Posts Tagged ‘marmalade’

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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Today’s picture shows our visiting wood pigeon pulling itself up to its full height.

standing pigeon

It wasn’t freezing and it wasn’t raining this morning and the wind was less than gale force. All in all, it was a pretty good day and I naturally got the slow bike out after breakfast and set out on a old favourite circlular tour.

The map of the route can be seen here.

I started by going up the B709 to  Bentpath.  On the way I stopped above the Craig to show the mixed winter colours of spruce and larch up the Douglen Cleuch.  You can see a glimpse of James Ewart’s racing stables’ workout track in the bottom left corner of the photo.

Douglen Cleuch

As you can see, it was a lovely morning.  The wind was a bit stronger than I had hoped but it was coming from the north west so I was partly sheltered by the hills on my left.  At Bentpath, I crossed the river and went past Georgefield, before crossing the river again at Enzieholm Bridge and heading uphill past Lyneholm for Bailliehill.

At this point, I had turned more into the wind which was gusting heavily and at one stage, I looked at the speedometer to find that I was making all of 3 miles an hour in a particularly heavy gust.  Luckily I got a bit of shelter from a passing hill and made it to the top, albeit very slowly.

At the top of the hill, I stopped to take a picture of a small man made pond and building.

pond at Bailliehill

Is it a summerhouse? Or a scientific research project? Or a carp pond?  Why is it stuck out here in the middle of nowhere in a very exposed spot?  Can anyone tell me?

Cottage at Bailliehill

These are the only other buildings nearby

At the top of the hill, I turned left for Paddockhole and now, I was at the mercy of a stiff cross wind.  I was pleased at this stage to be on the slow bike because its wider handlebars let me keep the bike steadier in these conditions.  At times I had to keep my wits about me to avoid being blown off the road.

I got safely off the top of the hill and into the head of the valley of the Water of Milk.  There I was able to stop to take a picture or two to show why this is one of my favourite rides when the sun is out.

View up the valley

View up the valley. I think that the farm is Capelfoot

The Water of Milk

The Water of Milk (but no honey)

View to the east near Pearsby Hall

View to the east near Pearsby Hall

Looking towards the Langholm Road

Above Paddockhole. You can see my road home on the right of the picture.

From Paddockhole, it was an easy 10 miles home with the brisk wind now behind me.  I got back to Langholm just as a fine drizzle started to fall so in every way, except for the strength of the wind, it was a good morning out.  Once again the trip was about a marathon in distance but because of the hills and the wind, I would have probably been beaten by Paula Radcliffe and only managed a meagre 11 mph.  On this occasion speed wasn’t important and I cycled purely for the pleasure of it after so many days of indifferent weather.

I just had time to snap a pigeon…


Possibly the only bird that is wider than it is tall

…and have a couple of marmalade sandwiches for lunch before the sound of savage shouting alerted me to the fact that a football match (soccer) was being played on the Scholars’ Field.  I had been wanting to try my camera out at a sports event so I scuttled round to the field.  Just to show that I am not alone in being affected by the weather, a supporter told me that this was the first time the team had been able to play since November.  They certainly looked a bit rusty and their fitness faded badly towards the end of the game.  Football is not an easy game to photograph as the players are well spread out and the pitch is large.  I did my best to give a flavour of the action.  Langholm (black and yellow) were playing Selkirk (blue) in a cup game.

(There are quite a few of these pictures which I took for my own interest and if you are bored, skip to the end of the blog where there is another tasty marmalade photo.)

soccer photo

The crowd were small and frozen in the chilly wind and light drizzle

A midfield tussle

A midfield tussle


The excellent sponsors of the Langholm team

Heid the ba'

Winning the ball in midfield


Looking for the telling cross

Looking for the telling cross

The goalie tipped this shot over the bar

The Selkirk goalie tipped this shot over the bar


Langholm Goalie

The Langholm substitute goalie was a remarkable 48 years old

A goalmouth incident

A goalmouth incident

At one stage it looked as though Langholm had forced the ball across the goal line but the referee waved play on and anxious spectators asked me if I had captured the moment to prove him wrong.  Of course I hadn’t.  They were very disappointed and made remarks.

dirty knees and determination

Dirty knees and determination

In spite of Langholm pressing hard, Selkirk broke away and scored and with the score at 3-1 to them with not long to go, I made an excuse and left the field.  I was frozen.

When I got home, I warmed myself up by making another batch of fine cut marmalade.  It ended up between the first two lots in colour so we have now got a good variety for the coming year.

third marmalade

Fine cut

We have made 34 pots so far, leaving us to make another 18 to reach our target.






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