Posts Tagged ‘Ewes’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He went for one of those walks which risky older people are encouraged to take in these troubled times.  He tells me that in his photograph you can see Derby City at the top right, the village of Breadsall in the top middle, and his suburb, Oakwood, in the top left corner.andrew's walk

We had another sunny day here today, but with another chilly start to it.  I went out into the garden after coffee, and although the sun was shining brightly, the thermometer was stuck at a stubbornly low 4°C and with a brisk north wind blowing, it didn’t feel like a terrifically good day to welcome the vernal equinox.

That equinox has rather crept up on us this year because it remained so grey, cool and wet for so long that the lengthening days didn’t really register. It has taken these last couple of better days to bring home that it is finally that time of year.

Still, I mustn’t sniff at a sunny day and the hellebores did look stunning


New things are appearing and along with a doronicum and a euphorbia, other mystery plants are developing.

doronicum, euphorbia, bergenia and mystery

I know what this.


I put my coat, hat and gloves on and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved away over a hot computer on buy-out business, I sieved a little compost.

My set up is basic and low tech but it does produce some good looking results.

compost sieving

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped work for a while and came for a garden stroll.  We were pleased to see another frog had arrived in the pond.

frog equinox

We have seen very few frogs this year compared with previous years.  Perhaps they haven’t enjoyed the weather any more than we have.  We should have had a dozen or more daily by now.

I cycled round to the shop to get milk and rolls and on my way, I stopped to admire the oyster catchers by the Esk.  There days, it is a little further to the shop since it moved, but the chance to see the oyster catchers makes up for it.

two oyster catchers esk

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal directed my attention to some Rip van Winkle daffodils that have just come out.  They have interesting petals but I will have to wait for a less windy day to do them justice.

daffodil rip van winkle

After lunch, I spent a few moments looking at the birds but there were very few to be seen and this busy moment was quite untypical.

busy feeder

The siskins have left and there were no goldfinches either today.

In the absence of any birds to watch, I bit on the bullet, ignored the continuing low temperature and keen north wind, and went out for my third bicycle ride in three days.

I resolved to ride straight into the wind for as long as I could manage, and then swoop home, wind assisted.  I set off up the Ewes valley.

The view made me forget the cold and the wind.

ewes valley view

Although there were plenty of clouds about, they mostly passed me by, leaving me pedalling in the sun and enjoying the views to the side of the road…

fiddeton view

…until I got to the head of the valley.

Here, I had a choice of continuing on the main road up a long, steady hill through a narrow pass down which the wind would be whistling, or I could turn right and follow a narrow road along a beautiful stream for a mile or two.

top of ewes view

I took the easy option and crossed this bridge…

ewes bridge

…and passed this tree…

carretrig road tree

…as I went along beside this tumbling burn…

carretrig burn

…below this hill…

hills near carretrig

…until I got to this bridge which is at the bottom of a very steep hill…

Carretrig bridge

…where I wisely turned round and headed home.

It had been a slog up the hill and into the wind and my first ten miles took me almost exactly an hour of hard work.  I got my reward on the way back to Langholm and I covered the second ten miles of my journey in 34 minutes, whistling merrily as I zoomed along.

In fact, I felt so happy when I got back to Langholm that I added another six miles to my trip by going  to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.  Here the opposite effect was achieved and the wind pushed me up the hill almost as fast as I managed to come back down again, pedalling like fury this time.

I adopted an emollient manner towards my legs and they responded in a friendly manner and as a result, I achieved a more respectable average for the same distance of 26 miles than I did yesterday.  (The fact that I had had less climbing to do might also have had an effect.)

It has been a good week for cycling and I have done almost as many miles (102) in the last three days as I did in the whole of the month of February.

I wasted quite a lot of time in the evening trying to set up a new blog for the use of camera club members.  In the good old days, starting a WordPress Blog was a piece of cake.  They gave you the digital equivalent of a piece of blank paper and left you to it.  Now they are trying to be so dashed helpful that it is a nightmare to get what you want if it isn’t what they think that you ought to want.  I will persevere.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another antidote to gloom and comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Bath last month.

