Posts Tagged ‘hart’s tongue fern’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who felt that he could prove that East Wemyss has fine trees as well as seemingly eternal sunshine.

East wemyss

For a change, we had some sunshine here too today, but as it came hand in hand with a very gusty and nippy east wind and a drop in the temperature, it was not quite as welcome as it might have been.

I had intended to go cycling, but it wasn’t appetising, and I had  coffee and a ginger biscuit with Sandy instead.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning of meetings so when Sandy had left, I had a quiet time.  I did go to visit our translated corner shop though.

two shops

The new shop (on the left in the panel) is bigger, brighter and has a nifty new sign but the old shop was on a proper corner so I shall miss it.  Still, my cycle route to the new shop takes me along the river and I hope to be able to catch a few waterside bird pictures from time to time when I go to get my groceries.

The better weather brought more birds to the feeder….

busy feeder

…and the better light let me capture a pair of greenfinches coming and going.

flying greenfinches

Even occasional light showers didn’t put the birds off…

chaffinchlanding rain

..and flying chaffinches were ten a penny, rain or shine.

flying chaffinch panel

I made some leek and potato soup for lunch (leeks and onions from the garden but we have had to start buying potatoes again after 5 months of eating home grown).

After lunch, I went out for a walk, touring the garden before I went.

There is still a little colour, fresh from the jasmine, medium from the wallflower and faded from Rosy Cheeks…

jasmine, wallflower, rosy cheeks

…and some interesting greens too, the perennial nasturtium in the yew, unseasonable leaves still on a clematis and promise of flowers from a sarcococca by the back door.

yew, clematis sarcococca

I started out on my walk just after two o’clock and the sun was already setting behind the hill, so one side of the river was already in shade.

esk in November

I directed my feet to the sunny side of the street and went up a bit of a hill too in an effort to keep in the sun.

The wall, as I went up Hallpath had a good deal of interest with hart’s tongue fern, spleenwort and ample supplies of moss on some sections.

three wall hall path

I looked up from the wall and admired a lofty tree.  A man gardening nearby told me that it is a Wellingtonia.


As I walked on, the sun was getting lower all the time and I had to walk tall to get my head warm as I passed between a wall and a beech hedge.

beech hedge hallpath

I took the track along to the round house and passed a tree which has been gradually eating a ‘neighbourhood watch’ plaque.  It looked like this in 2016…

tree eating notice…and it looked like this today.

tree eating sign

I wonder how long it will be before the plaque disappears entirely.

The sun had all but disappeared by the time that I passed the round house…

round house…and headed on down through the little oak wood….

oak branch mossy

…to the old railway and took the path back towards town.  There was a lot to see on the short stretch of old railway.  The green lichen was surprisingly bright and the script lichen on the tree was comprehensive if not comprehensible…

four thing son old railway fungus

…and the leaves came from a very young sapling but I don’t know whether the growth on the fallen branch was another lichen or a fungus.  I would happy if a knowledgeable reader could shed some light for me.

I passed Skippers Bridge by without stopping to take yet another picture….or maybe I didn’t and succumbed to temptation…


skippers bridge end of november

…and a sheep looked at me as I walked along the Murtholm track with a hint of censoriousness in its gaze as a result.

sheep murtholm

Perhaps I shouldn’t have dallied at the bridge because although I could see sunlight on Meikleholm Hill…

meikleholm evening sun

…it started to rain on me as I walked along.

It was patchy rain.  I could still see sunlight picking out a house on the hill to my right…

sun on house

…but I was in the patch where it was  definitely raining so I hurried home without taking any more pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal was in the garden when I arrived back so we had a walk round (the rain had stopped) before going in.

We discovered a Lilian Austin flower and there were a lot of buds still forming on the bush.  A cowslip was also flowering….

lilian austin and cowslip november

…but as we are due to have quite  sharp frost tonight, maybe that will be that for both of them.

Regular readers will perhaps be asking why we were not in Edinburgh visiting Matilda as it is a Thursday today and they would be right to ask.  We should have been in Edinburgh but half the children at Matilda’s school have fallen victim to the winter virus and Matilda is in the unlucky half.

As we neither wanted to catch the virus nor bring it back to Langholm, we wisely stayed at home.  An evening phone call revealed that Matilda, after an unhappy morning, was making good progress so we have our fingers crossed that neither she nor her parents will be too badly affected.

