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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Sings’

Today needed a splash of colour so I was grateful to our daughter Annie for sending me this cheerful guest picture of the day, even though there might be a hint of commercialism in these Carnaby Street lights.

Christmas carnaby

We had a very grey day indeed, with quite a lot of added rain so it wasn’t much hardship to spend almost every minute of it indoors.

Serious leg resting was the order of the day but I was up to making a pot of coffee and welcoming some scones and their maker…..

drop at coffee

…to liven up my morning.

While Dropscone and I were sipping and chatting, Mrs Tootlepedal was out in  the garden speaking to a man from a power company.  He had come to inspect the two electricity poles on our land.   They have been condemned as requiring replacement for some years and inspectors keep arriving to inspect them again but replacements never happen.

It must have been an interesting chat because after Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal dragged me out into the rain to look at the poles.

garden pole

As you can see, the one in the middle of the vegetable garden has got a stay and Mrs Tootlepedal had learned that this was because it is not deeply planted.  The inspector could tell this because of the height of the planting mark….

garden pole carving

…on the pole.  It was above head height which indicates a shallow depth in the ground.  The inspector remarked that the DCC marking indicated that the pole had been planted before 1950 so it has survived a good long time.

The other pole near our gate is differently marked…

gate pole

…and the lower marking of IF tells the experienced eye that it is deeply planted and needs no stay.  It is considerably younger that the other pole but still needs replacing.  Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t learn what the other curious carvings mean.

I was so excited by all this that I had to go in and sit down for several hours.

Luckily I had a lot to do and I did it so the time passed well enough.

A visit from Mike Tinker and an excellent meal, prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal followed and then it was time to totter off (very gently) and sing with the Langholm choir.  We were a bit short of numbers as some members were involved in a play performance but we had a good sing and I enjoyed myself.

I managed the walk back home without doing my leg a mischief so for a miserably wet and windy day, it was good enough to be entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

It was far too gloomy to be able to catch a flying bird and indeed most of the birds seemed to following my example and keeping out of the weather so there is no flying bird of the day.

It is supposed to be a sunny day, at least in the morning, tomorrow so normal service should be resumed as far as the FBotD goes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest pictures is another from Venetia’s visit to Marseille.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have had two very good visits to Marseille with my siblings so I make no apologies for another picture of a place of which I have happy memories.

Marseille sailing

Last night I foolishly let my thoughts stray to the idea of having  a short test ride on my slow bike this morning to see how my leg took to it.  The weather gods, who are ever alert to the slightest whim, promptly turned off the sunshine and got the rain back and all in all it was a very gloomy day and I gave up any thoughts of a ride.

Luckily Dropscone was alert to the weather too and knowing that I was stuck at home, he kindly came round with supplies of rescue scones which we ate with our coffee.

He was in a very cheerful mood as he had recently produced a good round of golf after several months of indifferent form.  And it was not just a fairly good round, it was good enough to win a competition with over 60 players.  Of course, the question now is: can he do it again?  I hope so.

After he left, I looked out of the window into the rain.  There were goldfinches about…

goldfinches in the rain

…and as you can see, some had taken more trouble getting dressed than others.

scruffy goldfinch

The smarter looking ones were giving each other the hard stare….

goldfinches staring

…and a green finch was keeping an eye out for incoming goldfinches.

greenfinch on goldfinch alert

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on an excursion to Longtown and I settled down to some computer work, a late lunch and a walk to the Archive Centre.

The walk went reasonably well as I managed to stop limping but it was still a slightly painful experience.

The reason for the visit was a meeting between Sandy, Nancy and myself to decide what we need to keep and what we can discard when we move to new premises next month.  Hard choices will have to made as we can’t take everything with us but we found it quite easy to pick some obvious items for the discard pile.  Other items are going to take more thinking about.  We paused for thought after about an hour.

Sandy gave me a lift home and we had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her outing.

