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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Parish Church’

Today’s  guest picture was sent to me by Laurie, a proud resident of the state of Maine.  While our spring is creeping over the windowsill, her winter is still being delivered…though it is gift wrapped.

laurie's ice

Sitting and singing was the order of the day which made it a bit annoying that this was also the day when we got the first pleasant and sunny morning for some time.  Even if I hadn’t had singing to do though, my foot is still stopping me from making any vigorous use of a good day.

I was able to walk to church, and without a coat on which was a relief after the sleety snow of last week.  As far as bad weather goes, there have been floods to the south of us and snow storms to the north of us so we have been very fortunate.

With only five members of the choir present this week, we had to tailor our ambitions to our resources but there was still enough singing to keep us busy.

When I got home, I checked on our bird visitors and spotted the spotted jackdaw again…

Mottled jackdaw in plum tree

…and followed that up by admiring a very smooth pigeon in the same tree.

pigeon in the plum tree

It was quite chilly but the wind had dropped a bit so a walk round the garden was enjoyable enough and there were developments to see.

The grape hyacinths are coming along nicely…

grape hyacinth back bed

…as are the euphorbias.

euphorbia first flowers

I was pleased to see new growth appearing on the well pruned branches of the espalier apples…

apple buds

…and I was quite impressed by the amount of rain that has fallen during the week (as recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge).

rain gauge march 19

I am still in foot resting mode so I went back in and listened to the radio and watched the birds at the same time.  It is not just women who can multitask.

busy feeder chaffinches

I went back into the garden to hang out some washing and my eye was caught by the many varieties of moss to be seen beside the drying green.  There is a pile of old stones as well as some logs there and they have given the moss good homes.

garden moss with pints

The stones had a tapestry of different colours…

garden moss stone

…and shapes…

garden moss on old wall

but the log crop was the greenest and freshest looking.

garden moss with seed heads log

This is a detail of one of the mosses on the stones. garden moss stone closer

Like many things, the more you look at it, the more interesting moss becomes (in my view at least).

There was so much traffic on the feeder that I put a second one out and it soon attracted a clientele of its own.

two birds in the rian

The sharp eyed may notice a little drizzle in that last shot.  That had started as soon as I had hung the washing out of course, but it soon stopped and the washing had pretty well dried by the time that I had to take it in when I left to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir.

Our musical director wasn’t there.  She had been held up in Belfast when her flight back to Scotland hadn’t been able to take off because of the weather, but as she had been there for a solo singing competition which she had won, we couldn’t hold it against her.

Our usual accompanist took the practice in her place and did a first rate job.  One of the choir members acted as an accompanist and we had a thoroughly satisfactory session.

I had a well cooked poke of fish and chips from our local chip shop for my evening meal when I got back to Langholm and that rounded off a good day….except for that fact that three hours of sitting in hard backed wooden church pews (our Carlisle choir meets in a church) had done my sore foot no favours, even though I had hardly walked a step all day.

I have kept my favourite photograph from the garden tour this morning back until the end of the post because I thought it deserved a special place.   Could anything look more luxuriant and inviting than this magnolia bud?  I don’t think so.

magnolia bud

The sunny weather did let me get a rather crisper flying chaffinch of the day than I have managed lately.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another insect from Derby’s shopping centre as spotted by my brother Andrew.  I am still not clear what the insects are doing there.

derby insect

The man in the gritter lorry whom I met yesterday was obviously doing useful work as this was the scene that greeted us when we got up this morning.

snowstorm march

Although it was coming down in great lumps, the snow was actually quite sleety and after some initial settling…

snowy hellebores march

…it soon melted away leaving just a suggestion on the lawns…

snowy lawn march

…although the hilltops were still showing a good covering.

monument in snow march

It was sleeting so hard at ten o’clock that we drove the few hundred yards to the church in our car instead of cycling as we usually do.  There, as part of a small choir of seven, we sang as lustily as we could.

The snow had stopped by the time that we got home and the chaffinches were coming to collect their food in large numbers…

lots of chaffinches

…and the feeder, which I had filled before going to church, was visibly going down.

very busy feeder

Some thought it better to take a moment away from the mayhem and reflect on life from the top of the sunflower stalk.

chaffinch on the stalk

Among the chaffinches an occasional goldfinch turned up….

busy feeder chaffinches

…but they might have been better staying at home as the sparowhawk paid us a visit and one of the goldfinches was not paying enough attention as the other birds flew off at top speed.

hawk on lawn with goldfinch

It is sad to see one of our little birds come to such an unfortunate end but sparrowhawks need food too.

