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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Archive Group’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia and is a timely reminder to me not to complain too much about the weather as it shows fields in Somerset under a good deal of water.

Somerset floods

In spite of just saying that I wasn’t going to complain about the weather, I am.

We had a truly miserable day, just above freezing but with a ‘feels like’ of -3 or 4 degrees, not the ideal day for an Easter bank holiday.  It was made all the more miserable by a constant drizzle of snow, sleet or rain which never let up. …but at least we weren’t flooded.

I spent the morning in the Welcome to Langholm Office, occasionally welcoming people and putting a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive database.

I spent the afternoon at home looking out of the window at this:

goldfinches

It was quite windy too but the birds surprised me by their toughness in heading for the feeders under these conditions….

flying chaffinch

…in big numbers.

_DSC2804

At one time or another, we had goldfinches…

goldfinches

and siskins…

siskins

…who after a quiet start, got busy with arguments…

_DSC2841

….and disputations.

siskins

I found an enormous crossword to do and I also put some work into changing the energy suppliers for the Archive Centre and between these activities and looking out of the window and muttering in a surly sort of way, I passed the time.

In general, it wasn’t a day that was really worth dignifying by recording it in the blog at all so I will keep this brief.

It was actually quite hard to find a flying bird by itself today because there was so  much traffic at the feeder so the flying bird of the day has a friend in the background.

flying chaffinch

It says it is going to rain for almost all of the next two days:  time for some serious flute and singing practice I think.  At least it is going to get a bit warmer.

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Today’s guest picture, absolutely the last in my locker, is an Irish sheep which wondered what Dropscone was doing in Ireland.

irish sheep

We had a sub zero night but a sunny day and the temperature soon rose above zero although it didn’t make a serious effort to get much higher.

If you were sheltered and out in the sun, it wasn’t too bad a day but if you were exposed to the brisk north easterly wind, it was just as well to be thoroughly wrapped up as the sun was no protection form the bitter chill.

A robin shrugged off the early morning cold…

robin

…while a dunnock tried the ostrich method of keeping warm.

dunnock

As I spent the morning in the Welcome to Langholm office (not welcoming any visitors but doing some useful archiving work), the weather was a matter of indifference to me but I certainly didn’t dilly dally on the way home.

The snow had gone and so had most of the birds at the feeder and we had a very quiet day today with a small gang of greenfinches the most notable visitors over lunch.

greenfinch

I did think of going for a ride on the slow bike after lunch but the thought of pedalling home into the strong and biting wind made me choose to go for a walk with Sandy instead.  The innocent may think that there is little difference between a bike ride and a walk on a cold day but if you pedal at 10mph into a 15mph wind, you are turning it into a 25mph blast and that makes a cold wind even colder.  And for some reason, walking into a wind is not as soul destroying as cycling into one.

Anyway, Sandy and I went for a walk.

I looked at a couple of flowers in the garden as I went out…

winter aconite

crocus

…but it wasn’t warm enough to tempt the frogs to come out and play.

It was a blue sky day and almost all but the faintest of traces of the snow had gone.

view from Scott's knowe

We walked along the track to see how the Becks Wood had fared and found it had disappeared entirely.  Later in the walk we looked back from the other side of the valley and not a conifer had been left standing.

becks woodI was just saying to Sandy as we stood on the edge of the felled area and looked at the scene that it used to be a spot where you could find scarlet elf caps and at that moment, Sandy looked down and saw that one or two had survived the felling.

scarlet elf cap

Somehow this was very heartening.

We left the wood and walked down to the Wauchope road where an array of walls and fence posts played host to some good looking lichen…

lichen

…and some less charming varieties.

lichen

We struck up the lower slopes of Warbla to get the view of the felled wood and took advantage of the good weather to look at some other views as well.

Here is Sandy surveying the countryside…

sandy on warbla

…and here is the countryside that he was surveying.

view from warbla

I liked this arty shot with the view framed between two trees.

view from  warbla

As we took the track down to the Stubholm, we couldn’t help noticing some very active moss on the wall.

moss

I must have passed moss like this before without looking at it twice but now that I am more moss aware, I looked at it a lot.

moss

The sheds at the Stubholm looked cheerful enough in the sunshine and we were pleased to get out of the wind as we dropped back down into the town.

sheds at Stubholm

Mrs Tootlepedal was enjoying herself in the garden and the benefit of some outdoor work in the sunshine on reasonably dry ground stayed with her for the rest of the day.

