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Posts Tagged ‘hawthorn’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who extended her permitted walk as far as Regents Park where she enjoyed the rose garden.

Rose garden regents park

We had a warm and sunny day today with light winds.  Days like this are to be treasured.

The star in the garden was the first peony, beating the tree peony easily.

first peony

A lot of our ferns suffered badly in the frost but some of them have shrugged it off and are doing very well.

ferns after frost

I saw an orange tip buttefly in the garden but it flew off leaving me to watch this white butterfly on the sweet rocket instead.

butterfly on sweet rocket

After the rain, the garden is looking quite healthy but there is a notable gap in the far corner which should be glowing with rhododendron flowers.

no azaleas

All the same, there is colour to be found, so we are not crying too much.

four garden pictures

You have to look hard to spot this camassia though as it has got itself hidden behind taller plants.

camassia

The final remaining set of tulips looks set to last for ever.

tulips

The garage clematis is getting more flowers out every day and will soon be in full bloom.

garage clematis

Partly because I thought that it was Thursday (a lockdown category error that is quite common) and partly through natural indolence, I didn’t get my bike out to make full use of the good day until after Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out to her street coffee morning.

However, once I got going, I enjoyed myself a lot.

It was a perfect day for a pedal…

road at enzieholm

…and instead of my usual little circle starting up the Wauchope valley, I headed up Eskdale today, crossed the Black Esk by this bridge…

tanlawhill brodge

…which is one of my favourites, not because of the beauty of the structure but because of its placing in the surrounding landscape.

Once over the bridge, I followed the White Esk through Castle O’er and up to Eskdalemuir.

Like the bridge, this little road is one of my favourites too with interesting verges (the butterfly would not give me a side view….

butterfly head on

…and some lovely woods.

wood at tanlawhill

When  I got to Eskdalemuir, I climbed a stiff hill out of the valley of the White Esk towards the valley of the Black Esk.

The climb lasts for a mile and goes up just under 300 feet.  You get good views back as you climb out of the valley, but the camera does not do justice to the amount of puffing I had to put in to get the view in my opinion.

hill out of E'muir

T was heading towards Lockerbie and passing through timber country.  The forests here grow, get cut down and grow again at a dizzying pace.  I was passed by a dozen timber wagons going to and fro.  It is a highly organised and mechanised business these days.

cut timber

Having crossed the Black Esk, I got a welcome spell of downhill as I descended into the  valley of the Dryfe Water which is cattle country.

old hedge

I expect that many if not all the loaded timber lorries were heading for the huge timber yards at Steven’s Croft where I passed the country’s biggest wood burning stove.

stevens croft

Once I hit the old main road at the power station, I turned south and headed for Gretna, passing this fine lake of buttercups outside Lockerbie on my way…

pool of buttecups lockerbie

…and stopping to admire the motorway bridge over the Water Of Milk from the bridge on the old road.

motorway bridge

Peering into the shadows under the bridge, I could see extensive works, designed perhaps to let fish go up stream over a weir.  Today there was hardly enough water coming down to cater for a tadpole.

under the motorway bridge

The cycling was now pretty flat, which was a relief to my knees and I stopped from time to time to admire flowers by the road.  The red tree on the right of the panel is a red horse chestnut, I think.

rhodie, umbellifer and red chestnut

I had an interesting route mapped out in my mind for the English section of my trip when I had passed through Gretna going south, but it dawned on me as I pedalled along that the bridge at Longtown (my proposed homeward route) was shut to all traffic as it is undergoing repairs.  I wondered if it would be open to a pedestrian pushing his bike but decided not risk it, and rather tamely circled round and cycled back up to Gretna again before approaching Longtown on the north side of the bridge.

The old gravel pond there, with a fine hawthorn on its bank, looked positively Mediterranean today.

hawthorn Longtown pond

By this time, my knees were getting slightly mutinous and home and a nice sit down came into their conversation quite a lot, so I stopped taking pictures and concentrated on knocking off the final fifteen miles of route with as smooth a pedalling style as I could muster.

