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Posts Tagged ‘Kernigal’

Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother’s permitted walks.  He tells me that the bluebells were much more exciting in real life than they are in the picture, but that is always the case as any photographer will tell you.  That is why photo editing programs sell so well.  I think the bluebells look good.

Andrew's bluebells

We had a some rain overnight and although it had stopped by the time that I got out into the garden, there was still evidence of it to be seen…

drops on leaf

…and this was my favourite example.

drop on lupin leaves

The feeder was getting more attention than of late, with a siskin, a sparrow and greenfinch among the visitors.

siskin, greenfinch, chaffinch

Goldfinches appeared too, waiting their turn in Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree….

two goldfinches fake tree

…and so did this pair of chaffinches, who appeared to be a bit hard of hearing.

deaf chaffinches

During the morning I didn’t do much in the garden while Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted some alliums, though I managed some light daffodil deadheading.

I had a look in the greenhouse and marvelled at just how whiskery meconopsis plants are.

meconopsis greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are not looking quite as well as she would hope.  I have my fingers crossed for them as they are being specially grown for me to take pictures of them later in the year.

Lettuces and peas in the greenhouse are looking good.

lettuce peas greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal recently transplanted some tulips and in the course of the action, one tulip suffered fatal injuries.  The garden’s loss is the kitchen windowsill’s gain.

tulips indoors

When I came out of the greenhouse, I couldn’t resist taking another look at the rosemary plant just beside it.  It has really enjoyed the rather odd weather this year.

rosemary flowers april

After lunch, I went for my permitted walk.

My friends Nancy and Bob had told me two days ago that they had seen a few early bluebells on a recent walk so I went in the direction that they indicated to see if I could spot some for myself.  It didn’t feel like bluebell weather so i wasn’t very hopeful.

It still looked rather wintery as I got on to the Stubholm track on a chilly, grey afternoon…

stubholm track april

…but it is April and there were lots of sprouting leaves to be seen, and a bluebell.

green shoots stubholm track

Yes, a bluebell.

And not just one bluebell but several more as I went along….

early bluebells

…and a small carpet of bluebells when I got to the track up into the Kernigal wood.

bluebells kernigal

Just as my brother says, they looked better in real life than they do in the picture, but a few days growth and some sunshine should make a difference.  I will return.

While I was looking at them, I met fellow camera club member Mairi, also out for her permitted walk, and we chatted (at a distance) for a few minutes.

Like me, she is rather fed up at having to do the same walks all the time and longs for freedom but the coming of the bluebells had cheered her up a bit.

I walked up through the wood, pleased to see fresh green leaves on the young birch saplings beside the path..

young birches kernigal

…and then went onto the track that leads to the top of Warbla.

Even on a grey, chilly day it is an inviting prospect, especially when things are dry underfoot as they at present.

track to warbla

Not long afterwards, I heard a strange gasping noise behind me and I found myself being passed by a young fellow on a mountain bike.  He pedalled off up the track in front of me and must have been quite surprised when he passed me again before he got to the summit.  The track takes a wide route to the top of the hill and I had walked briskly up the more direct route across the grassy hill.

As the cyclist had parked his bike against the trig point at the top of the hill and was busy putting on a jacket for the descent, I didn’t linger.

It wasn’t a great day for views anyway…

view from warbla

…and after taking a single shot, I set off down the rough track towards Skippers Bridge….and was surprised to be passed by the cyclist again.  He soon disappeared from view though and I took my time over the tussocky terrain and didn’t see him again this time.

I had met a lady early on my walk who uttered those fateful words, “You should have been there with your camera yesterday.”   It seemed that she had been sitting under Skippers Bridge in the sunshine when she had seen an entertaining frog.

I thought that since I was there, I should see if I could see an entertaining frog today.

I couldn’t, but the view of the bridge never fails to please so I didn’t miss the frog too much.skippers bridge

The water is so low at the moment that I could get close to the bridge and look up to see how much it was widened to cope with increasing traffic.  It was built in 1690 and widened in 1807.

skippers two tone brodge

I took a puzzle picture while I was there.  The water was so calm below the bridge that is difficult to see what is above the surface and what is under it.

esk rocks at skippers

I walked back home along the right bank of the river and enjoyed this tree stump with a skirt of daisies and a lone lady’s smock flower on top, looking much like a candle on a birthday cake.

tree stump land's end

Some fresh green leaves down on the river bank caught my eye and I saw many little yellow flowers among them.  I had no idea what they are and indeed, I wasn’t even sure if the leaves and the flowers were related or just coincidental.

yellow flowers beside esk

(I have consulted Mrs Tootlepedal and she thinks that flowers are marsh marigolds and the leaves are not.)

When I got home, I once again reflected that you can get a lot of value out of a four mile walk round Langholm.

My good mood was further enhanced by an excellent meal of roast chicken, roast potatoes with stuffing and peas.  It had been prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal as an Easter treat.

Tomorrow is going to be even chillier than today, but with a bit of luck, the sun may come out in time for an afternoon bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings that zoom about above the garden.  They have very neat wings.

flying starling

 

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Alistair. He found a welcome visitor in his garden and took this splendid picture of it.

alistair's bee

We had two unusual things to contend with when we got up. It had rained overnight and there was a greenfinch and a goldfinch on the feeder.

greenfinch and goldfinch

I was able to cope quite well though, as it had hardly rained at all, just enough to wet the ground, and the birds didn’t stay long on the feeder either.

It was cool and very windy so although a tulip looked as though it wanted to open up…

nearly tulip

…it looked exactly the same at the end of the day.

We had occasional little bursts of sunshine and the hellebores looked up expectantly to get the benefit of the warmth while they could.

hellebore looking up

The little primroses liked the sun too…

cheery primroses

…but living near to the soil as they do, they find things that like them, and they tend to get a bit chewed up.

two eaten primroses

A potential pulsatilla had retained a drop or two of rain among its furry foliage.

early pulsatilla

The main gardening business of the morning was more work on the tidying up of the paving stones around the woodshed.

cleared paving stones

It will be interesting to see how long we can keep the grass at bay once life gets back to normal. But it looks neat just now.

Contact with our distant families is virtual so I downloaded a handy app called Zoom on to my phone and we had a chat with Annie, Joe and and our granddaughter Evie through this medium during the morning. This stuff is very clever.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a WhatsApp conversation with our son Tony too.

It should have been a bicycling day but at 30 to 35 mph the wind was too strong for me to enjoy a pedal so I went for a walk after lunch.

In site of the chilly wind, a little sunshine at the start of the walk made things seem quite springlike….

first leaves

…and I enjoyed the views and the fresh larch trees as I walked along the track towards the Becks Burn.

becks track panel

I had a look at the little waterfall above the bridge when I got there, but the lack of recent rain has reduced it to a trickle.

becks burn cascade trickle

As a consolation, a very pretty primrose was growing in a crack between moss covered rocks beside the stream.

primroses becks burn

I crossed the bridge over the Becks Burn and as I walked down the road on the other side, I looked across the valley and decided it was nice enough to walk up to the track that climbs the lower slopes of Warbla.

track up wabla from hallcrofts

I don’t take the road from the bottom but go down to the left, cross the Auld Stane Brig and walk up the grassy slope beside that line of trees and join the road half way up.

One of the trees had some colourful fungus on a branch.

warbla fungus

The sky had clouded over by the time that I had got to the track and the sun was wasting its bounty on hills three miles away.

veiw from warbla far sun

As I walked down the track towards the town, the wind got up, the temperature dropped and a few drops of rain made me fear the worst so I dived into the Kernigal woods for some cover. I kept my head down and enjoyed a lichen covered tree stump and a mossy bank…

kernigal moss and lichen

…but when I lifted my head, I found that the clouds had cleared and the sun was out again.

kernigal wood view

One benefit of a brisk wind is that it brings quick changes to the weather.

I had met my friend Ada at the start of yesterday’s walk and she told me that if I looked very carefully when I came down the path from the wood, I might just see the first bluebell of the year.

I looked very carefully and, hey presto, there it was.

first bluebell

It is miles ahead of any other bluebell as the other plants are not even showing flower stalks yet. Some knowledgeable person will probably tell me that it is not a bluebell at all but if it is, it is remarkably early.

I had a look at the park wall when I got there, and a casual glance might make you believe that there was nothing very interesting there….

park wall

…but put your nose closer and peer hard and there, right in the middle of the picture above, are delights to be found.

soldier lichen

After I got home, I used Zoom to chat with my brother Andrew and my sister Susan. It is very smart to be able to see all three of us on the screen of my phone at the same time but it is tricky to get used to the fact that only one person can speak at the one time.

Later on we enjoyed a WhatsApp chat with Alistair, Clare and our other granddaughter Matilda. They were in good form. By the end of the day we had done a lot of family catching up. It will still be better when we can see our grandchildren in person though.

In the evening, we were able to watch a streaming of a very amusing play from the National Theatre archives for free, a kind gesture to help people put up with the boredom of having to stay in fro night after night. It was definitely preferable to watching never ending news bulletins of the spread of the pandemic.

The non-flying bird of the day is a jackdaw. Fed up with pecking the lawn, it was pecking the plum tree instead.

jackdaw

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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 my sister Mary who was cheered up by a bit of brightness at Coal Drops Yard on a very gloomy day at Kings Cross.

Coal Drop Wharf

We were cheered up on another very gloomy day here by a lively performance from the Sunday Club children at our church service this morning.  This was followed by a baptism so it was a service for the future and with well over 100 people in the church, the future looked as though it might just be all right.

When we got home, there was time for a cup of coffee and a check on the birds.

A goldfinch and a sparrow arrived at the feeder from different sides.

goldfinch sparrow oanel

Then siskins appeared…

siskins on feeder

…and a goldfinch made an exit.

goldfinch leaving

Having looked at the forecast, we decided to have a late lunch and get a walk in while the going was good, so we put on our walking shoes, said goodbye to a pigeon on the drive…

pigeon in garden

…and set off through the park towards the Kernigal.

Some little white fungus on an old tree stump caught my eye as we walked along the Stubholm track….

whiefungus

…and I thought that a mossy branch was the equal of many pieces of sculpture that I have seen in art galleries.

mossy branch

As always, I kept an eye for lichen and was pleased to see this colourful clump just before we got to the wood…

fruting lichen

…which was looking quite majestic in the misty conditions.

misty woods kernigal

We followed the mountain bike path through the trees and it was too dark to see much.

Only another crop of white fungus stood out and even that needed a flash to capture it.

white fingus kernigal

When we got out of the thick wood, we thought that we were going to get rained on but it was only drops from branches overhead….

drops on twigs kernigal

…and we were able to follow the path back down to the river without getting wet.

track to skipperscleuch

It was rather a damp scene all the same.

warbla misty view

I thought that this tree, against a drab background and with a fallen branch at its foot, summed up the day well.

 

Tree with fallen branch

On the plus side, it was well above freezing and there was no wind, so walking was a pleasure and incidental treats like these very glossy beech leaves kept us interested as we went along.

shiny beech leaves

We crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back beside the river towards the town.

I enjoyed seeing the fence lichen in magnificent form and Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a teasel, a rare thing in this part of the country.

lichen and teazle

We called at the Co-op to get something for our late lunch and as we were walking along the narrow path behind the Dyehouse, I noticed a couple of birds ahead of us.  At first I thought that they were just rather colourful chaffinches but as we got nearer…

bullfinch panel

…we could see that they were bullfinches and that there were three of them.

One of them stopped and stared for long enough for me to get the zoom working but it was a good way ahead of us…

bullfinch in tree

…and then they played a most amusing game.

I had the shopping in a bag.  They stopped on a bush, waited until I had put the shopping down and got my camera out and then they flew on.  As the light was so poor, I needed to get quite close to them to get a decent shot, so I picked up my bag and followed after them.  As soon as I started walking, they stopped, I put down my bag, got out the camera and they flew on again.

This went on for quite some time and even Mrs Tootlepedal had to agree that it looked very much as though they were just tormenting me on purpose.

Dyehouse path

What the bullfinches were looking for were the seeds on these plants…

bullfinch eating seeds

….and they stopped long enough once or twice for me to get blurred shots.  When they got fed up with laughing at me, they flew back over our heads and doubtless waited for another passer-by to tease.

The forecast got it bang on and it had just started to rain as we got home and that concluded the outdoor part of our day.

We had a late lunch and whiled away the rest of the day in reading the newspapers and conversation.  After a while, Mrs Tootlepedal started to listen to an interesting radio programme on jackdaws and rooks and I went off to catch up with my correspondence on the computer.

The winter solstice arrived at 4am today and the TV weatherman told us that tomorrow our day will be one second longer.  We are very excited by this and are planning to make full use of the extra second when it comes.

We had a mince pie each after our evening meal and felt quite festive. Then we watch the final episode of His Dark Materials. Both of us were more or less completely baffled about what was going on.  I await the next series with impatience in the hope that some explanation will be given.  Perhaps if we had read the books it would have helped.

The fuzzy flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He and his partner Marianne celebrated her birthday with a weekend in Argyll on the banks of Loch Awe, where they visited the multi layered Arvich falls.

falls of avich

We had a cold and chilly morning here today.  It was not freezing but it was cold enough to persuade me that a really idle morning would be good thing.  To tell the truth, I didn’t need much persuading.  If I was the sort of person who might complain about minor aches and niggles, I would have had an embarrassment of choices today.  However as regular readers will know I am the strong silent type so I merely did the crossword and drank coffee until getting up could no longer be avoided.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy decorating so I wouldn’t have had anyone to complain to even if I had wanted to.

I spent some time watching the birds when I was fully dressed.

There were two types of goldfinch available, the old and wrinkly and the young and smooth.

contrasting goldfinches

But luckily there were plenty of both about….

four goldfinches on feeder

..so there was plenty of action too.

Inquisitive chaffinches challenged the sitting tenants…

chaffinch challenging

…and goldfinches faced off against each other with zest.

goldfinches spat

An old and wrinkled type put the wind up a smooth fellow in a big way…

goldfinch shock

…while a greenfinch watched from above with a magisterial air.

greenfinch on pole

Putting down my bird camera, I made some lentil soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made a quick record of some autumn colour in the garden…

autumn colour in the garden

…welcomed a robin…

robin on grey day

…and then ate the soup.

After lunch, I considered the weather forecast.  The general view was that things could only get worse so now seemed as good a time to go for a walk as any other.

I took my brolly with me for insurance and set out to walk up through a wood before coming back down to the river at Skippers Bridge and following the river bank home.

The wood was varied…

kernigal wood

…and the path was reasonably dry…

kernigal wood 2

….and there was lichen to be seen on a wall on the way and a little fungus among the trees.

fungus and lichen november

I had been well sheltered in the wood but when I got to the track at the top, it began to drizzle and I was glad that I had my brolly with me.  It was a very still day so I was able to keep quite dry in spite of the fact that it rained all the way home.

The track down the hill was covered with larch needles and this made me feel a little like a film star walking down the red carpet at a ceremony.

path to skipperscleuch

A newly felled area beside the track is regrowing with a mixture of spruce, larch and birch and even on a  gloomy day, it glowed.

young wood in autumn

When I looked back up the track, I could see the larches which had provided my carpet.

path from kernigal looking back

Out of interest, I took the same shot with the camera on my phone…

path from kernigal looking back phone

…and nothing could make clearer the amount of work the processors in your cameras do before they give you a picture to look at (unless you shoot in RAW which I only do occasionally).

I stopped for a chat in the light rain with a local resident who was walking his dog and then made my way down to Skippers Bridge.  I usually take pictures there when the sun is shining but today I took one when the weather was grey and the rain was falling just to show that it is a picturesque spot at any time.

distillery in the riain

There is a wooden fence a few hundred yards up the river from the bridge where my favourite lichen can be found if the conditions are right. They were right today.  I think that it is a lecanora or rim lichen.  They are very tiny.

lichen at lands end

The daisies that grow in profusion along the river bank at this point were still showing a bit of life…

daisies beside the river

…and further up river, I found a dipper perched on a stone, a bit too far out for me to get a good shot.  This was my pocket camera zoom at full stretch and I would have needed somewhere to rest the camera to get a sharp shot.  Juggling with an umbrella while trying to keep the camera dry made things harder.

dipper november

In spite of the persistent drizzle, the windless conditions meant that I got home both dry and warm so I enjoyed my gloomy walk a lot.

