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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm’

Today’s guest picture comes from Sue, who lives at the bottom of the town, and sees interesting things in her garden.

sue's squirrel

Just because Sue sees more interesting things in her garden than we do in ours, she kindly invited me (and my camera) down to see what we could see this morning, so after breakfast, I cycled down with hope in my heart.  When I sat in her kitchen and saw her feeder set up through the window…

sue's feeders

…I was bowled over and I got out my camera and waited.

She told me that she had already seen nuthatches before i arrived and that this was the usual time for the squirrel to call so I sat filled with the keenest anticipation.

I saw a jackdaw….

jackdaw sue

…and several families of sparrows…

sparrows sue

…and a selection of tits…

coal tit sue

…one of which had a good stretch out for the squirrel food…

great tit sue

…and even a pair of robins…

robins sue

…all of which were were very welcome but did not include a nuthatch, woodpecker or squirrel which I had hoped to see.  Sue gave me a cup of coffee and we waited for a while but in the end, I left with that familiar feeling that many interesting things would happen as soon as I left.

Some interesting things had happened in the town over night and as I passed the Co-operative Store, I could see that it had been ringed around with crime scene tape….

co-op raid 1

…and a closer inspection revealed that the store had been the victim of a determined attack.

co-op raid 2

It turned out that overnight there had been an attempt to ram the doors with a vehicle and steal the cash machine.  The doors had suffered but the cash machine had remained in place.  Some time ago, a gang had managed to prise the cash machine out of the wall with a digger and carry it off, but obviously security has improved since then and this attempt failed.

Still, it is not the sort of thing that we see every day in Langholm so it was a shock.

I have noticed that men have been out and about trimming banks and mowing things so I took this picture of the flowery bank of the Esk as I cycled home in case it disappears soon.

flowery bank Esk

I hadn’t been home long before Sue sent me a message to say that a nuthatch and a woodpecker had appeared almost as soon as I had left and she was watching a squirrel as she typed the message.  Such is life.  I hope to get the opportunity to try again soon.

I had time for a walk round the garden before Dropscone arrived with the traditional Friday treacle scones at coffee time.

The salvias are going to make a splash when they all come fully out.

colourful corner with salvias

Although the roses have been catching my eye most lately, the peonies are still very good value.

oink peony July

I like the way that clematis flowers seem to come with wildly different numbers of petals on the same plant.  Here is one with six and one with four side by side.

two clematis with differnet petals

I was pleased to see a young blue tit on the peanuts at our feeders as I passed.  It wasn’t frightened of me at all.

bue tit on nuts 1

Dropscone arrived and we ate his scones cheerfully while he drank coffee and I had a cup of tea since I had already had a coffee.

Dropscone has almost recovered from his broken ribs, although he is taking good care not to sneeze still, and is back to playing full rounds of golf.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I made two new surrounds for raised beds in the vegetable garden.  These were to replace the beds which the digger had squashed while the new electricity pole was being put in.  The power company had given us enough wood for the job and with me on the saw and Mrs Tootlepedal on the tape measure and hammer, the new beds were made by lunchtime.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw that the blue tit was back.

bue tit on nuts 2

After lunch, I mowed the grass round the greenhouse in a free and easy way.  I have had to be careful over recent weeks because of our neighbour’s telephone wire running along the ground, but it now back attached to the new pole, so it was a relief just to be able to swing the hover mower about without worrying.

I then went in to do crossword.

While I was inside, Mrs Tootlepedal placed the smaller of the two beds in position and sorted out the soil.

new veg beds

The larger bed will have to wait until time and energy are available as there is quite a lot of work to be done before it can be lowered into position.

I had thought of going cycling but the day got very gloomy and there was a hint of drizzle so I had a walk round the garden instead.

The geraniums are going on strongly…

geranium clump

…as are the Sweet Williams.

vivid sweet william

The melancholy thistles are beginning to go to seed…

melacholy thistle seeds

…but the ligularias are just joining the party.

P1030461

I sieved a lot of compost to fill our store bucket because Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot recently and thought about mowing some lawns but went inside and had a quiet sit down instead.

In the evening, we dug up another potato from the potato patch and were very pleasantly surprised at how productive it was and how clean and slug free the crop was.  As a result we had plenty of new potatoes to go with a second helping of mince for our tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed getting back to playing flute and keyboard duets.  For one reason or another, we haven’t played for some time, so it was a treat to get back to music making.

