Posts Tagged ‘marmalade’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sydney correspondent Stephen.  As he came out of the Sydney Opera House after a performance of Carmen yesterday, he saw this striking tribute to the many volunteer firemen who have been battling the blazes in Australia.

sydney opera house firefighters

After a restless night disturbed by strong wind and heavy rain,  we got up to a continuing gale and more rain.

It was so dark at midday that this was the best that the camera could do when peering out of the window.  The fact that the feeder was swaying madly didn’t help.

siskin in gale

It was a day fit for nothing outside but perfect for making marmalade indoors.

I made marmalade.  If it turns out well, a picture may follow tomorrow.

The wind calmed down as the afternoon went on and the light improved enough to enable the camera to get a glimpse of some hardy birds who had defied the conditions and made it to the feeder.

feeder afetr gale

But making marmalade is a lengthy business so I wasn’t bored.

Our friend Gavin ventured out while there was still some light and took this picture of the Wauchope Water just sneaking under the Kirk Brig to join the Esk.

gavin's wauchope in flood

Luckily, the rivers didn’t get any higher than this and the rain stopped in the evening.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent fry up of black pudding, liver, mushrooms and tomatoes with a side order of mashed potato for our tea, a suitably cheerful meal for a rotten day.

And then the day got better.

It was warm and dry as we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre for our annual treat, the appearance of the RNSO, Scotland’s national orchestra.  This is not some mini outreach programme  for the provinces but the full orchestra of 60 players on the last leg of their national (Perth, Inverness, Dumfermline, Langholm) new year tour with a Viennese Gala.

RNSO 2020

You can take it from me that getting to hear a 60 piece symphony orchestra in a packed 300 seater hall  is quite something and I sat in the back row beside Mrs Tootlepedal with tears of joy running down my cheeks as they played Suppé’s Overture to Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna to get the concert rolling.

And roll on the concert did, with popular orchestral favourites interspersed with songs from the Richard Tauber repertoire sung by a very pleasing tenor.  As he sang “You are my heart’s delight” while I was sitting beside Mrs Tootlepedal, the programming couldn’t have been better planned.

Tinayi Lu, the conductor, took some of the pieces along at such a speed that you feared that the whole hall might explode with the accumulated energy generated.  I am not a great fan of the modern tendency to play everything as fast as possible but the acoustic in the Buccleuch Hall is so clean that you can hear every note no matter how fast they are played.  And it was decidedly exciting.

She also introduced the audience to an ingenious Chinese pun and a very delightful musical dialogue between Chinese  tunes and western orchestral style by a composer called Bao Yuankai.

By the time that we came out of the concert and strolled home, the terrible weather of the day was just a fading memory and all was peace and harmony.

No flying bird of the day today for obvious reasons but I wonder if this goldfinch was as happy as we were by the end of the day.

soggy goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie who has been baking bread.

annie's bread

I had a day full of action but very little of it was in front of the camera – it was not a case of “Lights, camera, action!”

It was damp and drizzly after breakfast and there were still occasional mournful cries of geese to be heard.   It seemed a good day to have coffee with Sandy and he dropped in on his way to Carlisle,  He brought a gift of Christmas cake, made by a friend who doesn’t like Christmas cake and whose husband can’t eat it for health reasons.  In spite of this slightly dubious pedigree, it tasted very good.

When Sandy left, I set about making marmalade and as this involves a lot of sticky work and a sharp knife, I didn’t have the opportunity to pick up my camera or look out of the window for a while.  When I had got the mixture simmering, Mrs Tootlepedal kindly agreed to watch over it, while I went for a pedal.

The drizzle had gone and the clouds had lifted and as the thermometer showed nearly 10°C, it would have been a perfect day for cycling if there hadn’t been a twenty to thirty mile an hour wind blowing.

As it was, I put my head down and pedalled three times up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse, keeping as far out of the wind as was possible. On one of the repetitions, I went though the town and out of the other side just for a bit of variety but I don’t have any time to spare and got back home after 22 miles in perfect time to add the sugar to the pan and cook the marmalade.

I took only two pictures on my ride, one at each end of my up and down route.

high mill

wauchope schoolhouse

I had a look for some birds while the mixture was boiling but there was not much to be seen and not much light to see it in anyway as the skies had clouded over again.


two goldfinches in plum tree

Once I had potted the marmalade…


The pale bits are lemon rind which I added as a novelty this year.  You have to use the juice of two lemons so I thought that I would chuck the rind in too.

