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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Archive Group’

Today’s guest picture shows the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon.  It was kindly sent to me by Mike Griffiths, author of the Wilden Marsh blog which is always an interesting read.  He is a first class photographer.

stratford theatre

It was a dry morning again.  Recently the weather gods have taken to raining in the night and leaving the days dry.  This is very welcome.  It was extra welcome today as I had to take the car to the garage first thing in the morning to get its winter tyres put on and then walk home.

After a light breakfast, I had to walk up to the town again to sit for a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I was filling in for an absentee welcomer.

There was not a lot of welcoming to do so I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database which I regarded as time well spent.

I picked up the car from the garage, complete with its winter tyres, and drove home in sunshine.  It was such a nice day that I rang Sandy up to see if he would like a walk after lunch. He was keen so we arranged a time and almost immediately, it began to rain.  It was only teasing though and it soon stopped and the sun came out again.

We decided to visit Rowanburn and walk to the viaduct that links Scotland and England, the route we had planned to follow last Saturday when we were foiled by the road works.

There was no let or hindrance today and we parked in the middle of the village…

Rowanburn

…just beside a tribute to its past existence as a home for coal miners and a coal mine.

We set off down the path to the old railway line from Langholm to England, passing through a coal and timber yard which looks as though it has more demand for timber than coal these days.

Rowanburn timber

Although the timber may look a bit dull, it turned out to be a treasure trove of fungi.

Every tree trunk seemed to have its own crop.

Rowanburn timber fungi

And I mean, every tree trunk.

Rowanburn timber fungi

This was my favourite.

Rowanburn timber fungi

The sun wasn’t out when we started the walk and everything is still wet after a soggy autumn so these cows with their feet in the mud summed up the situation rather well.

Rowanburn cows

It is enough to make a cow thoughtful.

Rowanburn cows

We walked on, along the disused railway bed…

Rowanburn railway track

…and entered the woods.  We thought that we would be in the woods until we reached the viaduct….

Rowanburn railway track

…but great tree felling has gone on and most of the track is now in the open.  This was made more welcome by the reappearance of the sun…

Rowanburn railway track

…and we enjoyed good views up the Liddle Water valley over the felled area…

Liddesdale

…until we came to the viaduct.

Liddesdale viaduct

It has a big new fence across it to stop me and Sandy walking on to it.  I could just poke the Lumix lens through a gap in the wires.

That is England on the far side of the bridge.

I was quite pleased not to be allowed to walk on the viaduct because it is a lofty structure as we could see from below when we had scrambled down a bank onto the road…

Liddle viaduct bridge

…and splodged through some very muddy fields to the waterside until we found a place where we could look back up at the viaduct.

viaduct

It is a rather frustrating structure to try to do justice to with a camera.  It is impossible to get a position where all the arches can be seen at once and its curved construction is very tricky to capture.

The skill of the men who designed and built it is manifest when you look up at the arches.

viaduct

The trackbed crosses the supporting pillars at an angle and on a curve and all this was done with a bit of string and a piece of chalk (and a lot of sound mathematics) and not a computer in sight.  My respect for engineers is unbounded.

I walked down the river a bit to try to get a better shot of just some of its many arches.

liddle viaduct

I enjoyed the peaceful water above the bridge too.

liddle water

Sandy didn’t fancy the splodge back through the muddy field so he clambered up a very steep path to the end of the viaduct but I took the longer way round and met him on the track.

We walked back to the car with one eye on a rainy looking cloud and got there just as a light rain started to fall.

We had stopped to looked at a few things on the way back…

fungus and hips

..so we were very pleased with our timing.

We went back to Langholm and Sandy entertained me to tea and a chocolate biscuit or two before I headed home.

It was too dark to do anything other than go in and look at the pictures that I had taken on the walk and practise a song which I have to re-learn by heart  for our Christmas concert with the Carlisle choir.

Generally speaking, my cough was much improved today and I really am quite optimistic that I may have seen the last of it soon.

In the evening, Susan arrived and she drove us to Carlisle for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.

