Posts Tagged ‘flute playing’

Today’s guest picture shows a fine waterfall visited by Dropscone and family on his Skye holiday.

Skye waterfall

In spite of a forecast of rain, we had yet another dry, cool day with a brisk wind until the evening.  I should have gone cycling (my neighbour Ken did 40 miles in the morning) but I was feeling lazy so I had a cup of coffee with Sandy instead

After coffee, I combined doing the crossword with some lawn mowing and compost shredding and occasionally looking at the birds.


A greenfinch dropped in

I had yet another go or two at photographing the rosemary.


The slightly different colours reflect the fact that I tried with two different cameras.

I did some deadheading too and looked at flowers as I went round.


The chilly weather means that daffodils and tulips are still our staples but I was pleased to see a butterfly although I couldn’t get a very good picture of it.  It was struggling to get enough warmth to fly.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and started on giving our topiary chicken a very severe haircut after lunch so I had plenty of clippings to put through the shredder.

I had to stop though when Sandy reappeared for a prearranged outing.

We went up to the Moorland bird feeders at the Laverock Hide in the hope of seeing something interesting.  We did see a couple on unusual sights.  A hare ran across the clearing right in front of the hide and a goshawk made a pass up the clearing and then flew across it later on. All three of these events were good to see but unfortunately too quick for catching on camera.

One thing we couldn’t miss was the male pheasants….


…strutting around and pestering the females.  Some of the females were chased about on the ground and got rather ruffled while others took to the trees to escape unwanted attention.

female pheasants

Of course there were plenty of small birds to see too.

chaffinch, blue tit and robin

After the goshawk had thoroughly cleared the clearing for the second time, we gave up and went down to the Castleholm to see if the nuthatches were at the nest by the bridge.

Two were to be seen.  One arrived at the tree and flitted from branch to branch before perching and singing furiously.


It flew off and almost immediately, another nuthatch emerged from the nest hole, gave a backward glance….


…and flew off.

After a moment or two the first nuthatch returned with something in its beak…..


…which it dropped into the nest hole without entering and then it too flew off and all was quiet.

We waited for a bit and then the call of teatime became too insistent and we left.

We did see some promising bluebells on our way to the nest….


..and some fine primroses on our way back to the car.


…as well as any amount of attempted growth on the trees.

leaf buds

There had been a lot of waiting for some indifferent bird pictures but seeing the nuthatches and goshawk had made the outing worthwhile.

When I got home, the formerly plump chicken….

topiary chicken

…had been reduced to this….

thin chicken

…by Attila but she is hoping that the end result will be a slimmer and better looking bird.  Think of it as a work by Brancusi meanwhile.

A little sunshine had arrived rather late in the day and it lit up a tulip for me….

backlit tulip

…before I went in for my tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came and Alison and I played music in a style which fairly accurately reflected the lack of practice opportunities for us both during the preceding week.

It is the London Marathon on Sunday and while we talking about it after playing, Mike revealed that he had run no less than seventeen marathons in his younger days.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I were very impressed indeed.  We knew he had run several marathons but had no idea that he had done so many, quite a few in under three hours, a very respectable speed indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch about to give a siskin a hard time.

flying goldfinch



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Today’s guest  photograph comes from Dropscone who is on holiday in Skye.  He managed to take a rather clever picture of himself taking a picture of a rainbow.


After yesterday’s dull, drizzly day following a good forecast, we had a sunny, bright day today following a very gloomy forecast of frequent showers.  The general forecasts remain pretty sound but the detailed local forecasts are sometimes rather ropey.

Still, we were very grateful for a good day.

I took a couple of pictures of the effects of yesterday’s rain…

lupin and pulsatilla

A lupin holding a watery diamond and a battered pulsatilla

…and set off to cycle round my 20 mile Canonbie circle.   Although the temperature was in single figures and the sun wasn’t out, the lack of wind made it feel quite pleasant for cycling and I went round at a good speed. Since I wasn’t having to battle the breeze, I was much more in the mood to stop and take pictures so I paused for a primrose, waited for a wood anemone, dawdled for a dandelion and ran out of alliteration for a bluebell.

primrose, wood anemone, dandelion, bluebell

The dandelions and anemones were out in force near Canonbie.

anemones and dandelions

I stopped on the Hollows Bridge to show that the trees are getting a welcome green tinge.

