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Posts Tagged ‘Gaskell’s Walk’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who knowing my taste for bridges, sent me this handsome example from the Kennet and Avon Canal at the Caen Hill locks.

Kennet and Avon Canal

We had a very pleasant day today, and when the sun shone, which it did quite a lot, it felt much like summer again.

My day started with an early visit to the physiotherapist for my long awaited appointment.  It turned out to be very worthwhile and I left with some sound advice, a list of exercises and a referral to the podiatrist in the near future.

Just in case the exercises don’t work out as well as hoped, I also have another visit to the physio booked for next month, so I am well covered.  The view is that my back is a cause for concern and is affecting a lot of the rest of me.  This is not news as I have had a back problem since 1978 or thereabouts, but the exercises are aimed at strengthening things where they need to be strengthened and I am optimistic.

One of the really good bits of advice was to start walking again on a regular basis, making sure not to get ahead of myself by walking too far.   As a result, after a chat with Mrs Tootlepedal and a cup of coffee, I armed myself with my walking poles and put the advice into action.

I started off by checking out the state of the sluice at Pool Corner.

nes dam gate

A repair has been made which should keep all but the most exceptional floods at bay.

Old machinery is still in place though.

old dam gate

Walking along the road, I marvelled at how much growth has appeared on the top of a memorial in the Wauchope graveyard.

wauchope graveyard

I was keeping an eye out for interest on my walk.

bee on knapwed

Although I complain about cutting the road verges, I was grateful to the person who had been along the path on Gaskells Walk with a strimmer as otherwise it would have been a soggy experience.

Gaskells path

As it was, I was able to walk with confidence and look about as I went.

Fungus is beginning to appear and I was pleased to see a tiny oak sapling growing as they are quite unusual.

fungus, oak, fireweed

The rosebay willowherb is coming to an end and the recent heavy rains have knocked almost all the seed heads off,  This little patch was an exception.

There was any amount of ferns to enjoy…

fern and moss

…and the recent wet weather has brought along the moss which had been discouraged by the previous dry spell.

The best wild flowers that I saw were in this mini forest of yellow.

yellow forest

When I got up to the  Stubholm fields, I found a single sheep on its feet while all the rest were enjoying a lie down.

sanding sheep

An oak tree had an insect, an acorn and some mildew all on the same set of branches.

oak tree panel

I could find sloes and haws…

sloe and haw

…and wild flowers both fierce and and gentle….

three purple wild flowers

…but the most striking thing was this pattern, looking for all the world like a snake, but in fact turning out to be a fallen branch.

snake branch

When I got back to the garden after my short but enjoyable walk, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work.

Mrs T in the garden

Since the forecast was for more showery days to come, and I was due to spend the afternoon sitting down in car and train as we went to visit Matilda, I took the opportunity to mow both the lawns and edged them too.

I also walked round the garden with my camera in hand.

I love a bit of symmetry.

two lilies

These are the very last flowers on the salvias.

salvia height

There were shades of purple on all sides…

three purple garden flowers

…and it was very satisfying to see a painted lady butterfly back in the garden after a few days absence.

paintd lady butterfly

There are still plenty of peacocks about.

peacock butterfly

After lunch, we drove to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It was late as usual but on this occasion it was not only late but full to bursting as well, and we had to stand for the hour long journey to Edinburgh.    Luckily we were on what must be the smoothest running train in the rail company’s fleet, so standing was not quite the trial it might have been if the train was rocking about.

Our natural good humour was perhaps slightly strained by the sight of four much younger people happily sitting in the seats reserved for the frail and elderly and ignoring us.  It was a tribute to our youthful good looks of course, but the fact that they studiously avoided catching our eye at any time tells another story.

Our visit to Matilda went well.  She had just spent her first morning at school and had survived very well, so well in fact that she beat me and Mrs Tootlepedal at Go Fish, and won the Pelmanism by miles.  Needless to say, I was thoroughly beggared once again when we played Beggar my Neighbour.

