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Posts Tagged ‘larch’

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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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew Gardens.  The sedentary minded can view the gardens from this land train.

Kew Gardens 6 May 2018 006

We had a fair day here today with very occasional sun, a good breeze and some late rain.  It meant that Mrs Tootlepedal could garden until she was exhausted and I could do some lawn care and go for a walk.

I had hoped to have my new bicycle by now but an enquiry to the bike shop revealed that it might not even be ready for tomorrow.  I hope that it will be but I have steeled myself for more delay.

Anyway, in the absence of cycling, I scarified the front lawn and collected up huge quantities of moss to the great interest of our resident blackbird who followed behind me pecking up food for his family.

baby blackbirds

I got a better picture of one of the youngsters later in the morning.

baby blackbird

They seem to be bigger than their parents so it is no wonder that the parents have to keep busy to feed them.

The dead heading of daffodils goes on (Mrs Tootlepedal must have hundreds of daffs in the garden) and the dead heading of the tulips has just started (she has hundreds of these too)  I counted over eighty of the red tulips in the narrow bed at the end of the drive and as Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that she only planted twenty, they have done remarkably well.

There is other colour about.

lithodora and primula

But still some daffodils and lots of tulips….

daff and cowslips

…and the long lasting cowslips too.

tulips

I sieved a little compost which Mrs Tootlepedal promptly used for planting out a recent purchase and then it seemed to be lunchtime.  Time flies when you are having fun.

After lunch, I went for a walk in the hope of seeing bluebells.

I saw fine blossom in the park as I walked though…

park shrub

…and many unfolding ferns along the way…

fern unfolding

…but best all, I saw the bluebells.

bluebells

I had time on my hands so I followed a track that the local mountain cyclists use through the woods.  At times it looked very inviting…

cycle track through wood

…and at times it looked truly terrifying.  I wouldn’t be able to tackle a track over bumpy roots and  fallen trees, through small streams and up and down steep banks so I take my hat off to those who do.

I am more interested in looking at things as I walk along.

There was a lot to look at.  As I took too many pictures, I am going to add only the barest number of words.

ajuga

Ajuga

larch cones

Larch keeping its cones over the winter.

view

A view at the end of the track down the hill

lichen

Lichen on a wall

blossom

Blossom

blossom

And more blossom

bluebells

I went to another bluebell wood but it wasn’t quite ready yet.

moss

There was interesting moss to make up for the lack of blue

hairy moss

Very interesting moss

dandelion

The dandelions were in good condition

distillery

Spring comes to the old Langholm Distillery

river esk

Looking down the river Esk from beside Skippers Bridge

skippers Bridge

And looking back at the briodge

wildflower

Wild flowers beside the river

heron

An old friend getting his feet wet

cherry blossom river esk

Blossom between the bridges

It was a delightful stroll and only needed a drop or two of golden sun to make it perfect.  I got a little splash of sunlight near the end of the walk but it only lasted a moment or two.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been working hard in the garden while I was out and by the time that I got back from my walk, we were both quite tired enough to make going inside and having a cup of tea seem like a really good idea.

Once inside, we got planted and didn’t go out again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Mike I enjoyed a small glass of Old Speckled Hen, a quality bitter beer, and then, while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on all the news that was fit to hear, Alison and I enjoyed some good music, ending with a Partita in G by Telemann .  This was a really good way to end an enjoyable day.

If only my new bike would appear all would be well with the world.

I have put out some fat balls at the feeder and they attracted the attention of a sparrow today.  It is the perching bird of the day.

_DSC3957

 

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There may be serious concern about the lack of insects in general but today’s guest picture from Venetia shows that there is no shortage of them just now in Somerset.

somerset flies

We had a typical April day here today, breezy, cool and occasionally rainy but it was just warm enough to allow for gardening and the breeze was just steady enough to allow for a little cycling so in the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal gardened and I went for a cycle ride.

Before I left, Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to a small patch of violets tucked away against a fence in a corner of the garden.

violet

Although the theoretical temperature was not too bad, the wind seemed to carry the chill of winter in its wings and I was well wrapped up again as I battled into the breeze.  When the sun was out…..

Wauchope road

…I was in a green and pleasant land, with the fresh green of the new larch growth…

larch

…very prominent.

But mostly, I was in the shadow over here and the sun was over there in the distance.

View from the Bloch

I looked more closely at one of my favourite trees.

Bloch tree

There were masses of flowers to be seen on my way.

flowers

By lurking about in the valley bottom for the most part, I kept out of the worst of the wind but even so, cycling back down to Langholm with the wind behind me was enough to make the slow bike feel like Pegasus.  I fairly flew along.

