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Today’s guest picture is another Christmas cracker from my son Tony in Edinburgh.

edinburgh christmas

We had been promised that temperatures would start to rise by today but it turned out that this happy state of affairs was delayed and the lawn was frosty again when we woke up.

It took until about 7 o’clock in the evening for the thermometer to creep up to 4°C but as it had been dark for several hours by then, this was not much use.  The Met Office is promising us 9°C for tomorrow but we are not counting any chickens yet.

It has occurred to us that Christmas is coming and we had better do something about it so I spent the morning writing Christmas Cards, occasionally breaking off to make coffee and/or  look out of the window.

The cold weather had not discouraged the birds.  Chaffinches were having a hard time with goldfinches.

goldfinch and chaffinch

goldfinch and chaffinch

And with other chaffinches too.

chaffinches and siskin

A pair of starlings after the pink pellets were above such petty squabbling.

starlings

It was a better day for taking portraits than action shots.

goldfinch

After lunch, I went out for a rather tentative walk.  I wasn’t expecting to find much of an improvement on yesterday’s icy roads but in the event, with a bit of care here and there, walking was no problem at all and I was able to get 3.7 miles in by the time that the light had faded away.

I walked down the town side of the river towards Skippers Bridge and felt a good deal of fellow feeling for the greenkeeper at the Old Town Bowing Club.  His green looked more likely to host a curling match than a bowling competition.

frozen bowling green

Then I passed our sewage works, which are discreetly screened by a very nice variegated ivy…

ivy

…and stopped to check out an unusually coloured lichen on a fence at Land’s End.

lichen

It was well worth a closer look.

lichen

When I got to Skippers Bridge, I looked upstream and was struck by how unexpectedly colourful the view of the old distillery was in spite of the misty conditions.

Langholm Distlliery

Looking up at the bridge from beside the Tarras road provided a less colourful picture but I never tire of looking at this bridge and I hope that patient readers don’t mind another look too much.

skippers bridge

I continued along the Tarras road but here I had to be a bit more careful of icy patches as it is a damp road and there is very little traffic along it.  It has been closed for many months by a landslip further along.

I was able to get my eyes off the road surface for long enough to see that this was another spot with lot of hair ice about…

hair ice

…and I took a picture of an affected branch lying on the ground to show what it looks like to a casual passer by.

hair ice

You might easily pass it by thinking that it was a fungus of some sort or even a splash of paint.  I have seen some looking like a discarded white paper bag.

At the bottom of the hill to Broomholm, I faced a choice.  Either I could run the gauntlet of the icy road again or choose the track up Jenny Noble’s Gill and take my chances going  through the woods.

I didn’t fancy falling on the tarmac so I opted for the cross country route.

The local weather station suggested that the humidity was 98% and there certainly was a lot of moisture hanging about.

misty trees

I took a picture when I got into the birch wood and the flash fired automatically.  It seems to have picked up a lot of spots where the moisture was concentrated enough to reflect the light.  It definitely wasn’t raining and the moisture was not on the lens of the camera.  Odd.

birch wood

There may not be any leaves on the trees but that didn’t stop an old oak from looking pretty colourful.

mossy oak

But mostly, it was misty.

misty trees

I stopped at the Round House to enjoy the view over the town….

misty view from Round House

…and found that nature had engineered a reverse Brigadoon.  In the story of Brigadoon, a picturesque village appears magically out of nowhere.  Today our picturesque town had vanished entirely.

It was gloomy enough by the time that I got back to the Suspension Bridge for the lights on the Town Bridge to be twinkling brightly.

Town bridge with lights

I was glad that I hadn’t tried to walk up the Broomholm hill because Mike Tinker, who had dropped in, told us that he had driven up it earlier in the day and had found it a hair raising experience as the road was at times completely covered by ice.  As it was, I got round my walk in very good order, the side benefit of the frost being that once again the boggy bits of the path were frozen over.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we played through the first movement of our new sonata without a mistake.  We were quietly pleased with ourselves.

Our food adventures continue and Mrs Tootlepedal made a very tasty leek and ham pie for tea.

I am getting rather stout.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture come from Mike Tinker.  It was sent to him by the owner of a cottage in Wales where Mike and Alison often spend a week on holiday (but not when it is as snowy as this).

Highbrook snow 2017

The deep snow in Wales is a reminder of how lightly we in Langholm have been touched by winter so far this year.

It was another dry and occasionally sunny day here today but once again the thermometer only just crept over zero and any chance of gardening or cycling remains in the future.

