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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Parish Church’

Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my highland correspondent, and shows a flock of long tailed tits enjoying her peanuts.  They are beautiful little birds and we are very envious as we would like to see them in our garden.

longtailed tits

We had a generally sunny and cheerful day here today; cheerful that was as long as you weren’t exposed to the very strong wind which made it feel decidedly chilly.

After going to church to sing in the choir, there was a moment when I had time for either a short cycle ride or a walk before the trip to our Carlisle choir in the afternoon.  The wind, gusting up to 40 mph made the decision for me and I went for a walk.

I didn’t have to waste any time watching birds in our garden because there were no birds to be seen, the wind proving too strong for them too perhaps.

If you could keep out of the worst of the wind though, it was a beautiful day for a stroll…

ewes at kilngreen

…and although all the gulls flew off as soon as I got near the Kilngreen, I did find two or three ducks lurking in the shelter of the river bank on the Ewes Water.

female mallard drinking

male mallard

I crossed the sawmill bridge and walked up the hill past the Estate Offices.  The road verge and walls here are home to a considerable number of hart’s-tongue ferns…

harts tongue fern ewesbank

…and a grand display of dog tooth peltigera lichen.  This crop was about two feet in width.

dog tooth peltigera pathead track

Three trees further up the hill have been artistically arranged by nature to make a pleasing combination.

three trees pathead

And there was plenty of shelter as I walked along the track above the trees to let me enjoy the view of Whita without getting blown away.

vierw of whita

A lot of trees have been felled along the track, leaving the pines still standing.

pines on track

I followed the track until I came to the north lodge…

north lodge

…and there I enjoyed a view up the Esk valley which has only been recently been made available to walkers by the felling of yet more trees.

view up esk valley from north lodge

Time was pressing a bit so I had to hurry home, stopping only for a view of an as yet unfelled wood…

bw woods

…and making it just in time to have a slice of bread and honey before setting off to Carlisle.

The choir practice was well attended and we set about learning another of the songs that we will take to the choir competition in Manchester in March.  We  also went through one of the songs which I have been trying to get off by heart….more work required!

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal tried out a new recipe involving leeks, feta cheese and puy lentils.  It made for an enjoyable meal.

We have been watching the television adaptation of Les Miserables and it has been an interesting but chastening experience for me.  I read the book a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I thought that I would remember it well and be able to compare the book with the TV programme but it turns out that although I do recall a lot of the scenes and places from the story, many of which don’t figure in the musical version, I have also forgotten much more than I thought. As a result, I have confidently said to Mrs Tootlepedal on  more than one occasion, “Well, that didn’t happen in the book,” only to find that it did.

No flying bird today but I did get the briefest glimpse of a robin.  It was flying a second or two later.

fleeting robin

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was surprised to hear gunfire as he came towards the centre of Derby and even more surprised to see this when he got there.

derby marchers

It was a grey day here when we got up and that turned out to be the best of the weather as it had started to rain before we left church and it was still raining when we got back from our Carlisle choir in the early evening.

I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker before we went to church and when we got back from church, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the vegetable garden and dug up a turnip to add it to it.  I had hoped to use the time between church and the Carlisle choir in the afternoon to go for a short bike ride, or at least a walk, but the weather was just too depressing….

chaffinch in rain

…whichever way you looked at it.

goldfinch in rain

For some reason goldfinches always look the most miserable of our birds when it is wet.

damp goldfinches december

I was pleased to see a siskin or two even if they came at the gloomiest part pf the morning.

siskin

A blue tit looked in vain for some shelter in the plum tree.

blue tit among the droplets

Another welcome visitor was a robin.  They are great shape shifters and it is hard to believe that this stubby little bird on the chimney pot…

robin on chimney

…is the same bird as this sleeker model on the feeder but it is.

robin on feeder

As well as birds, I saw a different creature as I looked out of the window.

spide outside the window

Time for a visit from the window cleaners perhaps.

After lunch we set off to Carlisle to combine a little shopping with our singing.  The journey was more exciting than we would have wished because one of those illuminated  spanners appeared in the dashboard display as we left Langholm.  This all too often presages a transfer of money from me to the garage.

Sometimes these dashboard warnings are just false alarms but on this occasion it was obviously more serious as we were greatly lacking in power when it came to going up hill or trying to accelerate.  Against Mrs Tootlepedal’s advice, I pressed on to Carlisle and was very relieved to get there without the engine giving up the ghost.