It was still damp and grey so I headed back to m computer when Sandy went home and worked away while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea of baked marrow stuffed with mince and covered by a cheese sauce, the marrow grower’s version of lasagne.  It was so good that I am going to cook it again tomorrow for myself.

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and tried to put all the advice from singing teacher and speech therapist to good use.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch further from the feeder than yesterday’s capture and duller too.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest post was sent to me by Sandy.  He is on holiday somewhere and I don’t think it is North Berwick.  I am looking forward to finding out all about it when he gets home.

Thailand scene

It was calm and nearly warm today so after a leisurely breakfast and a read of the newspapers which stretched until morning coffee time with Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out for a bike ride to try to get my October miles to look a bit more respectable.  This was only my fourth ride in 17 days.

Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a young starling at the feeder while we were having coffee…

young starling

…and I took a shot of it with my pocket camera before I went off.

I cycled past the landslip on the Lockerbie road and was pleased to see that the authorities have installed traffic lights and a sturdy barrier rather than keeping the road closed.  This may have been making the best of a bad job as people had been seen, while the road was still officially closed, removing the barriers and driving past anyway.

It was mostly a rather gloomy ride as far as the weather went and several leafless trees…

leafless trees

…and wet roads made memories of cycling in shorts and sun cream in the summer seem a very long time ago.

I always hope that the beech hedges along the road will be colourful at this time of year….

colourful hedges

…but they are have been disappointing and this was the best that I passed today.

The prancing animal at Hagg-on-Esk has changed colour.

poodle tree

But there are still a lot of green leaves about among the browns and yellows.

Irvine House mid october

I got caught in a couple of light showers on my way but I was well equipped and got home after 34 miles feeling dry and cheerful.

The afternoon was fine enough to persuade Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden for some autumn clearing up and I came out after a late lunch to mow the middle lawn (mostly to get walnut leaves off it) and I was surprised by how much growth of grass there has been lately.

There was a little shredding to do and then I picked a couple of late carrots while Mrs Tootlepedal looked at the turnips….

turnips and carrots october

…which were very clean and good.  Mrs Tootlepedal ate the turnips for her tea.

The fuchsia which got left behind in the great fuchsia move is thriving….

late fuschia

…and one of the ones which were moved and which I thought had given up for the year has taken on a new lease of life.

late fuschia 2

In the veg garden, a new small rudbeckia, which Mrs Tootlepedal grew from seed this year, is looking promising and she hopes that it can survive the winter…

rudbeckia

…the chives can survive anything it seems.

chives october

A secret clematis flower could be found well sheltered among other plants along the vegetable garden fence.

watery clematis

The late delphinium has done so well that Mrs Tootlepedal thought it was worthwhile to give it a cane to help it hold its head up.

delphinium october

I had a quick look at the birds when I came in.  There were no more starlings to be seen, just the usual suspects…

mixed feeder

…with the occasional added coal tit.

miced feeder with coal tit

The afternoon seemed to fly by with some tasks on the computer to be done after the gardening and in no time at all, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.

With only two basses present, we had to work hard to make ourselves heard but it made for an enjoyable couple of hours.  With the inevitable December concerts looming and a week off next week, it will be even harder work in November.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch, caught in a  sunny moment.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Sharon’s visit to Berlin.

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In spite of the gloomy forecast at the beginning of the week, we had another dry day here today with a decent amount of sunshine.  Unfortunately the wind continued to blow vigorously so it took me quite a long time to get up the energy to go out on my bike.

I had several good wheezes to distract me before I got going and of course, I always have to have a look at the garden first.

I am very attached to the papery poppies that have come out of the seed packet this year.

P1140268

They have a subdued elegance.

And in spite of the brisk breeze, there were butterflies everywhere in the garden today.

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Indeed, you had to look sharp to avoid being knocked over by them as they flitted from flower to flower.

I did get going in the end and found it a hard battle.  I was pleased to stop to admire a small clump of traditional toadstools…

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…and in an effort to get some gender balance into the blog, I refrained from taking any more outstanding cows and took two sitting bulls instead.