Alistair provided us with another good evening meal, and as we had popped into a nearby supermarket on the way and stocked up on coffee and cheese, it was a very satisfactory visit all round.  Then the train back home was on time, and there was wonderfully large and deep red moon on the horizon as we drove home, so it was a very satisfactory day all round.  Definitely one that could be registered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying jackdaw of the day was resting on the park wall when I passed it.

jackdaw on park wall

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz, who recently visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and came across this giant insect.

eden insect

We had another lovely day here and the flowers were looking very cheerful as a result, whether hanging over the edge of the dam…

aubretia

..or popping up in a flower bed.

ballerina tulip

New tulips are opening on all sides…

yellow and orange tulips

…and the euphorbias are growing ever bigger and brighter.

euphorbia

I had a close peer at the magnolia because a reader had asked me if it had a good scent, but sadly, it is scentless for all its handsome looks.

magnolia flower centre

I got out some magic granules that I had bought in a garden centre.  The packet says that they will perk up my grass and eat the moss on the lawn without the dead moss needing to be raked out.  This sounds far too good to be true but nevertheless, I measured and weighed carefully and spread them on the middle lawn as per the instructions on the packet.   I await developments (without holding my breath).

It was warm enough for a blackbird to do a little cooling down on one of the hedges…

blackbird sunning on hedge

…so I resolved to go for a walk to enjoy the sunshine and look for bluebells.

I found a charming red currant beside the river…

currant beside esk

…but soon came upon a good show of bluebells along my favourite bluebell path.

bluebells 5

They are not fully out yet but could still provide the blue ‘carpet’ that makes them so special at this time of year.

bluebells 3

I don’t know who was more surprised when we met, this pheasant or me.

bluebells 4

I walked through the bluebell wood…

bluebells 1

…and took the path the leads to Gaskell’s Walk.

blackthorn stubholm

Although the larches below it are very green, Meikllholm Hill still looks bare.

meikleholm hill from gaskells

There were several peacock butterflies warming their wings on the path as I went along.

Most of them flew off as I approached but this one settled down again for a moment.

peacock butterfly sunning

The path itself was very springlike, and I think that this is the best time of the year to walk along it.

gaskells in spring

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I took a couple of pictures to show that we are still waiting for the leaves to appear on many of the trees around us…

stane brig

…but the bridge is attractive at any time of year on a sunny day.

auld stane bridge with reflection

Sadly, by the time that I got home, it had become apparent that while wearing gel insoles might be very good for arthritic toes, it might also put a strain on an achilles tendon and my ‘good’ foot was so sore as a result that the rest of a lovely day was wasted in sitting around and moaning.

I did get outside enough to admire a pulsatilla…

pulsatilla

…but that was the extent of the excitement.

The foot situation is very annoying as things were definitely getting better.  I hope that a good rest over night will see things back to where they were as it is a pity not get a cycle ride in when the weather is so fine.  Today taught me not to get too adventurous.

Mrs Tootlepedal made fish pie and apple crumble for our tea and that brightened things up a lot.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sharon, mother of Luke my flute playing friend.  She took this beautiful view of the Nith estuary from Glencaple near Dumfries.

glencaple view

It was a two choir day as usual on a Sunday and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  In church we sang several hymns with satisfying bass lines and then we had a short practice afterwards with promises of more enjoyable singing to come.

I found a coal tit in the plum tree when we got back.

coal tit in plum tree

It was a pleasantly sunny, pretty still morning so with the temperature at 4°C, I set out after coffee and a ginger biscuit  to see whether a short walk would make my foot feel better or worse.  On the whole, it made it feel better.

I looked at moss while I was pootling along pondering on medical matters.  There is rarely any shortage of moss to look at round here.

