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Posts Tagged ‘greenfinch’

Today’s guest picture is another of my brother’s Derby insects which I found when I looked again.  This is a water boatman and he thinks that it may have capsized.

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The temperature was a little higher than yesterday but thanks to an increasingly brisk wind, it actually felt colder and more inhospitable outside today.

Mrs Tootlepedal has used some packing wool as a mulch in the garden and a small flock of jackdaws appeared after breakfast and made away with as much of it as they could carry.

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I read the papers, drank coffee and did the crossword while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do useful things around the town and then I went out too.

The river was dealing with the overnight heavy rain as I crossed the suspension bridge…

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…on my way to the health centre for the second day running.  This time they were kindly topping up my system with some vitamins to fill the hole left by taking the blood out yesterday.

When I got home, I had a wander round the garden and got quite excited by potential on every side.

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A couple of warm days would work wonders but even with our present dull weather, new things are poking their heads up every day now.

There were the usual suspects at the bird feeder but I was pleased to see a couple of greenfinches today…

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…and a pigeon took the scenic route through the flowers around the feeder.

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The green machine in the background is the cat deterrent which sometimes seems to work.

After lunch, the forecast said it might hail and then there would be light rain, but a check with the human eye saw no rain, so I went out in the car to take a little walk in the woods outside the town.

Of course it started to rain almost as soon as I left the house, but as the rain was very light by the time that I had driven to my starting point and I was going to walk in the woods, I decided to ignore it and walk anyway.

It was gloomy when I started out and I had to use my flash to pick out the moss sprouting on top of a tree stump…

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…but I was rewarded for my initiative as the rain stopped and although it was still rather grey as I walked up through the birch wood…

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…by the time that I had gone through the wood and leapt* across this busy stream…

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…things had brightened up a lot and there was even a hint of blue sky about.

I walked along a track beside a field, looking at mossy branches, gorse and willow….

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….until the track turned into a small river and then, as I didn’t have boots on, I turned round and headed back down hill.

I came to a parting of the ways…

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…and took the left hand path and went back down the hill through the oak wood…

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…crossing the stream again when I came to the old railway track.

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I noticed as I went down the final slope that there were very different mosses within a yard of each other on opposites sides of the path.

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And it wouldn’t have taken me long to find other mosses not far away.

When I got to the old railway track, I walked along it.  When I had walked along this track with Mrs Tootlepedal at the very end of last year, it had been blocked by fallen trees so I wasn’t expecting to go far.  However, some good person had been along and tidied everything up neatly…

railway track to Broomholm

…so I was able to walk right along to where the track meets the road.

Just before I got to the road, I passed this very handsome scarlet elf cap, probably the largest one that I have seen.

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I walked down the road back to the car and this gave me the pleasure of passing the finest moss wall in the civilised world.

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There was a huge selection of mosses to choose from…

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…but the wall also plays host to many lichens and a fine crop of polypody ferns.

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I joined Mike Tinker and Mrs Tootlepedal for a cup of tea and a biscuit when I got home and then I made a gentle curry for our evening meal and watched our politicians reach the end of the road when it comes to trying to put a square peg into a round hole.  It would be richly comical if it wasn’t so important and annoying. I imagine some time will now be spent trying to fit an oversized round peg into a tiny square hole.

The wind and rain are very audible outside our windows as I write this but we are hoping to escape the worst of Storm Gareth.  Time will tell.  Mrs Tootlepedal is supposed to be going to London tomorrow.  It may be an eventful journey.

Because the windy and gloomy weather made taking pictures of daffodils in the garden rather tricky, I persuaded one of them to come indoors to pose for me  in peace and quiet.

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A chaffinch battling into the wind is the flying bird of the day.

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*Note: I didn’t really leap the stream.  I found a very narrow bit and tottered over it using my walking poles.  I am not mad.

**Extra note:  If anyone has a guest picture or two, I would be very grateful to receive them.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited Birmingham for an organ recital and took some time out to enjoy the canals while he was there.

Birmingham canal

We had what was possibly the last of our run of fine sunny days today and once again we started off with frost on the ground.

The frost was melting away when I crossed the suspension bridge on my way to visit the shops after breakfast…

suspension bridge frosty moprning

…and was retreating from the front lawn under the assault of the sun when I got home again.

lawn defrosting

I checked on the frogspawn in the pond and found it hard to tell whether it had been damaged or not…

frogspawn after frost

…but the early daffodils are certainly made of tough stuff and are standing up well to alternate bouts of warmth and cold.

daffodils after frost

I noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal has made use of some surplus woollen packaging as a mulch round one of her roses.

woollen mulch

My morning coffee was enhanced by the presence of Dropscone bearing scones and I enjoyed mine with some two year old blackcurrant jelly which Mrs Tootlepedal had found in the back of the jam cupboard.

