Posts Tagged ‘larch tree’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who popped over to Paris for some culture.  She bravely used that external escalator.

The excalators snaking up outside the Pompidou building

It was frosty again when we got up and I recorded the fact with the aid of a spirea.

frozen spirea

frozen spirea

My recovery from the cold has been delayed again and so I took advantage of a cancellation at the Health Centre to get a check on my chest from a doctor this morning.  It’s just a cold and will go away in its own sweet time.  He didn’t have much of a view about when and suggested sticking my head over a bowl of boiling water three times a day for a week.  I think he said ‘over’ and not ‘in’.

I was wasting another day of very light winds but as the temperature never got much above 5°C, I wasn’t as distraught about this as I might have been on a warmer day.

I looked out of the window as the morning went on.

I couldn’t see much because flying chaffinches kept getting in the way.

flying chaffinches

There were other birds about….some cute…


…some stern…


…and some that I may have seen at Gretna yesterday evening.


After a nourishing lunch of sombre looking but quite tasty soup, I went for a short walk just to stretch the legs.  When it is not windy, even 5°C seems pleasantly warm for a walk if you are properly dressed.

I walked through the park to the Stubholm and then followed track through the Kernigal wood and down to Skipperscleuch and came back along the river.

There was lichen and fungus to be seen as I went along.


And I liked the way that two leaves had become imprinted on a rock much in the way that we used to press leaves when we were in the infant school.

lichen and leaves

Although I was among trees for a lot of the walk, there were occasional views.

mist in the hills


And even a little late autumn colour.

late autumn colour

Most of the colour from my walk was in the form of larches, which looked golden to my eye from a distance….


…but not quite as pretty to my camera’s sensor.

The actual needles were mostly brownish yellow but still surprisingly green in places.


There were plenty of bare trees to enjoy.

bare tree

And when I got down to Skippers Bridge, I went down to the waterside and took the obligatory shot.  For some reason Roy Orbison came to mind.

skippers bridge

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepdal had been very busy doing another section of her path and clearing the nasturtiums from around the front door,


It was sad to see them go as they had done very well in resisting the early frosts but the last one had been too much for them.

I lent a hand on some more tidying up.

There are still a few survivors about.

sweet rocket and clematis in november

It was too cold and gloomy to linger in the garden for long so we came in for a cup of tea and a slice or two of a Selkirk bannock.  In this we had a lot in common with Queen Victoria who is said to have been very partial to a slice or two of a Selkirk bannock with her afternoon cup of tea.

In the evening, I went off to do some more croaking with Langholm Sings, our local choir.  There were only two tenors there tonight and so we enjoyed a very quiet and peaceful evening and were modestly pleased with our efforts.

In spite of all the flying chaffinches, the flying bird of the day is a blue tit.  It not the best picture but it makes a change.

flying blue tit



Read Full Post »

I didn’t take many bird pictures today so it is lucky that my brother saw some web footed friends on his visit to Ely.  He remarks that  they weren’t enjoying the wet weather.

Ducks at Ely

I had a quiet but generally pleasant day today.  It started with a visit to the Archive Centre to pick up a bill from our power company.  The bill was still incomprehensible in its make up, with estimated readings appearing on it in spite of having the meter read several times recently but at least it no longer claims that we owe them any money.  This is good.

The trip to the town gave me the chance to enjoy a misty view of the river and church as I crossed the suspension bridge.

Misty view of church

It had rained heavily during the night and there was a bit of water in the river for once.

Less pleasing was the forlorn sight of the boarded up bank on the High Street.

Royal Bank

It was much warmer than it has been lately so the rather grey weather was  not as dispiriting as it might have been.

I was also cheered up by the arrival of Sandy for a cup of coffee.  He has been visiting Las Vegas and Mexico for a couple of weeks with two friends and had many stories to tell.  It had been very warm in Mexico so he didn’t think much of our temperature today.

He hadn’t been surprised by the result of the election as nearly everyone that they had met had been intending to vote for Trump but unlike the president to be, he had found the Mexicans very warm and friendly and with a great sense of humour.  He had thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

When he left, I took a couple of moments to look at the birds.  I only had a glimpse because I am trying to let my camera holding hand get better.


The main business of the day was to take advantage of the 7°C temperature and go for a longer cycle ride.  I was held back by the need to repair my front mudguard but I got going just after midday.

I was hoping to get 40 miles in before darkness fell but my legs had other ideas and in the end I had to settle for 31 miles at a very sedate pace.  I get days when my system lets me pedal as far as I like at a gentle pace but just packs in if I try to press.  If I listen to it and go along quietly, I can have a pleasant time and I did exactly that today and enjoyed myself.

