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Posts Tagged ‘larch’

Mary Jo from Manitoba has answered my request for guest pictures and has sent me one not from Manitoba but from London.  It shows Abney Park in Stoke Newington, one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries of London.  It is a woodland memorial park and a local nature reserve.

Abney Park

It was another chilly day here with the wind coming from the north east, but at least it was dry.  Our electric car allows us to plug it into the household supply so that we can get the car nice and warm before we set off on a cold day, so I was quite snug as I drove south to have a final singing lesson from Mary, the former conductor of our Langholm choir.

This was my final lesson because Mary has made great improvements in my singing but even she cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  As I will never be a solo singer, what I have to do now is try to remember all that she has taught me when I sing innthe choir rather than load my brain up with more instructions that I couldn’t follow anyway.

I am very grateful to her for her patience and skill.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepdal had just about finished her first section of hall decoration so I made some lentil soup and we had a celebration lunch.

After lunch, I had a look to see if the new feeder was still pulling in customers.

It was attracting goldfinches again…

goldfinches chatting

…but it didn’t please a jackdaw who took a grumpy look and flew off.

jackdaw

The feeder got busier as I watched it…

busy feeder

..but it had quiet moments too and this goldfinch took the opportunity in one of these peaceful intervals to hone its Napoleon impression.

straight goldfinch

C’est Magnifique.

I did think of cycling as it was six degrees C in the afternoon but the north wind was gusting up to 20 mph and the ‘feels like’ temperature was a measly 2 degrees so I went for a walk instead.

I had my cycling camera with me once again as Pocket Camera has remained stubbornly dead and the replacement hadn’t come yet.

I pointed it at some tiny but bright lichen on a wall at the top of the golf course…

lichen with red

…and a few yards later, when I had got onto the open hill, I spotted a gorse flower.

november gorse flower

Gorse seems to be able to bloom in almost every month of the year.

I turned left and strolled along this grassy path among the dead bracken…

 

bracken track whita

…passing trees…

two trees whita

…of different types…

 

pine tree Copshaw road

…on my way to the road to Newcastleton and a grey view up the Ewes Valley.

ewes valley

I crossed the road and follwed a track across the hillside, past this trio of remarkable trees…

three old trees

…which continue to grow in spite of only just touching the ground and not having a lot of trunk.

old hollow tree

As I came back down the hill towards Whitshiels, I could see a river of larch running through the spruces on the far side of the valley.river of larch

…and many fungi growing in the grass at my feet.

fungus at whitshiels track

I followed the track down through the woods and walked over a carpet of larch needles as I got near to the main road.

larcgh covered whitshiels track

On the seltered bank of the Ewes Water there are still some autumn leaves.

colour by the river

Instead of heading straight home when I got back to the town, I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the new path on the Castleholm.

There were dozens and dozens of large cones on the noble firs beside the  when I took this picture in August….

noble fir cones castleholm

…but they must be very tasty because this is all that is left now.

eaten noble fir cone

It hasn’t snowed here yet but there was storm of snow berries beside the Esk as I walked along the river on my way home.

snowberry storm

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the replacement camera had arrived.  I used it to take a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal contemplating a repair job its predecessor.

camera repair

….whihc, after contemplation, was left for another day as we couldn’t find a good online guide to the job.

I nipped out in the fading loight to show that while almost every other flower in the garden has given up, Rosy Cheeks is still smiling (after a fashion).

rosy cheeks

I hope for some good weather to use the new camera tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby, one of the places affected by the recent heavy rain and found his route home blocked.  Luckily another route was possible so he got home safely.

derby underpass

After two visits to two cities in two days, I was very happy to have a quiet day at home today.  This decision was helped by a low single figure temperature and a cool wind to go with it.

I  roused myself enough to make some onion and potato soup for lunch and wave Mrs Tootlepedal off as she went to an embroidery meeting.

There was quite a lot of bird traffic in the garden in the morning so when I wasn’t doing anything else, which was most of the time, I watched the birds.