I helped out with a little shredding of some pruned roses but I had to go in soon as there was preparation to be done for the monthly camera club meeting in the evening and my flute pupil Luke was also due.

He turned up with every evidence of having done some practice so we had a good session.

After he went, the phone rang.  It was my neighbour Liz making sure that I didn’t miss the striking effect of the setting sun on the slopes of Whita.  It was worth a look.

sunset on Whita

After tea, I went off to the Day Centre for the camera club meeting.  We had a better attendance this month and the members had brought in an interesting and varied selection of images for us to look at so that ended the day in a very satisfactory way.

The flying bird is one of the relatively few chaffinches that turned up at the feeders.

chaffinch

Sandy has posted a selection of pictures from our walk here.

 

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To make a change from endless pictures of moss, my guest picture of the day is a moose The picture came from Venetia, who saw the moose in Grand Teton National Park.

moose, in Grand Teton National Park

The wind is in the east at the moment, which often means sunnier days for us and this was the case today.

It also means cold mornings.

The frogs disappeared because of the cold morning but a daffodil appeared.

daffodil

And we did have wall to wall sunshine so after the frosty start, the temperature went up to a pleasing 7°C and this combined with a very light wind, opened the day to many possibilities.

After breakfast, the light was good enough to encourage bird shooting through the kitchen window.  Not all my efforts were entirely successful…

flying chaffinch

…but some were better than others…

flying chaffinch

…and some were quite action packed.

_DSC1501

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal turned to gardening and I took my walking poles in hand and went to the top of a hill and came down a again.

I had my camera with me for once.

I liked the contrasting colours as I walked up Meikleholm Hill…

View from Meikleholm Hill

…and I was surprised to see how much of the ground that I trod on was made up of mosses.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

You may think that the green hill on the right of the fence is grassy but in fact the pale grey patches are grass and almost all the green is moss.  Far from walking up a grassy hill, I was climbing a moss covered boulder.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

There was even a patch of moss clinging to the side of the concrete trig point on the top of Timpen Hill at 326m.

moss on timpen trig point

The view from the top was good.  That is the River Esk curling up the valley.

Esk from Timpen

On the far side of the Esk, I could see another example of tree felling followed by some very neat tidying up.

tree felling Longfauld

To the north, the Ettrick hills still had a little snow on their tops.

Ettrick Hills in background

Coming back down the hill, I stopped to admire the moss in one of the boggy patches.

bog moss

And of course, it is illegal to be out on the hill on a fine day and not take a picture of the town.

Langholm from Meikleholm

It is a very rewarding route for a walk of well under three miles.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in delving mode when I got back and while we were chatting, we noticed a bird singing away in a very forceful manner.  We followed its flight on to the silver pear and I was very surprised to see it was a dunnock.

dunnock on pear tree

I usually see these creeping about silently in a very unobtrusive manner under the bottom of hedges so I can only assume that love must be in the air already and either mates are being attracted or rivals discouraged…..or both.

On my way round the garden, looking for exciting mosses, I saw these instead…

liverwort

…and Mrs Tootlepedal told that they are liverworts.

After a pause for recovery and lunch, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where my legs would take me.

They took me to the top of Callister Hill (223m) and back down again.  I was going to put some additional miles in when I was waved down by a passing motorist who turned out to be a friend who wanted my opinion on the reprehensible behaviour of our local landowner.

This led to an interesting and lively discussion, conducted while aeroplanes overhead combine to drag clouds across the sky….

con trails and cloud

…and left me with just time to get home as the sun went down and the shadows lengthened.

cycling shadow

Secretly, I was not at all upset to lose a mile or two from my trip as the morning’s hill walk had taken a little stuffing out of my legs.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden again when I got back and we went out to admire the work on the dam bridge repair.

dam bridge repairs
It is looking very neat and tidy with a waterproof membrane now stuck on top of the concrete beams and the sides of the bridge completed.   We are waiting for the pavement edge to be re-installed, a bit of fill to be added to each edge of the bridge and then the final tarmac can be laid.

I still haven’t heard from the Queen regarding the Grand Opening.

In the evening, I took my third trip of the day.

Sandy arrived and he drove us down to Canonbie, where he and I delivered an illustrated talk on the work of the Langholm Archive Group to the Canonbie Tractor Club in the Cross Keys Hotel.   We followed the talk by a showing of the Langholm Heritage DVD on the mills and railway in Langholm which members of the group made a few years ago.

This must have gone down quite well as I sold six copies of the DVD (all I had brought with me) to members of the audience after the showing.

Everything went very smoothly.  This was by no means a given considering that we were using a laptop, a projector, a screen, a sound bar and the visitors’ wi-fi connection of the Cross Keys Hotel, any of which might have been in a contrary mood.

It was a day which has been firmly entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the River Severn in good form at Worcester.  My brother Andrew was there yesterday celebrating his birthday on an outing with two of our sisters.

river severn at Worcester

I was a bit tired after a busy day yesterday and so I was very pleased to have a good excuse not to go rushing out in the morning in spite of some dry weather.

The excuse arrived for coffee bringing some of his excellent treacle scones.  Dropscone had walked round as his car is getting repaired.

After he left, I spent a little time looking out of the window but cloudy weather and several intermittent and unsuccessful fly-throughs by a sparrow hawk limited my chance for taking photographs.

I settled for a couple of portraits of sitters.

goldfinch

chaffinch

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help serve the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre and I considered life for a while but eventually got up the energy to ignore a strong wind and grey skies and go out on my fairly speedy bike.

With the breeze gusting at over 20 mph into my face, my progress up hill for the first five miles can best be described as very steady and I was pleased to have the excuse to stop and take a picture of my favourite winter tree.

tree at Bloch

There is just something about its shape and position which really appeals to me.

It was quite a battle to get down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass but at least the wind stayed consistent and helped me back to Langholm.

I was more than a bit disappointed when it started to rain but unlike yesterday, the weather gods were just having a joke today and it stopped without really getting me wet at all.

I was able to enjoy a fine clump of snowdrops at the road side near Canonbie…

snowdrops in Canonbie

…and it shows what a few miles south and a small drop in height will do as some of them were fully out unlike ours at home.

It was too grey to take landscape pictures but I did take one more tree shot on the old A7 near Auchenrivock.  I liked the contrast in styles.

trees on old A7

After she had served the lunches, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone to a screening about a Cézanne exhibition at the Buccleuch Centre.  Dedicated to the portrait work of Paul Cézanne, the exhibition opens in Paris before travelling to London and Washington so she was lucky to be able to get a peek at it here.

In her absence, I had a walk round the garden.

It was cheering to see the leaves coming out on the honeysuckle…

honeysuckle

…and I was interested to see that a new plant, a sarcococca, is in flower.

sarcococca

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it has a very fine scent.

I did think of going for a short walk as it was still dry but it was so gloomy outside that I discarded the idea and did some pro relaxing instead.

I managed to stir my stumps enough to put an edition of the Langholm Parish Church newsletter of 1966, scanned and formatted by Sandy, onto our Archive website and I also put in some much needed learning practice on our Carlisle Choir songs.

Regarding the Archive Group website, I was interested to receive a report from Google today on our performance.  There was a pleasing number of clicks for such a specialised interest but some of the stuffing was knocked out of my modest pride when I checked for the search terms which  had brought visitors to the site.

I am not sure that the person who was searching for “second hand cars in Langholm” will have found what he wanted!  Some of the other search terms made me wonder why our website had turned up in the search results at all.  Still, some of the people who had arrived were definitely looking for answers that we could provide so not all was lost.

It is still cloudy as I write this in the evening and the forecast for tomorrow is terrible, full of wind and rain and snow so I don’t think that we are going to be able to see the much talked abut “blue moon” tomorrow night.    I shall keep an eye out just in case there is a break in the clouds.

No flying bird in the gloom today so a robin is sitting in instead.

robin

 

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Today’s guest picture is rather small but that is how it was sent to me by my friend Sandra.  I have put it in because it shows some of her regular flock of long tail tits visiting her feeder.  It is a great benefit to live right on the edge of town if you want a better class of bird visitor.

long tailed tits

There is still a distinct lack of perkiness in the Tootlepedal household.  I am up and about but not at all active and Mrs Tootlepedal is still mostly in bed having lost all her get up and go.  We are both doing a lot of coughing.

This makes the house a somewhat gloomy place and the succession of grey days isn’t helping.   It looked for a while as thought we might get some sunshine this morning but by the time that I looked out at the birds, the skies were heavy with cloud again.

