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Posts Tagged ‘lambs’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Tony who has been having wonderful weather lately on the shores of the Firth of Forth.

East wemyss Riviera

Our day started brightly….

sunny fritallaries

…after another frosty morning but as the day went on, the clouds came over.

Dropscone dropped in for coffee, bringing treacle scones with him.  He is very excited because it is the first day of the official golfing season at Langholm tomorrow and he is the club captain this year.  It looks as though he is going to have a lovely sunny day as he sets the season  going when he drives off the first tee.

Apart from the coffee and scones, I had a very quiet morning with the occasional stroll round the garden.  The cloudy weather made it easier to photograph pale flowers and there were a number about.

Our first pulsatilla flower opened this morning.  It is an amazingly furry flower.

furry pulsatilla

The drumstick primulas are having a race to see which can produce a fully spherical flower head first.

drumstick primulas

This is my favourite of the white daffodils.

pale daffodil

The feeder was doing brisk business.  I had filled it after breakfast and it was half empty by lunchtime when a female redpoll arrived for a snack…

redpoll

…and I had to fill it again in the late afternoon.

I was very excited to receive a much anticipated parcel at lunchtime, but a great deal less excited when I found that I had been sent the wrong thing. It was my fault entirely.  I needed ‘type 2  to type 2’ and had ordered ‘type 2 to type 1’, a small but crucial error.

It was little consolation when I rang up to ask about exchanging it, to be told that lots of people had made the same mistake.  If that was true and not just said in a kindly spirit to cheer me up, then the seller’s website should be altered to make it less easy to make the mistake.

I took the parcel up to our post office and made it through the door just in time to catch the post before the office closed.  We have an outreach post office from a branch near Carlisle now because our post office closed a few months ago.  It only has limited hours and won’t open again until Wednesday, so I was pleased not to have missed out.

When I got home, I pulled myself together and went off to do twenty miles on my bike. My last ride of 20 miles, two days ago, left me with a very sore foot so I pedalled gently up and down the road a couple of times today, avoiding any steep hills and not cycling into the wind for any length of time and I only went 200 yards further than the last ride.

This seems to have been successful as my foot is not complaining as I write this.

I was limited for views but saw some life in passing.

A traditional spring family scene…

ewe with two lambs

…our resident gull looking downstream…

upstanding gull

…a goosander looking for fish…

goosander fishing

…and an oyster catcher not looking at anything.

oyster catcher snoozing

When I got back, the feeder was empty so I filled it and on the principle of, “If you fill it, they will come,”  the goldfinches  came.

They were anxious about infiltrating chaffinches….

fierce goldfinches

…but were soon able to check that they had complete control.

goldfinch gang

I had a final wander round the garden and saw more pale flowers….

pale tulips

…the very first of the trout lilies had appeared…

triout lily

…and the pulsatilla, which had opened out from this morning, stuck its tongue out at me as I passed.

pulsatilla

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the afternoon working on the rocking horse,  She bought a little hammer this morning and I can report that she hammered in the morning and she hammered in the afternoon but fortunately she laid down her hammer and cooked a delicious meal of roast chicken in the evening.

We are promised another frosty morning tomorrow so although the weather has been very dry and generally sunny, it has been a bit nervous making for the gardener.

The flying chaffinch of the day, although enjoying the early sunshine, looked a bit nervous too, I thought.

worried flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He has gone to Wales for a jaunt and on his way, he stopped at the ancient city of Chester.

chester

I started the day by selling some postcards to the paper shop to help Archive Group funds and then visited the data miners in the new Archive Centre.  They were working hard in cramped conditions as an art exhibition had taken some of their space.

We were promised some sunshine today but it was rather grey and windy when I set off south to visit Mary, my singing teacher for another lesson.  After concentrating on basic technique and breathing in previous lessons, we moved towards singing a song today. This was exciting but it only went to prove how difficult it is to put lessons into actual practice as faced with having to think of notes and words at the same time, I relapsed into many of the bad habits that we had worked on eliminating.  However, there were moments when things went well and I had plenty to think about as I drove home.

