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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Bridge’

Today’s guest picture, brightening a gloomy day here, was sent to me from sunny Barbados by my namesake and near neighbour Tom who is on holiday there.  He is to be seen waving in the picture as he stands behind the remains of one of the biggest guns ever built, the product of the HARP project.

HARP gun Barbados

We had one of those days today about which the less said the better so I shall try and match my blog to it.

It had rained very heavily overnight and was still raining when we woke up.  Our neighbour Liz popped in for a moment and stayed for coffee and a vigorous and enjoyable political discussion which kept our mind off the weather for a bit.

It had stopped raining by the time that she left so I went out on my slow bike to have a quick check on the state of our rivers on my way to our corner shop..

The Wauchope was lively….

wauchope in flood

…and the Esk was pretty full…

river in spate

…though it still had some room to spare.

After lunch, I decided to brave the strong winds which were battering the town courtesy of storm Erik and go for a walk.

Apart from the wind, it was quite a reasonable day by now….

suspension bridge light flood

…and although the river had gone down a bit, there was still plenty of water rushing under the Town Bridge, not to mention the odd small tree trunk.

downstream town brodge in flood

I am always impressed by how well designed the bridge is to stand up to the pressure of water that hits it on days like these.  The water on the upstream side of the bridge is a lot higher than on the downstream side.

up stream town bordge in flood

The strong wind made it feel very cold and inhospitable and as my feet were not at their best, I cut my intended walk short and soon headed home.

A look round the garden showed our first daffodil trying valiantly to flower but wind and rain have bent it double and it is destined to bloom  largely unseen.

drooping daffodil

On the other hand, there are winter aconites beginning to stick their heads above ground so that is very cheering.

winter aconite

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting some music by Boismortier onto the computer and then trying to play it as fast as I could. As this was not very fast, there is room for improvement.

More wind and rain are forecast overnight and tomorrow so the air of general gloom pervading this post may well continue.

The buffeting breeze discouraged any small birds from coming to the feeder in the garden and I didn’t get my flying bird camera out at all so today’s flying bird of the day turns out to be three ducks floating very carefully right at the side of the river.

ducks on wauchope in flood

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday in Wales.  He took the opportunity to see one of the most famous engineering feats of Thomas Telford, a local Eskdale hero.  The picture shows the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which carries the Langollen canal through the skies over the river Dee.

telford aqueduct

We had a slightly warmer day here today but not much warmer so after having checked the weather forecast (grey but dry) I idled a couple of hours away after breakfast to let the temperature rise before getting out on my bike.

I spent some of the time watching birds.

full feeder

Goldfinches had come back today but my attempts to find a flying bird were generally less than successful with chaffinches either hiding behind the feeder…

chaffinch behind feeder

…or sneaking up before I was ready…

chaffinch approaching feeder

…and the goldfinches weren’t much more helpful.

goldfinch approaching chaffinch

I liked this pair with the sparrow in the role of Esau (my brother Esau is an hairy man…) and the chaffinch posing as Jacob (…but I am a smooth man).

chaffinch and sparrow

I set off on my bike, full of hope and with an ambitious itinerary in mind.  This lasted all of five miles because when I looked down into the Esk valley from the top of the Kerr hill, all I could see was rain, and heavy looking rain at that.

Within a minute, the rain had swept over me too and I was under fire from some painful, sleety raindrops which were being propelled by a strong and gusty wind.

I turned tail and tried to beat the rain.  I succeeded within a mile or so and instead of resting on my laurels and heading for home when I got to the Wauchope road, I set off to the top of Callister instead.  This was a bad mistake and the pedal home back down the hill was a full on experience of getting thoroughly wet.

Still, 17 miles was better than nothing and a hot shower restored my equilibrium.

Of course it had stopped raining by the time that I had got out of my shower so I went for a short walk.

There was even the odd glimpse of sunshine…

Town Bridge wet February

Telford worked on this bridge as an apprentice.