I was pretty sure that the fault resulted from our very wet drive through puddles when we came back from our visit to Edinburgh on Thursday night and optimistically hoped that when the car was parked at the supermarket, the warmth from the drive in would miraculously cure the problem.

It did.  Phew!  We got safely to the church car park and had a good sing, the last before our concert next Sunday.  Then we had another nervous moment, waiting to see if the car was still working properly when we started it up to go home.

It was.  And even though we drove home through some more torrential rain, it kept working and we arrived safely in Langholm.  Whether it will be working again tomorrow after this second very soggy drive is another question of course.

The lamb stew turned out very well so we were able to relax a bit after all the singing and automotive stress.

I did find one slightly brighter moment in the rain which coincided with an obliging chaffinch so here is the flying bird of the day.

flyingh chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  He took a suitably black and white shot of his black and white dogs.

wemyss dogs

In theory today was very much the same temperature as yesterday but in practice it felt much colder because of a rawness in the air and as a result I was quite happy to have a lot of singing and no cycling to do.

The singing started in church.  The choir had had no notice of the hymns in advance which was unusual but didn’t matter in the case of two of them which had simple harmonies.  One of the others in particular defeated me entirely even though it was sung in unison.  However, we had a enjoyable practice afterwards and in the end, we had a good morning of singing.

While this was going on, Sandy and Nancy were supervising the removal of the Archive Group’s furniture and equipment to the new base for the group.  The removal was in the hands of a couple of every competent fellows and Sandy and Nancy reported that everything had gone smoothly.  I hope to visit the new premises tomorrow and see the results.

When I got home, I had time for a quick walk round the garden with my new phone in hand.

There are still flowers about (just).

In some cases, it is a question of hanging on by the skin of the teeth…

edf

…but others are defiantly still flowering freely…

edf

….even if conditions are a bit soggy.

edh

I can’t get over how cheerful the perennial wallflower still is.

edf

As well as flowers, there is always moss about in the garden and this morning there was some additional fungus among the moss on the elder.

edf

At the bird feeder, it was very much a chaffinch day….

chaffinch activity

…though other birds were about as well.  There were pigeons on the lawn…

pigeon on lawn

…and jackdaws in the elder…

waiting jackdaw

…and one on a chair showing off its white feathers.

white feathers jackdaw

The chaffinches were queuing up to get to the sunflower hearts…

chaffinch queue

…but when they got there, some preferred arguing to eating.  Perhaps they were politicians in a former life.

chaffinch head to head

There was no shortage of pushy behaviour.

chaffinch starmash

After lunch, we went off to sing with our choir in Carlisle.  Ellen, our usual conductor, had other commitments and our accompanist was marooned in Motherwell by a late train cancellation so we had both a substitute conductor from Glasgow and a member of the choir at the keyboard.

As it turned out, they were more than able to provide us with a satisfactory practice and as is so often the case, a new face in front of the choir provided us with fresh insights into performing  better.  As there were only three tenors present this week, our department had to work hard to make itself heard.

When we got home, I made some cauliflower cheese for tea and followed that off with an iced bun so all in all, it was a very satisfactory day.

The flying bird of the day, unsurprisingly, is one of the chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to the west coast.  He has acquired a new pocket camera and as well as taking fine scenic pictures (more of them in later posts), he pointed it at a young buzzard on a pole.

Bruce's buzzard

We had another fine and sunny day today, though a bit colder than we have been getting lately.  After yesterday’s successful cycle and walk combination, I was quite happy to have a quiet day of singing today and let things settle down in the leg department in spite of the good weather.

We had one less hymn to sing than usual in church as our visiting minister unexpectedly burst into song himself between the readings. We had a good choir practice after the service to make up for the shortfall though.

When I got home, there was a little sunlight falling on the feeder…

coal tit and goldfinch…but very few birds actually coming to the feeder and those that arrived almost always managed to catch a shadow.

I had to look to the plum tree for clearer shots.

pigeon in plum tree

Some time ago Mrs Tootlepedal cut the head off the sunflower that unexpectedly came up behind the feeders but she left the stalk standing and it acts as a convenient perch for birds waiting to come to the feeder….

unshadowed chaffinch

..and a tweak to the camera settings produced a satisfactory result.

shadowed chaffinch

As the sun moved round, the feeder soon fell back into deep shadow so I went out into the garden for some sunshine.  Once again, the berberis was ablaze but it is beginning to lose its leaves and I fear that fire will soon be out.

blazing berberis

The winter jasmine is doing well.

winter jsmine

In spite of the sun, it was quite chilly outside so I didn’t linger long and went back in.

