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Posts Tagged ‘Glencorf burn’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He sent it to me to show that his daughter Susan is not just a fine recorder player but a good cook too. This is her beef Wellington.

Susan's beef wellington

We had another warm and dry December day here but the 35 mph wind in the morning was a forcible reminder that we should not expect too much good weather in the winter.

I had plenty of time therefore to watch birds through the kitchen window as I idled the morning away but once again birds were in very short supply and no photo opportunities beckoned.

The wind eased off a little around midday and as my cycle stats spreadsheet told me that I only had twenty three miles to go to reach three hundred miles for the month and that at the same time I would hit a significant annual target too, I decided to get my bike out and battle with the breeze.

I thought that skulking in the valley might be the best policy so I started by cycling up to Cleuchfoot along the Wauchope road with a view to doing two or three repetitions in the valley bottom depending on the weather.

The Glencorf Burn never fails to please me as I cross over the bridge on my way to Cleuchfoot…

Glencorf burn

…and I was fully expecting to cross it again in a short while.  However, by the time that I got back to Langholm after eight miles, the wind had dropped to a very tolerable level so instead of coming back up the Wauchope road, I cycled straight through the town and took the main road north.

The sun was out and the traffic was light and I headed northwards in a cheerful mood.  It is a very scenic route and there is plenty to look at on the way.

I stopped at Ewes Church….

ewes kirck

…where the church bell hangs in a tree and not in the bell tower.

ewes kirk bell

Behind the church, one of several little glens winds up between the hills.

Ewes kirk vallwy

At the next gap in the hills, a stone tells of a vanished tower and an intrusive apostrophe.

little monument

This is the valley where the tower once stood.

Little valley

I went as far as the old toll house at Fiddleton….

Fiddleton toll

…and took a look round at the hills at the head of the Ewes valley.

To the east…

Fiddleton hills 3

…to the west….

Fiddleton hills 2

…and to the north.

Fiddleton hills 1

And then I headed back south to complete a most enjoyable 25 miles.

The only flower still in bloom in our garden is the winter jasmine…

winter jasmine

…but there are plenty of signs of potential flowers to come.

december green shoots

Once inside, I was happy to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had made another pan of duck soup so I had a late lunch and looked out in hope of seeing a few birds.

I did see a lone greenfinch…

greenfinch

…but it wasn’t in any danger of getting knocked off its perch by the crowd.

I was so pleased with getting to three hundred miles for the month and hitting  a significant annual target that after a shower, I sat down at my computer to put my twenty five miles into my cycle stats spreadsheet and do a bit of gloating.  The smug look was soon wiped off my face though as I discovered an error in a vital column which meant that although I had indeed hit the 300 mile mark for the month, I was still thirty miles short of my annual target.  Oh catastrophe!

Mercifully, the weather forecast predicts reasonable weather for tomorrow but it will be a shock when the legs find out that that they have to go out again.  I hope that they won’t complain too much.

Along with the lone greenfinch, a single chaffinch flew by and it takes the honour of being the uncontested flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s sunny visit to Bath.

From canal towpath looking towards the boatyard

We got up to another grey and miserable morning here although once again it was unseasonably mild.

Mrs Tootlepedal is partially recovered but by no means back to full working order.   She is very touched by the good wishes expressed by readers of the blog.

The grey morning was much improved by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee and his already excellent scones were improved in my case by adding some of Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam to them.  In my view, Dropscone’s plain scones and saskatoon jam are a match made in heaven.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about getting to the bottom of whatever it was that had made our phone line go dead and our internet flicker intermittently. By using our powers of deduction and a small screwdriver, we found the problem and cured it, probably just in time for the town’s power supply to be knocked out be the coming storm Ophelia.

Ophelia has been wreaking havoc in Ireland but it was extremely calm here in the morning and early afternoon.   Our neighbour Liz popped into to ask if we had seen the sun.  We went to have a look.

It was very odd.

The camera found it hard to record the clouds and the sun both in the correct shade but this is definitely how the sun looked.

red sun

It kept changing colour as the cloud of dust passed and I had several goes….

red sun

…until finally it got too bright for both me and the camera to look at.

red sun

It was sufficiently striking to make the news later in the day and the experts say that it was either Saharan sand or Portuguese wild fire particles or both that had provided the film of rusty colour.

