Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

Today’s guest picture comes from my next door neighbour Irving who is spending the festive season visiting his son and family in Florida.  The picture shows some of the  20 to 30 ibis they see outside the house every day.


We had another sunny day here today but the temperature was at zero when we got up and not much higher at any time during the day.


A pigeon looking as though it wasn’t enjoying walking on our frozen lawn.

Luckily there were no ice covered pavements or treacherous patches on paths so it was a good day to get some of the very fresh air that was available.

In the morning, Alistair and Clare went off to sample the delights of shopping at Gretna leaving Matilda to look after us.  We attempted to go for a walk with her but it turned out that her father had gone off with her pink gloves in his pocket and no amount of differently coloured substitutes would do so the walk was abandoned on account of cold fingers and we waited for the gloves to come back from Gretna.

The sun had got round to the bird feeders by this time so I had a quick look out of the kitchen window….

chaffinch and goldfinches

…where there was a lot of activity.

I caught a couple of peaceful moments too.




Mrs Tootlepedal made some green lentil soup and we enjoyed it with a light lunch of cold cuts when the shoppers returned.

Then, since the gloves had arrived, we set off for a walk to feed the ducks.

We took the sunny side of the street which gave the photographer quite a big problem, when trying to get a picture of the group without his shadow appearing in the shot.

I tried this side….

Matilda, Al and Clare

…and that side but the shadow was always in the way.

In the end, I lurked behind Mrs Tootlepedal and took this shot…

Matilda, Al and Clare

…which was the best that I could do.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, except those left by people impatient to be somewhere else…

jet plane

…but since it was one of the days when the vapour trails disappeared almost as soon as they were formed, we could ignore them.

In the sun, it was very pleasant (as long as you had the right gloves on)…

Meeting of the waters

…and Matilda had a lot of fun playing on the equipment on the Kilngreen…

play park with matilda

That dratted shadow appeared again!

play park with matilda

…while I looked at passing black headed gulls….

black headed gulls

…which had been attracted by another party of bird feeders.

black headed gulls

Then Matilda came to feed the ducks…


…who responded with gratitude to some good seed and pink pellets.


Light is a funny thing, as they say considering that the heads of the ducks on the left and right in the panel above are the same colour when they face in the same direction but totally different when they look in opposite directions.

While Matilda fed the ducks, I looked at passing gulls again.



We continued out walk across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm where those with the taste for such things, had a happy time smashing the ice in the puddles while I looked for trees.

castleholm tree

When we reluctantly left the icy puddles, we walked mostly into the shade and the difference in temperature was quite marked…


…so we didn’t dilly dally again as we headed for home, pausing only to admire the moon which was floating above the monument.


Matilda needed a little assistance from her father on the final stages of the journey home and I wondered, looking at her hands….


…whether her parents are feeding her enough.  (The pink gloves are underneath the other ones)

After a quiet moment for relaxation and refreshment when we got home, the rest of the afternoon was spent having unremitting fun including snap, Pelmanism, dancing, playing ‘duck, duck, goose’ and putting on mermaid entertainments (impresario:  Madam Matilda).

It was lucky that Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the time preparing us a feast of parsnip and potato gnocchi and sweet potato and spinach saag aloo as we badly needed the fuel.

All in all, it was voted a very successful day and we should all sleep well tonight.

In spite of the gulls, I have gone for a garden chaffinch as flying bird of the day, mainly because I really like the sceptical air with which the flier is being viewed by the perching bird.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture, taken by Alistair, shows Matilda and her mother Clare enjoying a good book.

clare and matilda

The miserable weather gave us a break today and we even got a sunny spell.  It was quite a bit cooler but as it kept a few degrees above freezing, no one was complaining.

After some early dancing with Matilda at the keyboard and work at the keyboard while Matilda danced, I found a moment to fill the feeders and have a look at the birds.

The colder weather had brought them back in good numbers.

I can count thirteen waiting in the plum tree for a seed opportunity.


plum tree birds

There was no standing on ceremony at the feeder itself although as you can see there was some standing on chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

A starling got small reward for its visit.


There was constant activity and the chaffinch rightly looked a little worried as a siskin bomb approached him.

chaffinch and siskin bomb

A dunnock wisely kept out of the way in a nearby bush.

dunnock in bush

Al and Clare took advantage of the better weather and went off for a walk and with Matilda politely keeping Mrs Tootlepedal engaged with some painting tasks, I took advantage of the better weather to go off for a bike ride.

I had to spend quite a bit of time before I left in cleaning my bike and getting rust off the chain.  The downside of winter cycling is the amount of maintenance a bike requires which is why many cyclists put their bike on a rack and retire to the gym at this time of year.

Still, I like fresh air and there was plenty of it about today after all the mist and clouds so I was happy to hit the road.

From the look of the hills, we had only just missed a white Christmas.

snowy hill

You might think from that picture that it was a rather wintery day but the more the camera pulls back to the bigger picture….

snowy hill

…the better….

snowy hill

…the day looks.


Although it was only 4°C, while the sun was out it felt pleasantly warm.  Sadly, the sun didn’t last all the way round but the roads were quiet and basically dry and the wind was light so it was a good day for a pedal.

I went round my usual loop to Canonbie and back and stopped at some familiar spots.


Liddle viaduct

The viaduct is 1.2 miles away and proves what a good zoom the Lumix has.  The picture was hand held and is not cropped.

There was plenty of water coming down the Esk at the Hollows….

Esk at Hollows

..and plenty more joining it.

Esk at Hollows

I thought that if I cycled through the town when I got back and went a mile or two up the Ewes valley, I might get a snowy view of the hills but it was disappointing with only the highest hills in the distance showing white.

Ewes valley with snow

I managed to add 23 miles onto my annual total and I have now cycled more miles than last year which is satisfactory.   I have five days left to meet the target which I set myself at the start of the year but the forecast is not very encouraging with either frost or rain for the rest of the month.

In the afternoon, Al and Clare took Matilda off to visit the parents of Alistair’s best friend from his school days.  The friend now lives in California but his parents are always pleased to see Alistair and gave Matilda and Clare a warm welcome.

While they were out, I had another moment to bird watch and I liked the very smart reaction time of a chaffinch at the feeder.

chaffinch and siskin

The siskins were once again out in force.


We had an excellent evening meal of cold cuts, roast vegetables and small portion of sticky toffee pudding but only tiny inroads were made into the cheese mountain caused by some over optimistic purchasing by me.

I have had an email from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo which included a picture of the sort of clothing needed for a cheerful walk when the temperature is miles below zero and I have joined it to a picture of the sort of cycling gear needed when the temperature is only just above zero.  It is hard to tell who is the more elegant.

Mary Jo and me

All right, it isn’t hard.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin looking for a perch.

flying siskin


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Today’s guest picture was taken by a guest, our son Al, of a guest, his daughter Matilda.


We didn’t really enjoy our extra 11 seconds of daylight today.  There were two reasons for this, firstly because it was so gloomy that it was hard to tell daylight from night and secondly because we were very busy.

Mrs Tootlepedal was back on her feet but we had got a bit behind on our Christmas preparations and with family due to arrive in the evening, there was a lot to be done.

We did it.

I had a couple of minutes to look out of the window and was pleased to see the robin warming up for its Christmas day appearance.


Al and Clare arrived on schedule and in no time at all Matilda got busy decorating the Christmas tree.


She was kind enough to pass on some tips to Mrs Tootlepedal.


We had an excellent meal and then, as we were all quite tired, everyone retired to bed at a very respectable hour.

No flying birds but two perching birds of the day today.

siskin and goldfinch


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Today’s guest picture finally reveals Bruce’s horses in all their beauty.  They are the Kelpies at Falkirk  and well worth a visit if you haven’t seen them yet.  They are huge.