The chaffinches are beginning to return in larger numbers and they were hiding behind the old sunflower stalk…

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

…trying to stand up straight like their mothers taught them…

straight back chaffinch

…and flying off when they had had enough seed.

chaffinch fly by

One of the perches on the seed feeder has become unscrewed and fallen out, as a goldfinch discovered when it tried to perch on it.

goldfinch missing perch

Later on another goldfinch mastered the art of hanging on to the rim of the feeder.

goldfinch hanging on

Mrs Tootlepedal has put down some wire netting to stop the birds trampling down the soil near the feeder and the dunnocks are quite happy to tread on it.

dunnock on wire netting

Our robin was back again, looking pensive today.

sparrow on edge of tray

We only see one greenfinch at a time at the moment and it is hard to tell if it is always the same greenfinch coming every time, or a string of different greenfinches coming once each.

lone greenfinch

There are definitely at least two blue tits about as I have seen them at the same time but whether the seed fancier and the nut fancier are one and the same bird, I leave for others to decide.

blut tit on seed and nuts

After I had eaten my soup, I decided that I ought to stretch my legs a little at least and maybe see if I could find something interesting to photograph, so I went for a walk.

Although I did see a lot of black headed gulls…

four gulls on Ewes

…the walk was not a success.  Firstly, my sore feet played up, cutting down the distance I could walk considerably, and secondly my pocket camera gave up the ghost.  I had got sand in the zoom lens mechanism during our holiday in North Berwick in the spring and the camera has been moaning and groaning every time that I have turned it on since.  Finally, it has all got too much for it and it is refusing to focus at all.  It stayed firmly in my pocket and as I had a bird lens on my other camera, taking pictures of anything close was impossible.

I took a long view of some fading larches…

fading larches

…and admired some late colourful leaves…

late leaves

…before walking very carefully home.

As it was a very gloomy day and what little light there had been had faded, I didn’t even walk round the garden when I got home, but went straight in and found something reasonably useful to do at the computer.

I made a sausage and onion stew with green peppers and mushrooms for tea and then we sat down to watch Strictly followed by some excellent racing from the Glasgow velodrome World Cup meeting.  Watching other people taking vigorous exercise was the best way to finish off a slightly disappointing day.

I did get several flying bird pictures though and because I didn’t take any interesting pictures on my walk, I have put in joint flying birds of the day today to fill the gap.

A flying mallard passed me while I was gull watching…

flying duck

…and a traditional flying chaffinch of the day took a dim view of the missing perch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who, in spite of some grey weather, went down to the south bank of the Thames yesterday and enjoyed the view.

Thames

Here, our recent pattern of chilly mornings but dry days continued, although we didn’t get quite as much sun as we have had recently and as a result, it felt colder in the noticeable north easterly wind.

The bird feeder is failing as an avian magnet and no finches of any sort can be seen in the garden at the moment.  Fortunately, other birds are available and from the number of blackbirds about, it seems that we might be getting the first of our northern European winter visitors.

In the meantime, I spotted some old friends today…

dunnock, blackbird, starling

…and much to my surprise, Lilian Austin had waited for the chilly weather to arrive to make her farewell appearance of the year.

lilian austin late october

After morning coffee, I went off for a walk, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal in decorating mode with some cheerfully coloured paint, acquired at a very reasonable price from a DIY store which is closing down.

I started by going down to the river….

gull on rock in esk

…and then, as the river is low after our dry spell, I walked under the town bridge, looking back down the Esk as I did so.

from under town bridge

There was quite a contrast in mood when having climbed up the bank and crossed over the bridge, I arrived on the Kilngreen beside the placid Ewes Water.

ewes water calm

I walked over the Sawmill Brig and followed the track that goes along the little escarpment above the Ewes Water, passing the rugby club, a man digging out the ditch beside the track (ready for a certain prime minister perhaps?) and several fine bare trees.

I thought that under the clouds, this one might look well in black and white.

bandw tree

Beside the track, there is a wall and, as always, a wall is an interesting place.

interesting wall lichen

All this wall excitement was within a yard or two.

