Posts Tagged ‘horse chestnut’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s partner Marianne.  She shared her enjoyment of a view over the river Tay at Perth with some jackdaws.

birds on Tay

I realised when I came to put this post together that I had included far too many pictures in it by accident so I apologise in advance and recommend that busy people give today’s effort a miss.

I spent the morning down at the community cafe at Canonbie Church with fellow camera club members Stan and Sandy helping to put up our camera club exhibition there.  It takes longer than you might think to hang thirty photographs so that they look inviting and well balanced even with the expert help of Archie and Beverley from the cafe.  The finished set up looked good and it is ironic that I should have forgotten to take a picture to show the exhibition in place.  I hope to cycle down to Canonbie soon and take a picture when I am there.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal sitting on a garden bench looking intently at one of the flower borders.  She was watching our local pair of partridges and they kindly waited long enough for me to get out a camera before they marched off over the lawn, down the drive and away.

the partridge

While I had the camera in my hand, I noted some daisies…


…the first open tulip of the year…

open tulip

…and the unnamed little white flower which Mike Tinker told us last night is a cardamine, so it is no longer unnamed.


The feeder was empty so I filled it up and in no time at all, the birds were back in business.

busy feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was down in Canonbie and had discovered that the brick foundation which she had excavated yesterday ran the whole length of the bed that we were cultivating.

It would be too hard to remove it so the trench will be filled in and potatoes planted and then next year, it may all go down to grass.

trench in potato bed

Speaking of grass, I pushed my light mower over the drying green but grass was in very short supply and most of the area is covered in spongy moss with the occasional blade of grass sticking through.

moss on drying green

After lunch, I suggested a walk and Mrs Tootlepedal thought that that would be a good idea.  There was a light drizzle in the garden so we decided to go down to Canonibie in the hope that it might be drier down there.  It had been sunny there while we were putting up the exhibition in the morning.

It was rather grey when we got there but we parted the car at the bottom of the Byreburn wood and went for a walk anyway.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a fine display of wood anemones not many yards away from the car so that was a good start.

wood anemone

Our walk took us through the oldest part of the wood where there are many fine old conifers, including one of the earliest Douglas firs to come to Britain.

big trees byreburn

Although there are not many larches in this part of the wood, this one stood out with its fresh green growth.

latch buds

As we went along, the wood got younger…

byreburn wood trail

…and we finally emerged into an area that has been felled.  Here the path took a turn up a steep but short climb….

path through uphill byreburn wood

…which gave us a look back over the sawmill below.

canonbie sawmill

Luckily, the path makers had thoughtfully provided a place of rest for the elderly walker at the top of the hill.

bench in byreburn wood

We now walked along the edge of the wood beside green fields as we headed up the Byreburn valley…

Windy Hill

…passing this interesting tree on the way.conifer at Windy Hill

We got to the spot where a great railway viaduct spanned the valley in days gone by…


Photo from the Langholm Archive collection

…but it was demolished in 1986 and there is no sign of it all now.

view of burebrun from old viaduct spot

We continued on until we came to the road and then walked down to the Byreburn itself.  The willows have been outstanding this year and we thought that this showed how well they are doing.

fat willow

We crossed the Byreburn by the road bridge and walked down the track on the far side of the stream, stopping at the Fairy Loup to record a clump of ladybirds on a fence post…

clump of ladybirds

…and noting the very gentle trickle of water over the waterfall after a good few days without any rain.

fairy loup trickle

This was a coal mining area once and an old engine house can still be seen.  It pumped water out of the workings beside the burn.

old pumping house

We were out of the woods now and walked back along the old A7 towards our car.

Just past the engine house was a patch of grass which was full of lichen.  It makes a change from moss.

lichen at byrebrunfoot

We were on the flat beside the river Esk and the farmer had been out rolling his pasture which gave the fields a very well tended air.



fields at Canonbie

Then there were just a few celandines…

celandine beside old A7

…a patch of blackthorn hedge…

balckthorn at Byreburn wood

…and a horse chestnut bud to record….

chestnut bud

…before we got into the car and drove home, having enjoyed a walk, some of which Mrs Tootlepedal thought was entirely new to her.  It certainly had a great variety of surroundings and interest for its modest two and a half mile distance.

