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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Archive Group’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was hit in the eye by this burst of colour on her morning walk to Kenwood House.

Kenwood colour

After breakfast, I cycled up to the town to do some business including paying in a handsome cheque kindly sent to me by the government.  This was a refund for the very expensive road tax which I had paid on our old car.  One of the benefits of the little white zingy thingy is that it is tax free to put on the road, part of the inducements to go electric.  These benefits will doubtless disappear when more people start buying electric cars but judging by the published figures on the rate of sales, I should be safe for a while yet.

Then  I drove off into England for the third day running, this time to see my singing teacher Mary.  My ambition is to be able to sing a simple song more or less in tune and in a pleasant manner so she has her work cut out on both fronts.  However, she is a first rate teacher and I came away feeling that with work, I might be able to achieve my goal.

An added bonus was being able to watch a small flock of lapwings flying around in the field opposite her house after the lesson.

It was another fine day so when I got home, I took a walk round the garden in the hope that more azaleas would have come out.  They are very reluctant.

not out azalea

This one has been covered with  promising buds for ages but it is still strangely reluctant to burst into flower.  Our warmer weather is set to continue for a day or two so I am keeping my hopes up.

When I went in, I found that Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer and chief data miner for our local newspaper index, had brought round the sheets which will mean when they have been entered into the database that we have reached 1900.  Three cheers to all involved.

It was soon time for lunch and after I had eaten my soup and cheese and done the crossword, the downside of the little white thingy came into play.  The crucial word here is “white” and some pointed remarks from Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to the fact that a white car shows the dirt.  For many years now I have avoided washing our car because in my view, it just encourages more dirt, but even I could see that the new car is going to require regular washing.  Ah well, nothing in the world is quite perfect.

After I had washed to car, the middle lawn called to me.  The moss eating mixture which I applied a few weeks ago seems to have had an effect but there was still a very mossy patch in the middle of the lawn so I got out the scarifier and gave the whole lawn a going over.  When I had collected the moss with the mower, the lawn looked quite potential…

scarified lawn

…though my assistant thought that there was still work to be done.

scarifying assistant

…and to be fair, there is still quite a bit of moss about.

As you can see from the lawn picture, we are between colour at the moment with the tulips and daffodils past but there is a lot of green about…

green garden May

…and there are spots of colour here and there.

The sweet rocket is coming out…

sweet rocket

…the tree peony is very nearly out…

tree peony flower nearly out

…and the Japanese azalea is doing its best too.

japanese azalea

The cow parsley in the back border is beginning to look really impressive…

rampant cow parsley

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has a purple stemmed variety in another bed.

purple stemmed cow parsley

I went round to the back of the house, to check what flowers could be seen along the dam…

flowers along dam may

…and found daisies, potentilla and the first of the aquilegia, one of my favourite flowers.

I came back into the garden and found that the white polemonium…

white polemonium

…had been joined by a blue variety…

blue polemonium

…and the first geraniums have arrived too.

cranesbill

I took a view from an upstairs window which showed that only two of the five azaleas in the bed along the road have come out…

azaleas in sun

…and then went off for another short and gentle therapeutic pedal on the slow bike.

I passed the bluebells on the hill again without walking up to visit them this time.

bluebells on hill

When I had been down in England in the morning, I had noticed that quite a few hawthorns had come out and I was interested to see if ours were out too.  They weren’t….

hawthorn not out

…but they are going to make a good show when they do arrive.

Although most of our trees are now green, the alders along the river sides are still waiting to join in, as this picture of the Glencorf Burn shows.

leafless alders glencorf burn

Normally, if I have a good bike ride, as I did yesterday, I would try to go further the next day but as I had my sensible head on today, I went slightly less far than I did yesterday and my ankle thanked me for it.  I was very happy to find my sensible head as often it is well hidden away.

I didn’t have much to time watch the birds today but I liked the concentration shown by this pigeon…

concentrating pigeon

…and checked out the usual customers on the feeder.

redpoll, siskin, goldfinch

My flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and I was able to use a tip which I had picked up from my singing lesson to help him get over an awkward corner in one of our pieces.

I also introduced him to Scott Joplin as a change from baroque sonatas.

As the sun sank after a full day’s work, I resisted the temptation to take a sunset picture as I already had too many for the post and so all that is left now is the flying bird of the day.  Or rather, in today’s case, the fleeing bird of the day.

fleeing siskins

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Today’s guest picture is a look back at Venetia’s African trip.  There are so few bees in our garden that I wondered whether a relative of this handsome carmine bee eater might be responsible for the dearth….but it is probably just the cool weather.

carmine bee-eater

A cold and sometimes drizzly day made it easy for me to persuade myself that another more or less complete day of rest might be good for my feet so it was fortunate that we had plenty of visitors to brighten our day.

