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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  She got down to sea level in Madeira and brilliantly caught this Atlantic spotted dolphin in mid leap.

Atlantoc spotted dolphin

Our spell of great weather is coming to an end but we are being let down gently before rain and gales blow in tomorrow night and we had a calm, warm but rather grey day today.

The iron pills have not worked their magic yet and I am still feeling a little tired so I was happy to spend a quiet morning doing a little business and paying bills after breakfast and then doing some aimless wandering around in the garden.

I said to Mrs Tootlepedal the other day that we seemed to have a lot of philadelphus in the garden and she rather thought that I was exaggerating but when she looked round, and counted, she found that there are at least nine…

philadelphus panel

A small selection

…and as they are pretty well all out, the garden is full of blossom and delightful aromas too.

I kept my eye out for new flowers and spotted the first of many Martagon lilies.

martagon lily

Mrs Tootlepedal is getting very excited by some small but perfectly formed blue alliums which are just about to come out.

blue allium

I was pleased to see a couple of red tailed bumble bees back on the chives.  They are very striking and an ornament to any garden.

red tailed bumble bee

I pulled myself together after a cup of coffee and set about putting some liquid fertiliser on the front lawn. The front lawn is still very mossy and I thought that what grass there is needed some encouragement.  As the fertiliser is applied by watering can, it is a labour intensive activity and kept me happily occupied for some time.  I did a bit of the middle lawn too.

I took time out to do the crossword and watch the birds.  The feeder was quite busy today.

greenfinch

A few greenfinches turned up…

flying siskins

…but mostly it was siskins and some goldfinches again

I was thinking about a gentle afternoon pedal but a few drops of rain put me off the idea and I went for a walk instead.  It seemed like quite a time since I had been up a hill so I went up our nearest one, Meikleholm Hill.

The rain held off as I walked up the track to the hill, admiring the many grasses on the way.  There was a splendid variety…

garsses

…but the star of the grass show when I looked at them on the computer later on, was this colourful spray with added visitors.

grass with insects

Just before I got to the gate onto the open hill, I noticed a few rabbits in the field beside the track.  Most of them scampered away but one remained, pretending to be a blade of grass.

rabbit in grasses

I always like this gate just before the top of the track…

Meikleholm gate

…but I was glad to be finally out on the open hill and looking back across the town towards Whita Hill on the other side of the valley.

View of langholm from Meikleholm

Even on a grey day, it is a view to lift the heart.

There were plenty of wild flowers to look at as I followed the track which curves up round the side of the hill…

tree on meikleholm

There was a lot of tormentil which I failed to record properly and quite a bit of bird’s-foot trefoil and various hawkbits too.

trefoil and hawksbit

I was hoping to see some early orchids too and wasn’t entirely disappointed as there were a few small flowers to be seen.

orchids

There are sheep on the hill and I don’t know if they will nibble off the orchids or not but there should be a lot more flowers as the summer goes on.

They sheep probably won’t eat these marsh thistles though.

marsh thistke

I was considering an extended route when I got to the top of Meikleholm Hill but a look to the north….

rain over Potholm

…and the south….

clouds over solway

…persuaded me that the straight route home might be the best bet.

No sooner had I made up my mind than the rain started and I had to skip down the hill as fast as my creaky knee would let me.

I did stop for one last photo opportunity as the racecourse on the Castleholm looked very attractive but that was the only stop as I was getting quite wet and didn’t have a coat with me.

racecourse castleholm

The rain eased off without entirely stopping as I got down to the town so I was happy to get home without getting soaked through.

That was my last excursion for the day, though I did get as far as the back door later on to take a final picture of the day.

colourful corner

Mrs Tootlepedal finds colours and textures in flowers, grasses and shrubs and mixes them all together in a most harmonious way in my view.  I am very lucky to be the beneficiary of her skills.