…I had a shower, came down to have a cup of tea with Mike Tinker who had dropped in and then played some enjoyable duets with my flute pupil Luke and finished the active part of the day with a plate of venison stew which Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked for our tea.

All in all, it was a useful and sociable day, even if there was not much of a photographic record of it.

I did get a sort of double flying bird of the day picture but the main thing that it shows is that I have lost a perch from the feeder.  I will have to remember to look for it tomorrow.

chaffinch and goldfinch hovering

I should say that Sandy has posted a couple of splendid galleries of his trip to Thailand which can be seen here.

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Today’s guest picture is another from our daughter Annie’s recent walk in Regents Park.  The days are short.

regents park

It was an up and down sort of day.  I was down but not out and Mrs Tootlepedal was up and flat out as I had carelessly passed the illness on to here and as I got a bit better, she got a whole lot worse.

At least I was able to put some clothes on and get out as far as our corner shop today and I was in a position to do a little caring too but as a result of all this, we were a fairly miserable household today.

To tell you the truth, Mrs Tootlepedal required more peace and quiet than a bedside trolley service so I had time hanging heavy on my hands as it was raw day outside and a walk didn’t seem the most sensible idea.

This meant that I had a bit more time to look at the birds but sadly, the light had got a lot worse than on the days when I was in bed so although there were quite a few birds about, I wasn’t in a position to get good pictures.  I clicked away though.

The goldfinches were busy with their morning exercise routine.


The robin watched them benignly.


We had several visits from a coal tit but it was too quick for the camera altogether.

coal tit

And later on a greenfinch appeared, looked round disapprovingly, picked up a seed and flew off again.


Under the circumstances, it was just as well that I had bought some marmalade oranges when I was out at the shop and I spent the afternoon turning them into marmalade.  As marmalade makers will know, this is a lengthy business, especially if you are fine cutting the oranges as I was, so it filled up the unforgiving hours pretty well.


Time will tell how the product turns out.   I wasn’t at my concentrating peak, which isn’t very high at the best of times, so I just hope there won’t be any need for a reboiling. That would be very tedious.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that Mrs Tootlepedal will feel well enough tomorrow to take in a little nourishment and perhaps a cup of tea.  I wouldn’t mind getting my appetite back too.

The only consolation, if it is a consolation, is that half the population of the town seems to have been laid low too recently so we are not alone in this.

Not one but two flying birds of the day.

flying chaffinch

flying chaffinch

Once again, I would like to thank everyone for their good wishes and I appreciate that several readers are also suffering from various seasonal ailments so I send them our good wishes.   I have read all the comments from recent days and have caught up on most of the posts too but I haven’t had the energy or brainpower to post replies and comments myself for which I apologise.



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Today’s striking guest picture comes from my brother who describes it as ‘dusky’.  I think  he must have been in London yesterday evening.

The thames at night

We had summer indoors today and winter outside.  They were brought to us by courtesy of the jasmine family.


A gift from our daughter Annie has come into flower in the sitting room

winter jasmine

Its winter cousin keeps plugging away outside the back door.

In the garden there are now several clumps of promising snowdrops…


…but we are still waiting to see one in full flower.

The rhubarb crumble scenario is developing.


It might have been a suitable day for a cycle ride but a slight drizzle in the morning made me more than content to be sipping coffee with Sandy rather than getting wet.  After he had left, I turned to the main business of the day which was making marmalade.

As those of you who make marmalade in the traditional manner will know, it is a lengthy process.  The oranges have to be squeezed and sliced thinly which takes quite a lot of time in itself and then the resultant juice and fruit mixture needs to be simmered for at least two hours.

When the simmering is done, the sugar needs to be added and the mixture boiled until it is ready to set.  Then it is left to settle for some time and the mixture stirred to distribute the orange peel evenly.

Finally it is put into jars and left to cool before being labelled and covered.

There may be time during the process when a moment can be found to stare out of the window…


…but today as often as not, when that moment came, the birds were lurking round the back of the feeder.

Sometimes a bird obliged though.


A goldfinch is a pretty bird, worth the wait.

As well as the cooking, marmalade makers have to spend what seems like hours throughout the process in  washing their hands to get the stickiness off and then wiping off anything they may have touched while turning on taps, opening cupboards or picking things up and putting them down.

Still when it is all done, the light might have gone for the day but the reward is there for all to see.


