Posts Tagged ‘knee’

Today’s guest picture shows what can only be described as a host of golden daffodils.  They were spotted by my sister Mary on a walk through St James’ Park.

St James's ParkWe enjoyed some perfect weather for the first day of spring here today and on a day when I really should have been cycling all over the place, I went walking instead.

My first walk was round the garden of course.  There were new flowers.


A handsome hellebore, a gift from our neighbour Liz, last year.


A charming chionodoxa

The pond is now so full of frog spawn that there is hardly any room for the frogs.

frogWe are promised some very chilly nights soon so I hope all the work has not been in vain.

Later in the morning, I gave my new knee and dodgy ankle a test by ascending on foot to the summit of Warbla.   This is not quite mountaineering as it only involves a gentle one and a half mile stroll up a very good track….

Warbla….to the dizzy heights of 900 feet.

Still, it was the longest and highest climb that my new knee has tried and I was very pleased to find that it didn’t mind at all and worked perfectly both on the way up and coming down.  I have been doing calf stretches on the advice of my physio and these seem to have been very helpful for my ankle which had no complaints either.

Thanks to the high pressure and the winds from the east which have been keeping our weather fine and dry, there is quite a lot of air pollution about and in spite of the fine weather, the views were distinctly hazy but I snapped away regardless.

warbla sheep

One of the thousands of reasons that our hills are generally treeless.

The view from the summit is generous.

Langholm from Warbla

Pocketcam’s view of the town

Langholm from Warbla

The big camera’s version of the view

Holmwood from Whita

Looking over Holmwood, the most modern part of the town.

There is a TV mast and various telephone dishes at the summit of Warbla which account for the good track.  There was a new device which I hadn’t seen before on this visit and it is shown alongside the oldest piece of technology up there, an Ordnance Survey trig point, now no longer in use..

WarblaI came down by a slightly different route which allowed me to admire some lichen…

lichen…and watch as John and Jean mastered the art of walking on water.

John and JeanIt would take a lot of persuasion to get me walking along the top of the caul with such nonchalance but they and their dogs do it regularly.

I could have shown you a lot more very interesting views of hills if Sandy hadn’t rung up and suggested an afternoon walk.

We left Mrs Tootlepedal knocking up a pair of net curtains and went down by car to Hagg-on-Esk where we took a stroll along the banks of the river up to Irvine House and back.

I took many shots of the river but this one will have to represent them all.

The Esk near Irvine HouseIt was a delightfully tranquil walk and we were rewarded with sightings of dippers, oyster catchers, grey wagtails, pied wagtails, mallards, goosanders, blue, great and long tailed tits and a pair of buzzards.

The light was playing tricks and was often too bright at crucial moments so the photographs don’t match the pleasure of the walk.  I put them in for the record.

goosanders and oyster catchers

Sometimes the goosanders and oyster catchers sat still….

oyster catchers

…but mostly they flew away as soon as we got near….


…in every direction.

The dippers were even more difficult to catch.

dippersIt is hard to put into words the pleasure of sitting on the banks of the river watching dippers, goosanders, oyster catchers and wagtails flitting up and down past us.  It was very soothing to the soul.

There were other things to divert us too.  We wondered if a tree has ever had more catkins to the inch than this one.

catkinsAlthough our walk was only just over a mile and a half, there and back, it took us the best part of one and a half hours which shows how much there was to stop and watch along the way.  I hope that Sandy will post some pictures from the day in his blog in the course of time, as it will be interesting to see what he made of it.

We had a cup of tea when we got home.  The builders have finished wet dashing the new wall.

wet dash wallIt will look better when it has dried.  The scaffolding will go away shortly and we will be able to see the new wall in all its beauty then.

After our cup of tea, Sandy suggested a drive up onto the Langholm Moor to see what we could see.

He went first in his own car and I followed on in ours with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had finished her curtain making.  When we joined him, he said he had been watching a short eared owl and sure enough a minute or two later, we had a splendid view of one as it flew along the hillside.  I was in bird watching mode and had my binoculars out but I dived back into the car for my camera and tried to get a shot before it disappeared over the hill.

Mrs Tootlepedal caught a glimpse of a hen harrier as we drove home but I had to keep my eye on the road.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day than this one to celebrate the vernal equinox.  The only downside was finding about 200  images on my camera cards when I put them in the computer in the evening.  It has hurt my head getting them down to my regulation maximum but as the photography was not in the same class as the actual walks, the discarded 180 are no great loss.

