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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Parish Church’

Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, a keen fisherman.  Knowing that we have not got much water in our rivers at the moment, he sent me this view of the Einag Falls. They are on a tributary of the river Oykel in the Highlands where he was fishing three weeks ago.  He adds that he caught  two fish.

Einag Falls

After some showery days, the weather gods knew that we had a two choir day today so they arranged for a fine day with no rain.  How we laughed.

The flowers in the garden are having a difficult time with the changeable weather so some are starting to come out and then sticking and others are coming out a bit early and then going over more quickly than usual.

tulip and trout lily

The trout lilies are on the way out and I have dead headed tulips which should  only just be by now.

Still, there are plenty of promising buds just waiting for warmer and steadier weather.

clematis bud

And the trees have gone green in a rush.

My feet are still annoying me so after church, I went out for a cycle ride round my short three bridges walk as fortunately cycling is pain free.

Almost every tree beside the river is in leaf now…

river esk from suspension brig late april

…and the Lodge Walks are looking beautiful.

lodge walks late april

The Castleholm is surrounded by varied greens…

trees green castleholm

…and there is even a tinge starting to show on the hills behind.

trees and timoen

Spring is in full fling.

green growth castleholm

As I crossed the Jubilee Bridge, I could just see the Duchess Bridge behind the new foliage.

duchess bridge among leaves

When I got home, I inspected the Charles Ross apple on the fence…

Charles ross apple blossom

..and was very pleased to find a solitary bee hard at work,

bee on apple blossom

The Ballerina tulips are lasting well…

ballerina tulip standing

…and we are still waiting for others to open.

leaning tulip

We combined the trip to our Carlisle Choir with some shopping which included cheese, coffee and dates.  As the choir practice was enjoyable as well as hard working, this made for a good way to spend time even if it was indoors on a fine day.

The forecast is offering us a couple of warmer, dry days to come so we have forgiven the weather gods for their little joke.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds and for some reason, there weren’t many birds to watch anyway after some very busy days at the feeder.

This didn’t stop a siskin and a goldfinch going beak to beak….

siskin goldfinch eyeball

…but the flying bird of the day turns out to be a small white butterfly instead.

white butterfly

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Today’s guest post comes from my brother Andrew’s trip to Anglesey.  He and my sister Mary had a coffee while admiring this view of Puffin Island.  The bell in the lighthouse tolled every 20 seconds while they sipped but Andrew told me not to ask for whom the bell tolled.

puffin island anglesey

It is a short post today because although I did quite a lot, it almost all involved sitting down and singing, with the church choir in the morning and with the Carlisle Community Choir in the afternoon.

When I wasn’t sitting singing, I was mainly just sitting as the wind was even colder and meaner today than it was yesterday and there was no mitigating sunshine to cheer things up.

I might have gone for a walk or even a cycle ride between choirs, but with my foot still giving me trouble as a result of recent cycle rides and the wind seeking out every crevice in my clothing, neither option seemed very attractive so I stayed in, had a coffee, and watched the birds

There were plenty of goldfinches to watch….

lots of goldfinches

…though chaffinches were falling over themselves to get at the seed.  (I love it when a figure of speech comes to life.)

chaffinch pile up

The flock of siskins which has been visiting seems to have moved on and I only saw one or two today.  In their place, a number of redpolls have started coming regularly  I was just about to photograph a full house of redpolls when a chaffinch barged in and took the fourth perch..

three redpolls

…and the dislodged redpoll had to go to the other feeder.  The bright red chest is the  plumage of the male.

redpoll with red breast

I did get out as far as the garden but the cold weather meant that there was not much development to record.  Indeed the cold and the wind had battered one tulip badly before it had even opened its petals properly.

battered tulip

Near the pond, red primroses and blue grape hyacinths jostled each other for position

primrose and grape hyacincths

In the pond itself, marsh marigolds have come out.

marsh marigolds

The trout lilies are doing well but are hanging their heads in the chill and since I couldn’t be bothered to go in and fetch a mirror, I cheated and held one up to show the pretty flower.

trout lily

I soon went back in and when I got bored of looking at the birds, I looked at the packed flower beds round the feeder instead.

flowwers below feeder

We fitted a little shopping in when we went to Carlisle to sing after lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some bark chippings for mulch and I bought a small teapot (and some loose tea) so we were both satisfied.