Dropscone revealed that he had won a golf competition at the weekend but he was honest enough to admit that as it was in a  field of three, it wasn’t the most hard won victory of his long and successful career. Still, a win is a win.

When  he left, I had a moment or two to watch the birds where an incoming greenfinch was racing  a chaffinch to a vacant  perch….

two incoming birds

…and two greenfinches, having won a place at the feeder, were putting the wind up a siskin.

#greenfinches scare siskin

Then I sat in front of my computer and had a remote session with my speech therapist.

We decided that the exercises that she had given me had worked well enough for me to be discharged from her care and after giving me some sage advice as to how to proceed in the future, we signed off.  The remote consultations have worked very well and saved me a lot of time and expense which driving to see her the hospital in Dumfries would have entailed.

When I had finished, Mrs Tootlepedal took me out into the garden to show me some intriguing green bubbles that had grown on a bucket of sieved compost. The bucket had got very wet as it had been standing under a drip for several weeks which might account for this result.  We have never seen anything like it before.

mould on compost bucket

After lunch, I lent a helping hand in the garden, getting the hedge clippers out and giving a spirea a haircut…

clipped spirea

…while Mrs Tootlepedal prepared the soil and planted the new ground covering rose which she had purchased a day or two ago.

ground cover rose

Although the sun was out, it wasn’t by any means warm and I wrapped up well before going off for a cycle ride.

The reason for the lack of warmth became clear as I cycled along.  There was a thick layer of dirty mist in the air acting as an insulator and limiting any views to my immediate surroundings.

no view

From the top of Callister, I should have had a clear view of the wind farm on the hill three miles ahead but today I could hardly see the hills, let alone the wind turbines.

no windmills

As I am mildly asthmatic, I did think for a moment or two of turning round and going home but in the end, I stuck to my task and pedalled on, keeping my efforts well below the level that required heavy breathing.

I read a  newspaper report which said  that the light winds of recent days combined with the dry weather and some Saharan dust, which may have floated up on the southern airflow that has brought our warm weather with it, may be the cause of this concentration of airborne particles.  It is not often that I think a bit of rain would be a good thing, but I hope that it rains soon.

I managed 27 miles and this took my mileage for February to just over the magic figure of 300 miles, which is my monthly target for this year.  Thanks to the cloudy conditions, I didn’t stop to take any more pictures on my way.

In the evening, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings, our local community choir and we had a very enjoyable session with our regular conductor, who is also my singing teacher.  I did my best to show that I had paid attention during my lesson on Monday.

I didn’t have long to watch the birds today and as a result, I caught my only flying bird of the day just as it head went into the shadow of the feeder.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from camera club member Simon.  He suggested the theme for tonight’s meeting and then found that he couldn’t come.  He sent me this contribution  in lieu.  Prizes (token) for telling me where he was.

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Yet another grey and windy day welcomed us when we woke.  Everybody I met had the same thought in mind, “Why does it feel so cold when the thermometer says it should feel fairly warm?”  A brisk and mysteriously chilly south wind, which should be bringing up warm air, was the culprit.

After breakfast, there was a brief sunny interlude. I had to go and collect a key for the camera club meeting and was pleased to spot oyster catchers beside the river on my way back.

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We have got quite a number now, circling above the town with their strident calls.  Those who live along the banks of the rivers have mixed feelings about the oyster catchers as the birds often fly around in the middle of the night, waking the residents up with their piercing shrieks.  It is a high price to pay for the coming of spring.

Talking of spring, I saw the first blossoms appearing on the riverside trees…

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…and the daffodils are starting to come out in earnest in the garden.

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I fixed up an appointment with my physiotherapist for the afternoon and settled down to do the crossword, have coffee, practise a song or two and watch the birds.

A plump greenfinch turned up…

seated goldfinch and plump greenfinch

…and looked to be rather aggrieved at the seeds on offer.

plump greenfinch

Several siskins also arrived and hung about on top of the feeder…

siskins on top of feeder

…while below, a greenfinch threatened a goldfinch’s peace of mind.

greenfinch and goldfinch

The siskins soon got down and dirty and joined in the fun.

siskin and chaffinch at feeder

I thought that I ought to test my foot so that I could givea good explanation of where it was hurting to the physio so I went for a short stroll.

