Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Archive Group’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who found herself, with a crowd of other musicians, singing the European National Anthem very loudly outside the Houses of Parliament to indicate their support for free movement for  musicians after any Brexit.  This is niche protesting brought to a fine art.

20181210_121726_007_01

There were no protests here today and the temperature was comfortably above freezing at 4°C when I walked up to the health centre after an early breakfast to give a thimbleful of blood for testing.  This is to check my iron levels which were a bit low a few months ago.

In a way, I would be obscurely pleased if the levels were  still a bit low as it would give me a medical excuse for being frequently tired as opposed to a well founded suspicion that this might be down to a general dilapidation of mind and body on account of having had too many birthdays in the past.  Mind you, it might just be the onset of winter.

It was  grey day and when I got home the light meter on my camera told me that it wasn’t just grey, it was really grey so while Mrs Tootlepedal put in some time on her bike to nowhere, I did the crossword and occasionally looked out of the window, hoping that the temperature might rise a degree or two and that things  might brighten up.

In the gloom, I could pick out a dunnock scavenging for fallen seed..

_DSC9056

…and a party of greenfinches, peacefully munching away on the feeer.

_DSC9054

The peace didn’t last long….

_DSC9053

…as chaffinches and sparrows barged in.

_DSC9049

It is always fun to see the concentration needed for landing safely on a perch.

_DSC9050

I don’t know whether the gloomy weather makes it harder for birds to judge the landing but this chaffinch looks as though he is working hard.

_DSC9048

I was frustrated to find that although the temperature had gone up a degree or two before lunchtime, it had also started to rain in a morose but persistent way so I gave up thoughts of cycling or walking, had some soup and turned to music practice and preparation to fill my day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy on some errands but when she got back, she thought the day was good enough to plant out the last of her tulips.  I went out to offer her some light supervision and was delighted to find that one of the perennial wallflowers still had a flower or two on show…

P1150928

…though it was so dark that I had to use my flash to capture it.

Our ever patient heron was on guard at the pond and I liked the pattern that the perennial nasturtium’s leaves made on the yew behind it.

P1150929

(I had an appalling panto thought: It’s a behind yew.)

Next to the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is in very perky form…

P1150933

…and one or two enterprising shoots have pushed through the ventilator into the greenhouse itself where they are putting out a few flowers.

P1150930

In the early evening, seven members of the Archive Group assembled in our front room for our AGM.  You may think that AGM stands for Annual General Meeting but I have been taking lesson from you know who and can tell you that AGM stands for A Great Meeting …and not just a great meeting but a really great meeting, a really, really great meeting….probably the best meeting in the world.

At any rate, we were happy with it as we have once again done a lot of work and met with appreciation for our efforts.

After our evening meal, I pulled myself together and spent a gentle half hour on my bike to nowhere in the garage and that rounded off a quiet but useful day.

The flying bird of the day can be seen pushing through the miserable drizzle.

_DSC9057

 

Read Full Post »

Today turned out to be rather gloomy so I am very happy to have one of Venetia’s sunny Marseille shots as guest picture of the day.  The sky really is that blue in Marseille.

marseille building

It was a dry and warm day when we got up and as I had to drive thirty miles south for a singing lesson, I looked forward to taking my little camera with me and getting some good landscape shots of the north of England.

Things started well and I stopped just outside Langholm to enjoy the colourful planting beside the new section of the A7.

A7 autumn colour

Although the sun wasn’t out, the mixture of young larches and birches made a good show.

A7 autumn colour 2

I didn’t want to be late so I pressed on and hoped to get good views after my lesson was over.  This was a bad decision because by the time that I got to Hallbankgate, the day had got a lot gloomier and the hills were disappearing.

Penines in November

There were one or two striking patches of colour by the road on my way home…

The road to Brampton

…but by the time that I got to Brampton, it was raining and this was the last picture that I took on my trip.

the road in Brampton

The photo opportunities may have been disappointing but the singing lesson was both useful and enjoyable and made the trip very worthwhile.

Mary, our Langholm choir director, is an excellent teacher and makes learning both easy to understand and exciting to participate in.  There is something very satisfying in getting noticeably better results  than you were getting an hour before…and if only I could remember everything that Mary taught me, all would be well in the world.

