Posts Tagged ‘Liddesdale Camera Club’

Today’s guest picture is another taken by my brother on his recent visit to Buttermere. It is always good to have the energy to climb up high enough to get a good view of a lake.

Buttermere 2015The stormy weather continued here today with some hefty rain showers in the morning.  One of these was perfectly timed to catch Mrs Tootlepedal cycling home from a church choir practice.  She thought that this was a bit mean.

It was dry straight after breakfast and I was thinking of braving the wind and going for a battling cycle ride but fortunately Dropscone rang up with an offer of scones to go with coffee.  This was just as well because if I had gone out, I would have been soaked as well.

The combination of high winds and heavy rain mixed with various building activities kept the bird feeder pretty quiet but there were occasional visitors.


Female blackbirds always look a little angry about something….male blackbirds I expect.


A soggy goldfinch wonders what has happened to one of the perches.

I found a gap in the rain to walk round the garden,  There are another two aconites poking their noses up but mostly there are crocuses…

crocuses…and any amount of frogs…


The water is thick with frog spawn

…of varying sizes.

fat frogAfter lunch, I just had time to spot a robin…

robin…before going off to play trios with Isabel and Mike.

We had our usual mixture of good and not quite so good moments but enjoyed ourselves as we are quite capable of noticing the bits where we play well and ignoring the small errors that may creep in from time to time.   The secret of enjoying cheerful home made music making is to never, never be tempted to record yourselves to see what it sounds like.

The sun was out by the time we finished and the wind hadn’t reached the gale force predicted by the gloomy meteorologists so I enjoyed my walk home across the town.  I was very pleased to see signs of a chimney liner sticking out above our rooftop when I got there.

proto chimneyIn the garden, the early crocuses were also pleased to see the sun….

crocuses…as were a small flock of siskins.

siskinsMy flute pupil Luke came and showed that he has spent more time practising his test pieces than the scales for his forthcoming grade exam….and who can blame him?

After tea, I took Sandy across to Newcastleton to a meeting of the Liddesdale Camera Club.  The occasion was a three way digital image battle with clubs from Hawick and Kelso.  I have not been paying proper attention to competitions this winter with knees and walls dominating my mind so not surprisingly, I did not have any of my images chosen to represent the club.  I was therefore able to take the news that we had come third in the three way competition with relative equanimity.

I did manage to find a flying chaffinch during the day though.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a fine mossy roof spotted by my daughter on her recent jaunt to Hampshire.

Mossy roofThe forecasters had promised us a sunny day but there was little chance of a suntan and a reasonable chance of getting wet  in the morning.  I timed my visit to our corner shop with such precision that I caught one of the showers.

Still, I put some of the time spent indoors to good use by using the bike to nowhere in the garage.  I am not working very hard on it but I did increase the time spent pedalling and even going gently, my legs knew that they had been in action after quarter of an hour.  I think it is going to be harder than I thought it would be when I get out on the roads again.

There was a steady supply of small birds at the feeder and I was pleased to see two or possibly three redpolls.


Having varying success at dealing with big seeds.

One got quite fierce and tried to cow another.  I take it that they are both young males!

redpollsA pigeon turned up to lend a hand with clearing up the fallen seeds.

pigeonAs well as staring out of the window, Mrs Tootlepedal and I continued the work of clearing all the stuff out of our front room.  We took the opportunity to throw a lot of ancient possessions out as we did so.  This is always a wrench but the chances of us ever watching Grease on video again are very limited so we didn’t cry too much.

After lunch, the weather looked a bit more promising so I drove up to the moorland feeders to see how the hide was coming along.

Moorland hideThe team have obviously been working very hard.

I stepped inside and took a view through the window and found a blue tit near at hand.

Moorland hideNear the hide, the team have created the Ritz of bug hotels.

bug hotelI can understand why there are no tits in our garden as they all seem to be up at the moorland feeders.  Even when I strolled down the centre of the glade, they were not put off.

great tit and blue tits

A great tit and two blue tits

The weather seemed not too bad with high clouds in one direction….

clouds at Broomholmshiels…and blue sky in the other…

Tinnis…so I decided to give my knee a little hill work and set off down the road to the banks of the Tarras water.  The first part of the trip was through open country and even in winter, there was colour to be seen in the trees.

Tarras treesI soon came to birch woods and the road took a turn downwards.