The flying bird of the day is one of our own garden siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland jaunt.  They went on a boat trip and saw eagles fishing.  He took this picture with his phone.

oznor

We had a better day today.  I managed to get up and stay up and Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold was much improved.

She had another very busy day in connection with the plans to try to get a community buy out going for part of the Langholm moor which our local duke is selling.  She is part of a steering group which is considering possibilities and encouraging local interest.  Part of her day involved a visit to the moor with our local expert and as she saw stonechats, meadow pipits, wild goats and a hen harrier in flight, she felt very happy about her day’s work.

I took things more easily and spent a lot of time doing some desultory weeding and dead heading, before some compost sieving.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot of our home made compost recently.

Among this, there was plenty of time to look at flowers both old and new.

It was a day for new poppies to pop up.  Expect many more poppy portraits in the days to come.

three new poppies

Owing to having a very twitchy shutter finger in the sunshine, flowers will appear in mostly colour coded panels.

four pale flowers

From top left clockwise: Ginger syllabub, peony, campanula and water lily

four roses

From top left clockwise: Queen of Denmark, Lilian Austin, Goldfinch, and unknown to me.

four reddish flowers

From top left clockwise: Frau Dagmar Hastrup, wiegela, nasturtium (first of year), spirea

four blueish flowers

From top left clockwise: Delphinium, iris, clematis and clematis

My neighbour Liz called in and was much struck by the beauty of the rosa complicata in the front bed which she said looked exactly like a rose should look like.  Who could disagree with her?

pretty rosa complicata

 

Not all he flowers in the garden stand out.  I had to peer through the tree peony to find this new lily which is blushing unseen.

hidden lily

Among all the other colour, the little forest of orange hawkweed is still one of the best things in the garden at the moment.

orange hawkweed

I sat down for long enough to do the crossword and watch the birds.  A goldfinch had an interesting slant on things…

slanted goldfinch

…while a sparrow clutched at straws (or in this case, the old sunflower stalk).

sparrow on stalk

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal appeared in time to have a bowl too.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn.  The moss eating treatment seems to be working but I applied the mixture, which also contains buck-u-uppo, with such a free hand that the grass is growing at a furious rate.

Then, since it was a fine day and my back and feet were not complaining too much, I went out for a cycle ride.  As the wind was gusting at 25mph, it was quite a short ride because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my legs.

I was keeping an eye out for orchids and when a flash of colour appeared in the verge, I stopped to investigate.  It turned out to be vetch but still well worth a look, I thought.

vetch

I pottered along and turned at this gate on Callister.  Like the photographer, it is a bit past its best.

overrun gate at callister

With the wind behind me, I whistled back to the town and out of the other side until I had got far enough to get a view up the Ewes Valley which the low cloud had denied us yesterday.

view of ewes with wild flowers

Satisfied, I pedalled home and clocked up 16 miles.  At least I had started the new month with something.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out when I got home.  She had been off doing more moorland business while I was pedalling but she soon returned and she noticed this strange object on a nettle  while she was getting the washing in.

thing on nettle

A search on the internet tells me that it may be a fungal gall caused by rust.

We had a discussion as to whether it was time to try digging up an early potato.  After some debate, we resolved to give it a go.

It turned out to be a reasonable decision and we ate a lot of them with our evening meal.

new potatoes 2019

My flute pupil Luke came and I was rustier than him as I hadn’t played a note for two weeks.  I will have to put in some practice.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.  I was hoping to see something to photograph and she was hoping to nab a few more townspeople to sign her petition regarding the moorland purchase.

She added two more to her total as we crossed the suspension bridge, and I enjoyed the wild flowers beside the Esk.  For reasons that may have more to do with economy than deliberate planning, the usual strimming of the banks has not taken place and although many townspeople like the banks to look neat and tidy, I prefer the wildflowers.

daisy on river esk bank

The view upriver looked like a painting.

view of Langholm Bridge sunny evening

We walked round the new path on the Castleholm and were impressed by the huge size of the cones on the noble fir.

noble fir cones

There were insects to be seen on the umbellifers beside the path.

insects on umbellifer

And the path itself was treat on a summer evening like this.

new path in shadows

Mrs Tootlepedal added another four names to her petition as we walked along Douglas Terrace and then we dropped in on Mike and Alison (another signature added) where I enjoyed a beer before finally getting home.  Mike and Alison’s garden is looking very fine.