After lunch, I had a look round the garden.  The light had improved and the bees and hoverflies were back on duty again.

bees and hoverflyhoverfly on poppy

A late astrantia has come out to join the poppies.

astarntia and poppy

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma add a delightful feminine touch.

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to make more of the ornamental strawberry next year.

ornamental strawberry

But the most exciting thing in the garden is the new tray under the bird feeders which means I can start feeding the birds again.

feeder tray

It is a heavy duty plastic cement mixing tray and Mrs Tootlepedal drilled the neat hole in the centre of it to let the feeder pole fit through.

It was warm (66°F) and fairly still so I took the opportunity to go for a short cycle ride in my outdoor gym and stopped for pictures on my way.

It was rather gloomy as I came back to town on my first lap….

Manse Brae

…but I headed down to Skippers Bridge to take a couple of pictures because I feared that if the storm is as windy as predicted, there may be few leaves on the trees when it is gone.Skippers BridgeLangholm Distillery

On my second lap, there were a few drops of rain and then the sun came out.Glencorf burnHawthornBlochburnfootAuld Stane Brig

Nowadays, the gloomy predictions of storm and tempest are often worse than the reality so keen are the weathermen for us not to be caught unprepared for bad weather so it will be interesting to see what scenes like these will look like in a couple of day’s time.

I looked round the garden when I got back.  I found some more colour.

charles ross applesclimbing hydrangea

…and then went in to see how Mrs Tootlepedal was.  She had been well enough to do a little work in the garden while I pedalling but she is still a bit fragile.

Although the light was fading, I looked at the bird feeders through the windows.

sparrow and blue tit

A gloomy sparrow and an astonished blue tit consider the sodden pink pellets

blue tit

A blue tit sits and thinks

A sparrowhawk flashed through the garden without it catching anything or me catching it.

It astonishes me how quickly birds find out that food of one sort or another is available.  I said to Mrs Tootlepedal only yesterday that I hadn’t seen a sparrowhawk about for weeks.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive time.  He played at a practice of  our local orchestra yesterday and felt that he had been able to play quite a bit of the music.

In the evening, I went to the Camera Club meeting.  Ten members turned up and we were treated to a very interesting and varied selection of photographs from winter scenes to remind us of what is coming, through stunning local wildlife portraits and action shots and striking black and white studies to a record of a recent African safari, complete with lions, rhinos, hippos and elephants.  We were very well entertained.  One member had brought in some very beautiful large prints which led to a lot of discussion.

The flying bird of the day is having a rest.

chaffinch

It is blowing hard as I write this. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter who was walking in the Devon hills when she came upon these two nice young men who were wandering the hills looking for the internet – literally.  She thought that I should put a picture on the internet of people looking for the internet.  They work for a firm called Exmoor Technology  which tries to find good connections for people who live out in the country.

internet hunters

It was another day when we woke to strong winds and rain and owing to sitting up late again following the twists and turns in the political situation both here and abroad, I was glad of an excuse to spend a very quiet morning reading the papers and doing nothing.

We roused ourselves enough to go shopping at Gretna and we had a healthy lunch of egg and chips at my favourite cafe when we got there.

We both made judicious purchases and were pleased to find that the rain had stopped in Langholm by the time that we got home.

We had a cup of tea and when I looked out, there was even a glimpse of sunshine

This gave me the chance to get out in the garden to take a picture or two.

The peonies are wonderful.

peony

 

peony

However, the wind was so strong that if you look carefully in the bottom left hand corner of the coral peony picture, you might just be able to see my hand in my cycling mitt holding onto the stem to steady it.

I took a few more flower pictures and they gave a whole new meaning to the phrase hand held photography.

rose, troilus and iris

By coincidence, I glanced at a gardening programme on the TV while I was drinking my tea and saw one of Mrs Tootlepedal buttercuppy things so I know that it is a troilus now.

Considering how much rain there has been over the past few days….

wheelbarrow with rain

Our scientific rain gauge is almost full

…the garden is looking remarkably cheerful.

The cardoon is going well….

cardoon

…and the first of the pinks has come out.

pink

I am very fond of geometrically neat flowers but I also love the wild anarchic exuberance of the pinks.

I had my cycling mitts on because I was about to go cycling and in the end, I stopped pestering the flowers and set off to face the strong wind.  I think that it was stronger today than it has been recently so once more I hugged the valley floor and managed to get 20  miles in before I ran out of steam.

I was wearing new cycling shoes that I had bought at Gretna but they had very little effect on my speed sadly.