The clouds passed over as I walked and the day brightened up a bit, showing off the larches on the opposite side of the valley to advantage.

larches late october high mill

It is not only walls that have lichen.

hawthorn and oak lichen

I wanted to walk back on the opposite side of the river so I made my way down to the High Mill Bridge…

high mill brig

…which is coming up to a significant anniversary.

high mill brig date stone

By this time, the sun had come out so I made a little extension to my route by following the track north up the far side of the river once I had crossed the bridge.

In spite of the sun, the day was cool enough for there still to be ice on the puddles in shady spots.

icy puddle target burn track

I followed the track until I came to  this rather less substantial crossing of the Ewes Water, which I crossed…

bridge target burn

…and then recrossed and retraced my steps back to the main road.

It was a day for recrossing bridges as I also recrossed the Sawmill Brig on my way home via the Lodge Walks…

lodge walks late october

…and I was pleased to find this little crop of fungus beside the Scholars Field after I had crossed the Jubilee Bridge.

fungus beside scholars

Any walk with bridges, fungus and lichen is a good walk but throw in some bare trees, occasional wild flowers…

three wild flowers october

….and enough sunshine to make me take off my gloves and unzip my jacket, and a merely good walk becomes a really good walk.

I was very pleased to have had the full co-operation of my feet over the four miles of the walk.  My new insoles and exercises seem to be working well.

It was time for lunch when I got home and I quite impressed myself by having enough energy to get my bicycle out afterwards and go for a twenty mile cycle ride.  To be honest, it wasn’t really a twenty mile ride.  It was a ten mile ride which I did twice.

I didn’t want to spend too long cycling directly into the very chilly wind.

The sun only came out for a few minutes in the whole ride, just when I was turning at the five mile mark on Callister, but it was another golden moment…

view from callister october

…and I was welcomed home by a cheery primrose…

primrose october

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had finished her decorating and had cleared the dahlia bed while I was out cycling.  She doesn’t keep the dahlias over winter but will start again from seed next year.  I approve of this as it gives me different dahlias to look at each year.

Yesterday’s roast chicken provided another tasty evening meal today and fortified by this, I went off to sing with the Langholm Choir.

Our conductor was poorly but we have a very good accompanist, and he provided us with an excellent practice in her absence.

That rounded off a day which was firmly inscribed on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

I even found a flying bird of the day, courtesy of the black headed gulls at the Kilngreen.

flying gull

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from that inveterate traveller Bruce.  He looked in on a tea dance at the famous Tower Ballroom in Blackpool but did not venture onto the floor himself.  Doubtless things will be a bit more lurid on 16th November when Strictly comes to town.

tower ballroom

Finally our spell of mild autumn weather came to an end today and we woke up to a frosty garden.

first frosts

It wasn’t very frosty though and things warmed up gently through the morning. I wondered if the frost would have encouraged some autumn colour, so after breakfast I went out for a short three bridges walk.

I was waved off by a hosta positively glowing in the sunshine.

golden hosta

Sadly, the autumn colour was mainly on the river bank…

leaves on ground

…though it was still a glorious morning for a walk.

meeting of the waters late october

The ducks seemed to think that it was good weather for them too…

female mallard

…as they cruised up and down the Ewes Water, occasionally ducking.

male mallard

I fear that autumn colour is not going to figure this year and the trees behind the Sawmill Brig have lost interest in the whole thing.

sawmill brig autumn

The old Episcopalian Church on the Lodge Walks was looking attractive.  It is a pity that no use can be found for this building.

episcopla church october

The trees across the Castleholm were rather dull….

trees on castleholm

…but the sunny day made for good views.  I was interested to see the hill cattle had chosen to graze near the top of the hill where I would have thought that it would be chillier.  Perhaps they got more sun up there.

cattle on Timpen

With two months still to go until the shortest day, it is slightly depressing to find the sun so low in the sky even at this time of year but it does provide some Hitchcock like shots on a walk.

low shadows n walk

When I got back, I settled down and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to demount her embroiderers’ group exhibition in the Welcome to Langholm hub, I did the crossword, made coffee and bread and followed that up with another tarte tatin.   We have quite a few apples in hand and the making (and eating) of tarte tatin is my approved way of dealing with them at the moment.