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Near the end of the ride (my usual 20 mile Canonbie circle), I parked the bike behind a fence and walked down through the woods…

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…to get a view of the river Esk near Broonholm.

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I thought that I might see a lot of fungus under the trees but this little clump was the only fungus that I saw.

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I managed to make it home and found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on the computer.

It was fine enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to take her lunch out to the new bench and I joined her later on.  Out of the wind and sensibly clothed, it was a good day to test the bench.

The afternoon was given over to gardening.  I was in poetic form:

 There was mowing, dead heading
And sieving and shredding.

Mrs Tootlepedal is still in full Attila the Gardener mode so there was plenty of shredding to do.  The good summer has speeded up the compost process and there are now two big buckets of sieved compost waiting to find a home.

While we were sitting on the bench having our lunch, I noticed that a second flowering of a polemonium has come out to join the late flowering delphinium.

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As they are in the same bed as the reliable golden wedding rose and the perennial wallflower…

_DSC7064

…there was no shortage of colour in that corner of the garden.

I noticed a young blackbird sitting quietly on the fence and went in to get a camera.  I was surprised to find it still there when I came out.

_DSC7059

Then Mike Tinker came to bring Mrs Tootlepedal a gift of some liquid worm compost from his wormery as it  produces more than he needs for his own garden.  He joined us for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and his visit was well timed as it began to rain lightly just at that moment.

I took a picture of a leycesteria before I went in.

P1140287

Although the rain stopped, we didn’t go back out to the garden when Mike left as I had to have an early evening meal because it was the first meeting of Langholm Sings, our Community Choir in the evening.

I did find time to take a few bird pictures though.

I like the shiny black feet that jackdaws have.

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This goldfinch has been very badly painted!

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I hope it gets some better feathers before the cold weather arrives.

Not all of our bird visitors are smart.  A sparrow had bitten more off a fat ball than it could chew and a coal tit was parked on a perch with no seed.

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The first meeting of the choir was well attended with a couple of new members and Mary, our director had brought some new music for us to tackle.  Two of the pieces were good to sing and quite easy but the third piece looks as though it will keep us busy for some time.  This seems like a good balance and I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, especially as my voice lasted reasonably well.

The flying bird of the day is another of the chaffinches which fly up to the feeder and conveniently hover for a moment before landing just so that I can snap them.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who is obviously enjoying a stay in the north east of Scotland.  He visited a famous collapsed sea cave called Bullers of Buchan.  It must have been spectacular when the roof fell in.

Bullers of Buchan

There is no question but that summer is going to be a disappointment this year as it can’t possibly be better than the spell of glorious weather we are enjoying at the moment.  We had another really warm and sunny day today (25°C in the afternoon) and with little or no wind, it was almost too warm for comfort at times.  This is nearly 10°C above the seasonal average.   From a gardening point of view, we could do with some rain and the forecast is offering us a cooler, wet day tomorrow which should be quite welcome.

Mind you, it offered us terrible thunderstorms with torrential rain and big hailstones today and none of that arrived so we are not raising our hopes and we did a lot of watering of thirsty plants in the garden today.

I had an early look around for interest after breakfast.

We are not short of colour.

Some from familiar plants….

Welsh poppies

Welsh Poppies

perennial wallflower

Perennial wallflower with a wonderful array of tints

dicentra

Dicentra which has lasted for weeks.

…and some from new arrivals.

goura pink

Pink Gaura, new this year in our garden with its friend…..

gaura white

…the White Gaura.  They are also called Wandflowers.

orange hawkweed

The first of many, many orange hawkweed

oriental poppy

And our first oriental poppy on the back wall of the house beside the dam.

While we were talking to a garden visitor, a bright orange tip male butterfly fluttered past us but by the time that I had got my camera out, it had fluttered off leaving only the less colourful female to pose.

orange tip butterfly female

I didn’t just look at flowers.  Mrs Tootlepedal collected a pocketful of stout and healthy looking acorns in the autumn of 2016 and with careful attention, she now has a small oak forest growing in one of the raised beds…

Little oaks

…proving conclusively that little oaks from great acorns grow.

She is going to transplant the saplings out into the wild wood when they are strong enough.

She also noticed a small clump of fungus growing from a patch of farmyard manure behind our new bench.  By the time that I got to them, they had faded away.

tiny mushrooms

Dropscone, who has been up near North Berwick, refereeing at a junior golf tournament, came round for coffee.  He told us that the haar had been so bad in North Berwick that one of the rounds of the tournament had been cancelled on the golf course there because players couldn’t see far enough ahead to hit safely.  We were very lucky with our holiday weather.  He hadn’t lost his skill at making treacle scones while he had been away.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I got a drill out and finished fixing two new bolts through the metal post holding up the honeysuckle archway at the back of the garden.

arch bolts

This was one of those jobs which have been needed to done for about ten years so there was quiet satisfaction at its final completion.

Our neighbour Betty was clipping the hedge between our gardens so I thought that I should take the hint and clipped our side of the hedge too.  Then Mrs Tootlepedal took the hedge trimmer and tried to cut down a big clump of comfrey…

compost plant

…but found that the stems were too tough and awkward for the hedge trimmer.

I found it too hot to stay out so went in to do the crossword while Mrs Tootlepedal toiled on.  After lunch the positions were reversed and Mrs Tootlepedal took a well deserved siesta while I went out and mowed the front lawn and sieved a barrow load of compost.

I noticed the first flowers on a Scotch rose called Harison’s Yellow.

Scotch rose

Then I was just contemplating the willow beside the hedge…

willow

…and looking at it closely…

willow close up

…when two even more interesting specimens appeared over the hedge.

Liz and Mike

As they used to say in the society papers, this was Liz and Mike enjoying a joke while pausing at Langholm’s premier garden watching venue.

We all agreed that the weather was quite unnatural and as we spoke, a drop or two of rain looked as though it might herald the forecast thunderstorm.  But Liz and Mike went on their ways and the rain went on its way and the rest of the day was as fine and warm as it had been all the time.

Mrs Tootlepedal came down from her siesta and immediately started work in the garden again, watering and planting out.  I took a picture of a musk flower that had come out during the day…

musk

…and then went off to buy some food for my evening meal and then cook the meal as I was going off to sing with Langholm Sings at a concert in the evening.

The other Mike, my cello playing and singing colleague came round and we drove off to Waterbeck, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to go the Buccleuch Centre where she was doing the front of house duty for a Dougie MacLean concert.

We got a good audience at Waterbeck and I enjoyed croaking my way through the songs, though there were one or two that could have done with a little more preparation time, especially as I had missed the last concert owing to being in North Berwick.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed the Dougie MacLean concert a lot.  (Here is a link to another concert of his for anyone who would like to get to know this engaging folk singer. most famous for his song ‘Caledonia’)

It was a busy day so I didn’t get a moment to look at any flying birds at all.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who visited the the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi and thought that possibly this advertising poster, commissioned from Toulouse-Lautrec in 1896 by the Simpson Chain Company, might possibly be of interest to me.  It was indeed.

Toulouse Lautrec poster

If you are interested there is more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson_Chain 

I had the intention of taking my new belt driven bicycle out for a spin after breakfast but what with one thing and another (things to do, cold northerly winds, lassitude, mental instability etc), I didn’t get out until midday.

I had a quick look at the garden in the morning…

anemone

…and couldn’t resist another look at the anemones, radiant in the sunshine.

I enjoyed watching a bee literally getting stuck into a rhododendron flower…

bee and tulip

…and admired the colour of the tulip.

When I finally got going, I chose a route which I hoped would see me battling the breeze on my way up to the county border above Eskdalemuir and then getting swooshed back down to Langholm with the wind behind me.