My foot was sore but usable so I pottered round Gaskell’s Walk.  It was getting greyer all the time and the views weren’t very exciting….

dull whita scene

…so I kept my head down and looked for a variety of mosses.  They weren’t hard to find.

Top left and right were growing on walls, bottom left on the ground and bottom right on a tree stump.

four gaskell mosses

I couldn’t pass the lichens by without a nod in their direction.

Top left and right on a fence post, bottom left on an old tree stump and bottom right on a wall.

four gaskells lichens

As I got to the end of my walk, the white duck flew past and settled in the Wauchope.  He had a conventionally coloured lady friend with him but they flew off before I could take the pair of them together.

white duck in wauchope

The theme for the camera club meeting was street scenes so George kindly posed for me with the dog who was talking him for a walk to the park.

George with dog

It wasn’t long after I got home that it started raining but it didn’t come to much so when I had to drive to Powfoot to see the physio after lunch, driving was no great trial and the rain had stopped by the time that I got to the sea shore.  I did see a few birds with my binoculars but they were too far off to photograph.

powfoot seascape

The physio listened to my report, shook her head in a rather thoughtful way and decided that some traction might be a good idea.  I have suffered from a niggling back for many years so a little traction usually does me some good and I was happy to get stretched out on her infernal machine.  It certainly made my back feel a lot better and only time will tell if it has had a beneficial effect on my foot but I feel a visit to the doctor coming on if things don’t improve.

I hadn’t been home long before Mrs Tootlepedal called out that there were big birds in the garden.  She was right.

Two partridges were pecking about under the feeder.  The partridge shooting season is over now so these birds can feed without running into danger.  This one looked as though it might have difficulty getting off the ground.

partridge in garden

While I was away, Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy with her paint brush.

horse with paunted ears

Dappling is the next thing on the rocking horse restoration menu.  This is a nervous business and Mrs Tootlepedal is giving it a lot of thought.

My flute pupil Luke came.  He is still recovering from a bad cold so we took things easily after missing a couple of weeks.  It was good to be back playing duets again.

After tea, I went off to the camera club where we had an excellent selection of pictures once again.  Most of the other members had taken the theme a lot more seriously than me and as they are a well travelled lot we had street scenes from Majorca, Tenerife, Madagascar, Cuba, Edinburgh, India, Thailand and more.  In addition we had some beautiful pictures of local scenes in the recent snow so we were very well entertained.

And there were biscuits.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some home made ginger biscuits during the day so any chance of losing a little of my additional winter weight has gone out of the window for the time being.  They are delicious.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with its eye on a perch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s just picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother, Mike.  He planted some daffodils to brighten the road verge opposite his house and is pleased that his work has born fruit.  Being 300 miles south of Langholm, his daffodils are already out.

Mike daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle after an early breakfast to help sort out the music library for  our Carlisle choir.  This is a big job with 130 copies of every piece of music we sing needing to be sorted and stored.

While she was gone I looked out into the garden on another grey day.

The feeder was busy…

busy feeder

…and on the mossy lawn, a pigeon was putting its best foot forward.

pigeon on lawn

I had put out some fat balls and they had attracted jackdaws.

jackdaws on feeder

There was no shortage of flying birds to be seen even if there was a bit of a shortage of light to see them by.

flying chaffinches and goldfinches

Sandy came round for coffee.  He was in an exceptionally good mood because he had just enjoyed a thoroughly good night’s sleep, a thing so rare as to be be priced above pearls.

While we sipped and chatted, we were joined by some greenfinches…

flying greenfinches

…and a very unusually marked jackdaw.  I have never seen one like this before.

speckled jackdaw

After coffee, we went up to visit the Moorland project feeders in the glade at the Laverock hide as it was Sandy’s day to act as feeder filler.  After filling the feeders, we lurked in the hide for a while.  There were plenty of birds about, mostly chaffinches but with a good number of great and blue tits too.

blue and great tits Laverock

As with my garden, there were no winter visitors to be seen at all.  This is a bit worrying as there seems to be no reason not see our usual migrants.  I hope it is a one off and  not a sign of things to come.

We didn’t stay too long and when Sandy stopped at the Co-op on our way back to buy a local paper (full of articles by Dropscone this week), I took the opportunity to get out too and walk home along the river in the hope of seeing something interesting.