The flying bird of the day is a grainy shot of the short eared owl taken as the light faded.

short eared owl

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I have had a very good response to my request for guest pictures and I am working through them.  My thanks go to those who replied.  Today’s choice is a lovely view of Buttermere taken in the sun by my sister Mary and sent to me in a text message.

buttermereWe had a thoroughly sunny day here today, which came as a bit of a surprise as I hadn’t bothered to look at the forecast.  I spent some of the morning eating scones and drinking coffee with Dropscone and some of it walking around the garden.  Spring is definitely getting into gear.


The two winter aconites are doing their best.


The crocuses are enjoying the sun.


In various shades.


And numbers

I could only find a rather weedy frog.

frogOnce again the activities of the hard working builders made for a quiet day on the bird front but a robin decided that it didn’t care.

robinrobinThese may or may not be the same robin as there turned out to be two of them about at the same time.


Robins in a stare off

After lunch, the temperature had risen to a very reasonable 6°C so I wrapped up well against the chilly north westerly wind and set out to go not just to the top of Callister but down the other side as well.  There was enough wind to make the outward journey quite hard work but it was a lovely day so I didn’t mind much.

gorse bushes

The gorse bushes beside the road to Gair were almost out.


Gair, my turning point at 11 miles

On the way back, I stopped to take a picture of the farm called Between the Waters.  It is well named as it is between two streams.  You can see one of them in the picture.

Between the watersGetting over Callister on the way out had not been a problem as the gradient is very steady and not very steep.  Coming back up the steeper side was another matter and my knee didn’t enjoy it very much at all.  I got up all right but it meant that I had to take the downhill section home at a very easy pace indeed.

garmin 4 March 14If I pressed at all, even going down hill with the wind behind,  my knee started to complain and creak a bit until I eased off again.

The result of this was that I was very pleased to have added a couple of miles to my longest distance of the year but my average speed was quite a bit below my target when I set out.

The good thing was that the knee seemed quite happy when I had got off the bike and I was able to walk round the garden and see what Mrs Tootlepedal had been up to in my absence without any great inconvenience.

She had been turning over the soil, tidying up and testing our new lawn edger.  You can see the results of all three activities in one picture.


Neat flower bed, tidy edge and some of the trimmed material.

She pointed a very nice contrast between crocuses and snowdrops.

crocuses and snowdropsI refreshed myself with a hot cross bun and a slice of Selkirk Bannock before retiring to soak myself in a hot tub.

After tea, we went off to our local choir practice and worked away as usual.  We are singing a selection of songs from old American musicals with a couple of opera choruses thrown in.  This will no doubt go down well with our audience but doesn’t offer much sustained harmony singing.

The results of the builders hard work is plain to see.

end wall chimneyThe chimney is taking shape downstairs and can be seen in a more naked form in the upstairs room.

chimneyThe fact that people are talking about contacting the electrician shows that the end is indeed in sight.

There were few flying birds in sight today at a time when I had a camera handy and this very fuzzy chaffinch was the best of a bad lot.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture wasn’t taken by Mrs Tootlepedal but it was made by her.  It shows Shaun the Sheep, popular TV and film star.  He went to Edinburgh today to stay with his new owner.

shaun the sheepThe wall growers were in action early today and by the time that I had finished my breakfast, the wall had begun to grow.

End wall startedWe were happy to see a damp proof course going in.

I didn’t like to keep pushing and taking pictures when they were working so hard so you will have to take my word that it was nearly up to the first floor by the end of the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t stay to see the work progress as she was off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and introduce her to Shaun the sheep.

I spent the morning putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, cycling up to the High Street to do some business and watching the many birds who were visiting the feeder today.

There were several siskins about and they were as discourteous as ever.

siskin and chaffinchAs the day went on, it became quite sunny and the birds took the opportunity to do some basking in the plum tree.

siskin goldfinchThere were goldfinches and siskins in good numbers by lunchtime and there was some queuing at the feeder.

goldfinch siskinIt made taking pictures of flying chaffinches a treat.

chaffinchThere were no signs of spring in the garden among the flower beds but a familiar noise led me to have a look in the pond and there was a clear sign of spring.


The first frogspawn


And one of the first frogs of the year

It had got a bit warmer by the afternoon and I thought that this would be a good day to test out my knee on the (fairly) speedy bike, fresh from its annual service.  A stiff breeze from the west made it a good test indeed and I managed to get to the top of Callister and a bit beyond in a very slow time indeed.  Still, this meant that the six and a half miles home were a real treat.

There are cyclists who are not happy if they are not puffing their way up incredibly steep hills and there are others who enjoying throwing themselves down wooded precipices but for me cycling heaven is attained when I am pedalling along a flat road at 20mph without breaking sweat and with a brisk wind behind me.  That is where a bicycle is at its best.

The builders and the birds were still hard at work when I got back after my longest ride so far with the new knee.

goldfinch siskin

For once a goldfinch sees a siskin off


Two chaffinches try to adjust to the feeder swinging in the wind.

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back safely from the big city and in the evening I went up to the Archive Centre without Sandy who was having an evening off.  My main task was to print out an article on a tragic drowning accident in 1865 for a correspondent who had come across this while searching our database for information about one of his relatives.  It is when we are able to help people to find information that they haven’t previously known about that we feel really happy about the sometimes tedious work that we do.

The flying bird of the day is a sunny chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, taken by my brother, shows Mr Grumpy’s Dutch cousin spotted in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

Mr Grumpy in The VondelparkI had a quiet but entertaining morning, While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a church choir practice, I stayed in in case I was need for any building consultations .  It turned that there was no need for consultations but I was kept entertained when I was visited by the first cyclist of the day.

This was Dropscone, who had been round the morning run in dry but breezy conditions.  We had a cup or two of Old Brown Java coffee and one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s drop scones.  Dropscone was in cheerful mood as not only had he gone round the morning run in a reasonable time but he had also played golf well in Saturday’s competition.

After he left, I took the Kangoo up to the garage to get a new tyre fitted as one of the rear tyres had only just squeaked through the recent MOT.  Then I strolled home, catching up with Mrs Tootlepedal as she came out of the church.

We hadn’t been at home long before the second visiting cyclist of the day arrived.  This was Sandy, who had been for his first ride of the new season.  He stopped for a cup of tea and we arranged to meet in the afternoon.

As the wall workers had finished their tasks,  a number of other speedy visitors arrived while Sandy was sipping his tea.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinchAfter Sandy left, I had time for a quick look at the snowdrops in the garden…

snowdrops..before going off to visit the physiotherapist to  see how she thought I was doing.

I got modified approval.  She was pleased with my general progress but I need to do much more work to strengthen my quads on the affected leg (I hope that cycling will help there) with more regular exercises.  I also need to work harder on straightening my knee out and do some regular calf muscle stretching.  All this means that I shall have to concentrate hard over the next few weeks to make sure that I don’t get overconfident and stop working before the leg is fully functioning.

I have long standing tendonitis in my ankle which has been getting painful lately and I got some advice on that.  The main thing is to ease off on walking until the pain goes down.  As I need to exercise my knee, I have been walking quite a bit so I will have to cut back on that and do static exercises more instead.  Luckily she thinks that cycling will not be harmful so I am hoping for warm days and calm winds.

I picked up the car with its new tyre and got home in time for lunch and a quick look out of the kitchen window. The chaffinches were still flying in.

flying chaffinchAs arranged, Sandy came down after lunch and we went off to visit the Moorland Bird feeders.  As usual when we go to watch birds, the sun went in and it started raining.  This would have put paid to our visit in times past but now thanks to the new bird hide, we were able to sit under cover and wait until the rain stopped.  Sandy took a picture of the watcher watching the birds.

Moorland bird hideWe had brought some picnic chairs with us and we were able to sit in warmth and comfort and watch the birds.  There were lots of birds to watch.

female pheasant

The female pheasants are less showy than the males but still have lovely plumage looking for all the world as though it is embroidered..

male pheasant

The male certainly is showy.

There were great tits and blue tits in abundance but just the occasional coal tit to be seen.

great tit

A great tit on the peanuts

great tit

Another waits its turn.

blue tit

A blue tit surveys the possibilities

coal tit

One of the only two coal tits that we saw

There were several visits from a woodpecker but it was reluctant to come within close range of my lens.

woodpeckerAnd we also got a flying visit from a jay just before we left.

jayThere were plenty of finches about.

siskin and greenfinch

A siskin and a greenfinch indulge in a grumpy staring match.

We had a lot of fun watching a pheasant finding a way to get at some seeds which were not meant for her.

climbing pheasantIt was so snug and comfortable in the hide that if we had brought a sandwich and a flask of tea, we could have stayed all afternoon.

But we hadn’t so we didn’t.

I took the rest of the day easily to look after my ankle until it was time to pop outside twice, once to admire a developing sunset…

sunset…and then to catch the International Space station trundling over head.  The picture shows (as far as my trembling hand will let it) just how far it goes in 2 seconds.

ISSIn real life, it goes in an absolutely straight line of course.