It has been my ambition in recent years to have at least one cycle outing each year that covers as many miles as I have had birthday.  I was born in November 1941 and my route covered exactly 80 miles today, leaving me with a couple of bonus miles in hand.

I got home in time to enjoy an evening meal of liver cooked with carrots and spinach from the garden, provided by the industrious Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been busy in the garden while I was out.

It was a warm day today but one of the joys of cycling is that you provide your own cooling breeze as you go along and I found it very comfortable.  All the same, I lost four pounds on the jaunt in spite of eating three bananas, a satsuma, a small honey sandwich, several dates and some guava jelly.  I drank about 900ml of water too.   In normal circumstances, I would have organised a stop half way round to enjoy egg and chips at a cafe or pub on a ride of that length.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds but a very obliging sparrow flew into shot as I was going for my shower.  It is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

I append the map of the ride.  I carefully organised all the climbing at the start of the route!

garmin route 20 May 2020

Those interested can click on the pic for more details.

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Today’s guest picture is a fine Welsh tree spotted by my fine welsh correspondent Keiron.

keiron's tree

Finally we got some steady rain here overnight, and although it wasn’t a downpour, there was enough rain to leave the ground looking definitely damp when we got up in the morning.

It was deemed to be too cold and windy for an enjoyable outside coffee morning so we had to eat our chocolate biscuits and drink our coffee by ourselves indoors.

I did go out into the garden to see if the rain had sparked huge new growth but things were much as they had been yesterday, only a bit damper.

garden after rain

There didn’t seem much point in staying out so I went back in, waving at a hellebore as I did so.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with work for the proposed community land buy out * and I found inessential ways to pass the time until lunch.

It was technically a cycling day, but it was grey, with a vigorous and blustery wind, and as there was also a promise of rain in the forecast, I thought that a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal would be a much better bet.

We took the path up the river past the Duchess Bridge.  Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t been along this path for some time and was impressed by its mossy trees with lichen covered trunks surrounded by wild garlic.

duchess bridge walk

We emerged out of the woods and followed the road towards Potholm.

There was plenty to catch our interest along the way, a romantic tree, copious stitchwort and crosswort….

milnholm road

…two men planting trees in a felled area on the opposite bank of the river, lichen on the wall beside the road and a great heap of lambs.

The star of the show to me was some fresh hawthorn flowers in a hedge.

hawthorn flowers

Passing Milnholm farm we saw a potato field and more lichen on a branch…

milnholm hedge and field

…and signs of the recent frost in the shape of damage to a beech hedge on our left and then more damage all along the hedge to our right.

As we got near to the bridge over the Esk at Potholm, an oyster catcher tiptoed through a field, trying to avoid our scrutiny

oyster catcher potholm

Once across the bridge, we walked up the track into the woods…

climb past potholm

…passing fresh  ferns, poppies growing in wall and ajuga growing beside the track.

potholm wild flowerrs

At the top of the hill, we left the main track and walked up a minor track through the woods.

forest track longfauld wood

This was the track I had followed on a  recent walk but it was new to Mrs Tootlepedal who enjoyed the woods and the wild flowers in them.

wild flowers longfauld wood

We were interested to see that the recent frost had pretty well put paid the the yellow pimpernel but had left the tormentil unscathed.

We passed two very green spots, first what Mrs Tootlepedal thought was a moss like liverwort on a bank….

liverwort

…and then a grassy clearing at the end of the forestry track.

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

…and walked down to the road  through the snowdrop wood where we were brought up short by this magnificent soup plate sized fungus on a tree stump.

huge fungus holmhead

The road itself, with bluebells shimmering through the woods to our  left…

holmhead road

…brought us down to the Lodge Walks where we were happy (but a bit jealous) to find a fine azalea which had escaped frostmageddon.