As I neared home, I met better and better weather and by time that I got there, it was a lovely day.

I had a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch and then went out into the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  The drumstick primula is nearly spherical and a cheery daisy winked at me from  the lawn but the recent frosty mornings have turned the tips of the magnolia petals brown…

white garden flwoers

There was some colour about too.

pink garden flowers

I helped Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been working hard all morning,  to get the first of the new vegetable beds level and then left her to sort out the soil while I went for a pedal.

I aimed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s distance and that was enough to let me go for a circular trip of fourteen miles up the Wauchope valley, over the hill, and back down into the Esk valley.

It was quite windy so I was easily tempted into stopping for some pictures along the way.  I thought that I should note a bare tree as it will not be long until the trees are covered in leaves again.

bare tree wauchope school

I looked back down the Wauchope valley as I climbed up the hill.  It was a pastoral scene indeed…

pastoral scene wauchope

…with added calf.

calf

I was accompanied by the bleating of lambs as I went round.

new lambs

I liked this combination of blackthorn and pine tree at the Hollows…

blacthorn and pine Hollows

…but I liked this newly surfaced patch of road there even better.

repaired road Hollows

There had been some savage potholes the last time that I cycled through the hamlet.

Hollows Tower was open for business but the lack of cars in the car park showed that it probably wasn’t doing a lot.  It is still early in the year to expect tourists.

Gilnockie Tower

I didn’t see much in the way of wild flowers but there were celandines and dandelions here and there…

wild flowers in verge

…and I saw the wood anemone when I left my bike for a moment and walked down a fisherman’s path…

path down to river

…to the river at Broomholm.

Esk at Broomholm

As the leaves are not out yet, I could see the bridge to Broomholm Island through the branches.

Broomholm briodge

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had finished the veg bed and had added some compost at the far end to help the soil.  She has also dug in her winter beans which were grown as green manure.

new veg bed

Nearby, she has a planting of tulips.  They are Mystic Van Eijk, a pale pink variant….

mystic Van Eijk tulip

…of the ordinary Van Eijk tulips….

Van Eijk tulips

…which look very lovely when some low evening sunlight shines through them

Van Eijk tulip in evening

We sat on our new bench, enjoying the welcome warmth of the sun.  We were sheltered from the wind and thinking that life wasn’t too bad at all.

Then we went on for a cup of tea and the last of the home made ginger biscuits.

I had a look at the birds.  They had not eaten much seed at all during the day as not only had Mrs Tootlepedal been busy in the garden, but we had had builders in working on our roof as well.

It hadn’t improved the birds’ tempers at all.

goldfinch shouting at chaffinch

Then  Luke came round to play the flute and we rediscovered something that we already both knew very well, practice makes perfect.  Well, we weren’t quite perfect but we were both a lot better than we were last week and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

Sunday’s slow cooked lamb stew made another appearance for our evening meal and Mrs Tootlepedal made a tasty broad bean hummus to go with it.

The better weather means that we are due to have some chilly mornings, but the days should be fine for some time ahead so I hope to be able to get a few more cycling miles under my belt.  This will be a very good thing, as thanks to being off the bike for a month, I have a great deal more of me under my belt at the moment than is good for my health.

A chaffinch once again is the flying bird of the day.  They are very reliable.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is the last of the Derby insects sent to me by my brother Andrew.

derby hornet

I am irresistibly reminded of my favourite limerick.  I remember it as:

There was a young man from St Bees,
Who was stung on the knee by a wasp.
When they said, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
Thank goodness it wasn’t a hornet.”

But I see that the original was by W S Gilbert who wrote:

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
But I thought all the while ’twas a Hornet.”

With the greatest respect to WS, I think my version is snappier.

But I digress.

