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Posts Tagged ‘gull’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this very colourful field on one of his permitted walks.  He can’t say what it is that the farmer is growing.

andrew's red field

My day started with a Zoom visit to Australia. My sister Susan’s friend Stephen has contributed guest pictures to the blog and as she was scheduled to talk him, she thought that I ought to take this opportunity to visit him digitally too.  The technology is amazing and there seems to be no difference at all in talking to someone in Edinburgh or someone in Sydney.  My sister and I had a very enjoyable conversation with Stephen and his wife and I hope to get more guest pictures from him when he is able to get out and about freely again.

It was very cold here today and there had even been a little rain overnight.  A very brisk and cold wind was making an urgent case for a return to winter clothing and this was particularly annoying as it was the 89th birthday of our socially distanced street coffee morning participant Margaret.  We had hoped to give her a socially distant street birthday party.  In the end, it was a rather brief and huddled experience but we sang Happy Birthday and ate cake so we did our best.

All being well, we will have a really good street do for  Margaret’s ninetieth next year.

Although it wasn’t really a day for gardening, some gardening needed to be done.  Things needed watering as the overnight rain was pathetic, and things needed to be propped up and protected from the cold wind, and of course, things needed to be photographed.

I like the contrasts that Mrs Tootlepedal has between the softness of cow parsley and honesty and geums, and the brilliance of hostas and rhododendrons.

rhododendron, wild garden flowers, hosta

And I liked the prospect of lettuce and marmite sandwiches for lunch today and mashed potato in the future.

lettuce and potato

We didn’t stay out for too long and I was soon looking out of the window at the birds on the feeder.

There were contrasts there too, between small greenish birds having a nibble…

greenfinch and siskin

…and very big black birds eating us out of house and home..

rook on feeder

We went back out into the garden to check on a new bench.  It had been delivered with such expert social distancing that we didn’t even realise that it had arrived.

new bench

It will replace an old favourite which unfortunately has started to fall to pieces becuase people will insist on sitting on it.  As this one has been made long enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to stretch out and relax on it during those lazy, hazy days of summer still to come, we think that it might need another plank on the seat to stop her falling through the crack at the back.

While we were out, I noted the first flowers on a Sweet Rocket…

sweet rocket

…more euphorbia madness….

euphorbia

..and some lilac blossom.

lilac blossom

Not everything in the garden is full colour though.  There is always an element of greenness about too.

green garden

Then it was back inside for lunch and another look at the birds.

There was considerable goldfinch and greenfinch traffic…

goldfinches

…and one naughty goldfinch thought that it could hide behind the feeder pole and behave badly undetected.

goldfinches kicking

The forecast had been very gloomy and the morning matched the forecast, but by the afternoon, the sun was shining brightly enough to persuade Mrs Tootlepedal to go out for a walk, ignoring the still very chilly and brisk wind.  As it wasn’t an attractive day for bicycling, I was more than happy to go with her.

We stood on the town bridge and looked down. The rocks appeared under the clear water in the shadow of the bridge and the sun glinted on the ripples beyond giving this curious result.

reflection on bridge

We saw a gull, a small tortoiseshell butterfly and a thrush all enjoying their moment in the sun as we walked along.

gull, small tortoiseshell, thrush

We headed up the hill for the track along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and marvelled at the freshness of the colour…

track abive pathhead

…and the bluebells which were to be seen on every side.

bluebells near north lodge

I showed Mrs Tootlepedal the track above the North Lodge which I had followed for the first time a few weeks ago.  It ended at this beautiful tree.

bright tree

Going along the forestry road at the end of the track, we passed a lot of this lysimachia nemorum or yellow pimpernel.

lysimachia nemorum

I haven’t seen it anywhere else this year, but perhaps I haven’t been looking carefully enough.

There has been tree felling here, and as is often the case, the timber company has left one or two lone trees still standing.

tree above longfauld

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a particularly strong violet and it made the blues of the bluebells and bugleweed look a bit pale in comparison.

bluebell, violet and ajuga

We dropped down through another patch of bluebells…

bluebell woods longfauld

…and joined the track back to the Castleholm, passing any number of lovely trees on the way.

trees on castleholm may

If we had stopped for every photo opportunity on our walk, we would never have got home in time for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit or two.  (I had providentially made the biscuits during the morning.)