The robin was in a stand offish mood….

robin

…and the goldfinches were too busy eating to wave at me.

goldfinches

The chaffinches always seem to be getting a chilly welcome from…..

chaffinch and goldfinch

….goldfinch or siskin.

chaffinch and siskin

Although I had occasional visits to make with a hot drink or a slice of toast for Mrs Tootlepedal, I was getting increasingly bored and restless with sitting around doing crosswords and listening to the radio so I realised that this might be a good moment to get back to putting copies of the 1960s Langholm Parish Church newsletters into the Archive Group website.  We have a collection of these newsletters given to us by the widow of the minister of the time and I put a lot onto the website  at one time but I have neglected them over the last few years.

This seemed the right moment to get back to work on them.  It requires scanning, OCR and HTML formatting and as they are not very well printed in places, the scanning and OCR requires attention and time.   If you wish, you can see one of the months that I put in today here.  I don’t guarantee that it will be error free.

It is interesting to me that 20 years after the end of the war, the minister still drew a lot of his examples from the war experience.  You get little feeling from the newsletter that the cultural stirrings that were rippling through the country in the mid 60s were affecting life in Langholm, though I am sure that they must have been making themselves felt even here.

This task proved a very good decision as it was interesting in its own right and as it required a lot of concentration, I didn’t have so much time to feel sorry for myself and I ended up a good deal more rested and cheerful than when I started.

To give myself a break between editions, I went for a very slow walk across three bridges.  The light was very poor by this time but I was still pleased to see some old waterside friends.

waterside birds

And the moss once again offered a bit of colour on a grey day.

The parapet of the Sawmill Brig was home to a mossy contrast.

moss

moss

And there was more to see as I went round the new path.

moss

It wasn’t a day for colourful views….

Lodge

….so I kept an eye out for other points of interest.

ferny tree

catkin and seed head

I had plenty of time to look about because I was walking very slowly indeed.  In fact I was going so slowly at one point that I thought that I might even have been going backwards.

Still, I managed to cross the Duchess Bridge and combine moss and bridge in one shot.

mossy tree and Duchess bridge

This part of the river in is shade for most of the year and it is no surprise to find a lot of moss covered trees on its banks.

The most colourful moss of the outing was this fine curtain on the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field.

moss on Scholars Wall

Mike Tinker was working in his garden when I passed and kindly offered me a cup of coffee but I had done more than enough by this time and headed home for a sit down.

I thought that it was about time to eat a more or less proper meal for my tea but in retrospect, this wasn’t a brilliant idea and a boiled egg and a finger of toast would have been better.

The quality of the flying bird of the day continues to be appalling.

flying chaffinch

We are promised our next sunny day on Saturday week so things may not improve until then.

 

 

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Today’s guest post is the third and last of Tash’s portraits of Tony’s dogs beside the Forth.

Tony's dog

It was a cold but brighter day here today so there were no complaints but I had a slight chesty cough threatening so I abandoned a plan to wrap up well and go for a pedal and settled for a morning of light loafing about.

I kept an eye on the birds.

We had two greenfinches…

greenfinches

…many goldfinches…

goldfinches

…several dunnocks…

dunnock

…and robins on every perch.

robin

There were at least three robins and I could often see all three at the same time.  They seem to be mildly territorial but not very fierce about it so maybe there is room in the garden for all of them.

We went out for our midday meal as it was the day of the annual Archivists’ Lunch. It was at the Eskdale Hotel this year and a party of thirteen sat down for an excellent meal.

After the meal, I thought that I probably needed to shake the calories down so I went for a walk.  I also hoped that a bit of exercise might frighten away my incipient chesty cough.

It was crisp and breezy and a beautiful day for an outing on a hill so I left the Eskdale Hotel behind….

Eskdale Hotel

…and went up the Kirk Wynd on the opposite side of the market Place and headed straight up the hill to the monument on top of Whita.

It was warm enough for the puddles in the fields to be unfrozen….

Puddle

….but the brisk north wind which was rippling the water made it feel decidedly wintery.

I had hoped for splendid views as it had seemed quite bright when I was in the town but as I got further up the hill, it became clear that there was still a lot of moisture in the air…

View of langholm

…and both the town and the Ewes Valley…

misty ewes valley

…were rather fuzzy.

Still, there was always moss to look at, both on a wall…..

moss on wall

…and in big tussocks making some of the walk hard work.

moss tussock

It didn’t take me too long to get to the summit though as the nippy wind didn’t encourage much standing about and enjoying the view….

Monument

…but I did take a moment to look over the wall behind the monument and enjoy the view across the Tarras to Tinnis Hill.