The hope was amply fulfilled as I saw a goosander…

goosander

…two oyster catchers…

two oyster catchers

…three dippers…

dippers in esk

…and a single white duck.

white duck

It was still pretty grey and most of the birds were a bit too far away from the bank for good pictures but it was encouraging to see them.  I snapped the church too while I was passing…

church on a grey day

…and a bit of typical Langholm street life.  Dog walking is a popular activity in our town.

alan and dogs

When I got home, I made some soup and then dashed out into the garden when the sun came out.

sunny crocuses

I didn’t have time to enjoy the sunshine and go for a walk or a pedal though as I had to go off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was a day of sophisticated travel arrangements as Matilda and her family were flying back from a family party in Dublin over lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal planned to catch the train from Carlisle that I was aiming to catch 20 minutes later in Lockerbie.  It is on days like this that the mobile phone really comes into is own and the flight and train journey went smoothly as planned and we all met in Edinburgh on schedule.

Matilda then took Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a walk in the woods.  We scaled the heights…

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…passed all sorts of interesting plants like this St John’s Wort…

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…and came out at the top of a small hill from which we could see Edinburgh Castle in the distance  over the roofs.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent in catching up on news of the trip to Ireland, being coached by Matilda in the proper use of the alphabet, watching clips from Matilda’s dancing school’s annual show on DVD and eating another tasty meal.

We got safely back to Lockerbie on the train and drove home as the temperature dropped back to freezing again.

It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow after a chilly start.  I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is one of the oyster catchers making off down river.

flying oyster catcher

 

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Today’s guest picture brings a bouquet of South African garden colour into our gloomy winter scenes, courtesy of my South African correspondent and Langholm exile, Tom.

tom's sa flowers

By contrast, what Langholm looked like today when we got up was this….

snowy garden

The photo is is in colour but the scene is in black and white!

…but the snow had stopped and gradually melted away during the day, although the temperature never rose more than a degree or two above freezing.

I gave my sore foot a rest in the morning and drank coffee, did the crossword and looked out of the window.

There were sparrows about on the feeder…

two sparrows

…and a bunch of starlings on top of the walnut tree.

starlings in walnut tree

Green and gold finches turned up too….

gold and greenfinches

…and birds frequently flew off in all directions…

birds leaving feeder

…and then came back again…

three birds on feeder

…so I wasn’t bored.

We gave the snow some due consideration but having checked that the main roads were cleared and that the trains were running on time, we set off for Lockerbie and the train to Edinburgh.

On the drive, the main problem was not snow or ice but quite thick mist covering the whole countryside almost all the way to Lockerbie.  We arrived safely though and caught the (on time) train and travelled up to Edinburgh in good conditions.

I was hoping to catch a shot of the Tinto Hills covered in snow and gleaming in the sunshine but they had generated their own cloud which covered them completely…..

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…and were a disappointment.

Al, Clare and Matilda are camping in Clare’s parents’ flat while they are waiting for their new house to be finished and this gave Matilda the chance to take me for a walk in a nearby wood.

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She was a confident guide and we got back safely without meeting any wolves or being stung by bees.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I  spent a pleasant few hours chatting with the family and enjoyed a wonderful Persian based meal before we left to catch the train home.

The journey home passed off without incident, although the mist made for careful driving.

I did find a chaffinch arriving at the feeder and it has the honour of being the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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I have delved into my archives to find today’s guest picture sent by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia last October.  It shows a footpath that is not totally welcoming.

cows in the way

We woke to an altered view from our upstairs window.

whita fron befroom window

The snow hadn’t got down as far as the town though and I was able to walk to our corner shop on surprisingly ice free roads.

Sandy, who had missed the camera club last night, came down for a cup of coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal combined having coffee with us with putting more coats of gesso on the rocking horse.  The horse has been brought in from the cold and is enjoying life in our spare room.  More importantly the gesso is going on a lot better and by the end of the day, the horse was looking a lot smarter…

rocking horse gesso progress

…although there are several more coats to go on before it will be ready for painting.

When Sandy left, I did the crossword and kept an eye for action outside the kitchen window.

I got an unexpected chance to catch a regular visitor…

sparrowhawk on feeder

…which doesn’t usually sit quietly for long enough for me to take a picture.

In spite of the snow, it was a reasonably pleasant day with occasional bursts of sunshine and although the temperature was only 3°C and it had rained overnight in the town, we were mysteriously free from ice so I went for a walk half way up a hill.