Hollows Bridge

By the time that I got home, the sun had come out so I mowed the middle and front lawns and took a lot of flower pictures.

violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

Dog tooth violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

tulip waving goodbye

Tulip dead heading will shortly be required

There were quite a few bees to be heard and I was very pleased to see some of them at work on the plum tree….

tulip waving goodbye

…though the forecast of a frost tonight might be too much for the blossoms.

I think that the tadpoles are far enough on to survive a cold night.


It was such a nice spring day by this time, although still not as warm as it should be on a sunny day in April, that I went into the house and took three shots of the garden from upstairs windows.

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds (and a glimpse pf the gardener).

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

This doesn’t show the beds along the front of the house and the small area to the right of the greenhouse.

The birds were pleased when I filled the feeders before I went cycling and by the time that I got back they had got the level well down again.


We wanted to do some shopping at Gretna so we took advantage of the continuing sunshine by packing the bikes into the car after lunch and going for a cycle ride before we did the shopping.

The advantage of cycling from Gretna from Mrs Tootlepedal’s point of view in particular is that the roads are mostly flat but this didn’t mean that we had a dull outing.

Todhills horses

Bridge of trees at Todhills

Mrs Tootlepedal passing under an arch of trees

We went south from Gretna and cycled round a 12 mile loop that took us through Rockliffe.  After passing through the village, we took advantage of a rough track to cycle down to the bank of the river Eden.  We were able to look back at the church where we took a walk a week or so ago.

Rockcliffe church

Which ever way we looked, up or down the river, the view was delightful.

River Eden

Up river

River Eden

Down river

And the bank itself was covered with a lovely little wood.

Rockcliffe wood

We were a bit alarmed by some very black clouds ahead of us as we cycled back to Gretna but they passed over to the north before we got back to the car and we enjoyed an excellent cycle ride.

The 12 miles had given us an appetite so a cup of coffee and a cake was necessary before we completed some satisfactory shopping.  (Slippers were the main thing on the list but quality prunes came into it too.)

We got home to find that the rain shower had missed Langholm as well.  This was lucky as we had had washing hanging out.  I had to fill the feeders again as they were quite empty by this time.


Cycling and shopping had taken up most of the afternoon and it wasn’t long before it was time for our evening meal and then I went out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We haven’t played for some weeks as Mike and Isabel have been busy on church matters over the Lent period and it was very good to get back to playing again.  The time off hadn’t got too much rust into the works so we enjoyed our playing a lot.

Sometimes, I can just push the shutter button in the nick of time to catch a flying bird and today was one of those times.


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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He was officiating at a golf match near Galashiels at the weekend and took the time to photograph this bridge over the new Borders Railway line which splits the course in two.

Torwoodlee Bridge

It was another fine day but rather chilly in the morning so I was happy to wait in and have a cup of coffee with our neighbour Ken  He had called in to check a cycle route which Mrs Tootlepedal and I  devised when we cycled south to visit her brother near London some years ago.  He is thinking of cycling part of the route in the opposite direction.

I was was also waiting to check on the proposed arrival time at Carlisle of Mrs Tootlepedal.  She was returning from having fun with Matilda.

By the time that the ETA was established and the coffee finished, the temperature had risen enough to make cycling tolerable and I decided to take my frequent 20 mile trip down to Canonbie and back.

I attracted the attention of this cow as I passed along the old A7 before Canonbie…

Canonbie cow

…and a bold splash of white on the verge a little further along attracted my attention.

wood anemone

It was a fine show of wood anemones.

There was a noticeable wind but luckily it was behind me on the way home so I ended my ride in a good mood.

I had left myself enough time before going to collect Mrs Tootlepedal to walk round the garden in the sunshine.

The tulips are going from strength to strength…


…while fritillaries and dicentra offer a more modest show.

dicentra and fritillary

The grape hyacinths are come along nicely and we can almost see the intended river of blue running through the beds round the front lawn.

grape hyacinths

The daffodils are flourishing, although the early ones are now needing dead heading, and the pale hellebore is also doing well .  It is a pity that it was fatally aesthetically wounded by early bad weather.

daffodil and hellebore

While i was out looking at the flowers, a burst of noise from the bird feeder made me turn round.  Two redpolls were giving a siskin a hard time.


I went back inside and looked at the birds through the window in a more traditional manner.

Regrettable behaviour was all too common.


A siskin about to administer the order of the boot…


…and the boot successfully applied a moment later.

siskin and chaffinch

A lady chaffinch about to behave in an unladylike manner….

siskin, goldfinch, redpoll

…and a siskin, goldfinch and redpoll gang up on a goldfinch

There were moments of quiet.