After lunch, with the thermometer showing 7°C, I wrapped up well and went out for a pedal.  The larches are doing their best to provide some autumn colour.  These ones are at Pool Corner.larches pool corner

I was a few miles up the road when I met a cyclist coming the other way.  He drew to a halt and it turned out to be Sandy out for a spin on his e-bike.  He was doing an adventurous circuit with quite a few hills in it.

sandy cycling

After some chat, he set off to pedal home to Langholm…

sandy cycling off

…and I cycled on up to the top of Callister.

Rather annoyingly, after a brilliantly sunny morning, a few stray clouds had turned up to hide the sun…
clouds from callister

…but out to the west, the sea was glistening where the clouds had cleared.

shining sea from callister

It didn’t take long for them to clear where I was and I cycled home in golden splendour.

golden wauchopedale

I was going to cycle through the town and out of the other side but I came upon a man with a tractor cutting the roadside hedge.  As this often involves covering the road with sharp hawthorn fragments, I turned back and did two circuits of the New Town to make up my twenty miles.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal kindly cut my hair and after I had had a shower, my flute pupil Luke turned up.  Thanks to some improved teaching and some home practice, he is really getting a grip on the counting.  We are also both working on approaching high notes with confidence rather than terror, and that is showing improvement too.

The weather looks set fair for the next few days so I am hoping to be able to add a few more miles to my October total before the end of the month.  Since the clocks have gone back, I will have to make an effort to get started sooner as the evenings are really drawing in now and I don’t have good enough equipment (or the courage) to cycle in the dark.

We have put the bird feeder out and I hope that normal service will be resumed as soon as the birds notice that food is now available.  In the meantime, I didn’t see a flying bird today, so a reflective Mr Grumpy, spotted from the Town Bridge on my cycle ride, will have to do.

reflective heron

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Today’s guest picture is another from the Derby shopping centre insect infestation.  My brother tells me that you can talk to the insects but I wouldn’t know what to say to a stag beetle.

stag beetle derby

I didn’t have much confidence in a weather forecast that said that it wasn’t going to rain today but I was proved wrong and the weather stayed fair until  well into the evening.

It was only just above freezing when I set off on my slow bike to see our local vampire at the Health Centre and give a little blood.  This was a check to see if my anaemia is under control.  The process was prompt and painless as usual but the health centre computer server was on the blink so I wasn’t able to make a follow up appointment.  The poor staff were absolutely flummoxed as hardly anything is written down these days and they had no idea who was coming in for appointments.  Fortunately it was soon fixed and I made my appointment later in the day without trouble.

After coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, and with the thermometer showing 4°C, I plucked up my courage, donned as many layers of clothing as I could and set off on my new bike to see how my legs were feeling.

I hadn’t been out on my bike this month so it was a bit of a shock to the system but the sun was out….

cleuchfoot valley

…my legs were very cheerful and the snow had retreated to distant hills so it wasn’t too bad to be out and about.

The wind was strong enough to make life hard when pedalling into it but the forecast gales hadn’t arrived.  I stopped to take a picture of one of those little corners that make cycling round here so visually interesting.

three cleuchfoot trees

And then I cycled to the top of Callister to see if there was any sign of the turbines arriving at the new wind farm.  There wasn’t and as the road was very muddy from quarry lorry traffic, I turned back and pedalled down to Langholm, through the town and out of the other side.  The snow was on distant hills there too.

ewes valley with diostant snow

On my way back through the town, I checked to see if the big gull was standing on its favourite rock.

It was.

gull on rock

I was pleased to manage 20 miles at a modest pace and after a walk round the garden when I got back…

three spring garden flowera

…where the forsythia is just coming out…

forsythia

…and some of the frogs spawn seems to have survived the frosty mornings…

frogs spawn

…I went in to find Mrs Tootlepedal making a nourishing pan of bean and vegetable soup for lunch.

It went down well.