There was moss steadily colonising a wall, reaching up from below to meet another patch reaching down from above….

moss at springhill

…there were various mosses massed in a mound on top of the wall further along…

mixed mosses

…and still further along, more moss stretching out fingers to grab new territory…

moss stretching hand

…and among the trees, a mini forest of  moss…

tall moss

…as well as moss mixing with peltgera lichen on a wall…

peltigera lichnee and moss

…and pincushion moss sharing space with more lichen.

button moss and cup lichen

My route took me along Gaskell’s Walk and it was as nice a walk as you could hope for though I thought that one walker whom I passed going in the opposite direction and who remarked that it was like spring, was getting a bit ahead of herself.

gaskells walk january

I looked around and saw colourful fungus on the end of a fallen branch…

tree end fungus

…and any amount of rosebay willowherb lined the track.

rosebay willowherb

The track was largely in shadow but as I came to the last hill before the Stubholm, the sun was catching the electricity poles that carry the power down into the New Town.

electricity poles gaskells

They may not be the most beautiful of structures but they do bring a lot of brightness into our lives, literally and metaphorically so I am always happy to see them even if they do spoil a view every now and again.

It was a grand day and I was sorry not to have the time or legs to walk further…

view of whita over stubholm

…but after a couple more stops to note eye catching sights….

decorative tree barkspiky plant

…and a final nod to the world of moss….

moss table gaskells

…I made my way home.

In the garden, the hellebores are beginning to show a bit of colour..

hellebore buds

Inside the house, a pot of soup was bubbling on the cooker, showing that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.

I had time to eat some soup, watch a pair of restful goldfinches nibble on the sunflower seed…

two goldfinches

…while some chaffinches get a lot more excited about the situation…..

busy feeder

…and then it was time to head for Carlisle and the community choir practice.

The sunshine had gone by this time and it was grey and chilly by the time we got to the church where we meet.

The practice itself was very satisfactory as a reorganisation of the tenors meant that rather than sitting on the end of a pew not being able to hear the rest of the section, this week I had a strong singer beside me and more behind.  Together with the work that I have done at home over the past two weeks, this meant that I was able to sing with much more confidence and relaxation than previously.  I hope that we keep this new set up.

We got home safely, had the last portions of Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetarian casserole and settled down to enjoy Les Miserables (as far as the subject matter permits of any enjoyment).

A chaffinch as flying bird of the day rounded off a day definitely entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is taking an interest in wildlife now that he has moved to the country from the city and recently spotted and identified a yellowhammer.

yellowhammer

We had another grey and gloomy morning here and the memories of the fine summer months are slipping ever faster into oblivion as winter looms up ahead.

I didn’t have time to sit and mope however as we went off after breakfast to sing in the church choir.  It was a day when the hymns all seemed to have innumerable verses and since the service was followed by a choir practice, both Mrs Tootlepedal and myself felt the need for a quiet sit down when we got home.

I filled the bird feeder and looked out of the winter while I made coffee.

Goldfinches were very much to the fore today….

busy feeder oct 18

…and sparrows and chaffinches  had to look sharp if they wanted a seat at the table.

goldfinch threatening chaffinch

After a coffee and a rest, the weather looked settled enough to risk a stroll so I snapped one of the flourishing nasturtiums at the front door…

yellow nasturtium oct

…and set off round Gaskell’s Walk to see what I could see.  The light was subdued.

I saw the larches at Pool Corner beginning to change colour.

larches turning

I saw a fine beech hedge which has been allowed to get a bit out of hand

big beech hedge

The walls were topped with droplet bespangled mosses.

moss with dropletsThe trees on the bank above the river have adopted a variety of angles.

gaskell's Walk with leaning trees

Brambles provided a splash of red.

red bramble leaf

There was one last sloe on the bush at Stubholm.

last sloe

The trees in the park are still colourful but the poplars beside the Esk in the background are over.

 

Park colour

I like looking at the park wall.

park wall lichen panel

I didn’t linger as long as I would have liked on my walk as it started to rain but it had stopped again by the time that I got home and I had enough time for a very short walk round the garden.

Not dead yet.

late poppy

very late delphinium

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to do a bit of shopping and sing with our Carlisle choir.