The twenty miles that I managed brought up my target mileage for the month and as it has all been done on the slow bike, that was very satisfactory.

I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden on my return and mowed the drying green.  This was a painful experience as it has almost as much moss as Mary Jo’s Danish lawn.

I had a look round and tried to get a better euphorbia picture but only succeeded in catching a fly.

fly on euphorbia

The tulips are growing all the time but still keeping themselves to themselves.

tulips

And I found a daffodil of the day standing still enough to photograph.

daff

Then  it was time for lunch, the crossword and a look at the birds.

I very much enjoyed a little action sequence that took place over two seconds.

A chaffinch approached the feeder quietly…

busy feeder

…suddenly there was pandemonium as birds flew off in all directions and a lone redpoll was left to wonder what all the fuss was about.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on business and I stayed in to greet the gas man who came to give our boiler its annual safety check.  In a sign of the crazy way businesses are organised these days, it turned out that he had come all the way from Glasgow to do our check, which was already well behind its scheduled time, because the local engineers were too busy.  Having finished, he was ready to drive back to Glasgow (90 miles away).  It must make sense to someone.

While the engineer was busy, it started to rain and it looked well set in for the rest of the day.    Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea though and he must have had some good vibes in his pocket because when he got up to, the rain went too.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden.

There was plenty to see.  A bee was buzzing about in the pulmonaria…

bee on pulmonaria

…and a blackbird was busy collecting more  worms….

blackbird with worms

…and things were busy growing.  Flowers on the gooseberry and on the silver pear.

gooseberry and silver pear

I look forward to eating gooseberries (if we can avoid the sawfly) but the silver pear fruit is inedible.

The rain looked as though it might hold off so I went for a walk.

I hoped to see waterside birds and I did but the light was pretty gloomy and the birds were far away so although it was a pleasure to see the birds, it was  a problem to get good shots of them.

oyster catcher, dipper, wagtail and goosander

From top left clockwise: Oyster catcher, dipper, goosander and pied wagtail.

I also saw a grey wagtail and I took a wonderful picture of the rock from which it had just taken off.  I haven’t posted it here to avoid excessive excitement among sensitive readers.

I was doing the three bridges walk and I passed a lot of ladies’ smock which has appeared like magic on the banks of the Esk near the suspension bridge….

Ladies smock

…a grand show of colour in the Clinthead gardens…

redflowers

…some striking male flowers on the noble firs on the Castleholm….

male noble fir flowers

….a very colourful tree (which I can’t identify.  Is there a helpful reader out there?)…

Castleholm tree

…and the first broom flower I have seen this year.  It was in the minister’s garden.

broom flower

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was back out in the garden so I took a look round and was struck by this jewel on a leaf.

raindrop

I had a little Archive business to catch up on as one of our members is kindly helping out a lady who wishes to visit the town for some ancestral research and then it was time to sit down and have a tasty curry for my tea.

The weather is set to continue in the present cool, showery mode for several days but if we can make as good use of the days as we did today, it won’t be too bad.  Those three magically warm and sunny days last week have spoiled us though.  Everything looks and feels dull by contrast.

The flying bird of the day is a reliable chaffinch.  They should give hovering lessons to the other birds.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike and Alison’s recent visit to New Zealand where they saw this handsome NZ kingfisher.  I don’t know which of them took the picture.

NZ kingfisher

It was reasonably warm for the time of year again this morning but once again the effect was somewhat spoiled by light drizzle and a very strong wind.  I stayed indoors and did some useful stuff.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off to the dentist for some treatment and I filled some of the time while he was out by watching the birds.  I was able to confirm that we have at least four lesser redpolls visiting us at the moment.

busy feeder with redpolls

I am not sure if the hidden bird at the back of the feeder is another redpoll or a siskin.

There were plenty of siskins shouting and beating people up.

busy siskins

A wood pigeon brought a more stately air to the proceedings.

pigeon

The forecast was for a fine afternoon with a further rise in the temperature so after lunch, I thought of cycling although the wind was a bit off-putting.  However, I did manage to get into my cycling gear and go out.  Virtue was rewarded when it turned out that the wind had dropped considerably from the morning and although it was still noticeable, it wasn’t totally discouraging and I enjoyed pedalling in some warm air.

There were signs of spring along the road and although the prettiest was probably this primrose…

primrose

…..the most welcome was probably this larch twig, a real forerunner of the new green season.

larch bursting

As always, I looked at a wall if I stopped to take a general view and I liked this crusty set of lichen…

lichen on wall

…and was interested to find that there were some tiny red spots of colour among the stems when I put the picture on the computer.  I hadn’t been able to see them with the naked eye.