Bath October 2017 011

After breakfast, I took it easy in an attempt to recover from all the jollifications of my birthday while Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to Longtown to get her eyes tested.

She was very fortunate to get back to Langholm just before the main road was completely closed to allow the recovery of a large vehicle which had slid off the road just to the south of Skippers Bridge last night in the heavy rain.

I watched a few birds while she was out.  The feeder was busy….

busy feeder

…but the gloomy morning made it easier to catch birds when they were standing still.


A chaffinch samples the sunflower seed…


blue tit

…while a blue tit examines the mixed seed.


The elegant back of a greenfinch..


…and a pigeon shows off its pink feet.


A robin obligingly gave me the full range of poses.

The early rained eased off so I took the opportunity to go for a short walk.

In spite of continuing rain, the river had dropped a bit more and the turtle was back on dry land.


As I looked down on the upstream side of the town bridge, I could see why the spot is called the meeting of the waters.

Meeting of the waters

The Ewes and the Esk were flowing with very different colours.

Meeting of the waters

It always surprises me that the rivers don’t mix more quickly when they meet.   Some knowledgeable reader may be able to tell me if the temperature of the water or the speed of the flow has anything to do with it.  At first sight I would expect the rivers to intermingle as soon as they collide.

I crossed the Ewes by the sawmill Bridge and walked up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge walks

Although the scene is pretty wintery now, there are touches of colour about.

beech tree in November

And plenty of moments of reflection too.


I was pleased to see a scrap of blue sky above the hills.


I crossed the Duchess Bridge on my way home and passed a dripping catkin and another little bunch of leaves hanging on.

catkin and leaves

When i got home, I looked over the hedge from the road into the garden.  Although all the flowers have gone, the neat hedges and box balls still give the garden an ordered look which is pleasing to the eye.

garden in November

After lunch, we took our courage in our hands and set off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  There had been talk of floods and/or snow but in the end, we had quite a pleasant drive over to Lockerbie and the train arrived only a little late due to speed restrictions because the the bad weather further south.

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and had a very good time playing with Matilda.  She, with a little help from her parents, had prepared me and Mrs Tootlepedal, whose birthday is very soon, a fine chocolate birthday cake….


…which tasted even better than it looked.

The cake rounded off an excellent evening meal so we arrived back at Waverley Station in a very cheerful frame of mind.  Our good cheer was slightly moderated by finding that our train was running late due to floods in the south and that we would be sharing it with the passengers of an earlier train which had been cancelled.

There seemed to be huge numbers waiting on the platform for our train to arrive but in the end, we all fitted in very comfortably and since the train made up a little time on its way, we arrived at Lockerbie not long after our scheduled time.

After the satisfactory journey, our cheer factor had once again been raised but it fell back with a thud as we arrived at the car to find snow on the windscreen and the thermometer registering -1C.  It fell even more when we met fog soon after leaving Lockerbie.

However, the fog soon cleared, the roads were free of ice and the only snow we passed was politely sitting by the sides of the road as we went over Callister so the drive home was far less alarming than we had feared.

Once again, we have been lucky with bad weather. Others to the north and the south of us have fared worse.  And of course, Matilda’s smile would brighten any day up.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch



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Today’s guest picture comes from the Birmingham flower show that Mrs Tootlepedal and our daughter attended on Saturday.  It doesn’t show any flowers though.  Annie took this fine picture of the travelator which conveyed them into the NEC and, I think you will agree, it is just as fine to look at as a bunch of lupins.


I put out some peanuts after breakfast and they soon attracted the attention of the jackdaws.


I noticed a slightly different pigeon under the feeder and Mrs Tootlepedal suggested it might be a racing pigeon having a break.  A look at the rings on its foot confirmed this hypothesis.

homing pigeon

If it doesn’t move on soon, I will have to contact a pigeon fancier to see if it can be caught and returned to its owner.