It didn’t take long for small birds to return to the feeder and they got the bonus of a ray of sunshine to warm them when they got there.

two siskins after the hawk

A couple of larger visitors also put in an appearance.  A blackbird did some paddling…

blackbird in tray

…and a jackdaw looked around for a new bit of the middle lawn to peck up.

jackdaw on lawn

After lunch, we went off to combine a little shopping with our Carlisle Community Choir practice.

The shopping went well as we had remembered our shopping list for once and we not only got everything on the list, but one or two other items which jumped into our trolley as we went along.  Still, you can’t have too much cheese in my view.

The choir practice was very enjoyable and after concentrating almost entirely on competition songs since the new year, it was good to get some new material to work on.  All the same, we are going to sing the three competition songs again this Thursday when we sing in the Carlisle Music Festival.  I hope my memory is up to the job.

The choir’s committee have been very active in ensuring that it is a genuine community choir open to anyone who wants to join, and members often sing in care homes and on other occasions when asked  by local organisations.  As a result, we have received a handsome cheque from the National Lottery to help our work and this was celebrated during our tea break.

dav

In a welcome sign of longer days in spite of the snow, it was still light when we got home after the practice, although the thermometer only showed a miserable 1°C.  The forecast for the next week is for very changeable, cool and windy weather though so the longer days may not be of much use to us for gardening or cycling.

After eating slow cooked mince with potatoes and broccoli for our evening meal, we finished off with a bowl of semolina, an ideal way to end a cold and wintery day.

One of the chaffinch horde is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent by Bruce, shows that however many oyster catchers we may have in Langholm, they have more on the Isle of Arran where Bruce is staying at the moment.

oyster catchers Brodick

It was another day when grey clouds and a brisk wind made a theoretically warm day here feel rather chilly.  I didn’t much mind though as I spent a lot of the day indoors singing.

The days are getting longer and there was enough light to say hello to the goldfinches…

two goldfinches sunday

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with the church choir. We had a busy time, with four hymns, an introit and an anthem as well as a practice after the service.

This didn’t leave time for a walk of a cycle ride afterwards so I had a stroll round the garden instead.  There is promise of new crocuses…

dark crocus

…and daffodils…

daffodil clump

…but it would help if we could get some consistent sunshine for a day or two.

I noticed a smart miniature daffodil in the chimney pot by the bird feeder…

garden centre daffodil

…and realised that it must have fallen into the shopping trolley when we visited the garden centre not long ago.

Time for nature watching was short because we had a ‘singing afternoon’ with our Carlisle choir stretching from half past one to half past five.  Observant readers might suppose that any visit to our Carlisle choir should involve singing, but these singing afternoons are a cut above our usual sessions.

Young and talented singing teachers come down with our conductor from Glasgow and give small group lessons to the various choir sections with technique instructions as well as specific tips for various tricky moments in the songs that we are practising for the competition in Manchester next month.

You can learn a lot from these teachers.  It is wonderful how much difference a small modulation to a vowel sound can make for comfort and quality in singing a specific word on a specific note.  It is less wonderful to remember that you might have been taught this before and forgotten it.  But that is life.

The teachers are very patient.

The process of humming into water through a straw which I have been pursuing daily on the instructions of the speech therapist must have been worthwhile as my voice survived the day much better than it would have done last year.

And it was still light when we left the practice to come home.  Roll on spring.

The flying bird of the day is an early morning chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was exploring the back ways of our neighbouring town of Annan when he came upon this attractive bridge.

annan little bridge

Perceptive readers may have noticed that I was feeling a little gloomy when I sat down to write last night’s post (thank you for the kind wishes expressed in the comments)  and they will be glad to hear that things are a lot more cheerful today. This is down to enjoying two choirs, a little excursion and some bird variety.

The day started with the first choir in the Langholm Parish Church where we sang an introit and an anthem as well as four hymns.  In between the singing, the minister gave us all a severe warning to keep a good eye out for the devil who would be pursuing us like a roary lion and seeking to devour us.   We took his advice and managed to get through the rest of the day safely.

The weather was calm and occasionally sunny when we got back from church so after a little bird watching, where I noticed a chaffinch trying to pick up tips from a goldfinch on how to be really cool…

shocked chaffinch cool goldfinch

…and Mrs Tootlepedal marvelled at the delicate colouring on a pigeon…

pigein feb

…I took a walk round the garden.