After lunch I watched the birds for a while.  Goldfinches had got in early today under the watchful eye of a chaffinch…

goldfinches on feeder

…and there was no visit from the sparrow hawk to disturb them or this chaffinch’s moment of reflection beside a puddle in our drive.

reflective chaffinch

Against my expectations, the weather stayed fine in the afternoon so I went for a walk.  The wind was still nagging but otherwise it was a good day for sauntering about looking for signs of spring…

view from scotts knowe

…which weren’t hard to find.

dandelion march

There were signs of life on the larches…

larch

…and fresh flowers on the banks beside the track…

P1170432

…and best of all, many clumps of primroses on every side once I got near the Becks Burn.

primroses

I walked through the felled wood, across the burn and up onto the road on the other side of the little valley, where I found incipient honeysuckle…

honeysuckle leaf

…curious sheep looking down on me…

curious sheep

…and any amount of lichen on different stones on the same one metre  length of wall.

lichen on wall becks road

I visited the old curling pond and wished that it could be developed into a wild life area like the one near Lockerbie which we have visited before. It needs a real enthusiast with time and knowledge to a job like that though.

curling pond

I didn’t linger for long as my foot was starting to feel sore and I soon headed down the road back to the town.

I passed this fungus on a fallen tree trunk…..

fungus becks road

…and got right out of the way as this huge lorry passed me.  It had been delivering sheep to the farm at the end of the road.

big lorry becks road

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden and together we put in the new blackcurrant bush and, having exhausted my gardening skills, I gave her moral support while she planted out a new lupin and pruned a rose.

Then it seemed like a good time to have a cup of tea and a slice of toast so we did.

The day was rounded off by a visit from my flute pupil, Luke and we had a productive half hour showing that practice makes you, if not quite perfect, then certainly a lot better.  This is most satisfactory.

I don’t often watch Master Chef on the TV but this season, a young lady from Langholm is one of the contestants and it was very pleasing to see her do well and get through to the next round.  We will follow her progress with interest.

The forecast for the next couple of days is for 50 mph winds so it was a good thing that we got as much out of today as we did.  There are some sunny intervals promised so it might not be a total write off.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with a determined air about it.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a follow up to the recent guest picture from Dropscone which showed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct seen from below.  This is the view from above.  Dropscone walked over the aqueduct.  It would need a team of wild horses to get me across.

Telford aqueduct

We enjoyed a delightfully sunny day today with the only drawback being a frosty morning and a reluctance from the thermometer to rise above 5 degrees.  I would like to have gone for a walk but foot resting is still the order of the day so I spent a quiet morning in waiting for the temperature to rise to safe cycling levels.

I was well entertained by birds while I waited.

Camera shy chaffinches tried to sneak past me undetected….

chaffinch hiding

…while down below, a blackbird eyed up the possibility of fallen seed…

blackbird at feeder

…and a robin took a view from a garden chair.

robin on chair

In the midst of the usual scrum of goldfinches and chaffinches, a splash of yellow caught my eye.  A siskin had arrived, the first for some weeks.

siskin on feeder

It posed for me with a goldfinch to show just how small a siskin is.

siskin and goldfinch

I took a turn round the garden and the sun had encouraged some flowers to do their best, although the first daffodil of the season needed some support to hold its head up.

garden flower feb 11

The garden is amazingly dry considering the amount of rain recorded in  Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over the past few days.

rain gauge Feb

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then set off for a short ride on my slow bike.

I stopped a lot to take pictures.

I like this dangly larch branch…

larch in winter

…and there was no shortage of dangly catkins too.

catkins two

The bullocks were taking a rest from playing king of the castle when I first passed them…

sitting bulls

…but ten minutes later, they were full of fun again.

bullock on mound

My trip took me up the valley of the mighty Wauchope Water and to give the reader some context, I include a map of the three mile long river and its tributaries, with some markers to put the pictures in place.

Wauchope catchment

!. This is the spot where the Wauchope Water descends through narrow rocks to make my favourite little cascade.

bessie bells cascade

2. A view of Logan Water….

logan water

…just above where it joins the Bigholms Burn…

bigholms and logan water

…to become the Wauchope.