I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home as she had finished her decorating for the day and then I caught up with my correspondence and discarded a lot of very fuzzy pictures from my walk.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm community choir and as we had both a conductor and an accompanist, we had a productive time.

The flying bird of the day is the greenfinch in dive , dive, dive mode when a perch became vacant at the feeders.

greenfinch flying

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Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my Highland correspondent.  We have been having some good sunrises here and may be there is something in the air at the moment because she had a spectacular one too.

Highland Sunrise

It was another cold day with the thermometer hanging about the 5 degree mark at best but a nipping and an eager air made the wind chill factor a neat zero.

Under the circumstances, I was pleased to get out on my bicycle, if not early, then at least before I had sat down to waste time over coffee and a biscuit, my usual delaying tactic.

I took a simple out and back route to avoid any long effort cycling straight into the chilly wind though I did take a short diversion up to Cleuchfoot…

Cleuchfoot glen

…where I stopped to take a picture of a tiny valley that runs down to the road.  It looks as though it might lead somewhere exciting but in fact it only leads out onto a boggy and featureless moor.  Once I was back on the Lockerbie road, I was very pleased to see men and machines hard at work at the site of the recent landslip.

mending the Lockerbie road 2

No one had expected work to start so promptly.

I passed them and cycled on to the top of the hill at Callister where I was passed by half a dozen quarry lorries who were busy at the site of the new wind farm there.  There is no sign of the turbine towers yet so they are either improving the access road or building the bases.

I stopped at the road works on my way back and was very impressed by how well they have sorted the problem.

mending the Lockerbie road 1

I was curious about the black plastic pipes sunk into the surface of the works and one of the men told me that they are going to be holders for the new fence posts. He said that he thought that the repair was sound and would last well and as he turned out to be one of my ex-pupils, I have every confidence that he will be right.

On my return to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out of the other side and since the sun was now fully out, I stopped to record my favourite view up the Ewes valley….

Ewes Valley

…and the neighbouring farmhouse.

Terrona

I clocked up twenty miles and was quite happy to stop before I got chilled.

I had a quick look at the birds and was shocked to see a male chaffinch being beastly to a female…

cahffinch misogyny

…but pleased to see that our lone siskin was back again.

siskin

I made some soup for my lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

Fuelled by the soup and a couple of tomato rolls, I went out for a walk.

I started off along the riverside path and then headed uphill through the Kernigal wood.  There has been a lot of wind blow lately and it was good to see that someone had been out with a saw and done some tidying up.

kernigal wood tidying

Perhaps this is because I was walking along the track you can see on the right of the picture below which is much used by local mountain bikers.

kernigal wood

It is very welcome for walkers as it provides a good path through a tangly bit of forest.

I came out at the top of the wood and walked back down the track towards Skippers Bridge.  I didn’t have my thinking head on when I chose my route and I was rather upset to realise that if I had been walking on the other side of the valley, I would have been enjoying a sunny day.

winter sunshine on whita

In fact when I looked around, I found that almost everywhere was bathed in sunlight except where I was walking.

winter sunshine on Castle Hill

When I got down to the main road, I found that winter had cleared enough foliage away to give me a view of the large bridge for a small stream which almost all motorists probably pass over without noticing as they leave the town for the south.

Culvert at Skippers

I didn’t dilly dally on my way home as it wasn’t getting any warmer but I did stop to check out the black smudge on the fence at Land’s End which turns out to be this very attractive lichen, still in excellent condition…

fungus on fence at lands end

…and to see if the fungus on the tree at the Co-op had survived the cold weather.  It had and was even bigger than when I saw it last…

fungus at Co-op

…and it too looked to be in good condition.

fungus gill

As I walked back along the river bank, a glimpse of brightness among the gloom on the far bank caught my eye.  It was an old friend disguised as a twig.

heron in shadows

Back in the garden, I found a little remaining colour on the leycestaria…

leycesteria

…but there was nothing else of note so I went inside and did the crossword.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had taken our car away and my friend and customary chauffeur Susan was on holiday in Glasgow, I had no way of getting to Carlisle and back for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.  They are kind people though and on the Mohammed and the mountain principle, since I could not get to them, they came out to me and we had a most enjoyable evening of music making.