I had a look at our bunch of peonies when I went out into the garden later on.  They are flourishing and have hidden depths.


I tried to take an interest in some of our roses too but quantities of tiny insects had beaten me to it.

roses and insects

The pink rose on the right is an insect magnet and it hard to get a picture which is not full of black dots.

Other flowers, a few feet away, were insect free.

geranium and rose

During the morning, I did some routine dead heading, mowed the grass round the greenhouse and the middle lawn and went up to the town to pay a bill.  I might have gone cycling because it was a warm and dry day but a brisk wind, gusting up to 20 mph persuaded me that waiting for it to die down in the evening might be a good plan.

I can’t stop looking a a very nice Sweet William that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted.  The colour combination is irresistible to my shutter finger.

Sweet William

When we were at Sue’s yesterday, she provided us with some delicious rolls at lunchtime.  She said that she had made them using her breadmaker to make the dough.  As we have the same model, I thought that I would give this a try and during the morning, I put the breadmaker to work.

I took some time out to look at the flying sparrows outside the kitchen window.

flying sparrows

The dough looked very promising when it came out of the machine after lunch so I divided it up into twelve balls and went out for a walk while it was rising.

Before I left, I checked out the sweet peas and the runner beans, both of which have survived the sparrows.

runner bean and sweet pea

My walk took me along the bank of the Esk.  It wasn’t a bad day for midsummer.

Elizabeth Street Esk in summer

The orange barriers and sacking on the far bank show where the flood wall is being repaired.  It is hard to remember on such a lovely day that in January the river was within an inch or two of the top of the wall.

On the near bank in the usual spot, I saw two oyster catchers.  A second look showed me that this wasn’t Mr and Mrs but parent and child.

oyster catchers

I walked over the Town Brig and looked up the Ewes Water…

Ewes water

This too made a contrast from the scenes six months ago.

Meeting of the waters

Back then walking over the bridge in shirtsleeves in the sun seemed like an impossible dream.

Today, there were flying oyster catchers and gulls enjoying the sunshine.

flying gull and oystercatcher

 I continued round the pheasant hatchery and enjoyed being in the dappled shade as the sun was quite hot by this time of the day.

Pheasant hatchery road

My route took me back over the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess Bridge

…and round the school playing field, where a nettle caught my eye.


…and I got back home in perfect time to put the oven on and cook the rolls.

I won’t say that they were as good as Sue’s but they came out jolly well…


…and will constitute a severe temptation to anyone trying to keep their weight down.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.  He brought with him a large and delicious piece of Welsh cheese which he had kindly brought back from his recent holiday in Wales as a gift for us so I gave him a couple of the rolls to take home with him.

I continued to think about going for a cycle ride but the brisk and vigorous wind continued to blow so thinking about it was as far as cycling got for today.

The garden looked very nice in the evening sunshine and I took a few more pictures to make up for not pedalling.

iris, rose and water lily

If I am to avoid strong winds in the coming days, I will have to get up early according to the weather forecast.  That will be a challenge.

The flying bird of the day is a Kilngreen gull in cruising mode.

black headed gull

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Today’s guest picture is the last in the series of my sister Mary’s London park shots.  (I am now out of guest pictures and would welcome contributions from kind readers.)

Queen Mary's garden, Regent's ParkIt was another still and misty day when I got up but there was no chance of an early pedal as I had to take the pictures that had been brought in to our camera club meeting last night up to the Information Hub to add them to our exhibition.

I took a moment to nip round the garden in a bit of sunshine to make a note of some of the unusual amount of November colour…

garden flowers in November…before taking the pictures up to the High Street.

There were quite a few to hang but luckily, Sandy popped in after an early walk and gave me a hand so the task was soon completed.  The Hub is not a large room but it has been neatly painted and has good lights so it was ideal for our small display.

Camera club exhibition

Some of the exhibition with Lorraine, today’s curator, centre stage.

Sandy walked home with me with a view to having a cup of coffee and as we crossed the suspension bridge, the combination of sunshine and mist suggested that a photographic outing might be worthwhile.