3.  A view of the junction of Collin Burn and Glentenmont Burn which together make up the Bigholms Burn.

bigholms burn

When you see these small and gentle streams, it is surprising that they can collect enough water between them to make the Wauchope look like this only five miles away.

wauchope in flood

The Wauchope last week as it meets the Esk

I was detained by some lichen on a bridge and more on a concrete fence post on my way home.

lichen on brodge and post

Altogether I managed to pedal twelve and a half miles between taking the pictures so it was a satisfactory outing.  While I was pedalling, Mrs Tootlepedal was doing good work in the garden and greenhouse so we were both pretty cheerful as we sat down for a refreshing cup of tea as the light began to fade.

A second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent fish pie once again rounded off a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.  I have made an appointment with a physiotherapist for later in the week and as I am expecting a miracle cure, I hope to be back walking very soon.

As the goldfinches were in a co-operative mood, I have gone overboard and used two of them for the flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

flying goldfinch (2)

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Today’s guest picture is another brightener for a gloomy day from Venetia.  She was much struck by the glow from a neighbour’s flame tree in Somerset this morning.

P1000963

There was not much brightness here today at all and it rained sporadically and unpredictably off and on all day.

I started the day by putting another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and felt pretty pleased to be getting very near the bottom of the pile of waiting forms.

Then we entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee and followed that by going off to see an exhibition which he had helped to set up in the Social Club in the town.

It was a worth a visit.

To mark the centenary of the ending of the Great War, local schoolchildren have done an enormous amount of research into how the war had affected Langholm.  They had produced pen portraits and where possible, photographs of the many casualties of the war and it was shocking to see a map of the town with every affected household marked in red.  There were streets where it seemed that almost every house had suffered loss and the exhibition really brought home the extent of the damage to the town and its people.  It affected me more than any other memorial I have seen over recent weeks and made the bellicose posturings of many of today’s politicians even harder to bear.

I turned to the birds when we got home for a bit of cheer.

Goldfinches were back…

_DSC8424

…but not in great numbers so there was plenty of room for chaffinches too.

_DSC8420

Some visitors raised an eyebrow at the quality of the food on offer…

_DSC8423

…but others got stuck right in.

_DSC8426

Once again we were blessed with several coal tits, both in the plum tree…

_DSC8421

…and off the plum tree on their way to the feeder…

_DSC8422

…and having a snack when they got there.

_DSC8428

My joy at getting near to the bottom of my pile of newspaper data sheets was greatly tempered by finding that Nancy, our head data miner, had kindly dropped off another four weeks of the newspaper index to build the pile up again.  Ah well, we are getting near the end of another year (1898) and the 20th century beckons.

I had had a short pedal on the bike to nowhere after breakfast and as it was raining again after lunch, I had another short pedal then too.  Of course it cleared up as soon as I got off the bike so I thought that I would risk a short walk to somewhere to go with the cycling to nowhere.

This was not a great idea as it started to rain again soon after I left home and my leg thought that I had done more than enough already so I turned and came home after only a few hundred yards, walking with a pronounced limp (L.I.M.P….pronounced limp, folks © Spike Milligan).

I passed some points of interest (to me) on my brief outing.

The peltigera lichen is enjoying the weather even if I am not.

P1150534

And having shown the dam along the back of our house a few days ago, I though I might show the sluice which controls the flow into the dam from the pool at Pool Corner.

P1150535

It may not look much but it was doing a good job of holding back the water which was pouring over the caul.

P1150536

Like the photographer, the larches at Pool Corner are showing the passing of time and their golden branches have got thin on top, the gold fading to silver.

 

P1150537

When I got home from my curtailed outing, I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practised some singing so the day was by no means wasted.

The early evening was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly fluting session and we tootled away merrily.

The flying bird of the day is one of the coal tits.  They are very nippy little birds so getting a good flying shot on a gloomy day is very hard and I couldn’t get a better one than this.

_DSC8433

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