At church in the morning, we had sung six hymns, a short introit and an anthem, followed by two goes through the Hallelujah Chorus as a practice for the service next week so I was more than pleased to find that I still had a voice to sing in the afternoon.  Our Carlisle conductor is so cheery and encouraging, and the music that she has chosen is so enjoyable to sing that all thoughts of sore toes and cold winds were banished from my mind.

I had made a ragu sauce with mince in the slow cooker before church and it went down well with some linguine when we got back from Carlisle, leaving us enough time to watch the final holes of the Masters Golf.

Altogether it was a day of good quality sitting around.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  (I have cheated and painted out the feeder that it was just about to land on.)

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who had been touring the border hills country when he stopped to take this picture of the waterfall known as The Grey Mare’s Tail.grey mare's tail

It was a theoretically warm day today with the thermometer registering 10 degrees but a very chilly northerly wind made it feel much cooler.  Still, it was dry as we cycled to church to sing in the choir so we weren’t complaining too much.

We had a cheerful set of hymns to sing today which made up for the grey weather.

When we got home, I took a general view from an upstairs window of the middle lawn which is currently surrounded by daffodils.  The shrubs are adding a bit of colour to the borders too.burst

 

Then I had a look at the birds while I drank a cup of coffee.  The sunflower hearts are quite big for the small birds’ beaks and there is a lot of spillage.

goldfinch untidy eater

There is always a ground squad about to make sure that none of the fallen seed is wasted.  I counted fifteen chaffinches waiting under the feeder for manna from heaven today.

Some of the chaffinches tried to get onto the perches but this one waved its wings ineffectually and didn’t shift any of the incumbents.

chaffinch waving at feeder

There was a steady churn of birds coming and going with some strong sentiments expressed along the way.

chaffinch in busy scene

There is not much happening in the garden at the moment so rather than walk around it, I went off for a pedal on my new bike.  I was well wrapped up and with the wind behind me, it was an unalloyed pleasure to cycle up to the top of the hill at Callister.  It was quite a bit harder to battle back down the hill into the town but I managed to go a little bit further than I did yesterday and a little bit faster too so I was quite happy.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had recovered her health well enough to have moved one of the new vegetable garden frames into place.  The new frames are intentionally narrower than the old frames so there will have to be some digging before they get fully settled in.

new bed in place

I noticed that more blossom had appeared on the plum tree so I recorded that fact before going for lunch.more plum blossom

After lunch, I had time to go through a few of the songs that we are doing with our Carlisle choir before it was time to go off to Carlisle to sing.  I spotted a goldfinch trying out the peanuts as I was getting ready to go out to the car.

goldfinch on nuts

It didn’t look very happy but it had a good nibble before it flew off.

Our choir practice was excellent.  Our conductor was in very good form and the choir was responsive so we got a lot done.  The current set of songs have a lot of good singing in them and are difficult enough to keep me working without being so hard as to make me depressed.

With two concerts, a church service and three practices since Tuesday, it has been a full week of singing and it is very heartening to find that the combination of speech therapy and singing lessons helped my previously creaky voice to survive.

We drove home in a sort of hazy sunshine but by the time that we got back to Langholm, it was all haze and no sunshine.  As we parked the car, I saw that the first of the Lithodora ‘Heavenly Blue’ flowers had appeared.

lithospermum

My camera resolutely refused to show just how blue the flower is so I will have to try again in a different light.