Our first visitor was Sandy, who came round to enjoy a cup of coffee and some biscuits.  He has been very busy in his garden organising new fencing and a sitting area in front of his garden shed.   He is also about to fly away from our cold climate and visit the Canary Islands with friends.  All in all, he was very cheery as a result.

Just as we had finished the coffee pot, Scott our ex minister turned up with his wife Jane.  Obviously living in a big city has slightly blunted his coffee radar but it was easy enough to brew another pot and we sat and caught up with their doings.

While we were sipping and  chatting, the third visitor of the morning arrived in the plum tree.

rook peering

It was a rook demanding attention.

rook shouting

Always eager to please, I picked up my camera and took two profiles…

rook right profile

…showing the rook as both sensitive and serious….

rook left profile

…and then, happy with the result, the rook flew off, leaving the centre of attention to a blackbird.pecking blackbird

When Scott and Jane left, I took a moment to wander round the garden. There is little novelty at the moment because of the cold mornings and grey afternoons.

Such tulips as are still around are in a state of suspended animation…

 

thin tulip

…and only one more flower has appeared on the garage clematis.

two white clematis flowers

I went back in and when I looked out of the kitchen window, I saw the power of a pigeon’s stare.  The one on the left had caused the one on the right to completely lose its focus.

hard stare pigeon

A chaffinch, though larger than  the tiny siskin, still thought it wise to nip round the back of the feeder rather than try to oust the sitting tenant.

chaffinch nipping round the back

I made some vegetable soup, with added turmeric which is rumoured to benefit arthritic joints, for our lunch, and having eaten some, I went out and mowed the middle lawn in a very gentle way.  While I was out, I noticed that the very first astrantia of the year had appeared.

first astrantia

Regular readers will know that they can expect many more shots of this flower before summer is over.

I went in and put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.  I am a bit behind the data miners and will have to find time to put in more weeks soon.

When the week was entered, I went out to see what Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing in the garden all afternoon.  She had done a lot of tidying up of the early spring growth and is busy getting ready for the next stage.  Because of the stop start nature of the weather, the first azalea is now nearing its full glory before the others have hardly produced ten flowers between them.

red azalea out

It will be a pity if it goes over before the rest have come out as it will spoil the picture which the gardener has designed.

The marsh marigolds in the pond are out of my reach and so escape dead heading but the seed heads look quite pretty in their own right.

marsh marigold

The bergenias are reaching up and still putting out new flowers…

bergenia

…but this is just about the last of the trout lilies which have come and gone quite quickly this year.

last trout lily

I was just looking at a sturdy row of pea shoots growing in an old gutter in the green house…

prize peas

…..when our fourth visitor of the day arrived.  This was Mike Tinker and as it was four o’clock, we went in for a cup of tea and some ginger biscuits.

I am adding the shreddings and sawdust from his felled cherry tree to compost bin A in judicious amounts with other materials to try to get the perfect combination of green and woody layers which will result in rich compost later in the year.

After Mike left, the fifth visitor of the day was my flute pupil Luke.

We have been working hard on improving his breath control and today I finally managed to get my thoughts about this into an order which made sense to him and we made good progress.  It is always useful for a teacher to remember that if a pupil isn’t learning something which has been explained clearly to him, then it is the fault of the teacher and the explanation not the pupil.  Don’t just say the same thing again, try something different.  This is sometimes a hard lesson for a teacher to learn.

Mrs Tootlepedal has a way with quorn mince that makes it very tasty so we enjoyed a good meal to round off an interesting day.

I did spend a few minutes before tea on the bike to nowhere in the garage just to make sure that my legs won’t drop off entirely from inactivity.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, one of our most frequent visitors of the day.

flying siskin

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

chester

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

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

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

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

white garden flwoers

There was some colour about too.

pink garden flowers

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

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

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

bare tree wauchope school

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

pastoral scene wauchope

…with added calf.

calf

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

new lambs

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

blacthorn and pine Hollows

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

repaired road Hollows

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

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

Gilnockie Tower

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

wild flowers in verge

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

path down to river

…to the river at Broomholm.

Esk at Broomholm

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

Broomholm briodge

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

new veg bed

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

mystic Van Eijk tulip

…of the ordinary Van Eijk tulips….

Van Eijk tulips

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

Van Eijk tulip in evening

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

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

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

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

goldfinch shouting at chaffinch

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

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

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

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

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture 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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