I went la la la in the car all the way home.

When I got there, Mrs Tootlepedal had disappeared to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe so I had a lonely lunch, watched a lonely chaffinch…

solo chaffinch at feeder

…and then went off to meet Sandy and Nancy at the Archive Centre.

We did more work in preparation for our move to new premises later in the month and we got everything organised into the the ‘give to someone else’, ‘take with us’ and ‘chuck away’ categories.  archive centreWe have been in our present premises for 14 years and it will be strange for the data miners to have an different environment for their labours.  The new premises are in the middle of the town near the tourist information hub and we may get more interest in our work from visitors to the town as a result.

The days are so short now that by the time Sandy had kindly driven me home and we had had a cup of tea, the light had nearly gone and there was no chance of taking any more pictures.  Even so, between the singing lesson and the Archive Centre organising, it had been a very satisfactory day.  I hope to find a bit more to photograph tomorrow but the forecast is not very promising so maybe grateful readers will only have another short post to plough through.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, the sole flying bird that I saw today.

flying goldfinch november

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest pictures is another from Venetia’s visit to Marseille.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have had two very good visits to Marseille with my siblings so I make no apologies for another picture of a place of which I have happy memories.

Marseille sailing

Last night I foolishly let my thoughts stray to the idea of having  a short test ride on my slow bike this morning to see how my leg took to it.  The weather gods, who are ever alert to the slightest whim, promptly turned off the sunshine and got the rain back and all in all it was a very gloomy day and I gave up any thoughts of a ride.

Luckily Dropscone was alert to the weather too and knowing that I was stuck at home, he kindly came round with supplies of rescue scones which we ate with our coffee.

He was in a very cheerful mood as he had recently produced a good round of golf after several months of indifferent form.  And it was not just a fairly good round, it was good enough to win a competition with over 60 players.  Of course, the question now is: can he do it again?  I hope so.

After he left, I looked out of the window into the rain.  There were goldfinches about…

goldfinches in the rain

…and as you can see, some had taken more trouble getting dressed than others.

scruffy goldfinch

The smarter looking ones were giving each other the hard stare….

goldfinches staring

…and a green finch was keeping an eye out for incoming goldfinches.

greenfinch on goldfinch alert

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on an excursion to Longtown and I settled down to some computer work, a late lunch and a walk to the Archive Centre.

The walk went reasonably well as I managed to stop limping but it was still a slightly painful experience.

The reason for the visit was a meeting between Sandy, Nancy and myself to decide what we need to keep and what we can discard when we move to new premises next month.  Hard choices will have to made as we can’t take everything with us but we found it quite easy to pick some obvious items for the discard pile.  Other items are going to take more thinking about.  We paused for thought after about an hour.

Sandy gave me a lift home and we had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her outing.

It was still damp and grey so I headed back to m computer when Sandy went home and worked away while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea of baked marrow stuffed with mince and covered by a cheese sauce, the marrow grower’s version of lasagne.  It was so good that I am going to cook it again tomorrow for myself.

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and tried to put all the advice from singing teacher and speech therapist to good use.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch further from the feeder than yesterday’s capture and duller too.

flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her father, shows Matilda posing with flowers in the botanic gardens in Edinburgh.

Matilda and flower

The forecast had suggested that if I wanted to cycle in dry conditions, a prompt start might be advisable as rain was on the way by midday  It seemed like a plausible prediction so I arranged with Dropscone for coffee at eleven and set off after breakfast to go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Although I could see rain across the plain below when I got to the top of the hill after 5 miles, I stuck to my belief in the forecast and pedalled on.  I took the precaution though of not stopping to take any pictures as I went round and my only pause was to answer a text from Sandy on the possibility of coffee.  I got round dry.

Both Dropscone and Sandy arrived on cue for coffee (and scones with apple jelly) and I was interested to find that Dropscone had a acquired a new second hand car as his previous vehicle after well over 100,000 miles had come to the end of its useful life.  His new vehicle is a youthful 7 year old.  It was also interesting to find out that Sandy had bought a new camera as his old pocket camera had also come to the end of its days.

After coffee, with the rain still holding off, Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some gardening.  I mowed a lawn and did some shredding while Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and did useful clearing up and letting light in.