In the evening, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and it was an excellent way to end a useful and interesting day.

The flying bird of the day was not the best flying picture that I took but it was the most unusual.

flying woodpecker

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Today’s guest picture is the result of a recent visit by my brother to the dreaming spires of Oxford.

All SoulsWe had a lovely day here today, both sunny and warm.  When Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I got out the slow bike and set off to give my new knee a bit of elevation.  My target was Callister, a gentle mile and a bit long climb of 200 feet.  Not quite Mont Ventoux but requiring a some effort all the same.

I stopped near the bottom of the hill to take a picture to show just how many cones the coniferous trees are carrying this year.

coniferous trees

The tops of the trees are golden brown with cones

I was sorry that I didn’t have my other camera with me because, as the very sharp eyed may see, there is a pair of peacocks at the bottom of the trees.   They were too far away for Pocketcam though so I pedalled on up the hill.

By employing the very sensible method of going quite slowly in my lowest gear, I got to the top quite easily and went a bit further to reach the six mile mark.  I stopped to take a picture to prove that I had made it….

top of Callister

Looking back to the summit.

…and then pedalled back to Langholm at an equally steady speed, just bringing my average up to ten mph for the 12 mile trip.  I made one stop on the way to add some willow catkins to my signs of spring album.

willow catkinsIt was a bit of a waste of a beautiful day to go for such a short pedal but I don’t want to overdo things before I am back to something near fitness.

Once home, I took a walk round the garden where ironically it was too sunny to take good pictures of the many crocuses that the sun had encouraged into flower…

crocusMrs Tootlepedal’s grasses made for an easier target.

grassesThe garden and the pavement outside our gate are also home to the potential new end wall.

end wall materialsThis is quite exciting.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to catch a flying bird but they were very uncooperative…

flying chaffinch…and once again static birds were easier targets.

robinblackbirdAfter lunch, we went off to Carlisle to combine shopping with singing.

The shopping went well but the singing with our choir was delayed by a lengthy discussion about responding to an invitation to act as back up singers for a celebrated soloist who is coming to do a concert in Carlisle.  The choir members were evenly split in to ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ when the effort required, the extra practices, the fairly tight timetable, the expense and the prospect of having to stand on stage for an hour were considered.  The deciding factor was the fact that our conductor would not be available for the concert and in the end we decided not to take up the invitation.

I was pleased as I felt that we would have been under heavy pressure to be at our best which would have taken a lot of the pleasure out of our singing.  When we did get down to singing, we had an excellent session.

When we got home, I found that going to sing had prevented me from watching Scotland getting beaten in a tight rugby match against Wales and that made the choir practice even better in retrospect.

The nearest to a flying bird that I got today was this one, only just in the air.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a view of Utrecht taken by my brother after he had climbed 465 steps to get to the top of a very lofty church tower.

UtrechtI had a very poor day photographically but it was good in many other ways.

The chance of catching a garden bird was limited by the noisy activities of the end wall wranglers who managed to get a considerable part of the wall into a skip during the day.

Ex wall

Ex wall

In the late afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to see what wasn’t there.

End wallI spent all the morning driving from one side of the country to the other (not a long distance at one of the thinnest bits of Great Britain) to have a look at a replacement Kangoo in a garage just the other side of Newcastle upon Tyne.   This was the longest drive the new knee has had but it stood up to the 150 miles there and back without any problem.

As I crossed from the west to the east side of the country, the sun came out and it was a glorious day in Newcastle.  Not having a satnav in the car, I had memorised the route to the industrial estate where I hoped to find the car and I was very pleased to arrive there exactly as planned.  I was less pleased to find that the car wasn’t there but in their other base, eight miles away on the other side of the Tyne.

Not having brought a map with me and the young fellow in the garage not knowing what a map actually looked like, he very kindly showed how to use my phone to find my way.  Between his instructions and stopping to look at the phone, I found my way through the Tyne Tunnel to the other garage and got a short test drive in the potential replacement Kangoo.  It all seemed quite satisfactory so I bought it and hope to get it delivered in Thursday.  Buying a second hand car is always a gamble and I quite expect the wheels to fall off as soon as I start to drive it properly.  Fingers crossed.

The drive back was marked by the change back from sunshine to cloud half way across the country but traffic was light and I was back home in time for a late lunch.

After a short rest, I decided to take the bull by the horns and take the slow bike off the trainer in the garage and put it onto the tarmac.   It was so long since it was last out that I had to pump up both tyres but I was soon on my way up the Wauchope road and feeling very comfortable.