In the evening, she went off to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of Swan lake performed by the Royal Ballet.  I stayed at home because although I admire the wonderful skills and fitness of the dancers, I keep waiting for something interesting to happen and as nothing does, I get easily  bored.

The flower of the day is one of our foxgloves.  Some gardeners may turn up their noses at these common wild flowers but I am glad that Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t.

foxglove

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s Irish adventure and shows one of the more exciting roads that the party drove over on their outings.

Ireland

We were in a state of deja vu today as the scene outside the window when we woke up was still snowy, the temperature was still around freezing and the skies were still grey.

Thanks to the snow, the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre was cancelled so I was very disappointed as it is the highlight of my shopping  month and we are now in the midst of a quality cheese drought in Tootlepedal Mansions.

However, as the morning wore on, the temperature rose by a degree and since the main roads seemed to be clear and dry, we thought it a good idea to make sure that the car was still going and made a little motor excursion through the town to a shop instead of the market.

I had cleared the snow off the car a couple of days ago and also cleared the snow off the road around it and in spite of frequent light snow showers since then, the car and the road were still clean enough to let us set off with no more sweeping or shovelling required.

Perhaps because of the very dry nature of the snow, no doors were frozen up, the wipers were free to wipe and the car started at the first request.   We were relieved as we hope to go to Carlisle for a choir practice tomorrow.

We didn’t have many birds in the morning but we did have one mass visit from starlings who perched on the top of the walnut tree.  Some were in vertical mode…

starlings

…and others preferred the horizontal way.

_DSC1834

Yesterday’s posing chaffinch had another go at being FBotD but mistimed her effort.

flying chaffinch

You can’t win them all.

A crow on a neighbour’s roof gave me the excuse to squeeze a little moss into the post.

crow

After lunch, as it was dry and I could see the tops of the hills, I went for a walk in the hope of some snowy scenery.

I caught up with a friend who was going to the golf club (not to play golf) and walked up the Kirk Wynd with him.  When he went into the golf clubhouse, I kept going.

I had a quick look behind me as I got above the town….

snowy scene

…but this was as much of a scenic view as I got as soon the clouds came down on the hills and it started to snow again.

It was only light snow though so I pushed on past the golf course and onto the the hill.

The gorse was trying its best under testing circumstances…

gorse in snow

…and although the snow was quite deep in places and tiring to plough through, I wasn’t tempted to rest for a while on the bench at Whita Well.

snowy bench

I did for a moment consider trying to go straight up the hill to the summit but good sense prevailed and I turned left and went along the contours of the hill to the Newcastleton road.

The brisk winds of yesterday had had two contradictory effects.  In places they had swept the hillside fairly clean and the walking was easy and elsewhere, they had piled the snow up into drifts.  It wasn’t always easy to tell whether a plain white patch in front of me was thin or thick though and I had one or two uncomfortable moments stepping into what proved to be quite deep bits.

Fortunately, just as I was thinking that a strategic retreat might be wise, I came upon the wheel tracks of a hill vehicle which had been out looking after the sheep and although the tracks were well covered in snow, they gave me a guide which kept me out of any drifts.

Whita with snow

The sharp eyed will be able to see the rather ghostly tracks at the bottom left of the picture above.

They led me safely to the Newcastleton road….

Copshaw Road

…and I was glad that I was walking and not driving down it.

I had plenty of help with my directions…

Bird print

…which was needed as it was sometimes hard to tell where the road ended and the verges began.

Copshaw Road

The sheep are clever animals and had found a good windswept patch where some grass had been exposed and were munching away with their backs firmly to the wind (and the photographer).

sheep in snow

Once I got down to the main road, I found that yet again the snowplough had thrown the excess snow onto the footpath so I had to walk along the road itself to make progress.  Luckily there was hardly any traffic but what there was was paying no attention to the signs and I had to skip briskly onto the pavement once or twice..