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

…crossed the Jubilee Bridge (after Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted a nuthatch) and made our way round the Scholars’ Field.  There I stopped to take a picture of the most common wild flower that we had seen almost all the way round out walk.

red campion

Mrs Tootlepedal was moved by the sight of the children’s play area, unused and neglected because of the virus.

deserted playground

We were both ready to polish of what was left of the boiled fruit cake with a cup of tea when we got home after a very varied and enjoyable five miles.  Although it had threatened to rain more than once as we walked, an added bonus was the fact that we got round dry, with even an occasional hint of sunshine.  In fact it didn’t start raining until quite a bit later in the day and I had plenty of time to watch the birds after the tea and cake.

Pairs of siskins (dropping food as usual) and goldfinches were joined by a lone siskin and a curious redpoll.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

…and I watched them until it was time for us to Zoom with my siblings.

When she had first got up, Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a lot of birds feeding their young in the garden, but they were never there when I was looking, so I was pleased to see a young thrush in the plum tree right at the end of the day.

thrush in plum

It is due to be warmer and wetter tomorrow, with a fine warm day to follow on Wednesday, so I hope that things will really start growing in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is not a siskin or a redpoll but a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

*If you haven’t looked at it before and are interested, details of the proposed community land buy out can be found here, and Mrs Tootlepedal wants me to add that any contribution to the scheme, however modest, will be very warmly welcomed and much appreciated.  Our thanks go to those readers who have already helped us.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy.  He has attached a bird box to his shed and is very happy to see that it is getting used by blue tits.

sandy's blue tit

The day started with a WhatsApp conversation with Annie and Joe and our granddaughter Evie.  Evie is ten months old now and very grown up.

We had another chilly morning here but it was sunny again and when I went out into the garden, I was happy to see a hoverfly visiting and allium.

hoverfly on allium

All seemed reasonably well with the world until I went across to look at the azaleas with the intention of getting some colourful shots.

Alas, it had been just too cold in the night and the azaleas (and rhododendrons) were ex azaleas (and rhododendrons) now.  Pretty well everyone of them was  damaged beyond repair.  We were told that it had been -3C overnight and that had been enough to finish them off.

six dead azaleas

Mrs Tootlepedal was very sad, to say the least.  Her garden comes on in a succession of spring waves; the snowdrops, the daffodils, the tulips and then the crowning glory, the azaleas.

Not this year.

Annoyingly, some of the tulips, which are at the very end of their useful gardening life, survived the frost.

last of the tulips

I didn’t really have the heart to look round for other flowers but the sight of iris buds was at least a promise of something to come…

iris bud

…and the magnificent poppy on the back wall of the house laughed at frost.

oriental poppy out

Instead of having a cup of coffee with the regular street gang, I took some Garibaldi biscuits up to Sandy and got some of his flapjack in return.  His foot is very slowly on the mend after his operation, but it is a slow business and he has been cooped up in his house for far longer than the rest of us.  Under the circumstances, he is still remarkably cheerful.

I met a butterfly on my way.

white butterfly

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was increasing the wideness of her wider view and more box bushes had bitten the dust.

cut box

I gave a hand with some of the tugging and pulling needed to uproot the toughest of the bushes and had a look round while I did so.

A sparrow was on the look out for tasty vegetable shoots to plunder.

sparrow on fence

I tested out the new bench and found some lily of the valley nestling beside it.

lily of the valley

The morning slipped away and I went in to make lunch and watch the birds.

I saw a siskin socially distancing itself from a sparrow.

socially distanced siskin

After lunch, we had a video conversation with Clare, Alistair and our other granddaughter, Matilda and then we downloaded a clever app that let us play games with Matilda in real time.   It was nowhere near as good as seeing Matilda and her parents in person, but it was a lot better than not seeing them at all.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal went off in search of some more horse manure, and I went  for another very slow cycle ride round my Canonbie circuit.