Because I had got the winter tyres on the car, I was expecting a long spell of warm and dry weather but it was near freezing as we drove back so maybe the winter tyres will come in handy.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable as was the cup of tea and chocolate biscuits that followed it.  Two cups of tea with chocolate biscuits in the same day is a very good thing.

I didn’t have much time to look out of the kitchen window today so the flying bird of the day is a non standard one….but quite striking all the same.

flying chaffinch

Sandy has produced a record of our walk with some very nice pictures on it.  You can see it here if you would like.

 

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After my plea for some guest pictures, there has been a lavish response so thank you to all who contributed.  This one is from Jenni Smith, who during a short holiday walked along the coast from Stonehaven to visit the spectacular Dunnottar Castle.

Dunottar Castle

After our recent cool mornings, it was good to get up to a warmer day today with no frost to be seen.

I was feeling pretty perky, all things considered and after breakfast, I had a few of those adventures that the mice have while the cat is away (Mrs Tootlepedal is visiting her mother).  I emptied the dishwasher, tidied up the kitchen and put a load of washing in the washing machine and had the place looking quite neat by the time that Dropscone came round for coffee.

I did mix in some of the usual routine with all the fun.

There were at least three robins in the garden this morning.

reobin

A siskin looked rather alarmed by the prospect of featuring on the blog.

siskin

A chaffinch basked in one of the sunny moments.  I thought it might have an eye injury when I looked closely at the picture…

chaffinch in plum tree eye shut

…but a second picture taken a moment later showed that it was just shutting its eyes and stretching.

chaffinch in plum tree eye open

Regular blue tits were in evidence again.

blue tit

And the goldfinches paid a visit much to the alarm of the siskin who cleared out at speed.

goldfinches

Dropscone brought some of his excellent scones with him and I opened a new packet of coffee beans to grind so we had a high quality ‘sip and scone’ session.

He has been having some very annoying computer problems lately so once again I am keeping my fingers crossed that I avoid any such difficulty.

After he left, I had another look out of the window….

greenfinch in plum tree

…and seeing a greenfinch enjoying the sunshine, I thought that I could have a bit of that too so I had a quick snack and got my cycling clothes on.

At 50°C it was likely to be pretty kind on my chest so I embarked on a 27 mile circular tour, hoping to do some basking in the sun myself.  Sadly, although a little sunshine caught some larches along the Wauchope road soon after I set out….

larches

….it didn’t last and once again, I suffered from seeing some distant sun as I went along….

View from callister

…but didn’t get much myself.

The prevailing mood was brown…

View of ewes wind farm

…but as the windmills were going round very slowly, I didn’t mind too much.

At this time of the year, with the sun struggling to get up into the sky, cycling views are very binary with a bit of colour to one side of the road, as in the scene above, and none on the other side as in the picture below which was shot in full colour mode.

trees

As you can see, there was a bit of threatening cloud about but it sportingly held off until the last few yards of my trip.

I did all the small amount of climbing in the first 12 miles of the trip and after passing this colourfully roofed barn at Kennedy’s Corner…

Kennedy's Corner

…it was mostly downhill and downwind all the way home.

I stopped to take a picture that combined a ruin and a bare tree,  double pleasure for me….

Ruin near Chapelknowe

…and it was just as well that I wasn’t going fast because I had to stop again a moment or two later to let a rush of traffic past.

tractor with hay

The road was unusually busy today.  I don’t normally meet anything on this section.

I had two more larch moments to record on the way.  One at the start of the new Auchenrivock road…

Hagg on Esk

…and one at the far end.

Auchenrivock larches

I really wish that the sun had been out when I stopped here as it is my favourite place for colour at this time of year on a sunny day.

Thanks to the gentle wind and the relative warmth, I managed a respectable 13.5 mph for the trip without having to breathe too hard and got off the bike feeling well enough to spend some time giving it a good clean and lubrication before I put it away.

I am still coughing from time to time but I really feel that the end is in sight at last.