I had a little stewed rhubarb and some Stilton cheese for my lunch and went off to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the train.  She arrived bang on time and brightened up my day even more than the morning sunshine had.

We took advantage of being in Carlisle to do some shopping and then drove home.

Having fun with Matilda is quite tiring so Mrs Tootlepedal had a well deserved rest and I went out on the slow bike to hunt for nuthatches….

…or at least I would have gone out if the front tyre wasn’t as flat as a pancake.  When I took the wheel off and got the inner tube out, I found that the valve had snapped in half so there was no chance of a repair.  The valve must have taken a knock in the garage.  Luckily I had a spare tube to hand and I soon had everything back in order and went off on my hunt.

I waited patiently by the tree for a while and then my patience was sorely taxed by a passerby saying, “Don’t you get nuthatches on your feeder?  They are always coming to mine.”  Oh really.

Luckily, I did see one…


…but it didn’t like the look of my long lens and flew off and didn’t return so I left it in peace and cycled down to the river.

I was rewarded by spotting a grey wagtail bobbing up and down near the Sawmill Brig…

Grey Wagtail

…and two oyster catchers at the Meeting of the Waters.  They flew off as I approached….

oyster catchers flying

…but at a steady speed which allowed me to catch them in both black….

oyster catchers flying

…and white.  The one at the back is undoubtedly saying, “Wait for me.”

I crossed the Langholm Bridge and stopped to admire two herring gulls (I think) on a rock in the middle of the Esk.

herring gulls

When I got home, I had many plans for doing useful things in the garden but after I had thought them over carefully, I had a little sit down instead.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we practised some pieces he is playing at a musical evening tomorrow. I hope he plays well and wows the audience.

The flying bird of the day is a redpoll, caught between two stools.

flying redpoll

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Today’s guest picture shows the village pond in Osmaston, Derbyshire.  It was passed by my brother Andrew while on an outing with his walking group.


After a moment of dry weather before breakfast, the day very soon reverted to type and got wet.


The tulips are trying their best despite the weather

Dropscone rang me up  from the golf course where he was hitting a few balls before the rain arrived and we arranged to have a cup of coffee.

I was expecting treacle scones as it was Friday but he arrived bringing the standard issue with him.  He had gone to buy some treacle from our local Co-operative Store but they had been literally unable to get their doors to open so he had had to return empty handed.

The standard scones were very good.

The main business of the day was waiting very nervously to see if a change in my internet provider would go smoothly.  After staying with my previous provider ever since I first connected to the internet, I had been put off enough by the poor customer relations of the big firm which had recently taken them over to change to a new provider.

I got an absurdly good deal from my new supplier which is entirely based on the (probably justified) hope that I won’t bother to change when the rate goes sharply up after a year.  I was promised that the whole change over would happen seamlessly without the need for me to do anything more than plug in a new router when told and greatly to my surprise, this turned out to be true.

Not only that, the provision was, as promised, a great deal speedier than my old one.  This is very unsettling and i am still expecting bad things to happen but meanwhile I am very happy and shooting pictures up the line onto the WordPress server at great speed.


As it was raining pretty well all morning, I was quite happy to wait in and watch birds while the switch over happened, even though the light was terrible.

chaffinch and goldfinch

The birds were quite happy to quarrel

We had regular visits from the sparrowhawk but it was too quick for me today and I didn’t even get the camera raised let alone take a picture of it.

We also got regular visits from redpolls who did hang about a bit more.


I took a picture of one beside a siskin….


…which shows how similar they are in size.  When they have their back to you and the red head and chest is not visible, they are often hard to pick out among the siskins.

As I said, the switch over went smoothly and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Hawick on business, I noticed that the rain had stopped so I went for a walk.

The wind hadn’t stopped along with the rain and it was blowing too briskly for comfortable walking in exposed places so I just tramped through the puddles round Gaskell’s Walk.

There was the usual selection of lichens to enjoy.


They are often little works of art.

The larch trees are just beginning to turn green which is a very cheering sight…

Larch in spring

…and the willows are working hard too…


…though the wind made taking good pictures of them tricky.

It was still rather gloomy so I thought that a black and white tree might demonstrate the feel of the day…

b/w tree

…but perhaps this one getting its feet wet….

tree and puddle

…shows the day off better.

I was pleased to see an old friend at Pool Corner…


…and I was very impressed by this colour daffodil beside the road there.


When I got back home, I put the dry weather to some good use by sieving some compost and mowing the front lawn and the drying green.  I am thinking of applying to have the garden designated as a national centre for moss.