The walk was three and a half miles of pure springtime pleasure, and it was all the more enjoyable because we hadn’t expected the weather to let us get out for a walk at all, let alone one that was so sunny and relatively warm (when we were sheltered from the wind).

I had my second Zoom conversation of the day with my brother and sisters and then enjoyed an excellent evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal (I did the washing up).

Looking at the forecast, we are due for another near freezing morning tomorrow but there is still no proper rain in sight so it looks like more watering in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, probably searching for someone to kick.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On his permitted walk, he revisited a blue bell wood that he found unsatisfactory when he photographed it on a walk not long ago and found it much more satisfactory today.

andrew's bluebells

We had another sunny start to our day and the neighbourhood alfresco coffee morning team enjoyed their physically distanced but socially engaged conversation while taking in some rays.

I joined them for a while and then went off to look round the garden to check on developments.

I found a stunning tulip just opened…

red tulip opening

…and another one developing a hint of a tint.

yellow tulip with tint

The lamium seems to add more flowers every day and is obviously enjoying the chilly mornings more than me.

lamium doing well

And this qualifies, I think, as a colourful corner.

tulips and grap hyacinths

I am hopeful that an anemone, which has been unfurling at an amazingly slow rate over the past week, will open fully soon.  Curiously, it likes to turn its back on the sun, and as it is at the very front of a border, it makes it hard for me to get a good picture of it.

anemone nearly there

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy as ever and after her coffee and conversation, she got the last of her potatoes planted out.

potatoes in

Rather annoyingly, she decided not to buy too many seed potatoes this year, but with hindsight, this was probably not the best decision that she has ever made.   The way that flour is proving hard to find though probably indicates that she should have been planting wheat anyway!

We are out of homemade blackcurrant jam, so I am keeping an eye on the blackcurrant bush and hoping that it will have enough berries on it to make a few pots this year.  It is looking promising at the moment.

blackcurrant buds

I took a pictures of these cheerful tulips and went in for lunch.

fancy tulips

After lunch and some creative time wasting, I went for a cycle ride.  The sun had disappeared behind some grey clouds and the energetic east wind meant that I was back to riding in my winter jacket again.

I didn’t need the warmth too much as I cycled up to the top of Callister with the wind behind me, but I was very glad of it on the way back.  It was miserable battling into the cold, cold blast coming straight up the road towards me.  This stretch of my ride had much of the enjoyment of being repeatedly hit in the face with a wet fish.

It took me 33 minutes to cycle the six and  half miles up the hill and even pedalling furiously, I could only knock two minutes off that time on the way back down into Langholm.  Hard work.

I pedalled along the river as I passed through the town and was pleased to see a couple of old friends, though the oyster catcher was scooting away from a dog walker…

oyster catcher moving off

…and the gull was looking round to see what the fuss was.

gull checking

I cycled through the town and out of the other side, taking the main road north until I got to the road junction where this memorial is sited.

rideel memorial

I visited the church at Teviothead where he was minister on a ride earlier this week.

(You can hear a 10 inch shellac 78 rpm recording of his poem set to music here.)

Opposite the memorial, new life was to be seen.

sheep and twin lambs

And across the valley, I could see the preparations for a new forestry plantation.hill ready for planting

The four miles home, gently downhill and with the cold wind now behind me, made me forget the hard work into the wind and I ended up feeling, slightly erroneously, that I had had a very enjoyable 21 mile ride.

Before I had gone out on my bike, I had mixed and prepared some rich dough and put a dozen tea cakes to rise.  When I got back, they were ready to go into the oven.  They came out looking quite inviting, flatter and more suitable for toasting (the proper destiny for a tea cake) than my last batch.

tea cake triumph

I spoke to my siblings courtesy of Zoom and then, as the sun had come out again, I went out into the garden to enjoy the evening sunshine.

sunlit daffs

I noted the Esau and Jacob of the starling world on top of Irving’s holly tree. (Gen 21.11)

starlings

I used the last of Mrs Tootlepedal’s mince and a tin of tomatoes to make an unsophisticated but enjoyable pasta sauce for our tea.

We have so settled in to the gentle rhythm of the lockdown that it will come as quite a shock when we suddenly get choices and have to make up our minds where to go and what to do….if we ever get to that time.