Our new conductor is a relentless ball of energy and keeps us hard at work.  She likes a crisp pace and after a hard singing morning, I had pretty well ground to a halt by the end of the session but in spite of that, it had been a very enjoyable day’s singing and my throat stood up to the work pretty well.  I think that my recent singing lesson has had a mildly beneficial effect on my technique but I am hoping to get a couple more lessons soon as there is plenty of scope for improvement yet.

Of course the weather had greatly improved as soon as we got inside the practice room and it was a lovely evening as we drove home.   The clocks go back next week so this will be the last time that we come home from our Carlisle choir in daylight for some months and even today, it was pretty well dark by the time that we got home.

To celebrate the arrival of the flock of goldfinches, the flying bird of the day is a double goldfinch helping.

flying goldfinch 1

Another open and shut case.

flying goldfinch 2

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Anne, my cello playing friend Mike’s wife, who came across a very odd looking bird at her daughter’s bird feeder.  I would like to see red squirrels in our garden.

squirrel on birdfeeder

It was one of those days when it was hard to get some satisfactory organisation into my outdoor life thanks to a very indifferent weather forecast.  One thing the forecast did get right was the strong wind which, with frequent  gusts at 30 mph, was quite enough to stop me cycling.

But it couldn’t work out when it was going to rain and in the end, it didn’t rain at all.

This was a bit disappointing in two ways.

Firstly because if you don’t do something because it is going to rain and then it doesn’t rain, then it means that you feel a little foolish.

Secondly, because the post brought me a great treat in the shape of a gift from Mary Jo from Manitoba…

MJ's scientific rain gauge

 

….a genuinely scientific rain gauge which  was no use to me on a day when it didn’t rain.

However, I am reasonably sure that it will come into its own quite soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent most of the day in the garden, determined to do as much as possible before it rained and as it didn’t rain, she did a lot.

I did a bit.  I mowed two lawns during the day and picked beans, an onion, spinach and courgettes to make some more green soup.

I took some pictures too.

flowers

We had some sunny spells and it was warm enough to make being out in the garden a pleasure.

There is a lot of yellow crocosmia waiting to come out round the garden and the first flowers have just appeared.

yellow crocosmia

The French marigolds which are protecting the carrots from carrot root fly are worth having just for themselves.

French marigolds

There is plenty of productivity to be seen among the doddering dillies and the rowan berries.

rowan and doddering dillies

Among the tasks that Mrs Tootlepedal accomplished was the first clipping of the remodelled chicken.

new chicken

It has been a patient process.  It looked this in 2016…

topiary chicken

…and then like this after some drastic surgery in April 2017. …

thin chicken

…and then like this in August 2017.

topiary chicken

Mrs Tootlepedal plays a long game.

She also trimmed this year’s growth on some of the espalier apples, revealing a good crop of fruit.

espalier apples

This led to a lot of shredding and we had to put an extra couple of sections onto compost Bin A to stop it overflowing.

While I was making the soup, I watched the birds.  They seem to be fully recovered from the soaking they got a day or two ago…

greenfinch and siskin

…but this hasn’t improved their behaviour.  After chaffinches kicking greenfinches and greenfinches kicking chaffinches, we got greenfinch versus greenfinch today.

kicking greenfinches

When the rain held off after lunch, I went for a walk.

Even after the rain showers that we have had since the weekend, there is still very little water in our rivers….

auld stane brig

…though the water has turned a little browner than usual.

I walked up the road to the the Auld Stane Brig and then went back home by way of Gaskell’s and Easton’s walk.

There was not much moss and lichen to see after the dry spell but there was plenty to catch the eye as I went along.

furry plant

And if I got peckish, I could find wild raspberries to keep me going.

wild raspberry

They were delicious.