There are new flowers to be seen in the garden though.  There are fritillaries…


The brisk wind blew one flower head up to reveal the riches within.

…and the very first tulips to open a little…


….and the daffodils are at their peak.


I just need the wind to drop and the sun to come out.

When I get bored with the birds outside the kitchen window, which is very rarely, Mrs Tootlepedal has provided me other things to look at.

flowers under the feeder

 When she came home from Hawick, we discussed whether the tulips were a bit earlier this year than usual so I looked at last year’s posts for this time and discovered that we are perhaps a week further forward than we would usually be.

Looking at the posts was rather disturbing because I discovered that my life runs in very well regulated channels and last year’s pictures are uncannily similar to this year’s efforts.  I even noticed that I had done more or less the same long cycle run to Caerlaverock last year as I just did this year.   I will have to try to get a bit of photographic variety into my life.

Nature is repetitive though and looking at last year’s posts for early April, I saw several pictures of a sparrowhawk in the garden and this year again,  we have had several visits from one over the past few days.

In the evening in a very welcome piece of repetition, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played Corelli, Rameau and Loeillet along with Greensleeves on a Ground from the Division Flute.  Unlike the new internet connection, we took things at a very steady pace and as a result we enjoyed our playing a lot.

I didn’t get a good flying bird picture today and have had to settle for this ‘two for the price of one’ effort.

flying chaffinch flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Regents Park.

Regents park 15.03.17 001

One absolute certainty of the day was that it was raining. It was raining in the morning, it was raining the afternoon, it was raining at supper time.

As it was quite windy too, the other certainty was that I wasn’t going anywhere further than the corner shop.

I was therefore more than usually pleased to welcome Dropscone with his traditional Friday treacle scones to share a morning cup of coffee or two.

After he left, I found useful things to do like putting another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and catching up on my correspondence.   I also found entertaining things to do like a tricky crossword and looking out of the window. Once again, it would have been all too easy to spend all day looking out of the window as the birds provided a constant source of interest.

It started with chaffinches…..


The plum tree had about thirty perched on its branches…

plum tree chaffinches

…and there were often over twenty five on the ground under the feeders

ground chaffinches

There were also plenty of goldfinches….


…and then there were the siskins too.


They were very much on the level today

To add a touch of variety, we were visited by a male brambling looking at his very finest.


Sadly he didn’t stay long.

We also saw a sparrow on the feeder.


Considering how many sparrows there are about on neighbour’s hedges and feeders and even on bushes in our own garden, it is strange how few come to visit our feeders in early spring.

The action was continuous all day and I filled the feeders twice.

Busy feeder

It wasn’t hard to catch a flying bird today as there were flying birds on all sides.

Flying chaffinch

Chaffinch furled

flying chaffinch

Chaffinch unfurled

Flying siskin

Siskin in between

Sometimes there were too many to take in at once.

Flying siskins

The siskins like to hang upside down while waiting for a spare perch…

hanging siskin

…but they eat a lot when they get the chance.

Eating siskin.

Did I mention that it rained a lot?

When I wasn’t staring out of the window I was practising my flute and putting choir songs on the computer so in spite of the rotten weather, I didn’t entirely waste the day.

In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison and a bit more music helped ease the pain of the rain.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinch flock.  This one was the angriest of them all.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from ex-archivist Ken who has returned to the north east of England where he was able to take this picture of the Millennium Bridge over the Tyne on a lovely day.Tyne Bridge

Lovely days were in very short supply here which was a disappointment after yesterday’s glorious weather.  The hills were covered in cloud and it was one of those days when if it wasn’t raining, it was just about to rain.

I had noticed a traffic cone in our road when I drove home in the dark last night and my neighbour Liz came round to show me what it was all about.  The bottom had dropped out of our world….or at least a bit of Wauchope Street.

A hole had appeared in the bridge over the dam.

The hole in the road

We had it professionally inspected….

Liz, Riley and the hole

…and later in the morning, two men from the council arrived and put a temporary lid on things.

hole in the road

I had a look under the bridge and I could see that quite a lot of the road is now in the water.

hole in the road

We asked the council men when it might get fixed and there was a good deal of sucking of teeth and mention of tight finances. Liz has been appointed as our official agitator.

This was all very exciting so it was lucky that Dropscone arrived with some soothing treacle scones to have with our coffee.

It was all go today at Wauchope Cottage as on the other side of the house, our neighbour Hector’s fence was going up steadily hour  by hour.  It looked good when it was finished.