Still, the chilly weather gives me a good excuse for getting up late and idling about.  I did fill the bird feeders and look out of the window.

The blackbirds were very prominent again today.  I thought this one looked rather shifty as it searched for seed in the tray under the feeder.

blackbird

There was a discussion on the radio about Christmas round robins but I don’t think they had this one in mind.

robin

There were a lot of goldfinches flying in and throwing their weight about…..

goldfinch and chaffinch

…and generally looking appalled at the behaviour of lesser breeds.

goldfinches and siskin

I was pleased to see a sparrow on the feeder.  Although there are a lot of sparrows in our area, they don’t seem to like sharing our feeder with finches.

sparrow

Judging by what other people who  feed birds  have told me, there must be ‘sparrow gardens’ and finch gardens’.

 

 

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to go for a walk and we went carefully in case of ice but found the going good in general.

The scene was frosty again….

Meeting of the waters

…but with none of the sparkle brought by a good hoar frost.  There were some examples…

frozen holly

…but they were few and far between.

As we crossed the Sawmill Brig, I recorded the fact that the new stones built into the parapet after the damage caused by a falling tree, are already showing an admirable tendency to provided a home for lichen.

lichen on sawmill brig

I was glad that Mrs Tootlepedal had come on the walk as her sharp eyes spotted some hair ice on a branch in a ditch.  I debated the wisdom of clambering into the ditch for a close up but decided to walk on.

Avoiding the ditch was a sound idea because we saw lots more hair ice as we went along.

hair icehair ice

It looks as though it is made of threads but touch it and it melts in your hand as it is pure ice.

It wasn’t hard to spot as there was an example on a fallen twig or branch every fifty yards or so but we were bowled over when we saw this magnificent display cascading down the trunk of a rotten tree.

hair ice

Nearby, a patch of frozen fungus caught the ye.

frozen fungus

Although the tree branches are not covered in white, for some reason the local gates are very attractive to Jack Frost.

frozen gate

I was thinking of another walk after lunch but our neighbour Liz told us that she had a chimney sweep coming and we asked her to see if he would come across the road when he had finished with her chimneys and do ours before he went.

She did, he would and he did.  He was amazingly quick and efficient and left without leaving a speck of soot behind him.  We will see him again next year.

While I was waiting for him, I looked at the birds.

If the goldfinches are going to be as bossy as this one, you can see why sparrows might look for somewhere calmer.

goldfinch and chaffinch

We had a flying visit from some starlings but they only stayed for a few seconds before moving on.

starlings

When the sweep had gone, I lit a fire to celebrate and then  settled down to putting some music on the computer to practise as we are going to a competition in Manchester in February and it will be hard work again.

Meanwhile, Mrs Tootlepedal was gainfully employed making potato and parsnip gnocchi for our tea.  Like the sticky toffee pudding, this was a first go for her and like the pudding yesterday, it was entirely successful so we had a very good evening meal of gnocchi and baked beans followed by a second helping of the sticky toffee pudding.  Once again, that banging noise you can hear is pampered billionaires banging their heads against the wall and wondering why they can’t eat as well as us.

In the evening, we went to our parish church to listen to a concert by Emily Smith, a very talented singer from Dumfriesshire with two friends to back her up on fiddle and guitar.  The trio were delightful and gave us a varied programme of carols, Christmas songs and a nice mix of her own and other writers’ world.

I may have remarked before that we are very fortunate to have constant treats in Langholm and with the community pantomime last night and this excellent professional performance tonight, any thoughts of cold, dark days have been put away for a while.

By chance, I managed to catch a flying chaffinch outlined against the frosty lawn and I was pleased to be able to use the shot as flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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

bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross

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

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

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

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

frozen wauchope

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

tree

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

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

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

lichen

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

frozen fencepost

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

frozen wauchope

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

frost hair

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

frosty leaves

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

frost patterns

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

Meikleholm Hill

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

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

frosty bench

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

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

icicles

…and this curious frozen formation on the track itself.

frost

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

Langholm Church in winter

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

frosty moss

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

frozen dam

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

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

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

blackbird

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

blackbird

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

flying chaffinch

Robins are easier to spot.

robin

As are sitting birds.

goldfinches

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

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

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

The flying bird of the day is a chiaroscuro chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s southern Odyssey.  He went about as far as he could go and found himself and Susan at Beach Head on a very misty day.

beachy head

We had another wonderfully sunny day today but this one was more in line with the way that things should be in January and was below freezing for most of the morning and not much above thereafter.