Alas, my calculation was out and I had a crosswind to annoy me in both directions.  However, it was a lovely sunny day and the cool north easterly breeze stopped me from cooking in the sunshine so “mustn’t grumble”.

It is quite a hilly route by my standards and I have to be careful of my tin* knee when going up steep hills so I was lucky to have my new gears working well today.  The new bike’s hub has a choice of really good low gears which let me get up the hills without putting too much strain on my legs and I enjoyed the journey up to the border at 1000 ft above sea level.

I snapped away as I went along.

It was a great day for wide views and closer looks.

bluebells

wild flowers

This is the Esk at Bentpath.

Esk at bentpath

bluebells at bentpath

I saw a lot of orange tip butterflies on my way and even spent some time on the Shaw Rigg chasing up and down the road on foot trying to catch a male who kept stopping and then flitting onwards just before I got the camera into focus.  I had to settle for this shot of the female which annoyingly doesn’t have the orange tip to her wings.

female orange tip butterfly

Wherever I looked there were beautiful corners…

esk view

…prehistoric stone circles…

stone curcles

…and wide panoramas.

Upper esk valley

This one was looking up the upper Esk valley over Eskdalemuir to the hills behind.   Sharp eyed readers may spot a curious white tower in the middle distance.  I passed it later.

On a sunny day Eskdalemuir is uniformly lovely.

Upper esk valley

And this is the white tower a few miles north of Eskdalemuir village.

samye Ling
It is part of the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery which has a beautiful temple.  It is not the first thing that you might expect to see in the Scottish Borders but the community has been here for 50 years and is part and parcel of this part of the world now.

Leaving the monastery behind, I headed up the single track road to the county boundary.  It is one of my favourite sections of road as the records show that in five miles the gradient is so steady that you only lose 15 meters in the course of climbing 432 metres.

Road to Ettrick

The climb is gentle, the scenery delightful and the only fly in the ointment is the need to avoid the large and speedy timber lorries that come hurtling up and down the road.  Luckily they make such a noise that you get plenty of advance warning.

I stopped for a light lunch at an abandoned sheep fold in the forest at the top of the hill…

sheep fauld

…and was quite pleased not to be driving in a car on such narrow roads when log lorries were on the go.

B709

The trip home wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked as the cross wind nagged and pestered and I had to keep a sharp eye out for the many potholes on the way.  This didn’t make for relaxed riding.

I chose a slightly different route for my return which  gave me other views, including the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers…

meeting of black and white esk

…and a new selection of wild flowers.

wild flowers

As I got near to Langholm, I saw a farmer rolling his grass pastures…

rolling the grass

..and reflected that I could do with a good roller for my lawns.

I took a last look round…

valley north of langholm

…and was grateful for a quirk in the wind which pushed me up the final climb and then down into the town.

I had only done just over 40 miles but with over 2000ft of climbing, it felt like quite a long ride and my average speed was very modest.  I don’t do many hilly rides so it was a pleasure to have managed one without taking any harm to my joints.

When I got in, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a cup of tea on the new bench in the garden and I kept leaping up to photograph more flowers.

There were a lot to choose from.  They included a fine display of lilac blossom and the first sighting of a new yellow tulip, just out today…..

lilac and tulips

…as well the first of the white clematis on the wall round the back door, one of the few remaining daffodils and some of the very hardy grape hyacinths which have been out in frost, rain and sunshine for weeks.

hyacinth, daffodil and clematis

After a nourishing evening meal of corned beef hash, I went off to sing with our Langholm Choir.  For some reason the cycling had reduced my voice to the merest croak so I wasn’t much use but I was able to hit some impressively low notes.

The flying bird of the day was far too busy hitting some high notes of his own to be flying about.

blackbird singing

*Tin knee:  Actually it is likely that my new bike and my artificial knee are made of the same material, titanium.

Those interested can see details of my bike ride here.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to the park in Madrid.  This was his favourite fountain.

madrid fountain

After some heavy rain overnight, we had a generally pleasant day today, often sunny but still with a brisk “feels like” wind to keep our coats firmly buttoned up for the morning and most of the afternoon too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day doing some early gardening and then going to the dentist for the final bit of her treatment.  When she had recovered from that, she went back out into the garden and planted the rest of her potatoes.  The strong winds may have kept us cold but at least they have been drying out the soil.

I had a very quiet morning, being firmly resolved not to make my hand any worse and to try to make it better.  To this end, I acquired a packet of frozen peas and used that as a cold compress in between some self administered massage and bending and stretching the thumb.  And of course I put plenty of turmeric into the soup that I made for lunch.

I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal after breakfast.

The pond repairs are holding up well and the tadpoles are grateful as it gives them plenty of swimming room.  A lot have survived the cold spring.

tadpoles in pond

If you look closely, you can see almost two dozen in this small area.

The tulips are flourishing, though the wind is damaging some almost as soon as they are out and the grape hyacinths are looking good.

tulips and muscari

At the back of the house, our neighbour Kenny has an exciting looking plant developing.

damside plant

In general though, I did very little before lunch and I felt the benefit as the swelling in my hand went down noticeably.  I did find a moment to watch the birds with the big camera on a tripod.

A regular stream came flying in…

flying birds

…and there were a good few redpolls among them and on one occasion at least, they monopolised the perches.

redpoll

One posed for a portrait.

redpoll

I would have liked to go for a pedal on the slow bike after lunch to get my May mileage under way but as it is quite possible that doing several hundred miles on a bike with straight handlebars had caused my arthritis to flare up in the first place, I sensibly shelved this plan and went for a gentle walk instead.

My route took me through the town and up the Kirk Wynd to the top of the golf course and out onto the hill.

There was plenty of new growth to catch my eye as I went up the hill…

Kirk Wynd

…but when I got out onto the hillside, one plant trumped all the rest.

It was that striking member of the pea family, gorse, a.k.a. furze or whin.

gorse

It wasn’t hard to spot.

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And framed many of the views.

Ewes valley with gorse

I walked through the gorse and enjoyed a grand view up the Ewes Valley….

ewes valley

I walked on as far as the road to Copshaw, where the water was bubbling along under this very old bridge.

donks quarry bridge

Then I turned downhill to follow the road.  It has a rewarding wall.

lichen

And I enjoyed these dogs looking keen to get to work in rounding up a sheep or two.

dogs on quad

I didn’t go right down to the man road at Whitshiels but walked along the track on the Lamb Hill, enjoying (almost) fifty shades of green…

spring trees

…whichever way I looked.

spring colour

I strolled through the little wood at the end of the path…

Lamb Hill

…and made my way down to the Kilngreen where I enjoyed an ice cream from the van and a selection of waterside birds….

oyster catchers and wagtail

…as I walked home.  The oyster catcher in the third panel was between the town and the suspension bridge.  I took this picture of that stretch of water to remind Mary Jo of our walk on Monday when we crossed the suspension bridge.

suspension bridge spring

When I got home, I was able to give Mrs Tootlepedal a small helping hand to get the very last of the potatoes in.  I took a quick tour round the garden and was pleased to see the first apple blossom developing, catch a late opening daffodil of the day and admire a couple of clumps of yellow tulips beside the pond.

apple blossom, daff and tulips

Then we sat on our bench and found that the late afternoon had got quite warm (if you could keep out of the wind).

Our neighbour Liz joined us for some serious bench testing and conversation until it was time to go in to cook our tea.

This was one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pies and it went down very well.

Fortified by fish pie, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings.  In spite of just having had a concert, we are facing two more at the end of the month so there was a lot of work to be done.  I found it hard going and was pleased when it was time to go home for a rest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few siskins to visit us.

flying siskin

I am very hopeful that the combination of frozen peas, massage, careful use and a tube of magic cream are going to ensure that my hand will soon be fully back in operation again.  And of course the good wishes of readers help too.  Thank you.

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