If we want enough marmalade to last us for a year. there might have to be another session!

I might have done something useful in the late afternoon but I was foolishly tempted to watch a bit of the Trump inauguration and found myself frozen into immobility as it unfolded and unable to tear myself away.

Finally, pangs of hunger got me out of my chair and I cooked a potato and feta bake for our tea.

It was quite a cooking day as I also made a fruity malt loaf in the breadmaker.

The evening brought sweet music as Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played three familiar pieces which gave us great pleasure and soothed the spirit.

We are promised a sunny day tomorrow which will be most welcome.

I did find a flying bird among the orange peel.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows more of the endlessly sunny weather that Dropscone is having to put up with in Malta.


In fact we too had to put up with some sunny weather here today.  This came as a bit of a shock but the kindly authorities, worried in case we became too excited, took it away after lunch and covered it up with cloud again.

While the sun was out, I watched a blackbird in the plum tree wondering whether he too could try the feeder.


He thought better of it and flew off elsewhere.

I put on my walking shoes and went off to make the most of what sunshine there was going to be by walking up to the top of Warbla.  With the temperature at only 1°C, I was a bit worried about icy conditions underfoot but it turned out to be a perfect day for walking.

Others had had the same idea….

walkers on warbla

 …but they had got up a good deal earlier than me and were coming back down from the top. They told me that they had met a gang of ramblers at the summit but they must have chosen a more adventurous down because I saw no sign of them.

I met some sheep too.  They were lurking under some trees, well shaded from any sunshine….


…but they seemed quite content, munching away on the reeds.

The views from the summit were as rewarding as ever.

views from warbla

Although it only a small hill, you get fine views in almost every direction and in spite of the snow capped hills in the distance, it was warm enough to let me stop and enjoy them all.

views from warbla

views from warbla

Juts in case Dropscone reads this post in far away Malta, I took a shot of the golf course, still a brilliant green while the surrounding fields lose their colour.

Golf course

It was only half an hour off midday but the sun rises so little into the sky at this time of the year that the fence posts round the mast were casting  long shadows.

fence post shadows

It is at times like this that we remember that we live on the 55th parallel north, level with Canada, the very south of Alaska and much of Russia.  We are not far south of Moscow and if it wasn’t for the warming waters of the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current, I wouldn’t be looking at these pleasant scenes at all.

As one of the possibilities of the current rate of global warming is that the Gulf Stream may be switched off before it reaches us, I am thinking of buying some extra big wellies just in case.

The stroll back down was as pleasant as the walk up but it was noticeable that anywhere that the sun hadn’t reached, was still frozen.

Wauchope valley

I left the track and walked across the frozen grass down to Gaskell’s walk which runs beside the Wauchope Water.

I passed this fine tree….

tree on Warbla

…and went along the track.  My main object was to look at the cracks at the top of the walk that my neighbour Liz had pointed out but there was a lot of hair frost to look at on the way.

This was the most impressive.   It  is hard to believe that such a slender branch could exude so much moisture.

hair frost

When I got to the spot, the crack was quite impressive too.

Crack on gaskells

If you look closely, you can see that a little slump has occurred and half the path has dropped a little at the far end.  There was an mention of this in our local paper this morning with a note that those in charge of these things are considering what it might cost to effect a repair.  You can get an idea of how steep the bank is from the picture and it runs right down to the river about 100 feet below so the cost might be considerable.

The mosses on the park wall had been dealt a blow by the frost so I focused on some neat leaves instead.

Leaves on Park Wall

It was time for lunch when I got back and then the rest of the day was spent making marmalade.  We started with this….

marmalade oranges

 …and ended some hours later, sticky but happy, with this.


Fourteen jars should keep us going for a bit.  The taste test comes tomorrow morning.

During the day I got an email from my friend Bruce with an interesting pair of pictures in it.  He had been to visit a friend, Evelyn Carlyle, on the other side of the county and found that she had used this picture of mine from a post in November….

gate and wall Lamb Hill

…as the basis for an embroidery.  After painting the basic colours onto Bondaweb, she used fabric, wool and threads to achieve her effect.  She used free motion machine stitching and used feather stitch, granite stitch and some vermicelli stitch.  Here is the result.

Evelyn Carlyle embroidery

I was very pleased that someone had found a picture of mine interesting enough to embroider.  I liked the result too.

