Posts Tagged ‘fallen tree’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  I have seen many murmurations of starlings before but I have never seen one where the starlings murmured in the actual shape of a starling.   She was on the Somerset levels when she took this amazing picture.

Ham Wall on the Avalon Marshes

We had another morning of family fun with Matilda and her parents and then, after a light but creative lunch, Al, Clare and Matilda got into their car and drove off to Edinburgh.  There was no argument, it had been a very good Christmas, and we were sad to see them go.

On the down side, as is probably inevitable over the Christmas period, too much eating had gone on, and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt that a good walk was needed to help shoogle down some of the surplus calories.

We started off at two o’clock and it was already very grey as we walked up the road past Holmwood…..


The camera needed its flash to record another concrete fence post with a mossy head.  This one looked as though it needed a hair cut.


The ways of walls are curious.  This one beside the road was absolutely covered in moss until it wasn’t.  Why the moss had chosen to stop there is one of the questions that may never be answered.


And just round the corner, the moss gave way to a huge collection of spleenwort.  The wall is covered with it for many metres.


We turned off the main road and walked along the quiet back road to Potholm.  Even on a grey day, the country has its charms…


…and the mist was rising off the hills as we went along.


Our plan was to walk to Potholm along one side of the Esk, cross the bridge and walk back to Langholm on the other side of the river.  We paused to consider our options though when a furious fusillade of shots rang out across the valley.   A pheasant shoot was taking place along our route home.

Would it be finished by the time that we got there?  We thought that it would, and walked on.   There must have been a lot of pheasants about though because the shooting went on for ages and we were across the bridge at Potholm before it stopped.

I looked back from the bridge at Milnholm farmhouse, judiciously perched on a little ridge above the floodplain.


I had been a bit worried that it might be dark before we got home and the forecast had been for a good chance of rain on the way, but it stayed dry.  It even got a little brighter at one moment so we could look back down the valley and the see the way that we had come.

Our road is hidden behind the wall that runs along the top of the fields.


As we passed the lonesome pine, we could hear gamekeepers whistling to their dogs as they collected the ‘bag’ for the day.


The shooting had finished by the time we got to the scene and we were able to walk past unscathed.

When we were passing the pheasant hatchery, we noticed another victim of the wet and windy weather.  Our trees grow in shallow soil.


By the time that we got to the Duchess Bridge, it was too dark to take pictures…


…but we were very pleased to get home while it was still light enough to be able to walk in comfort.  We had managed 5 miles in just under two hours and it had been warm enough for us to unbutton our coats and I had taken off my new Christmas gloves too.

The trouble about having a good walk to shake down too much eating is that it gives you an appetite.  I had two slices of Christmas cake with my post walk cup of tea. Ah well, I can always have another walk tomorrow.

It’s very quiet here with no-one to play Ludo and Snakes and Ladders with me.

The flying birds of the day are a small flock of gulls, disturbed by the pheasant shooters and looking for somewhere with a bit of peace and quiet.


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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce’s northern trip.  He had got as far as the Isle of Harris when he took this shot of the  famous beach at Seilebost on a day that was not encouraging any sunbathing…but the view was still good.


It was both less windy and warmer than yesterday here today in spite of the complete absence of any sun.

As I sipped coffee and nibbled scones with Dropscone, who had come in search of a spare mouse for his computer as his had died, Mrs Tootlepedal was clearing off the remaining dahlias from the front beds.

She made short work of the task…


…and by the time that Dropscone left, the beds were cleared.  It didn’t take us long to shred  them and add the remains to the green mulch on the back bed.


Mrs Tootlepedal has become very fond of green mulching and I have to take care not to to linger for too long in one spot while taking flower photographs for fear of being covered in mulch myself.

I nipped around with the camera just to show that although the dahlias may have gone, there is a good deal still left to delight the eye.

All this….


…and these too.


We even have what passes for a colourful corner in October…


…and of course, there are Special Grandmas.


I had a quick check on the birds while we having coffee.  We are getting a steady supply of  greenfinches again though they were rather rude today and turned their backs on me…


…and a blue tit wasn’t any more helpful.


Still if the birds won’t ‘watch the birdie’ then there is nothing to be done about it.

After lunch, the warmer weather persuaded me to ignore the possibility of some light rain and go for a cycle ride.  I took the precaution of having my big yellow rain jacket on from the start and a persistent drizzle, which came on almost as soon as I had left the house, made me grateful for the decision.

It was a gloomy day….


…with the hills shrouded in clouds and there was quite enough wind to make pedalling into it seem like hard work.

There were reminders along the way of even stronger winds in the recent past.


However, as I dropped down into the Esk valley at Canonbie, the rain stopped and the wind became my friend and pushed me back up the hill into Langholm.  The trees along the riverside are among the most colourful around at the moment and the bridges at the Hollows…

hollows bridge view oct 3

Looking north

hollows bridge Oct 3 south

Looking south

And at Skippers…

view from skippers oct 3 2018

Looking north

skippers bridge view south 3 oct 18

Looking south

…gave me the chance to have an uninterrupted view of the colour.