There was no hint of sun left by the time we had had a cup of tea so the rest of the day was spent indoors doing little tasks.

The sunnier weather did let me catch a much improved flying bird of the day even though it was raining when it flew past me..

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my highland correspondent, and shows a flock of long tailed tits enjoying her peanuts.  They are beautiful little birds and we are very envious as we would like to see them in our garden.

longtailed tits

We had a generally sunny and cheerful day here today; cheerful that was as long as you weren’t exposed to the very strong wind which made it feel decidedly chilly.

After going to church to sing in the choir, there was a moment when I had time for either a short cycle ride or a walk before the trip to our Carlisle choir in the afternoon.  The wind, gusting up to 40 mph made the decision for me and I went for a walk.

I didn’t have to waste any time watching birds in our garden because there were no birds to be seen, the wind proving too strong for them too perhaps.

If you could keep out of the worst of the wind though, it was a beautiful day for a stroll…

ewes at kilngreen

…and although all the gulls flew off as soon as I got near the Kilngreen, I did find two or three ducks lurking in the shelter of the river bank on the Ewes Water.

female mallard drinking

male mallard

I crossed the sawmill bridge and walked up the hill past the Estate Offices.  The road verge and walls here are home to a considerable number of hart’s-tongue ferns…

harts tongue fern ewesbank

…and a grand display of dog tooth peltigera lichen.  This crop was about two feet in width.

dog tooth peltigera pathead track

Three trees further up the hill have been artistically arranged by nature to make a pleasing combination.

three trees pathead

And there was plenty of shelter as I walked along the track above the trees to let me enjoy the view of Whita without getting blown away.

vierw of whita

A lot of trees have been felled along the track, leaving the pines still standing.

pines on track

I followed the track until I came to the north lodge…

north lodge

…and there I enjoyed a view up the Esk valley which has only been recently been made available to walkers by the felling of yet more trees.

view up esk valley from north lodge

Time was pressing a bit so I had to hurry home, stopping only for a view of an as yet unfelled wood…

bw woods

…and making it just in time to have a slice of bread and honey before setting off to Carlisle.

The choir practice was well attended and we set about learning another of the songs that we will take to the choir competition in Manchester in March.  We  also went through one of the songs which I have been trying to get off by heart….more work required!

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal tried out a new recipe involving leeks, feta cheese and puy lentils.  It made for an enjoyable meal.

We have been watching the television adaptation of Les Miserables and it has been an interesting but chastening experience for me.  I read the book a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I thought that I would remember it well and be able to compare the book with the TV programme but it turns out that although I do recall a lot of the scenes and places from the story, many of which don’t figure in the musical version, I have also forgotten much more than I thought. As a result, I have confidently said to Mrs Tootlepedal on  more than one occasion, “Well, that didn’t happen in the book,” only to find that it did.

No flying bird today but I did get the briefest glimpse of a robin.  It was flying a second or two later.

fleeting robin


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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who was up in London to watch tennis at the O2 Arena. During a break in play, she ventured across the river on the Emirates cable car.

emirates air line

We could hear the rain pounding down overnight so it was no surprise to wake up to a dull and soggy day.  The heavy rain had eased off but there was a lot of drizzle in the morning.

This didn’t bother me too much as I was sat in the Welcome to Langholm office for two hours not welcoming any visitors at all.  This let me get completely caught up on my entries to the Archive Group’s  newspaper database so I regarded it as time well spent (though a visitor or two to welcome would have been welcome).

There was not much fun to be had in gardening or peering at bird feeders in the gloom so after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I braved a little light drizzle and went out on an expedition round Gaskell’s Walk.

I drew her attention to some exciting lichen just after we set out…


…but she was more interested in watching the overnight rain pouring over the caul at Pool Corner.

Pool corner

It must have rained a great deal last night.

I looked at larch trees which are gradually losing their needles but still offering a treat to the passer by.

larches at pool cornerlarches at pool corner

In a satisfactory way, they lose their needles from the bottom up and this seems to make them last longer as a visual delight than if they lost them from the top.

We are never short of moss round here.

moss on hedge and wall

The walk was a bit muddy underfoot when we got to the track but this was not a surprise when we saw how much water was coming down the Becks Burn to join the Wauchope.

Becks Burn

There is a little stream, usually no more than a trickle which runs under a bridge near the end of the track.

