Posts Tagged ‘flute’

Today’s guest picture is a beautiful shot of the little lake in Regents Park.  My sister Mary took it on her way to play tennis at the weekend and remarked that it looked very spring-like in spite of being partially frozen.

Looking spring-like in spite of partially frozen lake

We had another dry, chilly day here without much sun to cheer us up so it felt cold.  There were even one or two desultory snowflakes but they came to nothing.

The dam bridge repair man was back and busy and by lunchtime, the bridge looked like this…

dam bridge repairs

…ready for the final finishing touches in the next day or two, weather permitting.

The forecast is very dramatic, talking of low temperatures and deep snow but at present our part of the country looks as though it might get off lightly.  We live in hope.

After breakfast, I cracked open my piggy bank (into which I put small denomination coins which otherwise would put an intolerable strain on my trouser pockets) and was able to take a couple of pounds worth of coppers round to our local shop who still need them for change.

I had a moment to look out of the window after that.

A goldfinch appeared but it was the only one that I saw today…


….and a greenfinch flew in.


Then it was time to welcome Dropscone for coffee.  He has returned safely from his holiday in the very south of Ireland where he and two of his children had had a good time going about and seeing the sights.

Not only was he welcome back in his own right but the fact that he brought scones with him was the metaphorical icing on the cake.  I had butter and blackcurrant jelly on mine.

While we were sipping and chatting, we had another visitor.


The fact that the sparrowhawk stopped for a picture meant that it had successfully nipped one of our other visitors off the feeder.  I have cropped the picture because it is too sad to view the reality however much it is just part of the natural cycle.

Later on, after coffee, I saw a most unusual burst of colour in the plum tree.  A closer look showed me that it was a male bullfinch.  It stayed on the plum tree for long enough for me to get the big lens and take its picture.


You might well think that such a magnificent little bird would be welcome but what it is doing in the plum tree is pecking off the shoots and eating them.

bullfinch panel

Left alone a bullfinch and its pals will strip a tree so rather ungratefully after taking its picture, I went out and shooed it away.  I like bullfinches but I like plums more.  This particular bird, having taken off a shoot, had the cheek to drop it as you can see in third picture in the panel above.

I spent some time after all this avian excitement in not quite getting a flying chaffinch picture right.

flying chaffinches

I took a stroll round the garden and was impressed by the hardiness of our small bunch of early daffodils.  We will need a few more before they can be considered a ‘host of golden daffodils’ but they are trying.


The crocuses were keeping themselves to themselves, huddled against the cold but I liked the picture that this small bunch on the drying green made.



After lunch, I went out for a short ten mile bike ride on my slow bike.   My plan was to go as slowly as was reasonable to avoid increasing the wind chill factor too much.

Although it was very chilly, the roads were dry and there was no danger of frost.  At one point on my way up the road, I heard a clink, as though something had fallen off my bike but a quick check told me that my bike was still all there. It was only when I went to look in my mirror before turning at Callister that I realised that it was the mirror that had fallen off.

I put my failure to notice this down to the extreme cold which had obviously numbed my brain.

I turned and pedalled back looking anxiously for any trace of the mirror but I fear that a passing car must have run over it and spun it off into the verge because there was no sign of it at all.

Ah well.

I made a tomato, potato and feta bake for my tea to cheer myself up

And to make things even better, I had a musical evening as first my flute pupil Luke came and then, after tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.   The trios were great fun and I hardly noticed the cold as I walked home.

I did catch one flying chaffinch without a feeder in front of it and it is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch



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My South African correspondent, Tom, thought that it was time to make the blog more attractive to the wider public so he has sent me this delectable picture of bare flesh.  They have to put up with a lot of fine weather down there.


There was once again no danger of sunburn in Langholm as the temperature stayed near freezing all day.

I had to go back to the health centre to get the dressings on my scratches from the bike crash changed again.  Things are healing up very nicely though and I should be be clear of sticking plaster by the end of the week with luck.

After his own spell of illness, Scott, the minister, proved that he had got his coffee radar working well again and appeared for a visit just as coffee was on the go.  He is a keen cyclist and in view of the continuing bad weather, he has taken out a gym membership and had been spinning away in the gym before he came to see us.  I am thinking about the possibility of going to the gym.  But only thinking about it.