…but everything was very wet…

raindrops on park tree

…wherever you looked…

wet needles

…and as there were ominous clouds building up and my foot was hurting a bit, I took a quick stroll along the park wall where the pixie cup lichens ….

big cup lichen

…were to be seen on every side.

pots of cup lichens

The lichen stained bark of a tree caught my eye…

park tree bark

..but I had got discouraged so I headed home and looked for flowers in the garden.  The crocuses looked a bit discouraged too…

wet crocus buds

…but a hellebore was looking well and even had a fly for company.

hellebore feb

I lifted the head up to show that it was in good health.

hellebore held up

Once I got in, the weather brightened up but I was fed up by then and I did some singing practice, had a cup of tea and a biscuit with Mike Tinker who dropped in and made a beef stew for my evening meal.

While I was doing these things, Mrs Tootlepedal was continuing with her crochet blanket (the end is in sight) and doing some detailed work on the rocking horse as part of the preparations for painting it (a lot of work to go).

After tea, I went off for the first meeting of 2019 for the Langholm Community Choir.  There had been worries that the membership might drop off but there was a very good attendance with a new member on hand.  Mary, our director, in consultation with the committee, has settled on fewer new works this session and as they are fairly easy arrangements, we had a relaxed session.  I think this is a good plan as we ought to be able to sing  the material very well by the time our concert comes round without any stress.

The best flying bird of the day that I could find was this chaffinch, just out of focus.  It matched my efforts to read the weather correctly.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony.  While walking his dogs, he saw this big flock of sea birds floating just off shore.

wemyss sea birds

For some unknown reason, I was feeling a bit tired this morning so I decided to have a leisurely time and I was just standing in the garden contemplating life when Dropscone arrived in his car.

He was bringing a gift so I invited him in for a cup of coffee.  The gift turned out to be a loaf of brown bread which Dropscone had noticed lying in the last chance trolley at a supermarket in Galashiels late last night when he was coming back from a golf meeting.  There had actually been two loaves, both reduced to 11p and this seemed an irresistible bargain so he had snapped up both of them and kindly brought one round to us.  We ate several slices with apple jelly while we drank our coffee.  The bread was worth every penny.

When he left, I looked in vain for some bird action on the feeder but only spotted a single chaffinch happy to pose for a moment.

tall chaffinch

Perked up by the bread and apple jelly, and a hint of sunshine, I got my cycling gear on and set out to go round my usual Canonbie circle. The sun promptly went in and didn’t reappear but it was reasonably warm at 8°C and although the wind was strong, it was generally in a helpful direction so cycling was enjoyable.

The Highland cows in Canonbie were hiding behind each other…

two highland cows canonbie

…but a youngster was less coy.

brown cow

I cycled through the village and stopped for a second look at the carvings in the wood at the Hollows.  The artist has placed some birds in trees…

carvings at hollows

…and arranged a rather unsettling trio of heads on the ground.

heads at hollows

I cycled on and added a couple of extra miles to the trip, recording 23 miles for the second day running.  Added to my walking miles, this took my total to the month to over 200 miles which is very satisfactory for the first half of January but as the forecast is for near freezing weather for every day after tomorrow for ten days at least, the final total for the month may not be much higher.

I had a walk round the garden when I got back and noticed a little colour here and there…

january garden colour

…but the stars of the show are the snowdrops which are going well.

january garden snowdrops

I don’t have to go far to find lichens as I noticed this crop on our back doorstep.

lichen on back step

Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop and when she got home, she started working on her rocking horse restoration, which is progressing well, and I did the crossword and went out for a short walk in the hope of seeing some birds as there were none in the garden.

My hopes were somewhat dashed by finding cheerful dogs running up and down the waterside and as a result, no birds.

I did notice that someone had come along with a saw and cut up the trees which were resting against the Town Bridge.  The trees had been removed and only a splash of sawdust remained.

cleared langholm bridge

When I got to the Kilngreen, the bird situation was no better and a  lone gull on a fence post was the only one in sight.

sole gull on post

I went on to the Castleholm and took the new path towards the Jubilee Bridge.  Looking over the fence, I could see a female mallard standing on a rock in the Esk.

female mallard on rock

There wasn’t much more to see and very little light to see it with so I only took one further picture before I got home.

laurel sprout

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and invited us to go and view the new fence which had been erected earlier in the day on the edge of his garden by the chap who made our new bench.  I will take a picture of it next time that I go past.

Mrs Tootlepedal went out to see a screening of Richard II in the evening after cooking a fine penne and smoked sausage casserole for our tea and I settled in for some singing practice and a little late archive data entry.

As well as the lone chaffinch on the perch, only two other chaffinches appeared while I was looking today.  One was too quick and the other was too slow to appear as flying bird of the day.  Still, I am saving a lot of money on bird food this winter.

blurred flying chaffinches

Note: I am in the market for fresh guest pictures.

 

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Today’s guest picture shows our son Tony’s dogs visiting the castle near his home in Fife.  I may have used this picture before (I can’t remember) but I have put it in regardless to remind myself that Mrs Tootlepedal and I stood in that exact spot last weekend.

dogs at wemyss castle

It was a day of mixed weather but it was dry when I took this shot of a visiting collared dove during coffee and treacle scone time in the company of Dropscone.

collared dove

These may well have been the last treacle scones of 2018 but I hope that there will be many more in 2019.

It had started to drizzle while we were sipping and it was still drizzling when I set off after coffee to put in twenty miles on my bicycle.  By the time that I had gone half a mile, it was raining steadily and I was pleased that I was wearing a peaked cap under my helmet to keep the rain of my glasses.  I persevered though and was rewarded when the rain stopped after twenty minutes.

I had gone out along the Lockerbie road to see if the second of the two repairs to the failing banking had been completed and was happy to find that it had…

second lockerbie road repair

…even if the road patching was a bit rough and ready.   Should we keep on getting inches of rain every week, it will be a tribute to the engineers’ skill if the fence stills looks so regular in the spring.

I went to the top of Callister and then turned back and went through Langholm and out of the other side.  Although the rain had stopped, it was still damp, with wisps of mist rising from little valleys…

misty valley terrona

….and on top of Whita, the monument was swathed in low cloud.

monument in mist

Mrs Tootlepedal was out at a festive lunch with ex work colleagues when I got back so I had a lonely lunch and checked on the bird feeder.

The seed had gone down and there were some lively goldfinches about….

busy goldfinches at feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and set about cooking a plum pudding for our Christmas meal. I saw that the weather had brightened up a bit so I went for a short three bridges walk.

The clouds had lifted from the top of Whita…

whita late december

There are two bridges in this picture, neither of which I crossed.

…and I found a goosander swimming up the fairly turbulent waters of the Esk.

goosander swimming in esk

I love the goosanders’ jagged hair style.

gossander by bank

A gentle sunlight appeared as I walked up to the Town Bridge but I was concerned to see so much debris caught against one of the arches.

trees against langholm Bridge

Once I was on the town bridge, I was able to look up the Ewes Water towards the Sawmill Brig, my next target.  It was hard to remember how gloomy and damp the start of my cycle ride had been, only three hours previously.

Ewes and sawmill brig december

You can see a row of gulls on the posts in the picture above and I was hoping that one would take flight as I walked past them along the Kilngreen so that I could capture a flying bird of the day but they stuck resolutely to their posts.

black headed gull on post

It was really quite a nice day by the time that I had crossed the Sawmill Brig and started walking up the Lodge Walks, admiring this tree on the Castleholm as I went.

Castleholm tree

The little ‘tin church’ was looking very demure behind its picket fence…

Episcopalian church

…and it is just a pity that no use can be found for this charming building.

I continued up the Lodge Walks for a bit..

Lodge walks late december

…and enjoyed the sun picking out some fresh moss…

moss on lodge walks

…and I looked for little splashes of colour on lichen on a gate post.  The spots of red are so tiny that they are hardly visible to the naked eye.

lichen on gate Lodge walks

As I crossed the Castleholm on my way to the Jubilee Bridge, I looked up at my favourite lichen clad tree and wondered once again at the fact that a more or less complete coating of lichen doesn’t seem to affect its ability to produce seeds and new buds.

licheny tree

I didn’t linger too long though as the sun was getting low….

castleholm trees catch late sun

…and the clouds were re-assembling on the top of Whita.

monument in cloud later

Still, considering it is the shortest day of the year, I can’t complain as I had had scones, a cycle ride and a walk.

The only thing missing was a tootle in the evening but Mike Tinker came round to tell us that his wife Alison, my Friday night orchestra, has not sufficiently recovered from dislocating her shoulder to be able to play sonatas yet.  I hope that it will not be too far into 2019 before we can start playing again.

We had a test morsel of Mrs Tootlepedal’s plum pudding in the evening and it was delicious, light, fruity and very tasty.  I am really looking forward to Christmas day.

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

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona’s visit to the Netherlands.  She and her family camped beside the river Vecht.  She tells me that she passed up the opportunity to swim in its welcoming waters.

Vecht

We had plenty of water on hand today but most of it was coming directly from the sky which was not very helpful and we have had more rain in the first two days of this week than we had in the whole of last week.

The result was another very quiet day, though it was brightened up by a visit from Scott the minister which quite coincidentally turned out to be at coffee time.  He is off to his new parish near Glasgow soon and we shall miss him.

I watched the birds while I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch.

Sometime it is easy to imagine that birds are chatting to each other across the feeder….

chaffinch and sparrow chewing

…but a closer look reveals that they are simply finding the seed hard to swallow.

sparrow chewing

I did spot the occasional chaffinch and blue tit again….

chaffinch and bluetit on feeder

…but mostly it was the sparrow maelstrom as usual.

sparrow whirlwind

I have put up a subsidiary feeder on the elder tree and filled it with seed which, according to the packet, will entice an extraordinary variety of small birds to the garden.

It is attracting sparrows.

sparrow on elder feeder

I live in hope.

It stopped raining after lunch and I might have gone for a walk but by this time I had embarked on a scheme to make apple jelly with our windfalls so I cycled down to the Co-op to buy some preserving sugar.

The river was up enough after the rain to make use of all three arches of the Langholm Bridge….

Langholm Bridge in early September

…and create a bit of a ripple here and there.

Esk in minor spate

As I cycled along the river bank, I could see the first signs of impending autumn.

early autumn leaves

I stopped for a look on my way home and was delighted to see a dipper on a rock.  It was one of a pair but the other one flew off before I could catch it.

dipper september

I noticed how well the potentillas along the dam are doing  as I got home.  They started slowly this year but are making up for lost time now.

potentilla along dam

I walked round the garden when I got in.

The dahlia with apparent internal lighting was brightening up the gloomy day…

internally lit dahlia

…but this one looked more as though it was huddling up for some warmth.

huddled dhalia

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different sorts of cosmos on the go (one from a free packet of seeds on a magazine) and they are generally thriving.

four cosmos

There are even two buds on the Lilian Austin rose but they may need some better weather if they are to come out properly.

two rose buds september

Fuchsias are appearing in several different parts of the garden which is good as I like them a lot.

old fuchsia

The chives have produced some late flowers which are a bonus for insects.  I can see at least four on this flower.

chive with insects

And the sedum is getting ready to welcome butterflies should the sun ever come out again.

sedum nearly out

I went in and set about making the apple jelly. Our apples are not ideal for this task and I will have to leave the mush to drip over night to get enough liquid to make the jelly.