The bird watching was a wash out.

dark birds at feeder

 

We had another visit from a jackdaw with white feathers.

jackdaw with white

After lunch, it was soon time to combine a little shopping in Carlisle with our Community Choir practice.  Once again, our energetic conductor Ellen gave us plenty of work to do and by the end of the session my voice was feeling the strain a bit.  I must make sure that I do my vocal exercises conscientiously.

As it is now pitch dark by the time that we get back from choir in Carlisle, Sundays have become a short day from a photographic point of view but as I enjoy the singing, I can’t really complain about that.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird today and a visiting jackdaw was most unhappy about this failure.

jackdaw staring

 

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It was so gloomy today that I have looked back to Venetia’s Marseille trip for some sunshine to lighten up the post.  This fine boat is called Sherakhan.  It is registered in Rotterdam, and you can charter her with its 19-strong crew and space for 26 guests, for a mere half million dollars per week;  Mrs T and I are thinking of hiring it next week for a bit of a change and some sea air.

marseille charter

It was Remembrance Day today and it was a pity that an already sombre day should have been made much greyer by persistent rain in the morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with the church choir.  The choir was only 11 strong and as the music for the service was provided by the Town Band, it probably didn’t make much difference to the total sound whether we sang or not.  However, we did sing a short unaccompanied hymn as an anthem so we did contribute our bit to the service.

I had made a pasta sauce in the slow cooker after breakfast and when we got back home, I made some lentil and vegetable soup for lunch and watched the birds.  A sparrow hawk had made an unavailing fly past down our drive just before I got the camera set up so I had to wait a while for the small birds to come back.  When they did arrive, it turned out to be goldfinch time.

goldfinches on two feeders

There were other birds too.  I can just see a chaffinch hiding behind the feeder here.

set of goldfinches

…and a coal tit was not afraid to share with bigger birds.

goldfinches with coal tit

The goldfinches came in scruffy…

scruffy goldfinch

…and smart turnouts.

smart goldfinch

This one looked very secure while waiting its turn on the feeder pole….

goldfinch perching

…but for coal tits with smaller feet, the wet and breezy weather made hanging on a trickier matter.

coal tits hanging on

A greenfinch looked as fed up with the weather as we were.

damp greenfinch

We didn’t have long to look at the birds though and after lunch, we went off to Carlisle to stock up with cheese and dates (and other necessities of life) and sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.

We set off in pouring rain but fortunately, the day brightened up a bit and the rain had stopped by the time that we got to Carlisle.

We are in full Christmas concert mode with the choir so we had a cheery couple of hours with tinkling bells and general good news.

The singing lessons and the speech therapist’s exercises are paying off and my voice stood up to a heavy day of warbling very well.  I hope to get back to exercising my leg tomorrow but looking at the forecast, the indoor bike may be as far as I can travel.

Among the mass of goldfinches, a chaffinch once again managed to capture the honour of being the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When he isn’t digging up roots in his garden, he is admiring the many fine views from his front door.

east wemyss view

After yesterday’s incessant rain, we got a kinder day today and I was able to take a walk round the garden after breakfast to see what flowers had survived the cold and the rain.

As the man who sold the evening paper in Carlisle used to shout, there are not many left but there were some whites about…

white flowers november

…although they were not in show condition.

The bird feeder was busy from the start of the day after a very quiet day yesterday.

sparrows and grernfiches

Sparrows and greenfinches made up the bulk of the early visitors.

flying greenfinch

And roses provided some colour in their own way.

rose hips

I didn’t have long to enjoy nature as it was soon time to hobble along the road to sing in the church choir.  After the departure of our regular minister, Scott to a new parish, we got a temporary minister, also called Scott, but he has now been recalled to serve in America so the service was led by a group from the congregation, none of whom are called Scott.  They did an excellent job….and chose cheerful hymns.

The weather was still mellow when we got home after the service and a short choir practice so Mrs Tootlepedal set about some more tidying up work in the garden combined with some bulb planting and I wafted about trying to look like someone who really would be helping if his leg would let him.  I took pictures instead.

We are very near the end of the road

calendula and potentilla november

I filled the feeders and checked how long it would take the jackdaws to notice than I had put out some fat balls.

One minute.

two jackdaws

I don’t know how they do it.

There were ever more members of the tit family flying about the garden today, great tits, blue tits….

perching blue tit

….and enough coal tits  to start an argument.

sparrow coal tits

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a sparrow hawk in the plum tree but the small birds’ early warning system was functioning well and they got away unscathed.  The sparrow hawk flew off before I could pick up my camera.

After lunch we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there and during the tea break I was approached by a lady who had just joined the choir.  She told me her name and when and where we had met before and armed with this information, I recognised her immediately.  Everyone should be as helpful as this.

We had a good sing and the day was still dry and warm as we drove home, although the choir ends in darkness now that the clocks have gone back.  We were held up when we got to Langholm by a large procession led by the pipe band which was marching down the High Street.  They were going to the Kilngreen to enjoy a bonfire and a firework display.

I got home, got a couple of cameras out and hobbled back along to the town bridge in time to find that a good blaze had already started on the banks of the Ewes Water.

2018 bonfire

It was soon followed by a firework display which was very satisfactory to watch and to listen to but slightly less good to photograph as the pyrotechnicians had gone for more sound than brightly coloured light.  There were some effects which were new to me like this curling and fizzing white column which made intricate circles.

2018 white firework

There were a lot of silver and white effects….

2018 fireworks

…and the stillness of the evening meant that the smoke from the explosions hung around a lot.

cloudy fireworks 2018

There were very few of the rockets that shoot high into the sky and explode downwards…

traditional forework 2018

…but it was a most enjoyable experience, although it must have frightened the living daylights out of any of the local ducks as it was very, very loud.

I am beginning to realise that I have been much too optimistic about how long it is going to take for my leg to get better so I am going to stop mentioning it and suffer in silence from now on until I am able to get back to cycling.

Well, I may moan a bit from time to time.

The lawn made an excellent background for today’s low flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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(First a note about yesterday’s guest picture which I claimed was taken by Tony in the morning, In fact, it was taken by his partner Marianne in the afternoon but apart from that, I was completely correct.)

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently strayed far enough from home to arrive in Marseille where her hotel had an enticing pool – though not quite enticing enough to tempt her in for a swim as it was unheated.

Marseille pool

We had a very unheated day today with temperatures very close to freezing in the morning and back below zero in the evening.

The sun shone throughout the day which made enforced leg resting a bit hard to bear. Things are improving though and I was able to totter to church in the morning to sing with the choir.

When I had tottered back home again, I slow marched through the garden.

In spite of the near zero start to the day, flowers are still blooming.

winter jasmine

The winter jasmine is a cheat as it has just started.

red nasturtium

There are still lots of nasturtiums along the wall of the house, both in red….

yellow nasturtium

…and in yellow.

lilian austin late october

Lilian Austin hasn’t given up yet…

last fuschia bud

…and the fuchsias have still got a lot to give potentially.

late lamium

The lamium….

perservering strawberry

…and the ornamental strawberry continue to delight…..

tatty viola

…but the  violas are looking past their best…

last of the clematis

…as are the clematis.

However, rather to my surprise, I saw a bee hard at work.

late october bee

The chaffinches were still giving the new feeder a wary look.

flying chaffinch

I put my enforced rest to good use by going indoors and entering a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, and then after lunch, we drove back to church for a choir practice.

Our organist and choir master had accepted an invitation to take part in a four choir mini festival in a neighbouring church and had decided that we would sing the Hallelujah chorus as one of our two contributions.  Luckily, he had acquired a few extra outside singers to help us and we had a good practice.

Then we got the first treat of the day as a reward, a slap up afternoon tea in the Eskdale Hotel with a mountain of sandwiches, sausage rolls and fancy cakes.

Fortified by this, we drove over to Lochmaben, about 25 miles away, with two other choir members in the back and Mrs Tootlepedal at the wheel.

I had not known what to expect from the event but Lochmaben church turned out to be very charming and comfortable and the mini festival was most enjoyable with the efforts of the choirs being interspersed with singing of some old favourite hymns. Our turn went off pretty well so the whole thing was another treat…..(especially as it didn’t go on too long.)

And then there were more cups of tea and more fancy cakes so that was the third treat.

When it came to driving home, the temperature dipped below zero but as the roads were dry, there was no danger of ice to alarm us and we got home safely.

My leg got through all this excitement with no trouble and steady improvement continues but it will be another quiet day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch which plucked up its courage and approached the new feeder directly.

flying chaffinch 28 Oct

 

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