Tarras roadIt was quite steep going down but a lot steeper coming back up again.  The birch woods were a delight with lichens to be seen on every tree.


Sometimes to excess

On the other side of the river, commercial conifer planting sweeps inexorably down the hill.

Tarras treesI reached the flat beside the Tarras Water and stopped a while to enjoy the rippling sound of the river…

Tarras water…and to have a little rest before tackling the uphill section back to the car.

I had to stop to take a picture or two as I went up the hill as I was anxious not to overdo things.  A lichen on a slender tree trunk made me think of my knee for some reason.

lichenAnd I stepped into the wood to snap a mossy clearing with a mysterious boulder.

boulderI managed to go slowly enough to get back to the car without difficulty and was very pleased with how well my knee went.

Later in the day though, my muscles in both legs felt as though I had walked miles rather than a few hundred yards.

When I got back, we had another go at the front room and made very good progress.  My back had been much better ever since I got up and I was a bit worried about annoying it but the worst seems to be past and a little light lifting hasn’t done it any harm that I can feel yet.

I have been able to cut down my painkillers to a few paracetamol a day which is a great relief and if things go as they are, I should soon be able to do without them too.    If I could just get a good night’s sleep, I would be a happy man.  But then I wouldn’t have anything to complain about so I would be sad.

In the evening, Sandy took me across to Newcastleton where we attended a Liddesdale Camera Club meeting.  The visiting adjudicator was commenting on our entries in the “Colour” competition.  He was very complimentary about all the entries and I think that the prints in particular were of a good standard.  In view of that, I was not too unhappy to fail to catch his eye when the prizes were dished out and correspondingly, Sandy was very pleased to get a well deserved second and a third.

The flying bird of the day is a very vocal chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture shows a very gaudy cake which my Newcastle correspondent baked for her daughter’s ninth  birthday.

cakeOnce again we had a day which flattered to deceive.  There were moments of sunshine but they quickly disappeared and generally it was another cold, grey day.   I popped down to look at the rivers to see where the overnight rain had got to.


A steady flow going down the Wauchope under the Kirk Bridge….


…and joining the Esk on its way to the sea

Dropscone came round with some scones to go with our morning coffee but had to nip off home sharpish soon after we had disposed of them in case he got caught by a heavy shower.  He was in a very cheery mood considering that he had already been to Carlisle and back to take his younger daughter to work.

While we were sipping out coffee, the sparrowhawk paid us another visit and I only had Pocketcam to hand to record this event.

sparrowhawkIt didn’t catch a snack on this occasion and the birds were soon back in action.

I checked on them at lunchtime.  There was some bad behaviour to be seen.  This was nature at work with tooth or rather beak and claw.

chaffinch kicking goldfinchIt wasn’t long before a goldfinch arrived, seemingly set on revenge.

goldfinchI failed to record whether it had chaffinch kicking in mind.

The birds adopt different attitudes in approaching the feeder’s perches.  Here a chaffinch adopts a horizontal, wings out style…

chaffinch…while a goldfinch prefers a more upright and compact method.

goldfinchThere was a sunny spell after lunch but it was no use to me as I had walked up to the town to play trios with Mike and Isabel. We spent a happy hour and a half in the company of Mozart, Telemann and Quantz and there was enough fading sunshine left when we finished to make my walk back home very pleasant.

Later on my flute pupil Luke came and we worked hard at some grade examination pieces.  Getting the articulation exactly as the arranger has requested is a bit of a slog, especially as they often put in little traps.  It requires Luke to practice the pieces rather slowly until he is sure that he has got everything just so and this is frustrating for him and makes the lessons a little boring for us both.  Still, he continues to make good progress and works very hard.

As I am still not able to drive and Sandy is suffering from a very sore foot, it was lucky for us both that Mrs Tootlepedal offered to drive us over to Newcastleton for the Liddesdale Camera Club meeting.  It was lucky for Mrs Tootlepdal that the meeting turned out to be a good one.  The competition had attracted a good range of pictures and the judge was both interesting and helpful so there wasn’t a dull moment.   I didn’t trouble the judges but Sandy won a well merited third prize in the digital image section.

There was a small flurry of snow in the air as we headed for home but it didn’t come to anything and the drive back was satisfactorily uneventful.