I felt better at the end of the day than I did at the beginning and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin with its mouth full, byt still going back for more.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from Stephen, my sister Susan’s friend.  He used to live  in New Zealand but has moved to Sydney in Australia where he sees a lot of ibis on his way to the gym.

two ibis

We had another dry day here but there was a cold wind blowing which made it feel far from springlike if you were out and about.

The tulips took the view that staying tucked up was the best policy.

chilly tulips

I had a quiet morning in and even when the sun came out, it was quite cold enough to make me happy to be looking out of the window.

two chaffinches plum blossom

Some goldfinches were concentrating hard on getting lined up correctly for landing…

well aligned goldfinch

…while others were trying to get a perch freed up.

goldfinches fighting

I made some soup for lunch and when Mrs Tootlepedal went off for an embroiderers’ Guild meeting, I thought about a short cycle ride but it was grey and the wind was very mean so I settled for a woolly hat and gloves and went for a short walk instead.

My feet were a bit sore and it was so cold that I almost gave up before I had gone half a mile, but a cheerful bank of daffodils in the park kept me going…

daffs and garlic

..and I soon found myself going along the riverside path among a blanket of wild garlic.  The bench in the picture above will be not for the faint of nose soon.

I could see the garlic buds among the leaves and there were other subdued signs of spring too.

four subdued wild flowers

There was a bit of colour here and there but it was cold enough for the script lichen to be obvious.

anemone. script lichen, dandelion

I plodded on towards Murtholm farm and Skippers Bridge and was rewarded when rather unexpectedly, the sun came out, showing up the yellow algae on a concrete fence post beside the road at Skippers.  It looks as though it should be slimy from a distance but it turns out to be quite fluffy when you look closely.

algae on concrete

I saw the algae when I was climbing over the low fence on my way down to the river bank to enjoy one of my favourite views.

skipers bridge April

The little ripple just above the bridge was looking charming with the water level being as low as it is at the moment.

river esk above skippers

I crossed the road beside the river and climbed up the steps that lead to the old railway and walked along the track below the embankment…

birch wood

…until I got to the gate that leads onto the hill. It was a completely different day by now and as I was sheltered from the malignant breeze, I was very happy that I had kept going.

oak tree in field

I walked up to the Round House, originally built as a gazebo  by a local landowner so that he could enjoy…

approaching round house

…this view of the town and the surrounding hills.

view from round house

From the Round House, I took the track back to the town….

track from round house

…and fell in with three cheery fellows from Hawick who had caught the bus to Langholm and walked nine miles round the back of Whita Hill.  They were pleased to be out of the wind too and looking forward to catching the bus back home.

The Embroiderers’ Guild members  were still meeting as I walked past the Day Centre.  I like their banner which is there to attract any passing needlewomen who might like to drop in.

embroiderers sing

The lonesome gull, who stands on the rock in the river between the bridges, had found a friend.

two gulls

My pocket camera has more menu items than I can possible ever use but I noticed one that offered settings for ‘Sparkling Water’.  There was a river with water and some sunshine so I tried it out.

This was the result.

sparkly water

I don’t know how the camera got that effect and I am amazed that some software engineer thought it was worthwhile to write the code to make the camera do it. It looks like an ad for toothpaste.

I put the camera back on more normal settings and took a picture of the daffodils beside the Wauchope Water along Caroline Street.

daffs along caroline street

They are just beginning to go over so I thought I ought to record them before they are gone.

When I got back to the garden, the sun had been warm enough to persuade some of the tulips to unbutton a bit…

red tulips evening

…but it was still pretty chilly so I didn’t do any gardening but went into to watch the Melrose Sevens on the telly.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and joined me in watching the rugby until it was tea time.

As the evening coincided with the third round of the Masters Golf from Augusta, which is worth watching for the fine grass and lovely flowers alone, the day ended very quietly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, caught in a sunny interval in the morning.

flying chaffinch

The forecast says that it is going to be frosty both tonight and tomorrow night and then it may get warmer.  The tulips and I both think that that would be a good thing.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Canada.  Lucie, who sent it to me, is scratching her head as to why she can’t find people anxious to share a cup of tea with her on her patio when there are such comfortable looking cushions to sit on.