I stopped to take a few pictures on the way as I wasn’t in a hurry.

Larches are looking gorgeous at the moment.

Larches at Pool Corner

Larches at Bigholms

There were occasional bits of sunshine as I pedalled but my route choice was dictated by some very rainy clouds to my left as I went along the road towards Lockerbie.  I thought of going to Lockerbie and back but when I had got to the top of the hill at Corrie Common, I stopped and contented myself with a look at the view to the north…

View from Corrie

Sadly the sun wasn’t out when I got there

I had checked on the progress of the Ewe Hill wind farm as I went up the hill.  There are quite a few new windmills on the horizon.

Ewe Hill

I think that there are six new ones and six original ones. Ten more to come.

One thing that people who are not keen on windmills complain about is the amount of disturbance to the local ecology which erecting the turbines causes.  You can see what they mean…

Ewe Hill

…but it doesn’t seem to be a great deal more than would be caused by planting, clear felling and then replanting a commercial spruce plantation which is very common in our area.

I like to think that the blades on the turbine at the rear are the very ones which Mrs Tootlepedal and I saw being transported by road a few weeks ago.

Having stopped at the top of the hill, I turned back and went back down again, crossing the bridge at Paddockhole…

Paddockhole bridge

…and making a small diversion to Waterbeck before heading home back over Callister.

My last stop was to note a fine crop of fungus beside the road a few miles from Langholm.


I foolishly got home before the rugby union match between Scotland and Australia had finished and was thus able to watch our boys losing the match by the narrowest of margins in the final minutes of the game.   They played well but if Scotland have a particular skill at rugby, it is in losing matches which they should have won, usually in the final minutes so the result didn’t come as a great shock to me.  Great sorrow yes, great shock no.

There was just enough light before I went in to watch the rugby to go out into the garden to see if there were any leaves about which might be suitable for leaf of the day.  The walnut tree was very obliging.

Walnut leaves

In the end, I didn’t need to use a leaf though as there was still a poppy (just) hanging on and it is the flower of the day…


…while the flying bird is a chaffinch getting a dusty welcome.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from visit my brother Andrew paid to Peterborough Cathedral last month.

Peterborough Cathedral

Whatever the opposite of the saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” is applied to us today.  After a very grey day yesterday, we woke to brilliant sunshine but unfortunately it was accompanied by a brisk and very chilly north wind. It was brisk and chilly enough to keep me off the bike in a cowardly sort of way for the whole day but I did try to do some other things instead.

I started off by going to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre and topping up on meat, fish, cheese, honey and beetroot. The cheese this month was particularly delicious.

When I got back, I had a check on the garden flowers.

daisy, astrantia, yarrow, marigold, crocosmia and nasturtium

There is still some colour left.

Then I set about finishing the turning of Bin B into Bin C and starting the turning of Bin A into Bin B.  I am touching all the wood that I can see as I write this but my back must be in unusually good condition as I have been able to shift the compost much more quickly than normal on this occasion without any bad effects (so far).

The strong and cold winds affected the number of birds coming into the garden to quite an extent and even those that did come in seemed happier perching in the plum tree than eating seeds.

greenfinch, blue tit and chaffinch

There was hardly a goldfinch to be seen which suggests that perhaps they live quite far way and the journey wasn’t considered worthwhile today.

The birds did come out of the plum tree in the end and a lone goldfinch joined them.

goldfinch, greenfinch and chaffinch

They seemed to be rather jittery though so perhaps there were cats or a sparrowhawk around loitering with intent.

chaffinch and blue tit

No one stayed long at the feeder.

I had a good crossword to do which kept me entertained until lunchtime.  It was very annoying though as it was the sort where you solve 26 clues starting with the letters from a to z  and then fit the solutions in to a grid with no clue numbers wherever they will go and I just couldn’t get my answers to fit the grid.  In the end I gave up and went for a walk.

This was a gentle three mile walk past the Kilngreen, along the Lodge walks, up through the wood and then back to the North Lodge and home via the pheasant hatchery and the Duchess Bridge.  It was designed to keep me out of the wind for as much time as possible and in  that respect, it worked very well.

As I went past the church on my way down to the river, I had another look at the tree stump and fungus by the wall across the Wauchope.  It is hard to miss the fungi.

tree stump with fungus

I looked up the Esk from the Meeting of the Waters when I got there and reflected that winter is definitely on its way now.


The sun was already low in the sky and brown is getting to be a predominate colour.

I caught a gull flying past a bit of the remaining autumn colour.

black headed gull

The camera couldn’t quite believe what it was seeing.

Then I walked on up the Lodge Walks….