This made cycling an unattractive proposition so I gladly took up the offer to go up to the Moorland Feeders with Sandy.  Once again the sun was shining rather into our faces…

chaffinches

…but it has got higher in the sky lately so we were able to make out the birds better than on our last visit.

There has been a dearth of members of the tit family in our garden recently and I was pleased to see that they were thriving up here.

coal tits

There were lots of coal tits

blue tit

Many blue tits

great tit

And on the far side of the clearing, several great tits. This one is sharing with a greenfinch.

The inevitable pheasant was stealing the seeds meant for smaller birds….

pheasant

…but at least it had the grace to look a little shifty about it.

A robin brightened our day…

robin

…but it was a poor day for seeing unusual birds and as it was pretty chilly sitting around, we didn’t stay for too long.

On our way back down the road, I was just remarking to Sandy that it looked like a good day for seeing hair ice when he saw some.  He kindly stopped to let me take a picture.

Hair ice

I don’t think that I have ever seen so much around here before this year.  The fungus that causes it must be spreading.

I had time for a cup of coffee and a look out of the kitchen window when I got back…

goldfinch

A goldfinch with a gleam in its eye

…and a walk round the garden in pursuit of frosty glamour…

potential Violas

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are potential Violas

…and then it was time to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

I noticed a door when we got to Lockerbie which I hadn’t fully appreciated before and the sun made the town sheep look very much on their toes.

Lockerbie

Our train was on time and not very busy and to make things better, there was even a train waiting for us when the time came for our return journey this week.

When we got to Edinburgh, Mrs Tootlepedal needed to do a little clothes shopping so we dodged a tram….

tram

…and I took the chance to wander along Princes Street with my camera.

Princes Street

Princes Street is well known but the shops which line the northern side of the street are a mish-mash of styles and the street gets its distinction from the fact that the southern side is building free and offers views of art galleries with the castle behind…

art gallery and castle

…the Scott monument, lit by the last of the sunshine today…

Scott monument

…and extensive public gardens.  I couldn’t show the gardens to you today as they resembled a ploughed field as they wait for spring planting.

Matilda was in very good form and honed her snap skills to a high degree.  I was absolutely jiggered after playing and reading with her for a couple of hours and extend my fullest admiration to her parents for their energy, stamina and skill in bringing up such a smart child.

The journey home went as smoothly as the journey up and although I had spent most of the day sitting down, it was very positive sitting down and I had enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The flying bird of the day is a buttoned up goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker.  He was in Oban on the west coast of Scotland when he saw this fine sunset.

Oban sunset

We had some very welcome sunshine here today but the price to pay for it was a frosty morning and this in turn put paid to any idea of having a cycle ride in the sun.

I stepped out into the garden to see what was about and was pleased to see that a very shiny starling was toeing the line.

starling

The sunshine brought strong shadows over the seed  feeder so taking pictures of birds there was hard work but a blue tit visited the fat balls which are hanging on the lighter side.

blue tit

On the other side, Zorro the chaffinch was my only shot of note.

chaffinch

I idled the morning away, reading papers, doing the crossword and lending Mrs Tootlepedal a hand for a few minutes  as she papered the ceiling in the stairwell and upper landing.  Papering round a trapdoor in the ceiling, a velux window on the slope and a light fitting in between needs a very skilled operator and more than two hands at the trickiest moment.

I finally got my mojo going (rather gently) and went out for a walk to see what I could see. I was hoping for a dipper, some hair ice and some good exercise.

My walk had a bright start.  The snowdrops beside the dam at the back of the house get lots of sun when it is out and in response, they had come out too.

snowdrops

As I walked along the Esk to the Kilngreen, all was quiet with hardly a  bird to be seen.  At the Kilngreen the gulls were playing leapfrog along the fence posts…

gull

….but this reflective character in the Ewes took my fancy.

There was rich colour in the moss on the wall opposite the Buccleuch Estates yard….

moss on wall

….and a cone developing on the Noble Fir beside the new path on the Castleholm.

Noble fir cone

I kept an eye (and an ear) out for dippers as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge and saw one on a rock a little way upstream.  It was too far away for a good shot and it meanly flew off when I scrambled down the bank to get closer.  I walked along Eskdaill Street and up to Pool Corner in the hope of seeing another dipper there.   I was in luck.  It was a good way off too.

dippers

The dippers in the Esk and the Wauchope

On this occasion, the bird was kinder and hopped up onto a branch to give me a closer shot.

