Posts Tagged ‘Lockerbie’

Today’s guest picture shows an interesting wall which Dropscone encountered on his Irish holiday.

irish wall

Our spell of calm, dry and chilly weather continued today with a bright, sunny morning making it possible to overlook the 2°C temperature.

It looks as though this pattern will stay with us for several days with the only difference being that it will be well below freezing every morning.

Under these circumstances, I thought it would be best to get a walk in today while the going was still good.  On the same basis, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little gardening.

I started my walk by passing the mouth of the dam, just where it joins the River Esk.  After flowing under the bridge and then past the back of our house, the dam disappears under roads and into a factory, where it supplies water, before it comes back into daylight here:


I was hoping to see interesting riverside birds while I was there but the cold weather has discouraged them and I had to make do with one of the resident ducks when I got the Kilngreen.


There were plenty of black headed gulls about but they stuck to the fence posts on the far bank of the river…

black headed gull

….where any flying action was largely confined to playing a game of musical posts.

black headed gull

They did occasionally rise high enough in the air to be described as flying….


…but nor often.

I got fed up in the end and walked on to find somewhere where more reliable subjects could be found.

Surprise, surprise, it was a wall.

It had a  wealth of interest on it.  I am getting more confused every day but there seems to be moss, liverwort and lichen all in a heap here.

moss liverwort


My favourite patch was this one.

moss lichen

As I may have remarked before, it is amazing what you can see when you look.   I should acknowledge my debts both to Sandy, who showed me how to use a camera, and the New Hampshire Gardener, who consonantly inspires me  to look closely at the things I see.

I found another wall and met two very contrasting ferns on it.


I walked along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and once again admired the skill of the tree fellers who can leave a selection of trees standing while felling all around if they wish.


On my way, I was inspected by the locals…


…and was intrigued by this tree.

tree with moss

Would that little window open and a gnome pop out and ask me to buy a ticket for my journey?   (I think that the political situation may be destroying my mind.)

I walked down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are just about at their best.


When I got down to the flat, I could see the ridge that I walked along yesterday.


I have to say that it seemed a lot steeper when I was walking up to the summit on the right yesterday than it did when I was looking at it today.

Further on, I saw more moss…

moss on wood

…which was not too difficult as there is moss everywhere at the moment after some very wet years.

I got home in time for a cup of coffee, fairly swiftly followed by lunch and the traditional Thursday trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

We always leave in plenty of time as there is a bumpy and winding road on the way to Lockerbie but this leaves me with time to stand on the platform and look around.  I love the tower of Lockerbie Town Hall.

Lockerbie Town Hall

I like the fact the clocks show slightly different times and often wonder if anyone has ever stood on the balcony and addressed the crowds below or perhaps blown a fanfare.

I didn’t have as long on the platform as I usually have as incredibly the train was on time today.  Not only that, it actually arrived in Edinburgh a little ahead of schedule and there was a bus at the bus stop to take us down to Matilda’s almost as soon as we had stepped out of the station.

We were punctual to the dot so it was no great surprise to get a text from Alistair to say that they hadn’t got home yet.

Still, the great thing about cities is that they have shops there so we were able to kill a little time without any difficulty.

We had a most enjoyable visit, being thoroughly entertained by Matilda and well fed by her parents.  And Mrs Tootlepedal had bought one of her sticky toffee puddings with her.

The journey home went as well as the  journey up and we arrived back to find that not only had the builder finished installing the pavement kerb on the bridge but the gaps had all been filled up and things look as though they are now ready for tarmac.

dam bridge repair

The state of play when we left in the afternoon and when we got back in the evening.

I did find one sympathetic gull this morning and it is the flying bird of the day.

black headed gull


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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who was in Edinburgh yesterday and was comforted by the up to date police protection afforded to its citizens.

Edinburgh Police

I had much better weather for my trip to the Moorland Feeders today and it was only a pity that the birds stayed away in great numbers.  I suspect that a sparrow hawk must have been in the vicinity.

The pheasants aren’t frightened of anyone or anything, being hand reared.


…and occasional chaffinches popped up here and there.


A  single woodpecker paid a flying visit…


…and that was about it so I didn’t stay long.

I saw a crow on the top of the walnut tree when I got home and my new lens made light of the distance.

crow in walnut tree

I didn’t have long to look round the garden but I was happy to see that the sunshine had brought the bees back…

bees on poppy

..in force…

bees on poppy

…and a butterfly or two too.

red admiral butterfly

This one was looking a bit ‘end of season’.