For some reason, my breathing is not good at the moment, possibly the combination of pollen and dust after all our dry weather, and I didn’t have much get up and go at all so I was quite pleased to have managed to get out for a ride  however slow and I quite enjoyed it

I stopped to see a new addition to a local Belted Galloway herd…

belted galloway calf

…and when I looked up, I was rather alarmed to see a hole in the sky.

hole in te sky

However, nothing fell through it and I pedalled on unscathed.

I passed a field full of cows who were feeling much like I was from the look of them.

lazy cattle

I don’t think that I have ever seen so many collapsed cattle before.

As I got near to the Canonbie by-pass, I cycled by some fields that had been mown for silage.  I can’t feel that there has been much growth in the grass but maybe the farmer felt that it needed to be mown before it dried out completely.

mown field with crows

As I got near Canonbie itself, I noticed the first hawthorn blossom of the year in a hedge.

first hawthorn

I liked this copper beech among all the greenery as I got nearer home….

copper beech

…and there were wild flowers in the verges a little further on…

gernaium and red campion

…and fine new cones on a larch tree by the river on the bike path.

larch cones

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was still busy taking out more box bushes and shaping some of the ones that are left.  She should finish the task tomorrow.

Near what is left of the hedge, a cheery potentilla has started flowering.

potentilla

I said good afternoon to a blackbird making use of what is left of the hedge…

blackbird on hedge

…and went in for a Garibaldi biscuit and a cup of tea.

After my regular sibling Zoom conference, I made cauliflower cheese for tea and then finished a day of video conversations by calling our recorder playing friend Sue.  Living in England, she is now able to go and visit her daughter who lives not far away, and this has cheered her up immensely.

That sharp frost and the death of the azaleas has really cast a long shadow over the day, especially as the azaleas were looking in good shape after a poor season last year.  Ah well, gardening is a vale of tears.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfi nch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who took it on one of his walks.  A local farmer has fenced off a section of a field for the convenience of walkers passing across his land, and fortunately it is just wide enough to allow for social distancing as required these days.

andrew's walk

Although it wasn’t actually freezing here today, there was such a chill in the wind that my head actually hurt when I went for a morning stroll round the garden and I was happy to go back inside and have coffee and a biscuit in the warmth of the kitchen.  If those minor deities who helped me out yesterday had been alert and on the job, I would have stayed in the kitchen for the rest of the morning, and the afternoon too.

But they were sleeping at work, so I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal with the general tidying up.  The log shed also holds the sieved compost tubs and I went to move one of these to a better place.  It was quite heavy and I leaned forward as I went to put it down briskly, and then, in an echo of one of those scenes from early silent movies that are so amusing to watch, the tub landed on one end of a short plank which I hadn’t seen.

In obedience to the laws of physics, the other end of the plank rose up sharply and cracked me on the nose with some force.  I did not find this funny at all but like the poor cat in the cartoons, I saw stars.  In no time at all I was back in the kitchen being tended to by Mrs Tootlepedal with Dettol and paper towels.

I was not only hurt but very embarrassed by the fact that I might have to seek medical help at a time when the health service has other things to worry about.  However, the damage was not too bad and I had only suffered a cut and some bruising.  By great good fortune, the swinging plank missed my glasses by a millimetre and the main damage was to my pride, though my nose may bear a scar or two.

After a paracetamol and a shrewdly placed piece of tape, I was able to have my lunch and then to venture (very carefully) out into the garden again.

It was still cold, but the wind had dropped a bit so I wandered (carefully) about.  There was enough to look at to keep my mind off my nose if you see what I mean.

The fritillaries are coming on regardless of the cold…

fritillaries blooming

…and the blue tits were back again.

blue tit in silver pear

Daffodils are multiplying…

triple daffodil panel

…the scillas are improving and a tiny aubretia has started to come out too.

scilla and aubretia

By half past three, (really only half past two but the clocks went forward last night), the wind had calmed down enough and my fettle had improved enough for me to go for a short walk.  It was a day for a cycle ride on my alternating walk/ride schedule but I felt that that would be really pushing my luck so a (careful) walk it was.