I know enough now to expect to find different patterns on the back of ferns.

fern backs

It looks as though there will be a good crop of sloes and acorns this year.

sloe and acorn

It wasn’t hard to spot insects on the flowers beside the tracks.

insects

There were quite a few wasps about.

insect on umbellifer

When I got near the end of my stroll, I went down to the Esk to see of the family of oyster catchers was still about.  They had morphed into two gulls.

gulls on esk

They look like two juvenile lesser black backed gulls to me but I may need correcting by knowledgeable readers.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still hard at work in the garden when I got back so I did a bit of hedge clipping to help.  Mrs Tootlepedal is gradually reducing both the width and the height of the box hedges round the front lawn and this is a very labour intensive job.  The hedges recover remarkably well from this rough treatment.

I hope for more sun and less wind soon as I need to get some cycling miles in.

I did a little work updating the Langholm Walks website.  Langholm has been officially accredited (by an official accreditor) as a walking friendly town and I have added a note of this to the website.

The flying bird of the day is one of our many greenfinch visitors.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie, who met one of the Grumpy clan chatting with a friend, while she was on a walk in Regents Park with a friend of her own.

LOndon heron

We were promised a day of rain today after the latest storm passed over us during the night.  The storm knocked our electricity out just before we went to bed and after scrabbling about finding candles and torches and worrying about the freezer, the lights came back on again after about half an hour and we could sleep a bit more easily.

Right enough, it was raining when we got up and I had a rather soggy visit to the Moorland bird feeders to act as a fill-in feeder filler.  It was far too damp and gloomy to take pictures but I nearly had to push this pheasant….

pheasant

…off its perch before it would let me take the feeder down to fill it.

When I got home, the weather improved a bit and Dropscone was able to walk round with a bag of scones to have a cup of coffee.  He is going to Malta soon for a short holiday and hopes that he will get better weather there.

It was raining again as he left.

It stopped again not long afterwards and I got the slow bike out and set off up the road in the hope of getting twelve miles in without getting wet.

Because I was anxious to get my miles in before it started raining again, I only stopped once on my way but I took two pictures.

lichen

Lichen on a bridge parapet.

Winter sunshine up Wauchope

The only sunshine I saw while I was out.

I did get the twelve miles in but I did get a bit wet in the middle of the ride.  I also met Mrs Tootlepedal who was having a ride herself.  She was going in the opposite direction but I knew that she would turn for home soon so after a while, I turned back and joined her for the last mile home.

By the time that we got back, the light had improved again so I looked out of the kitchen window.

In the absence of a suitable robin, a chaffinch posed on the chimney.

chaffinch

A coal tit was busy flying to and from the feeder.

coal tit

And the goldfinches were very busy and dominated the feeder again, though a chaffinch and a greenfinch did try to get a look in.

goldfinches

Sandy had rung up  to ask about a walk so after a light lunch, I met him at the top of Jimmy’s Brae and we walked along to see how the felling of the Becks Wood was going.

We got a little sunshine on the way….

Becks track

There was no action at the wood but the logs had been piled up very neatly.

Becks wood

We walked down the field beside the Becks Burn as it snakes towards the Wauchope Water.

Becks burn

And then we walked back to the town along Gaskell’s Walk.

I was keeping an eye out for moss as we went.  There was any amount to see….

moss

…and many different varieties.

moss

Some small…

moss

…and some large.

moss

It will take some research even to start to get a grip on all this.

moss

Thanks to our damp climate, there is no shortage of learning opportunities.

P1060509

In these dark days, it was a cheerful moment when I spotted these.

daffodil shoots

Sandy came on for a cup of tea and a golden biscuit courtesy of a Christmas hamper from our son Tony.  They really are golden.

Then I went off to the health centre to get two injections, one regular and the other to protect me against shingles. The government recently introduced a policy to immunise the elderly against the effects of shingles and I have just come into an age category where I qualify for the jab.  Shingles is a nasty ailment so I was happy to get an extra hole in my arm.

When I got home, I was quite tired for some reason and fell asleep listening to the evening news on the radio.  Considering the state of the news these days, this was probably a sound move.

I did find a flying bird of the day (or two).

flying chaffinch and flying goldfinch

Moss is not always easy to photograph, being a bit green on green so I was playing about with one of today’s not very successful pictures….

moss

…and did this by accident.

moss

I thought it worked out quite well.

You can see Sandy’s take on the walk here.  He took some jolly good pictures.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, who sent me this fine shot of the bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross, one of the most spectacular roads in Scotland.

bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross

We had another day of frozen sunshine here, with temperatures at zero or below all day.  However, with stories of snow and slush in England, we certainly weren’t going to complain about a little tingle in the cheeks when we went outside.

It was still freezing hard when Dropscone came round (on his bike) bearing scones to go with our morning coffee.  He has just come back from seeing his eldest son in the south of England and had managed to avoid all the traffic chaos caused by wind, rain and snow recently so he was feeling quite smug.

After coffee, I tempted Mrs Tootlepedal out for a walk to enjoy the sun.

When we got to Pool Corner, we found the the Wauchope had completely frozen over…

frozen wauchope

…and it was definitely a good idea, where possible, to direct one’s feet to the sunny side of the street.

tree

The sharp eyed reader will be able to spot Mrs Tootlepedal heading for a patch of sun.

I always like the combination of sycamore and cypress which line up so perfectly as you walk along the road here.

The absence of leaves, lets the lichen on the roadside bushes have its moment in the sun.

lichen

I try to keep an eye on fencepost tops on a day like this.

frozen fencepost

When we got to the Auld Stane Bridge, we could see that there was enough running water there to keep the Wauchope mostly free of ice.

frozen wauchope

We turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and I was looking for hair ice because this is a spot where it can often be found.  Unfortunately, a lot of the dead wood that grows the hair ice has been cleared and this small and not very exciting sample was the only bit around.

frost hair

On the other hand, there was any amount of decorative frost to be seen as we went along the track.

frosty leaves

I particularly liked two patterns which had formed on one of the small bridges on the track.  The Y shapes are wire netting which has been put there to improve the traction on the bridge on slippery days.

frost patterns

We were pleased to get out of the shady part of the walk and back into the sunshine…

Meikleholm Hill

…as even the low winter sun (10 days to go to the Winter Solstice!) had a bit of heat about it.

We had to keep our eyes down for quite a lot of the time as there were plenty of icy patches along the track but we made it up to the Stubholm on safety….

frosty bench

…and resisted any temptation to spoil the patterns on the bench there by sitting on it.

As we came down the hill to the park, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this fine crop of icicles…

icicles

…and this curious frozen formation on the track itself.

frost

When we were out of the sun, it was a very blue day, chilly to feel and chilly to look at.

Langholm Church in winter

The benefit was the great number of interesting frosty things see.  This was some moss on the park wall.

frosty moss

And this was the frozen dam behind our house when we got home.

frozen dam

I made some warming potato and carrot soup for lunch and with the co-operation of our bread making machine, a dozen rolls, a couple of which we ate with our neighbour Liz who came round for tea later in the afternoon.  As she left, Mike Tinker arrived so we were well supplied with visitors today and this cheered up the cold late afternoon.

In between times, I looked out of the kitchen window.

I put out an apple and it disappeared into blackbirds in the twinkling of an aye.

blackbird

This one looks as though he might have most of it.

blackbird

The strong contrasts in the light and shade makes catching birds in the air tricky at the moment but I liked this dramatic scene.

flying chaffinch

Robins are easier to spot.

robin

As are sitting birds.

goldfinches

My flute pupil Luke came in the evening and we had another go at our new sonata as well as working on the Quantz as well so he will have plenty do if he finds himself with an idle moment at home.  (I need to practise as well.)

Our Monday trio group is not going to meet again until the new year so although I miss the playing, I wasn’t entirely unhappy to have a quiet night in after travelling to Edinburgh and then having two concerts in the last four days.

I am hoping to get a few more cycling days in before the end of the month but the forecast is not optimistic.

The flying bird of the day is a chiaroscuro chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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