I went up the Kirk Wynd and onto Whita, stopping before I came to any serious snow. The sun had been out when I started but sadly clouds had intervened and it was a pretty grey day.

trees on whita snow

Even on a  grey day though, there is usually something to cheer a walker up and there was a good show of lichen on a wall….

lichen on mossy wall

…and the view up the Ewes valley always lifts the heart whatever the weather.

snowy view up ewes

I was on the very edge of the snow line as I walked along the contour of the hill towards the Newcastleton road but the going was very good and I had sensibly taken my walking poles with me so I enjoyed myself.

whita track snow

And when I got to the road, I was rewarded with a sparkling display of moss among the snow on a wall…

moss on snowy wall

…and a wintry view through the pines.

pines in snow

Looking back up the hill, I was glad that I hadn’t been tempted to climb up to the monument as it looked decidedly chilly up there.

monument with frosting

I followed the road down to the A7 and walked along to the Kilngreen past this fine display of holly berries.

holly berries whitshiels

On the Kilngreen, the light seemed perfect for capturing the sinuous patterns of this picnic bench…

kilngreen bench

…and I was very happy to see Mr Grumpy on the bank of the Ewes Water.  I haven’t seen him for some time and was getting worried about his health.

heron

There was more agreement about the way to go among the mallards today.

mallards on esk

Looking back towards the Sawmill Brig and Castle Hill, it was hard to imagine that I had been walking in snow not long before.

kilngreen no snow

I got home and sat down to a nourishing plate of soup.  Mrs Tootlepedal returned from helping out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe and I watched the birds for a while…

january greenfinch

…being pleased to see a greenfinch and by accident I took a picture which shows how small our garden bird visitors are in the great scheme of things.

bird among the bushes

Whatever it is that is causing me to have discomfort when walking at the moment hadn’t been made worse by my walk so I decided that the roads were probably ice free enough to risk a few miles on the slow bike to see if that sort of exercise would help.

The sun came out…

snowy whita from wauchope road

…which was a bonus and I pedalled very gently for seven miles without meeting any icy patches or making my leg worse so I was very happy.  I will try a longer ride next time when the weather permits.

In the evening, the ever busy Mrs Tootlepedal laid down her crochet hook and went off to act as front of house for a screening of the Queen of Spades at the Buccleuch Centre and stayed to see the opera.  As Tchaikovsky is not my favourite composer, I stayed at home and did a little more work on learning the Carlisle Choir songs.  Like putting gesso on a rocking horse, this is a slow business.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day as the visit of the sparrow hawk didn’t keep the birds away from the feeder for long.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture from Joe comes from his Highland holiday with our daughter Annie and shows a deer taking a breather before getting ready to pull Santa’s sleigh.

Joe's deer

In a contrast to yesterday’s wall to sunshine, we got wall to wall mist today…

Christmas day view

…so it was lucky that it was Christmas Day and there was feasting and general jollity indoors to pass the time.

While preparations were being made for roast duck and all the trimmings, I cast occasional glances out of the window.  It was far too gloomy for good pictures but I could record the welcome visits to the feeder of an occasional siskin and greenfinch…

siskin and greenfinch

…and although we couldn’t run to a partridge in our pear tree, we did at least manage the nearest thing to two turtle doves that is available round here.

pair of collared doves

After a Christmas lunch that could best be described as very full filling, I decided that if I was going to eat any more, I needed a walk.

It was very gloomy indeed outside…

black day from park bridge

…and I needed my flash to show the moss on a tree trunk along the river side.

moss with drops

I walked up the track to Stubholm and was surprised to see a fallen tree.  I didn’t think that we had had bad enough weather to cause a collapse like  this.

fallen tree on Stubholm track

Once at the top of the hill, the views were even more circumscribed, with ghostly animals and buildings in the fields….

view of field from stubholm in mist

…a very limited view of the town….

view of town from stubholm in mist

…and no view of the hills at all.

view from stubholm in mist

Once again my flash came to the rescue and added a little colour and seasonable sparkle to my walk…

park wall grass baubles 2

…as the park wall once again held items of interest to the passer by.

park wall grass baubles 1

I got back in time for afternoon tea with tasteful canapes, ginger biscuits and Christmas cake in company with Mike and Alison.  Alison’s shoulder is recovering slowly but it will be some weeks before our Friday evening music making is resumed.

There followed traditional sofa slumping in front of the telly and as we had eaten very well already, the evening meal was abandoned for selective grazing of left overs with a modest helping of plum pudding to round things off.

Thanks to the wonders of telephony, we had conversations with family members all over Britain so we were not short of seasonal good wishes and all in all, it has been a very satisfactory day.

There is no flying bird of the day today because of the gloom but at least a seasonal robin popped up to pose for the occasion.

robin on back of seat

 

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