In the meantime, there was no flying bird of the day today, just a perching chaffinch.  By way of variety, you can have him looking down,,,

chaffinch looking down

..or up.

chaffinch looking up

Take your pick.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  Photo opportunities are scarce in lockdown London but she captured this squirrel with her phone on her short local walk today.

mary's squirrel

It was another chilly and mostly grey day here but once again it was dry and the rain gauge has been stubbornly recording no inches of rain for what seems like weeks now.

I went to the shop to top up on essential supplies and on the way out, I admired the fine show of daffodils along the dam at the back of the house…

daffs by dam

…and on the way back, I saluted the waterside birds standing loyally at their posts.

osyter catchers and gull esk

When I got in, I had a second go at making ginger biscuits, and thanks to taking a great deal of care with the weighing and measuring, they came out pretty well this time.

genuine ginger biscuits

The moral seems to be, don’t bang yourself on the nose with a short plank when you are going to cook biscuits.  Wise words indeed.

The continuing cool weather has left the garden in a state of suspension and the appearance of a tiny Brunnera flower was the only novelty today.

brunnera

Mrs Tootlepedal is continuing to tidy things up, and with some help from me paving stones were revealed that probably haven’t seen the light of day since Mary Queen of Scots was on the throne.

paving revealed

Actually that last comment may have been a pardonable literary exaggeration because in real life, the grass grows so quickly that the paving stones get covered up in a remarkably small number of years.

We had a meat and lentil soup for lunch, made with the gravy from last night’s brisket dish, and it made a tasty change from our usual vegetable soups.

Fortified by the soup, I went out for my permitted walk.

With the permission of the minor deities in charge of old people having fun, I set out to do the walk that hail and strong winds had persuaded me not to do the other day.

On my way, I passed a sparrow singing strongly on a bush beside the Kirk Brig….

house sparrow kirk birg

…and I was lucky to spot a pied wagtail standing uncharacteristically still on a rock at the Kilngreen.

pied wagtail

I followed the old road north.  It is shown on the map of 1864 so many people must have walked along this track before me.

baggra

Now there is a handy gate at the end of it to let ramblers like me into the field that leads back down to the Ewes Water.

walk eight gate

I crossed the High Mill Bridge and followed the east bank of the Ewes Water.  It hasn’t been a good year for catkins yet, but there were plenty on this particular tree as I passed.

catkins by ewes water

I got as far as the old bridge at the Target Burn.  I didn’t cross the bridge when I came to it….

ewes water bridge

…but turned away from the river and headed up through the wood, leaping across the raging burn when the path came to it, and heading on to the open hill across a stile.

walk eight taget burn

I was very happy to see fresh shoots on the larch trees as I went through the wood.

new larch

Once out on the hill, I could enjoy the views.

view from walk eight

There was a slight dip as I went along a well used track before I followed the wall which you can see going up the hill in the background of the picture.

walk eight dip

The walk along the wall is across rough ground, with no clear track and plenty of moss…

moss on walk eight

…and even on a dry day before the grass and bracken have started growing, I was happy to pause when I got near the top to draw breath and feel some modest pride in getting up the steep climb.

walk eight wall

The wall is exceedingly straight and must have been built by a man with a good eye for a straight line or perhaps the owner of a very large ball of string.

As well as keeping me on the right line, the wall was playing host to some handsome but tiny lichen.

lichen on walk 8 walkk

I was following the route of Walk 8 in the Langholm Walks booklet and to complete the route when I got to the road at the top of the wall, I should have continued upwards to the monument.  I could have got to the monument but the direct route down the face of the hill is too taxing for my knees these days so I headed back down by the road.

Taking time out to admire the view up the valley.

view up ewes from whita

I didn’t go right down the road but followed the line of pylons across the lower slopes of Whita Hill until I came to Whita Well.

Here I could look down over the town across a sea of gorse bushes in bloom.

gorst whta well

I walked down to the town across the golf course and was taken aback by the colour of the fifth green. golf green treatment

Dropscone tells me that although the course is closed to players, the greenkeeper is allowed to work to keep the course in good order for when play is resumed.  He must be very happy about this because nothing annoys a greenkeeper more than golfers walking all over his course and hacking great lumps out of it with their golf clubs.  I hope his drastic treatment on the greens works out well.

It was only a four and a half mile walk but we are very fortunate in having country round us that offers so much variety of hill and valley on a relatively short outing.

