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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Archive Group’

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 comes from my sister Mary, who took a trip to the country at the weekend and came upon this delightful scene.

amersham

We had a thoroughly soggy day here today with rain almost uninterrupted from dawn until dusk.

Under the circumstances, a visit from Dropscone for coffee was more than usually welcome.  He has been to the physiotherapist whom I have recently visited in an attempt to get one of his legs working less painfully.  He has exercises to do and I will be interested to see how he goes.

In view of the rain, I spent an idle day indoors, sometimes looking out of the window to check on the birds..

awkward landing for chaffinch

…who came in a steady stream.

two chaffinches approaching

It was mostly a day for chaffinches…

four chaffinches appraching

…with the occasional siskin and the even more occasional goldfinch, one of whom was most indignant to see a chaffinch encroaching on his personal perch space.

goldfinch views chaffinch with suspicion

I did go out in the late afternoon to check on the height of the rivers after several hours of rain but it was not remarkable enough to warrant an illustration.  I will look again tomorrow.

Otherwise I had a desultory sort of day, reading the papers, putting new songs to learn into the computer, practising my flute and singing, and mooching around with the air of a man who would be doing something useful if only he could think what it was.

In the end, I remembered what it was, and put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database.

While I had been idle, Mrs Tootlepedal had been hard at work.  She helped out with a very busy lunch service at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop for two hours and spent a lot of time at home working on a patchwork horse rug for you know who.

rocking horse blanket

We are still waiting for the saddle and bridle to arrive from the rocking horse shop.

Unsurprisingly, a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

horizonal flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a very strange aperture in the clouds sent to me by our son Tony. Perhaps the weather gods had opened their kitchen window to see what he was up to down below.

hole in cloud

We had a second sunny day running here today.   Once again, it was quite chilly after breakfast so I had a cup of coffee, watched the birds…

two chaffinches

…did the crossword, bought some spinach from our corner shop and only then, set off.

I decided to go in a different direction today and started up the main road through the Ewes Valley, which was looking very inviting in the morning sunshine.

Ewes valley from Terrona

Wafted up the gentle hill by a favouring gale, I reached Fiddleton Toll in no time and turned off to go over the hill and down into Liddesdale.

This quiet road has recently been resurfaced and was in very good condition so I pedalled along in a very cheerful mood…

hermitage road nesar foddleton

…which persisted even when I came to the steep hill up to Carrotrigg.  It may not look very steep in the picture but I needed to use my lowest gear to get up it without putting too much strain on my tin knee.

carrotrig hill from bottom

I took the precaution of stopping after a while on the excuse of looking at the view behind me.  It is one of my favourite views so it was a good excuse.

looking back into Ewes valley at Fiddleton

The road ahead doesn’t look too bad either and there can have been few people in the world who felt more blessed at that moment than I did.

road up carrotrig hill

As I rode along the Carrotrigg hogsback, looking at the hills around me, I was metaphorically, and almost literally, for a moment at least, on top of the world.

hills at carrotrig

I went down the steep hill on the far side with extreme caution.  It was a bit of a waste of all the height that I had had to work so hard to gain but I was happy to get to the valley bottom in one piece and be able to enjoy this little bridge…

bridge below carrotrig

…and this neatly maintained circular sheep pen…

circular bield

…before arriving at Hermitage Castle (closed for the winter months)…

hermitage castle

…the last stop before I got onto the road south which follows the Liddel Water through Liddesale, visits Newcastleton and then drops down to Canonbie.

The nature of my pedal changed here as now I was cycling into the sun and the steady breeze which had been so helpful in pushing me up the hills so far.

It was not only this tree that was feeling the strain.

leaning tree steele road

Still, the road to Newcastleton from Hermitage is gently downhill so even into the wind, I was making reasonable progress and passing interesting things….

alpaca grazing

…until I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of my mobile phone ringing in my back pocket.

It had stopped ringing by the time that I had stopped pedalling and when I got it out, I found that the missed call had come from Mrs Tootlepedal.  I noticed that I had also received a text message from Sandy.  Intrigued, I rang Mrs Tootlepedal back and was appalled to find that she was at the Archive Group’s annual lunch, a lunch which I should have been at too.  We had both forgotten about it completely and Sandy had gone to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal who had been hard at work in the garden.

With twenty hard miles to go to get back to Langholm, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make the lunch so I pedalled on in rather a chastened mood.

Still, what was done was done, and there was nothing for it but to enjoy the rest of the ride as best as I could.