The reason that I didn’t have long to garden wander was that I wanted to get a quick pedal in before lunch.

The wind was a bit lighter today so I went over the hill…

View from tarcoon

The view from Tarcoon

…and down to Canonbie and then back along the banks of the Esk….

Esk at Byreburnfoot

…which had plenty of water in it after yesterday’s rain.

I chose this spot to take the river picture because in previous years I have seen a lot of fungus there…

fungus at Byreburnfoot

…and they have come back again this year.  There were dozens of these fungi sprouting on a plain patch of mown grass.

I had been blown down to the bottom of the by-pass by a friendly breeze so the journey back to Langholm was a bit more like hard work and as I was under some time pressure, I didn’t stop for more pictures.

I went  fast enough to have left time for another quick look round the garden after a shower and lunch.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta has made a welcome reappearance


This poppy had given the bees all it could give.

I saw another butterfly…or perhaps the same one revisiting,  It was hard to tell at this angle.

red admiral butterfly

Then I drove off to Lockerbie with Mrs Tootlepedal to catch the train to Edinburgh.

I admired a fine set of faintly nautical looking hinges on a doorway in Lockerbie opposite the spot where we parked our car.

Lockerbie hinges

Lockerbie station has two just platforms, up and down, with a passing line behind the down platform but looking south from the bridge, It must have been busier at one time.

Lockerbie station

The train was late again but only mildly and the countryside looked lovely as we swept past so all was forgiven.

When we got to Edinburgh, Matilda was in splendid form and gave me a very even match at Pelmanism before trouncing me at Snap.  There was more fun before tea time when we were terrorised by a monster….

matilda monster

…who surely can’t have been related to this studious little girl studying her miniature cow.


All too soon it was time to catch the train back to Lockerbie.  The bus arrived so promptly and drove so swiftly that I had time to look around at Waverley Station and enjoyed this circle of ornamental youngsters round the skylight in the waiting room.

Waverley station

Our drive home from Lockerbie was illuminated by a brilliant moon.  I tried my new lens out on it when I got home and was pleased with a quick hand held shot from an upstairs window.


There was not much choice but I managed to get a flying bird of the day at the Moorland Feeders this morning….just.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s southern Odyssey.  He went about as far as he could go and found himself and Susan at Beach Head on a very misty day.

beachy head

We had another wonderfully sunny day today but this one was more in line with the way that things should be in January and was below freezing for most of the morning and not much above thereafter.

This made cycling an unattractive proposition so I gladly took up the offer to go up to the Moorland Feeders with Sandy.  Once again the sun was shining rather into our faces…


…but it has got higher in the sky lately so we were able to make out the birds better than on our last visit.

There has been a dearth of members of the tit family in our garden recently and I was pleased to see that they were thriving up here.

coal tits

There were lots of coal tits

blue tit

Many blue tits

great tit

And on the far side of the clearing, several great tits. This one is sharing with a greenfinch.

The inevitable pheasant was stealing the seeds meant for smaller birds….


…but at least it had the grace to look a little shifty about it.

A robin brightened our day…


…but it was a poor day for seeing unusual birds and as it was pretty chilly sitting around, we didn’t stay for too long.

On our way back down the road, I was just remarking to Sandy that it looked like a good day for seeing hair ice when he saw some.  He kindly stopped to let me take a picture.

Hair ice

I don’t think that I have ever seen so much around here before this year.  The fungus that causes it must be spreading.

I had time for a cup of coffee and a look out of the kitchen window when I got back…


A goldfinch with a gleam in its eye

…and a walk round the garden in pursuit of frosty glamour…

potential Violas

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are potential Violas

…and then it was time to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

I noticed a door when we got to Lockerbie which I hadn’t fully appreciated before and the sun made the town sheep look very much on their toes.


Our train was on time and not very busy and to make things better, there was even a train waiting for us when the time came for our return journey this week.

When we got to Edinburgh, Mrs Tootlepedal needed to do a little clothes shopping so we dodged a tram….


…and I took the chance to wander along Princes Street with my camera.

Princes Street

Princes Street is well known but the shops which line the northern side of the street are a mish-mash of styles and the street gets its distinction from the fact that the southern side is building free and offers views of art galleries with the castle behind…

art gallery and castle

…the Scott monument, lit by the last of the sunshine today…

Scott monument

…and extensive public gardens.  I couldn’t show the gardens to you today as they resembled a ploughed field as they wait for spring planting.