Gaskell's Bridge

It is very narrow above the bridge but has a deep and wide gully on the other side as it plunges down a steep bank.  Today we could see how it can have enough water on a wet day to carve such a deep trench.

It wasn’t a day for views at all…

Castle Hill in cloud

…but as it was about ten degrees warmer than yesterday, it wasn’t a bad day for a walk in November.

As we got near home, I saw some Hart’s Tongue fern looking very happy on a wall…

hart's tongue fern

…and a substantial outbreak of lichen on a tree stump which was striking enough to get Mrs Tootlepedal interested.


I took a picture from the Park Bridge to show the contrast between today and yesterday.

Yesterday was like this:

Wauchope in frost

And today was like this:


No one can accuse our weather of being boring.

It was too dark to look at birds when I got home so I went inside to pick some pictures to show at our Camera Club meeting later in the evening but Mrs Tootlepedal braved the drizzle and got some useful gardening done.

It has either been frosty or soggy since she got back from the south so the refurbished tiller is still in its box.

My flute pupil Luke came and gave more evidence of practice so we managed to play through a tricky Quantz movement with only one or two hiccups.  Next week I am sure that we will roll through it triumphantly.

In the evening, I went to our camera club meeting and there was a good turnout of members and once again we got an excellent selection of photographs from the members.  There was much to enjoy in looking at the shots and a lot to learn from the subjects and the techniques used.

In the end, a potentially very gloomy and dull day turned out to have been both useful and enjoyable and I can’t ask for more than that.

On a side note, our friend Mike Tinker turned up for a cup of tea in the afternoon and he was happily much recovered from a serious cold which has laid him low for several days.   Although he is still far from skipping and dancing, it was good to see him out and about at least.

I did manage one suitably gloomy flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch




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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited Talkin Tarn yesterday with his wife Lesley.  They were surprised to see that the very cold weather had not put the rowers off.

rowers on Talkin Tarn

Our day started with a light snow shower but although it lay as it fell, it had soon disappeared and we were left with a cold, grey day with occasional snowflakes floating about to no great purpose.

My morning had no great purpose in it either, other than coffee, a crossword, pro resting and very occasional glances out of the window.


I sometimes wonder whether I keep on photographing the same chaffinch day after day or whether different ones visit us.  Are the two pictures above of the same bird?  I find it very hard to tell.

This is definitely a robin.


Still, chaffinches kept arriving and tucking in, some with more success…


…than others.


I pepped myself up with a tin of sardines for my lunch and then wrapped every part of me up snugly and set off for another chilly bike ride.   The temperature was at 3°C, which is my lower limit for cycling as I don’t have winter tyres but the road was free of ice and the wind was pretty light so I enjoyed myself.

Once again it was too cold to stop often but a nice tree is always a temptation…

tree near chapelhill

…and a friend has started a Facebook page to show the river Esk and its valley throughout the year so I stopped to take the Archimedes Screw at the Hollows because the lack of foliage make this the best time of year to view it.

archimedes screw

While I was on the bridge, I looked up river…

Esk at Hollows

…and noticed that it hasn’t taken long for lichen to arrive on the relatively newly painted bridge railings.

hollows bridge

At least, I think that it is lichen.

I had a look at Irvine House as I passed too.

Irvine House

I hope to remember to take this view again in spring, summer and autumn.

I got home in good order and after a slice of toast and marmalade, I went out for a short walk to make the best of a calm afternoon.

There were signs of spring in the garden as I went out.

signs of spring

It wasn’t a bad day for walking….

Pool Corner

Things were very still in the shelter of Pool Corner

…and I was hoping for some more signs of spring but there was not much to see although this little burst of fungus was pleasing to the eye.


They are really tiny, about 2cm across.

Although it was grey and cold, the east wind meant that we were in drier air than usual and the tops of the hills were clear of cloud.

whita in winter

I had expected to see more snow lying on the hill top but there had obviously not been enough to make an impression.

I had told a curious reader that hart’s tongue fern was common in our district and then hadn’t seen any for a while so I was feeling a bit guilty but my guilt was assuaged today by seeing a good outbreak on a damp wall by the track side as I went down towards the park near the end of my walk.

hart's tongue fern

Mrs Tootlepedal had lit the fire in the front room while I was out and it made the room feel very warm and cosy when Mike and Alison came round in the evening and Alison and I retired to the front room to play music.  Having played recorder yesterday, I stuck to my flute this evening and we enjoyed ourselves a lot in spite of one or two unintended dissonances creeping into otherwise harmonious pieces.

The grand thing about playing music without an audience is that you can easily hear it in your mind it as it should have sounded rather than worry about how an audience would have actually heard it.

The flying bird of the day is an unidentified chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Manchester recently.  He found this wonderful 1941 railway bridge across the ship canal there.  It is confined to walkers and cyclists these days, he tells me.

1941 Manchester Ship Canal Railway bridge

After a wet and windy night, we had another rather grey morning today, made greyer by the fact that our daughter Annie had to go back to London.

After coffee and a quick look at the feeders….


Possibly a native blackbird rather than one of our winter visitors

…the day brightened up a lot and we set off for Carlisle.  We found ourselves peering straight into the low sun and  some very bright reflections from wet road surfaces as we drove along.  So persistent was the glare that by the time that we got to the outskirts of Carlisle, the white lines down the middle of the roads had turned bright pink and purple for me.

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this is called a negative afterimage.  It was very curious and I don’t recall having had noticed such a strong colour change or one which lasted for so long.

We got a little drizzle out of what had seemed like a blue sky on the way down and stopped to admire a rainbow which had formed.

Rainbow at West Linton

It obviously wasn’t an entirely blue sky.

We delivered Annie safely to the station and then went off in search of a mirror.  Mrs Tootlepedal had seen one she liked on a previous visit and we were determined to buy it today.  Of course it was out of stock and another visit will be required…if we can find it in stock later in the week.

We consoled ourselves with a sausage bap in the furniture store’s cafe, washed down with a hot drink.  Over recent years, drinks in cafes have been so big that even a ‘small’ was the size of a bucket so we were very pleased to find that our small drinks today were just that, small and readily drinkable.  We drank them.

We got home while the sun was still shining so after putting a dough mixture into the bread machine, I went for  a short walk.

There was a bit of water in the Esk after the overnight rain…

Esk at George Street

…and some more in the Ewes when I got to the Kilngreen.

Ewes water at Kilngreen

Mr Grumpy was there, admiring the sunshine and hoping for a fish supper.


I was enjoying the light and the trees.

Castleholm trees


A moss forest caught my eye.

moss on wall

This is not some mossy bank but the top of a stone wall.

I walked up the hill past the estate offices and was impressed by how much hart’s tongue fern was growing on the walls beside the well shaded road.

hart's tongue fern

At the top of the road, a brilliant dogwood blazed in a garden.


The sun was threatening to sink below the hills but it was high enough to brighten up the top of Castle Hill as I walked along the track below it.

Castle Hill

Dropping down through the woods, I saw a fine jelly fungus on a fallen log.

jelly fungus

I passed beneath some winter blossom…

winter blossom

…walked back down beside the River Esk and then took the new path round the bottom of the Castleholm back to the Sawmill Brig and the Kilngreen.  I passed a noble fir and was looking for one of its large green cones when I saw this fine example of nature’s basket weaving skills.

noble fir

I have no idea what is going on there.

The light had gone by the time that I got to the Kilngreen so I made my way quietly home.

After a rest and a cup of tea, I got the dough out of the bread machine and cut it in half.  I wrapped one half in cling film and put it in the fridge and shaped the other half into bread rolls.  The machine makes more dough than we need at one time so this was an experiment to see if we can use it half at a time.  The rolls that I made today came out quite well…

bread rolls

…so perhaps I will give up on the crumpets and stick to rolls from now on.

My flute pupil Luke came for the first time since the holidays and we started on a new Boismortier duet.  His sight reading has improved a lot and we were able to play a couple of movements with very little difficulty.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a film version of Swallows and Amazons.  This was based on books which both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had enjoyed a great deal when we were children so we approached the film with some trepidation.  In the event, it wasn’t at all bad even though they had souped up the action and had lost a little of the gentle charm of the original.   The acting was excellent and we enjoyed ourselves and were able to say as we walked home, “Well this and that never happened in the books,” in a very satisfactory sort of way.

The flower of the day is the first potential snow drop of the year.  It may not seem much to the casual reader but it means a lot to a gardener.


The newspapers are full of dire predictions of snow storms to come in Britain but the weather forecasts say that this flower may be the only snow drop that we will see in Langholm.

The flying bird of the day is four chaffinches.  None of them are great shots and I was too tired to choose between them so I have put them all in.

flying chaffinches


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