I did manage a flying bird of the day between the mountaineering and the marmalade.

flying chaffinch

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There are two guest pictures today as they show a large eucalyptus tree which was felled by the wind in my daughter’s garden in London last night.  The tree fell into their neighbours garden but luckily seems to have missed doing any damage to buildings.

annies tree2

annies tree

Exciting times!

It was more dreary than exciting here as we woke to steady rain which continued until lunch time. Mrs Tootlepedal and I turned our minds to making marmalade out the oranges which I was given a day or two ago.  This is a simple but lengthy business and filled up the morning nicely.  By the time that I had put the mixture into jars…


Should the donor of the oranges care to call round, a jar or two would be hers for the asking.

…it was well into the afternoon and the sun had come out.  This encouraged Mrs Tootlepedal to go for a cycle ride so we headed off up the Wauchope road.  The sun was a bit of an illusion because there was an unseen but strong and very chilly wind in our faces and we soon turned back.

I took a couple of pictures on our way to show off this rare moment of sunshine.

Wauchope School

Wauchope Schoolhouse looking very snug tucked in among the trees.


A large sheltered puddle showing the effect of the morning’s rain but amplifying the amount of blue about.

The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal noticed this fine fungus by the road side.



I wondered if it might be a lactarius rufus but it seems to be the wrong time of year for that.

By the time we got home, the sun had gone behind the clouds and the light was poor so I abandoned the idea of a short walk and shot Mrs Tootlepedal approaching some snowdrops with suitable precautions.

Gardening with care

You never know when a snowdrop might jump up and attack you.

I went in to test the final bit of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ginger root cake and have a slice of the sourdough bread with the touch of rye flour in it.  Both passed the taste test with flying colours.  Turnip has never tasted so good.

Just to annoy me, as soon as I got settled down to watch a bit of curling, a nice sunset appeared.  These have been few and far between this year so I got up again and went out to look at it.


It looks peaceful enough but the clouds were whizzing by.


Thick black clouds loomed up.

Tomorrow promises to be a better day so I hope that I can get out and about a bit then.

I did manage to find one moment when a faint ray of light and a bird were in the garden at the same time….


…but birds were few and far between today and the flying bird of the day was flying a bit higher than usual over the garden.







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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s recent visit to the Lake District.  It shows Grasmere.


Much to my surprise, today was not a bad day for cycling at all and Dropscone appeared on the dot and we set off round the traditional morning run.  It is not my favourite route because it has a large number of potholes on some narrow roads but at least the recent rains had washed the roads clean so we didn’t have to pedal through a lot of farm dirt.  We avoided all the potholes and the wind was in a kindly direction so we enjoyed ourselves though it wasn’t by any means warm.

After coffee (and a scone of course), I set about making a sourdough loaf.  My starter is behaving very well and I have found somewhere warm to get the dough to rise so I am getting good results at the moment.

Unfortunately, after the benign weather for the morning ride, the cloud thickened and it eventually started to rain lightly making the day unsuitable for photography.  I did try to catch a flying chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…which were coming in all drections

flying chaffinch

flying chaffinch

…but soon gave up and took a couple who were more stationary.

perching chaffinches

Luckily I had a large bag of marmalade oranges to hand and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle in the bus after lunch to get some wool, I set about making some marmalade, confident that it would be more or less ready by her return.

Pride came before a fall in this case and I was still nowhere near finished by the time she arrived home.  My problems all stemmed from trying to make too much in one go and as a result everything took much longer than it should.  Fine cutting the oranges by hand was a big task to start with and then I had so many oranges that I had to use a pan that was too big for the cooker and it took ages to get it to come to the boil.  Then of course it took much longer than it should have done to reduce the liquid and to bring it back  to the boil once the sugar had been added.

The whole thing was a lesson to me not to be so hasty.

As I was going out to play recorders in the evening, I had to leave Mrs Tootlepedal to finish cooking the mixture and fill the jars.  She kindly finished off baking the bread for me too as I hadn’t had time to do that either.

After all this, we are still not sure if the marmalade is going to set properly.  If it doesn’t, there will be more boiling tomorrow.  As I am supposed to be an experienced marmalade maker, this was all very embarrassing.

Still, Susan and I arrived safely at the recorder group and enjoyed our playing.  Our usual hostess in Carlisle was busy so we were out in the country tonight and I can report that it is very dark out there compared to being in a town.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who has been squeezed through the photo editor.

flying chaffinch

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