I let some light into my camera.

The new bed continues to thrive and there are even a few second flush delphiniums threatening to come out.

poppies in new bed

Old friends are still flowering:

fuchsia, camanula and cornflower

It has been a good year for the fuchsias, the campanula is on its second burst and the cornflowers have been out all summer.

cosmos, marigold and anemone

The cosmos continues to delight, the French marigolds shine on after the carrots they protect have all been eaten and the Japanese anemones light up a dark corner of the garden.

Elsewhere there were small insects to make up for the lack of butterflies.

bug on dahlia

Easy to spot on the dahlia but harder to see hidden in a lamium flower.

bug in lamium

Mrs Tootlepedal has tried a new more dainty hosta this year and they are just coming into flower.

little hosta

A few flowers on a new dicentra offer promise of a great sensation next year.

new dicentra

And the onset of autumn can no longer be denied…

virginia creeper

…even though summer sights are still to be seen.

sunflowers

A small yellow weed with a prickly leaf has sprouted in the soon to be dismantled strawberry bed.

yellow weed

We had to leave the garden when the promised rain started at lunchtime and as it is still continuing as I wrote this in the evening, the only other flowers that I saw today were tastefully arranged by the head gardener in a vase indoors.

vase of flowers

I had plenty of Archive Group work to do though so I wasn’t bored and I found time to set up the tripod and get the camera to do some bird watching.

The sparrows were back, both on the seed feeder….

four sparrows

The one on the right looks as though it is smoking not snacking

…and on the fat balls.

sparrows on fatballs

A few chaffinches appeared and with the sparrows went in for sideways flying in a big way.

sideways birds

There was formation flying as well.

flying sparrow and chaffinch in unison

Later in the afternoon, while Mrs Tootlepedal did her embroidery accounts on the computer, I made a pound of raspberries that I had picked before the rain arrived into two jars of quick raspberry jam.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we started work on a trio sonata by Quantz which is quite demanding on finger agility and counting skills so we won’t be short of things to practice when the long nights draw in.

We are in for that meteorological paradox, a steady spell of changeable weather and gardening, cycling and walking will be a hit and miss affair for the next ten days.  It helps when, like today, the forecast is accurate.  I live in hope on that front.

The flying bird of the day is an elegantly arched  chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I have kindly been sent a lot of guest pictures lately and I am working through them so I apologise to those whose great images have fallen through the sieve of time.  Today’s effort is from our younger son and shows his washing line on a typical recent day.

wet washing line

We had another grey day today here for the most part, a day when it always looked as though it was going to rain soon….but it didn’t and as a result there was lots of time for work in the garden.

As soon as the worst of the early dampness had worn off, I got various mowers out and mowed the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle and the front lawns and then strimmed the edges of everything that I could see.  There was hardly a blade of grass standing in the garden by the time that I had finished.

counterstriped lawn

I went for a fancy pattern to please Julie, a faithful reader from Australia, who had suggested that  a little variety in the lawn striping would not go amiss.

Then I sieved some compost.

After some slack dead heading days because of the drizzle, there was any amount of dead heading to be done and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I went round several times snipping off the ones we had missed on the previous circuit.

Some flowers survived the snippers.  The camera makes things look a lot brighter than they actually were.

white and red poppies

sunny reggae dahlias

Even on a drab day these ‘Sunny Reggae’ dahlias shine.

There are an encouraging amount of insects about.  Sometimes it seemed that every flower had one.

wild strawberry with tiny insect

phlox with insect

been on daisy

Or two!

dahlia with two insects

But butterflies were scarce.  The strong wind may have made life hard for them

peacock butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre over lunch so I set the kitchen window camera up in the vain hope of seeing the nuthatch again.

I saw a blue tit first….

blue tit on feeder

…and then the usual stramash of sparrows…

mass of sparrows

…with occasional greenfinch incursions…

incoming greenfinch

…but no nuthatch.  I am revising my nuthatch expectations down to nil.

We were having our outside doors painted for the second time as it had rained very heavily after the first effort and the work needed to be redone.  The painter went off after lunch and looking at the clouds, it seemed that it might be quite likely that the same thing would happen again but fortunately the rain held off and the doors dried.