Mrs Tootlepedal came out into the garden and while she dug up the rest of the roots of the blackcurrant bush, I cut down the gooseberry bush as part of the projected remodelling.  It is an ambitious plan and we hope to have the energy (and the weather)  to carry it through.

The evening was devoted to music making as first my flute pupil Luke arrived and showed the value of practice once again and then I went off after tea to play trios with Mike and Isabel (and demonstrate my need for more practice).  The playing was as enjoyable as ever and rounded off an otherwise rather quiet day in a very pleasant way.

The flying bird of the day is one of the great tribe of sparrows.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle Correspondent, Fiona, who is in Amsterdam. She thought that I might like this cycle repair shop sign.

bike shop sign

It was another day of frequent showers, mostly quite short but often quite heavy.  My scientific rain gauge is measuring over three inches of rain for the week and it is a tribute to our long dry spell that ground has still not got soggy.

I had a quick walk round the garden after breakfast.

Things we were wet after more overnight rain…

wet yellow rose

…but the sun was out and Mrs Tootlepedal’s cosmos were looking very cheerful…

cosmos group

..as was the Japanese anemone.

sunny japanese anemone

I didn’t have time to hang about though as we had to set off to Dumfries where Mrs Tootlepedal was having a second cataract operation.  Her first one, a few years ago,  had been very satisfactory so she was pretty calm about the whole thing today and everything went well and we were able to go to a nearby garden centre for lunch afterwards.

We had a walk round the plants after lunch and for the life of me, I cannot fathom what attracted her to these geraniums.

cheap flowers

Maybe it was the colour.  Anyway, she bought one.

We had driven through a very heavy shower on our way to Dumfries, almost but not quite hard enough to make driving impossible, but the journey home by a quieter route was very peaceful.  It started to rain again soon after we got back but not before I had had the chance to do some dead heading and have a look around.

The heleniums are starting to look a bit more as though they mean business…

helenuim group

…and nearby, a new astilbe is adding colour to the scene.

astilbe

The rain doesn’t seem to keep the bees away and the dahlias had attracted them again.

bee on dahlia

The weather came and went and in between showers, I watched the birds.  I put out some more fat balls and they pulled in a good crowd of jackdaws.

Jackdaws take life seriously…..

jackdaw close up

….and they find perching on my feeder pole a bit of a tricky problem.

jackdaw perching

While they were about, the sparrows waited discreetly in the plum tree…

sparrow in plum tree

…but as soon as the jackdaws went, the sparrows got stuck into the seed feeder with gusto.

sparrows on feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal was having a sensible rest so I took the chance to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and then cooked the tea.

A glance out of the window after tea showed that the weather had cleared up and as it looked set fair for a while, I went out for a short walk just to stretch my legs.

There was enough water in the Esk to bring all three arches of the town bridge into action…

Langholm Bridge in August

…and to tempt some local fishermen into trying their luck just above the bridge.

fishermen on Esk

It was a beautiful evening for a walk.

Lodge cottage

I kept an eye for interesting  things and enjoyed this very sturdy fungus at the end of the Kilngreen…

sturdy fungus

…a small moss and lichen garden on an old tree stump…

tree garden

…and a banded snail on another stump.

snail

The evening sunshine was warm enough to raise little drifts of mist from the wet trees.

misty tree view

The corydalis on the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field was as pretty as ever.

corydalis

I met the Archive Group treasurer Nancy on my way home and we fell into conversation.  She has a small allotment and like us, the good season has produced far too many vegetables for her and her husband to eat themselves and she tells me that people now swerve aside when they see her coming in case they find themselves loaded with courgettes, beans and other vegetables before they can escape.

I realise that in an ideal world, all this surplus would be pickled or other wise preserved and set aside for the depths of winter but that requires time, patience and skill and one or other of these qualities may not always be available.  Or in my case, none of them and I don’t like pickles anyway.

We have to go back to the hospital again tomorrow for a check up so if the weather is at all sympathetic, I will try to visit some photogenic spot on our way back.