I passed two families out for a stroll on my walk and otherwise I enjoyed glorious solitude.  The town was pretty well deserted when I got back to it.  We are living in very quiet times indeed.

The evenings are even quieter than the days.

The non flying bird of the day is our resident blackbird.  It was interested to see what I was doing behind its back.

resident blackbird hedge

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Kedlestone Hall in Derbyshire on one of the better recent days.

kedlestone hall

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to yet another meeting after breakfast and inspired by her vigour, I managed to get myself into my cycling gear and out of the house before coffee time.  Admittedly, I was helped in this by the knowledge that the forecast for the afternoon was very poor and it was now or never as far as comfortable cycling went.

There are now some definite signs of spring as I go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie route with daffodils out beside the road in several places.

daffs on cycle tour

Rather annoyingly, the brisk breeze was back again but one of the reasons that I like my Canonbie route so much is that it protects from the worst of a westerly wind and I get some help going home.  All the same, I had to keep my head down and pedal quite hard at times so I didn’t stop a lot.

When I did stop, the Canonbie cows were too busy to look up.

two canonbie cows

The sun came out as I was pedalling home, and with the wind behind me there were moments when it almost felt warm.

The sun picked out this dramatic tree near Irvine House.

tree a Irvine house

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got home so after a quick check on the pond…

frogs

…and an inventory of growth in the garden…

garden growth

…I went off to cadge a cup of coffee and a ginger biscuit or two from Sandy.

He is remaining remarkably cheerful in spite of the tedium of being housebound for several weeks.  He has some entertainment though, as a pair of blue tits have settled into the nest box on his shed.  I caught a glimpse of one them today.

sandy's blue tit

On my way home, I was struck by these dark shapes in a tree.  They turned out to be a pair of rooks considering  redecorating the sitting room in their nest in the rookery.

two rooks holmwood

I got home in time for lunch and was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her meeting had extended itself into taking important visitors up on to the moor, where they had seen two hen harriers and several goats and kids.  Everyone had enjoyed this a lot.

After lunch, I had a moment to watch the birds.

Unlike yesterday’s neat eater, today’s siskin shows much more typical behaviour.

siskin dropping food

Goldfinches flew in from every angle…

flying goldfinches

…and once ensconced on the feeder, they looked both this way and that.

goldfinch contrast

Having checked the forecast again, I discovered that I might just have enough time for a walk before the rain started so I set out for a short walk over three bridges.

I had had the best of the day on my cycle ride. The cold was now colder, the sky was greyer and the wind was stronger but there were still definite signs of spring along the waterside on both sides of the Langholm Bridge.

signs of spring by the river

And a good supply of birds posing for the camera.

riverside birds march

The ducks have paired off for spring and these two were getting their heads together over some tasty snack just under the surface as I went over the Sawmill Brig.

ducks getting heads together

I walked up past the Estate Offices and admired the wall beside the road.  It is the stone wall with everything: ivy, peltigera lichen, hart’s tongue fern and any amount of moss.

growths on wall above ewesbank

In fact, I was quite surprised to be able to see some stones at one point.

wall above ewesbank

You see a lot more colourful sheep in the fields these days than you did when white wool was a big source of the sheep farmer’s income.

grey sheep

I went along the top of the wood and then dropped down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are still looking good.

snwodrops holmhead

On my way back to the lodge, I passed a couple of sawn off tree stumps.  I imagine that recent rain and strong winds had made them unsafe so that they were cut off before they fell down completely.  The inside of the trunks didn’t look too healthy, I thought.

felled trees

The forecast had been right.  I didn’t have too much time before the rain came.  Unfortunately, because I had stopped to take so many pictures, my time ran out and the rain came on well before I got home.  I stopped taking pictures, put up the hood on my new coat which I had prudently worn, crossed the Duchess Bridge and hurried home….

…stopping only for this lovely burst of blossom beside the river behind the school.

blossom behind school

Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out for another meeting so once again, I took the hint from her industriousness and settled down at the computer to tax our car (cost £0 thanks to it being electric) and catch up on some correspondence with two old friends who had  written to me out of the blue.  As I had promised to reply in a couple of days to the one who wrote to me in January , it was none too soon to get to work.  Still, as I hadn’t seen him for nearly fifty years, a few weeks probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

Mike Tinker dropped in for tea and Mrs Tootlepedal returned (soaked) from her business and joined us.