The most noticeable thing was not the roadside flowers or the larch needles but the fact that the grass has at last started growing in the cultivated fields.

Ewes valley april

We are greening up….

Ewes valley april

…although the rough hillside has some time to go yet before it goes green.

I was a bit sorry to find that the day was more amenable to cycling than I had thought that it would be as I could have gone a more interesting route if I had realised.   I made up for my dull route choice by stopping at the Kilngreen to buy a nougat wafer from the ice cream van there and I ate it while sitting on a bench by the river and enjoying the bird life.

This is a lesser black backed gull (I have to thank a reader who corrected my view that it was a herring gull last time one appeared in a post),

lesser black backed gull

And these are a small fraction of the hundreds of rooks that swirl about in the sky over the town.

rooks

I took a picture of the Langholm Bridge to show how much the river has dropped since yesterday…

Langholm Bridge

…and then I pedalled home, arriving just as the sun came out.

It was such a lovely afternoon that I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal, who was just having a cup of tea indoors after some hard work in the garden, to come and drink it outside.

Mrs T's new bench area

She has almost finished her new bench area so we put a couple of plastic chairs out and tested it.

This is the view that we had from the chairs.

daffodils

It was wonderful to be able to sit out and enjoy the warmth and the sunshine as this was our first opportunity for months.

The new lawn shaping has been completed and this is how it looked this afternoon.

new look middle lawn

You can see the new bench are on the right.

I was quite pleased to see the grass on the middle lawn trying to win the battle against the moss so I got the mower out and mowed the front lawn.  There is no picture of the result there as the moss is still winning hands down.

I had time for a camera-wander.  I got a fleeting glimpse of a tadpole in the pond….

tadpole

…which was very encouraging.  There were lots of others about too.

The first fritillaries are out…

fritillaria

…and I found a corydalis in a pot and the rosemary next to the greenhouse.

corydalis and rosemary

The temperature is due to drop back a bit but even half a day at 18°C was enough to cheer us up enormously.  We have had such a long spell of cold and cool weather that we had begun to think that things might never warm up again.

The are a lot of daffodils to choose from but this one was my daffodil of the day today.

daffodil

I made some risotto for our tea and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre and I went off to sing with the Langholm community choir.  Our concert with the local orchestra is in two weeks so we worked hard.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It is not a good picture but I think that it conveys some of the energy that these tiny birds put into their visits to the feeders  so I have put it in.

flying siskin

I would like to thank Canadian reader and Langholm exile, Joyce Lewis, for a very kind mention of this blog in an article which she wrote for our local paper.  It is very nice to think that the pictures can bring back youthful memories of the area.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s recent visit to Madeira.  As well as an abundance of fruit and veg in the market, she even had a personal rainbow.

MadeiraWe had another calm, sunny day today but it was the coldest yet with the temperature struggling to get above zero all day.

In the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to have coffee with friends and I stayed at home watching the birds in silhouette.

Some were familiar in spite of their disguise…

chaffinches

…but others were stranger.

starling

I had to look up into the plum tree to see the scene in full colour.

blue tit, chaffinch and starling

We had a small invasion of starlings and the mystery silhouette above was one of them.

starling

Not long after Mrs Tootlepedal returned, I went off for a walk.

It seemed to me that it might be a good day to see hair ice as it appears on days when the temperature is around zero.   I was lucky.

hair ice

I walked along this track…

Stubholm track

….passing many frozen plants on the shady side  of the path on my way.

frozen plants

Then I went through the Kernigal wood and came out onto the forestry track on the far side.  In the shade of the trees it was icy cold but when I got into the sunshine, it was a different world.

Track to Skipperscleuch

The larch trees have not lost all their needles yet.

Larches beside Track to SkipperscleuchI could see the march wall climbing up Whita hill on the other side of the valley.  This marked the border between the Buccleuch lands and the Maxwell lands in time gone by.

March wall

The sharp eyed may just be able to make out the stile which crosses the wall just below the trees in the centre of the picture.

Quarry wall stile

I took this picture when I used it to get over the wall on a walk in July.

I followed the track down to Skipperscleuch….

Track to Skipperscleuch

….then took the track down to the main road, admiring another artistic puddle as I went…

icy puddle

..and finally crossed Skippers Bridge and went to have a look at the bridge from the water’s side.