Dipper at Pool Corner

It was just a pity that the sun didn’t penetrate to this gloomy spot.

I walked on towards the Auld Stane Brig and then along Gaskell’s Walk, passing the intricate patterns of a retired rosebay willowherb ….

rosebay willowherb

…and some brilliantly frost decorated moss on a wall beside the road.

moss on wall

I was justified in thinking that this might be a day to find hair ice….

hair ice

…and there were quite a few examples beside the path.

Although in the sun, it was pleasantly warm for a walk, anything in the shade was still frozen.

Gaskell's Walk

It was such a nice day that when I got to the Stubholm, I decided to walk onwards to the Murtholm and Skippers Bridge.  A patch on a tree beside the track made me think of script lichen but when I took a closer look….

lichen

…I was a bit confused.  It does look as though there is some script lichen in there but there is other stuff too with the result that it looks more like hieroglyphic lichen than anything else.  (I made that up before anyone asks.)  Perhaps a knowledgeable reader can help me out.

On my way to Skippers, I passed a blue collar sheep, perhaps reflecting on recent political developments.

sheep on Murtholm

It was a lovely day.

Timpen from Murtholm

The scaffolding at the bridge didn’t seem to have got much farther so I didn’t linger but the steps up from the road just beyond the bridge looked so inviting….

steps up from Skippers

…that I walked up them and on to the old railway track.

old railway

This was once a branch line which connected Langholm to the Carlisle to Edinburgh ‘Waverley Line’.  Such has been the success of the re-opened northern section of the line from Galashiels to Edinburgh that hopeful people are now campaigning for an extension of the line all the way to Carlisle with an alteration of the route to take it directly through Langholm.  I think that they might have to do a lot of hoping.

The walk up the steps and along the railway was rewarded by a delightful path up through the old wood to the Round House.

Round House path

Sheer poetry on such a day.

After that, the journey back to the town was more prosaic, especially as it involved a visit to the Co-op to get something for our tea.

All in all though, it was an excellent walk and I was surprised to see when I got home that my mapping  program told me that it was comfortably over five miles.   So I got my dippers, my ice hair and some good exercise…..and some tasty baked potatoes for tea.

A win, win, win, win situation.

By the time that I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had successfully completed papering the stairwell and we both felt it was time for a cup of tea and a sit down.

The flying bird of the day is a lone gull who gave me a fly past.

black headed gull

 

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Dropscone did Forth bridges while he was in Edinburgh.  He went over the rail bridge by train, walked back over the mile long road bridge on foot and found time to take this artistic misty picture of the new crossing in between times.

Forth bridge

We had another fine day today but it was decidedly chilly and never got above two degrees in our front garden all day.

I started the day off by going up to the Archive Centre to print out some sheets for the data miners and I had to watch my step pretty carefully as I went because there were some slippery spots on the way.

When I got home, I had a moment to look out of the window…

Two goldfinches threw themselves so far off the feeder in their battle that they almost reached some sunshine…

sparring goldfinches

…but by and large, the birds came and went anonymously.

chaffinch

I had arranged to have coffee with Sandy and when we had finished our cup (and a slice of fruity malt loaf), we set off for a walk.

The good thing about a little freezing weather is that it makes our often soggy and boggy tracks and paths very suitable for walking along dry shod so we enjoyed a very pleasant two and a half mile walk in good conditions.

We went up Jimmy’s Brae and followed the track to the Beck’s Burn

We weren’t expecting to find much of interest to photograph on our way but thanks to adopting a very stately pace, many things caught our eye as we went along.

A leafy tree is bonus at this time of year after frost…

leafy tree in December

…but we have had very calm weather on the whole which must have helped the leaves to stay in place.

Up on the hill, the hardy cattle grazed placidly.

Hill catlle

We got into the woods and I was taking a picture of this wall, which has been overtaken by tree planting…

Old wall, Becks Burn

…when I had a closer look at the twigs of the tree on the right.

catkins

A reminder that days will get longer again

As we walked down the slope to the bridge across the Becks Burn, a tree trunk arrested us.

fungus and lichen

Sandy tried to capture the fungus on one side of the trunk and I admired the luxuriant lichen on the other.

Once across the burn and through the woods, we followed the road down to the Auld Stane Brig.  We followed it slowly though, as there were a thousand little icy treats to look at on the way.

frozen plants

Even the fence posts were worth a look.

frozen fence posts

It was quite surprising to find a bit of lichen that wasn’t covered in sparkling ice crystals.

lichen

We finally got going again and crossed the bridge…

p1070806

….and went along Gaskells Walk.