Welcome to Langholm

I got to the Sawmill Brig but didn’t cross it when I came to it on this occasion and I was pleased with this decision…

sawmill brig

…when I found a bird like icicle on a bench on the Kilngreen…

icicle kilngreen

…and then  met Mr Grumpy on the banks of the river.

heron in snow

He flew off but when I tried to follow him with the camera and all I got was a picture of the light but persistent snow.

snow

I caught an oyster catcher instead as I walked along the Esk.

oyster catcher

The snow and ice had made this short walk quite energetic so I was more than happy to test drive some scones that Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out and then sink into a comfortable chair and watch cycling and athletics for the rest of the afternoon (and quite a lot of the evening).

The temperature is due to rise a bit over the next few days so with luck we may get a steady thaw without any floods to go with it.

The flying bird of the day, to ensure correct blog gender balance after yesterday’s flying female, is a male chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who found some nice light in a quarry on a walk at Little Eaton.

Andrew's quarry

The main excitement of the day was caused by the arrival of workmen who are going to replace the bridge over the dam in the street outside our house. Our road will be shut for a month.

Dam bridge repair

The road is closed to traffic and pedestrians and it gives us a great talking point.

They soon got to work outside and in the meantime, Mrs Tootlepedal got to work inside the house on giving the kitchen a thorough clean.

Under these circumstances, I thought it better not to get in anyone’s way and went off for a walk.  It was dry, reasonably bright and just above freezing so it was a good day for me to check to see if my recent bike folly had given me any aches and pains that hadn’t come to light yet.

I chose a three mile route with a little uphill road work and some gentle contouring round a hillside and this let me know that all my moving parts were in very good order.

This was a relief.

It also gave me the opportunity to have a look around as I went along.

There were gulls….

gulls

….and interesting walls, fence posts and some hair ice as I walked along the main road.

moss and hair ice

Once I turned up hill on the Newcastleton road,  I began to get views…

View of ewes in winter

….with the occasional glimpse of snow and windmills….

View of esk valley

….which were made better by seeing that down below to the south, The Solway was swathed in mist.

mist over Solway

I kept an eye on fence posts for interesting mosses and lichens but in the end, the most interesting thing that I saw was a fence post….

knothole with moss

….though it was amazing that moss had  found space to grow in the tiny cracks in the knothole.

I walked along the hill.

It is a mystery that while some hawthorns have been stripped of berries, others remain with a good crop still attached.

haws

I had a look down at the town….

Langholm from Whita

….and then walked towards it.

As I came off the hill to go past the golf course, my eye was drawn to a mossy wall.

mossy wall

Closer examination revealed that there was a lot of lichen on the wall as well as moss…

lichen and moss

…and by far the most striking thing to be seen was a bright red display of cladonia lichen.

cladonia lichen

I think this is British Soldier lichen, Cladonia Cristatella.

P1070063

The views were still good as I came down the Kirk Wynd and the sun came out to make it very pleasant day.

Looking towards Peden's view

I thought that I had seen some unusual moss on a stone but when I looked again, it seemed more likely to be some sort of sedum.

sedum

By the time that I got home, the bridge mending team had got well stuck into the task.

dam bridge repair

The disturbance from the work had kept the birds away in the early morning but as I made some soup for lunch, they returned to the feeder….

busy feeder

….in enough numbers to  make some shouting inevitable.

_DSC1118

After lunch, I had to visit the health centre to get some modest scrapes checked to see that they were healing nicely.  They were but another visit later in the week is still needed.

When I got home again, I found that the eager bridge repair men had dug so vigorously that they had cut through our water pipe.  Mrs Tootlepedal had warned them about where it was but they had preferred to rely on the water board’s view that it was somewhere else.

A water board man appeared and mended the pipe.  Mrs Tootlepedal felt slightly smug.