While I was cleaning the bike, I enjoyed a bit of late colour against the house wall.

cotoneaster

At this time of the year, the hours between three and five o’clock in the afternoon are a rather dead time, not time for evening indoor entertainments but too dark unless the day is very fine, to do much walking or snapping outside.  It is my intention to try to make use of this time to do something useful rather than sit around grumpily waiting for spring so today I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This was a momentous occasion as it started off another year, 1897.  (We began with the first edition in 1848 so we have come a long way.)

Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say that all was well in the south so it has turned out to be a good day all round.

The flying bird of the day is an imperious looking chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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My Somerset correspondent Venetia, who has recently been in Spain, has answered my plea for a guest picture with this fine study of a Spanish bull.  Like our pheasants, this one has been bred for sport and may well end up in a bullring.

bull

We had a day than never got warm, staying at under 4°C all morning and not doing much more in the afternoon.   It has got a bit warmer by the time that I write this but to make up for it, it is raining.

Still, a dry day is a dry day so we were not complaining, though I had to scrape the frost off the car before I could take Mrs Tootlepedal down to Carlisle to catch the train south to visit her mother.

Before we left, we had an early call from a sparrowhawk.  It failed to pick up a meal and sat sulking in the walnut tree for a while before flying off.

sparrowhawk

As we got ready to leave, we had a small panic when it turned out that Mrs Tootlepedal had inadvertently ordered a train ticket that would register on her smart phone.  As her phone is old and very dull, this was a problem.  However, it was a problem that was easily solved by a quick phone call to the railway ticket company who were able to change it by magic into a ticket that could be picked up from a machine in the station.

We were equally surprised and delighted to find a company with a real person at the end of the phone and systems that were not too set in bureaucratic concrete to be changed.

After I had left Mrs Tootlepedal at the station, I improved the shining hour by rushing round Carlisle like a busy bee, filling my shopping bag with absolute necessities of life such as cheese, coffee, dates, prunes and tea.

Once home, I stared out of the window through a rather dim light.

robins

There were robins everywhere

greenfinch and chaffinch

Greenfinches and chaffinches were the flavour of the day on the feeder.  No goldfinches appeared.

chaffinch

A chaffinch demonstrating keeping its head very still while in flight

sparrow and greenfinch

A sparrow and a greenfinch had a scowling competition.

sparrow

The sparrow won and did some posing.

blackbird

Matched by a blackbird

blackbird

This one chose the cuddly option.

There was just the merest suggestion of a little sleety snow at lunchtime but it came to nothing so I weighed up the charms of cycling or walking.  A check on the thermometer suggested walking and I went out, well wrapped up against the chill.

I walked out along one side of the Wauchope Water and after crossing the Auld Stane Brig….

auld stane brig

…I walked up the hill a bit and came back along the other side.

On the outward trip, I enjoyed the larches….

larches

…and a beech hanging on to its leaves….

beeches

…but was sad to see a whole crop of crab apples lying wasted on the ground.

crab apples

It was a day for big skies with subtle but interesting cloud formations.

big sky

Once I had crossed the bridge, there were more big skies in an opposite direction…

Wauchope valley clouds

…plenty of bare trees…

trees

…and, rather annoyingly, signs of blue skies and sun on the hills but not where I was.

view

I had to content myself with fungus and lichen.

fungus

Aged bracket fungus the size of serving plates

script lichen

Two sets of script lichen on trees near the Esk

Although it was only just after three when I got home, it was pretty gloomy so I went straight in.  It was not as gloomy as Mike Tinker though who dropped in while passing to say, quite correctly, that his cold was far worse than mine and that he had gone to the doctor and got medicine!

After seeing him and learning from Clare, one of my regular correspondents, that she has had her cold for four weeks now, I suppose that I shouldn’t complain so much about my minor ailment….but I will of course.

Actually, I felt quite a bit better this morning so I am hoping that light is finally visible at the end of the tunnel.  To mix my metaphors, I am not out of the wood yet though so I am trying not to get my hopes up too much.

I made good use of a gloomy afternoon by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and then the gloom was lifted by the arrival of my flute pupil Luke with whom I had an enjoyable half hour of playing.