In spite of collecting over 200 walnuts in the autumn, there are still a lot to be seen lying around in the flower beds.  Most of them have been pecked open but this one looks as good as new.

walnut on ground

The garden is full of snowdrops which were looking good in the sunshine but getting a good picture of the snowdrop flower requires the photographer to lie flat on the ground…

garden snowdrops

…or to take advantage of one from a small vase full which Mrs Tootlepedal had picked and brought indoors.

Rather than go for a walk, I took out the slow bicycle and cycled along to the Kilngreen to look for dippers and oyster catchers.  I could only find gulls.

flying gull

It was a pleasant day though so I cycled on over the sawmill brig, past a moss covered tree on the Castleholm…

castleholm tree

…and up the Lodge walks to Holmhead where I was hoping to find a good show of snowdrops to make up for the lack of waterside birds.

I was not disappointed…

Holmhead snowdrops

…and I got a bird among the blooms as a bonus.

pheasant among the snowdrops

The snowdrops and the pheasant cheered me up so much that I resolved to take advantage of the good weather and cycle a couple of miles further up the Esk valley…

 

esk valley

…and then cross a bridge and cycle a couple of miles down again on the opposite side of the river.

There were some grey clouds ahead….

lonesome pine

…but my road down the opposite side of the river looked very inviting so I pressed on…

potholm road

…up the track to Potholm.

Potholm track

When I got to the farm house at Potholm, there was another fine show of snowdrops on display.

potholm farm with snowdrops

What wasn’t so satisfactory was the accompanying shower of rain so that by the time that I crossed the bridge over the Esk….

potholm bridge

…all sign of blue skies had disappeared and I was getting quite wet and things looked gloomy for the road home.

milnholm and tree

This put paid to any further photo opportunities, except a stop under the sheltering trees at the road end to enjoy a door that has been overtaken by time…

old door in wall

…and a wall that has probably got more spleenwort per square inch than anywhere else in the world.

spleenwort wall

I was lucky in that I was cycling along the very edge of the rain shower so I didn’t get as wet as I had feared but it was still annoying to find that the sun came out almost as soon as I had got home.

I had some baked beans on toast for  my lunch and watched the chaffinches competing for seeds for a while…

busy chaffinches

…and then it was time to head for Carlisle and the community choir practice there.

Our usual conductor was busy elsewhere but she had sent down an excellent substitute and he was very thorough, technically interesting and helpful, very charming and quite funny.  As a result,  two hours of hard work passed in a flash.

Also encouraging was the fact that it was still just about light as we left the church and drove home.  We are inching towards spring.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared a fish pie for our tea and as that is one of my favourite meals, it rounded off an excellent day.

It is not the cleanest picture that I have ever taken but I really liked today’s flying bird of the day.  The subdued colours of both bird and background seem to match the rather reserved manner of the chaffinch as she approaches the feeder.

flying caffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was visiting Nottingham University when he took this picture of the main buildings in the background behind the lake and a very interesting looking mini golf course with giant acorns.

andrew nottingham

We woke to a sunny day but as the thermometer had dropped several degrees and a very biting northerly wind was blowing, I wasn’t tempted to go further than the garden before church.  In spite of the cold, definite signs of spring are all about.

crocus, daff, sarcococca

The church choir, though small in number, sang away heartily at the hymns and a short anthem and at the practice after the service we agreed to try something a little more ambitious for Easter.  Time will tell if we have bitten off more than we can chew but our organist and choirmaster is so enthusiastic that it will be fun trying.

When we got home, I fortified myself against the chill with a cup of coffee and went for a walk. Yesterday’s day of rest had made my sore foot worse if anything so I thought that perhaps exercise might be a good idea.

I aimed for a route which would have the wind at my back when I was exposed and which would find me in the shelter of hedges and the valley on my way home.    This took me along the track to the Becks Burn and back along the road.  It worked out well.

When I read other people’s blogs, I often long for some context for their pictures and words so I took the chance to show Wauchope Cottage tucked into the heart of the new town of Langholm

wauchope cottage from scotts knowe

Our white front door can be seen in the centre of the picture with the walnut tree in front of the house.

