly.

butterfly

Why they are avoiding the sedums is a mystery.

I made baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea and then we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening of a live recording of a celebration of Placido Domingo’s 50 years of performing at the Arena in Verona.

I had seen a performance of Nabucco at Verona in 1962 (I think) so I was interested to see the arena again.  By coincidence, the all Verdi programme tonight started with a selection from  Nabucco.  The staging was very well done, including a chorus of what looked liked hundreds singing the famous Va Pensiero.  In the first half, the Nabucco selection was followed by a bit of Macbeth, so although there was some outstanding singing, there weren’t many laughs.

The second half was devoted to Simon Boccanegro, an opera that I have never seen.  Judging by the excerpts, it looks as though I have been missing a good thing.  It had some wonderful ensemble singing and a touching finale.

I have said it before but I will say it again, the Buccleuch Centre is a real asset to the town.  The fact that we can wander down the street and see great venues and hear fantastic singing on our doorstep for a very moderate fee is a privilege that we really appreciate.

I was too quick for yesterday’s flying starling of the day, but I was too slow for today’s.  I will try to get it right tomorrow.

flying away starling

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