Lucie's snowy pergola

At least Lucie has had some sunshine.  We got another grey day today but not as windy as it has been for which we were grateful.

The sunshine in my life was metaphorical in the form of Sandy who came round for a coffee in a very cheerful mood.  His foot is a lot less sore and he has been sleeping exceptionally well so no wonder he was smiling.

As well as Sandy, we had plenty of other visitors today and I had to fill the feeder twice, a rare occurrence this year.

The siskins have wasted no time in making their presence felt as can be seen by this picture of a diminutive siskin blowing an incoming chaffinch away.

chaffinch blown away by siskin

A chaffinch did manage an unimpeded landing a little while later.

elgant chaffinch

Meanwhile the siskins took to creeping round the feeder to surprise goldfinches.

siskin sneaking past feeder

After Sandy left, I decided to go for a cycle ride as the forecast offered a few dry hours before the rain came.   It was still pretty breezy with gusts of up to 20 mph so I took things easy as I went round my customary Canonbie 20 mile circuit and kept my eyes open for things to photograph…

…like trees shaped by the prevailing wind…

bare tree chapelhill

…and more trees with some branched pruned by the passing winds…

bare tree Canonbie road

…and even more trees, this time standing in a relatively sheltered spot.

bare tree neat Canonbie

When I came to bridges, I stopped.

This is the Canonbie Bridge, low and wide…

Canonbie bridge

…and this is the Hollows bridge a mile or two up the road, high and handsome.

hollows bridge arch

Landowners grossly neglect their responsibility to provide uninterrupted views of river bridges for passing photographers as you can see from the Hollows bridge and this picture of another good looking bridge, a mile or two up the road which is almost submerged in trees and bushes, whereas….

old A7 bridge

…this ugly road bridge a few yards away is as clean as a whistle (and they have been cutting down more trees near it).road bridge

There is no justice….

…and bridges are not the only cause of photographic dissatisfaction.  Road furniture is a pest too as you can see from the junction at Canonbie where a lovely bank of snowdrops has been overwhelmed by clutter.

snowdrops and road signs

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy helping out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop so I took a look around and noticed that she has got the Christmas tree out of the greenhouse and is getting it acclimatised for life in the garden.

christmas tree in garden

In the ‘signs of spring category’, new life on a rose was encouraging.

rose leaf

I went inside where I had a late lunch, battled with the crossword and did a little bird watching.

The stalk of the sunflower makes a convenient stopping place for birds waiting for a vacant perch on the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

Some birds didn’t wait but made straight for the feeder…

horizontal chaffinch

…while others did their best to remove those who had got there first.

chaffinchs attack

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from a very busy session at the coffee shop and had a restorative cup of tea.  It must have been strong tea because as soon as she had downed it, we went off for a short expedition by car to the White Yett and then by foot up the track to the Monument.

Even on a dull day, the Ewes Valley is worth a look…

ewes valley

…and on any day at all, the lichens on the boulders beside the track and what I think is algae on the monument itself are very eye catching.

lichen and algae

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought her binoculars with her and took a moment at the summit to scan the skies for interesting birds…

Mrs T bird watching on whita

…in vain.

I looked down on the town, eight hundred feet below…

Langholm from Whita

…and then we went back down the track to the car before we got caught in the rain which was threatening to arrive.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of a performance of Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet company while my friend Susan arrived to take me to Carlisle where we had an excellent evening of tootling.  The ballet was very good too, Mrs tootlepedal reported.

It was raining lightly as Susan and I drove down to Carlisle and it was very wet as we drove home so I was lucky to get my cycle and walk in before the rain arrived.  Sometimes the weather goods relent and give a man a break.  However, it does say that it is going to rain all day tomorrow so it was just a small break.

Another horizontal chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture from son Tony in East Wemyss goes to prove that you can find grumpy herons all over the place.

wemyss heron

It was a beautiful morning with a delicate sunrise but it was chilly enough at 4°C after breakfast to keep me from getting my bike out.  Instead, I walked up to the town where I did a bit of archive group business.  I asked Nancy, who was mining data in our new premises, for a suggestion for an interesting walk but she was unable to come up with one that hadn’t already figured in the blog.

