Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony.  While I was playing recorders in Denholm last Saturday, he was watching a cycle event passing by further up the borders.

cycle sportive

It was another dry day today, although it seems to have rained later on when we were in Edinburgh.

After breakfast, I went for a look at the new anemone to see how it was doing.


I think it is probably the prettiest flower that we have in the garden all year.  The colours are so rich that it is hard to beat.

While I was out, I saw that I am not the only one interested in euphorbias.

fly on euphorbia

Every flower had a friend….

fly on euphorbia

I have said it before and I will say it again, they are the most extraordinary plants, obviously designed by a committee which wanted to get everything in.

It felt quite warm and the wind seemed light in the garden so I set out for a short cycle ride in good spirits.  The warmth was real but the calmness was an illusion and as soon as I got out of the shelter of the town, i found myself battling into a brisk wind as I pedalled the ten miles or so out to Paddockhole.

On the this occasion the wind didn’t play any silly tricks so at least I was given a good helping hand on the return journey.   My daughter Annie has sent me some Colombian guava energy bars and I gave one a try today.  It was very tasty but my legs didn’t seem particularly grateful.  The wind might have had something to do with that so I will give them another try,  They taste better than standard energy gels so that is in their favour.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden and I had a look round too.


The bergenia is flourishing


As are the spireas

A blackbird sat on the silver pear and sang a challenge to all comers….


The jackdaws made a mess of my lawn again yesterday, almost as soon as I had finished mowing it…

jackdaws lawn pecking

They are not taking the moss away as I cleared a bucket of pecked moss off

…so it was looking a bit part worn today.  They may save me the trouble of scarifying it if they go on like this.

I didn’t have a lot of time to look at birds but I took a shot or two after I had had my shower….


A blackbird checks to see who else is around as it lands on the feeder


Once again there was no shortage of redpolls

…and then it was time to head to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

The train trip was very pleasant in the sunshine and we were much struck by the brilliance of this field of rape near Edinburgh.

rape near Edinburgh

Matilda and her parents were in good form and we spent some happy hours playing games, only interrupted by a trip to the shops.

I was just taking a sober picture of Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda going down the steps from the house….

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

…when there was a regrettable outbreak of media awareness.

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

They were joined by Matilda’s mum, Clare and walked along to the shops to cries of…

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

…one, two three, wheeeee!

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

It was a very cheery outing.

The train journey home was uneventful and we were surprised to see that it had obviously rained at Lockerbie although we had had a clear, fine afternoon and evening in Edinburgh.

I managed to catch a flying chaffinch at lunchtime.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s current visit to the Lake District.  He walked to the top of Blencathra on Tuesday and found himself in quite crowd.


We had another dry and occasionally sunny day today but the rude wind had returned so I was not unhappy to have plenty to do that didn’t involve cycling.

In the morning I went to a meeting of volunteers at the Welcome to Langholm office where we heard an interesting and well presented talk by a man from Strathclyde University about a website that is trying to better organise visitors from abroad who are interested in their family heritage.  The idea is that they should inform us of their interests and desires before they arrive and we should inform them of our capabilities to meet their wishes before they have spent money coming to see something that perhaps is no longer there or meet people who cannot help them.  It sounded like a good scheme.

I walked round the garden when I got home while Mrs Tootlepedal planted out the tulips that she had bought at Alnwick yesterday.  She dug up some of this while preparing the ground…

honey fungus

….and wonders if some knowledgeable gardening reader could help her in identifying it.  She fears it might be some sort of honey fungus.

I looked at the established tulips.



It was a degree or two warmer today and the tulips were looking good.


I saw an unexpected flash of yellow in a red tulip…


…which revealed itself as a sport as the morning went on.

The cowslippy things are loving the conditions.


…and the dicentra is doing well too.


I was pleased with that picture of the dicentra but even more pleased with the next one that I took.

dicentra with bee

Bees are always welcome in the garden.

It was a good day for seeing welcome things.


A very small frog in the pond.

I went in to have lunch and was given a couple of hard stares by a blackbird and a chaffinch.

blackbird, chaffinch

I don’t know what I had done to offend them.

The main business of the day was a trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and help her celebrate her third birthday.  In honour of that momentous occasion, I am putting  in three pictures of her taken today.  One was taken by her mother in the morning on Portobello beach…

Matilda in Portobello

…and one by her father at the same venue.