Lodge Walks

With almost as many leaves on the ground as on the trees

…before heading up through the woods to the track along the top.

track to North Lodge

On my way round, I saw several patches of fungus and  I have put some of them in a frame.


I saw some other things which interested me too.

odd things

As I walked back along the side of the pheasant hatchery towards the Duchess Bridge, although I was in deep shade, I was able to look across the field and enjoy the views.

Trees on castleholm

Trees neatly trimmed at exactly cattle height

Larches on Castle Hill

Blazing larches in the last of the sunshine on Castle Hill

The river was so low that I was pleased to be able to scramble down the bank after I had crossed the Duchess Bridge and look back up at the bridge.  It is an elegant structure.

Duchess Bridge

As you can see from the picture, the river banks are quite steep here so I was even  more pleased to be able to scramble back up again and continue my walk to the Jubilee Bridge…

Jubilee Bridge

…which is not quite so elegant.

I don’t think that the river can often have been as low in early November as it is at present.  We have been really lucky with the rain over recent weeks.

When I got home, I finished shifting the compost from Bin A into Bin B and we are now ready for Attila the Gardener to beginning filling Bin A again and starting the whole process off once more.

compost bins

Bins A to D from left to right as we look. Functional rather than stylish.

Sceptics might think that the compost would still rot down well enough if I just left it alone and didn’t bother with all this heaving and shifting and sieving but then what would I do for fun?

I had to ring up my sister Mary and get her help to finish that tricky crossword.

In the evening, apple fritters made a return by popular demand and they rounded the day off nicely.

The flower of the day is a defiant poppy….


…and the flying bird of the day is a pheasant.  This type of pheasant shooting is less noisy than using a gun.

flying phaesant

I noticed when I came to look at my pictures in the evening that although it was cold and windy outside and the days are getting a lot shorter, I still managed to take 110 pictures today.  I must try to get out less.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He likes to find interesting places to walk and this shows the Manifold River valley with a secluded magnate’s estate, seen from Ecton Hill in the Staffordshire Peak District.

Manifold valley

We had a much brighter morning than yesterday and I got out into the garden to sieve some compost and dead head some flowers.    With no frost forecast for the next few days, we are hoping to have quite a bit of garden colour still showing in November which will be a treat.

I was spoiled for choice when I fetched the camera out.


nicotiana and cosmos

Fuschsia, clematis and sedum

I looked at the birds when I came in.

plum tree

The plum tree was a popular spot for perching

goldfinch, great tit and greenfinch

It was a good day for birds beginning with ‘G’ – goldfinch, great tit and greenfinch

I didn’t go out on my bicycle because we had visitors, Melanie and Bill, who came for coffee and lunch.   Melanie sits beside Mrs Tootlepedal among the sopranos in our Carlisle choir and her husband Bill is intending to cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats next year with Melanie driving their camper van as the support team.  As we did the same trip a few years ago, they came out to us to look at the route which we took and to see if we had any observations which might be helpful.

We had coffee while we talked over the route and the roads and then we sat down to a good lunch and put the world to rights.  The lunch was rounded off by an excellent apple cake which Melanie provided and we very much enjoyed the visit.  Bill is a keen cyclist and is expecting to do the journey in a week less than we took.

After they had left, I took a moment to have another look at the birds out of the kitchen window.  They were in a sideways sort of mood.

blue tit goldfinch and coal tit

Then we decided to make good use of a calm, dry afternoon by going for a short walk.  The days are drawing in now and the light was already beginning to fade but I took a camera or two with me in the hope of seeing something interesting on our way.

We drove up to Whitshiels and walked up the track through the woods and fields, went across the moor and then came back down the road.

Track from Whitshiels

The larches along the track gave our walk a golden tinge.

I did see things which I thought were interesting…


Stagshorn fungus and British Soldier lichen

…and with the sharp eyes of Mrs Tootlepedal beside me, there was plenty to look at.


Although it was quite gloomy by this time, it was still a pleasure to look back as we climbed up the track.

Whitshiels view

As we looked at the hill on the far right in the background, we noticed something strange about the four windmills of the Craig wind farm….

Craig Wind farm

…and when we counted, it was because there are now five and a half turbines and a crane, presumably waiting to put the blades on to the sixth tower.

Wind farm development is proceeding on several hills round us at the moment and it has to be said that there is plenty of wind to go around.

As we got to the sheep fold at the top of the track, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a pheasant talking to a passing twig.


The track across the rough pasture was pretty firm after the recent dry spell but there was some colourful sphagnum moss beside it.

sphagnum moss

I had to use a flash for that shot which made the moss look paler than it really is so I had another go with the Lumix to try get truer colours.

sphagnum moss

We had a last look back….