I didn’t get a very good flying bird of the day today….

flying chaffinch

….so here is final flower of the year.

sedum

An (almost) indestructible sedum.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother who has been roaming the country.  He found it pleasantly warm in the sunshine at Scarborough.

Scarborough

I felt a lot better today, though not quite out of the woods yet, so naturally enough the weather took a turn for the worse.

It started out not too badly but as I was in the Welcome to Langholm office, it was no good to me.  The complete lack of visitors did mean that I could finish the last week of the newspaper index that I had left to do and I typed it into the database in peace and quiet.

By the time that I came to walk home, a light drizzle had started and it hung about for the rest of the day, easing off just enough to raise my hopes before starting again.

It was a rotten, cold, grey day that was no good for anything, not even for staring out of the kitchen window.

A small group of starlings turned up but they went away again before I got a chance to get them in focus…

starlings

…but at least they reminded us that a visit to Gretna to see a murmuration should be on our list of things to do soon.

There was quite a lot of traffic at the feeder…

busy feeder

…but not much chance to freeze the action satisfactorily.

Every now and again it lightened up a bit and I enjoyed these two goldfinches homing in the sunflower seed…

goldfinches

…though the sitting tenants weren’t quite so amused.

goldfinches

Mrs Tootlepedal saw a lone brambling while I was out in the morning but although I had a good look when I got back, I didn’t see it come back.

I settled for a blue tit and a greenfinch in the plum tree….

blue tit and greenfinch

…and a dunnock down below….

dunnock

…before going off to catch up on business.

I had to sort out a minor problem with my mobile phone account on the company’s website and found myself tempted into taking up an offer to “chat online with one of our operatives”.  It turned out much better than I expected and the problem was resolved promptly and efficiently.  Wonders will never cease.

I did think about going for a walk but it just seemed to get gloomier and gloomier and in the end, the only exercise I took was walking back up to the High Street to retrieve my computer glasses from the tourist office where I had left them.  I picked up a couple more weeks of the data miners’ work from the Archive Centre while I was there.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came.  I had suggested last week that he might like to practise some light tonguing of rapid triplets and he told me that he had done exactly that.

What was even more satisfactory was the fact that not only had he practised but he had actually got better too.  I spent quite a lot of time practising things when I was young without getting any better so I am pleased that I have been able to  teach Luke how to practise.  In my experience this is one of the things that many teachers overlook.  My teachers certainly did.

Mrs Tootlepedal was inspired by a recipe in the weekend papers to cheer up the gloomy day with a rum, raisin and apple suet pudding and this made for a very fulfilling end to the day.  Very full filling indeed.

I am hoping the improvement in my cold is continued tomorrow and that we get a little more light to look at the birds.

Meanwhile, the best that I could do today was a very poor effort in the rain.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another blast of Irene’s sunny South African sketches.

Irene's garden

We had a quietly grey day here today, dull but dry and calm.  It would have been another good day for a cycle ride and it has been annoying that probably the best two days for a bike ride that we are likely to get in November have coincided with me having a cold.  And to make it worse, not an all out and knock you down cold but just a niggling, persistent little blighter that won’t go away.

So it was lucky that although Dropscone was going to a society dinner in Edinburgh in the evening, he had enough time and energy to bring a set of treacle scones round for coffee in the morning.

The coffee was quite exciting as four packs had just arrived by post and we were able to chose our brew by looking at some fanciful descriptions of the flavours on the packets.  We settled for ‘rum and raisin’ flavour from Kenya but it tasted remarkably like ‘coffee’ when we drank it.  It was nice though.

When Dropscone left, I had a quick check on floral survivors in the garden.  There are not many but those that are left are doing their best to keep us cheerful.

calendula, nasturtium, rose and poppy

Then I went back in and stared out of the window for a bit.

The birds were back and it was a busy morning at the feeder.

busy feeder

Blue tits and chaffinches came and went.

blue tit and chaffinch

A greenfinch, blue tit and goldfinch all stopped for a quick pose for me.

greenfinch, blue tit and goldfinch

And a robin waited on the chimney until I had got a pose than popped up to the feeder to give me another chance.

robin

But perhaps I liked this picture of a blackbird on the ground more than any feeder pictures today.

blackbird

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with our neighbour Margaret and I waited in for a man with a van to come and collect the garden tiller to take it away for its service.  He arrived on time and I wrapped up well and went out for a walk.

