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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Archive Group’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent visit to Amsterdam.  It shows the station clock.  Unusually for a clock, it doesn’t show the time on this face.  By a curious mechanism it is able to show the direction of the wind which the weather vane on the tower is recording.  (There is also a flying bird in the frame!)

amsterdam station

My day started with a visit to the doctor, occasioned by a few short dizzy spells over recent days.  The doctor took my blood pressure, felt my pulse, peered into my eyes and ears, and listened to my heart.  Having discovered that I was alive and well, he sent me home to sit quietly for three days, which I fully intend to do.

If I am still dizzy after that, he will prescribe some pills.  As I don’t like taking pills if I can help it, I intend to be steady as a rock after the three days of rest are over.  In the meantime, blogs are going to be quite dull.

Luckily, Dropscone came round for coffee in the morning and Mike Tinker came round for tea in the afternoon so I was not devoid of good company and Mrs Tootlepedal was on hand with constant support.

And there were several birds to look at to help to pass the time.

A siskin started the bird day off with a watching brief on the fake tree…

siskin on fake tree

…and soon siskins arrived at the feeder itself.

siskin on feeder

Then a chaffinch got tucked in…

chaffincheating

…and made sure that I knew what it was eating.

chaffinch with beakful of seed

A goldfinch sized up the position…

goldfinch checking

…and flew down to get a seed for itself.

goldfinch landing

Another perched on a stalk…

goldfinch on stalk

…before heading for the feeder and lunch.

goldfinch off stalk

Soon goldfinches and siskins were eating, but still keeping an eye out for…

full feeder

…incoming traffic.

full feeder with visitor

Below the feeder, the ground nibblers were about.  A dunnock crept past some promising daffodils…

duunnock hiding

…while a robin looked around…

robin peering

…and a blackbird took up a solid position.

quizzicval blackbird

Looking down on it all was a rook in the walnut tree.

rook on walnut

The kind people who run the servers where the Archive Group website sits have updated the version of PHP which they will allow me to use.  As a result the page which produces the results for a picture search no longer works.  This gave me a lot of headaches and after some to-ing and fro-ing, I now know where the problem lies.  Solving it will be more difficult as it involves understanding things like this:

PHP Fatal error:  Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function
mysql_escape_string() in
/home/****/****.com/****.php:16
Stack trace:
#0 {main}
thrown in /home/****/****.com/****.php
on line 16

This code is no longer supported so I will have to find out what the new version is or at least find someone who can tell me.  (The asterisks are the file names).    I might have understood this some years ago when the website was first written but I certainly have forgotten all about it now.

Still, I have time on my hands for the next couple of days!

The flying bird of the day is a siskin in determined mood..

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from a member of the Archive Group.  Joyce enjoys visiting Bermuda where her husband was born, and who can blame her when the views are like this?  That is a spider lily in the foreground.

Coopers island beach with spider lily

After an active day yesterday, I was happy to while away another grey morning with breakfast, coffee and the crossword merging almost indistinguishably into each other.

There weren’t many birds to distract me.  In fact these two siskins were the only ones that I saw on the feeder all morning.

two siskins

We had to rouse ourselves at noon though, as it was the day of the annual lunch of the Archive Group.  I had very carelessly missed this event last year as the sun shone and I got so excited that I went for a cycle ride instead of going to the lunch and completely forgot about it.

I was reminded about that quite a few times today.

We had set several alarms to remind me about the lunch today and walked across to the Eskdale Hotel with Sandy who was passing our gate as we left.

There was a good turn out of  members and partners and we enjoyed some good food and conversation, although we were distracted for a moment when someone saw a lion roaming about the street outside the hotel.

Langholm Rugby Lion

It turned out to be taking part in a video shoot to publicise the rugby club so we weren’t too alarmed.

After lunch, we returned home for a snooze in front of the horse racing on the telly but then, alerted by another alarm, we drove up to collect Sandy and went down the road to Longtown with him.

When we had passed through the town yesterday on our way to not watch a film, we had noticed what seemed like a possible murmuration of starlings so we thought that we ought to investigate this further.

As soon as we parked, we could see a lot of starlings overhead…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 1

…and small murmurations soon formed.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 2

They reamined disappointingly small though and a lot of the birds flew down to a pylon…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 3

…and sat on it.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 4

After a while, there were signs of action on all sides.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 5

In our experience of the murmurations at Gretna in past years, the starlings gradually gather into one huge flock but at Longtown today, they stayed stubbornly in many smaller groups.