We had a look at progress on the dam bridge repair while he was with us.

dam bridge repairs

The concrete has set well and the big concrete beams were being lowered into place.

After Scott left, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and kept an eye on the birds while it was cooking.

Sometimes I wonder if there are more interesting things going on round the back of the feeder than at the front.


I have put out some ground level food and it is beginning to attract some customers.

blackbird and dunnock

A blackbird and a dunnock test out the new treat.

Two greenfinches arrived and showed magnificent disdain for the attempt by a chaffinch to unsettle them.

blacgreenfinches and chaffinch

And we were pleased to see a random great tit.

great tit

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set about stripping the old varnish off the dining room table and I went out for a walk.

I stopped at Pool Corner to show the sluice and caul that provide the water for the dam (and create the pool that gives Pool Corner its name)…

pool corner and the dam

…and while I was leaning on the wall and contemplating life, a dipper flew in and posed briefly for me.

dipper at Pool Corner

I walked up the Hallcrofts road to have a look at the progress of the felling at the Becks wood.  It is extensive.

Becks wood felling

You can click on the photo to get the bigger picture if you want.

A skilful combination of man and machine was adding to the already enormous pile of logs beside the road.


On a wall nearby, I studied a strand of moss and thought how much it resembled a conifer tree in miniature.

moss strand

I had checked the forecast before I had set out and it offered only a very small chance of any rain and I suppose it was right in a way as I had dry spells and I also went through a couple of heavy hail showers but it never actually rained.

sunshine and hail

Taken a twenty minutes apart

At least the hail stopped and looked good on some clumps of moss.

hail on moss

Although I am mostly thinking about moss, I haven’t lost my taste for lichens and fungus.

The lichen on the fence post at the Auld Stane Bridge was looking very healthy.  The red spots are so tiny that I didn’t see them until I looked at the picture on my computer.


And there was a good set of birch polypores beside the river as I went along Gaskell’s Walk.

birch polypore

After the hail showers, i would have been more appreciative if the sun had shone on me rather than on nearby hills…

sun on hill

…but at least it stayed dry for the rest of my walk.

Following some recent advice I looked at the sori on the back of ferns…

fern sori

…and following my own inclinations, I was impressed by the variety of moss within a square yard on the park wall.


The dam bridge repairs are now a spectator sport…..

dam bridge repairs

…and they are a subject of considerable interest in our neighbourhood.

I was a little tired today after all the excitements of going to Manchester yesterday so I was not as unhappy as I might have been to find that the usual Monday evening trio playing had been cancelled.  My flute pupil Luke came though and we had an enjoyable time working on a sonata so it wasn’t a totally tootle free day.

We noticed with sinking heart a telephone engineer climbing the pole outside our house in the late afternoon and were very relieved when he did what he had to do without cutting off our phone line this time.

When the workers had left, I popped out to record their progress on the bridge repair.  They and their machines had worked hard today.

dam bridge repairs

The forecast is for more strong winds, low temperatures and possible snow so I don’t think I am going to be able to test my cycling appetite and abilities for a few days yet.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in expansive mood,

flying goldfinch




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Today’s guest picture is a Maltese bird.  Dropscone spotted it.

Maltese bird

It was a variable day, starting and finishing with steady rain and in between being broken up by some periods of unexpected sunshine and more rain showers.

I felt quite cheery when I got up in spite of the rain and spent some time printing out cards which the newspaper shops sells on behalf of the Archive Group.

The rain stopped so I looked out of the window from time to time.

There was plenty of activity….

busy feeder

…and then the rain started again but didn’t discourage the visitors.

greenfinch and chaffinch

Then it stopped and four siskins glowed gently in some thin sunshine….


…but a greenfinch looked as though it was expecting the rain to start at any moment.

siskin and greenfinch

In one of the sunny periods, I thought about a little cycle ride but with the weather so changeable, I didn’t want to get stuck out in the country in a shower so I went for a walk round Gaskells instead.

I set out feeling good and enjoying the lichens beside the river at the park….


…which have obviously liked our weather a lot.  The lichens in general are thriving.

However, as soon as I came to the short and gentle slope up to the Stubholm, I found that I wasn’t nearly as well recovered as I had thought and nearly ground to a halt going up the hill.

This was a real blow and I had to creep round the rest of the walk at a snail’s pace to stop my chest hurting.  I was really glad to have embarked on a low level and short walk and at least I completed it.  It would have been frustrating to have had to turn round and go home.

It was a pity because, for a while at least, it was a very nice day, though still cold and raw.



I was concentrating on where I was putting my feet quite a lot as I didn’t want to add slipping over to my day but occasionally a bit of lichen intruded on my consciousness.

script lichen

peltigera lichen

And a tuft of moss too.


I reached home in one piece, pleased to have had a bit of fresh air even if the exercise hadn’t amounted to much and was very cheered to find a fine clump of snowdrops in evidence on the bank of the dam behind the house.


Roll on spring.

The walk had showed that more rest was needed so I rested for the rest of the day.  In the evening, my flute pupil Like came and we had a productive lesson and I was able to blow a few notes on my own flute so the rest had done me good.

After tea, I went off to the first camera club meeting of the new year and although the turnout was on the small side, we had some very good pictures to look at and a new member from Canonbie to welcome so it was a worthwhile evening.

We had been asked to do a portrait and since I don’t like to take pictures of other people very much as I feel that I lack the skills to do them justice, I took a picture of an old man who was hanging around in the front room.


It always comes as a shock to see just how old I am!  I am not like that on the inside.

One of our fellow camera club members showed us a wonderful picture of a flying nuthatch this evening.  He had found a moment of good sunshine for the shot. My flying siskin of the day in the rain is rather gloomy in comparison.



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Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo.  I think she must have been away from home when she took this picture.  She tells me, “It shows the  Red Deer River Valley in Saskatchewan, taken at about 3000 feet above ground from our wee Piper Cherokee 140”.

Red Deer River Valley in Saskatchewan

Mary Jo wouldn’t have been able to anything from 3000ft if she had been above the Esk River here today as the clouds spent quite a lot of the time at about 100ft.

However, the weather gods had a good deal of fun at my expense as the best of the day came in the morning, when I was in the Welcome to Langholm office and in the evening, when it was dark.

My time in the WTL office was well spent as I put a week and a half of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and I was treated to a cup of coffee by our group treasurer Nancy, who dropped in while taking a break from staring at a microfiche reader in the Archive Centre while mining more data.

When I was looking out of the kitchen window at lunchtime, it was very gloomy.

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that we should hear it more for the dunnock which she rates as a very charming bird.  I cannot disagree with that.


I like this little action sequence which happened when a robin visited the seed feeder.

robin and goldfinch

Who was that masked goldfinch?

Another goldfinch visited.


It was a day for catching the birds while they were standing still but there were more finches visiting today, which was a relief.

goldfinches and chaffinch

While we are not back to the numbers of a week ago, at least we are getting several at a time.

I spent some time failing to catch a good flying chaffinch, being a little too slow on the draw.

chaffinches landing

I was pleased to see a coal tit back at the feeder…

coal tit

…and robins are still lining up to audition for the coveted Christmas Card slot.


After lunch, I resolved to go for a cycle ride as the temperature had hit 5°C.   Needless to say, it started drizzling as I set out and as I pedalled up the very gentle hill towards Callister, the low clouds and I became as one and it got really quite wet.  There was certainly no chance of photographing any hills today.

Callister in mist

As cycling in the rain while wearing glasses is inconvenient, I resolved to stop when I got back to Langholm after doing ten miles.  Of course, just as I got into the town, the rain stopped and there was even a hint of blue sky so I set out to do another lap of ten miles to Callister and back.  I hadn’t gone more than half a mile out of town before it started to rain but I had started so I finished the ten miles.

As I got back to the town again….

Cloud lifting

…the clouds once again lifted from the hills and  more blue sky appeared.  How I laughed.

Still, I have very good wet weather gear so apart from cold feet and inscrutable spectacles, I was in good condition.  Modern winter cycling tights are a miracle of good design.  However wet they get, they feel to your legs as though they are as dry as a bone.  And they stay warm too unless conditions get very bad.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we played through a movement of our Quantz sonata very smoothly and embarked on a new trio sonata by G Finger which my friend Jenny, one of our recorder group, has kindly given to me to play with Luke.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who is experimenting with some recipes, made a side dish of saag aloo to go with our evening meal and it turned out to be very tasty so I hope to find it on the menu again.

The rather gloomy flying bird of the day is one of the returning chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

When I went to bed last night, I had a quick look out of the window to see how the super moon was getting on.  There was a thin film of cloud in front of it but amazingly, it was still bright enough to let the camera get a good look at it through the cloud.

super moon


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Today’s guest picture comes from my former colleague Ada.  She encountered this sturdy cobweb on a walk today.


It was grey and slightly drizzly at breakfast time but that didn’t matter to me as I was due to send two hours in the Welcome to Langholm Office, potentially offering advice to locals and visitors alike.

As I was not much occupied with advising, I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database which was pleasing.  I did have a little official work to do as well.  An anxious local motorist came in to tell me that the traffic lights which regulate the one way system on Skippers Bridge weren’t working.    I had encountered this yesterday and naturally assumed that “something would be done about it” without any input from me.

Now though, since it was obvious that nothing had been done, I rang up the road managers and reported the fault.   They thanked me and gave me an incident number, presumably so that I would feel important.  I felt very proud.  The lights were working when I walked over the bridge later in the day but whether my call and that outcome had any connection, it is impossible to say.

Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer and dedicated data miner called in just as I left.  She had been in the Archive Centre adding more data to the heap needing entering into the database.  It was dry as I walked back to the New Town with her and I was able to run a mower over a very soggy drying green when I got home while Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her bicycle to collect some river stones for her new path.

The forecast had been for a dry afternoon so I was thinking of a cycle ride myself but by lunchtime, both the forecast and the weather had changed and it started to rain.

I stayed in and practised songs instead.

That finally got boring and since the rain had stopped for a while, I went for a walk.

I snapped a dahlia…


…and a poppy…


…in the garden as I went out and I had got about two hundred yards down the road when the clouds descended over the hills and it started to rain again.

I was feeling rather obstinate and decided to continue my walk down to Skippers Bridge to check the lights in spite of the drizzle.

I was dry enough in the woods and used my flash to capture this script lichen on a tree beside the path.

script lichen

When I got to the track along the fields on the Murtholm…

Murtholm track

…I weighed up the situation and decided that a little rain wouldn’t hurt me and walked on.

The autumn colour has started to show properly but the misty conditions didn’t let me make the best of it.  I tried anyway.

misty autumn colour

Langholm Distillery in autumn

I crossed the bridge when I came to it and walked back along the other side of the river.  The rain was very light and my walk was well sheltered so I was glad that I had decided to keep going.

Skippers Bridge in autumn

I passed a fine fungus on a tree stump at Lands End….

fungus on tree stump

…and enjoyed the seed heads and the last of the flowers that help disguise the sewage treatment works from the public gaze.

sewage works flowers

There is a sensational drift of late daisies beside the river here.

autumn daisies

I kept trying to catch the colour on the river banks as I went along….

Esk autumn colour

Esk autumn colour

…while trying to keep raindrops off my lens with varying success.

As I came up to the suspension bridge, the trees on the far bank looked quite cheerful…

Suspension bridge trees

…but the view from the bridge itself…

Misty view of Esk

…suggested that the direct route home and a cup of tea and a biscuit might be the best plan.

I was surprisingly dry after two miles in a light drizzle so I was very satisfied to have got some exercise in on such a dreich day.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we put in some good work on a piece by Quantz which requires sophisticated counting although the notes are relatively easy.

I had picked some spinach from the garden earlier and I used it to make a baked spinach and egg dish with cheese sauce for my tea.

I made too much but ate it all and then had to lie on the sofa and groan for a while until I had recovered.

We hope for better weather tomorrow.  I need to work off the big meal.


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Today’s guest picture shows a very bad hair day for a face mask of a student called Tom which was turned into a plant pot.  It was sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba.  The class was on death masks but I am happy to say that the student survived.

bad hair day

Our weather got worse today.  It was windy and grey from the start and after lunch, drizzle and then rain was added to the mix.  Not a day for photographs at all.

I spent two of the dull but dry hours in the morning sitting in the Welcome to Langholm office but at least I got some good archive work done and I also welcomed some visitors to Langholm.  As I also sold, a booklet, a CD and a DVD, it wasn’t wasted time.

The afternoon was devoted to mumbling bad words about the weather and doing  indoor business in equal measure…..and some useful time going over the choir songs until I almost believed that I had learned some of them.  (That belief will last until I try to remember them again tomorrow).

I only took three pictures all day.

How do you like them apples?


I have eaten a couple of windfalls from another of the trees and they tasted surprisingly sweet.  We have been eating plums from the plum tree for several days now and they too have been excellent so it doesn’t seem as though the weather has affected the fruit badly at all.

I didn’t dead head any poppies today but I did look at two seed pods from the same plant and I marvelled at their difference.

poppy seed pods

The greyness of the afternoon was brightened by a visit from Mike Tinker for a cup of tea and then by my flute pupil Luke coming for a lesson.   Although we haven’t entirely mastered the Haydn trio we are learning we have set about a Quantz trio for a bit of variety so we are not short of work.

In the evening I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and that ended the day on a better note than it deserved.

The flying bird of the day is a dahlia which has turned up in the middle of the runner beans in the veg garden.



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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wirksworth.  As well as the train to the museum, there was another connection to Derby and Sheffield by the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.


We had been expecting a very rainy day today but it was surprisingly dry if rather chilly when we got up.

The day continued dry and got quite warm and although the sun was mostly absent and a few individual drops of rain fell from time to time, it ranks as one of the better days of the summer.  It would have been a great day for a good long pedal but I had been so adjusted to the possibility of rain and a day indoors that it took me ages to realise that I should be outside.

In the end, I had a look round the garden.

A lot of the dahlias are very spiky this year.


The poppies are not.

poppies with no pollen

Many poppies had been visited by bees and abandoned.

poppies with bees

And bees were flying around looking for fresh pollen

Occasionally a poppy was to be found with pollen but no bees.  This was my favourite.


There were butterflies to be seen too.  We have two buddleias and both were in the butterfly business today.

peacock butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly

I did get my act together in the end and after coffee, I went off down to Canonbie on my customary 20 mile route.  There was only a light wind today and my legs felt quite cheerful so I applied myself to bicycling and only stopped for one cow…

horn cow

…which was too busy chewing to pose for a proper picture.

I got back at a good speed and had a quick look for butterflies on the Michaelmas daises….

bee on Michaelmas daisy

…but there was only a bee

I noticed that the Virginia creeper has some little flowers…

fox and cubs virginia creeper

…and the cubs have come to join the fox in the orange hawkweed.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hosting a committee meeting of her Embroiderers’ Guild group in the afternoon so after a quick lunch and a shower, I packed myself and my new lens into the car and went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project bird feeders to see what I could see, although the day had got a bit gloomy by this time.

The first thing that I saw was two other other enthusiasts already ensconced in the hide with big lenses at the ready.  I filled an empty feeder and sat down beside them as they clicked away furiously.

There were a lot of small birds to see…



Great tit

Great tit



Coal tit

Coal tit

Blue tit

Blue tit

…and some bigger ones too.


Greenfinches looking as fierce as ever


A pheasant not in full feather yet


And a greater spotted woodpecker

The other two bird watchers had left before the woodpeckers came so I sat quietly and enjoyed three woodpeckers chasing each other about the trees.

I had thought of a walk while I was up there but a spell of very light rain for a while persuaded me that a cup of tea at home would be the best thing.

It had got quite warm enough by this time to make it feel quite like summer so Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out into the garden.  She did some heavy tidying up and mulching while I sieved some compost and trimmed one more of the box balls…and admired the combination of crocosmia, cornflower and poppies which the gardener had planned and which has finally arrived.  The camera can’t do it justice.

poppies, crocosmia and cornflower

I’ll try again if we get some sunshine.

I had a look for late butterflies or bees on the daisies again but there were none to be seen. The daisies were quite attractive in their own right though.

Michaelmas Daisies

I have pulled a muscle (even though I didn’t know that I had any) in my left arm and that combined with a nagging back is making me feel my age a bit at the moment so I went in and had a sit down before my flute pupil Luke came.

He tells me that he has passed his Higher music exam which involved  playing two instruments  and written work.  He didn’t get any help from me with his exam pieces so I can’t take any credit for this. He just worked very hard with his grandad and the teachers at the school.  I am very proud of him.

I tried very hard to get a flying bird this afternoon but the light wasn’t good enough so a head and shoulders of a woodpecker will have to do instead.

greater spotted woodpecker


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