Pool Corner looked very peaceful for a day which was still very cold and had been so windy earlier…

pool corner peace

…but as I went on, the wind continued to drop and the sun had enough warmth in it to make it a good day for a stroll.

I went to the Auld Stane Brig and then  walked up the hill, enjoying trees…

tree above auld stane brig

…and views on my way.

view from lower warbla

I didn’t go far up the hill and soon turned back towards the town.  Clouds had blocked the sunshine over me…

sunshine on distant hills

…but there was enough wind left to blow them away again as I walked through the Kernigal wood…

kernigal wood track

…enjoying the varied treescapes…

kernigal wood trees

…as I went.

kernigal wood

A fallen branch was covered in script lichen and buds on the hawthorns promised blossom to come.

script lichen and hawthorn buds

As I came back down the hill into the valley…

above the murtholm

…there was enough sunshine and warmth to make me feel very cheerful.

beechy plains

I enjoyed the contrasts of sunshine and shade as I walked back along the river…

easton's walk sunbeam

…and the blossom in the park was the icing on the cake.

blossom in park

My attempt to take a picture of the mass of daffodils on the banks of the Wauchope at Caroline Street was thwarted by Mr Grumpy getting in the way.

heron and daffodils kirk brig

I extended my walk by going along the banks of the Esk where the calm scene was a world away from the swirling floods of February.

bridge with low esk

The pair of oyster catchers were once again beside the water…

pair of oyster catchers

…with a third one a few yards away.

lone oyster catcher

I managed to get home without falling over or knocking into anything which was a relief for Mrs Tootlepedal.

And to me.

The non flying bird of the day is a collared dove which had being flying very shortly before I took this picture of it on our drive.

collarded dove

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gunta, a correspondent and fellow blogger who lives in SW Oregon.  Knowing that I like bridges, she has sent me this fine example, one of the most notable bridges in the Pacific Northwest.  It crosses the Rogue River near its mouth.

Rogue River

We are only a day or two away from the shortest day of the year and there was no mistake about that here as the weather varied from quite gloomy to very gloomy.  In two weeks time, things will start to look up again, but it couldn’t have been much darker than it was today.

I was hoping for treacle scones to cheer things up but Dropscone had been sent off by his daughter Susan to do some necessary seasonal shopping  and was unavailable.

I watched the birds instead.

Siskins are messy eaters.  I don’t know how they do it.  Food flies off in every direction.

messy siskin

Birds were flying off in every direction too.

busy feeder

We had mostly siskins and goldfinches again and when chaffinches tried to get a seat at the table, they were given a frosty welcome.

chaffinch visiting goldfinches and siskins

In general, I idled the morning away and eventually cycled round to our new corner shop with a camera in my pocket and hoping to see something interesting at the river side on my way.  Not a bird was to be seen.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have a lunch with her ex work colleagues and I contemplated a grey cycle ride while she was away, as it was reasonably warm and the wind was light.

Luckily she rang me up to remind me that my Langholm choir was due to sing carols at the old folks’ lunch at the Day Centre.  That put the kibosh on cycling and left me just enough time for a quick wander round Gaskell’s Walk.

I like to keep an eye on fences and I was impressed by the full head of moss on this concrete post at Pool Corner.

mossy fence post

Even in winter, a little valley still has charm.  This is the Becks Burn just before it joins the Wauchope Water.

Becks burn at wauchope road

A bit further on, a burst of red and pale green caught my attention.  The bottom half of the branches on a hawthorn bush were covered in lichen with hardly a haw to be seen and the top half was covered with haws with hardly a scrap of lichen about.  Nature is mysterious in its ways.

haws and lichen

Some vandal, trying to be helpful, had put a discarded welly boot over the top of a fence post at the Auld Stane Brig, doubtless thinking that the boot’s owner would come and rescue it.  As this fence post is home to a lovely little lichen garden, I was worried but when I pulled the welly off, I found that the garden had survived.