Langholm Bridge in mistMrs Tootlepedal was up for an outing too so after coffee, we drove up to the White Yett and, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to explore the lower slopes with her binoculars, Sandy and I walked up the track towards the monument with our cameras.

The layers of mist were rather erratic and there a question as to whether the walk would prove to be a good idea but we soon emerged out of the mist and into a glorious day.

Whita mist

Mrs Tootlepedal was down there somewhere

When we started, we could see under and over the mist…

Mist in Ewes valley…but by the time that we got to the monument, the valley below had been filled to the brim.

Esk Valley in mistAnd to the south, England was hidden under a white blanket.

Cloud from WhitaWe had a good look round and could see both the Tarras valley….

Tarras valley in mist…and the Ewes valley full of mist.

ewes valley in mistThe mist ebbed and flowed and sometimes trickled over the col between the two valleys.

Whita mistWe weren’t alone on the hill…

sheep…and we were pleased to put up a covey or two of grouse as we walked.

grouseIt was pleasantly warm on the summit of Whita, especially for a November day but we thought we better go back down to find Mrs Tootlepedal.  As we went down the hill, the mist gathered…

mist on Whita…and by the time that we got near the road, it was all over us.

Mist on whitaMrs Tootlepedal had alerted us to the possibility of a ‘mist bow’ or ‘fog bow’ and we could see one faintly when the mist thinned as we got to the road.

fog bow on whitaThey are colourless rainbows caused by the sun hitting the very fine droplets in the mist.  I have seen one before but it was still a pleasure to see this one.  They are rather unearthly.

Mrs Tootlepedal was in cheerful mood having had a mixture of mist and sunshine for her walks along the road.  She had spotted a good collection of fungus along the roadside so we went to look.

whita fungusWith a final look at the McDiarmid Memorial in the gathering gloom….

McDiarmid Memorial in mist…we set off back down the hill to the town.  It seemed grey and dreary down there after the brilliance of the views from the hill.

In fact that was the last we saw of any sunshine for the rest of the day.  Although I did get out for a short bike ride after lunch, I didn’t go far as Dropscone, who had been to Dumfries, had rung up to warn me of thick fog on Callister and even when I stuck close to home, it soon got too gloomy for safety.

It had even got too chilly and dark for Mrs Tootlepedal to continue gardening.

I didn’t go to Carlisle for recorder playing in the evening as Susan was away on holiday and one of our other members was absent too.  This was not a bad thing, as I had far too many pictures to look through after such a good walk.

One of my favourites was this panorama from the top of Whita taken with my phone showing the mist in the two valleys.


Click on the picture for an enlarged view

In the midst of all the excitement, I managed to catch a goldfinch in flight.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s picture comes from sunny Morocco where my friend Sue was recently on holiday.  It shows her on a camel.  She is the one looking cool on the right.

Camel in Morroco with SueOnce again, it is lucky that the guest picture comes from sunny climes as we had another very overcast and gloomy day here.

It wasn’t a day for taking pictures so of course I took a few.


The frenetic activity in the pond has calmed down for the moment but there are still frogs about.


A jackdaw looks rather disappointed at the quality of the suet balls that I had scattered on the lawn.  I apologised.

The main business of the morning did little to alleviate the gloom as we went to our friend Arthur’s memorial service.  Mrs Tootlepedal was singing in the church choir and they made a very nice job of singing Abide with Me in the middle of the service.

A distinguished professor gave the encomium.  He was very good and cheered us all up by working the word ‘desuetude’ into his text.  He didn’t apply it to Arthur though but merely to an old library which Arthur had helped to restore.  The encomium was interesting, informative and both commendably brief and to the point, qualities which Arthur himself would have admired so we felt that he had been well sent off.

All the while, progress was being made on the new chimney.

chimneyAfter lunch, I peered through the kitchen window for a while.

busy feeder

A mixed bag on the feeder

dancing chaffinches

There were dancing chaffinches here today.

Then I went up to the town to do some banking business and extended the trip into a walk.  It was still too gloomy to take any photographs but once again that didn’t stop me.

