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Posts Tagged ‘flute playing’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Ashby de la Zouch  in Leicestershire and admired the castle there.  It reminded him of our prime ministe.  Like her, it is rather battered but still standing.

Ashby de la Zouche castle

In a complete reversal of the normal order of things, Dropscone arrived for coffee this morning but didn’t bring treacle scones with him even though it was Friday.  He had been at a golf meeting up in the borders yesterday and had visited a supermarket on his way home.  Once inside, he had been tempted by a seedy malt loaf which was on display at such a reduced price that it was irresistible and he brought that to coffee today instead of scones,  It was very tasty.

When he left,  I admired a greenfinch taking in the rays on the plum tree…

greenfinch

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal led me out on a cycling expedition round the New Town.  We were tracking the dam from source to outflow.  I recorded our journey.

dam 4

  1. The dam starts at the sluice at Pool Corner, squeezes under the new flood wall just below the sluice and heads off beside the old dump (now covered over and a recreation area).

dam 3

2.  We followed its course and looked back towards Pool Corner and then turned 90 degrees to watch it as it flowed past the edge of Latimer’s shed and burrowed under Caroline Street.

dam 2

3.  It creeps along the road under the pavement here until it takes a sharp left turn  at the green hedge which you can see  and emerges to go through a patch of wild country between Caroline Street and Wauchope Place.  It creeps under the street there by a very plain bridge.

dam 1

4.  Once across Wauchope Place, it enjoys a moment of freedom as it heads between manicured banks towards the spanking new bridge at Wauchope Street and then, after passing our house,  it once more heads underground, this time beneath Walter Street and across Henry Street.

dam 5

5.  Once across Henry Street, it visits the Skinyards and then appears for a brief moment at a sluice in Reid and Taylor’s yard before sinking underground again and passing under Elizabeth Street, where it emerges from a tunnel on the banks of the Esk…

 

Esk with dam outlet

…joins the river and ends up in the sea in the Solway Firth.

The reason for this adventure was to record the dam in its present state as there has been talk of decommissioning the dam when the Reid and Taylor’s site is redeveloped.  Those who live along it would be very sorry to see it go.

While I was at the river side, I took a shot of the willows below the suspension bridge. They have been adding some late colour to the riverside scene but they are fading away now like the year.

Esk with late willows

The gentle flat cycle outing probably did my sore leg some good and I let that be my exercise for the day.

I watched the birds when I got home and once again, it was very quiet for most of the time at the feeder.  We had some busy days when the temperature dropped but it hit 13°C today and most of the birds must be happy to forage for food in the countryside at the moment.

The small flock of goldfinches returned over lunchtime, led by this handsome but slightly ruffled bird.

goldfinch ruffled

At times, there was a great deal of to-ing and  fro-ing and flapping of wings….

goldfinches on feeder

…and some smart one legged landing.

goldfinch arriving

On other occasions the landing had to be one legged as the other leg was being used to kick away the unfortunate occupier of the perch.

goldfinches coming and goin

A lone chaffinch appeared.

chaffinch and goldfinches

We took a walk round the garden and I was impressed by the staying power of the sweet rocket which would be long over by now in a normal year.

sweet rocket mid november

Mrs Tootlepedal liked the strong impression made by these primroses.

white primroses

The hips on the Goldfinch rose are  flourishing thanks to the warm summer.

goldfinch rose hips

And a few of the calendulas have suddenly taken a new lease of life and are looking as good as new.

bright calendula Nov

Not all growth is good.  Mrs Tootlepedal is a bit worried to see spring bulbs showing above ground at this time of year.  These tulips shouldn’t be visible now.

very early tulip shoots

I spent the afternoon doing useful things on my computer and in the evening, Mike and Alison came round as usual on a  Friday and Alison and I rounded off the day with some enjoyable duets.

The forecast is good for tomorrow so I might try another short, flat cycle ride to keep my leg exercised as today’s effort seems to have done no harm.

One of the goldfinches is the flying bird of the day today.

goldfinch nearly arriving

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Mary.  She has been recovering from a hip operation and hasn’t been able to get about taking pictures lately so she kindly sent me this picture of Darwin’s house in Kent which she visited in August.

I had a pleasantly busy day today, with plenty to do and people to talk to and this made up for the quality of the day itself which was dull and grey, very dull and grey.

After breakfast, I went up to the Archive Centre where I met Sandy and we were joined by Ron, one of the trustees of the Langholm Reference Library.  He is providing a home for all the various bits and pieces which the Archive Group have collected over the years and came to see what we had got.