Skippers Bridge

To my surprise, I could still find a crop of fungus on the river bank which I had noticed on my last visit.  I thought that the frosts would have done for it but it seemed to be in good health.

fungus

I walked back into town along the river bank and completed the journey via the Kilngreen and the Jubilee Bridge.

Yesterday’s walk was about four and a half miles and today’s was just under four miles so although I haven’t got any cycling in because of the low temperatures, at least I have been able to get some enjoyable exercise in good conditions.  The two walks are a tribute to my tin knee as I was able to (relatively) skip over some rough ground on the hill yesterday and through the wood today in a way which would have unimaginable two years ago.

I had a late lunch when I got back and then made a fruity malt loaf in the bread machine and wasted the rest of the afternoon doing some pro sitting down and resting.

I did get out of my chair for long enough to check on two of the many blackbirds which are flitting around in the garden at the moment.

blackbirds

There must be something interesting over there.

In the evening, Mike and Alison Tinker came to visit.  This was the traditional Friday visit for conversation and music and was all the more welcome for being the first for some time as they have been away in New Zealand visiting their son and his family there.

Alison and I eased ourselves back into musical mode and came to the conclusion that we need to settle down to some regular practice now things are back to normal.  Even so, we had a great deal of fun playing Rameau and Telemann among others.

Once again there is no leaf of the day (they were all frozen) but I did find a flying gull as I passed the Kilngreen on my walk.

Black headed gull

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She has strayed as far from Somerset as Madeira and sent me this picture from the Mercado dos Lavradores there.

Madeira

After yesterday’s very dank and gloomy weather, it was a relief to wake up to some friendly sunshine this morning.  As it was combined with reasonable temperatures, it seemed like a good day for a cycle ride.

I didn’t get off as early as I should have done because I spent a little time watching the birds.

greenfinch

A greenfinch doing a little basking in the plum tree.

goldfinches

The goldfinches looked a lot better today.

I keep hoping that some waxwings will visit (they have been seen regularly in Dumfries 30 miles away) but there is no sign of them.  I had to be content with a blue tit above…

blue tit

…and a blackbird below.

blackbird

I was further delayed by the need to have another go at repairing my mudguard.  This required the removal and then the replacement of the front wheel but I was pleased with the result as the wheel turned smoothly.

By then, I needed a cup of coffee but I got away at last, stopping to buy two filled rolls and a couple of bananas from out local shop on my way.

The sun was shining, the larches were golden…

Wauchope larches

…and all would have been perfect if my mudguard wasn’t still rubbing.  I decided to ignore it rather than go back and start again and I managed to live with the noise for quite a few miles before a halt and a rather desperate attempt to sort the problem actually succeeded.  The rest of the ride was trouble free.

I chose a route that would take me past yet another wind farm under construction near Gretna.

Gretna wind farm

Most of our wind farms are up in the hills but this one is down near the sea on flat land.

I wondered whether the famously large (but invisible) moon would have resulted in a high tide and when I saw that the tide was in, I pedalled down to the shore at Gretna to have a look.  The tide certainly was high…

Gretna

…and was lapping at the very side of the road.  I took a minute to eat one of the rolls and a banana as I watched some very excitable gulls having fun.

gulls at gretna

You can see from the fence post in the middle of the water how high the tide was.

From a few yards further on, I could look out over the Solway…

Solway at Gretna

…which was gleaming in the low sunlight.

Solway at Gretna

I cycled through Gretna and on into England, keeping to flat roads.  I did less climbing in 45 miles today than I did in 30 miles on my last outing and as a result, my legs were in much better humour.

England was looking very pretty and I thought that this view near Rockcliffe might be the best of the day….

Rockliffe road

…until I saw this one a few hundred yards further along the road.

Rockliffe road

I made a loop that took me back to Gretna and then had to choose between a rather dull ride straight back up main roads with the wind behind me or winding back across country on a longer, more hilly and more adventurous journey.

Of course I chose the direct route and with the wind behind me,  rattled along very comfortably.

I made a quick stop to eat my other roll and banana beside the Esk near Longtown…

Esk at Longtown

…and then made only one more stop to enjoy some very pretty young larch trees on the new road just outside Langholm.

Larches at Auchenrivock

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy time volunteering to help with serving meals at the Buccleuch Centre while I was out and we were both quite happy to settle down for a quiet time for the rest of the day.

It was already getting almost too dark for looking at the birds though I did notice that the robin had been beaten to the fat balls in the cage by a dunnock.

robin and dunnock

Looking at the forecast, it seems that we will soon be back having chilly nights so this dangling poppy may well be the very last flower of the day…

poppy

…but I hope to see many more chaffinches as flying bird of the day over the winter.

chaffinch

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