Then it was time for flute playing with Luke.  He is between jobs at the moment so he has had time to practise and this has had a very good result.  I will be taking lessons from him soon.

After tea, I put most of a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before turning to the production of this post.  It has been a full day.

The flying bird of the day is an angry goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo.  This one is from Manitoba and shows a tree that took to autumn in stages.

Mary Jo's tree

We were greeted by frosty weather when we got up today, but once again it was dry so we weren’t complaining too much.  It was too cold for cycling and I was very happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee and scones.  He had been away for a golfing weekend having received a bargain offer from a hotel chain that was too good to resist.

When he left, I spent a little time watching the birds.  Once again,there were plenty to watch, especially goldfinches.

busy feeder goldfinches

In fact the number of goldfinches led to some slight altercations.

goldfinches action

I managed to while away the rest of the morning until midday without doing anything of note but then I thought that in spite of still being pretty chilly, it might be the time to take my new camera out for a walk.  It was rather grey but the camera was able to recognise one old friend on the near side of the river…

gull with new camera

…though the gloomy conditions were almost too much for it when it came to a goosander on the far side of the Esk.

goosander out of range

It had no trouble at all with another old friend once I had crossed the river by the Town Bridge.

heron

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and took the upper track to the North Lodge.

The leaves are in three minds about autumn.  These ones on a beech hedge are only just turning…

leaf turning

…while a hundred yards or so further along my walk, there were only a few left on the trees.

Pathhead tarck

I interrupted a sheep having its lunch while I was on this section of track.

sheep having lunch

I noticed that the light seemed to be getting better and as I walked on, the sun came out. The effect was quite magical.

Holmhead wood

It wasn’t just the leaves that were affected by the sun.  When I got to the North Lodge, where  had intended to turn and head for home, the splendid view up the valley and a bit of warmth on my back persuaded me to give my feet a good test and I continued up the Longfauld track.

voew from north lodge

Not long ago, this track was lined with tall conifers on both sides and there were no views.  Now the felling of the woods has transformed the walk and there are fine views to be had…

golf and bauchle hill

…and the track is light and airy.

longfauld tarck

The track follows the east bank of the Esk and I could look across the river and see the road that I would take on my way home on the other side.

 

 

 

At the end of the track, kindly people, foreseeing the needs of elderly walkers, have placed a handy bench upon which I paused for a while…

seat above potholm

…before following the road downhill…

track down to potholm

…to the river which I crossed by Potholm Bridge.

potholm brodge

There was very little wind and it felt pleasantly warm in the sunshine as I ambled along the road, admiring trees as I went.

The trees came in small and neat…

tree above milnholm road

…and bigger and untidy.

tree at breconwrae

I liked both.

By the time that I had got to the end of the road, the sun had sunk behind the hill even though it was still early afternoon, so I kept my camera in my pocket for the most part of the last mile of my walk.

I did take it out for the door in a wall.  Time has passed this door by…

gate at breckonwrae

…and so did I.

There is now a convenient gap in the wall a few yards further on and I used this to gain access to the woodland path that took me back to Langholm.

My last picture is of one of the many little culverts which help to keep the paths round here in good condition for walkers.

culvert near duchess bridge

I got home in a very contented frame of mind.  Both the camera and my feet had behaved well.  I had walked about five and a half miles, my longest distance for some months.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day with a business meeting over lunch followed by a visit to the hairdresser.  She got home again in time to welcome our friends Mike and Alison for a cup to tea to celebrate their return from several weeks visiting family in New Zealand.

They were still recovering from jet lag but we had a good conversation about their travels.

I hope to be able to recommence playing Friday evening sonatas with Alison soon.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.  I enjoyed that too so all in all, it has been  a very good day.

The flying bird of the day is a horizontal goldfinch emerging from behind a plant.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend and former colleague, Marjorie.  She came upon these stunning fungi on a walk a few days ago.

blue fungus

It was a dry but grey morning and the forecast was not too bad for the rest of the day so my mind turned to cycling.

Before I set off, I had coffee and a slice of toast to think about and the birds to to watch as well.

They must have been reading the blog because after yesterday’s complaint about not enough birds, they came in better numbers today and the feeder was soon filled with goldfinches…

full feeder goldfinches

…with more anxious to join in.