Hector's fence

The frogs in the pond kept very calm throughout the various activities.


D’Artagnan had joined the other three today

After coffee and before the fence was finished, I took a look at the bird feeder and found chaffinches trying to sneak onto a perch unobserved by a sitting goldfinch.



I went outside and found myself in a a dry spell so I set off for a cycle ride on the fairly speedy bike.  Twenty four seconds after I left the house, it started to rain again and for the rest of my twenty mile tour to Canonbie and back, it rained on and off in a drizzly sort of way.

I stopped once to catch a bare tree on my phone.

bare tree near Todhillwood

This gives a good impression of the day.  These were the best conditions on the whole tour.

Luckily it was quite warm and the wind was very light so the rain wasn’t as much of a nuisance as it might have been and a plate of leek and potato soup soon put me to rights when I got back.

I had a look for new growth in the garden and was excited to see buds on the plum tree…

plum tree buds

…but the daffs and crocuses were less exciting.

wet daffs and floppy crocuses

Throughout the afternoon, I had occasional peeks at the feeder while wondering if it was going to be nice enough to go for a walk.

The feeder action had livened up.


Siskins hanging about again


Brotherly love


A chaffinch tries to fly under the radar


Three’s a crowd


Bending over backwards to be rude

It never seemed bright enough to do more than think about a walk and in the end, I frittered the rest of the afternoon away though I did practise a song for our choir on Sunday and put a dough mix in the breadmaker.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Mike watched the rugby on the telly while Alison and I battled with some sonatas.  The muggy weather doesn’t help my breathing and my brain never got out of second gear so I didn’t play at my best.

When we had finished, we joined Mike and watched the end of quite an exciting game between Wales and Ireland.

The breadmaker (with a little help from me) had made the dough and as we played, the dough was rising and while we watched, I  heated up the oven and  cooked a batch of a dozen rolls which turned out reasonably well.  As I am still by myself, Mike and Alison kindly took some of the rolls home with them.

There is a frog of the day….


…and not one but two flying birds.

flying chaffinches

Just a note for those who got gold stickers for reading all of yesterday’s long post.  There will be a test to check.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s recent visit to Exeter.  It shows a very neat bridge, which was built by the mayor to cover a gap in the town walls so he (the mayor) didn’t have to climb up and down every year when the walls had to be inspected.


We woke to a very misty scene and it didn’t  get much brighter as the morning went on so I was very pleased to welcome Dropscone, bearing the traditional Friday treacle scones with him, for a cup of coffee or two.

Last time he had visited, there had been a good supply of birds about while he was here but they subsequently disappeared when he left so today I was ready and had the camera set up and leapt up from the table from time to time while we talked.

This may be a bit rude but I did catch a bird or two.


Two goldfinches have their equivalent of a treacle scone.

greenfinch and chaffinches

A chaffinch gets ready to leave in the face of rough behaviour from a greenfinch

several siskins

Then several siskins arrived

a siskin and chaffinches

There was enough traffic to generate a little heat on the feeder

…and we still had plenty of time to talk.

After Dropscone left, a chaffinch posed magnificently, very much in the style of Napoleon I thought.


After lunch, I took another picture of the bird community on the feeder…

chaffinches, blue tit and siskin

Chaffinches, blue tit and siskin getting on peacefully

…and then, since it seemed to be a bit brighter, I set off for a twenty mile bike ride down to Canonbie and back.  I should have gone out a bit more promptly as it turned out to be an ideal day for winter cycling, not too cold, mostly dry and with a friendly wind.

It was still a bit too grey for photographs though and I only stopped once for a tree….

Tree near Chapelhill

…and then again when  a rider asked if I would open a gate onto the old road at the Hollows for him as his young horse didn’t care for the narrow opening which was the alternative.

horse on old A7

One reason for getting home as quickly as possible was that I thought that there would be time for a quick walk when I got back.  In the event, the light got a lot worse soon after I arrived home as the mist came down over the hills so I stayed in the garden and sawed up some of the logs from a large pile waiting for my attention.

The garden is full of crocuses just waiting for a sunny day to spread their petals out but it looks as though they may have to wait as there is no sunshine in the immediate forecast, just rain, dark clouds and wind.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had go at one of our choir songs and then we were joined  by Mike and Alison Tinker and Alison and I had fun playing Loeillet, Woodcock and Telemann and we rounded off the evening by talking politics with Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike.

The poor light didn’t let me get a satisfactory solo picture so the flying bird of the day is a goldfinch/chaffinch composite.

goldfinch and chaffinch flying

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