Indeed, it was looking very healthy…

lichen fence post garden

…but I didn’t put the welly back.

One of the advantages of winter walking is that when the leaves fall off the trees, you can see things better.  I enjoyed the swirling waters of the Wauchope rushing through a rocky ravine below the path.

wauchope from Gaskells track

The silver birches which have sprung up since the conifer plantation along the path was felled have turned a rather rich brown colour.

brown silver birches

There was no escaping the fact that it was a gloomy day though, unsuitable for taking pictures and with the clouds firmly clamped on the hills.

clouds down on Whita

The sheep looked up from their grazing as I passed.  We have a good variety of sheep around the town.

inquisitive sheep

As I came down the steps that lead to the park, I noticed that someone had cleared the path that circles the big tree next to the playground.

I thought that this resulted in a rather cinematic image and fully expected to see a beautiful but sad person, pacing slowly round the circle accompanied by mournful mood music.

park circle

No such person appeared and I walked on.

Even the trees looked sad today.

sad tree at church

When I got home, I saw a blackbird on a neighbour’s roof and a collared dove on a wire.

blackbird and dove

The only bright spot in the garden itself was some snowberries.

snow berries garden

I had just enough time for a bowl of soup before I went off to sing carols.  A good number of choir members had turned out for the occasion and we gave a lusty rendition of several favourite songs and were rewarded with a good round of applause when we finished….or perhaps because we had finished.  Sometimes it is hard to tell.

By the time that I got home, it was too dark to do anything outside so I sat at the computer and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group index and practised my flute, with the computer playing the continuo part, until Mrs Tootlepedal came home from yet another meeting of the proposed moorland buyout group.  They are working very hard on the project.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable play.  I wasn’t playing particularly well myself in spite of the earlier practice, but just making music is always a cheerful thing to do.

With Christmas fast approaching, I fear that there is no alternative but to go shopping ourselves tomorrow.  If the weather forecast is right, I might get a short pedal in before we go.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many goldfinches.  In the poor light, this was the best that I could do.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a new contributor, Paul.  Like myself, he is a cyclist and obviously a keen photographer.  He is not absolutely sure but he thinks that this delightful shot was taken at Blea Tarn in the Lake District.

blea tarn

We had another cold and sunny day today, but it was even colder than yesterday with temperatures hitting -7°C overnight.  It was still -3° after breakfast.  Mrs Tootlepedal had left very early to catch a bus from Canonbie to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate with a group of embroiderers so I was left on my own.

I went to the new corner shop, did the crossword and then watched the birds for a while as the day warmed up a little.  The goldfinches, which must come from a distance, are not interested in visiting the garden while it is so cold but there were a few resident birds about.

robin dunnock blackbird

Traffic was thin though,  so I went for a walk down to the river to see if I could find some more.

The Kilngreen was quite busy with ducks, gulls and rooks…

duck, gulls and rook

…and reindeer.

reindeer on kilngreen

Wait a minute!  Reindeer???

Yes reindeer.  Some of the Cairngorm reindeer herd are on tour, appearing at pre-Christmas events all over the country.  These ones had stayed at the company’s Yorkshire base over night.

reindeer head

There were old and young animals…

reindeer panel

…and they ate the Kilngreen grass and the ready prepared food with equal eagerness.

When they time came, they were led out onto the main road….

reindeer leaving kilngreen

…where they disappeared into the low sunshine as they made their way to the stable at the Buck Hotel where they would be an attraction at the town’s switching on the lights event.

reindeer going to the Buck

I followed them down the High Street but didn’t go into the Buck Hotel, preferring to head up the Kirk Wynd and on to Whita Hill.

There are plenty of haws on the hawthorns waiting for the birds to get hungry enough to eat them and disperse the seeds.

hawthorn

In contrast to the colour of the berries, a stand of rosebay willowherb stalks looked very monchrome and I helped it by taking the picture in monochrome too.

rosebay willowherb

Looking back as I climbed up the track, the valley below was already deep in shadow and looked very cold.  The sun struggles to get above the hills at this time of year and lying at 55° North, we are on the same parallel as Manitoba, bits of Alaska and much of Russia so if it wasn’t for the gulf stream, this shot might well show a lot of snow and not much else.  The effect of climate warming on the Gulf Stream is something that not enough people in government are worrying about.

chilly valley

Still, I couldn’t complain about the weather for my walk today and if I kept in the sun it was bracing but very pleasant all the same.

ewes valley sunny

It was still freezing though.  This puddle reminded of a painting of doves but I can’t pin down the artist.

icy puddle whita

It s difficult for me to capture on camera as I would like, but I do enjoy the intersecting lines of trees and hills as I walk.

potholm hill

This little scene cheers me up every time that I pass it.

view from copshaw road

When I got back to the Kilngreen, the reindeer were long gone but the gulls were at their posts.

gulls on post

I walked up to the Buccleuch Centre and a gathering of folk caught my eye.  Mrs Claus was waiting for her husband.  He appeared along with Santa’s little helper…

Santa and friends

…and they were joined by a group of volunteers who were going to control the traffic.  The alert reader will notice my flute playing friend Luke and his mother in the panel above.  Mrs and Mrs C chatted for a while.

Soon we were joined by the appropriately dressed Langholm Pipe Band and they led off a small procession…

pipe band santa

… of a unicyclist….

unicycle santa

…and Santa on his sleigh (but sadly, with not a reindeer in sight).

 

santa in TT road

I left them to their chilly fun and went back home to have a bowl of warming soup.  Then I made some tea cake dough and left it to rise while I went back up to the town to sing carols with the Langholm Choir at the switching on of the lights.

There was quite a buzz in the Market Place…

fun inmarket place

..and we sang away lustily, accompanied by members of the town brass band until the moment of switch on came.

christmas tree lights

I then scuttled home, crossing the suspension bridge and admiring the lights on the Town Bridge as I went…

lights on bridge

…and knocked back the tea cake dough and divided it into individual cakes and put it in the boiler cupboard to rise.

I was expecting Mrs Tootlepedal back from  her trip to Harrogate but she rang me to say that the bus was stuck on the A66.  Luckily the driver was able to turn round and take a diversion to join the motorway at Tebay so she got home in the end, but much later than expected. There had been a bad crash ahead of them on the A66. She was grateful for a freshly baked tea cake to give her sustenance.

We are due to have another freezing day tomorrow but then things should warm up a bit so we may get more birds back in the garden again.

In the absence of domestic flying birds, one of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He is a great walker and recently walked with his walking group through a wood.  The substantial size of the trees can be gauged by noting the size of the walkers who can just be seen at the bottom of the frame.

Andrew's wood

I had another poor night’s sleep and it was raining again when we got up so I was doubly happy to have a quiet morning in.  For want of anything better to do, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping in the car, but it had stopped raining by the time that Dropscone arrived to brighten my morning coffee break with conversation and the traditional Friday treacle scones.

He told me that there are signs of toadstools appearing on the golf course.  I will have to go up and investigate.

In the meantime, I went out into the garden after coffee to see what I could find there..

The temperatures, both day and night, are remaining very constant at the moment so flowers are quite happy to keep flowering.

rudbeckia, campanula, dahlia and poppy

This calendula was the brightest star this morning.

calendula

There are no feeders out at the moment but there is no shortage of birds in the garden.