I went down to the river to see if there were birds to be seen.  There were.

I have been thinking that the outer pair of gulls in the panel below were herring gulls but I think now that they may be black backed gulls.  The one in the middle is definitely a black headed gull.

gulls on the Esk

Also on parade was a dipper, Mr Grumpy and a goosander.  The dipper wouldn’t wait until I got it in focus but almost immediately disappeared under the water.

dipper heron and goosander

The mallards on the Kilngreen were more obliging and lined up neatly for a shot.

mallards

Nearby a rook was surprisingly calm while I fussed about with my camera.

rook

I left the birds to their business and walked over the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge walks.

The leaves have left.

Lodge Walks in November

Although, across the Castleholm on the more sheltered side, there are a few leaves still left.

Castleholm trees

I kept an eye out for the stumps of the felled trees along the Walks as they can be interesting.  I found this display of fungus on one of them, looking for all the world like a big handful of spilled beads…

fungus

..but as a closer look proved, they are firmly attached to the wood.  They may be a variety called purple jellydisc or Ascocoryne sarcoides.

As I have remarked before, the fall of the leaves lets me see the bridges more clearly…

Duchess Bridge

…but I didn’t cross the Duchess Bridge when I came to it on this occasion and walked down the side of the Castleholm to the Jubilee Bridge instead.  This let me look back at a lone tree which had retained its leaves against the odds.

Lodge walks

After I crossed the Jubilee Bridge, I had a last look at the larches at the end of the Scholars’ Field…

Larches

…bowed to the only flower that I saw on my walk….

umbellifer in November

…and got home to find Mrs Tootlepedal back from lunch and hard at work in the garden planting out wallflowers.

I sieved a bit of compost for her, shredded a few dead ends, photographed a lupin which is obstinately and not very successfully trying to flower well past its sell by date…

lupin

…and went inside to get out of the cold.

I put the afternoon to good use by catching up on my correspondence and entering a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database.

By the time that I had finished it was very gloomy outside so Mrs Tootlepedal came in and we had a cup of tea.

My Friday evening orchestra, Alison is, like me, not feeling quite at her peak so once again “Yes, we had no sonatas.  We had no sonatas today.”  I am very short of tootling pleasure at the moment.

I put another week of the newspaper index into the database instead.  It’s an ill wind etc etc.

The flying bird of the day is a pretty determined greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken at their home by Irene, my South African correspondent Tom’s wife.  Life is tough there in the autumn but someone has to live it.

Tom's home in SA

Tom rubbed salt in the wound by complaining about their drought when he sent me the picture and it felt especially painful when we woke up here to another day of endless rain and drizzle.

It didn’t matter a lot to me though as my cold had got worse and I wasn’t fit to do much anyway.  It was a day to sit about and consider all the little aches and pains that accumulate with age and to mention them from time to time until advised to knock it off by the long suffering audience.

It was an indoor day with the heating on and Mrs Tootlepedal used it to dismantle and clean her mechanical tiller before sending it off for a service.

digger

She has big plans for it in the remodelling of the middle lawn and flower beds over winter.

I lent her a hand when needed and then went off to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and croak my way through a few of the choir songs.

From time to time, I looked out of the kitchen window but once again there was surprisingly little bird action.  After a very busy start when the feeder went up, things have tailed off.  Perhaps the mixture of frost and wind has discouraged birds from going to far to look for food.

There were a few goldfinches.

goldfinch

Birds are very messy eaters so it is lucky that the cement mixing tray is in place under the feeder.

Sometimes the goldfinches concentrated on eating….

goldfinch

…and sometimes they broke off for some hard staring.

goldfinch

I stared back.

A chaffinch in the plum tree seemed to be huddling for a bit of comfort from the rain.

chaffinch

But another one had had enough and decided that a bit of head banging on the feeder was the way to go.

chaffinch

I sympathised with him.