We were just having our post-playing cup of tea and biscuit when Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely from Edinburgh and that rounded off a cold day very warmly.

I didn’t find a moment with both good light and a flying bird in it so that is the reason for a very scrappy flying bird of the day picture.

flying chffainch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who spotted some fearless workers inspecting Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

Brave workmen inspecting Nelson's column

We were promised warmer, wetter weather and we got it.  It rained on and off all day and it was never lighter than ‘very gloomy’ inside and outside.

As a result, I was very happy to idle a morning away reading papers, drinking coffee and making soup.

I looked out of the window from time to time.

We had a good selection of visitors, many of whom looked a bit grumpy with the weather…

greenfinch and goldfinch

…including a sparrow among the usual suspects.  For some reason, the sparrows, of whom there are many in the town, visit a bush in the corner of our garden but don’t come to the feeder so this was a novelty.

sparrow and siskin

A robin and a blackbird made a brief appearance each.

robin and blackbird

…and the chaffinches arrived in an orderly fashion.

chaffinch

Out in the pond there was new frog spawn and a few frogs.

frog and spawn

Mrs Tootlepedal went off and did a little shopping and then went out again after lunch, this time to a meeting of her embroiderers’ group.

I thought about a short pedal when the rain stopped but the weather remained untrustworthy so I went for a walk instead.

As I walked along the edge of the park, I spotted all sorts of lichen and mosses…

moss and lichen

I am always pleased to see a red topped Cladonia as they are very small and I need a bit of luck to notice them.

This was my favourite among the mosses.

moss

Of course, you have to be a real moss and lichen detective to see any moss round here!

mossy wall

I left the park wall behind and walked up into the Kernigal wood.  It was gloomy there too but as it was warmish and it wasn’t raining, I was quite happy strolling along the track.

Kernigal

It is often worth giving a tree stump a second look.

lichen and fungus

At one point, I could see a bright red light in the distance.  Although it doesn’t look like it in the picture, the light is on top of a communications mast on a hill and can be seen from miles around. It seems to be on night and day and has caused a lot of interest in the town.   Some think that it might be sending out secret mind control waves while others more prosaically link it to the arrival of 4G phone reception on the area.

mast light

When I came out of the wood, I followed the track down to Skipeprscleuch….

Road to skippers

…where the felling of the wood beside the track has opened up views of Warbla.

Warbla

With the felling at the Becks Burn in mind, readers have asked if these felled woods are replanted and the answer is that they are.  The timber is a cash crop and I could see both new spruce trees and some hardwoods in plastic tubes too which are planted to encourage wildlife.

new planting

This was my favourite tree of the walk.

bare tree

I walked past a cottage and noted the old plough in the garden…

old plough

…and a few yards further on, I came across another well appointed wall.

moss and lichen

When I got down to the main road just before Skippers Bridge, I noticed that the passing  traffic had made sure that there was no moss on the road side of the parapet of the bridge over the sike  but a look  over the other side of the parapet showed that there was no shortage of moss there.

A7 bridge

We don’t have many brick buildings in Langholm and I enjoyed the gentle colours of the building at the bridge.

garage door

I crossed the bridge and noted the wooden steps that are part of the walks network…

steps at skippers

…and I took another photograph of Skippers Bridge itself but as it was no different from the many I have taken before, I leave it to the readers’ imagination to picture it.

At this point, it started to rain, first gently and then heavily so I kept the camera in my pocket and scuttled home.

Mrs Tootlepedal had enjoyed a delightful demonstration of steampunk embroidery given by two ladies from Dumfries and I had enjoyed my walk so in spite of the gloomy weather, we had a good afternoon.

My enjoyment was increased by the fact that my walk had (deliberately) stopped me watching Scotland play Ireland at rugby.  I had had bad feelings about the likely result and had saved myself much mental agony by not watching the inevitable unfold.  Scotland struggle to win a match away from home but they are not unique in this.  Only two matches out of the eleven so far this year in the Six nations tournament have been won by the away team.

To cheer up a gloomy day, we had fish and chips from the chip shop for our tea and as I arrived at the counter at exactly the right moment to get freshly cooked fish straight out of the fryer, our meal was delicious.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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