Langholm in autumn

…before we went round the top of the wood and took the road back down to the car.

I really like the mixed colours which arrive in the planted woods when the larches turn and the spruces stay green, especially if there is some deciduous colour as well.  Even though the light was pretty poor as we walked up the hill and  came back down the road, the views were still a joy to the eye.

Behind Langholm Mill

We had time to note a very large set of polypore fungi and and a vibrant bramble stem…

polypore and bramble

…before we drove home.

There is only one more day to go before the clocks go back and walking in the afternoons will be severely curtailed so I was very happy to have had the friendly weather for such a pleasant stroll in such good company.

I looked at the Met Office website this evening and saw that the humidity for today was well over 90% (it is going to be 95% tomorrow) so it is no surprise that the flower of the day,  a delicate pink tinged poppy, is slightly soggy even though it didn’t rain today.


The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch rising above it.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture, a moody shot of Dubrovnik, comes from my sister Susan’s recent travels in Croatia.


Dropscone appeared a little early today as he had to take his daughter Susan to the station as the first step of her journey to Abu Dhabi for the next Formula 1 motor race.   She has been all over the world watching the racing but Dropscone and I had to content ourselves with a trip to Paddockhole and back, a mere 21 miles.  By dint of bursting into tears when he went too fast, I managed to restrain Dropscone’s racing instincts and we had a pleasant ride with the wind behind us as we returned, always a bonus.

He had no time for scones but he left us a couple of slices of the delicious cake he had made for his wife’s recent birthday.  Bicycling with a retired baker has many benefits.

Our daylight is down to about 9 hours per diem and chances for photography are fading away with the light unless I get up early and the weather is fine.  It was very grey with occasional rain today after being quite nice for the cycling so I didn’t even try to take sharp pictures, contenting myself with shots out of the kitchen window.

The birds’ motto seemed to be, ‘Head’s down.’

Great tit

A great tit has a look at what is going on below.


A siskin in characteristic pose on the peanuts.


A chaffinch looks before leaping

There were always little gatherings on the plum tree to look at.


Chaffinch city

greenfinch gathering

Greenfinches to the fore

As always, the coal tits were busy flitting on and off the feeders.

coal tit

A starling peered about to check on a free seat.


In general, things were much as usual so I oput the camera down and went off to add another week of the newspaper index to the database while Mrs Tootlepedal visited the hairdressers.  She has decided that the colours of the mounts that I used for the photos for the kitchen wall don’t suit the colour scheme so I will have to have another go with a different board.  This is all good practice as I am going to have to mount three photos for a competition shortly and they will need to be well done.

The newspaper edition had a larger than usual number of entries and this took me up till lunch time.  After lunch Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work yet again and I sat and watched news coverage of the ravages of Storm Sandy in the US.  Several bloggers that I follow may have been affected and I am hoping that they won’t have been too badly hit.  It may be some time before I find out as there have been a lot of power failures.

The only good thing that may come out of the chaos is that people may begin to make a connection between warm seas and heavy storms and thus realise that climate change might need to be thought about seriously.  Of course the rich always envisage that they will be able to buy their way out of any trouble and as it is they who have their hands on the levers of power, they are not much inclined to worry about what might happen to the rest of us, especially if it is going to cost them money.

I roused myself to go out in a dry moment to look at Pool Corner.  When we had cycled round it in the morning, Dropscone and I had been struck by the wonderful colour of the larch trees.  Although the light wasn’t so good by the time I went out in the afternoon, I thought that they might still be worth a look.

Pool Corner

Approaching the corner.

The bank behind the corner was felled a few years ago and is now covered with young larch trees.

Larch trees at Pool corner

When the light is right, they look likes candles.

Larch trees at Pool corner

They are an impressive sight, clothing the bank in green and  gold.

The older larches are not so vivid now.

Old larches

But still quite decorative

When I got home, a robin was feeding on the ground outside the window.


Giving me the full frontal look


And the over the shoulder glance.

During the afternoon, I had been rung up by our choir leader who was not feeling very well and he asked me to take the choir in the evening.  I was sad that he wasn’t well but delighted to get the opportunity to do some more conducting.  I ran a short music reading session before the choir began and then took the choir for two hours.  For one reason or another, only thirteen members were present but they were evenly balanced between the parts so we able to have a good sing. Not surprisingly, I was quite jiggered by the time we finished  as standing up for two hours is hard work without having to wave my arms about too but I was tired and happy.  Luckily, our accompanist is most accomplished which makes the task of taking the choir much easier than it might have been.

I did manage just to find a flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch











Read Full Post »