There were one or two larger groups though and one of them gathered over the High Street.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 6

There weren’t enough in the group to produce the striking patterns that photographers hope for but some good shapes did form and dissolve.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 7

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 8

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 9

Things did not develop as we hoped and we could still see many separate groups of birds in almost every direction when we looked around.

It was a very cloudy day and it soon got quite dark as the street lamps came on.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 10

All the same, it was great fun watching the starlings above the roofs getting ready to go to their roost and I took a lot of pictures in the gathering gloom.

A few more birds did join the crowd…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 11

…and it became quite an impressive collection…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 12

…swooping and swerving above the houses.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 13

Strange shapes appeared…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 14

…maybe resembling a giant fish…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 15

…or a dove of peace…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 16

…or perhaps just looking like an impressive amount of starlings in one place at one time.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 17

The show lasted 25 minutes and we intend to come back again if we can get a fine evening. We will try to find a better viewpoint if we do return.

For some reason there is no flying bird of the day today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gunta and shows that although her siskins on the west coast of the USA are not quite the same as ours, they do behave in a similar manner.

pine_siskins-24

We had a very windy day here today and there was frequent rain too, so Sandy did well to find a dry moment to walk down and have coffee with us.  His luck didn’t last though and I had to drive him back home through a downpour.

While we were drinking coffee, we were entertained by the desperate efforts of a jackdaw to hang onto a walnut tree twig in the stiff wind.

jackdaw flapping

(I think it is a jackdaw, it might be a crow.)

When I came back from taking Sandy home, it was time to take down the Christmas decorations as it was Twelfth Night today.  The Christmas tree, cleared of its tinsel and lights, was put out to get used to being outside again.   It will go back into a bed when the weather is better.  It is lurking in the shelter of the wheelie bin to protect it from the wind.

christmas tree outside

I went back in and watched the birds.

A robin was checking to see whether there was anything interesting up there.

robin peering

Perhaps it was counting goldfinches.

four goldfinches

I was happy to see any birds in the wind and rain but it was a rare moment when all the perches were in use on the feeder.

two siskins two goldfinches

And with the wind rocking the boat, birds had to hold on tight down here too.

goldfinch hanging on

It was a day for doing things indoors so I made some leek and potato soup for lunch and after lunch, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Then I practised some choir songs.  We are going to have to learn songs off by heart so an early start is essential for me as I find retaining words and music very difficult.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that there won’t be clapping too.

Mrs Tootlepedal bravely cycled off to the shops and when she returned, she reported that the rain had stopped so I put on my new coat and took it out for a walk.

There were a lot of ducks about.  This bold bunch were swimming in the Esk through the waves below the Town Bridge…

esk ducks rough

…while this squad sailed in smoother waters nearer the bank.

esk ducks smooth

I crossed the bridge and found even more ducks resting on the banks of the Ewes Water.

kilngreen duck bankers

The light had got very gloomy by this time so I tried to sneak past the ducks without disturbing them.

I was spotted though.

white duck hiding

On the far back of the river, a familiar figure stood guard.

heron

At this point, the rain started again and got steadily heavier, giving my new coat a good test which it passed with flying colours.

The rain then stopped before I got home so I was quite dry when I joined Mrs Tootlepedal and our friend Mike, whose tea radar was once again finely honed, for a refreshing cup and some shortbread.

After Mike had gone, my flute pupil Luke turned up and we had fun playing.  The persistently damp weather doesn’t do our breathing any favours and we ran out of puff from time to time, but we did our best.

Because of the lack of colour in recent posts, I thought that I should take advantage of the Christmas season to put in two cut flower pictures, the first a gift from Clare and Alistair which is lasting well…

christmas flowers

…and the second a bunch of Alstroemeria which Mrs Tootlepedal bought to brighten the house.  They have repaid the purchase price handsomely.

alstroemeria

Flying birds were at  a premium in the gloom today and this was my best effort.

flying goldfinch

It is a mark of what the day was like that it almost seemed brighter after dark when the rain and wind subsided than it had been during the day.  The forecast is for tomorrow to be even worse .

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gunta, a correspondent and fellow blogger who lives in SW Oregon.  Knowing that I like bridges, she has sent me this fine example, one of the most notable bridges in the Pacific Northwest.  It crosses the Rogue River near its mouth.