 

Tinnis

And you can’t stand next to a wall without admiring the lichen.

lichen at Monument

It is exactly a mile from the Eskdale Hotel to the monument at an average  gradient of 16% so I was pleased to have taken exactly half an hour to get there. There is a nice neatness about it.

The sun was already getting a little lower in the sky so I didn’t dilly dally and was soon on my way down the track to the White Yett and the McDiarmid memorial.

McDiarmid Memorial

Beside the memorial there is a cairn with a cap of moss which invited a closer look.

cairn and moss

As I walked down the road to Whitshiels, the sun sank further and a gently golden light kissed the hills at the top of the valley.

Ewes valley sunset

As our friend Sue said the other day, the colours in winter can be just as rewarding as any other time of year.   If you choose the right day.

Ewes valley sunset

I kept an eye out for moss and enjoyed this collection of moss and lichen on a badly  decomposing fence post beside the road.

moss on fencepost

A group of horses caught the last rays of the sun as I  got near to the main road.

horses

I had hoped to be in time to take a picture or two of a rugby match at Miltown but the players were just trooping off the pitch as I came down the last stretch of hill.  A spectator leaving the game told me that Langholm had won by over 100 points.  Their opponents must have got quite discouraged.

The sun was on its last legs as I got back to the town but it gave me the chance for one last picture on my walk.

tree sunset

The walk turned out to be  exactly four miles and took me exactly an hour and a half so the whole excursion was mathematically very satisfying.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy in my absence and the Christmas tree was back in its own home again.

Christmas tree

As it is Twelfth Night, that is as it should be.

The walk may have shaken down my lunch but sadly, although I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and didn’t cough at all, it didn’t do my chest much good so I am going for an early bed and hoping to get a good night’s sleep.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  We had left for lunch before the sun got to the feeders so it is another impressionistic effort.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was taken by our daughter Annie as she stopped off in Hong Kong on her way back from Macao.

Hong Kong

We should have been in celebratory mood today as it is the winter solstice and the start of a new year but Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold had got a bit worse and she wisely retired to bed for the day so we were rather muted,

It was a still, grey day and I might have gone for a pedal if I had felt more perky but the humidity was very high (98% as I write this) so my asthma was niggling a little and I didn’t want to desert the invalid for too long and to be quite honest, the weather has been so miserable for most of the year that some of the joy has gone out of cycling lately and I am having a hard time trying to get motivated.

I stared out of the kitchen window for a while where a robin was keeping an eye out for competition.

robin

A chaffinch came in search of a perch and flew off disappointed.

Flying chaffinches

A dunnock did some gleaning.

dunnock

And having chased a rival off, the robin went back to supervising its territory.

robin

I didn’t want to spend the whole morning stuck inside so I went for a short walk, picking up Sandy on my way.

I had heard that the wood at the Becks Burn was due to be felled so we went along to get some pictures of the wood before felling.

We were too late.  Signs were up forbidding access and in the wood, machines were already eating the trees.

Becks wood

We turned back and took a shorter route home, going down the edge of the wood and following the Becks Burn….

Beck burn

…until we got to the road….

Becks burn bridge

…and headed for home.

We had seen a few things on our way.

jacob sheep

And an indication of how wet the air has been was given by the hawthorn trees.

hawthorn

You might well think that it has been raining but it has been dry.

P1060180

A good tree is always cheering.

tree

I really liked this striking lichen on the roadside wall.

lichen

The beech hedges retain their leaves and give a bit of colour even on the darkest day of the year.

beech hedge in winter

The predominate view of the day was misty patches.  They were to be seen wherever you looked.

misty view

misty view

Becks mist

P1060170

We rounded off the walk with a view of a heron standing on the caul at Pool Corner.

heron pool corner

It was looking a bit too well turned out to be Mr Grumpy, we thought but it wasn’t bothered by us and just stood there thinking about fish.  We secretly hoped that it would fly gently off, giving us a good photo opportunity but it stubbornly stayed there until we gave up first and walked on.

When I got home, I had a last look out of the window…

shouting chaffinch

…and was very impressed by the sheer power of this chaffinch’s shout.

I made Mrs Tootlepedal a light lunch and went off to sing carols with some members of Langholm Sings at the Day Centre for the benefit of the ‘old folk’ who had just had their Christmas lunch.  They seemed quite pleased to see us.

And that was that for the day.  I acted as occasional support for Mrs Tootlepedal who was still some way below par, put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, surfed the internet and practised a song or two.

Roll on springtime.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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