Scratching my head, I went out into to the street and bumped into Mike Tinker.  He is a stalwart of the Langholm Walks group and suggested that I try Walk 5.  As this involves walking up steep rough ground and I hadn’t got either walking boots or my walking poles with me, Nancy and I hadn’t considered this.

However, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I resolved to take up Mike’s suggestion, trust to the ground being firm and the boggy bits few and far between and hope that I didn’t fall over on a slippery bit.

And, plucking up my courage, I headed out to try Walk 5

It starts with a stroll along the river out of the town and this led me past one of favourite bits of lichen which can be found on a fence just on the very edge of Langholm.  It is a grey and black lichen and so a black and white shot seemed like a good idea.

fungus on fence lands end

I crossed Skippers Bridge without taking a photograph and was soon walking up the track towards the hill.  I could see the mast on the top of Warbla (275m) in the distance and it seemed to be a good day to be up beside it so I pressed on.

distant view of mast on warbla

My hopes about the dry ground and lack of boggy bits were fully realised and though the hill is quite steep in places, I was able to stop and admire the view from time to time and get my breath back.

view from above skipperscleuch tarck

There was even some more lichen on a rock to detain me.

fungus on warbla

It wasn’t too long before I was able to look back down on the town, snugly tucked into its nest at the bottom of the hills.

langholm from walk 5

And then I was high enough to be able to look around at the neighbouring summits…

timpen from warbla

…and to look ahead to my immediate target.

approaching the mast warbla

When I got there, I was amply rewarded for the slog uphill across rough ground with superb views of hills streaked with sunshine and shadows…

view from warbla summit

…which I shared with a man and a dog who had reached the trig point from the opposite side of the hill.  We agreed that a better place to be on such a fine day would be hard to find.

man and dog on warbla

From the summit, I could look across the valley and stretching the zoom on the Lumix to its full extent, I could just make out the stile over the wall on Whita that I had crossed on a walk almost a week ago on another fine day.  It was about a mile away.

stile on whita from warbla

The hills looked just as good on the way down from the top as they had on the way up…

view from warbla

…and the track to the town was at its best.

green road on warbla

However, without my walking poles, I had to keep my head well down as I went along since there were plenty of opportunities to slip and slide on wet grass or slippery stones and I took no more views and only got the camera out to note this tree growing out of the top of a wall in a rather unlikely fashion….

tree on wall

…and got home safely with dry feet and no unexpected encounters between my backside and mother earth.

By coincidence, I met Nancy just as I got back.  She had been dropping off some of the results of her data mining for me to enter into the Archive Group’s newspaper database.  I’ll have to hope for some wet and windy weather which makes entering data a sensible thing to be doing.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and found some bright eyed birds at the garden feeder.

bright eyed birds

After lunch, the temperature had risen enough to make cycling a possibility so I got into my cycling gear, got my bike and set off.  In an exciting fashion I rode round the block and was home again in about three minutes.  It had started to rain heavily much to my surprise and annoyance.  There had been no sign of this sort of thing while I was out walking.

However, I kept my cycling gear on and after only a few minutes, the rain had disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and I set off again.

It was a lovely day for a pedal!

cleuchfoot road

The days are still short though and I only had time for 23 miles before it began to get gloomy.  Because I was pushed for time, I  took just that one picture on my ride which was of the scenically dull ‘up and down the road’ variety.  It was enjoyable pedalling though and my legs only reminded me of my morning walk once or twice.

I got home in time for a cup of tea and some Garibaldi biscuits which we had bought in Carlisle yesterday.  While eating the biscuits, I was able to reflect that too much of my life has been wasted not eating Garibaldi biscuits, an omission which I will try to correct in the years to come.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been out doing some useful gardening while I had been pedalling so we were both quite satisfied with our afternoon’s work.

After the tea and biscuits it was time for my flute pupil Luke to come and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger and worked on a bit of one by J J Quantz.

After Luke went, there was time to enjoy a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty puy lentil, leek and feta bake for tea before I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  Here we played Mozart, Boismortier and Schickhardt so that rounded off a very good all round sort of day.