Not surprisingly, we were quite happy to sit down and have a quiet cup of tea and a rest when we got home.  It had been a strenuous day for Mrs Tootlepedal in particular with a lot of digging and delving in the morning.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Lucie, one of my Canadian correspondents, who took this fine view of  Lake Athapapaskow, a glacial lake in Manitoba, while on holiday.

Lake Athapapaskow

It took us some time to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t raining when we woke up but I recovered from the shock and got the fairly speedy bike out for the first time in September.  I wasn’t sure how my legs would be feeling after a week off and as it was quite breezy with a threat of light rain, I rather cravenly decided to do a turn in my ‘outside gym’ and cycle up and down the four and a bit miles to Cleughfoot three times.  This would give me the chance to bail out if the going got too tough.

It looked like a good decision when it started to rain just as I got to Cleughfoot on the first lap but I decided not to put on my rain jacket as that sort of thing only encourages bad weather and I was rewarded when the rain stopped before I started the second lap.

In the end, I managed the 27 miles quite happily and got home dry.

I didn’t take my pocket camera with me on the bike because of the threat of rain and although I took some pictures with my phone, they came out so badly that I couldn’t use them.  I walked round the garden when I got back to make up for this.

There was plenty to look at.


The nerines were enjoying the drier weather

More big lilies are coming out

More big lilies are coming out


The smaller poppies are surviving the wet weather the best


Though some of the bigger ones were open for business


And some were just open


The Salvia is surviving well


And the late astrantia is doing very well though I haven’t seen many bees on it at all


The clematis in the philadelphus is thriving

I had a shower and some lunch and then we went out into the garden and I mowed the middle lawn but as it had started to rain, this wasn’t as much fun as it might have been and we went back in and sat down to watch a chunk of the Tour of Britain bike race.

When it stopped raining, I went out again and sieved some compost and dead headed some poppies but it started to rain again so I went back in.

After the bike stage finished, I checked the weather and headed out to the riverside for a short walk.

A dipper posed for me on the banks of the Esk…


…and Mr Grumpy gave me a stare at the Meeting of the Waters.


I spotted a goosander among the many ducks on the Ewes Water…..


…and another dipper below the Sawmill Brig.


In between watching all the birds, a good crop on a tree in the Clinthead garden made me stop and look.

Clinthead crop

I don’t know what they are.  Some sort of crab apple perhaps?  I found a variety called Malus Royalty which looked a possibility.

I would have taken many more really interesting pictures if the battery on my Lumix had not given up but I had my phone in my pocket and pointed it hopefully at a few more things as I went along the new path on the Castleholm.

Autumn leave

Early colour


Tiny fungus on a log end


Pretty as a picture


The horse chestnuts seem to change colour earlier than any other trees.

I looked over the hedge into our garden as I got back.  There is still quite a lot of colour but the leaves on the lawn make it look autumnal.

n in September 2017

I had timed my walk well as I just had enough time to dead head the calendula before it started to rain again.

To be fair, the evening cleared up well and the day finished on a thoroughly good note when Mike and Alison appeared and Alison and I had a very cheerful time playing a selection of pieces, several of which sounded as though the composer would have recognised them without any difficulty.

No flying bird of the day or any substitute at all this evening.  I will try to do better tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from the camera of Mrs Tootlepedal.  She bicycled off after church to help with some archaeological surveying at a Roman camp near the town and noticed this painted lady butterfly on the way.

painted lady

I was in a rather creaky state when I woke up and after breakfast I resolved to see if some vigorous activity would be beneficial in easing things off so I scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.

Although I was quite able to do this without any trouble, it didn’t have any lasting effect and I resolved to spend the rest of the day at rest.  I did have a quick walk round the garden first though.

Some flowers are useful as well as decorative and these are beans and potatoes in the veg patch.

beans and potatoes

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out a lot of Sweet Williams and they are just beginning to make a show in various beds round the garden.

Sweet William

There is plenty of white to set off the other colours in the garden and here are clematis round the back door, cosmos planted out by the front door and pinks beside the pond.

clematis cosmos and pink

For the first time this year, there was quite a lot of buzzing to be heard all round the garden today which was good news.  I watched one bee visiting a foxglove.

bee on foxglove

Going, going…gone

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted up the chimney pot beside the bird feeder….

chimney pot

…and it wasn’t long before I was inside and looking out at the feeder.  I was pleased to see a blue tit, quite a rare visitor this year.

blue tit

As I had sitting down in mind as my chief occupation for the afternoon, it was very fortunate that the television kindly provided me with the exciting final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine followed by both the men’s and women’s world cup triathlon events from Leeds.  This kept me fully entertained until Mrs Tootlepedal returned.  She had had a busy time moving measuring ropes to mark out a grid for the magnetometer operator to follow for the survey of the fort site.

She is going back tomorrow to have more fun.

It was quite hard work and she followed my example and did a little sofa surfing while I made her a cup of tea.

The day had stayed dry and cloudy and it was pleasantly warm so I decided to stir my stumps and stretch my joints with a little walk over the Jubilee Bridge.

There were plenty of birds to be seen as I walked along the Esk from the suspension bridge.

black headed gull, heron and rooks

There were more to be seen on the Ewes Water at the Kilngreen but as they were wagtails and the light was fading, they were hard to catch.  There were both pied and grey wagtails and they didn’t stop long when I got near. This is a grey wagtail.

grey wagtail

The sheep on the Castleholm were more placid.

sheep on castleholm

A pastoral scene

I saw knapweed beside the river and ornamental red horse chestnut flowers beside the cricket pitch.

horse chestnut and knapweed

We are pretty well at peak green now.  Indeed, it is hard to see how things could get any greener….


…although there is a lot of yellow about too.


I didn’t dawdle too long as there were some threatening clouds about and I crossed the bridge and headed home.  The nuthatches seem to have gone but there were plenty of other things to look at, some beside the path round the school playing field…

wild flowers

….some in the minister’s garden as I passed…

minister's flowers

..and a Philadelphus perfuming the evening air as I approached our gate.


Once again, I was able to take the exercise without any trouble but it didn’t stop the creaking when I went to sit down afterwards.  A good night’s sleep should sort it all out.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow slipping past the feeder pole.


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Today’s picture shows our chimney with a hole in it.

chimney with hole

I was just eating my breakfast when a phone call from Nancy, the archivist, alerted  me to exciting developments on the horse chestnut tree at the Kirk front.  I rushed round with my camera:

conker tree 8.55

8.55 a.m.

I could see a strange rope hanging from a topmost branch.

man in tree 8.55

They were going to cut it down.  I had arranged for a morning pedal with Dropscone so I deputed Mrs Tootlepedal to go round after a while to see how they were getting on.  I had no idea how long it would take to fell the tree.

She went round after an hour and a half.

9.48 a.m.

A few limbs had already gone.

falling branch 9.50 a.m.

And more were going all the time

Dropscone and I had another enjoyable pedal, keeping his heart rate as far as possible within limits.  The weather in November has been kind to us and once again it had rained during the night and faired up for the morning.  We had a slightly curtailed coffee as I wanted to see how the fellers had got on.

A lot of the sawn branches had been eaten by this excellent chipper.


I would like to have one of these

The top man was sprinkling big branches about like confetti:

branch falling 11.19

Sadly, the light was not helpful and the photographs of this event do not have much quality but this was a conker tree dear to the hearts of many of Langholm’s youth over the years and I wanted to record its passing.

This was the state of play at 11.20 in the morning:


The top man was able to move about the tree with great agility considering he was trailing a chainsaw.

tree climbing in style

Tree climbing in style

Among the tops

A few minutes later

I came back an hour later to check on progress:

12.18 p.m.