I stopped before I got to Newcastleton to take a picture of this railway bridge over a disused section of the old Waverley Line from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

railway bridge Copshaw

The northern half of this line has been re-opened in recent years and there is a strong push to get the southern half reinstated as soon as possible.

It would be nice to see this happen but it will need a lot of good will, hard work, excellent planning and pots of money, all of which seem to be in short supply at the moment.

I stopped in Newcastleton itself, and sat on a handy bench while I ate a banana and a finger of chocolate wafer.  Opposite me, the village’s two hotels, sitting side by side in the main square, looked to be keeping quite busy.

Grapes and Liddlesdale

Outside the hotels, there is a spot where free drink has been available in times past.

copshaw fountain

I had a real battle against the wind as I toiled up the three long hills which lie between Newcastleton and Canonbie.  Although this section of the route is slightly downhill overall as it follows the river, it never seems like that to me.  This is probably because the uphill sections are long and gradual and the downhill sections are short and sharp so I spend a lot more time going up than down.

I turned off just before I reached Canonbie and took a back road along to the Hollows.  This meant passing a sign with two words which by themselves fill my cycling heart with misgivings and together make me very worried.

windy hill

A nearby tree made the hill and the wind seem not so bad.

bare tree windy hill

When I got home after just under 40 miles, I was welcomed by the crocuses…

open crocuses

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from the Archivists’ Lunch.

Not unsurprisingly, the archivists had managed to have a very good time  with no help from me and both the food and the conversation had been thoroughly enjoyable.  Nancy, the organiser, was very gracious when I rang up to apologise for my incompetence.  She was rather relieved in one way because if I had appeared on cue, it would have meant thirteen people sitting down for lunch, a number which she regards as very ill omened.   Perhaps it was for the best after all.

I had got home from my ride at a good moment because our day turned from bright and sunny into very gloomy and rainy in what seemed like the twinkling of an eye.  Some of the gloom may have come from another very uneven performance by the Scotland rugby team which lead to a sound defeat by the French.

I used the spinach that I had bought in the morning to make a meal of  baked eggs on a bed of spinach with a rich cheese sauce for our tea.  It went down well as I had missed my lunch!

I didn’t have long to look out of the window today but a passing chaffinch appeared at the right time to become the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can find details of my route by clicking on the map below.  I did thirteen miles fewer today than yesterday but climbed 100 feet more so it was not surprising that I was a lot slower.

Garmin Route 23 Feb 2019

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Today’s guest pictures brings the only ray of sunshine into this post.  It was taken by my brother Andrew who was enjoying the fifty mile view from Alport Heights in Derbyshire at the time.

Alport heights

It was a day about the weather of which, the less said the better.  It was wet and windy from dawn till dusk and beyond and a total write off as far as taking pictures went.

On the cheerful side, I had a visit from Dropscone to discuss coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal’s ginger biscuits and we spent some happy time enumerating the deficiencies of our local government system.

It was too gloomy to look at the birds and there weren’t many birds to look at so that seemed appropriate.

siskin and chaffinches

I put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group website and that was at least useful.  While I was in a useful mood, I did a little organising for the camera club’s forthcoming exhibition and wrote an apologetic letter to someone who had had to listen to me being very grumpy towards him over the phone but who had sent me a very timely and competent response to my complaints.  Sometimes we get treated better than we deserve.

A pigeon wandered past the kitchen window.

pigeon under the feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal was deep into dappling all day.  There are a million decisions to be made on size, shape, placement, density of tone and much more  in this process and Mrs Tootlepedal is endeavouring to make sure that every one that she makes is the right one.  It is a painstaking business.

I made some soup for lunch and having eaten it, I went off to the dentist for a brief, painless and useful visit and after that we did some useful shopping.

There is a theme of usefulness developing about the day so although it remained a miserable day outside, it wasn’t a wasted day….especially as Mrs Tootlepedal broke off from the dappling to make fish pie for tea.  Her fish pie would brighten the darkest day.

I finished the day by walking through the rain to our local choir.  We didn’t have our usual conductor but we got two new members and we had some enjoyable singing moments.

It had finally stopped raining when I walked home and fine weather is forecast over the weekend.  Mustn’t grumble.

The flying bird is not good but it was still the best I could do.

dim flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is a speedy little number as it was taken by our friend Bruce as he whizzed along the Settle to Carlisle railway line at 50 mph this afternoon.

brucetrainsnow

We had the same chilly  less warm weather here in Langholm and for the second day running, I had the slightly mournful pleasure of admiring our sunlit snow capped hills from our upstairs window….

whitasnowagain

…rather than being out and about snapping away at the scenery.