I even found a satisfactory flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch wings closed

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has been suffering from a bad cold but has recovered enough to walk up to Kenwood House to have a coffee and a mince pie in the cafe.  She found a very fine day for her excursion.

kenwood house in sun

We had another calm and sunny day here today but we paid the price for a clear night by having a frosty morning.

frosty chaffinches

The chill encouraged a few birds to come to the feeder and it persuaded me to go for a walk rather than a cycle ride after coffee as the the thermometer was still showing a meagre 1°C at 11 o’clock.  This may have been too cold for pedalling but it was ideal for walking as the ground was nicely firm under foot when I got on to the hill.

I walked up the track to Whita from the town.

I was surprised to find a dandelion out as well as a garden escape on my way up the Kirk Wynd but the blooming gorse on the hill was no surprise as it is out all over the place.

dandelion, shrub and gorse january

There was no lichen looking cheerful on the wall at the top of the track but the moss was remarkable.  I don’t think that I have ever noticed it looking quite like this before.

moss heads

The view up the Ewes Valley did not disappoint and the weather seemed set fair for a stroll.

ewes valley from kirk wynd

When I got to the open hill, I didn’t continue straight up to the monument but turned right along the face of the hill following the old quarry track along the contours.

Looking across the town, I could see the Craig Wind Farm turbines rotating very lazily in the light breeze.  It was a pleasure to be out on such a day.

craig wind farm

I had a look at the trig points on the top of Warbla and Timpen.  In these days of digital mapping, they serve no useful purpose but I am glad that they haven’t been taken away as they provide a punctuation mark at the summits.  Both of them were dwarfed, the one on Warbla by the communications mast beside it, and the one on Timpen by a blade of a turbine nearly a mile away behind it.

two trig points

Three sheep pondered on my activities.

three sheep

When I reached the wall at the end of the track, I paused to look over the town.

town from quarry track

Below me, a field lined with tall trees vividly showed the difference between sunshine and shade.  I was glad to be in the sun.

shadowy frost

There are many photo opportunities round Langholm and this stile over the wall at the quarry is one of the most popular and I hardly ever cross it without stopping to take a picture.

quarry track stile

Today, this turned out to be slightly embarrassing for a gentlemen who was having a pee behind the gorse bush and hadn’t seen me coming.  He soon drifted out of shot though, muttering as he went.

I went diagonally down the hill towards the oak wood and followed the track through the wood down to the road…

oak wood round house

…passing an elegantly decaying tree trunk….

tree trunk

…and some fine hair ice on my way…

hair ice skippers

…to Skippers Bridge.  It was far too good a day to miss the photo opportunity there.

skippers bridge reflection

I walked back along the river without seeing anything exciting enough to make me stop again and got home after four miles just in time for lunch.

I was reflecting as I got back to town that I had just crossed moor and mountain and passed field and fountain and as it is Epiphany, I thought that  perhaps I ought to bring Mrs Tootlepedal some rich gifts.  I stopped at our corner shop and purchased milk and honey.  These would have been a pleasant surprise for her if I hadn’t met her cycling home from an errand just outside the shop.  She came in with me.  Still, she appreciated the thought.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw some sparrows.

sparrow eating seed

The males have rich colours on their backs which show up well in sunshine.

sparrow in sun

Once again, there were not many birds about so I let my lens stray towards the sedums round the feeder.

sedum

After lunch, I had an appointment with the speech therapist in Dumfries, 35 miles away but once again, thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to see and speak to her online which saved me a lengthy drive and a lot of time.  It is a very efficient system which has worked perfectly both times we have used it.  As a result of this week’s consultation, I will be humming down a straw into a glass of water for the next seven weeks.  She assures me that it will work wonders.

Later in the afternoon, I settled down to putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and finished putting the choir songs onto the computer.

This took longer than I expected and when I finally finished, it was time to cook some corned beef hash for my tea.

I have decided this year to keep a record of my walks as well as my cycle rides, partly to stop feeling that I should be cycling even when the conditions are not suitable and partly out of interest to see how far I walk.  I am only counting actual expeditions like today’s, not the ordinary pottering about house and garden.

As a result, I find that I have walked or cycled every day in 2019 so far, cycling 77 miles and walking 20.  That seems like quite a good balance.

I did find a flying bird of the day today as a chaffinch, some sunshine and a camera in hand all appeared at the same time for once.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started the new year by visiting the strangely named Locko Park where he met a fine lake.