This made for photo opportunities…

attacking goldfinch

…and bad tempered exchanges…

two goldfinches sparring

…and curious chaffinches.

chaffinch approac hing

The goldfinches in possession of a perch tried to ignore outside distractions and kept their heads well down while they could for the most part.

goldfinches tucking in

In the end, I put down the bird watching camera and packed my cycling camera into the pocket of a stout waterproof bright yellow jacket and got out my bicycle, noting two particoloured jackdaws at the apples as I set off.

two spotty jackdaws

There was a brisk north easterly wind blowing and it pushed me over Callister and along the newly surfaced road past the quarry to Paddockhole.  I stopped there for half a banana and a look at the bridge.

The bridge has a bright red metal plate screwed to the parapet and when I looked at the parapet, I could see that turning lorries may have been knocking into it a bit, hence the need for the warning and protective plate…

paddockhole brodge medley

…but the parapet was sound enough to be home to a nice pixie cup lichen among the moss and  a fallen beech nut.

The reason for the lorry traffic over the bridge is a new windfarm in the area so the narrow road after the bridge is being widened and lay-bys are being put in to cope with the construction vehicles.

Luckily there was very little traffic on the road as I battled up the hill alongside the Water of Milk straight into the brisk wind.  I was heading for the watershed between the Water of Milk and the River Esk and it took me some time.

It was lucky that I had my stout rainproof jacket on as it was drizzling at this point.  It was a bit annoying to look to my right and see the Ewe Hill wind farm bathed in sunshine.

ewe hill windfarm in sun

I pressed on, crossing little bridges over little streams…

bridge on crossdykes road

…until I got to the sunlit uplands on the top of the hill.  I love this section of road.

sunlit uplands baillieghill

To my right I could see more wind turbines making good use of the enthusiastic breeze…

new turnbines bailiehill

…and once I had got over the hill, I could see the Esk valley stretching in front of me.  The road follows that line of trees along the right side of the valley.

esk valley from bailliehill

The rain had blown over by now and I enjoyed a sunny trip back down the river into Langholm.  Larches stood out in the sunshine.

larch plantation

With seven miles to go, I stopped for the other half of my banana and a drink at the Enzieholm bridge.  Naturally, I had a look at the parapet while I was there.

enzieholm bridge medley

There was some good autumn colour on a hedge at Bentpath village…

colour at bentpath

…and I stopped to take a close up of a larch beside the road further on just to show that they really are golden at this time of year.

a golden larch

I had a look back at the Douglen Cleuch…

view of douglen

..before climbing the last hill of the day and swooping down into the town.  It was only a 26 miles ride but because of the wind and several hills to climb, it had seemed like more and I was very satisfied as it had felt like a proper outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy painting the hall while I was away.  It is looking very exciting already.

I had a look round the garden when I got home and was impressed by the staying power of the Rosy Cheeks rose and the very late phlox but the most arresting thing was the sudden appearance of a cowslip among the expected clematis, potentilla and wallflower.

six november flowers

I had a shower and than went for a walk.  I am supposed to keep exercising my feet and there was a little sunshine left so I headed off to see if I could find the fungi that Marjorie had photographed.

My usual friend was standing on the usual rock in the Esk…

gull on same rock

…and two goosanders were swimming up the river nearby.

two goodsanders

I should have been quicker to go walking as the sun was already sinking behind the hill and this was the last sunny view I got…

river esk november evening

…before crossing the Sawmill Brig and walking round the pheasant pens.  I didn’t find Marjorie’s fungi but I saw other varieties…

three fungi castleholm

… before I crossed the Duchess Bridge and made my way home.

duchess bridge november

As you can see, the bridge is in need of some TLC.

The slow cooked venison stew made a third and final appearance for our evening meal and it was followed by some tarte tatin which I had made when I got back from my walk.  I may need therapeutic help as I think that I have become addicted to tarte tatin.

When I checked, I discovered that the forecast for the next week is for some inclement and wintery weather with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees and plenty of rain so that made today’s ride and stroll even more pleasant in retrospect.

I apologise for an excessive number of pictures but it was an interesting day and here is a FBotD to round it off.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Camera Club member Simon who was at work in Winson in Germany when he found himself being observed.

simons caterpillar

After a rather wild and wet night while Storm Dorian had its last faint fling over Scotland, we had a generally dry and occasionally sunny day today so we got off pretty lightly.