All this tree watching was very tiring and my new bike had to have a short rest on the old A7 between the bridges.

old A7 oct 3

Although it was only my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit, the ride gave me great pleasure, both because of the views and because my legs had appreciated four days rest since my last cycle outing.

I had a shower and a sit down and then, after a nourishing meal of corned beef hash,  it was time to go out to sing with the Langholm Choir and put my singing lesson to the test.  My teacher, Mary was too busy to take the choir herself this week and sent her husband along to take her place so I don’t know what she would have thought of my efforts but I enjoyed myself a lot so I thought that the lesson had been worthwhile.

I have got several busy days ahead and posts might become a little sketchy or even totally invisible after tomorrow for a while.

Meantime here is a flying goldfinch as a change from the incessant chaffinches.



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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s recent tour of the north of England and shows a very uncharacteristic yellow telephone box.  It is part of Hull Telecoms, the only place in Britain which doesn’t bow the knee to British Telecom.

yellow phone boxWe had another day without the fierce winds of late which was very welcome.  Less welcome was some persistent morning rain which did not encourage cycling.

Just as welcome as the light winds was the arrival of Dropscone at coffee time carrying traditional Friday treacle scones and a gift of leeks which he had purchased at a very advantageous price on an early morning  shopping trip to Carlisle.

The treacle scones were disposed of with coffee and the leeks were later turned into leek and potato soup for lunch.

While we were drinking our coffee, we had the first visit for some time from some starlings.

starlingsAnd during the morning at least one blue tit paid several visits.  I am not a great blue tit observer but I think one at least of the pictures may show a second bird.

blue titsDuring the day. Mrs Tootlepedal was in full decorating mode, filling, painting, stripping and painting again.  I spent a good deal of time perfecting the art of not getting under her feet.  I have had a good deal of practice at this and am pretty good at it.

I did get asked to one little bit of helping and I added getting the key for Monday’s camera club meeting, doing the crossword, chopping some of the neighbour’s ex cherry tree up and rehearsing the tenor part for Mozart’s requiem to my morning activities before making the soup so it wasn’t an entirely wasted time.

After lunch, it stopped raining and the prospects looked reasonable enough to tempt me out for a walk.  I am trying to get a mix between cycling and walking now that I have got a walkable knee in place.

Over the last three weeks I have been up three of Langholm’s four hills so I thought that I would round the quartet off with a walk up Castle Hill today.

I cheated by driving round to the Lodge Walks before starting to walk.

There are lambs all around now…

sheep and lambs…and I passed these in the field before I came to the open hill.

As I may have remarked before, our hills are tightly packed round the town and are quite steep so it doesn’t take you long to get excellent views.  I was soon in a position to look back at the other three hills.

Langholm's hillsCastle Hill gives you the best view of the three parts of the town…

LangholmThe old town is on the left, the new town in the centre and Holmwood and Meikleholm on the right,  I like the way that the town seems to lap up against the surrounding hills.

Other views were available from the top of the hill.

Potholm and Milnholm

Potholm and Milnholm

The B709

The road to Bentpath


The road to Hawick


The patchwork of fields on the lower slopes of Whita

Esk and langholm

The vehicle and pedestrian bridges over the Esk joining the old and new towns.

The are some lovely ridges to walk along and I am hoping to get some use out of them in the months to come.

castle hill ridgeThe ground on Castle Hill was made difficult for a walker by having been heavily trampled by cattle but luckily they have been temporarily taken off the hill so I was able to pick my way up and down in peace.

Instead of going straight back down to the car, I wandered through two woods…

two woods on castle Hill…until I joined the track to Holmhead and the North Lodge.

It wasn’t a peaceful part of my walk as something was making the most horrendous din up a tree.  To my surprise, upon examination it turned out to be robin giving it six bells from a bough.


It was so busy shouting that it didn’t mind me snapping away underneath it at all.

On my way through the coniferous wood, my eye was caught by a patch of silver.  I thought it was some sort wet grass and took a picture of it because it looked a little strange.  When I looked at it on my computer, I was delighted by the picture that I had taken but baffled as to what it is.

silver in the woodI rely on some knowledgeable reader to help me out here.  I have never knowingly seen this before.

I walked down to the road at the pheasant hatchery and was able to see that the wind had taken one more victim.

willowThis willow has fallen exactly on the spot where Sandy and I have often stood to watch the nuthatches at their nest.  It has brought down one of the branches of that tree too.  It is a lesson not to go bird watching in a gale.

Just as I got to the car, I saw a large patch of fungus on a mound.

fungusIt seemed unseasonal.

When I got home, the feeder was busy….

siskins…and then the sun came out for a few minutes and brightened up the day.

primula and daffodilBut it soon went in again.

Mrs Tootlepedal finally stopped decorating for the day and I cycled up to the chip shop to get her a well deserved fish supper as a reward for hard work.

I have been looking at my cycle stats and found that I had cycled 278 miles in March.  This is about half of what I did in February last year but it is a start on the road to full recovery.  A few warm days in April would be most welcome.

Between the rain in the morning and sun from the wrong direction in the late afternoon, flying birds were hard to come by so this rather grainy one will have to do.

flying chaffinch

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