Apart from not being able to drive yet, as I have to see the surgeon first and my appointment is still two weeks away, my knee has reached the stage where much of my normal life can be resumed, although walking and cycling are still very restricted.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture shows Dovedale last month at a time when following the path too closely would have left my brother Andrew needing a snorkel and flippers.

DovedaleAfter another night of strong winds and heavy rain, I took a walk down to the river after breakfast to check out the water levels here.  Once again, I was surprised by how calm the river was…

Esk…and slightly peeved that although it was still raining, the level had dropped quite a bit already.

Tide mark

You can see from the tide mark how much it had fallen.

Of course, It doesn’t matter how much it rains in Langholm itself because the river level depends on what the rainfall further  up the valleys has been like. It is a useful reality check in that it seems to have been raining endlessly recently but it obviously hasn’t been doing any such thing.

There was a shortage of birds early in the morning but our neighbour Liz must have brought some with her when she dropped in for a cup of coffee because there was soon a pair of chaffinches looking this way and that….

chaffinches…and then a pair of goldfinches just looking that way.

GoldfinchesBefore long more goldfinches arrived.


Some at the feeder…


….and some waiting politely for their turn

By the afternoon, they were flocking in….


Some at the feeder…


….or rather, lots at the feeder…


…and even more in the tree.  There’s a lone chaffinch in there somewhere.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a rewarding meeting of the Embroiderers’ Guild and I set about printing out some images for the camera club competition.   Sometimes when you print out something that looks good on the screen, it disappoints on the page but on this occasion, I was pleased with the way they looked.   I don’t think that they are quite sharp enough as photos to catch the judge’s eye but they are quite colourful and as the theme is ‘colour’,  you never know.  I live in (mostly unjustified) hope.

It was a day of patchy weather with some drier moments punctuated by heavy sleet showers but I found a bright moment to go for a short walk in the afternoon.  The walk turned out to be shorter than I had intended because when I looked up the Esk as I approached the Kilngreen, Timpen Hill was shrouded in a savage sleet shower.

Timpen with sleetFor a moment, I thought that it might just sweep past me and I considered walking on but in a rare burst of sanity, I turned round and headed for home.  Looking back as I crossed the Town Bridge, it was clear that I had made the right choice…

Castle hill with sleet…and I had to walk quite briskly to avoid getting completely drenched before I got home.

Once home and dry, I cut the mounts out for the prints.   Now I have to decide on three digital images to complete my set of entries.

In between times, I looked out of the window and occasionally saw a bird that wasn’t a goldfinch.


A blackbird that didn’t avoid a shower.


And a redpoll that managed to find a goldfinch gap.

I am at a slight standstill as far as my knee recovery goes at the moment, although I have had two relatively good nights of sleep which is a great relief after a lot of very restless tossing and turning over the past few weeks.  In general my bending and straightening abilities have not improved as much as I would have hoped so that my plan to run a marathon next week will have to be put on hold and I will have to be content that I am able to walk up and down stairs unaided and whistle at the same time.

Today’s flying bird is inevitably one of those goldfinches.


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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s stopover in Dubai last month.  It shows a less familiar side of the town.

DubaiIt was an up and down day here as I got up and came down and went out but Mrs Tootlepedal succumbed to the bug and having got up and come down, then had to go back up and lie down.

I felt good enough after breakfast to try a short cycle ride but was a bit discouraged when it started raining as soon as I left the garden.  I managed ten soggy miles but, feeling rather cold and damp, I came in for a cup of coffee.  Drinking the coffee stretched out to doing the crossword and setting up the camera to look out of the window for me.

It saw chaffinches approaching the feeder in a shifty manner…..

chaffinch….landing in style….

chaffinch…and getting involved in arguments when they got there.

chaffinchchaffinchI don’t know what the one on the right said but it must have been very rude judging by the expression on the other one’s face.

The rain stopped and a little brightness appeared so I got the bike out again and had a much brisker turn up and down the same route, admiring the flourishing fungi by the roadside as I pedalled past.  There were a lot to see but I picked out these two, a few yards apart, to record with Pocketcam.


Small and restrained


Large and voluptuous

By the time that I got back, it was lunchtime and as Mrs Tootlepedal was having a food free day, I had my bowl of potato soup in solitude.