I was keeping an eye out for hair ice as I have seen it here before and I was not disappointed.  We saw several specimens before we finished our walk but none of them were terrifically photogenic.  These were the best two.

hair ice

There was some fungus still to be seen as well.

fungi

There was a ray of sunshine on a frosty glade beside the track and it was so appealing (to me at least) that I have put two pictures of it in.

Pool corner glade

Pool corner glade

Eskdaill Street  and Castle Hill were bathed in sunlight when we got to the top of the bank.

Eskdaill Street and Castle Hill

We walked to along to Stubholm and then came back along Eastons Walk, thoroughly satisfied with our outing.

Sandy went off home and I made some carrot and potato soup for lunch.

I had a look out of the window while it was cooking.

A robin was very busy trying to get into the blog.  It is hard to believe perhaps that all the pictures are of the same robin, taken within minutes, but they are.

robins

robins

I don’t know another bird that can change its shape so much just by turning its head.

The chaffinches approaching the feeder were less anonymous now.

chaffinch

I was going to do something interesting after lunch but the need to practise songs for concerts came first and then a visit to the chemist for a throat gargle and some joint ointment came second.  By the time that I was thinking of a third thing, it was almost dark so I had a cup of tea and another slice of fruity malt loaf and that was enough excitement for me.

The evening was devoted to tootling.  First my flute pupil Luke came and we made progress on a Telemann canon and then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and we made good progress on our new Mozart trio.  It would be hard to find a better use for a cold winter’s evening.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches finding a little light over a frosty lawn.

chaffinch flying

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my younger son and shows the frost on the ground at his daughter’s playground last week. I am now looking once again to kind readers for new guest pictures.Edinburgh frost

We had plenty of frost on the ground here again today as the thermometer was showing -2°C when we got up.  It didn’t get much above +2°C for the rest of the day and with no sun to warm us up, it was quite chilly outside.  As a result, we spent most of the morning indoors.

It was Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday today so she spent a lot of time reading messages of congratulations from various  heads of state, notable politicians, media celebrities and her family and friends.  In between this I made her some porridge for breakfast, a pot of coffee at the appropriate time and then some sardine pate for lunch so you can see that she was treated like royalty on this auspicious day.

I also found time to keep an eye on the birds outside.

We had ground level visitors…

dove, blackbird and dunnock

…and visitors to the fat ball feeder….

robin, blue tit and coal tit

….a pair of perchers…

chaffinch and sparrow

….and some spectacular starlings.

starlings

I was also pleased to catch not only one or two cute robin shots but actually one shot of two robins on the lawn at the same time.  They are never in shot together long as they do chase each other about.

robins

After lunch, we went for a walk.

Although it was grey and cold, it was also dry and calm so we were not the only ones strolling up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge walks

Most of the leaves are now on the ground rather than on the trees but the walk was still enjoyable…

Pheasant hatchery

…and Mrs Tootlepedal was well wrapped up her her fine new coat…

Mrs Tootlepedal's coat

…which someone very considerate had given to her for her birthday present.  (His considerateness consisted in listening very carefully to what she wanted and then letting her order it herself so that there could be no possibility of error.  It is the best way)

There was a surprising amount of fungus still to be seen in sheltered corners….

fungus in late November

…and some more ice hair.

Ice hair

The hair ice on the right looks as though it might have melted and frozen again. I have never seen this before.

It was generally pretty gloomy so the camera stayed mostly in my pocket but it did come out again when we passed the manse garden and saw a thundering herd of chickens rushing towards us.

Minister's chickens

It turned out though that they weren’t rushing towards us but towards the minister himself…

Minister and chickens

Scott and his flock

…who divulged that the secret of attracting chickens is to always give them food.

We didn’t have long when we got home before we set out again.

This time we went to Carlisle by car for Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday treat.  This was a visit to the pictures where we saw ‘A United Kingdom’ which tells the story of Seretse Khama, the King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1948 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.

The film was most enjoyable, calmly made and presented with a strong story and some excellent acting from all the cast which was led by David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.  It is refreshing to relearn about just how devious, unscrupulous and downright nasty our governments of both parties were in those ‘good old days’ for which some people seem to hanker.

We rounded off an excellent day with a stop for fish and chips in Longtown on our way home.    Mrs Tootlepedal should have more birthdays.

The leaves of the day were among the few that we encountered on our walk whihc were still on a tree…

leaves

…and the flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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