I walked up the Kirk Wynd to the golf course, stopping to admire some promise on the way…

spring  bud…and then turned on to Tibbie Lugs Walk.

Tibbie LugsBeside the path, an old tree stump covered with fungus caught my eye.

fungusI walked along until I met the Copshaw road and turned up the hill.  I passed this fine clipped beech gateway…

beech hedgeThen I cut across a field, plunged into a wood, leapt across the stream at the bottom of the little valley…

stream at Hillhead…climbed through the wood on the far side….

wood at Hillhead…and came out at the far side of the wood.

Terrona fieldOnce I had climbed the path, I had a fine view up the Ewes Valley….

Ewes…which would have been better for a little sunshine.

(When I said that I leapt across the stream, I was lying.)

I walked back down the track to Whitshiels, admiring the fresh colour of the spiky gorse blossoms…

gorse…and  stopping at a favourite spot for seeing British Soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella).

soldier lichensOnce I had got down to the main road, I followed it back into the town.  A hazel dripping catkins on the river bank made me pause for a moment.

hazel catkinsWhen I got home,  I just had enough time to look out of the window again…

siskin violence

The siskins were competing fiercely for places at the feast.

…before putting on several layers of warm cycling clothes and going off on my slow bike for a circular tour with Mrs Tootlepedal.

garmin 13 March 15As you can see, we weren’t in a great rush.  It was pretty chilly and we wearing lots of layers and there was a very keen north easterly wind discouraging us whenever it could.  Garmin doesn’t always get the weather right so I should say that it wasn’t raining and the wind was stronger than it suggests.

We plugged away cheerfully enough until near the very end, when the chill and the wind got to us a bit.  All the same, I was pleased to have taken my knee for its first circular ride and Mrs Tootlepedal was pleased to have swapped the bike to nowhere for an actual moving experience.

This time it really was too dark to take pictures as we pedalled along and I didn’t even take Pocketcam with me.

In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison and Alison and I played some duets with some more than usually exciting variations from the composers’ original intentions.  Nevertheless, as Alison remarked, playing duets is always good value even when there are a few wrong notes.

The flying bird of the day is an excitable siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture from my sister Mary shows Mr Grumpy’s London relative in Regent’s Park.

Mr Grumpy making a London visitToday’s chapter of the great end wall saga started well with the early arrival of the chimney pot removal gang and progressed smoothly with the actual removal of the aforesaid pot.

chimney goneWhile this was happening, I made some ginger biscuits and was then visited by Dropscone bearing scones.  My ginger biscuits were a fraction undercooked (a fault on the right side) and Dropscone’s scones were, as always, quite perfect.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal retired for a session on her bike to nowhere and I got togged up for a walk in the chilly sunshine.  I was just about to set out when Sandy arrived and he joined me on my expedition.

Because of the good company and the pleasant sunshine, I was happy to walk a little further than I had intended and got over two and a half miles for the first time.  My knee was very happy about this but the rest of me was pretty jiggered by the time we got back.

Our route took us over the Esk….

river eskand onto the Castleholm.

We were held up by a colourful robin.

robinWhen I looked at the picture on the computer, it looked as though it had been swimming but somehow that doesn’t seem very likely.  We saw several more robins on our walk.

There were a number of small birds flitting around and this blue tit stopped just long enough for a quick snap.

blue titThere was a lot to look at as we went round and I have picked out a tall pine tree….

pine tree….a twisted branch reaching out towards the river….

branch…a fine view of the hills…

Timpen…a bunch of catkins…

catkin…the road through the woods…

woods…a few snowdrops…

snowdrops…a tree stump rotting in a picturesque way….

tree stump…and ducks in the Ewes going this way and that.

mallardsIt is noticeable from a photographic point of view how different the colouring of both the duck and the water is considering they were taken within a few yards of each other and with minutes.  A member of our camera club was complaining about ‘cheating’ by using a photo editor at our last meeting.  He doesn’t realise how much a camera does without asking.