The day of rest yesterday seemed to have improved the state of my foot so I thought that I should take the hint and spend another more or less motionless day indoors.  Part of the impulse to do this was driven by the very icy state of things outside.

The temperature stayed at or near freezing all day so the garden looked much the same…

snowymiddlelawn

…with neatly iced box balls.

plumpuddingboxball

From our back door, I could see the hardly hill cattle finding something to eat on the slopes of Castle Hill.

cattleoncastlehillinsnow

In the garden, our lone brambling made a return but once again, it didn’t come down to the feeder and didn’t stay long.

brambling

Chaffinches were more obliging.

peeringchaffinchsnow

The feeders were not as popular as yesterday although there were some busy moments…

busyfeeder

…so I had time to contemplate the ice capped plants nearby from time to time.

sedumsnowcapped

The birds insisted on approaching the feeder from the shadows which made taking good pictures difficult…

darkchaffinch

…and you would never guess that the sun shone all day.

gloomychaffinch

When they did come on from the sunny side, they made sure that they got the shadow of the feeder on them so I still couldn’t see them properly.

flyingchaffinchinshadow

The result was a lot of silhouettes like these.

silhouettechaffinches

I am going to miss the first producers’ market of the year as I will be away on Saturday so Mike Tinker very kindly came round to get a shopping list of items which he and Alison will purchase on my behalf.  These are the sort of friends you need.

I only just managed to resist the temptation to go for a walk as it was such a glorious day but luckily I had some Archive Group work to finish and some songs to practise, so I occupied the time quite usefully.

Because of the cold and the snow, we didn’t go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda today and this gave Mrs Tootlepedal time to finish another week’s work on the crochet blanket.

crochetblanketprogress

She thinks that there may be two more weeks to go before the blanket will be finished.

Weather permitting (there is snow forecast in England), we are going south tomorrow to visit relatives so there will only be brief phone posts while we are away.

The temperature is going to remain low in Langholm so I will fill the feeders up before we go off to catch the train and hope that the birds find somewhere else to eat if these get emptied.

Meanwhile, there are two flying chaffinches of the day today…

…wings down…

flyingchaffinchsnow28229

…and wings up…

flyingchaffinchsnow

….Take your pick.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Manitoba.  Never mind diamonds, Mary Jo sent me this portrait of a girl’s best friend in her neck of the woods.

mary jo friend

It may well be much used because she also sent me this screen grab from the local airport weather page this morning.

screen shot 2019-01-30 at 7.16

I am going to have to stop saying that our weather is cold!

Our weather was not very warm today.

It was another day with snow on the ground because it hardly got above freezing all day.

The sun did come out in the afternoon….

whita in winter

…and I would have dearly loved to be out on the hills rather than looking at them from an upstairs window.  However, I had decided to give my foot a complete rest today so I resisted the temptation for ‘just a short walk’ and stayed indoors all day.

I did put some of the day to good use by working of Langholm Archive Group business and practising some songs but I also did a lot of creative lounging around, posing first in this chair and then in that one in a very artistic manner.

I also took time to make some ‘what’s in the fridge’ vegetable soup and eat it but I spent more time than usual looking out of the kitchen window.

Birds were about….

chaffinch and goldfinch bright snowy

…and we even had a visit to the feeder from a couple of starlings, who came down from the walnut tree.

perching starling

They didn’t stay long though.

flying starling

The result of the kitchen window staring was not one, but many flying birds today.

They were all chaffinches…

snowy flying chaffinch (2)

…and because of the uniformly white backgrounds in some of my shots today, I experimented with popping some of them into frames.

snowy flying chaffinch (7)

Where the birds were close to the feeder, no frame was needed…

snowy flying chaffinch (6)

..but at other times, the frame and a fill, gave a different feel.

snowy flying chaffinch (5)

All the frame and background colours are picked up from the birds.

snowy flying chaffinch (4)

Mrs Tootlepedal had a quiet day in too as she was not feeling 100% so the house was very peaceful.

It is supposed to be pretty unwarm again tomorrow and as the ground has got rather icy, I may well opt for another day of foot rest.  We have decided not to go to Edinburgh to see Matilda as we have more travel in mind for Friday, weather permitting and we are getting too old for larking around in frost and snow just for the fun of it.