The starlings love the top branch of the holly tree and take it in turns to perch there.  The rowan tree is popular too, in spite of the fact that all the berries were eaten long ago.  The sparrows peck busily at the branches so there must be insects to be found.

starling, dunnock, sparrows

When the sun comes out, the sparrow families like to rest on the felt roof of our neighbour’s sheds, though the youngsters find the slope a little challenging.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back in time for lunch and scattered a few crumbs from our bread tray on the lawn.  This immediately attracted a gang of jackdaws, but most unusually they were joined by a black headed gull as they strutted round the crumbs today.

gull and jackdaws

We very rarely see a gull in the garden.

It rained lightly over lunch but soon cleared up and as it was a calm day, I got my bicycle out and went for a pedal.

My bike camera is old and tired and it found it hard to pick out the red haws against the brown background of the hillside along the Wauchope road, but there were plenty of haws about…

 

haws on wauchope road

…even though some of the hawthorns were almost totally bare.  It has been a very uneven year for the hawthorns as they were all well covered in blossom in the spring.

When I got to a point where the was route choice, I considered the weather.  The rain clouds were behind as I looked back towards Langholm….

clouds down wauchope

…and a safe distance away as I looked north…

clouds and turbines

…so, as it looked potentially sunny to the south,…

sunny road ahead

…I headed that way and went round my Canonbie route.

The wind was very light and for once I didn’t have to start a ride by battling up hill and into the wind so I enjoyed myself and kept pedalling as fast as I could for as long as I could without stopping.

In the end, a monkey puzzle tree at Canonbie looked so inviting that I stopped…

monkey puzzle

…and I stopped again a few hundred yards later to check on the autumn colour beside the Esk.  I fear that it is going to be a disappointing season as the colour is just not developing and trees seem to be going straight to brown on the whole.

esk at byreburn brown trees

There was more colour in a garden on the other side of the road.

garden at byreburn

While the sun was out, which was most of the time, it was warm and pleasant, but in shady spots when the sun went in and the roads were still damp, it felt quite autumnal.

old a7 damp

I like the way that the roadside vegetation is slowly reclaiming the old main road here where very few cars use it.  It won’t take too long until it is only wide enough for a cyclist.

The sun came out again and I propped the bike up against a fence and walked down to the river bank to enjoy the view of Broomholm Island.

broomholm island esk

It was a delightful place to spend a few contemplative moments.

esk near broomholm island

When I got back to the road, I took a picture of the mixed broad-leaved and conifer planting that the road builders put in when the built the new road…

trees on new A7

…and pedalled home as fast as I could.

That is not very fast these days but the near windless conditions let me get round the twenty miles at over 14 mph, a heady speed for me and nearly seven minutes faster than my last effort on Wednesday.  I would ask for more windless days but our electricity supplier uses a lot of wind generated power so I had better just put up with the breeze when it comes and keep my head down.

One of the things that Mrs Tootlepedal bought this morning was a supply of builders’ sand and while I was out cycling, she cleaned and refreshed her cold frame and we put the sand into it to make a clean base when I got back.

cold frame witrh sand

While we were out in the garden I picked a couple of the Charles Ross apples…

big apples

…and we ate them baked and stuffed with sultanas and brown sugar for afters at our evening meal.

I had another look round and was pleased to find a new daisy out, together with a flourishing Sweet William, some yew berries and a very out of season foxglove.

daisy, sweet william, yew berries, foxglove

But once again, the star of the afternoon floral display was Crown Princess Margareta.

Crown princess margareta rose

Whenever we are out in the garden, we try to pick up more walnuts.  They are falling from the tree in a steady stream and Mrs Tootlepedal is making a jolly good effort to eat them all.  They are mostly in good condition this year.

walnuts

According to the Norwegian weather forecasters, the present spell of reasonably warm but changeable weather now seems set to extend to the end of the month, so be warned that there may be a lot of flowers pictures still to come in future posts.

I don’t suppose that I will be able to find many more gulls to be the flying bird of the day though.

flying gull

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