I stopped for a last look back as we crossed the town bridge…

Castle Hill…and collapsed gratefully into a chair when I got home.

You can see the pictures that Sandy took on our walk if you visit his blog.  He saw a waxwing in his garden this morning and although we kept an eye out, we didn’t see one on our walk.

Once again, Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with an excellent meal.  This time it was a bowl of nourishing bean and chilli soup (with croutons) and I was so perked up that after lunch, I took her up to see the new bird hide at the Moorland feeder station.  It looks very good but is still lacking a floor.

There were few birds about so Mrs Tootlepedal went off on foot to walk the two and a half miles home and I strolled along the road across the moor.

tarras roadI visited a boulder in a roadside glade that I noticed on my last walk along this road and picked out a prominent lichen.

boulder lichenAs I walked along, I startled a little bird which I can’t identify.

redpollBack at the hide, the feeders went unvisited but the usual crew of pheasants strutted about.  One caught a ray of sunshine on its breast.

pheasantThese birds are free of the chance of being shot as the shooting season has come to an end but they will have to find their own food from now on.

By the time that I had finished my short walk and driven back to Langholm, Mrs Tootlepedal had also arrived in the town and jumped into the car for the last few hundred yards.

A cup of tea and a ginger biscuit was our reward when we got home.

In the evening, I went to the Archive Centre with Sandy and we finished off the last week of my index backlog.

A very satisfactory day was made even better by the availability of a convenient black headed gull as flying bird of the day.


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Today’s guest picture shows one of the few sunny moments of my siblings’ recent visit to The Netherlands.  My sister Mary took this picture in the evening in Haarlem.

Evening light, HaarlemWe had plenty of sunshine here again today, though it faded away a bit after lunch.  It lit up our scaffolding very well…

scaffolding…but it didn’t attract the birds into the garden.  Perhaps the builders at work may have contributed to their reluctance.  I had time for a single dunnock….

dunnock…before I caught the bus to Carlisle where I successfully picked up a hire car and drove it home.  Hooray.

I managed to add a robin to my tally when I got back…..

robin…and found a blackbird as fluffed up as the smaller birds.

blackbirdAfter lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I put the car to good use and drove a mile to give ourselves a start on one of our favourite walks.  It was above freezing but there was still a lot of ice about on the rough track up the hill so we had to watch our step very carefully.

Because of this, we didn’t spend too much time looking for interesting things in the wood but this tree stump caught our eye.

tree stumpThe moss beside the track looked to be flourishing in spite of the snow and ice.

mossOnce we got onto the open hill, the going got less treacherous and we were able to look about.

TimpenEwesLooking to the west we could see the last remnants of the sunny day disappearing.

warblaWe were able to stroll along the road back down the hill with a lordly air as there was no traffic and it was well sheltered enough from the chilly wind to let me take my hat and gloves off.  The wall beside the top part of the road is rich with lichen and as usual I couldn’t resist a shot or two.

lichen at HillheadFurther down we saw a tree which may go some way to explaining the lack of birds in the garden.  There is a lot of food about.

tree with conesA curious horse wondered what we were doing.


The best thing about the walk was that I managed it with no stick and no great pain in my knee either going up or down the hill.

Today’s stage in the great end wall development was the removal of the lathe and plaster from the inside of the walls upstairs and down.  This revealed a small fireplace in the upstairs room which had not seen the light of day for many years.

fireplaceAfter a refreshing cup of tea and a chat with Mike Tinker, who had dropped in to see if we had managed to acquire a car, I walked up to the town and collected a new glass insert for a cafetiere to replace the one which I broke recently.  The day had gone well so far with getting the car, progress on the end wall, a good walk and a renewed cafetiere and things continued in the same vein as I put in another week of the newspaper index and then after tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the first practice of the new season for Langholm Sings, our local community choir.

There were only two tenors so we were under a bit of pressure but every now and again we hit the right notes at the same time to general astonishment and acclaim.

Still no flying bird of the day but I caught one that would have been flying quite soon.


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