I visited a neighbour with a bird feeder for her to try out, as she has found that jackdaws eat all her bird food almost as soon as she puts it out.  I got rewarded with a cup of coffee and two chocolate biscuits.  I may have to go back soon and check how it is doing.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a play.  I was pleased to see that I was able to play the flute even though I had bruised my mouth a bit and so after tea,  I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

None of the three of us are in peak condition at the moment so we didn’t play at our best by any means but the session was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day really is a flying bird today.  It is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s birthday tour and shows a very United Kingdom team of bell ringers over a jeweller’s shop in Gloucester.

gloucester

The new month started in good style with a chilly but fine morning and it was a pleasure to see the sun and some blue sky.

Even though it was not far above freezing, the sun was enough to bring a snowdrop out in the garden.

open snowdrop

I am trying to take care of my chest as it is steadily improving and I don’t want to set it back so I resisted any slight temptation to go cycling (there was a strong wind to go with the low temperatures) and spent a quiet morning in.

We are going to get the bridge over the dam behind the house replaced after a large hole appeared in the roadway some weeks ago….

bridge repairs

…and this will be quite a big deal.  One of the problems is that record keeping has been poor and no one is quite sure what utilities run under the bridge.  We have had several visits from experts who have given fine displays of head scratching and chin stroking and today, we had the man from the water board.    We just hope that they don’t cut off our gas or sewage when they start the work.

There were plenty of birds about again today…..

goldfinches, chaffinch and blackbird

…and although there weren’t as many as yesterday, there were still times  when the feeder was very busy.

busy feeder

I was pleased to see a greenfinch or two among the goldfinches, chaffinches  and siskins.

greenfinch

Although the skies got a bit cloudy after lunch, it was still fine enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden and I took the opportunity to go for a walk.

I had intended to walk to the top of Meikleholm Hill to get some wider views and started out full of pep….

Langholm from Meikleholm

….but when I met a group of hill cattle half way up the hill, I gave that idea up and settled for contouring round the hill and back down to the road.  My decision was helped by the refusal of the sun to come out from behind the clouds where I was, even though it was shining on some distant snow capped hilltops.

Snow on hills

I chose a route that was well sheltered from the north-westerly wind and enjoyed my outing.

When I got to the road, I was observed by a curious sheep…..

sheep

…and considered a handy bench with its view….

bench at Breckonwrae

…but thought that the moss on the arm of the bench was the most  interesting thing about it.

moss on bench at Breckonwrae

I considered taking the path through the woods on my way back to the town but it was damp underfoot and I had already slipped over on the soggy patch of hillside so I decided to stick to the road.

This was not a boring option as there was an interesting wall with maidenhair spleenwort on the face of it….

spleenwort wall

…and any amount of different mosses on the top.

moss on wall

At the end of the wall, the road is lined by a fence made from pipes set into concrete fence posts and each fence post had its own hat….

moss on conrete fenceposts

…and I could easily have taken a picture of every one that I passed.  I restrained myself.

The sun actually came out as I got to the town so I walked down through the wood, crossed the Jubilee Bridge and took the new path round the bottom of the Castleholm.

New path castleholm

I was struck by the large number of comes at the very top of one of the noble firs beside the path…..

noble fir cones

…and by the even larger number of moss sporophytes on the wall opposite the Buccleuch Estates yard.

moss on wall, ewesbank

I don’t think that I have seen such a furry wall before. The mosses and lichens are still enjoying our weather.

As I walked along the Kilngreen, I passed Mr Grumpy, who was looking very well turned out.

heron

When I got back to the garden, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the time digging out a tree peony and…..

tree peony move

….replanting it a few yards away.  It was too close to the dogwood before and should be able to make a better mark in its new position.

My walk was about three and half miles and I was more than happy to find myself in as good condition at the end of it as I had been at the start.  Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I are continuing to throw off the after effect of the bug, though I met someone on my walk today who was complaining that he still wasn’t entirely cured after five weeks so we are  going carefully and trying not to do too much at a time.

That concluded the active part of the day and I went into pro-relaxing mode until the evening came and it was time to look at pictures and write this post.

