Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Parish Church’

Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon. He has been taking walks round Canonbie during the lockdown and wonders why anyone might prefer city life to scenes like these.

It was not a promising morning today here in any way, being windy and wet from the start. I did pop out into the garden when the rain was very light and have a look around. Mrs Tootlepedal has a choisya which she doesn’t think is looking well but it is producing flowers to join the ranunculus…

…and a Rodgersia which is is looking healthy. Just to prove me wrong, the clematis by the front door has produced more flowers but it is hiding them behind its leaves to annoy.

The original flower is going over in style.

I didn’t linger long and was soon back inside wasting time on trivial but time consuming activities. Once again, we felt grateful that the weather has been fine for most of our lockdown as two months of wet and windy weather would have been very hard to bear.

I did spend some time trying out Google Meet with my sister Susan but it didn’t work satisfactorily so we will probably stick to Zoom for our regular meetings.

When I stopped doing the trivial things, the birds were there to keep me entertained.

The feeder was busy all day and new birds were constantly arriving to the disapproval of the incumbents…

…and this led to some collisions and cantankerousness.

I think that my current favourites among the visitors are the redpolls in their spring get ups.

We have many young sparrows in the garden but I haven’t seen many young blackbirds. I wondered if this was a teenager. It looked as though it wouldn’t mind being fed but no one came.

We had planned to go for a walk after lunch but the rain persisted and we didn’t start until after three o’clock in the end. We went out with some trepidation as there was still a light drizzle and the wind was boisterous to say the least.

A trail of leaves littering the track up to the Stubholm told the story of how strong the wind has been.

We met some friends at the Stubholm and they told us that they had abandoned their intention to walk up the Warbla Track because of the strong wind and advised us to keep to low level sheltered spots.

We were headed down to the Murtholm and Skippers Bridge so we were able to follow their advice without changing our plan. We passed this fine tree on our way.

We crossed the bridge and walked along the road beside the river as far as the track that leads up Jenny Noble’s Gill. A movement ahead caught our eye and we spotted a grey squirrel, and it froze for a moment as it climbed a tree.

Lovers of red squirrels have been trying to keep grey squirrels at bay for some years but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle as I see more and more greys all the time.

The walk up the gill among the birch trees was lovely….

…and the seed heads of the grasses were whispering to each other as we passed.

The track back to the town was as delightful as ever, even on a dull grey day….

…but it didn’t seem as windy as it was when we set out so we left the track and ventured out of the woods onto the open hill…

…and after passing through some bluebells, we soon enjoyed good views over the valley and town below us.

The church stands out now that it has been released from the shadows of the trees.

The golf course is waiting for the arrival of keen golfers like Dropscone as soon as the traps are opened in a day or two.

Dropscone is looking forward to it in spite of his advanced age. (He advanced another year yesterday and is now officially older than me for the next six months.)

As well as the views, there were other things to look at as we went along.

We saw wild strawberries, small cow wheat (not a thing that we have seen before), a patch of white flowers which Mrs Tootlepedal told me “is that weed which grows on your lawn”, and a bunch of smiling buttercups.

An old leafless tree caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

We had had to climb up a pretty steep hill to get above the golf course and we were happy to have reached a point as we passed that tree when it was all downhill on the way home.

We walked past Whita Well and pressed on until we reached the Newcastleton Road. This let us descend gently back to river level and we walked back to Langholm along the main road from Whitshiels.

I noted some of the points of interest that we saw on our way: exuberant crosswort, fresh green hazel leaves, herb Robert and a real novelty these day, an actual puddle.

As we crossed the Castleholm towards the Jubilee Bridge and home, the sun actually came out…

…and just as promptly, it went in again and we had to increase out pace as a light rain encouraged us to get a move on.

It had been a strenuous five mile walk and never has a cup of tea and a slice of cake been more welcome.

That finished the day off for us as we had not an ounce of energy left for anything else except a small plate of rhubarb and custard as a late supper.

The flying bird of the day is one of the young sparrows who frequent the garden at the moment.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from a reader in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Spurred on by my biscuit making efforts, Lisa has produced her own Garibaldi biscuits which are very nicely presented.

It was a day of constant wind here today, often gusting at over 40mph. As a result, apart from going out for a very short street coffee morning, we had a quiet day indoors as there was definite danger of being blown over if you were not paying attention when you were in the garden.