Rogue River

We are only a day or two away from the shortest day of the year and there was no mistake about that here as the weather varied from quite gloomy to very gloomy.  In two weeks time, things will start to look up again, but it couldn’t have been much darker than it was today.

I was hoping for treacle scones to cheer things up but Dropscone had been sent off by his daughter Susan to do some necessary seasonal shopping  and was unavailable.

I watched the birds instead.

Siskins are messy eaters.  I don’t know how they do it.  Food flies off in every direction.

messy siskin

Birds were flying off in every direction too.

busy feeder

We had mostly siskins and goldfinches again and when chaffinches tried to get a seat at the table, they were given a frosty welcome.

chaffinch visiting goldfinches and siskins

In general, I idled the morning away and eventually cycled round to our new corner shop with a camera in my pocket and hoping to see something interesting at the river side on my way.  Not a bird was to be seen.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have a lunch with her ex work colleagues and I contemplated a grey cycle ride while she was away, as it was reasonably warm and the wind was light.

Luckily she rang me up to remind me that my Langholm choir was due to sing carols at the old folks’ lunch at the Day Centre.  That put the kibosh on cycling and left me just enough time for a quick wander round Gaskell’s Walk.

I like to keep an eye on fences and I was impressed by the full head of moss on this concrete post at Pool Corner.

mossy fence post

Even in winter, a little valley still has charm.  This is the Becks Burn just before it joins the Wauchope Water.

Becks burn at wauchope road

A bit further on, a burst of red and pale green caught my attention.  The bottom half of the branches on a hawthorn bush were covered in lichen with hardly a haw to be seen and the top half was covered with haws with hardly a scrap of lichen about.  Nature is mysterious in its ways.

haws and lichen

Some vandal, trying to be helpful, had put a discarded welly boot over the top of a fence post at the Auld Stane Brig, doubtless thinking that the boot’s owner would come and rescue it.  As this fence post is home to a lovely little lichen garden, I was worried but when I pulled the welly off, I found that the garden had survived.

Indeed, it was looking very healthy…

lichen fence post garden

…but I didn’t put the welly back.

One of the advantages of winter walking is that when the leaves fall off the trees, you can see things better.  I enjoyed the swirling waters of the Wauchope rushing through a rocky ravine below the path.

wauchope from Gaskells track

The silver birches which have sprung up since the conifer plantation along the path was felled have turned a rather rich brown colour.

brown silver birches

There was no escaping the fact that it was a gloomy day though, unsuitable for taking pictures and with the clouds firmly clamped on the hills.

clouds down on Whita

The sheep looked up from their grazing as I passed.  We have a good variety of sheep around the town.

inquisitive sheep

As I came down the steps that lead to the park, I noticed that someone had cleared the path that circles the big tree next to the playground.

I thought that this resulted in a rather cinematic image and fully expected to see a beautiful but sad person, pacing slowly round the circle accompanied by mournful mood music.

park circle

No such person appeared and I walked on.

Even the trees looked sad today.

sad tree at church

When I got home, I saw a blackbird on a neighbour’s roof and a collared dove on a wire.

blackbird and dove

The only bright spot in the garden itself was some snowberries.

snow berries garden

I had just enough time for a bowl of soup before I went off to sing carols.  A good number of choir members had turned out for the occasion and we gave a lusty rendition of several favourite songs and were rewarded with a good round of applause when we finished….or perhaps because we had finished.  Sometimes it is hard to tell.

By the time that I got home, it was too dark to do anything outside so I sat at the computer and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group index and practised my flute, with the computer playing the continuo part, until Mrs Tootlepedal came home from yet another meeting of the proposed moorland buyout group.  They are working very hard on the project.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable play.  I wasn’t playing particularly well myself in spite of the earlier practice, but just making music is always a cheerful thing to do.

With Christmas fast approaching, I fear that there is no alternative but to go shopping ourselves tomorrow.  If the weather forecast is right, I might get a short pedal in before we go.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many goldfinches.  In the poor light, this was the best that I could do.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She visited Margate, home of the Turner Contemporary art gallery and was please to be able to capture a Turneresque shot of the seaside while she was there.

margate view

I had a day of general activity, none of it very vigorous.   The morning started with the crossword and this was followed by the arrival of Dropscone (with treacle scones) for coffee and conversation  (scones good, conversation interesting).

When Dropscone departed, I looked out of the window to see a blue tit on the fat balls…

blue tit on fat balls

…and a siskin on the peanuts.

siskin on peanuts

I couldn’t stop for more bird watching as I had to go up to the newspaper office to photograph an article from 1888 which had caught the attention of a Scottish Dance enthusiast as he was searching through our on-line index to the newspaper.  He thought that it might cast light on a Scottish country dance called Langholm Fair.  The article mentioned the old customs at the Langholm Fair so I have sent him a digital image of it.

On my way home, I passed the sparkly bicycle that I saw on my way to choir practice on Wednesday and noticed that it has a cyclist as well as sparkle.

cheery bicycle

By the time that I had done the processing of the image for the country dance man, the day had turned nasty and staying inside looked like a good idea.

It hadn’t discouraged birds though and after lunch (Mrs Tootlepedal’s curried parsnip soup, delicious), I had time for a look out of the window.

Sometimes it was quite wet….

wet goldfinch and siskin

…and sometimes it was very wet…

wet feeder

…and sometimes it almost stopped.

I was pleased to see quite a number of siskins on the feeders.  They are winter visitors and brighten up a gloomy day.  This is a male.

male siskin

Siskins are small but fierce and are not frightened of other finches at all.

siskin and chaffinch sparring

There were moments when the air seemed to be full of birds.

birds flying in

We still have more goldfinches than anything else…

goldfinch attacking goldfinch

…and I liked the slightly resigned air of this one on the top of the feeder pole, patiently waiting for a spare perch.

goldfinch in rain

There was plenty of entertainment for the casual watcher…

chaffinch attacking goldfinch

…but I took a last shot of this greenfinch winging it…

greenfich winging it

…and went to do some work on the hymns for Sunday.

This took some time and I was a bit surprised when I looked up and saw a hint of sunshine outside.  I put on a coat and went to investigate.

There was indeed some sunshine but I had left things a bit late and the sun was sinking behind the hill.  Only the top of Whita was still sunny.

whita in evening sun

It was already too dark to take riverside bird pictures so I just pottered round the New Town, admired the sky over Eskdaill Street…

sunset over eskdaill street

…and went back inside.

After an early evening meal of beautifully cooked (by Mrs Tootlepedal) beef and veg, we set off to pick up my fellow bass, Mike, and drive to Newcastleton where Langholm Sings had a concert.

The church at Newcastleton makes a good venue for an informal concert and it was both warm and well filled with a polite and attentive audience tonight.  Mrs Tootlepedal, who was in the audience, reported that the choir had sounded quite satisfactory so we drove home in a contented frame of mind.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I are both singing with our Carlisle Choir tomorrow and I will have to do some more practice for that before we go.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  It was not the best picture of the day but our chaffinches have been neglected in the pictures above, and I thought that the slightly blurred effect captured the miserable weather quite well.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He encountered a much needed moment of reflection in these turbulent times while on a visit to Keddlestone Hall.

keddleston Hall

After our spell of frosty mornings and dry cool days, the temperature rose to greet the first day of November but unfortunately brought a lot of drizzle and rain with it.  The dampness persisted all day and as it was very gloomy, I found other things than cycling and walking to do.

After a leisurely breakfast and an entertaining crossword, I started the active part of the day with coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone.  After coffee, he kindly gave me a lift up to the town, where I did some Archive Group work.  Someone researching their family history had asked the group for a printout of an article concerning a woman from Canonbie who had died at the age of 96 with 158 living descendants.

I found the article and was much struck by the fact that the editor, faced with this potentially very interesting story, had chosen to use it as a chance to take a poke at Bishop Colenso instead of telling readers anything about the family.

canonbie woman

I hadn’t heard of the bishop but he turns out to be an interesting person who was very much in people’s minds in the 1860s.  I read about him here  and understood why he had upset the editor.  I cannot discover what the reference to the Natal Zulu method of counting signifies.

As I left the newspaper office where I was doing my research, I passed this recently installed elegant artwork on the wall of the building.

wall writing

The missing word at the end of the quotation is ‘heart’.

It was written by famous poet Hugh MacDiarmid, born and bred in Langholm,  and the full quatrain is:

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet—and breaks the heart.

The flowers in our garden may be past their best but Mrs Tootlepedal has been nurturing an African Violet on a windowsill inside the house and it has repaid her care.

afrian violets

Once I had done a little shopping and paid my bill at our corner shop, I made some onion and potato soup, using Mrs Tootlepedal’s homemade chicken stock, and while it was cooking, I looked out of the window to see what was going on in the garden and was delighted to find that the finches had finally found the feeder.