Our spell of sunny weather continued and the drop in temperature continued too, with the thermometer struggling to get over 2°C today and a brisk northerly wind making it feel even colder.

I went for a short walk in the morning, wearing several layers of clothing but still feeling a chill if I was out of the direct sunshine.

I was pleased to come out of the woods beside the river and get onto the track…


…along the Murtholm fields.


The light was golden once again but the sun struggles just as much as I do to get up in the morning so we are living in a world of long dark shadows.

Still, some recent tree felling means that I got a much better view of Warbla as I walked along than used to be possible.


The strong sun and dark shadows make taking photos of ‘things’ difficult.


The contrast is too much as the two pictures from and of the Skippers Bridge show.

skippers bridge

The lichen on the bridge parapet was easier.

skippers lichen

skippers lichen

There was plenty to choose from.

I climbed up the wooden steps from Skippers Bridge onto the old railway track and made my way home past an old oak…

oak tree

…and the view from the Round House…

View from Round House

When I got home, I found that our new neighbour Irving had got someone to trim down the top of the holly tree at the end of his garden.

holly tree clipping

It still looks as though there is plenty of room for birds in it.

After lunch, we set off to drive (very carefully) to Lockerbie to catch the train to see Matilda and her parents.

As I was waiting on the platform (the train was a few minutes late as usual), I noticed the clocks on Lockerbie Town Hall.  It is good to have several clocks to help you tell the time but it would be even better, I thought, if they both showed the same time.

holly tree clipping

The train journey was very smooth and comfortable and I took the time to shoot three shots through the window as we travelled.

At the top of Beattock summit, we pass through a perfect forest of windmills….

view from train

I read on the internet that there are over 200 windmills on this stretch  of hills and there are few hills untouched.


A little further on, I saw a small amount of snow on the Tinto Hills.


We arrived safely in Edinburgh and were warmly welcomed by Matilda, who regards flash photography with justified suspicion.

Matilda and Al

However, she borrowed some dice from her father and we enjoyed rolling a couple and counting the total spots shown.  She has promised to teach me the rules for shooting craps soon.

After some more play, Al and Clare and Matilda took Mrs Tootlepedal and me out to a very nice Italian restaurant on Leith Walk and treated us to a splendid joint birthday meal.

Feeling very well fed, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked off a few calories on the way to the station and caught a very punctual train back to Lockerbie.  As the thermometer was showing 0°C when we got to the car, we took a slightly longer but wider and smoother route home.

I failed to take a flying bird of the day and don’t have anything to put in its place.  Oh the shame.

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Today’s guest picture is another antidote to gloom and comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Bath last month.

Bath October 2017 011

After breakfast, I took it easy in an attempt to recover from all the jollifications of my birthday while Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to Longtown to get her eyes tested.

She was very fortunate to get back to Langholm just before the main road was completely closed to allow the recovery of a large vehicle which had slid off the road just to the south of Skippers Bridge last night in the heavy rain.

I watched a few birds while she was out.  The feeder was busy….

busy feeder

…but the gloomy morning made it easier to catch birds when they were standing still.


A chaffinch samples the sunflower seed…


blue tit

…while a blue tit examines the mixed seed.


The elegant back of a greenfinch..


…and a pigeon shows off its pink feet.


A robin obligingly gave me the full range of poses.

The early rained eased off so I took the opportunity to go for a short walk.

In spite of continuing rain, the river had dropped a bit more and the turtle was back on dry land.


As I looked down on the upstream side of the town bridge, I could see why the spot is called the meeting of the waters.

Meeting of the waters

The Ewes and the Esk were flowing with very different colours.

Meeting of the waters

It always surprises me that the rivers don’t mix more quickly when they meet.   Some knowledgeable reader may be able to tell me if the temperature of the water or the speed of the flow has anything to do with it.  At first sight I would expect the rivers to intermingle as soon as they collide.

I crossed the Ewes by the sawmill Bridge and walked up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge walks

Although the scene is pretty wintery now, there are touches of colour about.

beech tree in November

And plenty of moments of reflection too.


I was pleased to see a scrap of blue sky above the hills.


I crossed the Duchess Bridge on my way home and passed a dripping catkin and another little bunch of leaves hanging on.

catkin and leaves

When i got home, I looked over the hedge from the road into the garden.  Although all the flowers have gone, the neat hedges and box balls still give the garden an ordered look which is pleasing to the eye.

garden in November

After lunch, we took our courage in our hands and set off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  There had been talk of floods and/or snow but in the end, we had quite a pleasant drive over to Lockerbie and the train arrived only a little late due to speed restrictions because the the bad weather further south.

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and had a very good time playing with Matilda.  She, with a little help from her parents, had prepared me and Mrs Tootlepedal, whose birthday is very soon, a fine chocolate birthday cake….


…which tasted even better than it looked.

The cake rounded off an excellent evening meal so we arrived back at Waverley Station in a very cheerful frame of mind.  Our good cheer was slightly moderated by finding that our train was running late due to floods in the south and that we would be sharing it with the passengers of an earlier train which had been cancelled.

There seemed to be huge numbers waiting on the platform for our train to arrive but in the end, we all fitted in very comfortably and since the train made up a little time on its way, we arrived at Lockerbie not long after our scheduled time.

After the satisfactory journey, our cheer factor had once again been raised but it fell back with a thud as we arrived at the car to find snow on the windscreen and the thermometer registering -1C.  It fell even more when we met fog soon after leaving Lockerbie.

However, the fog soon cleared, the roads were free of ice and the only snow we passed was politely sitting by the sides of the road as we went over Callister so the drive home was far less alarming than we had feared.

Once again, we have been lucky with bad weather. Others to the north and the south of us have fared worse.  And of course, Matilda’s smile would brighten any day up.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch



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Today’s guest picture was sent by Mary Jo from Manitoba to contrast with her recent snowy scene at home.  It shows England in the summer, taken when she visited Salisbury earlier this year.


A very brief post today as we didn’t get back from Edinburgh until nearly eleven o’clock.

I still have the cold so I went for a short walk in the morning.

The larches are still golden.


The hardy cattle are out on the hill, impervious to frost and rain.


The bare trees let me look at the Wauchope Water.

wauchope water

I was very surprised to find this leycesteria beside the path.  I have never noticed it before.


I was less surprised to find lichen on the park wall among the moss.


When I got home and checked, I found that our leycesteria was doing very well too.


There was just time for an early lunch when I got back and then we drove off to Tweedbank to catch the slow train to Edinburgh.

When we got there, Mrs Tootlepedal had a bit of shopping for winter clothes to do and while she went inside, I stayed outside and took a look at Sir Walter sitting underneath his monument and some very brave souls who had climbed the many stairs to peer out at the world from the highest turret above his head.

Scott Monument

Shopping done, we caught the bus to Matilda’s and found that her father had an even worse cold than mine.

We had hours of fun with Matilda including football in the garden.  Not only is she developing some fancy footwork….

Matilda in garden

…but she shows a pleasing willingness to track back when necessary, an example to some of our highly paid professionals.

Matilda in garden

Mrs Tootlepedal also passed on some gardening skills.

Matilda in garden

We went in for Snap and Pelmanism and many good games involving Dr Matilda and her patients.

We left before tea today as we had arranged to meet our other son Tony with his partner Marianne and her children Dylan and Tash for a meal to celebrate Marianne’s recent birthday.

We chatted so pleasantly that we missed the five to eight train home but we were not worried as we knew that the trains go every half hour…..or, as we found out when we got to the station after passing under this elegant archway…

Waverley archway

…. every half hour until eight o’clock….and then every hour.

As a result, we spent some time having a cup of hot chocolate in a cafe and arrived home a bit later than planned.  Nevertheless, it had been a good family day all round.

I only had time for a single non flying bird of the day today.






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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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