Taking pictures of roadside wild flowers wasn’t a possibility because of the wind so I stuck to more static things like the Glencorf Burn.

Glencorf Burn

Looking upstream…

Glencorf Burn

..and downstream

This is one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s  favourite little corners on the Cleuchfoot road.

Cleuchfoot road

As I passed through the town at the end of my first lap, I kept an eye out for waterside birds.  There was a small family of oyster catchers beside the river Esk and although it came out rather fuzzily, I still liked this picture of unison beak work.

oystercatchers

I got the feeling that those were the two youngster and that these…

oystercatchers

…were the grown ups.

Today’s answer to the question of where all the rain goes…..

Pool Corner

..is over the caul at Pool Corner.

If it hadn’t been for the wind, it would have been a nice evening for cycling as it was pleasantly warm and the the roads had dried out after the morning rain.

I had a look round the vegetable garden when I got home.  That tempting strawberry is sill not quite fully ripe so I left it for another day.   The potatoes are looking very promising…

apples and potatoes

…and there are so many apples on the espaliers that they will need thinning out unless we get a sudden attack of ‘June drop’.

The beans are flourishing and gratifyingly, the first flowers are showing in Mrs Tootlepedal’s pea fortress.

pea and beans

Oddly enough, the most colourful flower corner in the garden at the moment is in a small bed at the end of the veg garden where peonies and lupins are growing.

lupins and peonies

I passed a dozy hoverfly on a daisy….

hoverfly

…and went in to enjoy a beef stew for my tea. I had made it in the slow cooker this morning.

The political situation continues to engage our attention and we very much enjoyed a voter in the American Midwest telling an interviewer on CNN that he had always thought that Trump was an idiot but he very much liked his policies so he had voted for him.   Food for thought there for those who like cut and dried positions

We are also enjoying the sight of Mrs May, who was part of a campaign in the 2015 election which vehemently warned of the dangers of a coalition between Labour and the Scottish nationalists, making herself busy today cobbling up a coalition between the Conservatives and the Irish Unionists.   In the 2017 campaign, she had been very vocal again about the possibility that voting Labour might bring a ‘coalition of chaos’ and we can only say that it is lucky that she doesn’t seem to have much sense of irony or her head might explode.

I did get a picture of a flying bird today and as a bonus, it contains two of them…

flying oyster catchers

…though one might be more ‘jumping’ than ‘flying’.

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Today’s guest picture was taken by Thomas, one of our new members, and shows the Camera Club  group posing for a picture at the meeting on Monday.

Camera Club 2017

The forecast was quite correct and we got a dry day today which was welcome but our rapture was modified by a brisk and chilly east wind which kept the temperature down and held any thoughts of spring at bay for the time being.

Sandy came round for coffee after he had gone to top up the Moorland bird feeders.  He was going off to Carlisle so sadly there was no chance of a walk later in the day.

When he left, I took a turn round the garden and tried to photograph the Forsythia again. The light was better but the flowers were still swaying wildly in the wind.

Forsythia

It is a cheerful sight.

The birds were not very cheerful.  They are ready to start a fight at the least provocation. The fact that there were perches freely available didn’t stop this siskin abusing an innocent chaffinch…

siskin and chaffinch

I don’t know what impulse drives the birds to be so aggressive when it would be better to take the time eating the seeds.

siskins

There was no shortage of perches during this spat either. The chaffinch top left has the right idea.

siskin

This siskin took off before any arguments could start

goldfinches and siskins

This determined looking goldfinch needed to shift an incumbent

A dunnock made an appearance under the feeders.

dunnock

It should have been a good day for flying bird pictures but the strong wind made approaching the feeders tricky and there was no gentle hovering to help me out today.

I had some homemade sardine pate for my lunch but the regular consumption of oily fish doesn’t seem to be having much beneficial effect on my brain power.  Luckily, I like sardines so I shall keep eating them regardless.  I even have allegedly beneficial grains and seeds in my bread recipe (the wonderfully named ‘Oh-My Megamix’) but they don’t seem to improve my crossword solving skills either.  Ah well, I live in hope.

I spent some time in the garden sieving a little compost.  The material in Bin D is in good condition and I hope to have it all sieved soon.  I filled Mrs Tootlepedal’s big red bucket of compost and then set about sawing up some more of the logs which Dropscone brought from his garden.  I like to do these jobs a little at a time and keep my back in reasonable condition.  It is tempting to do too much on a dry day.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I put on many, many layers of cycling gear and braved the east wind for 21 miles.