I had received a call from a data miner in the Archive Centre to say that an unfortunate train of events had led to one of the microfiche readers losing some vital parts so after lunch, I snapped a siskin on the feeder…

perching siskin

,…and  went up to the Archive Centre to see what I could do about this, taking a picture of the clematis by the front door on my way out.

big hearted clematis

This is a late flowering and you might say that it is all heart.

It was a bit of a struggle to fix the microfiche reader as one of the errant parts had suffered minor damage but I got it cobbled back together in the end and the miners should be able to get back to work (with care).

When I got home again, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and I joined her, mostly in a  supervisory role but from time to time actually doing something helpful.

After a while, we both needed a sit down so we tested out the newly oiled bench and admired the flowers in the new bed beside the lawn.

new bed by middle lawn

On our other side, tall rudbeckias looked down on us.

rudbeckia

I like these rudbeckias because the flowers are durable and don’t need much dead heading.

However, there was plenty of dead heading still to do on a final tour.

There are many flowers about that don’t need dead heading all the time.

pansy and anemone

We are sawing up the old, rather rotten bench a bit at a time and I was cutting through a plank on the back when I noticed some lichen on one of the uprights.

lichen on old bench

We were probably right to think that it was time for a replacement.

I had thought of a walk (it was too windy for a cycle ride) but all this gardening had knocked some of the stuffing out of me so a cup of tea and a sit down looked like a more attractive proposition.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious evening meal and there were just enough raspberries to have as a dessert.

In any spare moments during the day, I ate a plum.  More plums are ripening all the time.  The wasps and the jackdaws are dealing with a lot of them but there are more than enough left to satisfy the most enthusiastic plum eater.  I can see plum chutney looming.

I hope to widen my horizon tomorrow as the forecast is quite cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Shugborough Hall and shows the modest dwelling itself.

Shugborough Hall

The forecast was gloomy again and the day was pretty gloomy but not quite as gloomy as the forecast.

I checked out how the trimmed hydrangea looked after my efforts last night…

hydrangea

…and reckoned that the haircut was neat enough.

The day was cheered up by the arrival of Sandy for coffee.  He has been having great fun fitting out his new shed with storage and tool racks and all those things which really make a shed a shed.

While we drank our coffee, a blend of Kenyan and Ethiopian, I noticed a blue tit visiting the last of the fat balls on the feeder.

blue tit

The blue tits look rather green at this time of year.

I took a tour round the garden with Sandy before he left and then did a tour of my own dead heading a considerable number of flowers.  Mrs Tootlepedal had already been out dead heading but there is always more to do.

Then I pointed the camera at flowers.

The dahlia of the day…

yellow dahlia

…a pale poppy…

pale poppy

…and some very bright and poisonous Lords and Ladies (arum maculatum).

lord and ladies

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe over lunchtime and I set up the camera at the kitchen window.

Business both at the Buccleuch Centre and our feeder was brisk.

I started by seeing sparrows…

sparrows 4

…sometimes quite caring and sharing…

sparrows 2

…sometimes a little bit threatening…

sparrows

…and sometimes not very welcoming at all.

sparrows 3

Within minutes, the sparrows had turned into greenfinches…

greenfinches

…who were just as competitive as the sparrows.

greenfinches 2

A couple of chaffinches crept onto the bottom perches…

greenfinches and chaffinches

…and had to put on their hardest stare to keep the greenfinches away.

greenfinches and chaffinches 2

After 6 minutes of bird watching, I had taken 45 pictures so I hurriedly put the camera away again and went out to pick a lettuce and have my lunch, a lettuce and tomato and a lettuce and marmite sandwich.

I did think about a bike ride but it was grey and windy and every now and again some light drizzle floated down from above so I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database until Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the Buccleuch Centre.

It didn’t look as though it was going to get any brighter so we got into the car and went off to Carlisle to do a little shopping.

I bought some new photo frames and then we topped up on dates, cheese, coffee and other necessities of life before rolling home.  It was one of those annoying days when the weather in Carlisle, a mere twenty miles south of us, was much better than in Langholm.  It is the price we play for living in beautiful hilly country.

I had a last look round the garden, picking out a strongly coloured sweet pea today…

sweet pea red

…and then went in and shut the grey day out.