I was really impressed by the good work done by the ground man in tidying up as they went along.  While I went off for my lunch, they chipped a lot of cut branches and took the trailer away to empty it.  When I returned at half past two, they were just getting ready for their assault on the larger boughs of the tree.

The team

The team: ground man on the left and climber on the right

Of course, watching this event were a number of elderly wiseacres who were of the opinion that in the good old days there wouldn’t have been any of this nonsense, they would have just got a tractor and a rope and pulled the ****** over.  They didn’t think of the two or three days it would have taken to cut the tree up once it was felled.  I was full of wonder at the skill and hard work of these two men.

Using one hand

big branch falling

As you can see, cutting off big branches with one hand was no problem but for the biggest branches more preparation was necessary:

wrapping a branch 14.38

saw in action

They were lowered by pulley:

lower away

Smaller bits were treated with less respect:

little bit

I came back to see the last rites at ten to four.

15 50 p.m.

cutting a wedge out

The first move of the last stage

Nearly there

Nearly there





The whole thing was done with the river bank basically untouched and the church wall unharmed.  As I left they were starting to cut the trunk up.  It was a splendid day of free entertainment.

When I got home, the roof had been slated and the chimney closed up again.  The reason for the hole was to remove the huge quantity of debris brought into the chimney by the nesting jackdaws.  Then a hole in the lead safe was made to improve the ventilation in the chimney space.  It’s all looking quite good and we are almost hoping for two days of driving rain in a westerly gale to see if it works.  Almost but not quite.


In the evening I cooked tea for Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie who had had a hard day making preparations for visitors over the coming weekend.  The meal of a potato, tomato and feta bake was subjected to a good deal of well justified criticism about the potatoes not being properly cooked.  I hadn’t factored in the extra time needed for the extra quantity required for three people rather than my usual one.  It was a lesson learned.

In the evening, I went to the Archive Centre with Jean and Sandy and we were all pleased by the amount of work we got done and by the subsequent refreshment at the Douglas.

During the day, I told Christopher, who was working on our chimney, that they were cutting the chestnut tree down at the Kirk and he was very unmoved.  “You got far better conkers up at the camp,” he said. RIP horse chestnut.


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Today’s picture shows the only one round here who thought that it was a nice day.


Mrs Tootlepedal spied this duck strolling up the road this morning in a light drizzle.  I went out to take the picture and then retired inside and stayed there for the rest of the morning.  It was still quite warm for the time of year and for the most part, very still too  but the rain put me off any thought of cycling.  The warm muggy weather of the past two days has not helped my asthma either and I mostly spent the day loafing around wondering whether I should be doing something useful and then not doing it.

It wasn’t really a day for photography either but I took one shot of a chaffinch on the bird feeder.


I did spend some time updating a couple of web sites which I look after.  The diary for the moorland education project has a picture of a photographers hide at their bird feeding station and I will try to go up and make use of it later on this month.

After lunch, my friend Nancy rang me up. She and her husband, Bob, had just come back from a railway trip to Italy.  They arrived home last night and when she opened her window today she saw that what had looked like this when they went away…


…now looked like this…

fallen chestnut

…because of this…fallen chestnut branch

A neighbour told us that the breaking branch had made a terrific noise as it fell and looking at the size of the branch, that didn’t come as a surprise.  Fortunately, the children who had been throwing sticks into the tree to knock the conkers down, had gone home for tea just before the catastrophe.  If they had not gone,  they would have been well squashed…

chestnut down

By coincidence, Mrs Tootlepedal had been on a walk in the rain with her camera and as I was talking to Nancy about her holiday, we saw her coming past and stopping to take pictures of the tree too.  Her picture looked remarkably like mine.

Mrs T's chestnut

I had suggested that she take her camera on the walk as I was short of pictures for today’s post so it was unfortunate that the only picture she took was one that I had taken ten minutes earlier but that’s the sort of day it was.

The rest of the day was slightly duller.

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