When I went out a couple of days ago, there was a strong wind from the west and I went up the hill at 10mph and came back at 20mph.  Today, with the wind in the opposite direction, I went up the hill at over 13mph and came back at under 14 mph.   It can be a bit depressing to find yourself pedalling more slowly down a section of gentle gradient on your way home than you cycled up it on the way out.  The net result of the two days was an almost identical average speed.

I stopped for a tree picture…

Glencorf burn

Taken more for the position of the trees than their stature.

…and to admire the daffodils beside the road as I left the town.

Springhill Daffodils

I had a look at my bike when I got home and decided that it needed a good clean after some riding on wet and dirty roads so I set about it with soapy water, de-greaser and cloths and toothbrushes.  I won’t say that it was shining when I finished but it was a good deal cleaner.

I had another look round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal had remarked to me in the morning that it is very surprising to her that although she really only  likes daffodils that look yellow like this…

Daffodils

…or this…

Daffodils

…she has a lot of daffodils in the garden that look like this.

 Daffodils

I am not complaining though because I like both sorts.

There are a number of these cowslippy things coming out around the garden…

cowslips

… but the present chilly spell has slowed spring’s progress down to a crawl.

I made myself a sausage stew for my tea and then Susan arrived to give me a lift to Carlisle where we played quartets with our recorder group.  We had a fine variety of music to play and excellent tea and biscuits to follow so I enjoyed the evening.

We passed the lorry gritting the main road as we drove home.  Another cold night is in prospect.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, taken during the cloudy morning.

chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture came from our daughter who is at the Berlin Film Festival.  She saw these birds and wondered what they are.  They look a bit like crows to me.

German birds

My day started slowly and continued at that pace but it was not dull or empty.  The sun was out but the east wind was blowing so I was happy to have coffee with Sandy while the thermometer crept up a degree or two.

When he left, I watched the birds for a short while….

blackbird

…although there were not many to watch.

Then I had a couple of slices of bread and paté, got my cycling gear on and set off on the same plan as yesterday, keeping out of the wind as far as possible by staying in the valley bottom.  As I was a bit pushed for time,  I limited myself to twenty miles today.

The wind had shifted slightly and was not as gusty as yesterday so I had a more relaxed ride and was able to go downhill faster than uphill.  I stopped once or twice….

Glencorf Burn

…on my favourite short stretch of road to admire the little streams that keep me company as I pedal.

Logan Water and Glencorf Burn

And an alder standing beside the stream.

Alder

I caught an early glimpse of the shy and retiring ‘often spotted gardener’ hard at work when I got home…

gardener

…and she drew my attention to some very encouraging signs of spring which had been brought on by the sunny morning.

Potential hellebore….

hellebore

…actual crocuses…

crocuses

…and some splendid snowdrops in full flower along with…

daffs and snowdrops

…enough golden daffodils to qualify as a small host.

There was even a winter aconite and a definite hint of promise in a lilac bud.

winter aconite and lilac

It was all very heartening.

After a cup of tea and a tangerine, Sandy reappeared and he and I drove to the Kilngreen and set off on a walk.

As long as you kept out of the wind, and we did, it was a glorious day for a winter walk.  We had to ration our stops to take pictures or it would have been dark by the time we had got half way round.

These are some of things that I saw near the start of the walk.

Moss on a wall at the Estate Offices glowing in the sunshine.

moss on wall at Ewesbank

A curtain of catkins on the way up to Pathhead.

catkins

Then we followed the track to the north above the rugby ground…

Pathhead track

…checking out a tree in the field below Castle Hill…

Tree below castle Hill

It looked as though it was throwing its arms up and dancing a Highland fling.

…and taking a look at the woods across the Ewes water…

Whitshiels wood

…until we dropped down to the High Mill Brig…

High Mill Brig

….which we crossed.

We turned left immediately after crossing the bridge and followed the track up the river until we came to Far Whitshiels Cleuch, more commonly known as the Target Burn because in times past, targets were set up at the foot of the burn for rifle practice.

We boldly crossed the burn….

Sandy crossing target burn

…and walked up through the woods until we came to the open hill.