He was able to take all that we wanted and we put it in some handy boxes which, with great foresight, Ron had brought with him.  We loaded the boxes into Sandy’s car and off it all went to the library to be catalogued and stored.   I wish everything in the world went as smoothly as this bit of business.

Leaving Sandy and Ron to do anything that looked like heavy lifting or hard work, I went round the corner and got a lift home from Dropscone, accompanied by some his traditional Friday treacle scones.  We ate these while drinking some coffee.   Dropscone has recently suffered an attack of torticollis and so he is well up the pecking order when it comes to interesting ailments.

After he had gone off, I spotted an interesting bird in the garden and took this very interesting picture of it.

 

I did mention that it was a very dull day.  But I must admit that in my haste to capture the bird, I failed to check my camera settings.

The camera was recording in RAW and it shows shows just how much the camera records that it doesn’t tell you about when I can reveal that after processing the image, I could find this welcome visitor under all the gloom

I hope to get a chance to look at the robin again soon with the right camera settings in place.

I then grappled with a very contorted crossword which was in the end  even duller than the weather.  I got fed up and went out into the garden.

It was too grey and windy to take pictures so instead of going for a walk, I did a little gardening.  I shredded and sieved and shifted the contents of compost bin C into compost bin D.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I followed on to take a picture of her waving to to the world.  My camera skills again let me down and by the time that I got organised, she was hard at work.

Once again, I discarded any idea of a walk and made myself useful.  I shredded, and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and then did a little digging of what will be our fruit cage area next year (if everything goes to plan).

By this time, although it was still quite early, the light was so poor that we went in and had a cup of tea.  That concluded the active part of the day.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on the news, Alison and I played duets.  We got out a Telemann sonata which we haven’t played for years and found that we remembered it remarkably well and resolved to put in a bit of practice and play it again soon.

As it was too gloomy to take a flying bird picture today, I have delved into the archives to find a rare shot of a flying robin from four years ago.

flying robin

 

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As well as looking for fossils, my Newcastle correspondent Fiona likes to take her family to interesting places and today’s guest picture shows the ruins of Finchdale Priory which she visited with them a week or two ago.

Finchdale Priory

We had a warm and calm day today, ideal for cycling.  Hmmm.  I didn’t even have company for coffee as both Dropscone and Sandy were away from home.

As a result, I had a lot of time to watch the birds and fortunately, there were a lot of birds to watch.

Although we mostly had the usual suspects seen here hanging around in the plum tree…

birds in plum tree

Finches on the top branches.

great tit in plum tree

A great tit further down.

dunnock on ground

And a rather fierce dunnock on the ground below.

…we did get some unusual visitors too.

A small brown bird with an unremarkable back view….

redpoll from behind

…revealed itself as a redpoll when it turned round.  They are winter visitors and cheer the gloomy days up.

redpoll on feeder

There were a few of them around and while some sat in the plum tree looking demure…

redpoll in plum tree

…others got on with the business of terrifying chaffinches…

redpoll attacking

…which are much bigger than them.

However the real surprise of the morning was a visit from a greater spotted woodpecker which suddenly appeared in the plum tree as if by magic.

greater spotted woodpecker in tree

Although I often see them up at the Moorland feeders, we hardly ever see one in the garden and especially not one so happy to pose for me.

greater spotted woodpecker in garden

However, it didn’t pose for long and soon flew off, not to be seen again.

A curiosity of looking at pictures of the birds when the feeder is busy is to see flying seeds everywhere.  How did the seed in the top of the picture below get there?

flying food

I got a visit from my part time neighbour Ken, a fellow cyclist.  He is in the opposite situation to me and after being poorly earlier in the year, he is now getting some good miles in.  I was very envious of him as he had been of me in the spring.

The morning drifted away but after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work in the garden and that galvanised me into action, or at least into as much as I could manage without flexing my leg.

I took a leisurely photographic tour in search of colour.  There are flowers about if you look hard enough.

november flowers

The perennial wallflowers in the bottom left frame above started flowering in April and been in bloom ever since.  That is what I call value for money.

The warm summer has encouraged roses to produce hips this year.  Although the rosa Gallica (on the left) always produces some rather subdued hips, we have never seen hips on the Goldfinch (on the right) before.

november rose hips

In the absence of flowers, the spireas are a source of pleasure at this time of year.

november spirea

I did a little shredding and sieved some more of the compost from Bin D as Mrs Tootlepedal is planting out bulbs and needs compost.  I know that readers have been eagerly awaiting compost pictures so here is the result of sieving Bin D.

bucket of sieved compost

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I also turned a very full Bin A into Bin B and took a picture of Bins A to D.

compost bins a to d

Mrs Tootlepedal is responsible for the plastic bin on the left of Bin A and I have no idea what is in it.  It is a closely guarded secret.

The next task will be to finish the little bit of sieving left in Bin D and turn Bin C into it.  It is good for a man to have a purpose in life.

While I was having fun, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing for next year.

fern dug up

She removed a fern from a spot where, if all goes well, a fine display of tulips will appear in spring.

I had made a lamb stew in the slow cooker in the morning and while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke,  I left the sous-chef to fettle up the gravy.  She did an excellent job and we had a tasty evening meal.

To end the day, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  We played Mozart, Telemann and Quantz and that was the perfect way to forget the many little inconveniences that come to all of us with advancing years.

The flying bird of the day is another ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been walking on Cocklawburn beach where the sharp eyed may spy very small fossils.

Cocklawburn beach

We had another bright and sunny day here today but out of the sun, it was pretty chilly with the thermometer below zero when we woke up and staying firmly in single figures all day.

I had to go up to the town after breakfast and enjoyed the frost outlined shadows on the suspension bridge…

suspension bridge with ice

…and the two tone moss on the Day Centre car park wall.

icy moss1

The frozen side looked like this on closer inspection.

icy moss2

I visited a friend in the Langholm Reference Library to ask if the library would be happy to take some of the articles that we have collected over the years in the Archive Centre for which we will not have room when we move.  He was quite excited by the possibility and I walked along to the Centre to fetch a couple of sample boxes.

When I got them back to the library, Ron emptied them out and began recording the contents.  “I love doing this sort of thing,” he said to me.  A very useful man to know.

While I was along at the Archive Centre, I popped into the garage next door to pay my bill and stopped on the forecourt on my way out to admire the view.

warbla from the garage

On my way home, I noticed that the copper beeches at the entrance to the park were catching the low sun.

park in November

My  sore leg stood up to the walk and carrying the boxes very well so I hope that yesterday’s incident will not have done any lasting harm. This is a relief.

When I got home, it was time for coffee and a crossword and then I watched the birds for a bit.

I was struck by the resemblance between a pigeon in the plum tree and myself: largely sedentary, rather fat and definitely lacking in a bit of gruntle.

fat pigeon

The feeder was busy, first with chaffinches….

chaffinches on feeder

…and then with greenfinches (no room for chaffinches any more)…

greenfinches and approaching chaffinch

…and then with goldfinches.

three goldfinches

It is entertaining to get a steady changing of the guard.

In the plum tree, one of the blue tits was enjoying pecking at a desiccated plum…

blue tit with old plum

…and among the plants beneath the feeder, I saw one of the blackbirds which have returned to the garden lately.

first autumn blackbird

We get quite a few migrating blackbirds in the garden over the winter.

The goldfinches set about making a fuss at the feeder, sometimes from a distance…

goldfinches at feeder

…and sometimes up close and personal.

goldfinches squabbling

I didn’t want to tax my leg too much so I spent a little time after lunch walking gently round the garden.

The delphinium is still droopy but defiant…

droopy delphinium

…but there are very few flowers left and I had to look at the stem of a tree peony to get some colour…

tree peony

…though the sedums are hanging on.

sedum

And then I went in and took to lurking near my computer for an hour or so until I went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to.

She was busy as always and had piled up stuff ready for shredding.  I sieved some more of the compost in Bin D and then shredded about half of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pile.  The evenings are really drawing in now so between the gathering gloom and the chill, I didn’t stay out long and went in for a cup of tea.

Our neighbour Liz dropped in to say that she had seen some small flocks of starlings gathering at Longtown so maybe we will have to go down to Gretna soon to see if there are enough about for a murmuration. The numbers of starlings have dropped a lot in recent years and I don’t think that we will ever see sights like this one in 2011 again

starlings

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their first traditional Friday night visit for several weeks and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights and caught up on news, Alison and I put rusty fingers into action on flute and keyboard.  It was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to spy an empty perch on a busy feeder day.

flying chaffinch

 

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My Somerset correspondent, Venetia was intrigued by this curious statue in Marseille on her recent visit.

marseille statue

I think it represents travellers who are just passing through!

The weather gods are rolling on the floor laughing at their own tremendous wit as they provided yet another 100% sunny day while I am still basically confined to barracks.  My leg is steadily progressing but not enough to allow either walking or cycling of more than a few hundred yards at best.   It was a day crying out for a walk in the hills.

As a result I was more than happy to welcome Sandy for a cup of coffee made from Thai coffee beans which he had been kind enough to bring back for me from his recent trip to Thailand.

While we were sipping and chatting, I wondered if I had seen an unusual visitor lurking in the plum tree.  It had gone by the time that we got up for a good look but later in the morning, I saw this…

blue tit with blue flower

…and when I looked again…

two treee sparrows

… it confirmed that we had not one but two tree sparrows in the garden  They are really attractive little birds….

tree sparrow in plum tree

…and I am always pleased to see them on the rare occasions when they visit us. We had one earlier this year and one last year and none (that I saw) in 2016 at all.

There were other small and attractive birds about too…

blue tit close up on fatballs

…and some larger ones.

stern jackdaw

I made lentil soup for lunch using green, brown and red lentils and enjoyed the result.  After lunch, I got the washing in and went for a short and gentle stroll round the garden.

After a genuinely frosty night, some things were looking very droopy…

soggy nasturtiums

…and bent….

collapsing delphinium

…and there wasn’t a leaf left on the walnut tree…

bare walnut tree

…but the daisies were unbowed ….

october daisies 29th

…and the Lilian Austin rose was glorious.

lilian austin 29 Ict

That cheered me up a lot.

Then I spent some unrewarding time at my computer and on the phone trying to contact firms that make it their speciality to be hard to contact.  I found an entirely new form of customer torture when I needed to log into my account for a product that I bought many years ago.  Of course I didn’t know my password and applied for a new one:  “Success!” the website crowed. ” Your link for a new password has been sent to your email address!”

Great…except it hadn’t been sent.

I filled in a contact form to tell them about this. “Thank you for your enquiry, ” the website said, “A copy of your enquiry has been emailed to your email address.”

Except it hadn’t.

I sometimes suspect that the smart people who who design this sort of thing are practising to be weather gods in a later reincarnation.

The day took a turn for the better when Luke appeared for his lesson and showed a big improvement in his counting skills.  Considering that we are doing some quite complicated counting, this was really encouraging.  Basically he doesn’t have a real lesson.  We just play duets and every now and again I say, “Do as I say and not as I do,” and he does it.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and had a very enjoyable time indeed.

It was -1°C as I drove home.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  (The tree sparrows were too quick for me.)

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison who are on holiday in Wales.  It is a picture of a small church near Hundred House.  It has, as Mike points out, big bells and sunshine.

hundred house church

I was doubly surprised this morning as the forecast had talked of strong winds and rain in Scotland.  We must have been close enough to England to steal some of its fine weather as it was a lovely if chilly morning when we got up. That was the first surprise.

The second surprise was that I managed to get my cycling clothes on and get out for a ride before ten o’clock even though the temperature was still a nippy 5°C.  We were very sheltered from the wind in Wauchope Street so I started off with high hopes of a gentle ride but in the real world the wind was a bit fresher and I had to work hard on the outward journey of a 34 circuit.  Still, this gave me a wind assisted ride home which is the prime purpose of route planning for the elderly cyclist.

I didn’t stop much as I didn’t want to get cold but I enjoyed the larches on the Lockerbie road both before the new landslip…

The wauchope road in autumn

…and after it.

autumn near bigholms

I was nearing home when my eye was caught by one of the few bits of colour in the verges.  I thought it might be some sort of hogweed but I am not sure.

hogweed

There won’t be many days left when there is both some sun and some colour by the river so I took the obligatory picture as I crossed the Skippers Bridge.

distillery 22 Oct

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, clearing and tidying annuals and resetting some peonies.  I did some shredding and picked a reasonable bowl of raspberries.

The garden doesn’t look very colourful from the road as you pass it by but if you peer about, there are still quite a lot of flowers about.  Here are some of them.

garden flowers 22 OcTgarden flowers 22 OcT 2

The Welsh poppy was another surprise.

I filled the bird feeders and went in to have a shower.  Mrs Tootlepedal called up to say that we were being invaded by jackdaws.

You might think that they would be grateful for some food but this one was very cross that I hadn’t filled the feeders before going out cycling.

Jackdaw hard stare

They kept coming in for some time…

jackdaws at the feeder

…and there were several with white markings among them.

pied jackdaw

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to change the posters for the Buccleuch Centre in the Tourist hub in the town and I went for a walk.

Here and there autumn colour can be seen…

Looking over Pool Corner

…but the tree tunnel onto Meikleholm Hill shows that it is a very half in half situation with many trees now leafless.

the Meikleholm hill tunnel

I didn’t go through the tunnel but walked along the track with the intention of crossing the Becks Burn, following the road down to the Auld Stane Brig and then walking up the track you can see in the picture below onto the lower slopes of Warbla.

above the auld stane brig

I was foiled though as forestry machines were working and there was no access to the track through the felled wood.  My back up plan to go down to the Auld Stane Bridge through the field and then go up the track was also foiled by finding the field full of cattle.

Looking over Wauchope Churchyard

The dark trees in the background are growing in the Wauchope Graveyard.

Luckily I met Stan from the camera club who was out walking his dogs and we had a good talk about camera matters as I walked back along the track with him, so I didn’t have a wasted journey after all.

Back home, the jackdaws had left the feeders to the usual suspects.

busy feeder

Then it was time for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

My flute pupil Luke came and we played Quantz and Haydn.  Having to pay attention to technique while trying to give Luke a lead has been very beneficial to my own rather rudimentary flute playing skills.  My recent singing  lesson has improved my breathing too so that when I went to play with Mike and Isabel in the evening, I was able to enjoy playing Mozart and Telemann without getting as puffed out as usual.

All in all, a day with a walk in the middle sandwiched by pedalling in the morning and tootling in the evening is definitely one for the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is one of the jackdaws.

flying jackaw

Matilda is taking Mrs Tootlepedal and me out for a treat in the Highlands tomorrow so I don’t know if a post will be forthcoming but I will take my phone with me and do my best.

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Susan who has been touring Bavaria with friends.  She saw some handsome castles on her trip.

Bavarian Castle

It was another grey and windy day today and as we had to be in Dumfries in the middle of it, that didn’t leave much time at either end.

It was still dry after breakfast though and I had time for a quick turn round the garden to do some dead heading and flower watching.  The wind and the wet doesn’t seem to totally discourage bees…

two bees on poppy

…or hoverflies….

hoverfly on rudbeckia

…but there weren’t a great many of either.

Mrs Tootlepedal has tried out a small rudbeckia this year and it has come out but it can’t be said to be looking as good as it should be.

small rudbeckia

Whereas the dahlias continue to impress with their hardiness.

wet dahlia

Photographing poppies in the brisk wind was a lottery and I was lucky to catch this one at the top of its sway…

purple poppy

…but I had to hold this one steady with my hand…

held poppy

…and this one had given up.

soggy poppy

This was my dahlia of the day today.

fancy dahlia

After a quick cup of coffee, we drove steadily across to Dumfries and Mrs Tootlepedal’s check up was both exactly on time and very satisfactory in its outcome.  New and old cataract operations were given the thumbs up and she bought a pair of cheap reading glasses when we got back to Langholm and is happily reading as I write this.

We had hoped to do some sightseeing on the way home but the strong winds and persistent drizzle kept us in the car and we drove straight back.

When we got home, it was too wet and windy for a pleasant walk, cycle ride or useful gardening so I stayed indoors, ate soup, did the crossword and looked out of the window from time to time.

It is supposed to be a quiet time for birds just now as they are recovering from bringing up their young and they are supposed to be resting quietly in the woods where there is plenty of food for them, molting before winter comes.  This may be true but we are still getting some visitors.

First it was a rather scruffy chaffinch…

molting chaffinch

…while a greenfinch waited in the plum tree.

greenfinch in plum tree

A chaffinch wisely took shelter from the rain and possible predators by lurking in the shelter of the sunflower behind the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower

Things got busier as time went by.

busy feeder

And the birds got wetter as the rain continued.

soggy greenfinch

And sadder.

sad greebfinch

It was all too gloomy for a blue tit who flew past leaving the greenfinches to their gurning.

blue tit passing greenfinches

One greenfinch had legitimate grounds for complaint when he was rudely booted off his perch by a siskin half his size.  Siskins are frightened of nothing.

siskin attacking greenfincH

I put some fatballs out and the sparrows were feeding on them in a very co-operative way at first…

sparrows on fatball peaceful

…but it didn’t last and a youngster passed a remark to another….

sparrows on fatball arguing

…and very soon regretted that he had done so.

sparrows on fatball attacking

I put the camera away and turned to the computer where I entered another week of the newspaper into the Archive Group database.  The dull weather is letting me catch up on the backlog though I am sure that the relentless data miners will be piling up more work even as I tap away at my keyboard.

In the evening, the dull day was greatly cheered up by the arrival of Mike and Alison for conversation and music.   The pleasure of their company was even more enhanced by the fact that they came armed with a bottle of fizzy wine which put some pep into our playing.  Alison and I got out some pieces which we haven’t played for some time and enjoyed getting reacquainted with them.

The weather seems to be stuck in a wet and windy groove so I may have to look out my wellies soon.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

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