Matilda in Portobello

…and I took the third as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda enjoyed the handsome butterfly wings that had been our birthday present to her.

Matilda and Ally

Time simply flew as we played, sang and danced the afternoon away, though I will pass over the fact that the birthday girl wiped me out when we played Pelmanism.  I have mastered dancing while sitting comfortably in a chair.

After tea with cake and candles, it was time for us to go home and once again the view from the top deck of the bus was very pleasant.

Edinburgh from the bus

Edinburgh showing that it has cherry trees too

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch winning the race to get to the feeder.

flying chaffinch

Matilda says hello and goodbye for today.



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Today’s guest picture is another from a visit that my brother Andrew made to the River Dove.  ‘Rock Cottage’ is set into the cliff beside the river and manages to look like a rock and a cottage at the same time.

rock cottage

We had another dry and breezy day here with the temperature struggling to get into double figures (10°C – 50°F) and the wind still on the chilly side so I had to wrap up well when I went out on my bike to do the twenty mile Canonbie circuit.  It was one of those days.  I thought that I was trying harder and going faster than the last time that I made the same trip but I still managed to take three minutes longer.

Of course I was three days older so that may have explained it.

The cold, breezy weather doesn’t encourage stopping for photos but I did stop once for a breather and a look at a couple of bare trees.

Irvine House trees

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden so I walked round enjoying the results of her work.

It was quite bright for a while and the tulips were looking good.

yellow tulip


Ballerinas dancing in the wind

tulips and daffodils

tulip centres

Two of my favourite centres. I think of the one on the left as ‘plums and custard’

The grape hyacinths are good at forming pools even if they don’t quite constitute a river.


The dog tooth violets are thriving….

dog tooth violet

…but are keen to turn their backs on me.  The cowslippy things are more polite.


And I think that we could call this a colourful corner.

colourful corner

I didn’t have long to spend in the garden, although I did as much dead heading of daffodils as I could, because we had to set off to Lockerbie after lunch to visit Matilda in Edinburgh.

I found a moment to look out of the kitchen window while my soup was heating up.

flying goldfinch

A seed is wasted by disputatious birds

flying goldfinch

A siskin is unmoved by a hard stare from a goldfinch.

siskin and chaffinch

And another is more than ready to repel an invading chaffinch

I have mentioned Lockerbie Station a lot so here is a picture to show it in all its glory.  It has the air of one of those stations on a model railway layout.

Lockerbie Station

I wandered up the platform while I was waiting for our train, which was a little late, and was very taken by this lonely diesel locomotive which came shuffling down the track in the opposite direction.

diesel loco at Lockerbie

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and took the bus down to Matilda’s.  Some people might think that a city bus could be a little dull but this bus took a very scenic route.  I was fortunate to find a vacant seat upstairs and at the front.

view from the 104

view from the 104

Matilda was in good form when we arrived.  Her other grandparents were visiting too so she had no shortage of adults willing to give her their best attention.  In fact she found the attention a little too much and retired behind some very fashionable shades.


Her ‘other’ granny can be seen in the background

Before you ask, I thought that everyone knew that specs are being worn upside down this year.  It is de rigeur.

We had a very good time and it seemed almost no time at all before it was time for us to leave and catch our train home.  The view from the bus was good again…..

The Royal Mile

…and the view from the bus stop in Prince Street was even better.

view from Princes Street

Our journey home was improved by sharing a portion of chips from the chip shop in Lockerbie.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch doing the breaststroke.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my daughter Annie who is working abroad.  She says it is a hard city in which to take pictures with her phone in portrait mode.

New York

An excursion to Edinburgh was the order of the day and to give ourselves a bit more time than usual in the city, we drove to Tweedbank and caught a train on the new borders railway line rather than going to Lockerbie.  It was raining  as we left Langholm in the morning and it was still raining when we drove back in the dark so it looked like a good day to be somewhere else.

It wasn’t raining in Edinburgh (except for a very brief shower) so Edinburgh turned out to be a good somewhere else to visit.

While Mrs Tootlepedal did some enjoyable shopping, I went for a walk.

I admired the newly painted sides to the road up from the station.

waverley station

This is a purely cosmetic frontage for there is nothing behind it and it simply serves to stop the impertinent traveller throwing orange peel or peanut shells onto the passengers waiting for trains on the platforms below.

Princes Street gardens boasted a host of chionodoxas as I walked towards the Scottish National Gallery…


…but my camera did a very poor job of capturing their beauty.

An overenthusiastic gardener has ruined the view of the National Gallery from the east by planting a tree smack in front of the middle of the building.

National gallery

I wonder if he/she has relatives who plant trees in front of picturesque bridges.

I walked up the hill from the railway line through Milne’s Court, one of the many dark and narrow wynds that give the Old Town so much of its character.

Milnes Court

And this took me up onto the Lawnmarket, part of the Royal Mile from the castle to Holyrood House.


On my way I could see the Camera Obscura…

Camera Obscura

I would like to have had enough time to pop in as it is a great treat to see the city from this bird’s eye viewpoint.

…and one of the many curiosities which lurk to attract the attention of generous minded passers by.

headless man

As it was, I did have time to go into an old church….

Festival Hub

…which has been re-purposed, as they say, and is now used as a centre for the Edinburgh Festival and called The Hub.

I thought that it was rather smart inside and stopped to have some haggis and a cup of coffee for my lunch. The haggis was very upmarket and was described on the menu as ‘bonbons of haggis’.  Little balls of haggis had been covered in toasted breadcrumbs and they were perched precariously and incongruously on small mounds of mashed potato and neeps surrounded by a creamy whisky sauce.  Although the dish looked rather  comical, it tasted really good so I shouldn’t complain.

I went up to the castle esplanade after my lunch…

Edinburgh Castle

…and since I had taken a picture of the Castle from Arthur’s Seat on a previous visit, I took a picture of Arthur’s Seat from the Castle today.

Arthur's Seat

Looking over the edge of the esplanade to the north, it was obvious that the city fathers had put their hands unusually deep into their pockets when it came to the purchase of daffodils.

Castle daffodils

That’s Princes Street and the Firth of Forth in the background.

I started to rain so I walked down through the daffodils towards Princes Street.  I had to glance back as I went, because the daffodils were so astonishing, even in the rain.

Edinburgh Castle

They brought on a severe attack of photedititis

Back down at ground level, I took another look back to the house perched on the edge of the castle rock which might make me nervous about looking out of the window if I lived there…

Edinburgh castle

 …and then walked down to the top of Leith Walk to meet Mrs Tootlepedal.

Edinburgh is a tourist hot spot and there are hotels tastefully inserted into many buildings which had former lives but this piece of unconvincing and rampant facadism with a glass box hotel stuck on the back of a slender frontage, is quite the oddest.

Leith Walk hotel

We were tempted by a very inviting opera bill on the front of the Playhouse….

Leith Walk hotel

…, especially by Musetta’s dog, until the alert Mrs Tootlepedal realised that the majestic war horse and the magnificent black stallion might be one and the same animal.   The cheapskates.  What a swizz.

We took a back route down to Matilda’s and this gave us a different view of the upstairs Greek temple at the end of London Road which defies any architectural interpretation.

Greek Temple

There has surely never been a Greek temple with so many chimney pots and its columns resting on the roof of another building.

Although Matilda’s parents were both suffering from colds and were not at the peak of their condition, Matilda was very jolly and joined wholehearted in a game of Pelmanism as well as the more familiar Snap.  She is a dab hand at both games.

This was followed by a dance demonstration and some solid nursery rhyme work so we were quite ready for a roast chicken for our tea which Mrs Tootlepedal had thoughtfully cooked for us all.

After tea, Matilda settled down to a little painting before her bath.

Matilda painting

In a sign of the digitally aware age we live in, when I asked Matilda if I might take a picture of her, she laughed out loud and shouted, “Cheese!”

The effect was very good, I thought.

Matilda painting

No flying bird today although I did chase a magpie through the castle daffodils in vain.

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Today’s guest picture shows an ominous haze behind the financial district on a sunny day on the Thames in London.   Perhaps it is an ill omen for 2017.  My sister Mary took the picture.

The murk can be seen in the background

A bright but chilly day ushered in the new year here and encouraged by the good weather, I took up an invitation from Mike Tinker to join his party for the now traditional New Year ‘Whisky Run’ which Mike has organised with his wife and Charlie Graham for many years.

I should say straight away that Mike’s party, consisting of Mike, Mike’s daughter Liz and his grandson William along with Charlie, was of the strictly walking variety while others did the running.

The object of the event is to go round the eight mile road and track course starting at such a time and going at such a speed as to get you to the Market Place exactly as the clock strikes eleven.

We started early in the day!

The sun was just rising as the party set out….

Mike, Charlie, Liz and William

…but it was still behind the hill as we went along the road above the River Esk.

Gates of Eden

With a north wind in our face, it was decidedly chilly and it wasn’t until we had crossed the river and climbed up the road leading towards the gap in the hills which you can see in the picture above, that we could look back and see the sun at last.

Esk Valley

It was a glorious day for walking…

Mike and Charlie walking

Mike’s daughter and grandson had wandered off ahead of us by this time.

…and the surrounding hills were covered in gold.

Bauchle and Golf hill

Our way back took us through woods and as we got nearer to the town, groups of brightly clad runners began to pass us.

Runners on Longfauld

We reached the Lodge Walks in good time….

Lodge walks new year's day

…and actually arrived at the Market Place ten minutes early.   The walk, exactly eight miles long, had taken us two hours and thirty five minutes.    As this was the longest walk that I had undertaken for many years, I was grateful both to my new knee which had made it possible and to the company of Mike and Charlie which had made it most enjoyable.

Waiting in the Market Place was Matilda and her father who had walked up from the house to meet me.  We stayed for a while to listen to the Langholm Town Band which arrived soon afterwards…

Langholm Town Band

…and Matilda enjoyed their performance a lot, concentrating hard on clapping in rhythm.

Matilda listening to the Langholm Town Band

This is just a glimpse of what Matilda was listening to.

We walked home, following the band for part of the way, and as we went up Lizzie’s Entry, we were reminded of how low the sun is in the sky at this time of year even when it is near the middle of the day..

Al, me and Matilda

When we got home, there was time to look at the birds.


A Jackdaw looked back at me


The fat balls are to a jackdaw’s taste if I leave the cage off.

The small birds were enjoying the sunshine of the bright new year.



After the older members of the household had had a cup of coffee, her father and I took Matilda to the park to get the best out of the fine  day.  She enjoyed herself a lot….

Matilda in the park

…as did her father.

Matilda in the park

We didn’t stay too long though as Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked us a delicious lunch of roast chicken.

There was just a brief chance to look at birds again before the meal was served.

goldfinches and chaffinch

When the jackdaws left, the small birds piled in…


…and with the cage back on, the fat ball feeder was safe for the robin.

By the afternoon we had all slowed down a bit so we settled in to watch Frozen.  I hadn’t seen this before but it is a favourite of Matilda and her parents and they all joined in the songs with gusto.  Matilda was quite cross that I couldn’t sing them too.

There was more good food in the evening and then Matilda enjoyed dancing along to the Vienna Philharmonic new year’s day concert under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel in the Musikverein.  Her polka was most energetic and her waltzing was particularly expressive.  We all joined in.

We shall miss Matilda, Al and Clare when they go back to Edinburgh tomorrow.  They have given us a very cheerful New Year.

The flying bird of the day is not this hopeful chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…but this stylish high flyer.

flying matilda

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Today’s guest picture not only comes from a guest, my son Alistair, but also shows a guest, his daughter Matilda, who has brought her parents down to Langholm for a short visit.


We were making plans yesterday to go to Edinburgh to visit both our sons and their families over the New Year when our younger son, Al suggested that he and Clare might like to drive down with Matilda to visit us instead.  We were more than happy with this as the train service over the holiday period is rotten so we arranged another visit to Tony later on in  January and settled down to prepare the house for a VIP.

She was due  to arrive in the early afternoon so I had time to look out of the window while the expert got things into a fit state in the spare rooms.

Birds put on their best behaviour…



…and even the light co-operated and put on its best performance for many days.


A gallery of glowing chaffinches

I wasn’t entirely idle but my eye was drawn to the feeders quite a lot.

chaffinch arriving

Good light…

goldfinch arriving

…better light….

chaffinch arriving

…best light.

After all the preparations had been made and a light lunch taken, there was still a moment to spare before the VIP’s estimated time of arrival so I sneaked out for a quick walk just to stretch the legs.

I didn’t have time to dally and the light had reverted to its usual greyness so I took few photos as I scampered round Gaskell’s Walk.

Auld Stane Brig

The Auld Stane Brig in winter

bramble leaves

The bramble leaves are still giving us a touch of green.


My friend and ex colleague Marjorie, whom I met near the end of the walk.

After a bit of rain a few days ago, things have dried up again so the walking was very good underfoot and the rivers are back to being an unseasonal trickle.

Wauchope at park

I got back in good time to welcome Al and Clare and Matilda who had found the drive from Edinburgh a lot less busy than they had expected.

Matilda was in excellent form and was soon tinkling away on the piano in the front room.


Although she was looking at the music, she was improvising at the keyboard!

We had a good afternoon of playing, a substantial evening meal and then, after a duet…


…Mrs Tootlepedal gave Matilda a bath and put her to bed.

Parents and grandparents then sat down to a moment or two of perfect peace.  It was a very good end to what has been an eventful year.

I didn’t get quite as good a flying bird of the day as the light deserved but it was better than most recent efforts.

flying chaffinch

May I take this opportunity to wish all those of you who have had the patience to read the posts through 2016, a very happy and prosperous 2017 and I hope that it brings you all that you deserve and wish for (and a little bit more).

I would also like to thank those excellent bloggers whose posts I regularly  read with interest and admiration for providing me with so much enjoyment through the past 52 weeks.  Long may this feast of words and pictures continue.




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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Greenwich.   You get a  good view of the London money grubbing machine behind the palace from the park there.

Canary Wharf from Greenwich Park

We had another calm, dry day and it was well above freezing so I had a choice of going for a morning pedal or going up to the Moorland bird feeders with Sandy.  As my legs were noticeably remembering that I had gone out cycling yesterday, I decided that the bird watching might be the thing to do.

I had time to look at our own garden birds before I left and was pleased to see a brambling among the usual suspects.

brambling, coal tit and blue tit

The decision to go to the hide at the bird feeders….

Laverock bird hide

…and spend an hour looking down this rather unprepossessing glade….

Moorland bird feeders

… turned out to be a very good one and Sandy and I were royally entertained by birds large and small.

There were pheasants of course….



…and tits, finches and robins….

chaffinch, robin and coal tit

…visiting the tree stump just outside the hide.

And of course there were woodpeckers too.


It was quite hard to get a woodpecker picture as there always seemed to be another one chasing off the one you were trying to shoot.  There were moments of peace and quiet though.


And on this occasion there was some icing  on the cake as well.

We not only saw a tree creeper….

tree creeper

…which crept up a tree and disappeared…

…abut we also we saw a nuthatch.


In fact the nuthatch appeared so regularly that we think that there must have been at least two on the go…


…as they appeared on both sides of the glade.


Whether it was one, two or three birds, it is always a great delight to see a nuthatch which I think is one of the most elegant of small birds so Sandy and I were in a very good mood when we came back for a cup of coffee.

I didn’t have long after coffee as Mrs Tootlepedal and I were going out for lunch but I found enough time to make up some cards for the newspaper shop to sell on behalf of the Archive Group.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre and she was so impressed by the look of the food there that she took me out to lunch to try it.  She was right to be impressed as it was very good.

After lunch, we drove off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It was a gloriously sunny day by this time so the drive over the hills was a pleasure in itself.

At this time of year, Edinburgh is in the dark by the time that we get there so playing inside is the thing.  Matilda was in fine form and she and Mrs Tootlepedal and I built a bridge out of blocks.  This was a developing project which started small enough for a Dinky toy to get under the bridge but, as time went on, it was raised a bit and toy dogs and cats went through, then diggers and dumper trucks and then Matilda herself crawled through and in a final superb moment, her father managed to slide and slither his way underneath the edifice to universal applause.

After tea, Matilda and I played snap in an expansive way which involved quite a lot of running around (by Matilda) shouting, “Snap!” and laughing loudly.

The evening finished with some more considered play as shapes were pushed through matching holes on a block where Matilda was supervised by her mother Clare.


You can catch a glimpse of the bridge in the foreground

Our journey home was uneventful and I will sleep well tonight after such a vigorous time playing.

The disappearing flying bird of the day was one of the woodpeckers being chased off this morning.

flying woodpecker

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