Dropscone recently took a boat trip across the North Sea to Amsterdam, coming back on what should have been the final day before Brexit and he dropped in this morning on his way back from the gym to have a cup of coffee and tell me about it.  His main impression was that Amsterdam is a very easy place in which to get run over by a cyclist.

I had resolved to have a very quiet day today as I was feeling far from my peak so after he left, I constrained my activity to a brief walk round the garden.

The cold and wet weather of the last week has put new growth on the back foot again and there are few developments but some flowers are doing well in spite of frost and rain.

wallflowers, dicentra, cardamine

And the fritillaries are fabulous.

fritillary in sun

There were sunny spells in the morning and these four chaffinches looked very cheerful in one of them.

four happy chaps

The blossom on the plum tree is just waiting for a warmer day to break out fully.

chaffinch in plum buds

The sunshine didn’t keep everyone happy as this study of a lady chaffinch giving a little siskin a kicking shows.

chaffinch kicking siskin

However, the siskin had the last laugh because it stayed in the perch and the chaffinch had to retire in confusion.

For the first time this year, we had several redpolls on the feeder at the same time and although they are small, like the siskins they are tough little birds and not afraid of anything.

three repolls

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off by herself to visit Matilda in Edinburgh (and her other grandparents who are visiting too). Matilda is basking in glory as she came second in her first ever dance competition yesterday and got a medal!

I stayed at home and mooched around in some showery weather until the skies cleared and I thought that my foot might benefit from a little walk.  I don’t want to seize up altogether and I have been severely limiting my exercise for five weeks now so it is important to keep moving, even if very slowly.

I walked up onto the Meikleholm hill and looked back to see the town bathed in sunshine while Whita Hill in the background was still under a cloud.

sunny town cloudy whita

Six minutes later, the town was in shadow and the hill was sunlit.  It was that sort of day, with a very brisk and chilly wind.

sunny whita cloudy town

I had intended to do a Grand Old Duke of York and go to the top of the hill and then come down again but I found a herd of cows in my way and thought better of it and went back down and continued my walk by going along the track to the Becks Burn.

I stopped and had a chat with Stan from the camera club who was walking  his dogs.  He told me that he has already sold a picture from the exhibition at Canonbie so that was good news.

I walked further along the track with one of the smallholders who have fields there.  There was no need to ask which were his sheep because as we approached his field they careered down towards him in the justified hope of some food.  He has already got some traditional spring lambs…

lamb oanel

…and there were other more exotic ones in a neighbouring field.

There were white things to see as I went along…

white things on walk

…and plenty of new growth in the hedgerow when I had crossed the burn and was walking down the road on the other side.

hedge buds

I crossed the Becks Burn again by this bridge which carries the Wauchope road back into the town.

becks bridge at Wauchope

In spite of the recent rain, there is still very little water in the stream after our dry spell in March.

As is so often the case, where there is a bridge and a wall, there is lichen.

Becks bridge lichen

I had thought of a slightly longer walk at this point but my foot put its foot down and told me to go straight home so I did.

When I got to Pool Corner, I lifted up two of the little squares of roofing felt which a nature lover has put there and underneath them, I found two baby slow worms and an adult.

slow worm and mat

Just before I got home, I passed a man with an unusual hedge.

quince fence

It is a quince hedge and he told me that when the fruits come, people pick them and bring him a jar of jelly in return.

When I got back, I found that there were more redpolls about…

redpoll pair

…and they weren’t averse to trying to establish a pecking order…

redpolls beak to beak

…though the one on the top right seems a bit astonished by the bad behaviour of the other two.

repolls flyting

I was cooking some ginger biscuits when Mike Tinker dropped in and I was more than a bit embarrassed to peer into the oven and to see no biscuits at all.  The little round balls of dough that should have melted out into flat biscuits were still little round balls of dough.  When I took them out of the oven (after Mike had gone), I found that they were dry, tasteless and inedible.