It was still breezy but that didn’t discourage the birds and the garden was fully occupied by feathered friends all day.

When I went out to have a look around in the morning, I spotted this little dunnock looking askance at a blackbird which was stretching its wings in a flowerbed.

dunnock and blackbird

As well as birds, there was a considerable number of red admiral butterflies about too, and I found one on Michaelmas daisy.  I got too close to it though and it flew off, leaving a bee to enjoy some peace and quiet.

butterfly and bee on daisy

I stood for some time watching stream of blackbirds and some starlings feeding on the rowan berries.

Unlike Mrs Tootlepedal who has picked all the low hanging fruit from the plum tree…

plums in bowl

…the birds have eaten all the topmost berries from the rowan and are now having to look at lower fruit, often on the end of branches.

stretching for a berry

I was surprised to see how often the birds dropped a berry before being able to swallow it, but all the same, a lot of berries went down a lot of throats today.

A starling posed for me…

blackbird and rown berry

…and any number of blackbirds were too busy eating to mind me pointing a cameras at them.

four berry and blackbird panel

Sometimes when they had pecked a berry off the very end of the branch, gravity was too much for them and they had to fly off with the berry or risk being pushed off by the  next customer.

three blackbirds on rowan

Underneath the rowan tree, a snowberry was a haven of peace for a visiting insect.

snowberry

In the garden, many flowers had survived the night of wind and rain.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes to point out that all the sunflowers in the shot below came from the same packet of seeds, advertised as short sunflowers.  Quality control at the seed merchants looks a bit lax.

contrasting sunflowers

The Japanese anemones are not discouraged by anything.

japanese anemones bunch

In the middle of the day, I made some plum jam with some of the plums that we have picked.  A number of things conspired to make the result unsatisfactory.  The plums were too ripe, it has been raining a lot recently, I didn’t have proper jam sugar, and I was probably too impatient.  As a result, the jam didn’t set properly and I had to give it a squoosh of lemon juice and a second boil later in the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal stewed a lot of the rest of the plums.  They will be frozen.   There may well be more chutney in the offing too.

In the afternoon, I got my bike out, and after having another look at blackbirds in the rowan tree…

shady blackbird in rowan

… I went for a short ride.  There was evidence of the recent rain.

water running on Wauchope road

We had a very good dry spell earlier in the year but the persistent rain has finally got things soggy again and the water is running off the hills and onto the roads in several places.

A cow kept an eye on me as I photographed the puddles.

cow spectator

The forecast was for a gusty wind.  Usually round here it is hard to tell if the wind is gusty because it just blows all the time, but today it really was gusty.  One minute I would be pedalling along merrily, whistling a happy tune, and the next minute I would have my head down, battling to make any progress at all.

Still, I got to the top of Callister and back and stopped as I pedalled through the town to salute our lonely gull on its regular rock.

gull on rock

Although it was not in flood, there was enough water coming down the Esk to create a fine back ripple.

big ripples in Esk

As I crossed the Langholm Bridge, I could see that the cormorant was back at the Meeting of the Waters, so I parked my bike at the Kilngreen and walked along to get a closer look.  It was drying its wings.

cormorant at meeting of the waters

I looked up from watching the cormorant and enjoyed the view of the hills.  The mixture of blue skies and heavy clouds summed up the day.

view of timpen and esk

I only got rained on for a very short time during the ride and got home after 15 miles in good order.  I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.  For the first time for a few months, I thought that the rate of growth in the grass had slowed down.  It has stayed quite warm recently, around 15°C most days, but the shorter days are getting noticeable now.  We are only ten days away from the autumn equinox and facts are facts.

As the flowers and leaves are showing.

creeper and sedum

The starlings were lined up on the electricity wire as I went in to have my evening meal.

starlings on wire

As well as plums, we are beginning to get quite a lot of apples from our espalier trees.  I have been picking up the windfalls and we decided to take a step into the unknown and convert some of them into a Tarte Tatin.  We were handicapped by not having a suitable pan for the job but we battled on and the result was good enough to eat even if it definitely would not have won even second prize in a beauty pageant.  I am going to try again soon.

As the blackbirds had taken my advice to try to pick berries from above their heads rather than below their feet, there was no shortage of flying birds today so here is the genuine flying bird of the day.

flying blackbird

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