A small group of goldfinches were the pioneers…

first goldfinch of autumn

…and once they had got started, other birds began to eye up the feeder too.

sparrow

A collared dove looked down from above…

collared dove on wire

…and a blackbird wondered whether there would soon be fallen seed to scavenge.

blackbird on hedge

The feeder got quite busy for a while…

goldfinch on pole

…as a chaffinch joined the goldfinches.

chaffinch

A house sparrow preferred the nuts…

sparrow on nuts

..but a hedge sparrow (or dunnock) liked the seeds.

dunnock on feeder

The weather got steadily worse so I took this shot of a sparrow perched on Mrs Tootlepedal’s artificial tree….

sparrow on false tree in rain

…and after lunch, I was very happy to spend some useful time adding more of our index to the local paper to the Archive Group’s database.  As it was this online index which had sparked the enquiry that I had followed up in the morning, it was gratifying to know that our work is useful and appreciated.

After that, I sorted out my Carlisle Choir music folder which had been disturbed by our Glasgow trip and these simple tasks managed to comfortably fill the afternoon.  There was quite a bit of sitting down and reading papers and magazines too.

When the time came, I made a mild chicken curry, sweetened with sultanas and apple, for our tea and then depressed myself by watching the news of our election campaign creaking into action.  However, as President Trump has been kind enough to tell us who to vote for and what to do, we will have no need to think for ourselves at all.

It looks as though we might have a calm, warm and sunny day tomorrow.  This will be very welcome and I might get some sharper pictures of the birds if they come back to the feeder.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, zipping through the gloom and drizzle on its way to the feeder.

flying blue tit

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my archives.  It was a grey and damp day here so I thought that this black and white picture of Skye with a lot of water in it, taken earlier in the year by our son Tony, was just the thing to match the day.

skye waterfall

As well as being damp and grey, it was very windy too, with the wind gusting to 30 mph all day, so it wasn’t much good for anything interesting.

I did note these sunflowers at the front of the house.  They were sold to Mrs T as a packet of seeds which would produce 5 foot high plants.  The one on the left is as per specification.  The one on the right must be about ten foot high.

big sunflower

As the light was poor and the wind strong, it was not an attractive day for a photographic walk or cycle ride so I just pottered once or twice round the garden while Mrs T was off at a meeting.

I found a dahlia which hadn’t been nibbles, a rare thing this year…

unnibbled dahlia

…and noted that we still have few campanulas still flowering, both white…

white campanula

…and blue.

blue campanula

This rudbeckia is well sheltered by other plants and stood sill enough to let me take the picture.

three rudbeckia

And this handsome white hosta was protected from the blast by the front hedge.

white hosta

It was dry enough to mow the middle lawn but I was sorry to see that the damp weather and the shorter days are bringing signs of moss back.  I edged the lawn just to make it look as good as it can at this time of year.

The perennial wallflower as been going for months, working on the principle of growing its stems up another inch and putting another flower on them when the old ones die.

perennial wallflower august

It looked like this on a sunny day in May.

perennial wallflower

I put two more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and I was very interested to see an article about a meeting of the Burgh Council in 1900.  This was the summary of the meeting:

 There was a discussion of great length about provision of WCs in the town. These included Matthew Knox wishing to install 2 behind his property, the size of the flush (too large) at the Conservative Club, Mr Grieve having installed a bath in his house in High Street and Miss Common having installed a WC at Montagu Street, all without advising the commissioners. Several commissioners thought it was time that sort of thing was put a stop to.

Quite right too, I thought.  To be fair, it was the demands on the town’s water supply that was exercising the commissioners’ minds.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her meeting and we combined some recycling of glass, metal and paper with shopping and that was the most exciting event of the day.

In the afternoon, I drove Mrs Tootlepedal down to Carlisle Station, and waved goodbye as she caught the train to London.  She is going to visit our daughter Annie to give her support and pay attention to our new granddaughter Evelyn Rose.

Life is always a lot duller when Mrs Tootlepedal is not at at home and as the weather forecast for the next day and a half is is very poor, I shall just have to find useful things to do indoors.  Still, a little flute practice never goes amiss.

No flying bird of the day as it was too windy for them so I have put in a very low flying flower instead.

perlagonium

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