My moss book tells me that I really need a magnifying glass to get the best out of moss watching so I might think about that.  In the meantime, it has been an eye opener to see how many different forms of moss there are about.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin crossing in front of the lawn.  It is not a brilliant picture but I really liked the colour scheme.

flying siskin

On the subject of flying birds, I saw a picture in one of the blogs that I follow of a flock of birds rising from some tree tops.  We often have that from the trees of Holmwood.  In our case the birds are rooks….

rooks

…and we had a small example of a flock today.  They are very noisy.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a glimpse of the Regent Canal at Camden, kindly sent to me by my sister Mary.

Regent's canal at Camden Town

We had been threatened by heavy rain and gales in the morning, courtesy of storm Dylan but once again we got off very lightly with no more than a stiff breeze and no rain at all when we got up.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were able to cycle off to sing in the church choir after breakfast with no danger of being blown off our bikes or getting soaked.

We got back from church in time to see a robin…

robin

….and welcome our last visitor of 2017, the recorder playing, choir singing, container lady and good friend, Sue.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made fish pie and there was plenty of cheese about so we had a nourishing lunch and from time to time, we looked out of the window at a flock of goldfinches which had come to the feeder.

goldfinches

Every perch on both feeders was taken by goldfinches and more waited their turn.

goldfinches

The collective name for goldfinches is a charm and it was indeed charming to see so many in our garden.

Although we had been promised rain in the morning and a dry afternoon, it started to rain quite heavily while we ate our lunch….

blackbird

…and things dudn’t look promising as far as a walk went at all.

We had just settled down in the sitting room after the meal, ready to spend an hour or so in quiet conversation, when I spotted a ray of sunshine.

We leapt up and looked for boots.  Sue’s were in her car and while she was outside fetching them, she saw a wonderful rainbow.   I grabbed a camera and went into the garden.

rainbow

The sunshine was fleeting though and by the time that we had put our boots on, the sun and the rainbow had gone.

Still, we had our boots and coats on so we set off for the walk, more in hope than expectation of keeping dry.

It did seem as if it was raining as we went through the park but it was probably just water dripping off the trees.

dripping needles

And when we got into open country, the rain had gone and we did the rest of our walk in breezy but dry conditions.

My daughter Annie has given me a book on moss for Christmas so I will have to pay more attention to moss in 2018.  There is plenty about.

mossy wall

When you walk with different people, you see different things and I would have passed two stones without a second glance but Mrs Tootlepedal, who likes the history contained in rocks, thought them interesting enough to stop and examine them.

stones

Sue liked the colour combination of the hawthorn berries and the tree lichens beside the track.

haws and lichen

My camera didn’t do it justice.

I took the next picture to reassure doubters that there is indeed intelligent life on the earth.

two wise women

It was pausing to enjoy the view as we climbed up Warbla.

The view when we got to the top was sombre and although there were a few gaps in the clouds, the sun never found one to shine through.

gloomy view of Langholm

Proof that we made the summit.

Warbla with women

I took this picture of the town bridge, a mile away and on a very gloomy day just to impress Sue with the abilities of the Lumix.  She was impressed.  It is not cropped.

bridge

Sue has been studying lichens at her plant classes so naturally we stopped to look at the park wall on our way home.

lichen

And as we walked round the garden when we got back, I realised that I hadn’t taken a tree picture on the walk and looked at our walnut tree.

walnut tree

There was still a little light left in the west and Sue decided to make the most of it by heading home before it got dark.

We had been more than pleased both to see her and to get a walk in and we would have been thoroughly delighted with the visit even if she hadn’t brought some very tasty home made biscuits with her.

Alison and Mike had brought biscuits with them when they visited us on Friday so the end of the year has been very well be-biscuited.  These are the sort of friends you want.