It had no problem even in the dim light with the glorious colour of the cowslippy things which are going from strength to strength….

cowslippy

…and it enjoyed the fresh green of a philadelphus by the hedge.

philadelphus

Although the light was fading now, there was enough left to show a redpoll visiting the feeder. It was just in time because although I had filled the feeder twice during the day, the seed was almost all gone again.

redpoll

I had made a slow cooked stew with a rolled shoulder of lamb in the morning before going to church and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some mashed  potatoes and cabbage to go with it and the result was entirely satisfactory.  The slow cooker is a wonderful thing.

Looking at the forecast, an easterly wind is set to continue for several days so spring may remain on hold for a while.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches, looking a bit uncertain of which is the best way to go.  You can’t avoid Brexit metaphors these days.

flying chaffinches

Footnote:  I don’t generally use a photograph if I haven’t taken it on the day of the post but I found that I had overlooked this one from last Wednesday.  It was too bright to waste.

It shows the eye popping display of flowers at the Houghton Hall Garden Centre.  This is where Mrs Tootlepedal found her cheerful primrose for the chimney pot, though hers came from a subsidiary bench where bargains were to be found.

dav

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Today’s guest picture from our son Tony shows the East Wemyss dogs enjoying their day in the sun beside the Firth of Forth.

dogs in the sun

We had a pretty nice day here too, although a chilly wind reminded us that we still have some way to go before jumpers and coats can be light heartedly discarded.

Still, it was a treat to cycle to church in the sunshine and a selection of good hymns and an interesting address on the subject of ‘wheat and wine’ made for a good service.

We are just about at peak daffodil in the garden now and I took this picture of the middle lawn surrounded by them when we got back from church.

lawn and daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal has a good variety of different daffodils on show and the six below are by no means all that we have.

six daffodils

On the other hand, the lawn itself, although it may not look too bad in the picture above, is in a very poor state, full of both moss and lichen…

moss and lichen lawn

…with not a lot of grass about.

I averted my eyes from the lawn and enjoyed the flowers.  The grape hyacinths are getting very blue….

grape hyacinths very blue

…and one of the perennial wallflowers has produced its first flowers.

perennial wallflower

Fritillaries have arrived in the back border and may well be candidates for the mirror treatment in the course of time.

first fitillary

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the matching colours of this flower and the shrub behind it…

cowslip and spirea

…and I like the little flowers themselves.

little cowslip

I went for a very short walk to take a picture of our friend Mike’s cherry tree as this may be its last year in his garden and on the way, I admired our neighbour Hector’s flowering currant….

hector currant

…and having taken the picture of the  cherry (I was late and it is just past its best as far as colour goes)…

mike's cherry

…I took this picture of our neighbour Liz’s forsythia.

Liz forsythia

We are fortunate to be surrounded by so much colour at no expense to ourselves!

On our lawn a jackdaw looked round, doubtless wondering who had taken all the wool mulch away from the flowerbeds.

questing jackdaw

The other jackdaws have taken it all.

At the feeder, there were plenty of siskins, some waiting for a spare perch…

two siskins on pole

…and others dropping in as soon as there was an opportunity.

diving siskin

Such was the pressure on the sunflower hearts that occasionally a siskin would try the peanuts.

siskin eating peanuts

I was happy to see a brambling, but once again, only one came.

lone brambling

After lunch, we went off to sing with our Carlisle Choir.  We combined the visit with a little shopping where Mrs Tootlepedal acquired a few more plants for the garden while I stocked up on coffee beans and cheese.

At the choir, our proper conductor was back after two weeks off and we had an excellent practice.  I enjoy all the songs that we are singing which helps.

I made a sausage stew when we got home and while it was cooking, I went out for a short walk in some lovely evening light (we have an extra hour on our hands in the evening now).  I noticed a new little blue flower in the back border….

little blue flower

…and then I left the garden and walked past the church….

church in low sun

…and down to the river where I found a gathering of about 30 oyster catchers.

They were lined up along the edge of the Esk and I couldn’t get them all into one shot.