Matilda was in very good form and honed her snap skills to a high degree.  I was absolutely jiggered after playing and reading with her for a couple of hours and extend my fullest admiration to her parents for their energy, stamina and skill in bringing up such a smart child.

The journey home went as smoothly as the journey up and although I had spent most of the day sitting down, it was very positive sitting down and I had enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The flying bird of the day is a buttoned up goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture shows Queen Mary’s garden in Regents Park in London.  My sister Mary was passing through last week.

Queen Mary's garden, Regent's Park

My day was divided into three movements, Adagio, Moderato and Lento.

The morning was very adagio indeed and the casual observer might have had quite a lot of difficulty in telling whether I was asleep or awake.  It was a pleasant and dry day so I roused myself enough to walk round the garden.

The most striking thing there was the first opium poppy of the summer.  It was hard to miss.

opium poppy

It was joined by a newly out clematis which is shown here flanked by two Dutch irises.

iris and clematis

The mixed cornflowers continue to please the eye.  One had been joined by a friend.


The warmth had brought out another first, a day lily, seen here with a gorgeous courgette.

courgette and day lily

There is abundance on all sides.

geraniums and philadelphus

Geranium and Philadelphus

Among the flowers, a diffident young blackbird posed for me.


I went back in and kept an eye on the bird feeder.  There were regrettable incidents of sparrow stamping.

siskins and sparrow stamping

The sparrow was more than up for it though and the siskin flew off unable to shake it loose.

A visitor for Mrs Tootlepedal arrived and while she was being shown round the garden, I noticed that the Astrantia was attracting even more bumble bees than usual.  It seemed as though almost every flower had a friend.  The Cotoneaster was a draw as well.

white tailed bumble bee

There were other bees.

bee on astrantia

Although I am very happy to see so many bees about, I would be happier still if they were joined by some butterflies.  We are a butterfly free zone at the moment.

After the quiet morning, a bit more action was required so I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where it would take me.

There was a brisk wind in my face and I was far from a bundle of energy but I pedalled steadily along in a low gear and soon found myself at Paddockhole, 10 miles from home.  I was seriously  thinking of turning back at this point, fed up with the constant wind but curiously enough I found myself pedalling on up the hill to Corrie Common.

A cow was cross that I had disturbed her and stamped her foot.


Once at Corrie Common, it only seemed sensible to go on to Lockerbie and return to Paddockhole by the other road so this was what I did.

I stopped to photograph the golf course at Lockerbie, which was looking very well kept.  This may be have been helped by the fact that there didn’t seem to be anyone paying golf on it.  It is much easier to keep a course looking neat if it doesn’t have a lot of old men on it hacking chunks out of the turf.

Golf course Lockerbie

Cycling home with the wind behind was a treat and I stopped again to add to the recent wild flower collection.

vetch and rattle

Vetch and rattle (I think)

My reactions weren’t very quick today and I saw several interesting plants, including an orchid, but by the time that they had registered on my conciousness, I was well past them and too lazy to go back for a second look.

For the first time, I saw all six of the new windmills in action though some of them seem to be sited behind a ridge rather than on top of it which is odd.


Still they were all going round so perhaps the owners know what they are doing.

Those interested in the cycle route can click on the map below for further details.

garmin route 5 July 2016

The gentle speed was in keeping with the tempo of the day.  In my defence, it is a very undulating route.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had only just come in from a hard afternoon of work in the garden.  She had been doing lots more hedge trimming….

hedge trimming

…but there are still some left to do.

The late afternoon and evening provided a tranquil end to the day.

I realise now why the years seem to go quicker as I get older.  It is not that time moves more quickly at all, it is just that I move a lot more slowly.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily with its dancing shoes on…

martagon lily

…and the flying bird is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who paid a visit to Chatsworth.  Mrs Tootlepedal is thinking of having something similar in our front garden.


I was on the go from morning till night today but largely at a gentle speed  suitable to a man of my age.  It started with a 20 mile cycle ride after breakfast and interestingly (to me at least), although the wind was much stronger than when I did the same ride a couple of days ago, I got round within seconds of the same time.  Is this down to a powerful consistency or simply the fact that I couldn’t bicycle any slower if I tried?  The jury is out.

When I got home, I had a quick dash round the garden.  The scientific rain gauge showed that there had been a fair bit of rain over the last two days…

wheelbarrow of rain

…but the garden had stood up well.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta had survived.

lily and philadelphus

There was strong colour and strong scents too

The melancholy thistle was looking quite cheerful…

Melancholy thistle

…and the fancy geum is continuing to flower well long after the standard ones have gone.


Mrs Tootlepedal bought a Fuchsia specially for me when she was at the Gardener’s World flower show in Birmingham and it has survived the journey north and is looking good.  It is going to live in a pot.


I didn’t have long to spend outside as there was bread to make, cards to be prepared for the Paper Shop to sell and Archive disks to be copied for the Information Hub.  I managed these tasks and delivered the cards and disks and still had time for a glance or two out of the window.

goldfinch and greenfinch

We were visited by goldfinch and greenfinch

goldfinch and sparrow

I liked the abilty of the goldfinch to fly without using its wings.

The reason for all the rush was a need to catch the train from Lockerbie after lunch to visit Matilda in Edinburgh.

We got to Lockerbie with enough time in hand to let me walk about for a while.  I enjoyed an old sign on a shop wall which I had never noticed before…

Lockerbie High Street

The letters CTC on the spoked wheel stand for the Cyclists Touring Club of which Mrs Tootlepedal and I are members.  Sadly the shop is no longer a cycle shop.

I thought that the King’s  Arms Hotel might have more balconies than was strictly justified by the probable amount of good weather that might tempt the guests out onto them.

Kings Arms hotel Lockerbie

And I never fail to enjoy the sheep.

Lockerbie sheep

The train arrived on time and we spent some quality time with Matilda when we got to Edinburgh.  One of the highlights was a visit to her pocket handkerchief sized garden where she showed that  whatever the size of the space, she could run round in circles with the best of them.

Matilda running

There was work to be done though and she lent a hand sweeping up while her father, Mrs Tootlepedal and I cut the front hedge with a rather blunt pair of shears…

matilda's hedge

…and she came into her own when the resultant clippings needed to be taken to the recycling bin at the foot of the street.

recycling the hedge

Thank goodness someone had the foresight to bring their truck with them.

After a tasty evening meal, we waved goodbye to Matilda (and Alistair and Clare) and caught the train back to  Lockerbie.  It was very gloomy there and we had to drive through some severe puddles on the way home so we had obviously got the best of the weather in Edinburgh.

Since I had a camera with me I took a couple of shots while I was there.  They show the single pole that carries all the telephone wires for the whole of Matilda’s street and the never ending supply of people who are prepared to walk to the top of Arthur’s Seat at any time of day (the shot was taken at 7.30 pm).


The flower of the day is the aptly named Special Grandma Rose…

Special Grandma Rose

…and the flying bird is a siskin.

flying siskin


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Two scone day

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  I like canals and bridges and his picture of the Trent and Mersey Canal has both.

Trent and Mersey cana

It was a very cool and windy day today, with not a drop of sunshine to brighten things up at all so I was more than pleased to welcome Dropscone round for scones and coffee.  He has been playing a lot of golf so he had many sad stories to tell me.

After he left, I took a turn round the garden but the day was so grey and the wind was so brisk that taking flowers pictures was a dead loss and I didn’t take try to take many.  I took enough to record that the day of the tulip and grape hyacinth is almost gone…

hyacinth and tulip

…and we are witnessing the dawning of the age of Aquilegia.


It was spotting with rain after lunch when we went off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit the world’s greatest small person and her parents.  The clouds were down so low that if you looked up suddenly, you might bang your head on them and by the time that we got to Edinburgh, it was raining steadily.  It didn’t let up for the rest of the day.

I was a bit bored because of the lack of views on the train so I amused myself by trying to catch scenes through the window as we zipped along. The route to Edinburgh climbs through a narrow valley beside the motorway up to the Beattock summit at just over a thousand feet and then, having crossed the river Clyde, coasts gently down to Edinburgh.

Train to Edinburgh

The climb to Beattock, some of the many windmills on the summit and farmland near Edinburgh

When we got to Matilda’s house, we found that her mother Clare had made some delicious scones so although it was a dull day for weather, it was a very good day for a scone lover.

The persistent rain meant that we didn’t get the opportunity to take Matilda to the park today but she kept herself busy by doing the washing up…


…occasionally wondering why people weren’t helping her.


We enjoyed a very good curry with her parents and then went home in the rain.

While we were waiting at Lockerbie to catch the train on the way up, I had had time to admire the fine tower of the Lockerbie Town Hall, visible from the station platform.

Lockerbie town hall

After a pause to let the possibility of transmitting bird disease diminish, I have put one bird feeder out again but no birds had visited it before we left so instead of a flying bird of the day today,  I took a picture of a flowery train on the platform at Lockerbie.

Lockerbie station

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Today’s guest picture shows the public library in Derby.  My brother, who took the picture, tells me that it was built on the profits from beer.  I hope my youthful indulgences were put to such good use.

Library Derby

The forecast had got it right, the weather gods had relented and we were given a perfect day.  At just above zero, it was too cold for a morning pedal so it seemed like a perfect day for an outing.

We polished off a little housework and then Sandy came down for coffee and we all piled into our car and set off intent on having fun.  Two miles later, we were back at home with warning lights flashing all over the dashboard.

Luckily Sandy stepped up to the plate and we set off again in his car, this time quite successfully.

Our target was the Eskrigg Nature Reserve at Lockerbie where we hoping to see all sorts of wildlife.   Eskrigg  is a fairly small area of mostly pine woodland with an old curling pond with two bird hides beside it but it is beautifully looked after and full of life.

Mrs Tootlepedal decided to do a circular walk while Sandy and I settled down with  our cameras in one of the hides.

Among other things, I was hoping to see were woodpeckers and squirrels. I looked right….

greater spotted woodpecker

…and left.

Eskrigg squirrel

There was almost too much to see and if I looked in one direction, I worried that I might be missing something more interesting in the other direction.

There were ducks on the pond in flighty mood.

Eskrigg ducks

There were a lot of squirrels….

Eskrigg squirrels

…on every side.

Eskrigg squirrels

After a while, we walked along to the other hide, which is set in a clearing in the woods a little further round the pond.

A convenient branch there offered a perch to a great number of great, blue and coal tits.

great tit blue tit coal tit

A picturesque tree stump, carefully seeded with peanuts by a photographer who was lurking nearby behind a convenient tree, provided a perch for both squirrels….

squirrel and nuthatch

…and nuthatches.

This tree stump must have starred in thousands of photographs.

The animals are very used to the heavy breathing of nature lovers struggling under the weight of huge lenses so if you missed a good shot, it wasn’t a matter of great concern as another opportunity always came along soon.

The nuthatch left the stump and flew up into a neighbouring tree where it tried a number of poses….

Eskrigg nuthatch

…before settling for this one.

Eskrigg nuthatch

Mrs Tootlepedal completed her walk and joined us at the hide.  There was enough to keep her sitting there quite happily.

There were squirrels on very side, scampering up trees and down again.

Eskrigg squirrel

Some were easy to spot….

Eskrigg squirrel

…and some a little harder.

Eskrigg squirrel

But wherever you looked, you could see another one….

Eskrigg squirrel

…or two.

Eskrigg squirrel

There were distractions of course…


…and the most common birds to be seen were our old friends, the chaffinches.


They made every effort to get star billing as flying bird of the day.


Once again, you hardly dared to look at one thing in case of missing out on something else.

There was no doubt though that the chief attraction for me of the visit was the large number of squirrels darting about all over the trees in the clearing.

Eskrigg squirrel

Eskrigg squirrel

I took all the pictures shown so far with my Nikon with a 70-200mm zoom, occasionally putting the teleconverter on (though I didn’t really need it).  I had my little Lumix in my pocket and took it out to see what it could do.

Eskrigg squirrel

It is a very good little camera.

Only the insistent message from within about the need for a bite to eat made us stop snapping away like mad (I took well over 200 pictures while I was there) and we reluctantly packed up and set off through the woods back to the car.

There was an interesting fungus beside the hide.

Eskrigg fungus

We walked back along the well maintained woodland paths…


…which have all sorts of interesting information about the trees and plants in the reserve on boards to read as you wander along.  So much thought and care has gone into this little reserve that it is a pleasure just to be there.

Unsurprisingly given the rare beautiful day, Eskrigg was very busy today.  At times, the click of shutters drowned out the birdsong.   If we can find some good weather and a quieter moment, we might be lucky enough to see a kingfisher by the pond.  We will certainly come again.

Sandy took a lot of pictures too so I hope that he will post some on his blog.  If he does, I will provide a link to it.

The need for lunch took us into Lockerbie town centre, where we enjoyed some quality traditional fare (pie and chips, sausage, egg and chips etc) to give us strength for the drive home.

When we got back, we all agreed that this had been a really good day out and it made up for a quite a few of the wet, windy and rainy days that had gone before it.

As a bonus, I did some research into the warning light in our car and it turned out that it was nothing serious and only needed a quick reset by the garage to get rid of it.

In the evening, we went to the first meeting in 2016 of our Langholm Choir.  I enjoyed it but I found it jolly hard work.  More practice needed.

The flying bird of the day is a little out of the ordinary.

flying squirrel

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