A little further up the hill, I could now see the new town in the foreground with the old town behind and Whita Hill providing the backdrop.

view from scotts knowe

I noticed a healthy looking polypody fern on a wall near Holmwood.

fern front and back

If you could get out of the wind and into the sun, it was a pleasant day for walking.

becks track

Although the fields along the track are still fairly green…

becks track field

…the rough pasture on the hills is losing its colour and we won’t get our green hills fully back now until May.

warbla from becks track

The felled trees in the wood provided some pretty patterns.

felled tree stump

I was passed by a jogger after I had crossed the Becks Burn and was impressed as he sped up the hill on the far side.

jogger in becks wood

The road back down into the valley was richly dressed with catkins in the hedge…

catkin panel

…and when I got down to the Wauchope road, I had a good time looking at various very healthy lichens on the walls.

four lichens

I filled the feeder when I got home and watched the birds for a while.  Two male chaffinches showed off their fine colouring in the sunshine…

two colourful chaffinches

…while a female looked unavailingly for a free perch.

chaffinch approaching goldfinches

This goldfinch had found one and was keeping a close eye on it as he approached.

goldfinch looking for a perch

Another goldfinch had a friend who was kindly keeping the sun off him as he ate.

slave goldfinch

After lunch, we drove down to Carlisle in glorious sunshine to attend our community choir there.  The wind was gusting at 40 mph so for once I wasn’t at all unhappy not to be cycling on a sunny day.

Unlike the church choir, the Carlisle choir was very well attended with about 100 members enjoying an excellent and productive practice.  My time spent trying to learn the songs for our Manchester competition paid off and I found that I was fairly confident in the two that we sang today.  It was lucky that we didn’t sing the third one, as I have a lot of work to do on that still.

We paused outside the chip shop in Langholm on our way home for long enough for a poke of chips to insert itself into the car as if by magic and eating the chips with the last of my tapsi flavoured sausage stew brought a satisfactory day to a close.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, applying the brakes and looking keenly for a free space at the feeder.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sharon, mother of Luke my flute playing friend.  She took this beautiful view of the Nith estuary from Glencaple near Dumfries.

glencaple view

It was a two choir day as usual on a Sunday and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  In church we sang several hymns with satisfying bass lines and then we had a short practice afterwards with promises of more enjoyable singing to come.

I found a coal tit in the plum tree when we got back.

coal tit in plum tree

It was a pleasantly sunny, pretty still morning so with the temperature at 4°C, I set out after coffee and a ginger biscuit  to see whether a short walk would make my foot feel better or worse.  On the whole, it made it feel better.

I looked at moss while I was pootling along pondering on medical matters.  There is rarely any shortage of moss to look at round here.

There was moss steadily colonising a wall, reaching up from below to meet another patch reaching down from above….

moss at springhill

…there were various mosses massed in a mound on top of the wall further along…

mixed mosses

…and still further along, more moss stretching out fingers to grab new territory…

moss stretching hand

…and among the trees, a mini forest of  moss…

tall moss

…as well as moss mixing with peltgera lichen on a wall…

peltigera lichnee and moss

…and pincushion moss sharing space with more lichen.

button moss and cup lichen

My route took me along Gaskell’s Walk and it was as nice a walk as you could hope for though I thought that one walker whom I passed going in the opposite direction and who remarked that it was like spring, was getting a bit ahead of herself.

gaskells walk january

I looked around and saw colourful fungus on the end of a fallen branch…

tree end fungus

…and any amount of rosebay willowherb lined the track.

rosebay willowherb

The track was largely in shadow but as I came to the last hill before the Stubholm, the sun was catching the electricity poles that carry the power down into the New Town.

electricity poles gaskells

They may not be the most beautiful of structures but they do bring a lot of brightness into our lives, literally and metaphorically so I am always happy to see them even if they do spoil a view every now and again.

It was a grand day and I was sorry not to have the time or legs to walk further…

view of whita over stubholm

…but after a couple more stops to note eye catching sights….

decorative tree barkspiky plant

…and a final nod to the world of moss….

moss table gaskells

…I made my way home.

In the garden, the hellebores are beginning to show a bit of colour..

hellebore buds

Inside the house, a pot of soup was bubbling on the cooker, showing that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.

I had time to eat some soup, watch a pair of restful goldfinches nibble on the sunflower seed…

two goldfinches

…while some chaffinches get a lot more excited about the situation…..

busy feeder

…and then it was time to head for Carlisle and the community choir practice.

The sunshine had gone by this time and it was grey and chilly by the time we got to the church where we meet.

The practice itself was very satisfactory as a reorganisation of the tenors meant that rather than sitting on the end of a pew not being able to hear the rest of the section, this week I had a strong singer beside me and more behind.  Together with the work that I have done at home over the past two weeks, this meant that I was able to sing with much more confidence and relaxation than previously.  I hope that we keep this new set up.

We got home safely, had the last portions of Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetarian casserole and settled down to enjoy Les Miserables (as far as the subject matter permits of any enjoyment).

A chaffinch as flying bird of the day rounded off a day definitely entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

 

 

 

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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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