Once again it was generally too gloomy for flying birds but the burst of sunshine which brought the rainbow also brought a very fine perching starling of the day.

starling

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the patient readers who have ploughed through another year of these posts and wish you all a very happy new year.   Special thanks goes to those who have sent me guest pictures (keep them coming) and those who have been kind enough to offer the comments on the posts which are always appreciated.

Thank you and good night.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the pre Christmas fun in Edinburgh.  He saw salmon being smoked.

smoking salmon

We had another frosty but bright day today with the temperature once again struggling to get above zero.

Most of the morning was spent getting everything packed and ready for the departure of our guests who were heading back to Edinburgh after lunch, hoping to get the best of the driving conditions for the trip.

Among all the action, I didn’t get much chance to look out of the kitchen widow until Matilda and her parents had gone but perhaps I wouldn’t have seen much as Alistair spotted the sparrowhawk paying us a visit and picking up an unfortunate small bird on its way.

Once we had waved our guests off and shed a sorrowful tear, I did a little robin spotting….

robins

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off to see how the felling of the Becks wood was going on.

It was still really chilly as the frost in the garden showed….

garden ice

…but it was a glorious December day for a walk….

View from Scott's Knowe

…and as long as we stayed in the sunshine, it even felt quite warm.

The felling of the Becks wood is going on apace.

Becks wood felling

We were able to watch the skilled operator cutting trees, lifting them up and snedding and slicing them with ease.

Becks wood felling

It won’t take him long to clear the whole wood.

We obviously couldn’t go through the wood so we turned back and walked down to the Wauchope road through the field, taking a party of visiting walkers with us.  They had been hoping to do the Becks walk and were pleased to get some guidance on an alternative route.

When we got down to the road, Mrs Tootlepedal headed for home and I crossed the Auld Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig

…and headed for a track up the hill.

On my way I passed a curious frozen puddle with a translucent centre….

frozen puddle

…and yet another example of hair ice.

hair ice

It was cold in the trees and I was pleased to come back into the sunshine when I got onto the hill.

There were trees to be seen at the bottom of the hill….

trees

….a sheep on sentry duty on the track further up…

sheep on warbla

…and a blasted hawthorn, survivor of many gales.

tree on warbla

I could see snow on the hills just outside the town….

Snowy view

…and the moon hanging in the sky above the track.

Moon over warbla

I could look back across the Wauchope Water and see the wood which is being felled.  I don’t know how much of the wood will go but it will be missed when it is gone.

Becks wood

When I got to the track back down to the Stubholm, I noticed a strange black line down the centre of the roadway.  A second look showed me that it was my shadow and I stood with my legs apart to take a picture of it.

long shadow

It is not every day that I find myself on a gently sloping track with the sun low and  dead behind me so this might well be my only chance to prove that in the right conditions, I can have a fifty yard long shadow.  (I paced it out.)

As the sun got lower, the light got more golden.  We may not have had a very colourful autumn this year but we are getting some enjoyably colourful winter afternoons now on the days when the sun shines.

Meikleholm Hill

Whita in winter

I walked down the hill with care as there were some icy bits to avoid but I was able to keep my eyes open enough to see some fungus on a tree on the Stubholm track….

fungus

…and some lichen on the park wall.

lichen

It is a constant source of wonder to me that two stones in the same wall, just a yard or two apart should have different lichen on them.

The house seemed very quiet when I got back.

A look at the forecast in the evening revealed a very confident prediction of snow for tomorrow and I am not so old yet that I don’t consider the first snow of winter to be an exciting event so I hope that we do get some.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving a siskin the hard stare.

flying chaffinch and siskin

Here is a little video of the three eating machine for those with 20 seconds to waste.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a black and white shot taken by our daughter Annie in Macao.

panda Macao

It was cool but just above freezing with the promise of sun to come when we woke up.

