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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Sings’

Today’s guest picture is another from our friend Bruce’s Highland tour.  It shows McCaig’s Tower in Oban, a prominent granite folly overlooking the town.

oban folly

It was a rotten day here, rainy, cold and with gusty winds.  It was hard to see the birds at the feeder…

coal tit with seed

…but much easier to see Dropscone coming round with scones in his hand.  He is going to Glasgow for a week’s holiday at the weekend so I was glad that he was able to fit a little coffee drinking in before he went.  We were drinking some of the ‘awful lot of coffee’ from Brazil today  and it went well with the scones.

Dropscone left but the rain kept coming….

chaffinches

…and I stayed indoors and made some sweet potato soup for lunch and did the crossword.

The rain eased off a little after lunch so I put on my wellies and a big woolly hat, picked up my golfing brolly and went for a damp walk over three bridges.

There was very little to see but against the general greyness, a gull stood out…

sitting gull

…and a bare tree too.

bare tree

Although it was only a degree or two warmer than yesterday and it was drizzling, somehow walking was more pleasant so I extended my planned walk and went along the road to the pheasant hatchery…

pheasant hatchery road

…before walking back along the riverside path, looking across the field to the misty slopes of Castle Hill.

misty trees castleholm

One advantage of winter is that bridges are more visible once the leaves are off the trees.

Duchess Bridge

I was quite ready for a warming cup of tea and a slice of toast when I got home.

Since outdoor activity was off the menu now, I made use of my time by putting a parish magazine from 1967 onto the Archive website.  Sandy is scanning and formatting these and I add them to our collection.  (Those with time to kill can wander through them here.)

Then I put a week of the newspaper index into the database.  It was not an entirely wasted day.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a nourishing pasta dish for our tea and then I went to the final rehearsal of Langholm Sings before our concert in Lockerbie on Friday.  We sang through the whole programme which was reassuring but it might be a slight exaggeration to say that we were note perfect.  Fingers crossed for the concert.

Flying birds of the day were very hard to come by in the rain and gloom so this goldfinch was the best that I could manage.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s walk round the Wemyss Estate.  As well as a parakeet in a tree, he came across a curious deer which was looking a bit lost.

wemyss deer

We were visited by storm Diana today.  I must say that the practice of giving passing weather fronts a name is obviously a bad idea.  They are getting ideas above their station and we got a lot of rain and some stiff winds in the afternoon.

It wasn’t too bad in the morning when Dropscone came round for coffee.  Sandy dropped in to pick up some keys for the new archive centre but he was busy and didn’t stay for coffee.  This meant that Dropscone and I could eat all the scones which was a stroke of luck as the scones were particularly tasty today.

Although it was raining lightly as Dropscone left, the forecast said that it would stop raining by twelve o’clock and then start again by one.  As it did actually stop raining at three minutes to twelve, I went out for a short three bridges walk.

I was detained for a moment by some cheerful calendulas in the garden before I left.

calendulas end of november

The clouds had lifted on the hills and I could almost see the monument.

misty monument

There was a touch of colour in the last willows which are fading away beside the town bridge.

last willow

And some of our resident ducks had found a calm spot for a paddle above the bridge.

floating ducks

I was very impressed by the amount of hay being transported by a single driver from the arable east coast to the pastoral west.

big hay

I passed more evidence of the activity of the Langholm Walks volunteers who have been putting new discs onto the walks signposts.

Langholm Walks signs

Walkers are spoiled for choice

The group is trying hard to encourage walkers to come to the town and sample the many delights of walking in our woods and hills.

As I went along the Lodge Walks, I discovered that the forecast had only said that it would have started raining by one o’clock.  It didn’t say when it would actually start and that turned out to be at about ten past twelve so I didn’t get very far on my walk before the rain came down.  Luckily I was well armed (or legged) with welly boots and a large golf umbrella.  As I was sheltered from the worst of the wind and there was plenty to look at, I still had a good walk.

I saw berries by a wall…

lodge walks berries

…and lichen on a tree…

lodge walks lichen

…as I went up the Lodge Walks.

Then as I crossed the Castleholm, I saw a tree with many, many branches…

castleholm bare tree

…a soggy gate…

soggy castleholm gate

…and a tree stump with a mixture of fungus and fallen leaves which were so well matched for colour that it was hard to tell them apart.

castleholm fungi and leaves

Round the back of the stump, there were more clear cut fungi.

castleholm fungi

As I walked back along the path to the Jubilee Bridge, I could see many hazel catkins…

castleholm catkin

…but by the time that I got to the bridge, the rain was coming down so steadily that I put my camera back in my pocket and concentrated all my energies on not letting my brolly get blown away by the wind.

By the time that I got home, it was a thoroughly miserable day and so dark and gloomy that I didn’t bother to get my bird watching camera out at all.

After lunch, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practised some singing for my various choirs.

Mrs Tootlepedal made another delicious evening meal and fortified by that, I ventured out into the wind and the rain to go to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  Some of the work that I had done in the afternoon turned out to be quite useful.

It had stopped raining by the time that we came out of the practice and this was just as well as the river was high and flowing fast as I crossed the suspension bridge.  We are promised more heavy rain tomorrow so riverside dwellers may be getting a bit nervous.

I didn’t try for a flying bird of the day today and a rather fuzzy perching gull is standing in for the position instead.

perching gull

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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.

20180907_181837

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.

P1140273

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…

P1140276

…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.

P1140278

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…

P1140279

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

P1140281

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

P1140286

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.

_DSC7062

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.

_DSC7072

This goldfinch has been very badly painted!

_DSC7054

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.

_DSC7076

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.

_DSC7074

 

 

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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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