20 oyster ctachres

One of them stood out though.

oystercatcher and dramatic river

The river was in shadow and it was too late in the evening to get a satisfactory flying bird of the day picture when the birds took off for short hops along the bank…

flying oyster catchers

…but I still quite liked this impressionistic view as a group headed for the suspension bridge.

impression of flying oyster catchers

The sausage stew turned out well and a little gentle telly watching rounded off the day.

A horizontal and streamlined goldfinch with its eye on the prize is the flying bird of the day.

horizontal flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo’s visit to Vancouver  and shows that they have silly cars there as well as silly buildings.  By the time that you make a car this small, you would be better off on an electric bicycle.  I might get into such a car but I don’t think that I would ever be able to get out again.

vancouver car

Mrs Tootlepedal was already up and about this morning when I got up but she wasn’t feeling well enough to sing in the church choir so I went off on my own.  Once again we had a very small choir but there were some enjoyable hymns to sing so we did our best.

The forecast had hinted at rain by the time that church was over and there were a few drops but the day stayed largely dry.  I had to fill the feeders as the traffic had been heavy once again and as soon as they were filled, birds started to arrive.

goldfinch and siskin

The arrivals were almost all chaffinches, goldfinches and siskins but it is good to see a busy feeder even if there is not a great variety of different birds.

traffic stacking at feeder

The birds are working on a controlled stacking system copied from Heathrow airport.

My foot was very sore after yesterday’s cycling efforts which was a bit of a disappointment to me as the cycling itself had been very pain free.  As a result, I limited my walking to the garden and didn’t stay out long when I was there.

I prepared a  pot of mince for the slow of cooker and went out when I had finished.

I like this avenue of little daffodils and the sharp eyed will just be able to see the ground level telephone wire going across the grass at the far end.

row of daffs and fallen wire

Signs of things happening are all around.  I saw the first colour in a tulip of the year…

first tulip bud

…and a little cluster of buds on the silver pear.

silver pear buds

When I went back in to make some coffee, I had time to look at the busy feeder again. A siskin was giving a chaffinch a hard time for undue encroachment…

siskins ganging up on chaffinch

…and a female of the species showed that it was deadlier than the male by trampling on an unsuspecting  siskin in return.

stamping chaffinch on siskin

I switched between indoor and outdoor activities and went out to consider the grape hyacinths.  Mrs Tootlepedal is not going for a continuous river of blue this year but she has several promising pools developing.

pool of hyacinths

Back inside again, I saw a chaffinch trying to get organised for a landing…

wonky chaffunch

…and a goldfinch who had safely arrived using a mixed overhand and underhand grip.

secure goldfinch

On my next garden excursion, I walked across the road to talk to our neighbour Liz and in the course of a very interesting conversation about sore feet, I admired her mossy gatepost…

Liz's mossy gatepost

…and she directed my attention to some more moss a bit further along her wall.

Liz's mossy wall

As I went back inside, the sun came out and a goldfinch showed off the pattern on its wings.

flying goldfinch

I had time for one last excursion to the garden where I wondered what had leapt up and taken this chunk out of the trumpet of a daffodil and left the rest untouched….

eaten daffodil

…and was impressed by the growth in the tree peony in the back bed.

tree peony bud

As Mrs Tootlepedal was not feeling at her best, I left her watching Gardeners’ World on the telly and went off after lunch to do some shopping on my way to sing with our Carlisle choir.  As I not only remembered to write a shopping list but I also remembered to take it with me, the shopping was very satisfactory.

The choir was most enjoyable and we had a lot of good singing but as Ellen, our proper conductor,  wasn’t there for the second week running, we didn’t get quite as much done as we should have.  It is interesting to get different conductors and you can always learn something from a new approach but it doesn’t get the songs for our next concert practised as thoroughly as they would be if Ellen was in charge.

It was really good to drive home in broad daylight as the long winter months have finally come to an end.

The slow cooked mince turned out well and we had it with mashed potatoes and spinach for our tea.

flying chaffinch

 

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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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