I took a rather surreal picture of the bird feeder while I was making a pot of coffee after breakfast.  A siskin looked as though some avant garde artist had glued its beak to the tube.

busy feeder

Today, being Friday contained a visit from Dropscone bearing treacle scones as a Friday should.  He was a bit subdued as he has been grappling with the bank that holds an account for which he is the treasurer.  Having waited 25 minutes on the phone last night, he had been unable to prove to the satisfaction of the operator that he really was who he is and so he was girding his loins to go into a real bank branch where they will actually recognise him on sight.  So much for the joys of the internet.

He hasn’t got long as the bank is intending to shut our local branch soon.

We were joined by Gavin who was delivering Christmas cards and when Gavin and Dropscone left, I had a look to see if the siskin had come unstuck.

It had.

The feeder was still in the shade but the sun had got to the plum tree…

chaffinch, siskin and goldfinch

…as had a number of finches.  A brisk and nippy north wind was ruffling the goldfinch’s feathers.

There were a lot of blackbirds about again.

blackbird

It takes time for the sun to creep round to the feeder itself…

chaffinch, siskin, goldfinch

…but this robin seemed quite happy in the shade.

robin

When the sun finally got to the feeder, it didn’t seem to improve the temper of the birds at all.

busy feeder

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to do some shopping and I went for a walk.

I was unable to truthfully say that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky by this time….

cloud over Arkleton

…because this one fluffy little devil hung about in an impertinent way.

Thanks to the sun and the underlying frost, it was a lovely day for a walk as long as you took a little care when you met an icy patch or two.

Whitshiels track

The sun picked out the views and the frost kept the ground firm enough to walk on without having to worry about boggy bits and wet feet.

tree

And, as always on a good day, the views were well worth looking at.  They never lose their appeal to me.  Today, there was a little distant snow to add variety.

Ewes valley

I walked up the track from Whitshiels and then crossed the Newcastleton road and walked along the track to Whita Well and continued along the front of Whita until I got to the stile at the wall.

My admiration for the people who built the walls up and down these unforgiving slopes is unbounded.

Whita wall

The light made even the winter landscape look gorgeous.

Whita

And far to the north, I could see some more serious snow.

view from whita

I passed a very striking set of hawthorn bushes as I went along the quarry track…

hawthorn

…and enjoyed this little dent in the smooth surface of the hill.

Whita

I could look down on the town below me and you can see how low the sun is in the sky with only a week to go to the winter solstice.

view from whita

It was 2pm when I took the picture above and already half the town is in the shadow of the hills.

But where the sun was still at work, the light was delightful.

_DSC0017

I took a new track down the hill back towards the town.  This was terra incognita for me but the track seemed well trodden…

view from whita

…and it led me to a broad ride through a wood just above the town …

Wood at Hallpath

…so my route was well chosen.

I came back into the town past the old south toll house….

 

South toll house

…having started my walk by leaving the town by going past the northern toll house.

By the time that I had got home, I had walked just under four miles and climbed about 214m, reaching a maximum height above sea level of 250m (having started at 80m) so you can see that I got really good value from a modest outlay of effort.

As we had arranged yesterday, Mike and Alison came round at 4 o’clock and while Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike put together Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden cultivator which had come back from a service and needed re-assembling, Alison and I played some music and then we came together to eat some drop scones that Mrs Tootlepedal had made and to drink a pot of tea.

We had played our music in the afternoon because in the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to attend the community pantomime, Dick McWhittington, at the Buccleuch Centre.  The test of an amateur pantomime is whether the interval and the final curtain come before you have started to check your watch and this performance passed that test with flying colours.  It had good scenery, a large and enthusiastic cast, several good jokes and some charming moments.  Who could ask for anything more?

To round off a good day, Mrs Tootlepedal had made some sticky toffee pudding for our tea.  I have never eaten this popular dish before but Mrs Tootlepedal’s version was delicious and I hope that I will get the chance to try it again before too long.

I struggled to find a flying bird of the day in the sunshine and shade but I did catch a chaffinch in the end.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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