At this point, the only disappointment of the day came because, more or less exactly as we hit the open ground, the sun began to disappear, taking the views with it…

Ewes valley

…although to be fair, it was rather hazy anyway and they might not have been very good if the sun had stayed out.

The sun was soon reduced to peeking through small holes in the cloud cover.

sun and clouds

There were still things to see…

lone tree target burn

…but we had reached the part of our walk where walking rather than looking around was the main business….

Target Burn walk

…and we plodded over rough ground and followed the wall until it met the hill road.

By the time that we had got to the road, the light was beginning to fade so we settled for the most direct way home and followed the road down the hill.

There was just enough light for a black and white picture of the tree(s) of the day…

trees on Whita

…but by the time that we had got back to the car we had exhausted both the available daylight and our energy and we were pleased to sit down.

At just under four miles, it was not a long walk but the terrain was testing and the views varied and interesting throughout so we had a real sense of achievement, a feeling that we had just done something good.  We had done a shortened version of Walk 8 of the Langholm Walks Project which offers many walks that I can thoroughly recommend to any blog readers who have not already tried them.

I was more than ready for my tea when I got home but the lamb stew perked me up enough to give me the energy to have a sing through one of our choir songs with Mrs Tootlepedal after the meal.  I have almost learned it.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch at full stretch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the result of time hanging heavily on someone’s hands near Eskdalemuir.  It was sent to me by Sandie, my northern correspondent who wonders if it is a Christmas decoration.

wheelie

Our weather here today was very tame after the gales and floods that have lashed the east coasts of Britain recently and I took advantage of the quietness to get a gentle 20 miles in after breakfast.   Because it looked as though it might rain, I settled for a three lap visit to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back  and stopped on my final lap to take a couple of pictures of Glencorf burn just to prove that I had been there.

Glencorf

glencorf

When I got home, I went off to the producer’s market to stock up on fish, mince and cheese and added a little stewing lamb for the slow cooker to my bag.  The fish people, who come from Eyemouth on the east coast, told me that their place of business had been flooded when the tidal surge had risen over Eyemouth harbour.  They were remarkably cheerful when talking about it.

I had a quick walk round the garden but there was not much to see.  Even the euphorbia was full of tears.

euphorbia

The rose which is trying to come out is still trying but not succeeding.

rose

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went on a fungus hunting walk round Jenny Noble’s.  I had meant to take a camera with me but I forgot.  This was a not a disaster as it was so gloomy that taking pictures would have been a thankless task.  We enjoyed the walk and saw quite a few things that will repay a later visit with a camera in hand (and better light).

During the day, I looked at the feeders from time to time but they were not very busy.  The usual chaffinches were about…

Chaffinch

Some resting….

....and some full of beans.

….and some full of beans.

The light winds had encouraged a coal tit to visit.

coal tit

A siskin made a change from the stream of chaffinches on the feeder.

siskin

Looking at the pictures that I took at this time last year, I see that we had many bramblings, some snow on the ground but no siskins.  This year we have had no snow, one brambling and one siskin.  I await developments on all three fronts.

When we got back from our walk, there was time for a cup of tea and after I had taken my keyboard along to the Buccleuch Hall for the choir to use at the  the Town Band concert where Langholm Sings were guests, it was soon time for our evening meal and the  preparations to go out.   I spent some time re-learning how to tie a bow tie as I haven’t had to wear one for years and a white shirt and a bow tie is the uniform for the men of the choir.

I was a bit sad when our accompanist turned up with his own keyboard and mine wasn’t used.  I am not a fan of hauling things about unnecessarily.

There was a good audience for the concert and the Town Band played very well under their new, young conductor.  Because we in the choir were sitting right at the front of the hall, I found the music a bit overpowering and I pined for my usual place at the rear of the auditorium where you can see better and you don’t get bombarded by notes.

The choir sang its six Christmas songs and carols well, making a good sound.  The Buccleuch Centre has an extremely dry acoustic and we were very stretched out across the hall in front of the  stage.  As a result,  those on the edges found it difficult to hear the other singers let alone the keyboard so we weren’t quite as precise in our work as we would have liked but on the whole we were satisfied and got some good comments from the audience.  Our musical director, who is not in the best of health,  conducted the three pieces in the first half and I did the three in the second half which I enjoyed a lot.  I was particularly pleased not to knock my music stand over even once.  A triumph.

The flying bird of the day is, not unexpectedly, a chaffinch, caught in one of the brighter moments of the morning.

flying chaffinch

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