I found a brief moment when it wasn’t actually raining to get a breath of fresh air and check on the flowers.

There are plenty of calendulas with a bit of life left…

calendula

…and the cornflowers have outlasted the poppies.

cornflower

The Nicotiana have lasted well but there haven’t been many calm, dry evenings when we have been able to go out and enjoy their fragrance.

nicotiana

The most amazing of the survivors is the clump of sweet rocket which is undaunted by frost, wind and rain.

sweet rocket

The camera makes it look a much nicer day than it actually was, though by the time that the evening came, the rain had stopped and it had got quite warm.

I am hoping that a day of doing nothing and an early bed will settle my chest down a bit and stop the irritating coughing and from the forecast, it looks as though tomorrow might well be another good day to do nothing much.

On a brighter note, I did get a better flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently visited Banwell Castle and sent me this picture of the gatehouse.  I am glad to see that they festoon potential photographic subjects with telephone wires down there as well as up here.

Banwell castle Gatehouse

The best weather of the day today was in the morning when it was calm and sunny so it was unfortunate that I had agreed to act as a substitute welcomer in the Welcome to Langholm office from 10am to 12 noon.

Still, I got a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and welcomed several visitors and both supplied them with information and extracted a little money for booklets from them so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I looked out through the kitchen window to see if the goldfinches had come back to the feeder.

They had…

goldfinch

…in numbers…

goldfinch

…and in squabbling mood.

goldfinch

They looked even better when the sun came out.

goldfinch

They were joined by sparrows…

sparrow and goldfinch

…and chaffinches, this one wearing a bird ringer’s ring on his leg…

chaffinch

…and blue tits.

blue tit

This is a very satisfactory start for the new feeder season.

After lunch, we went out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not quite back to 100% yet but she was able to do some good work in the garden today.  I had a look round.

The poppies are continuing to do well and to attract insects.

hoverfly on poppy

I didn’t see the bee creeping up on this one when I took the picture.

bee approaching poppy

Recently there have been several pictures of fuchsias with a pot marigold in the background.  I reversed that today.

pot marigold

I didn’t hang around in the garden though as I wanted to make use of a good afternoon for cycling.

After a few outings on wet roads, my fairly speedy bike needed a wash and lubrication so I was a while before I got going but I got out in plenty of time to do thirty miles or even a bit more.

In the event, perhaps because of the dust from the Sahara which Ophelia brought up with her, thirty miles was quite enough and cycling was a rather weird experience with my brain in turmoil as I tried to sort out what I was actually thinking from snippets of dreams and imagination that confused me as I pedalled along.   There are days when being an asthmatic cyclist is not the best thing to be.  A say with Saharan dust in the air is one of those.

Luckily, my cycling reflexes were in good order and as I went at a very modest average speed, I was able to get along quite safely although my concentration was anywhere but on the road ahead.

I must have been aware of my surroundings a bit though, as I stopped to take a few pictures as I went round.

There were various shades of autumn as I went along.

View of windmills

It was a good day for a pedal although it was one of those days when the wind seemed to be against for an awful lot of the journey.

autumn colour

Hedges have been clipped but the frequent rain showers have swept the roads clean so there were no thorny problems for me to avoid.

clipped hedges

The roads were quiet which was perhaps lucky as I was pedalling in a bit of a dwam.

KPF road

Gilnockie Tower was looking quite crisp as I passed.

Hollows Tower

And the distillery looked very cosy tucked in among the autumn leaves.

Langholm Distillery from skippers bridge

I fear that we are not going to get a really colourful show of autumn colour this year but perhaps there is still time.  I think we need a few cooler mornings to set thing off.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me the work that she had been doing in the garden in my absence.  She has great plans for the autumn and winter so that she will be ready for a bright new gardening year.  I will try to record developments as they happen.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and as there were four tenors and only one bass, I jumped ship and went off to sing bass (with variable success).  It was probably quite a good idea as my voice was suffering a bit from the dusty bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch one while the sun was out.

flying goldfinch

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