After lunch, I printed out some folded cards of Hermitage Castle which one of our local shops buys off me to help the funds of our Archive Group.  This took me much longer than it should have.  I had failed to save the alterations that I had made to the photo and the cards when I printed the sample out and had to do it all again.   I added twenty of our Archive Group postcards, which another shops sells,  to my bag and cycled up to the high street to hand them out.

While I was there, I collected a couple of my prints which a kind fellow member of the camera club had brought back for me from last night’s meeting and was pleased to find out that Dr Tinker and his ordinary bicycle….

Ordinary penny farthing…had won second prize in the prints section.

Then I purchased both a bright but very expensive LED light bulb for my computer lamp and my next big bag of coffee and finally cycled home. That rounded off my outdoor activity for the day, though I spent some useful time copying out some flute music.

It has been a bit subdued today, with relief at my recovery being more than tempered by concern for Mrs Tootlepedal’s state of health.  It is a bit sad when you can’t even cheer an invalid up with little treats of cups of tea and dainty biscuits.  From conversations which I had while I was out, it does appear that this little bug is doing its best to lay low all the people in the town.

From looking at the forecast and checking on Mrs Tootlepedal, it might be another gloomy day tomorrow too.  It seems to be a two day bug but  I shall hope for the best.

The flying bird of the day, needless to say is a chaffinch.  When will our winter visitors arrive?


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Today’s guest picture is another of my sister Mary’s lovely views of Regent’s Park.

Regent's Park 01.11.14 001The days seem to be getting shorter from a photographic point of view more quickly than I remember but this may be because with increasing age, I get up later on a chilly morning.  It wouldn’t have made much difference today as it was very misty….

misty morning…and decidedly chilly as well.

Dropscone has returned from a holiday in the south but had to hang about to get his car fixed as it had an oil pressure warning light on.  As a result, we met for early coffee and a treacle scone or two before I went on my bike for a solo pedal to Gair and back.

It was still only a shivery 4.7°C when I set off but I had put my leg warmers on for the first time this autumn and a watery sun came out so it wasn’t too bad.  Things were helped by a light wind which didn’t noticeably add to the chill factor.

As a result of the late start and a genteel pace in the pedalling, it was lunch time by the time that I got home and I only had time for a quick look round the garden….


The marigolds are our last serious colour source now and they are passing their peak.


…although the astrantias are still doing their best in a subdued sort of way.

…before going off to the Buccleuch Centre to an event to celebrate the launching of the new Langholm Walks guides.  These are packages of fourteen single sheets rather than a leaflet, with each walk having its own sheet with a description and a detailed OS map on it so it can be taken separately on an outing.  I think that this is a good idea but it does mean that the packages are more expensive than the old leaflets so I hope walkers appreciate their value.

By the time we got home, the light was already  fading fast and there was nothing to do but to practise my flute a little and sit down and groan a lot as my back has gone again.  In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have cycled this morning but hindsight is much more common than foresight where my back is concerned.

I did manage to take a couple of pictures when I was cycling, although getting on and off the bike was such an awkward business that I wasn’t encouraged to take any more.

On my way out, I checked out the bright red toadstools in the wood.


They were thriving in spite of obviously being very appetising.

And on my way back, I saw a new clump of brown fungus.

brown fungiFungus springs up amazingly quickly.  There was no sign of these when I passed two days ago.

I also had the camera on its tripod while I was sipping coffee with Dropscone and caught a bird or two flying in low in the misty gloom….both a male…

chaffinch…and a female chaffinch.

chaffinchIn the early evening my flute pupil Luke came and we resumed our battle with counting.  The notes, sharp, flat and natural are no problem to him and his fingering is generally very secure but making sure that there are the right number of beats in each bar is harder work.  We will get there.

After tea, I went across to Newcastleton with Sandy for a lecture on HDR photography at the Liddesdale Camera Club.  I only use HDR techniques occasionally but it was an interesting lecture all the same as the lecturer showed us many tools on Photoshop which I have not used to their full extent so far.  I hope to use them more in the future when I have views to put on the blog without going to the extremes that can make HDR processed pictures look rather mechanical.

Some people frown on any image processing but these are often people who live in places with reliable sunshine and lots of good light (or sometimes people who simply don’t know how to use computers).  I find image processing interesting and fun and I live in a gloomy country so I do it all the time.

Today’s (lightly processed) flying bird is a chaffinch (there’s a surprise).