The flying bird of the day is a jackdaw trying to get a purchase on the fat ball feeder.

flying jackdaw

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Anne, wife of my cello playing friend Mike and shows the tall tower of Elgin cathedral….

Mike and Alex at very top of Elgin Cathedral tower

…and if you look very carefully, you can see Mike and a grandchild peering over the very top of the tower.

image1(1)Mike and Alex at very top of Elgin Cathedral tower close up

I had a kind of slow motion day today in which nothing much happened very slowly.

In the morning, I pottered around the garden weeding, watering and dead heading, did a little compost sieving and mowed the front lawn.

I took a few pictures as I went along.

A gardening friend gave Mrs Tootlepedal a verbascum in the spring and it has come on really well.  The white flowers look a little dull until you have a closer look, when as so often…

new flower

… a little nosiness is rewarded.

new flower closer

The astilbe is flourishing without any watering from me…

astilbe

…and the bees love the privet which has just come out.   I could hear them buzzing all around me but couldn’t see one so here is a bee-less picture.

privet

I couldn’t miss the bees on the poppies though….

bee on poppy

…they were filling their pollen sacs at both varieties.

another bee on poppy

The most surprising thing in the garden to catch my eye today was  a walnut…or to be precise lots of walnuts.

walnuts

We are generally too far north to expect a lot of walnuts on our tree, although we always get some, but this year the conditions  are obviously favourable because there were clusters of well developed nuts on many branches.  I hope the weather stays good enough for them to ripen properly.

The Sweet Williams are doing well without much watering from me…

sweet william

…and the lily in the back border seems to add another open flower each day.

lily

But the star of that part of the garden for me is the moss rose.

moss roses

I have never seen it looking better.

The forecast held out a strong possibility of rain later which was why I mowed the front lawn.  It had much more grass on it than I had expected and I had to work hard to get the mower through it in places.  I did a lot of watering of the lawns as soon as the dry spell started and this seems to have paid off.

The rain however turned out to be a figment of the forecasters’ imagination and we had a cheerful sunny day from dawn until dusk.

Every time I look at the forecast, it says rain tomorrow but I fear rain tomorrow may turn out to be like jam tomorrow.

The supply of beetroot in the veg garden is very good this year so I had a beetroot and sardine salad with leaves for my lunch.

In the afternoon I went to the Health Centre for my regular asthma check up and as a sensible move to cut down prescribing costs, they are trying different treatment.  Since it will cut down my present two puffers to one, I hope it works.  The less puffers you puff, the better your throat is and anything that saves the NHS money is to be welcomed.

While I was on my way back home, I took a look at the Langholm Bridge.  The powers that be have cleared away the tree that had floated down against the bridge but today the bridge hardly needed one arch, let alone three so low was the flow.

Langholm Bridge

I cycled along the road beside the river to see if the oyster catcher family was still in residence.

It was.

oyster catcher family

The slightly darker beaks show two youngsters.  The other parent was out in the middle of the river keeping an eye on things.

oyster catcher

When I got home, I did think about a cycle ride but energy levels were low so I did some more pottering in the garden and then retired to watch the end of the Tour de France stage, followed by some Wimbledon.

I did watch some birds too.

greenfinch

A greenfinch wondered if this was its best side.

I picked a turnip from the veg garden and had that for my tea with yet more peas and beans and potatoes from the garden.  There is no danger of me losing any weight at the moment.

After tea, I went off to church for a church choir practice which was most enjoyable.  There is a special service for the Common Riding in a couple of weeks time and we are singing the Hallelujah  Chorus as the anthem.  As our choir is rather small even with a few reinforcements, this is going to be a challenge but we are up for it.

I got back in time to view the national tragedy that was the second half of the World Cup semi-final and was sorry to see ‘our boys’ going out as they had played and behaved well during the tournament.

The flying bird of the day is a semi circular chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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