A bit of brain racking ensued (as far as I still have a brain to rack) and a second look at the recipe told me that I must have forgotten to put the sugar in.  I made a second batch, hoping not to miss out some other vital ingredient this time.  I must have got everything in because I got some undeniable biscuits out of the oven and they tasted quite good.  I am going to have one or two with a cup of tea when I finish writing this post.  Or even three.

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a very quiet evening in.

The flying bird of the day is a sunny chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba who has been visiting Denmark and was impressed by this ratty mural in Copenhagen.

copenhagen rats

We had rather ratty weather  here today, grey and occasionally drizzly but it was warmish and the cold winds had dropped so we made the best of it.  Fortunately, yesterday’s sore rib had miraculously cured itself so that helped a lot.

The birds made the best of it too and arrived at the feeder in droves all day.

I spent five minutes after breakfast looking out of the kitchen window to get the following sequence of avian activity and I could have taken roughly the same scenes at almost any time of the day.

Goldfinches threatened siskins….

goldfinches

…siskins scared the feathers off other siskins…

sisknins

…and more goldfinches shouted at more siskins while a redpoll looked on…

busy feeder

…and once in place, the redpoll ignored the goldfinches…

redpoll and goldfinches

…even when they got up close and personal.  They are the most imperturbable birds I know.

redpoll and goldfinches

A study in how to ignore a goldfinch.

The goldfinches had to resort to being beastly to each other.

goldfinches

But generally there was mayhem.

busy feeder

That was five minutes of action between 9.47 and 9.52.  Mrs Tootlepedal looked out of the window and remarked, “There are just too many goldfinches.”

Then Dropscone arrived with treacle scones for coffee.  There won’t be any treacle scones next week as he is off on holiday again, this time to what he hopes will be the sunny shores of Majorca.  He is an enterprising traveller.

After he left, we went out into the damp and gloom and Mrs Tootlepedal with the aid of a spirit level and some help from me got the first two of the four new vegetable beds into their final position.

new veg beds

Two down and two to go.

I took a picture of a clump of miniature daffodils as ‘daff of the day’ but when I looked at the picture on the computer, I found that they are so tiny that some heavy overnight rain had splashed mud all over them, rather spoiling the picture.

daffs

Leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to make fine adjustments to the levels on the new beds, I went in and made some potato and onion soup for lunch.

After we had lunched on the soup, Mrs Tootlepedal went back out into the garden and I got the slow bike out and did my standard short 20 miles circuit down to Canonbie and back.  It was nine degrees and the wind was light so pedalling was undemanding but the conditions were gloomy and views were not available….

misty view

…so I didn’t stop to take any.

I did stop for livestock beside the road though.  Lambs are everywhere and all carefully numbered to comply with livestock traceability regulations.

lambs

…and the Canonbie cows were conveniently grazing right next to the road.

canonbie cows

I am surprised that they were able to see me as I passed.

canonbie cows

But I was pleased to see them.

I was also pleased to see a very fine crop of willow flowers on a tree at Canonbie Bridge.

willow at canonbie bridge

willow at canonbie bridge

I had parked my bike at the lay-by beyond the bridge and walked back to take the willow pictures.  When I went back to the bike, I noticed that I had parked it by a large patch of butterbur on some rough ground.

butterbur

In spite of the cold and the gloom, spring is creeping in on us, almost by stealth.

My twenty miles took me over 200 miles for April so far which is very satisfactory after such a slow start to my cycling year but I am still well behind schedule.  Must try harder.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still hard at work in the garden when I got back.  She was improving her new paving area for the garden bench.  She hadn’t been satisfied with the small stepped terrace she had made for before she went down south so today she had lowered the step a bit and now felt happier with it.