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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin, one of my neighbours, who wonders whether having the builders in can have caused this overnight outbreak of toadstools on his lawn.  I would be more worried about what has been taking the great bites out of them.

toadstoolsDropscone came round with some scones in hand to have a cup of coffee this morning but we hadn’t bothered with cycling first as the forty mile an hour gusts and the driving rain had made cycling an unattractive proposition.  In fact it made more or less everything rather gloomy and we are badly in need of a burst of sunshine to cheer us up as we are in a run of very grey days at present.

The wind and rain made bird pictures difficult to come by and I had settled for a chaffinch perching, or rather hanging on for grim death in the plum tree as my only shot of the  morning….

chaffinch in plum tree…until a robin popped in and brightened my day.

robinThe bird possibilities were not just limited by the weather.  Our local sparrowhawk spent a good deal of the morning flying low passes past the feeder too.  No small birds were harmed in this process but it kept the feeder pretty quiet.

I did pop out into the garden during a drier spell to see what the wind damage was like.  It was noticeable but not too severe.

casualties of the wind

The watering can was retrievable, the delphinium was not.

In the sheltered spot under the walnut tree and between two hedges, Lilian Austin survived

Lilian AustinAnd my favourite Fuchsia flourished.

FuchsiaBut the healthiest and sturdiest plant in the garden at the moment is Mrs Tootlepedal’s kale.

KaleShe is living on a kale heavy diet at the moment.

I was able to dig up, cook and eat some very tasty beetroot today.

After lunch Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off for Carlisle where we combined a little shopping with a visit to the infirmary for me.  I enjoyed two happy moments there.

The first was when I arrived twenty minutes early to get as far up the queue for the clinic as I could and met my consultant waiting at the desk.  Within minutes, I was consulting him and before my appointment time was even due, I was back out on the street.  This was very good and even better was the fact that he said that I could stop taking the medicine for my rheumatoid arthritis and see if I was one of the fifty per cent who don’t need to start on it again.

As it is the sort of medicine where you have to have a blood test every month to see if it is doing more harm than good (and you can’t drink alcohol when you are on it), I will be pleased if it turns out that I am in the lucky half of the draw. Interestingly, the consultant says that the figures that say 50% can stop are very consistent but there is no way of predicting who will be in which 50 %.  I am feeling very optimistic that I will be one of the lucky ones.

Here is a picture of the original part of the Cumberland Infirmary, a building which I hope that I won’t have to see for a while at least.

Carlisle InfirmaryHaving been given my discharge, I walked back to town to join Mrs Tootlepedal in a shopping extravaganza which included a new pair of shoes and some delicious cheese.  On my way into the centre of town, I passed through the cathedral precinct and got my phone out to snap a building which can only be described as a very desirable residence…

Cathedral Close…although from the shuttered windows, it looks as though it might be offices now, at least in part.

The shoe shop was offering three pairs of shoes for the price of two and since Mrs Tootlepedal and I both bought a pair, we were entitled to a third pair.  After considering the wisdom of buying one shoe each, we settled for a second pair for Mrs Tootlepedal.

Although it is still October, the centre of Carlisle is already getting dressed up for the Christmas shopping spree….

roundabout….but we haven’t had the obligatory German Market yet as far as I know.

My flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and we worked hard on some Grade Three pieces, which should be well within his capability with some practice.   They will stretch him a bit and this can only be a good thing.

During the day, I prepared another sourdough loaf using Sue’s excellent starter and it came out very well.

sourdough loafIn the evening, I went over to Newcastleton to the Liddesdale Camera Club.  Sandy is away enjoying some gales and heavy rain in the West Highlands so I went by myself.  We were treated to a judgement on our entries in an open competition by a very competent and expert competition photographer.  He had many useful things to say and I hope to have learned quite a lot  from the evening.

Competition photographers, he told us, start with what comes out of the camera and then make an image using one or more photographs as a basis for the finished work.    This makes for some striking images but the connection between them and real life is often tenuous and not being very good either with design or colour and being very short of patience too, I find it hard to produce work of this nature so unsurprisingly, my efforts this week didn’t detain him very long.

I would like to produce some good images though so I shall persevere even it means taking pictures in RAW format which I find adds a lot of work at the end of the day.

I shan’t stop taking dodgy pictures of flying chaffinches in poor light though.

flying chaffinch

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