I managed to ride the three miles to Wauchope School at a very modest pace. I stopped to take a picture of the devastation the tree fellers have wreaked on the wood round the house…

Wauchope School…and a tree nearby just for sake of using the camera.

Wauchope treeThe journey home, being gently downhill, was easy enough and I was very pleased to have finally got started back on a bicycle.  My 6.6 miles took me 37 minutes so nobody could accuse me of speeding.

In the evening, I added to my driving miles by taking Susan to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  We had a very enjoyable tootle and generally played with some accuracy and style.

As I had no opportunity to catch a flying bird today, I have dived into the archives and produced a flying heron from exactly a year ago.

flying heron

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Today’s guest picture shows the birthday present that we siblings gave my energetic brother.  This little gadget will record his many, many steps.  He should have hours of fun with it.

gadgetWe had another -2° to +3°day but there wasn’t so much malice in the wind today so it felt more relaxed than yesterday.  The repeated melting and freezing though is producing some nasty sheets of ice in unexpected places.  Car parks tend not to be thoroughly cleared because if the owners clear most of a car park and someone slips on an uncleared part, the owners fear that they will be sued.  In the world created by ambulance chasing lawyers, it now seems better for twenty old people to run the risk of slipping tight outside the Day Centre rather than just one or two in distant corners.  Ho hum.

Our day started very promptly when a man came to pick up our insurance loan car before breakfast.  Luckily we were up and about because we were expecting the preliminary work to begin on our end wall.  With the front room cleared, it looked a bit depressed before they started….

front room 1…but a lot more depressed when the joiners had wielded their axes.

front room 2A wooden frame to protect the rest of the house and an acro-prop to stop the roof falling down soon made the thing look more business like….

front room 3….and by the end of the day, it had all been neatly wrapped up.

front room 4The comings and goings involved in the work seemed to put the birds off even more than usual and there was hardly a chaffinch or a goldfinch to be seen.  In fact in a reasonable length of time staring out of the window, I only saw three birds so today I am going to show you all that I saw.

A robin approached the seed feeder by degrees.


A reconnaissance from a nearby bush…


…followed by a hop to the pot…


…and a final leap to the seed.

It hardly looks like the same bird but I can assure you that it is.

Beneath the feeder, a dunnock tripped through the snow.


Checking for falling seed this way….


….and that.

The sole chaffinch representative posed on the chimney pot.

chaffinchchaffinchI shall have to find out whether any other local bird feeding enthusiasts are experiencing the same dearth or whether it is just me.  Mike Tinker says that they have been visited by a pair of bullfinches.  This is a mixed blessing because although they are very handsome birds, they tend to eat all the flower buds off their ornamental cherry tree.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a church choir practice and while she was away by coincidence, the minister dropped in for coffee.  As he is a man of religion, I shared half my last hot cross bun with him.

Before and after the minister’s visit, I put a week of the newspaper index into the database and I am finally catching up with the data miners.  If I can do two more weeks before Thursday, I will be there.

In the afternoon, Mike very kindly drove me across to Dumfries so that I could see my knee surgeon.  He was very happy with the progress of his work and he gave me the go-ahead to do what I like with my new knee.  This is a great relief because up to now, when my knee was sore after exercise (which it often was), I had been afraid that I might be damaging the new joint. He tells me that it will remain sore and swollen for some time but that I can’t damage it by normal exercise.  I am free to cycle but sadly, the weather is against me and that pleasure will have to wait until the ice has gone.

As we drove back from Dumfries, we called in at the body shop where our battered car is resting but they were too short handed to answer my questions and I will have to wait for a phone call before I see whether we will get it back. Interestingly the receptionist told me that I would get a different quote for the repairs than the one they gave the insurance company.  I wait with interest to see whether it is higher or lower.

After a rewarding visit from my flute pupil Luke and another delicious meal provided by my resident cheffe, Sandy picked up me, my computer and our digital projector and we went to the Day Centre for the monthly meeting of the Langholm Camera Club.  Our theme was portraits and street photography and we got an excellent selection of pictures from India via Madagasgar,   Gambia and Edinburgh to more local scenes and faces.

A very satisfactory turnout of eighteen enthusiasts, ranging from point and shoot travellers to keen image makers ensured that  advice was available when asked and demonstrations were given when necessary.   It was hoped when it was started that the club would be friendly and welcoming for beginners and interesting for experienced shooters as well and it looks as though it it turning out to be just that.

Langholm Camera Club

The assembled company – though I managed to cut off half of the lady who had kindly brought the biscuits.

Owing to a chronic lack of birds, there are no flying feathers today.

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