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Posts Tagged ‘flute playing’

Today’s guest picture is another from Tony.  As well as looking up at celestial wonders, he has also looked down and found a monster on the seashore.

monsters head (1)

I drove south after breakfast to visit my singing teacher.  She lives under the shadow of the north of England hills and the mist was just burning off when I got there.

misty penines

I had a second look at the tree in the foreground with its additional sheep.

misty tree hallbank gate

The mist depended on the direction and distance of the view.  This little tree covered mound was only a few hundred yards away and mist free….

trees on tump hallbankgate

…and the monkey puzzle tree in her garden was bathed in sunlight.

monkey puzzle hallbankgate

The singing lesson was very interesting and left me with a number of things to work on regarding breathing, posture, relaxation and sound production.  Now, if I can only remember all of them, I should get a lot better.  Or indeed, any of them.

On my way home, I stopped to look at the bridge over the river Irthing, near Brampton.

It was not surprising to find that it has got many metal ties on it as it is a very narrow bridge on a busy road and with sharp bends at each end, it has had many a battering from passing traffic over the years.

Irthing bridge

When I got home, I was welcomed by Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a very busy morning in the house and garden and by a frog in the pond who had been taking things quietly.

frog in wed

The garden was busy with bees…

bee in crocus

…visiting the crocuses.

And the air was busy with contentious birds…

goldfinches squabbling

…being rude to each other.

Goldfinches were shouting at other goldfinches and chaffinches…

birds bickering

…and chaffinches were going beak to beak with each other.

chaffinches beak to beak

Sometimes it all got a bit too much and they just threw up their wings in despair.

chaffinch in despair

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Dumfries with our neighbour Liz who had a hospital out patient visit arranged and appreciated the company.

I took my cycle out for a gentle spin round my customary Canonbie 20 mile circuit, keeping an eye for trees, either in groups…

three trees grainstonehead

..or standing alone…

Irvine house tree

…or posing another puzzle for monkeys.

monkey puzzle canonbie

I had a walk round the garden when I got back, hoping for an opportunity to take a better bee picture.  Sadly, it had got late enough in the day for all the bees to have gone home so I had to settle for some attractive white crocuses instead.

white crocus

The early daffodils are coming out and adding some fresh colour to the snowdrops and crocuses.

february daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely having managed to call in at a garden centre for a cup of tea and a scone on the way back from Dumfries where she acquired a new rose as if by magic.

The rest of my day was musical, with first a visit from my flute playing friend Luke.  He has been practising and as a result we played one of our pieces better than ever before.  We were both very pleased.

Then after tea, I went and played three trios with Mike and Isabel, our first meeting for some weeks and all the more welcome for that.

We have one more day of warm, calm, sunny weather to go before things start to return to more standard levels of rain, wind and cold so I am going to do my best to really appreciate the last sunny day while it  is here.

Among all the shenanigans at the feeder, I did manage to catch one calm chaffinch and he is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture from son Tony in East Wemyss goes to prove that you can find grumpy herons all over the place.

wemyss heron

It was a beautiful morning with a delicate sunrise but it was chilly enough at 4°C after breakfast to keep me from getting my bike out.  Instead, I walked up to the town where I did a bit of archive group business.  I asked Nancy, who was mining data in our new premises, for a suggestion for an interesting walk but she was unable to come up with one that hadn’t already figured in the blog.

Scratching my head, I went out into to the street and bumped into Mike Tinker.  He is a stalwart of the Langholm Walks group and suggested that I try Walk 5.  As this involves walking up steep rough ground and I hadn’t got either walking boots or my walking poles with me, Nancy and I hadn’t considered this.

However, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I resolved to take up Mike’s suggestion, trust to the ground being firm and the boggy bits few and far between and hope that I didn’t fall over on a slippery bit.