To be truthful, I did spend a few moments in the garden after coffee seeing if I could get plants to stop waving about for long enough for me to get a picture. One or two obliged.

There were dancing feet to be seen on a Jacob’s Ladder….

…and a Veronica.

More flowers that survived the frost are showing which is a cheerful sight.

Old tulips are fading away gracefully while the Welsh poppies are doing their best to fill any gaps

A shy ranunculus has just come up. Its delicate colour is a challenge to my camera but the dull light this morning was helpful.

I couldn’t miss a second flower on the clematis at the front door. The front door variety may not have the huge number of flowers that the back door clematis has but each of its flowers packs a bit of a punch.

It didn’t take me long to get back inside out of the wind and I frittered away much of the rest of the morning reading newspapers, doing the crossword and looking at birds (and occasionally mentioning to Mrs Tootlepedal that there was a bit of a wind out there).

There were plenty of birds to watch. While the feeder was not very full, sparrows congregated on the bottom plate…

…and when I filled it, a siskin sensibly took the high road.

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

We did think about going for a walk after lunch but several punishing gusts of wind in quick succession, persuaded us that the chance of fun was strictly limited and we found more things to do indoors.

I put some accompaniments onto the computer so that I can play trios without breaking any isolating rules.

We have been cooking for ourselves since the lockdown began but following a suggestion from a friend, we applied to a local hotel for a hot meal to be delivered this evening, and bang on schedule delicious portions of fish and chips and vegetarian lasagna arrived from The Douglas, fully as tasty as they would have been if we were eating in their dining room.

However, this was a much more substantial amount of food than we have been used to eating, so afterwards I felt the need to ignore the elements and go for a walk to shake the meal down.

Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun had come out and it was by no means a hardship to do a quick three bridges.

The church was looking good without the trees in front of it…

In spite of an inch of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over recent days, there was still not much water in the river but there were plenty of oyster catchers and a wagtail to be seen.

The nesting mother, the anxious father, and another pair further upstream The wagtail was wagging its tail.

I saw a goosander but as it had its head continuously under water and was trawling at speed, it didn’t offer a photo opportunity.

The brisk wind made things a bit chilly and I didn’t hang about too long as I went round the new path on the Castleholm and crossed the Jubilee Bridge…

…but as always, there were things to see along the way, like a thrush in the Clinthead Garden

It was very tame and hopped about until I had got my picture.

…and some neat planting there….

….trees and flowers on the Castleholm and Scholars’ Field…

…and the the heavily tree lined banks of the Esk as I crossed the bridge.

I was pleased to have taken some exercise, especially as the wind is due to continue for a day or two, so cycling is not on the menu until Monday at the earliest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many sparrows about at the moment.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from  my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo.  I think she must have moved on from Australia to New Zealand because today’s picture shows the Rakaia Gorge, which is in the South Island.  It was raining when she took the picture.

rakaia gorge nz

Today was a busy day but it will give rise to a brief post as camera opportunities were few and far between, not to say nearly non existent.

We went off to church in fine weather and returned in a  rain shower.  In between, we had quite a long service and a short choir practice so this did not leave me much time to watch the birds before an early lunch.

There were not many birds to watch but those that came still gave me great enjoyment.

A goldfinch got in among….

siskins and goldfinch

…the familiar crowd of siskins.

four siskins

The sun came out and a chaffinch came too.

siskins and chffinch

I put this picture in just to show that a siskin can eat a seed without dropping it.  This is a very rare shot for that reason.

single siskin not spilling food

The necessity for my early lunch was caused by a ‘singing day’ with our Carlisle Choir.  It is called a singing day but it is really a singing afternoon as it lasts from 1.30 to 5.30.

I went down by myself as Mrs Tootlepedal had other calls on her time and managed to purchase some cheese, sourdough bread and coffee on my way.

The singing afternoon was very enjoyable and useful too.  We are singing in a local music festival competition next Thursday so we did a lot of work on the three songs we are doing, but we also had a couple of technical workshops which should improve our singing if we all remember what we learned.

We could hear another sharp shower battering on the windows while we sang, but the rain passed and I drove home with a beautiful sunset lighting my way.

It was a very satisfactory afternoon and it was made better when I found that Scotland had beaten France in the rugby international.  I had been quite happy not to watch the game as I had expected us to lose.  I can watch it calmly on catch-up now and claim that I always knew that we were going to win.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, not the best, but the only one I got today.

flying chaffinch

Footnote:  There are have been several reported cases of the coronavirus in Cumbria so it may be that things will start to get cancelled if more cases are confirmed.  It would be a pity if all our hard work for the music festival comes to nothing, but we shall have to wait and see what happens.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She saw this early show of daffodils on her walk to Kenwood House today.


We were up and about quite smartly today as our church organist had arranged a choir practice in the morning as he had a day off work.   When we got to the church, we found other members of the choir hanging about on the bridge so it was obvious that Henyy had not arrived yet.

This gave us the chance to chat, admire the ample lichen on the bridge parapet…

lichen on church bridge

…and look up at two oyster catchers who perched on the church roof and laughed at us down below.

oyster catchers on church roof

A bird on the tree beside the bridge was doing more than enough singing for all of us.

thrush at church

Henry arrived after an horrendous drive down from Edinburgh, and as it turned out that he had had a very late night last night when the bus he was driving broke down, we were very sympathetic and did our best in the choir practice to keep him happy.

When we got home, I had a moment to exchanged nods with a chaffinch in Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree…

chaffinch in fake tree

…before I went off to visit Sandy for a coffee.  Understandably, he is getting a bit bored, cooped up in the house as he is, so I helped him out by eating several of his ginger biscuits.  This seemed to cheer him up.

I didn’t have time to do much when I got home as we were going out to a patrons’ lunch at the Buccleuch Centre.  The patrons’ lunch always comes embellished with a speaker and this month we listened to an encouraging talk about the project to build a new sports centre and swimming pool in the town.  The organising committee have gone about it in a very methodical way, and there seems to be much more chance of it actually happening than I had thought.  I hope that they succeed, as I would like to be able to go for a swim.

When we got home, the sun was out and the flowers were grateful.

crocus snowdrop crocus

I should have gone cycling but the forecast had a bit of rain in  it and the wind was quite breezy so I wasted time watching the birds and doing a tricky crossword and pretending that I was a cyclist.

I was pleased to see a chaffinch giving a couple of siskins a lesson in how to eat seed neatly.

chaffinch eating neatly

One of the siskins didn’t seem to be very interested.

A female chaffinch seemed a bit put out to find herself not just being abused by a siskin as usual but by a male chaffinch as well.

chaffinch being shouted at

This male chaffinch was in the zone though and paid no attention to a rude siskin.

chaffinch and siskin

There was plenty of action at the feeder as a counterpoint to my lack of action indoors.

I liked the optimistic air of this chaffinch as it circled round to the far side of the feeder.  It was due to be disappointed when it found that there was siskin already there.

chaffinch looking round corner

I finally managed to get myself moving and set off on the bike rather late in the day.  It was cloudy and cold but the wind wasn’t quite as strong as it has been lately.  I just pottered along and stopped to greet some reliable gorse flowers on the road to Cleuchfoot…

gorse cleuchfoot

… and admire these artistically posed sheep on the bank above the gorse.

artistic sheep

When I got to the top of Callister, I found a rather curious cloud formation.  It looked as though the clouds were breaking apart and had had to be tied together with a bit of old rope.

clouds with binder twine

The clouds did part enough on my way home to let a tall cyclist accompany me for a while.

shadow cyclist

And by the time that I got to the bottom of the hill, the light was gorgeous.

tree bigholms

There must have been some clouds still about though, because not long afterwards, I looked up to see this.

wauchope rainbow half

There was a complete bow, but unfortunately I was too close for my little camera to get the whole thing in…

wauchope rainbow most

…so I took three pictures and when I got home, Photoshop kindly stitched them together for me.  Not perfect but not bad, I thought.

wauchope rainbow stitched

I had hoped to do twenty miles but it got dark and rather chilly so I settled for eighteen miles instead.  I should have gone out earlier!

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy when I was pedalling and she was very happy to have done some good organising in the garden.

After tea, she invited me to go back to the Bucceuch Centre with her where the film of Downton Abbey was showing.  I couldn’t raise much enthusiasm for spending time with the gilded classes so I stayed at home while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to enjoy herself in the company of a very loyal blog reader.  As the blog reader is in the church choir and also sat next to us at the patrons’ lunch, she and Mrs Tootlepedal may well have run out of conversation before the evening is out.

I got two sunny possibilities for the flying bird of the day today and as I couldn’t choose between them, I have….

flying chaffinch

…put them both in.

flying chaffinch close

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture once again arises from my brother Andrew taking his son on vigorous hill walks to help Nick prepare for a trek in Nepal.  Ignoring Storm Jorge’s strong winds, they battled up to the top of Bunster Hill and enjoyed this splendid view of the junction of the Rivers Dove and Manifold (and some traces of the recent flooding).

Manifold and Dove rivers

I did no hill climbing today, or indeed any exercise of note at all, apart from walking to church in the morning.  To be truthful, I walked back too, but that still didn’t amount to much.

I had felt so much better after my restful day yesterday that I decided that some more of the same would be a good idea.

I wasn’t entirely idle as I made a beef stew with carrots, turnip and parsnip for the slow cooker in the morning and a loaf of bread in the bread maker in the afternoon.

In between, I did some archive group work on the computer and watched the birds.

We have a small but select supply of redpolls at the moment…

redpoll looking round

…of which I approve, though I am not sure that this siskin is so keen on them.

redpoll and siskin

We had a good few chaffinches around and the siskins definitely didn’t approve of them…

siskin and chaffinch

…and any chaffinch approaching got a dusty welcome…

siskin blasting chaffinch

…and was quite likely to be blown away by the ferocity of the welcome.

siskin shouting at chaffinch

These goldfinches were more relaxed when a siskin approached them.

siskin threatening two goldfinches

I had a look round the garden before lunch but it was very cold in the brisk wind so I didn’t loiter and this encouraging azalea bud was the most exciting thing that I saw.

azalea bud 1 March

I was soon back inside, drinking coffee and watching the birds again.  A dunnock lurked among the flower stems…

dunnock among the plants

…and a pigeon arrived for some fallen seed…

pigeon head and shoulders

…while up above a goldfinch checked the feeder for aggressive siskins before venturing down.

quizzical goldfinch

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the community choir there.  We were early so I had time for another look round the garden with my phone camera in hand before we left.  This time some flowers caught my eye.

Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared some old dead stems from around the pink hellebores to give us a better view of them from the kitchen window.  They looked unusually cheerful about this, I thought.


The first pulmonaria flowers have also appeared.


When we got to the choir, we found that our usual conductor Ellen was not there and we were inclined to be a bit disappointed, but she had sent down a really excellent substitute, Andy.  He was in tremendously energetic form and passed on some very useful techniques for improving our singing at various points in our pieces as well as jollying us along to produce some really whole-hearted choral efforts.   We all left the practice feeling uplifted by the warmth of his personality on a cold day.

The drive home had two good points about it.  Firstly, it was still light the whole way home, and secondly, the starlings were in fine form overhead as we drove through Longtown.

The stew turned out well and it rounded off a day which was a great improvement on the one which dire forecasts of the malevolence of Storm Jorge had led us to expect. The forecast for next week suggests that we will have nothing more than a mild breeze until next weekend.  Some relief from strong winds will be very welcome.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: After my two quiet days, I am feeling pretty well, so I hope to be more active tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Amsterdam trip.  He took a tour of the canals in the city while he was there and saw the the Muziektheater, which is called now The National Opera and Ballet.


We are beginning to have only a distant memory of the sun and it was no surprise to wake to another very grey, windy and wet day today.  It doesn’t make for good photographs or interesting outings.

In years gone by, I could rely on a busy feeder to keep me entertained on dull days but there was only a lone dunnock to see…

dunnock on tray

…before we walked through the rain to go to church.

The choir sang a couple of extra hymns for an introit and an anthem so we were kept busy today.  As it was Candlemas, the church was was bright with twinkling candles and this gave the service a cheerful feel.

It was still raining, but not so heavily, as we walked home and the rain was light enough to let me walk round the garden before settling down to coffee and the crossword.

The lone crocus had been joined by two more….

three crocuses

…and when I looked around, I found a larger clump in another bed.

lots of early crocuses

There is still some way to go before our daffodil gets a friend.

bunch of daffs

I did think of going for a walk in my new waterproof coat but the rain persisted for longer than my determination to enjoy the fresh air did, so I took vicarious exercise by watching heroic young women cycling through appalling mud in the under 23 Women’s World Cyclocross Championship.  Anyone who calls young people “snowflakes” should be made to watch this footage by law.

I wasn’t entirely idle.  I looked out of the window from time to time too.

Siskins arrived.

two soggy siskins

The shot below shows the fine rain that continued all morning.

siskin in rain

Quite a little crowd of siskins arrived in the end…

siskins on feeder

…and monopolised the feeder again.

siskins on feeder in rain

The dunnocks kept an eye out for fallen seed…

dunnok on tray rim

…though it was sometimes hard to spot them against the background of winter vegetation.

dunnock on plants

A lone goldfinch flew down out of the mist to land on the plum tree…

goldifnch in the mist

…and a chaffinch came too.

chaffinch in wet plum tree

The chaffinch didn’t venture up on to the feeder…


…but stuck to some ground level scavenging.

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle, with Mrs Tootlepedal at the wheel.  As well as going to the choir we made good use of the energy expended in getting us there by calling in to pump up our tyres in Langholm, recycle paper, card and milk bottles in Longtown, and do some cheese and honey shopping in Carlisle.

We still got to the choir on time.  We spent the first half of the session practicing a piece where the tenors have the melody for a good part of the time.  This is very rare and made us a bit nervous. Fortunately, it was not a very difficult number so we didn’t disgrace ourselves.   We weren’t big headed though, and we still talked to members of the other sections at the interval.

We are having to learn three pieces by heart for a competition in March and when we tried one after the interval, it was heartening to find that I pretty well knew it already.  Only two to go!

I had prepared rolled shoulder of lamb and veg last night, and Mrs Tootlepedal had put this into the slow cooker in the morning so we had a good meal waiting for us when we got home.  To add to the feast, she also made an  apple crumble with some of the last of our apples from last year.  There will be enough for one more crumble.  We had to buy onions today for the first time for five months so we are entering the ‘hungry gap’.  Fortunately our corner shop is on hand with supplies.

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

flying siskin

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Ada who was walking along the road to Newcastelton when she saw a very unusual bird at rest on the Langholm moor.  It was there as part of the works on maintaining our pylons.

helicopter at pylon

Our run of grey but dry days under a ridge of high pressure came to an end today as low pressure swept in, and we got a grey but very wet morning instead.

Luckily I was in church singing in the choir while the worst of the rain was on, but unluckily by the time that the sun came out in the afternoon, we were on our way to Carlisle to sing with our Carlisle choir so we couldn’t make much use of it.

Mrs Tootlepedal did get a moment or two to do some gardening after the rain stopped but it was still pretty wet…

drops on the line

…though we were very excited by this.

first daffodil bud

The changeable weather is forecast to bring frost tonight so we may have to wait a bit more until the flower opens.

I didn’t take part in the Great Garden Birdwatch this year as there are too few birds about to make spending an hour looking at not much at all a very attractive use of time.  I know that an absence of birds might as interesting to researchers as a lot of different species but it is not interesting to the onlooker.

After I had made my my mind up not to take part, a few birds appeared just to annoy me.

I haven’t seen a blackbird for a few days but today…

male blackbird

…I saw two…

female blackbird

…and the robin arrived as well.


After another very slow start, a few birds began to trickle down to the feeder around the middle of the day. It was siskin time, with first these two….

two siskins

…and then two more…

four siskins

… and finally a competition for perches.

five siskins

A lone chaffinch tried to get into the action but the siskins were having none of that.

chaffinch warned off by siskin

Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree is very good value and I often see birds waiting to come to the feeder taking advantage of its nailed on branches.

siskin on fake tree

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle and had a most enjoyable sing with our choir.  Ellen, our musical director, is mixing up new songs to be learned with putting a bit of polish on more familiar tunes so we are getting a good mixture.

Ellen was telling me that she had to wait for two and a half hours in the emergency lane of a busy motorway last week until the breakdown man arrived to help her after a tyre blowout.  As anyone who has had to use the emergency lane of a motorway will know, this is not a happy experience, so we were pleased that she had managed to get down safely this week.

As an iced bun fell into my shopping bag when we stopped for supplies on the way home, a day which had started out looking very miserable, finished pretty well.  Especially as there were three other iced buns in the same packet.

A female siskin appears as the flying bird of the day.

flying siskin

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »