Posts Tagged ‘Longtown ponds’

Today’s guest picture shows two very interesting bricks from Scottish brickworks. The brickworks were proud enough of their bricks to put their name on every one they made. Our son Tony came upon them in the course of his work.

Tony's bricks

Today was passed in a state of suspended animation.  It was another nice day (although it did spoil it by raining for a few minutes in the early evening) but I didn’t go cycling through a combination of things to do and feeling rather tired.

We are going on holiday tomorrow so there was grass to be mowed, apples to be picked, cooked and frozen, insurance to be purchased and the list of things that we need to take and think about had to be made.

I did get out into the garden with a camera from time to time in the midst of all this and noticed two bees in very sharing mode.

bees on dahlia

I dead headed poppies….


There seems to be a never ending variety of colours

…cosmos, dahlias, calendula and rudbeckia but I noticed that there is always another head to dead when you look at the lot you have just completed.   Mrs Tootlepedal edged the front lawn and thinned plants out so things look reasonably neat.

I took pictures of a cornflower and our current stock of clematis as I went along.



The garden is full of blackbirds flitting about.  Mrs Tootlepedal counted seven at the same time when she leaned out of an upper window this morning.  I saw this one on a fence later on.


Mike Tinker dropped by after lunch to show us one of his bicycle collection.

Mike's bike

He told that this was his mother’s bike, complete with dynamo for lights and a three gear hub.  We were very impressed by the sporty handlebars.  It was in good working order as he demonstrated when he rode off on it.

After he had left, I admired the nerines…


…and saw a peacock butterfly on the Michaelmas daisies…

peacock butterfly

…before driving down to Longtown to get a spare of music and computing glasses which were waiting for me at the opticians.

When I had recovered from the shock of paying for them (the receptionist kindly made sure that I was sitting down before she gave me the bill), I went off for a walk along the river.

It was sunny but there were plenty of clouds about….

Longtown bridge

…but I got my walk in without getting rained on for more than twenty seconds.

There must have been a lot of insects about near the bridge because there were industrial quantities of grey and pied wagtails shooting up into the air from the rocks in the middle of the river.  They were a bit too far away for me to capture on the whole picture…


There is a pied wagtail on the extreme left of the frame and a grey wagtail on the extreme right

…but one grey wagtail came close enough  to be easily recognisable.

grey wagtail

I walked down the river and round the ponds without seeing much in the way of wild flowers, perhaps because there were great swathes of Himalayan balsam everywhere.

himalayan balsam

It is a pretty plant but it smothers all the opposition.

The ponds were looking very peaceful….

Longtown pondsLongtown ponds

But I would have needed my new long lens to get any water fowl pictures.

I could see Arthuret Church across the fields…

Arthuret Church

…and it was clear enough to see the windmills on the far side of Langholm.

Craig windfarm

I was hoping to find a good crop of blackberries to eat as I went round but it was obvious that a very determined picker had got in before me and there were hardly any left.  I could have eaten any amount of elderberries though…


…but I let that opportunity go.

The clouds looked even more threatening when I got back to the town…


…but for once, I was in the right place at the right time and drove home in pleasantly sunny conditions.

In the evening Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a short play before they went off leaving us time to do our packing.

No flying bird of the day today but another look at some clear skies.  I had to get up just before 6 o’clock this morning, impelled by one of those necessities familiar to readers of a certain age and when I looked out of the window, I could see the morning star shining brightly above the monument on Whita Hill.  I could have gone downstairs to get my good camera and the tripod but it was six o’clock in the morning for goodness sake so I just pointed my phone out of the window and hoped for the best.

morning star above Whita

It did what it could.

Posts may be very variable for the next few days while we are away.

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Today’s guest picture shows a smart locomotive seen by Dropscone, who is visiting friends on the continent.


After two sunny days, it was too much to hope for another one and we duly got a dull, occasionally drizzly but still very warm day for the time of year.

After wasting two good mowing days by cycling and sight seeing, I had hoped to get some serious grass cutting done today but things were so soggy that I only managed the drying green.

I was cheered up by the robin….


… and the number of flowers that had a friend.

flowers and insects

The fat balls continue to attract small birds and I even saw a young dunnock have a go at clinging onto the feeder but it was not a skill it had mastered so it retreated to a nearby bench.


I went up to the Archive Centre and collected some weeks of the newspaper index which I will enter into the database.    There were two data miners hard at work at the microfiche readers producing more stuff so I will have to buckle down and help Sandy who has been doing most of the work recently.

Sandy came round for coffee  and we made arrangements for the  first camera club meeting of the season.  Sadly I will have to miss it as I will be on holiday.

I had one of those rare moments after coffee when I rang up a computer service provider, got connected after only a short delay and was provided with exactly the service that I needed promptly and courteously.    I had to have a little sit down to recover.

I had arranged with Sandy to do some bird food shopping after lunch and to combine this with a walk along the river at Longtown if the weather permitted.  The weather did permit so we bought some bird food and we went for our walk.

We weren’t short of things to eat oursleves on the way.

ripe blackberries

We saw some late summer colour….

Longtown flowers

….but the path we walked along was mostly lined with Himalayan Balsam, which is very pretty but a great pest.  It was attracting a good deal of insect interest and whatever the insects were, they seemed unusually white.

White insects

We got to the open ground round the ponds and looked around hopefully.

Longtown ponds

Longtown ponds

There are ponds the other side of the river which are covered in swans and geese and ducks but for some reason these ponds are always very quiet.  They are very peaceful and charming to look at at so the circular walk round them was a pleasure even if it didn’t provide much photo fodder.

Though I did like this colour combination beside one of the ponds.

Longtown berries

When we got back to the river, I was hoping to be able to spot some wagtails but a party of very noisy fisherman put paid to that and we had a last look back at one of the ponds instead.  There was some life there.

two herons

Not one but two herons crouched in the distance

And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.

And a family of swans a bit nearer to us.

When we got to the balsam lined path, we had a closer look at the flowers….

balsam and lasybird

That might be a 24 spot ladybird on the left

Looking at the right hand picture, we thought that perhaps the white insects were just ordinary bees or wasps covered with white pollen from the balsam flowers.  The insects certainly dived right into the hollow in the centre of the petals and there seems to be a bit pointing down which might deposit white powder on the backs of the insects.  I have never seen this before so I don’t know if I am right.

The balsam has exploding seed pods and Sandy and I amused ourselves by touching them very gently and watching them shoot out seeds in all directions.  It is no wonder that the plants are such a pest.  Sandy gave me a hand in trying to catch a seed explosion.

Balsam seed pod

When we got back to the town, we spent a little time on the banks of the Esk near the fine bridge which carries the main road across it.

Esk bridge at Longtown

The bridge, like our own bridge at Skippers, has been widened to allow two way traffic.

Longtown bridge

We walked under it on a handy path and came up to the main road on the other side.

Longtown bridge

Although it was overcast, it was a very warm and muggy day so I was pleased to get a blast of cool air from the car’s air conditioning as we drove home.  They say that it will be even warmer tomorrow but I hope that it will be a little less humid.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and showed the results of doing some practising. This was encouraging for both him and me.

After tea, I went off to play with Mike and Isabel and we had quite a struggle to get to grips with some new music which I had recently bought so it was a relief to finish the evening with a little tried and tested Mozart.

The flower of the day is one of the smallest of Mrs Tootlepedal’s dahlias….


…and the flying bird of the day is an obliging cormorant which flew up and down the river in front of us at the Longtown bridge until it was certain that I had got a reasonable shot of it.




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Today’s guest picture shows Scarborough Bay where my brother was enjoying enough sun to bask  (but not enough to swim).


I had carefully studied the weather forecast for today and it suggested that if I rose early, ate my breakfast promptly and got out on the bike in good time, I would enjoy pleasant sunshine and light winds…and then when I had gone twenty miles to the west, I would be able to turn for home and have a strengthening wind behind me for the trip home.

It sounded too good to be true.

These plans are easy to make and easy to break but for once, I actually followed this one to the letter.  The morning sunshine made the old gravel pits at Longtown fairly sparkle.


The road at Gretna was lined with celandine.


And when the time came to change direction at Annan, the wind duly strengthened and blew me home under the little railway viaduct at Kirtlebridge.

kirtlebridge viaduct

Although the traffic was light and I hardly saw a lorry all day, the back roads were busy with tractors making the most of the good weather.  I saw my first rolled field at Eaglesfield, always a good sign of spring.

rolled field

Altogether it was a very good ride and the 45 miles had the added benefit of taking me over 400 miles for the month.  This is a psychological boost with a few days still to go.

Those interested can find more details of the outing by clicking on the map below.

garmin 25 Mar 2016

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was also making good use of the weather and had spent the morning in the garden on a major tidying and re-organising mission in the bed at the end of the drive.  She is going to plant it with flowers for cutting for the house this year.

I did my bit by digging out the last of the old kitchen compost and distributing it on various beds in the vegetable garden.

The birds were as busy as Mrs Tootlepedal.

busy feeder

I had a look round for some flowers and found some old…

hellebore and crocus

…and some new.


There are a lot of other flowers almost out so I hope to get some more photographic excitement the next time we see the sun.

Leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to her toiling, I went for a short walk in the hope of seeing some of the riverside birds.

Before I saw any birds, my eye was taken by a sprig of delightful blossom beside the river.

cherry blossom

I didn’t need to go very far before I saw a pair of oyster catchers on the stones beside the Esk.

Oyster catchers

For once, they didn’t scamper off and this time they let me get quite close.

Oyster catcher

I like the subtle contrast in colours between the legs, the beak and the beady eye.

On the other side of the town bridge, a wagtail was wagging its tail on a rock in the Ewes.

pied wagtail

As I was snapping away at the wagtail, a pair of dippers flew past me but they were gone before I could turn round.

I shot a duck by way of consolation.


I continued my walk onto the Castleholm.   There was lots to look at.

moss and heather

hazel and bramble

I crossed the Castleholm and walked up one side of the river, over the Duchess Bridge and back down the other side.

Esk paths

It was a lovely spring day as you can see.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still slaving away when I got back and she might have been there still had not Dropscone arrived in the hope of a cup of tea and bearing a very competitively priced turnip which he had bought this morning as a gift for the household.  He is a thoughtful chap.

During the day, I had rung up Sandy to find out how he was and received some disappointing news.  He had been all ready to leave hospital but as he got ready to go, he was attacked by such a burst of pain that the doctors out him back to bed again.  I am going down to fetch him home tomorrow if all goes well.

Talking of medical matters, my younger son thinks that I ought to have mentioned that he has been laid low by a terrible cold and has been quite poorly.  I make up for that omission now. Aaah.

In spite of the sunshine, the frogs seem to have deserted the pond for the moment and this was the only one I saw all day.


The frog spawn seems to be developing well though and I hope to have tadpole shots before too long.

For some reason both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt a little tired after tea and we spent the evening sitting very quietly and  doing nothing.

The flying bird of the day is the two obliging oyster catchers.

flying oyster catchers

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Today’s guest picture comes from my elder son and shows one of his dogs having a grand postprandial snooze.

snoozing dogThe forecast was very good and the wind was light so it was a perfect day for a pedal and for once I had the time to take advantage of this.  Dropscone and I have been inveigled by the minister into entering a 50 mile sportive in Cumbria quite soon and the course there is very hilly so we thought that a 40 mile hilly ride of our own would be good preparation.

garmin 21 Apr 15This was by far the hilliest ride that my new knee had encountered so I persuaded Dropscone to take it very easily.  As this was a longer run than he is used to, he was quite pleased to comply.

In the event, we got round quite well, though a couple of stiff climbs in the middle of the ride caused my legs to complain a bit.

We definitely felt that we had been working hard by the time that we got back but the alarming thing is that the sportive has an extra 1000ft of climb in only an extra 10 miles and two of the climbs are steeper than anything we met today so more work is probably needed.  Hm.

I did take one picture on the way round but it turned out to be so dull that I didn’t have the heart to use it.  Fortunately there was plenty to look at in the garden when I got home.  It was really quite warm and pleasant today and the tulips spread their arms out to welcome the sun.

tulipstulipsAnd the dog’s tooth violets had come on well.

dog's tooth violetAfter lunch, I drove down to Longtown to collect two pairs of new glasses from the optician in the town.  It was such a lovely day that I took a walk round the Longtown ponds while I was there to test  my new pair of long distance spectacles.

I could see the ponds looking very green.

longtown pondsI could see flying ducks coming in to land on the river.

flying ducksAnd gorse bushes glowing in the sun.

gorseThere were quite a few butterflies about but as usual they were hard to pin down.  One peacock butterfly did a little sunbathing on the track in front of me.

butterflyIn the course of my walk, I saw three herons, one flying, one fishing and one doing some rather odd disco moves.

heronsThere were quite a lot of swallows about and several waterfowl too.  The swallows were too quick for me and the waterfowl stuck to the middle of the ponds so photo opportunities were hard to come by.  Here are a couple of shots which are representative of my efforts.

duck and swallowThe new glasses were certainly letting me see quite a lot of birds but they also seemed to alarm them too as they either swam or flew off as soon as I approached.  I saw goosanders, oyster catchers, tufted ducks, coots, herons, mallards, curlews and even a lone lapwing but in the end I had to settle for snapping first some slower moving fauna….

cattle…and finally some actually static flora.

wild flowers

Probably ladies’ smock

wild flowers

With added insect


This is definitely celandine

Spring was really springing.

spring at LongtownSpring at LongtownlichenI was pleased with my new glasses.  But even with my old gasses I wouldn’t have been able to miss the bridge over the Esk.  This is one of my favourite views.

Esk bridge at LongtownWhen I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from making the final preparations for a group presentation at a WRI competition this coming Saturday and was back filling and painting the floor in the front room.  I am looking forward to seeing her design very much.

I had time to look at some pretty flowers on the edge of the dam round the back of the house…

aubretia…before having my tea and going off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group.  We were just a quartet this week and enjoyed the music that our librarian Roy got out of his apparently inexhaustible big cupboard.  My second pair of glasses is set up to help me read music and look at computer screens.  They worked very well for the music but they are not so useful for a laptop as I am too close to the screen.  Perhaps I need longer arms.

This was the first really warm day of the year in our area and I felt that I had made good use of it.

The flying bird of the day is an oyster catcher from Longtown.  One of the many birds that flew off as I approached.

oyster catcher

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Newcastle correspondent and she tells me that it shows her daughter both celebrating ‘wrong trousers’ day and supporting the Dutch football team in the World Cup at the same time .  She is supporting the Dutch team because she is half Dutch and if you ask which half, it is the top half of course.


It was another dry day today but with a little more breeze than lately and quite cool for the time of the year with the thermometer showing 14C when I set out on my bike.

I surprised myself by feeling cheerfully fit unlike the last few days and I was just getting pepped up for a brisk run while passing the three mile marker when I suddenly remembered, in the nick of time, that I was supposed to be at the Town Hall taking down the photos from our photo exhibition.

A quick turn round and I was home and changed in time to be at the take down.  Phew.

Sandy was there too and we had a cup off coffee afterwards and arranged to meet after lunch to go on a butterfly hunt at Longtown.

I got changed again and went back out on the bike to add another thirteen miles to my original six. I was still feeling well so I didn’t even think of wild flowers today and concentrated on getting my average up to to over fifteen miles an hour for the combined nineteen miles.  It was a mystery to me as to why I was feeling so much better today but it was very welcome.

I had a quick look for new flowers in the garden when I got back.  There were some conventional flowers….

nasturtium and marigold

The first appearance of nasturtium and marigold

…and one a little bit different.  It is the woolliest plant that I know of.

Stachys byzantina

Stachys byzantina or Lamb’s ear

As well as new plants, I took a picture of the very last of the peonies.  This one is going out in style.


Mrs Tootlepedal and I made some soup for lunch and then I went off with Sandy to Longtown.  Mrs Tootlepedal and Granny also went to Longtown but  a little bit later, as they were visiting a garden centre to buy some plants for the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.

When we got to Longtown, Sandy and I went down to the river…

Longtown Bridge

…which was very low after the recent dry spell.   The fishermen won’t be happy as they need a good flow of water but a goosander on an exposed rock seemed cheerful enough…


…and I enjoyed her splashy take off a moment or two later.


The path along the river was through a wild flower meadow….

Longtown meadow

…and there were insects of many kinds on every side…

insects on knapweed

…and plenty of butterflies.  The trouble with the butterflies was that they showed a marked reluctance to stop flying for even an instant when we were looking at them.  There were any amount around and they rose from the sides of the path as we approached and didn’t settle again until we had gone well past.

Still, it was a treat just to walk along the path….

Longtown path

…and look at the flowers beside it.

wild flowers

Possibly a Heracleum of some sort on the left and definitely a lovely wild campanula on the right

After a while, the path emerged into the open and the ponds come into view.

Longtown ponds

The butterflies were just as busy here but the warm sunshine seemed to make them a little more restful.

It wasn’t warm enough to make them sit on a flower and spread their wings but at least they did sit for a moment.

ringlet butterfly

We think that this is a ringlet butterfly

ringlet butterfly

A butterfly with a really complicated head

clouded yellow

This one may be a clouded yellow.  It has the face of a disgruntled troll….

clouded yellow

…but a good taste in flowers

It was sitting on an orchid as Sandy noticed and when we looked round, we could see that there were many more around it.

orchids at Longtown

There was quite a large number of them growing on a bank and it is hard to see why they should just grow there and nowhere else round about.  They were the only ones we saw on our walk.  They were looking very fine in the sunshine.

orchids at Longtown

The views were worth looking at as well as the butterflies.

Longtown pond

One of the ponds

River Esk

A bend in the River Esk

And there was the occasional bird too.


After the cool morning, the afternoon proved to be very warm and we were getting well cooked as we went along.  We were quite pleased when the sun went in as we rounded the ponds and turned to walk home.

Sandy has posted some of the pictures that he took today on his blog and if you are interested, you can find them here.

Both Sandy and I were quite tired after a couple of hours in the sun and we were pleased to get back to Langholm.

When Sandy dropped me off, I failed to take an opportuntiy to mow a lawn and went inside to update the Moorland Project website for Dr Barlow instead.  If any reader has been intrigued by pictures of owls and hen harriers on my recent blogs, I can recommend a visit to her regular blog for more expert information and photos.

Mrs Tootlepedal turned out to have bought one of my favourite flowers to put in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window and it will give me something to look at while I am waiting for the birds to return to the seed feeder.  The uptake so far has been slow but I did manage to catch a flying blue tit in the evening.

flying blue tit




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