Locko Park

Our year here started with a brilliantly sunny but rather chilly day.  I would have liked to have taken part in the eight mile walk/run event that starts the Langholm year off but a combination of stiff muscles and sore feet persuaded me that a bike ride would be a better bet.

After a late breakfast, a little cooking and dawdling my way to coffee, I saw that the thermometer had climbed to 5°C so I got my cycling clothes on, got out my bike, leaned it against the car while I filled my water bottle and then looked at the car windscreen.

It was still covered with ice.

I put the bike back in, took my cycling clothes off and went for a walk.  The roads may well have been 99% clear of ice but it is that other 1% that I am hoping not to meet this year.

My idea was to walk to the top of a 1000ft hill and admire the views and so I headed up Meikleholm Hill (859ft), intending to go along the ridge and onto the next hill, Timpen (1069ft), and get my views there.

I passed some fine fungus…

Meikleholm track fungus

…and was soon looking at views from about 656ft…

Esk valley from Meikleholm

…but not long afterwards, I found myself looking at the enquiring heads of cattle peeking over the skyline and looking back at me.

For the second time today, I changed my plan. I retreated.

I lost about 100 feet and found a cattle free but steep route to the top of Timpen.  There were a number of views available and the air was remarkably clear for once.

I looked north along the ridge….

view from top of timpen 4

…and down into the Esk valley curling among the hills.

view from top of timpen 3

Nearer to me I could see the river running through the fields of Milnholm.

view from top of timpen 2

Going further round, I could see Castle and Potholm Hills making a barrier between the Esk and the Ewes Water on the far side.

view from top of timpen 1

And going round further still, I could look back down on the town, 800 feet below.

view of langholm from top of timpen

It was warm enough in the sunshine for me to unbutton my jacket, put my gloves in my pocket and still feel rather hot after the climb.

Coming back down the hill, I chose a cow dodging route using a mountain biking trail through the woods on the shady side of the hill.

bike track down Meikleholm Hill

The track was well maintained and although it was much colder out of the sun, it was a pleasure to walk along a track that I had never used before. I ended up down on the road about a mile out of town and took the path above the river that leads to the Duchess bridge (part of Walk 2 of the Langholm Walks).

Trees had fallen across the track but some kind person had come along with a chain saw and cut a Tootlepedal sized hole in the trunk…

walk 2 path

…so I was able to arrive safely on the flat of the Castleholm and walk along the tree lined Lodge walks in the sunshine.

lines across Lodge walks

I crossed the Sawmill Bridge and strolled along the Kilngreen.  There were many gulls on the fence posts but as I got near, they flew off and only one remained.

gull on post

I feel fairly sure that if I had had my flying bird camera with me, they would all have stayed glued to the posts.

Looking back up the river, I could see the sun  tipping the hill with gold where I had stood an hour earlier taking in those views.

Esk and Timpen

One of the really good things about our hills to my mind, is the ease with which one can get up and down them without requiring a mass of time and special walking kit.  I did find my two walking poles very useful though as the grass on the shady side of the hill was still frosty and slippery in places.

I tried to catch a flying bird in the garden when I got home but they were nowhere to be seen and this shy character was the only bird available.

chaffinch hiding

I collected Mrs Tootlepedal who was at work on her rocking horse restoration project and we went off to see Mike and Alison Tinker and wish them and their daughter and her family who were visiting, a happy new year.

We had a sociable new year drink and some good conversation and Mike and his daughter Liz, who is a professional horticulturalist, pointed out that two days ago, the blog had wrongly called this shrub, which we encountered on a walk, a pernettya…

pernettya bush

…whereas Mike actually has a pernettya in his garden and it looks like this…

pernettya

…and what we had seen two days ago…

pernettya berries

…was a Symphoricarpos or snowberry.  I apologise deeply for the error which must have appalled many readers who were too polite to point it out.

I was slightly envious when I saw a steady stream of birds visiting Alison’s feeder as we sipped and chatted.   Liz presented Mrs Tootlepedal with a bowl of hyacinths as a new year’s gift and I hope this will appear in future posts when they burst into flower.

I had made a beef and mushroom stew in the slow cooker in the morning so we were well supplied for our evening meal when the time came.

In the absence of any flying birds, I can offer an echelon of gulls who returned to their posts as soon as I had got too far away to photograph one individually.

zig zag gulls

 

 

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