Considering that we had intended to have a quiet day today, we had been quite active but that was enough and we went inside for a cup of tea and a rest.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a very satisfactory three quarters of an hour playing music while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal chatted and drank wine.  Afterwards the conversation was general and I arranged to go on a fern hunt tomorrow, weather permitting, with Mike who is a fern enthusiast.

The flying bird of the day is a redpoll.  It is not a very good picture but it is a change from the usual chaffinches.

redpoll

*Definition of OAK:  Old and Knackered.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from  Dropscone’s recent seaside holiday on the east coast.  He climbed a dune to look at the beach and saw five people, two dogs and half a million razor clam shells.

razor clams

We had a third and bonus sunny day as the weather turned out better than expected.  It was frosty again at dawn so I was happy to entertain Dropscone (and scones) for coffee while the temperature climbed slowly up to cycling levels.

Before coffee, I had an early walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we saw the first bumblebee of the year.

bumble bee

It was so bright that it was hard to miss.   I think that it is probably a tree bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.

After coffee, Dropscone went off to play golf and I looked out of the kitchen window while making some carrot and parsnip soup for lunch.  Rather to Mrs Tootlepedal’s surprise, the parsnips came out of the vegetable garden after a hard winter in pretty good condition.

Rather to my surprise, there was a steady supply of flying chaffinches and some convenient sunshine for them to fly in.

We try to run a gender neutral blog so here are male chaffinches, both horizontal and vertical…

flying chaffinches

…and females with wings in and out.

flying chaffinches

Flying birds are like buses, sometimes you don’t see any and sometimes they all come at once.

After lunch, I went out for a pedal.  Because my throat was still a bit rusty, I started carefully but it soon became obvious that cycling was doing no harm so I put a bit of effort in.  For once, the wind was light and I enjoyed every mile of my usual twenty mile trip to Canonbie and back.

There were a few signs of life in the verges at last.

dandelion

I stopped to admire a handsome tree at the Bloch….

bloch tree

…and some cows in a field who were happy to sit for a picture.

cows

This one took her duties very seriously.

cow

In times past, I would have been worried to see cows lying down as this was thought of as a sign of impending rain but this is a myth and the sun stayed out for me, giving me a fine view of the northern English hills in the distance.

view from tarcoon

I took another picture of the lambs at the Hollows.

lambs

Who could resist them?

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very hard at work in the garden on her new design for the middle lawn and its surrounds.

new garden plan

It takes a lot of skill and energy to lay paving stones.

I had a look round while she toiled.

The winter aconites were soaking up the sun..

winter aconite

…and a welcome hint of a flower or two could be seen on the drumstick primulas.

drumstick primula

Dr Tinker, who was walking his daughter’s dog, Bob arrived in nice time to join us for a cup of tea and half a dainty cake.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we made some progress which was helped when I found out that it wasn’t us but the computer that was making a mistake in one movement of the sonata we were playing.  GIGO.

I was expecting to go and play trios in the evening but the playing was cancelled so I went off with Mrs Tootlepedal to see a screening of Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Buccleuch Centre.  I didn’t know what to expect but in the event, I liked the slightly stylised  production a lot.  The setting, costumes and lighting were unfussy and bright (a very unusual thing in modern productions as far as I can see) and you could hear every word spoken. As the words are by Oscar Wilde this was a Good Thing.  What came over very clearly was the relevance of the play to Wilde’s own life and this gave genuine pathos to a witty production.

The flying bird of the day is one of the busy chaffinches and for once, the photograph has not been cropped at all which shows how favourable conditions were this morning.

flying chaffinch

My twenty miles today got me over three hundred miles for the month of March.  This is as much as I did in the first two months put together so things are looking up a bit. 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s walk up Blencathra last week.  He got this splendid view of the Lake District as he climbed.

Lake view

We were promised a chilly day with a brisk north wind and we got it.  Luckily we got some very bright and cheerful sunshine for most of the day so as long as you were out of the wind, life was sweet.

I was out of the wind for two hours in the morning but out of the sunshine too as I was sitting in the Welcome to Langholm office, catching up on putting the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database (now at over 80,000 entries).  I did welcome the occasional visitor too so it was time well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got back and I had a look at the azalea, which has survived a couple of chilly mornings very well….

azalea

…and one of the developing fantastical tulips….

parrot tulip

…which is unfolding very slowly.  I just hope that another chilly night tonight won’t discourage it entirely.

I went in and made some sweet potato soup for lunch and then ate it.  While the soup was cooking, I watched some appalling behaviour outside.

goldfinch and siskin

Shouting and kicking. The siskin toppled the goldfinch off the perch.

goldfinch and siskin

But another goldfinch soon returned the compliment.

It was too windy for an enjoyable cycle ride so I went for a walk with nuthatches in mind.  Sadly the nuthatches didn’t have me in mind at all and were conspicuous by their absence.  I was cheered up though by the appearance of the running rails for the Castleholm horse racing track which have appeared…

Horse racing rails

…and are waiting to be erected.

Having failed with the nuthatches, I thought that I might have a look for a dipper at the Sawmill Brig and this time, I was luckier.  It wasn’t plain sailing though as the dipper was living up to it’s name…

dipper

…but it did pause for a breather on a rock once or twice.

dipper

The rock was a bit too far away for a good shot but I had a lot of fun watching the dipper dipping.

Further downstream, after pausing for a cold ice cream from the Kilngreen van, I crossed the town bridge….

The Esk from Langholm Bridge

…..and was entertained by birds flying rather than swimming.

Large numbers of swallows and martins were swooping up and down the river.  I panned the camera vigorously in trying to get a shot or two of them in the air as they passed me and an interested onlooker might well have thought that my underwear was on fire as I twisted and turned violently.

swallows and martins

You have to be really lucky or skillful to get a good picture  of a flying swallow!  I did my best.

An oyster catcher was a more available target for my lens.

Oyster catcher

I walked on down the river, stopping to admire the cherry blossom….

cherry blossom

….and crossed the Kirk Brig and walked through the park and then along the river through the woods.

As I went along, the plaintive quacking of a duck could be heard.

duck and duckling

There were half a dozen tiny ducklings scooting about in all directions paying no attention to the quacking duck.  I wondered if something had frightened them.

I wasn’t really looking for ducks though. My target was early bluebells…

bluebell

…on the banks above the river.  I found some.

bluebells

They are not fully out yet but there were enough to make a pretty picture or two….

bluebells

…or three.

bluebells

I was rather surprised to find that I was walking in broad sunshine and light snow at the same time as I went along the Stubholm track but the snow faded away and the sunshine persisted so I continued my stroll by going along Gaskell’s walk.

In spite of the cold wind and the flurry of snow, it felt like spring in the sunshine.

Gaskells in spring

blackthorn

The countryside is definitely beginning to look greener now…

Meikleholm hill

…and my walk was very green.

Gaskells in spring

The bare trees will soon be covered.

tree

I got home and then immediately went out to collect our car from the garage where it had been serviced.  To my relief, no major faults were reported and I drove it home in a good frame of mind.

I got home in good time because not long afterwards, I looked out of the window and a snowstorm was raging.  Luckily, it was a storm in a teacup and was soon past.

My flute pupil Luke came and improved the day even more as he worked very hard and listened very carefully.  I am expecting good progress over the next month or so.

In the evening, I rounded the day off with a meeting of the Langholm Camera Club where we were treated to a very interesting demonstration of photo editing techniques by an ex professional photographer who has recently joined out group. He had much sound advice to impart and I only hope that I will be able to take it on board and improve my pictures.

I often put not very good pictures on the blog just to show things that I have seen rather than for the quality of the photographs but there is no doubt that I should set myself some targets to improve the quality of shots where I do have time to worry about settings and  composition.  I hope that readers will see the results in time.

The flying bird of the day is a study in yellow.

flying siskin

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