Of the many flying chaffinches I watched today, I thought that this one deserved the signal honour of being declared flying bird of the day.

snowy flying chaffinch

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Since the queen has asked us all to pull together as a nation*, I am happy to use an English bird for today’s guest picture.  Venetia spotted this plump pigeon in her Somerset garden.

venetia's pigeon

We got a bit of a shock after a night when we had been woken up by heavy rain pounding on the roof to find the garden looking like this.

snowy garden

And it kept snowing and looked as though it might come to something.

snowy sedum

The birds obviously thought that action was required and the feeder was busy from the start.  If you look carefully you can see that three chaffinches are competing for a single perch.

busy feeder snow

Once again, a small flock of starlings perched on the very top of the walnut tree but they didn’t venture down into the garden.

starlings in the walnut tree

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a robin pecking a fat ball in the sheltered container that she has recently cleaned up.

robin in snow

Dropscone dropped in with some scones and news of his first committee meeting as captain of the golf club.  Nothing exciting happened at the meeting which is a good thing.

While we ate, sipped and chatted, the chaffinches continued to bicker outside and….

sparring chaffinches snow

…the snow came down heavily from time to time.

goldfinches in snow storm

After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop over lunchtime and I walked up to the new Archive Centre base in the newspaper offices on the High Street and did some work.

The snow had stopped falling by this time so I was able to stop and enjoy the scenery on my way.

snowy trees by esk

My work in the newspaper offices consisted of photographing twenty nine articles from back numbers of the Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser which are held in bound volumes there.  A correspondent has been going through the newspaper index on our website and he has found many references to his family.  He had found them been being born and dying, playing cricket, attending school concerts and school inspection days, doing a lot of fishing and on one occasion being found guilty of malicious damage  by foolishly pinging a pony with a catapult.  It was a full and varied selection which made my task more interesting.  Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit shocked by how much work we had been asked to do but for me it was a pleasure, as requests like this mean that we are not doing our archiving work in vain.

As I walked home, it was obvious that not only had it stopped snowing but that it had started thawing…

 

melting snow langholm bridge

…and there was no danger of slipping as I went.

Mrs Tootlepedal got home from a very busy session of waiting at table in the coffee shop and almost immediately rushed off to catch the bus to Carlisle where she had arranged to go to the pictures with two friends from the Carlisle choir.  I had hoped to drive her down as time was tight but the car had not come back from the garage.

While she was gone, I processed the 29 newspaper images and emailed them off to my correspondent.  Just as I was finishing, Mike Tinker came round and very kindly offered to drive me up to the garage so that I could collect our car.  It had passed its test with a couple of minor grumbles about this and that so I drove it home.

And then, because the day seemed quite promising by this time and I had been sitting around long enough, I went for a little drive out of the town on the well cleared main road to have a look around.

The skies were clearing….

warbla in snow from terrona

…but once again, hills seemed to be attracting their own personalised clouds.

sloud on snowy hill

I drove back through the town and out again on the minor road towards Bentpath.  It was by no means clear of snow, ice and slush so I didn’t go far but parked the car at the quarry and had a look around.

I thought that I might get a better views if I scrambled up a small hill beside the road and as I had had the forethought to bring my wellies and walking poles, I did just that.

This was the view up the valley.

looking down road from quarry

Things looked promising as I neared my mini summit and I bustled along to get there before the hint of sunshine disappeared.

hill above quarry pedens view

This was the view back down towards Langholm

sunlit snow evening

I waited for a while and soon Whita was bathed in warm pink.

sunlit snowy whita

To the west, there was a dramatic cloudscape.

dramatic cloudscape

I could see that Whita was generating its own cloud cover and as it was getting quite chilly, I went back down the hill to the car and…

sun on snowy warbla

…on my way, I saw some interesting pitted track marks in the snow and wondered for a moment if a gang of tiny animals had been about.  Looking up though, I found the cause was more prosaic, just melting snow from the power line.

drips from wires

It was back to freezing by the time that I got in and I was pleased to have a snack and warm up.

The bus brought Mrs Tootlepedal safely back from Carlisle.  She had enjoyed the film, Collete and had even had time to buy a prawn sandwich to eat on the bus home so she had had a good outing.

Although there were a lot of birds about, I didn’t have much time to look at them and this rather vague chaffinch is the best that I have for flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch snow

*Note:  I don’t think that the English politicians have been paying attention to the Queen’s request as when it came to considering a motion in Parliament this evening asking the government to pay some attention to the needs and wishes of Scotland and Wales while conducting their brexit business, the Conservatives voted against it en bloc and the Labour party abstained.

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