And, plucking up my courage, I headed out to try Walk 5

It starts with a stroll along the river out of the town and this led me past one of favourite bits of lichen which can be found on a fence just on the very edge of Langholm.  It is a grey and black lichen and so a black and white shot seemed like a good idea.

fungus on fence lands end

I crossed Skippers Bridge without taking a photograph and was soon walking up the track towards the hill.  I could see the mast on the top of Warbla (275m) in the distance and it seemed to be a good day to be up beside it so I pressed on.

distant view of mast on warbla

My hopes about the dry ground and lack of boggy bits were fully realised and though the hill is quite steep in places, I was able to stop and admire the view from time to time and get my breath back.

view from above skipperscleuch tarck

There was even some more lichen on a rock to detain me.

fungus on warbla

It wasn’t too long before I was able to look back down on the town, snugly tucked into its nest at the bottom of the hills.

langholm from walk 5

And then I was high enough to be able to look around at the neighbouring summits…

timpen from warbla

…and to look ahead to my immediate target.

approaching the mast warbla

When I got there, I was amply rewarded for the slog uphill across rough ground with superb views of hills streaked with sunshine and shadows…

view from warbla summit

…which I shared with a man and a dog who had reached the trig point from the opposite side of the hill.  We agreed that a better place to be on such a fine day would be hard to find.

man and dog on warbla

From the summit, I could look across the valley and stretching the zoom on the Lumix to its full extent, I could just make out the stile over the wall on Whita that I had crossed on a walk almost a week ago on another fine day.  It was about a mile away.

stile on whita from warbla

The hills looked just as good on the way down from the top as they had on the way up…

view from warbla

…and the track to the town was at its best.

green road on warbla

However, without my walking poles, I had to keep my head well down as I went along since there were plenty of opportunities to slip and slide on wet grass or slippery stones and I took no more views and only got the camera out to note this tree growing out of the top of a wall in a rather unlikely fashion….

tree on wall

…and got home safely with dry feet and no unexpected encounters between my backside and mother earth.

By coincidence, I met Nancy just as I got back.  She had been dropping off some of the results of her data mining for me to enter into the Archive Group’s newspaper database.  I’ll have to hope for some wet and windy weather which makes entering data a sensible thing to be doing.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and found some bright eyed birds at the garden feeder.

bright eyed birds

After lunch, the temperature had risen enough to make cycling a possibility so I got into my cycling gear, got my bike and set off.  In an exciting fashion I rode round the block and was home again in about three minutes.  It had started to rain heavily much to my surprise and annoyance.  There had been no sign of this sort of thing while I was out walking.

However, I kept my cycling gear on and after only a few minutes, the rain had disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and I set off again.

It was a lovely day for a pedal!

cleuchfoot road

The days are still short though and I only had time for 23 miles before it began to get gloomy.  Because I was pushed for time, I  took just that one picture on my ride which was of the scenically dull ‘up and down the road’ variety.  It was enjoyable pedalling though and my legs only reminded me of my morning walk once or twice.

I got home in time for a cup of tea and some Garibaldi biscuits which we had bought in Carlisle yesterday.  While eating the biscuits, I was able to reflect that too much of my life has been wasted not eating Garibaldi biscuits, an omission which I will try to correct in the years to come.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been out doing some useful gardening while I had been pedalling so we were both quite satisfied with our afternoon’s work.

After the tea and biscuits it was time for my flute pupil Luke to come and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger and worked on a bit of one by J J Quantz.

After Luke went, there was time to enjoy a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty puy lentil, leek and feta bake for tea before I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  Here we played Mozart, Boismortier and Schickhardt so that rounded off a very good all round sort of day.

I even found a satisfactory flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch wings closed

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie who made a recent visit to Macao for work purposes.  She enjoyed the gently understated facade of this hotel there.

Macao hotel

It was a ‘depths of winter’ day today although it was actually quite warm.  The temperature was no real advantage however as it rained all day and the light never got above “Stygian” on the Gloom Scale.

Under the circumstances, coffee with Dropscone was an excellent way to spend some of the morning and even a visit to the health centre to get a routine injection afterwards seemed like a good use of some miserable weather.

The small birds are still conspicuous by their absence but two larger birds did appear during coffee.

two partridges on lawn

These may well be the partridges that appeared on our neighbour’s garage roof a few days ago.  If they are the same birds, they look as though they are getting well fed during their stay in the town.

They are handsome birds but perhaps this one ought to be taking a bit more exercise.

partridge on lawn

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and I made some potato soup for my midday meal.  We have still got quite a lot of our potatoes in store so I am anxious to make good use of them before they get past their best.

I did think of putting on my waterproof hat, coat and trousers and going out for a soggy walk after lunch but Mrs Tootlepedal asked me to print out a picture for a card.  I had such a prolonged and fruitless battle with my printer in an effort to match the colours on the card to the colours on my computer screen that it was almost dark by the time that I had finished.

I settled for working on my flute playing in an effort to get on top of the ornamentation in the sonata that Luke and I are playing.  This is uphill work for me.  I can remember many years ago reading a book on baroque recorder technique by a noted teacher which had twenty five pages on the trill alone as far as I can recall.

It was not a day for flying birds as even if there had been any, it was too dark to photograph them but I did manage to spot a single perching chaffinch in the rain so here is the perching bird of the day.

chaffinch in December rain

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was out and about and saw skaters on the temporary ice rink at Somerset House.  It always looks a rather staid way of having fun to me.

Somerset house skating

We had a second sunny day today but the weather gods had another trick up their sleeve and kept the temperature between 0 and 2 degrees all day so when it came to cycling, the best that I could do was forty minutes on the bike to nowhere in the garage, a dull way to start the day.

Before I pedalled, I had a quick look round the garden to admire Jack Frost’s handiwork.

jack frost in garden

The blue pineapple is on the end of the vegetable garden railings and I think the the dangling flower head must be one of the last calendulas.

When I had finished the indoor pedal, Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up to the bird hide at the Moorland Project feeders and while Mrs Tootlepedal sat in the car scanning the hillside for raptors, I sat in the hide watching smaller birds.  I got the best bargain I think because she saw one distant bird and I saw dozens.

There were some blue tits…

blue tit at laverock

..and great tits…

great tit at leaverock

…but there were more coal tits than the others put together.  I only saw this one siskin sharing the peanuts with the coal tits.

busy feeder at laverock

Two chaffinches made a charming tableau on the tree stump outside the hide…

two chaffinches at laverock

…and I was very happy to see a greater spotted woodpecker on the peanuts.

woodpecker at hide

When we got home, I made some lentil soup and looked out of the window from time to time.

A blackbird paused on the edge of the tray under the feeders for a peaceful portrait…

FEMALE BLACKBIRD

…while up above, it was all go for the sparrows with a goldfinch hoping to resist the invasion.

sparrows at feeder

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on a shopping mission and I went for a walk.

I went over the Town Bridge and checked on a pair of black headed gulls who were deep in conversation at the Meeting of the Waters..

two gulls

…passed Santa who is making ends meet by doing a little bus driving until the busy period comes round….

santa busman

…crossed the Sawmill Brig, my second bridge and walked up the track past the Estate offices.

There is a fine row of trees across a field which I think looks like a hedge that got away some time ago.

overgrown hedge

I wasn’t wearing very suitable footwear but I took a chance and set off along a muddy track towards the High Mill Brig.

There were many puddles but luckily, there was enough frost in the ground to make it firm enough for me to make progress and keep my feet dry.

pathead track

And there was plenty of interest along the way.  Looking down, I saw frozen moss and three sorts of lichen within a few feet of each other on a wall,,,,

moss and lichen on wall

…and looking up,  saw about a hundred birds flying overhead.  From their formation, I thought at first that they might be geese…

birds in fligth

…but a closer look makes me think they were gulls….but I am not certain.

possible ducks

At the end of the track, I came to one of the useful gates that the Langholm Walks group have organised for the convenience of walkers following their marked routes.

langholm walks gate

Following the track along the edge of the field, I came down to my third bridge of the day, the High Mill Brig…

high mill bridge

…so called because of the mill which stood nearby for many years.  The mill has gone now but the bridge carries the main road north out of the town and is still busy.

I crossed the bridge and followed the road back towards the town, crossing the Sawmill Brig again and then walking round the Castleholm and crossing the Jubilee Bridge, my fourth and last of the excursion.

There was more interest as I went along.

berry fence laurel and moss

The circular pattern in the top right frame, is the sawn top of a fence post covered with ice.  It was cold but as the day was very still, it was a pleasure to be out and about even if the sun had been overtaken by some low cloud.

On my way back through the New Town, I stopped off at Mike and Alison’s house to enquire about the state of Alison’s recently dislocated shoulder.  This was not entirely a disinterested call as she is my Friday night orchestra and I am hoping that she won’t be out of action too long as I miss the playing.  She was remarkably cheerful and made a cup of tea while I chatted to Mike.  As the tea came with a delicious ginger biscuit, it was doubly welcome.

Alison has tried a little piano playing which is good news.

I didn’t stay long as they told me that Mrs Tootlepedal had called in when she had finished shopping but had not stopped because she didn’t want me not to find her in when I came back from my walk and worry about where she was.

When I got back to the garden, I found evidence that her shopping trip had been successful.  She had bought our Christmas tree for the next four or five years.

CHRISTMAS TREE

My flute pupil Luke sent me a message to say that he couldn’t come for the usual session because of a meeting in Dumfries so I had time for a quiet sit before making the tea and going out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

The playing would have gone better if I had brought the right bag with my flute, music stand and music in it instead of quite a different bag with none of these essentials.  However, Mike and Isabel played some Vivaldi duets while I went off and got the right bag and then we played Quantz, Mozart and Telemann trios so we were all happy.

The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull above the Ewes Water at the Kilngreen.

flying gull

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s walk with his dog.  He needed full colour to record this parakeet.

wemyss parrot

We woke up to a bright and frosty morning and I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen before I could drive south for another singing lesson with Mary, our Langholm choir conductor.  It was well worth the effort of driving down into England as Mary is a most considerate and thorough teacher.

My eyes have been opened to just how many ways there are to sing badly and how many things need to be thought about and practised carefully if I want to improve.  Still, it is very exciting to find something that can be progressive and rewarding when so many other things can only go downhill when you get to a certain age.

When I got home, I had little time to waste before I had to take our car into the garage to get its winter tyres put on.  The frosty weather in the morning had been a signal that now might be a good time to get this done.

When I got home again, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had made a very tasty sweet potato soup for lunch and after tucking into a bowl of that with some good cheese on the side, I took a moment to look at the birds.

The brightness had gone out of the day by this time and a flying visit from the sparrowhawk, although it was unsuccessful, may have discouraged the birds as there were not many about.  On top of that it was a day when the birds sneaked quickly up onto the feeder from behind instead of flying up slowly from the side so I didn’t get any good shots, just a few rather gloomy perching birds.

blackbird on hedge

chaffinch on chimney

perching greenfinch

sparrow and goldfinch

Most of my flying bird attempts ended up looking like this.

failed flying birds

The one bright spot of the window watching was the sight of a tiny wren on the ground under the feeder.

wren

They flit about the garden quite a lot but rarely stop for long enough to be caught by my camera.

I then spent some time wondering whether I should go for a bike ride or a walk.  In fact I spent so much time pondering that the time for action came and went and the light faded along with my enthusiasm so I sat down and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.

As the afternoon went on, we were visited by Mike Tinker who had come to wish Mrs Tootlepedal a happy birthday and a plumber who made Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday happy by taking out an old gas fire which she has long wanted removed.

In order to make sure that there were no unfortunate errors, Mrs Tootlepedal had bought herself a very nice light bulb which she gave to herself on my behalf as her birthday present.

My flute pupil Luke came and we got out a piece by Loeillet over which we had spent many months of hard work years ago when he was still a novice and greatly to my delight, we played though the whole sonata with none of the fingering or counting problems which had seemed almost insurmountable at the time.  If we needed proof of our progress, this was it.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious Thai curry for our tea and after enjoying that I went off to play enjoyable  trios with the other Mike and Isabel.

The only flying bird that I caught today  was this shifty looking chaffinch, trying to creep up behind the feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

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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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