I have updated my photo editor and I now have a lot of new things to learn so perhaps a few wet, cloudy and windy days won’t come amiss while I grapple with the mysteries of ‘Cloud Computing’ indoors.

The flying bird of the day is one of the greenfinches.

greenfinch flying

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture, taken by Dropscone while he was refereeing a golf tournament at Bruntsfield Golf Club last week, shows the trough where the carriages from the big house used to get washed.

coach washing pit

The forecast was unreliable and planning was difficult.  It had said that it was going to rain all day and since we had heard the rain pattering down as we went to bed last night, we feared the worst.

When we woke up though, the rain had stopped but the forecast now said that it was 90% certain to rain heavily at nine o’clock for an hour.

I was getting ready to spend the morning indoors but a quick look at the actual weather rather than the forecast made it plain that it wasn’t raining and didn’t look likely to rain for some time.  I put my cycling gear on and took a walk round the garden before setting off.

The poppies are rather scarce but good looking when they do appear.

red poppy with stamens

This one planted itself and is hidden behind the new bench

poppy behind bench

And this Icelandic poppy came with added insect.

hoverfly on icelandic poppy

It turned out to be an excellent morning for cycling with the temperature in the high teens and very light winds.  As a result, I was able to go round my customary Canonbie circuit in the quickest time of the year without having to try too hard.

I noted the fine heather beside the road at the Kerr Wood.

Kerr heather

And there were quite a lot of these about on that section of the ride too.

white wild flowers

I stopped for a quick breather at Irvine House and looked around.

irvine house wild plants

The view back towards the new road looked quite autumnal as the sky was cloudy but I was still more than happy to be cycling in my summer shorts.

Irvine house view

When I got home, the weather was still holding so I did a bit of dead heading and had another look at the flowers.

The Japanese anemones are starting to flower.

Japanese anemone

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of them off in the winter but she has left a few and more photographs of them will undoubtedly appear as I like them a lot, even if they do spread themselves around uninvited.

More poppies caught my eye.  This was the pick of them.

red poppy

And here is the dahlia of the day.

dahlia

I was trying to take a picture of this dahlia and bee but a little hoverfly got in the way.

fly and bee on dahlia

The most notable feature in the garden was a large flock of sparrows.  They were everywhere, much to Mrs Tootlepedal’s disgust as they eat her vegetables. I think that I can count thirteen of them here in the silver pear tree but there may be more.

sparrows in pear tree

There may have been a lot of sparrows around but once again there were very few coloured butterflies about.

butterflies

Whites are ten a penny.

I did see the first Red Admiral of the year in the garden but it got away before I could digitally immortalise it.

Mrs Tootlepedal made scrambled eggs with new potatoes for lunch and then we scrambled to get the washing in just before a sharp rain shower came on.

I am letting the scientific rain gauge (©MaryJofromManitoba) accumulate at the moment and it was showing 3cm or over an inch by the end of the day.

The rain stopped and I filled the feeder and put out some fat balls and stood back to watch.

The feeder was soon busy.

busy feeder sparrow

And the sparrows went for the fat balls in numbers…

sparrows on fat balls

…leading to some sparrow sparring…

sparring sparrows

…but the arrival of a group of jackdaws soon scattered the sparrows.

jackdaw closeup

The jackdaws very nearly polished off all the fat balls by the end of the day.

In the midst of all this activity, a very calm lone goldfinch arrived for a snack.

goldfinch

I put the bird watching camera away and as this seemed like a good time to be indoors in case the heavy showers returned, I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

The heavy showers did not return but my flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and we battled away at the art of counting and playing at the same time.

We are trying to master the art of not making mistakes in music that we know and should be able to play easily.  I am very aware that I always made mistakes when playing under pressure until I read the book, “The Inner Game of Golf” to try to help my wayward golf game.  It helped my golf quite a bit but it helped my music playing quite a lot more.  This was an unexpected bonus.

After Luke went, I got out a ladder and trimmed the climbing hydrangea which grows on the wall of the house.  It has a tendency to climb under the guttering and onto the roof if not checked each year.

The flying bird of the day might well have been a sparrow as I caught several in action this afternoon but I thought that I might go for a refreshing change.

Behold, the flying fly of the day.

fly hovering

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »