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Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

Today’s guest picture comes from one of my Canadian correspondents, Lucie.  She has been visiting relatives in the UK and when she passed through Edinburgh on her way north, she stopped off to check out the view from the castle.

edinburgh castle

We had a warm and sunny day today and with lighter winds, it felt like a good day to discard some layers of clothing at last.

The flowers in the garden enjoyed the warmth too and my favourite tulip was looking at its best….

lovely tulip

…though the same could not be said for a very ragged anemone which has not enjoyed the cold while waiting to spread its wings.

grotty anemone

I had to go to the doctor to discuss the x-ray and the state of my foot.  The gel insoles are continuing to help and the lack of serious pain after my cycle ride yesterday is also encouraging so the policy is ‘steady as you go’ and to fix an appointment with a physio to see how much my back is contributing to the problem.

As I cycled over the suspension bridge on my way to the doctor, I noticed that the poplar trees beside the church are going green.poplars in leaf

Back in the garden, I checked out more flowers and found a fancy tulip not looking at its best…

twisted poppy

…but the brunnera is doing very well.

brunnera

I discovered that some of the newest flowers on the magnolia have no brown tips on their petals as they missed the frosty mornings…

untouched magnolia bloom

…and that the drumstick primulas are doing superbly, regardless of the weather.

nearly a sphere primula

Things have been both cold and dry and some of the tulips are beginning to look a little tired…

blowsy pink tulips

…even some of the ones that have come out most recently.

three yelow tulips

I don’t know where the siskins have been for the last few days, but they came back here today and there were a good number of them about.

four siskins

They are very much the same size and shape as the redpolls though siskins like to perch head down more than the redpolls.

redpoll and siskin

There is so much blossom on the plum tree that it is sometimes hard to see the birds so it was good of this chaffinch to find a space to perch where I could see him clearly.

chaffinch among the blossom

After lunch, we went off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her family.  There are great plans afoot to improve Waverley Station but I hope that they are not going to improve out this fine ceiling in the main waiting room.

station ceiling

When we got to Matilda’s new house, we found the last blossom still on the tree which the builders kindly planted in their garden…

Ediburgh blossom

…and we found Matilda in the garden too.

Here she is having a rest after playing ball with her grandfather.

Matilda in the sun

We had a good time mowing the new lawn and gathering up the grass and after some indoor games too, we had a delicious mixed bean chilli cooked by Alistair, Matilda’s father which we ate in the company of Matilda’s other grandparents and an aunt so it was a thoroughly convivial occasion.

The journey home was uneventful and we look forward to seeing Matilda, Al and Clare getting settled into their new home over the next few weeks.

I didn’t have time to hang about for a flying bird to day so the best I could do was a rather vague siskin in the background.

distant flying siskin

 

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After my brother Andrew’s artistic nut weevil yesterday, today’s guest picture from Venetia’s African adventure shows the real thing, dung beetles on elephant droppings.  You can hardly get more down to earth than that.

dung beetles

We had a busy day.  We just had time for a cup of coffee and a quick wave at the birds on our feeder…

four bords at feeder

…before setting off to drive the 40 miles to Tweedbank to catch the train to Edinburgh with my sister Susan.  It is her 85th birthday tomorrow and she was anxious to celebrate this auspicious occasion a day early by meeting our two sons and their partners and especially Matilda whom she has never met.

We managed to combine this with some cultural activity and as soon as we had got off the train, we visited the City Art Centre which is conveniently right next to the station.  Here we had some nourishing soup and sourdough bread in the cafe and then went to explore an exhibition of Edinburgh street photography of the 1950s and 1960s by Robert Blomfield, a medical student and later a doctor in the city.

We had been advised to see this exhibition by Sandy and his advice was very sound.  It turned out to be wonderful.   You can get a taste of what we saw here, though the website’s images don’t convey the full power of the prints that we saw.

After we had visited the exhibition, we were joined at the art gallery’s cafe by our son Tony and his partner Marianne who came from their work to see us. We had an hour of good conversation, tea and a fancy cake with them. I congratulated Tony on the many excellent photographs which he has taken while walking his dogs and whihc I have used as guest pictures of the day.  When it was time for them to go home (to walk their dogs), we walked along the road a few hundred yards, crossing over the railway station and heading for the National Gallery under which the trains disappear.

nat gallery from waverley

On our way along Princes Street, I was struck by these hard working little fellows holding the world on their shoulders.

princes street

The Scottish National Gallery is not particularly large but it holds a delightful selection of works and I recorded some of my favourites on my phone as we went along.

burst

dav

dav

This still life was painted in oils on copper and it gave it a tremendously vivid quality.

dav

Some of us needed a moment to recover from the sensory overload.

susan napping 85th

We left the gallery and walked past the Scottish Academy….

scottish academy

…back down to Princes Street where we caught a bus which took us down Leith Walk where we met Matilda, who had kindly brought our son Alistair and his wife Clare to have a meal with us at an Italian restaurant.

Once again, we enjoyed good conversation while we ate.  The restaurant is very well adjusted to coping with children and gives them a sheet of puzzles and some crayons to pass the time while their elders chatter on.  Here we can see Matilda explaining the finer points of one of the puzzles to her mother.

mde

After we finished the meal and before we parted company, Matilda showed us her latest dance routine in the street while her father moved along beside her, playing the music from his phone.

mde

She is going to her first dancing competition next month and has learned her routine very well already.

As she danced off to go to bed, we caught a bus back to the railway station, jumped on the train back to Tweedbank with a minute to spare and enjoyed a trouble free journey home to round off a most satisfactory day where everything ran like clockwork for once.

We have to thank my sister Susan for suggesting such a good way to spend a day.

Today’s flying bird is having a quiet moment of peace as it wonders if there is a screw loose somewhere.

siskin

 

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Today’s just picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother, Mike.  He planted some daffodils to brighten the road verge opposite his house and is pleased that his work has born fruit.  Being 300 miles south of Langholm, his daffodils are already out.

Mike daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle after an early breakfast to help sort out the music library for  our Carlisle choir.  This is a big job with 130 copies of every piece of music we sing needing to be sorted and stored.

While she was gone I looked out into the garden on another grey day.

The feeder was busy…

busy feeder

…and on the mossy lawn, a pigeon was putting its best foot forward.

pigeon on lawn

I had put out some fat balls and they had attracted jackdaws.

jackdaws on feeder

There was no shortage of flying birds to be seen even if there was a bit of a shortage of light to see them by.

flying chaffinches and goldfinches

Sandy came round for coffee.  He was in an exceptionally good mood because he had just enjoyed a thoroughly good night’s sleep, a thing so rare as to be be priced above pearls.

While we sipped and chatted, we were joined by some greenfinches…

flying greenfinches

…and a very unusually marked jackdaw.  I have never seen one like this before.

speckled jackdaw

After coffee, we went up to visit the Moorland project feeders in the glade at the Laverock hide as it was Sandy’s day to act as feeder filler.  After filling the feeders, we lurked in the hide for a while.  There were plenty of birds about, mostly chaffinches but with a good number of great and blue tits too.

blue and great tits Laverock

As with my garden, there were no winter visitors to be seen at all.  This is a bit worrying as there seems to be no reason not see our usual migrants.  I hope it is a one off and  not a sign of things to come.

We didn’t stay too long and when Sandy stopped at the Co-op on our way back to buy a local paper (full of articles by Dropscone this week), I took the opportunity to get out too and walk home along the river in the hope of seeing something interesting.

The hope was amply fulfilled as I saw a goosander…

goosander

…two oyster catchers…

two oyster catchers

…three dippers…

dippers in esk

…and a single white duck.

white duck

It was still pretty grey and most of the birds were a bit too far away from the bank for good pictures but it was encouraging to see them.  I snapped the church too while I was passing…

church on a grey day

…and a bit of typical Langholm street life.  Dog walking is a popular activity in our town.

alan and dogs

When I got home, I made some soup and then dashed out into the garden when the sun came out.

sunny crocuses

I didn’t have time to enjoy the sunshine and go for a walk or a pedal though as I had to go off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was a day of sophisticated travel arrangements as Matilda and her family were flying back from a family party in Dublin over lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal planned to catch the train from Carlisle that I was aiming to catch 20 minutes later in Lockerbie.  It is on days like this that the mobile phone really comes into is own and the flight and train journey went smoothly as planned and we all met in Edinburgh on schedule.

Matilda then took Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a walk in the woods.  We scaled the heights…

sdr

…passed all sorts of interesting plants like this St John’s Wort…

dav

…and came out at the top of a small hill from which we could see Edinburgh Castle in the distance  over the roofs.

dig

The rest of the afternoon was spent in catching up on news of the trip to Ireland, being coached by Matilda in the proper use of the alphabet, watching clips from Matilda’s dancing school’s annual show on DVD and eating another tasty meal.

We got safely back to Lockerbie on the train and drove home as the temperature dropped back to freezing again.

It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow after a chilly start.  I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is one of the oyster catchers making off down river.

flying oyster catcher

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair and shows the indomitable Matilda scootering to infinity and back.

Matilda scootering

It is a rather hasty post tonight as it is late as I write this after a full day.

The weather gods relented and let me get out for a dry cycle ride today.  Perhaps they were fearful that if they rained on me again, I might go over to the dark side and take up cycling indoors.

Two days ago I passed a rook playing king of the castle, today it was bullocks.

cattle king of the mountain

Although I had a good day for a pedal, it was quite chilly and there were still clouds about which led me to having a few nervous backward glances…

Bloch view with cloud

…though the clouds made a good backdrop for my favourite tree…

Bloch tree

…and stayed away fro most of the journey.

As we were going to Edinburgh in the afternoon, I didn’t have time to take many pictures while I went round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit but as I have been short of bridges lately, I stopped for this one at Irvine House.

Irvine Hosue bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal had made soup for lunch and as I waited for it to finish cooking, I noticed a bird showing that I had had to deal with quite a brisk breeze while I had been cycling.

fluffly flying chaffinch

Mostly the birds consisted of chaffinches looking down at other birds.

supervising chaffinch 3supervising chaffinch 2supervising chaffinch 1

In the garden, a bit of sunshine had persuaded a crocus to come out.

early crocus

More colour is provided by cotoneaster berries on the wall of the house.  I don’t know why they aren’t attractive to birds.

cotoneaster berry

After lunch, we drove over to Lockerbie and caught the train (ten minutes late) to Edinburgh.  The weather was lovely as we whizzed along but once again the hills seemed to be attracting the clouds.

Tinto hill from train

When we got to Edinburgh, we caught a bus down to the flat where Matilda and Co are staying until their new house is ready and on the way, we caught a glimpse of a fine rainbow over the Edinburgh rooftops.

rainbow in Edinburgh

Once at Matilda’s, I had a chastening time being thrashed at Pelmanism and Snap by the diminutive demon.  In my defence we were using very small cards with very small pictures on them and her eyesight is much sharper than mine.

We had another excellent Persian meal for our tea and then Matilda demonstrated a dance routine that she is learning for a possible dance school competition.  When I think how hard it is for me to learn new songs, I can only marvel at her ability to remember complicated moves after only one lesson.

I took a picture of the National Gallery in Princes Street when we got off the bus back to the station.  The fine frontage is usually covered with banners advertising exhibitions so it was good to see it almost as the architect intended for once.

National nGallery

The train home was on time and a very tricky crossword meant the the journey flashed by.  The drive home was comfortable with no rain, snow, ice or fog.

As an added bonus, Sandy sent me a message to say that Joe had appeared on a television show talking about his film earlier in the evening and we were able to watch it on catch-up when we got in.

That rounded off a cheerful day.

I have a gender balanced flying bird of the day portfolio today.

Ladies first.

flying chaffinch febflying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture brings a bouquet of South African garden colour into our gloomy winter scenes, courtesy of my South African correspondent and Langholm exile, Tom.

tom's sa flowers

By contrast, what Langholm looked like today when we got up was this….

snowy garden

The photo is is in colour but the scene is in black and white!

…but the snow had stopped and gradually melted away during the day, although the temperature never rose more than a degree or two above freezing.

I gave my sore foot a rest in the morning and drank coffee, did the crossword and looked out of the window.

There were sparrows about on the feeder…

two sparrows

…and a bunch of starlings on top of the walnut tree.

starlings in walnut tree

Green and gold finches turned up too….

gold and greenfinches

…and birds frequently flew off in all directions…

birds leaving feeder

…and then came back again…

three birds on feeder

…so I wasn’t bored.

We gave the snow some due consideration but having checked that the main roads were cleared and that the trains were running on time, we set off for Lockerbie and the train to Edinburgh.

On the drive, the main problem was not snow or ice but quite thick mist covering the whole countryside almost all the way to Lockerbie.  We arrived safely though and caught the (on time) train and travelled up to Edinburgh in good conditions.

I was hoping to catch a shot of the Tinto Hills covered in snow and gleaming in the sunshine but they had generated their own cloud which covered them completely…..

dav

…and were a disappointment.

Al, Clare and Matilda are camping in Clare’s parents’ flat while they are waiting for their new house to be finished and this gave Matilda the chance to take me for a walk in a nearby wood.

dav

She was a confident guide and we got back safely without meeting any wolves or being stung by bees.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I  spent a pleasant few hours chatting with the family and enjoyed a wonderful Persian based meal before we left to catch the train home.

The journey home passed off without incident, although the mist made for careful driving.

I did find a chaffinch arriving at the feeder and it has the honour of being the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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A helping hand

Today’s guest picture comes from son Tony who has been shooting at the moon with his new camera.  Unfortunately the copy that he sent me is undersized but it still looks good.

minimoon

Mrs Tootlepedal is taking the colour pattern for her crochet blanket from a website which posts the design for the next fifteen rows each week so she was pleased to have finished this week’s ration before the next lot came on line.

sdr

She will need to grow bigger arms for next week’s shot.

There is not much in the way of a post today as we got up well before dawn to got to Edinburgh to try to be of assistance to Matilda’s father and mother as they took the final steps in moving house today.  Their new house is not yet ready so they had a complicated scheme of putting some things in store and taking some things to a flat where they are camping until the new house is ready.

This meant a lot of filling of boxes and trips in the car to the store and the flat and part of our duties was to keep Matilda entertained while this was going on.

We went to a cafe for beans on toast and then armed warfare broke out.

Matilda ready for battle….

dav

…and grandpa ready to resist.

burst

It was all go out there.

burst

Mrs Tootlepedal was the official, war correspondent who took the pictures.

Then Matilda went to nursery and we helped her parents pack, tidy and clean before we had the privilege of collecting Matilda from nursery and bringing her home.

Mrs Tootlepedal did great work on fridge defrosting and cleaning while I played Pelmanism and snap with Matilda as the work went on.  We were using a pack of cats and kittens cards for our game and I made the acquaintance of the Maine Coon, a cat that I had never heard of but which I find really does exist.

We all had fun and in the end there was only one carload left to go by the time that we had to leave to catch our train home.

We arrived home nearly 15 hours after we had left, tired but satisfied.

No chance of a flying bird at all.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s father, Al.  He took her, her mother and some of her Christmas guests to see the light show at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens where they entered the cathedral of light.

cathedral of light

There was not much light of any sort in Langholm this morning when I set out after breakfast for a relatively early bike ride.  It was warm (8°C) but grey and although I could just see my favourite tree when I went over the hill at the Bloch…

misty tree at bloch

…I couldn’t see much at all if I looked at the other side of the road.

no view at Bloch

Under the circumstances, I kept my camera in my pocket for the rest of the trip and concentrated on trying to get my legs to be more co-operative.  They were in a bolshie mood though and I couldn’t even get my average up to 13 mph.

All the same, I was very pleased to be cycling on a relatively warm and quiet day in December so I wasn’t grumbling.

I was a bit annoyed though when the sun came out not long after I got home.

The chaffinches seemed pleased.

busy chaffinches

cheerful chaffinch

But once again there weren’t many of them about and those that did come, didn’t stay long.

A few sparrows graced the feeder….

three sparrows

…though not all of them were in prime condition.

scruffy sparrow

I couldn’t hang around to watch the birds or go for a walk in the sun because it was the day to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her other grandparents.

The train was late as usual and to make matters worse, it was absolutely full before the fifty people waiting on the platform at Lockerbie got on so we had to stand in cramped conditions for the hour it took to get to Edinburgh.

We had plenty of fun when we got there, playing two board games with Matilda and doing a jigsaw puzzle too before her other grandparents arrived.

Then there was a dancing display and an evening meal before it was time to catch the train home.  This one was on time and had plenty of seats so the journey home was a marked improvement on the journey up.

All the same, it was quite a tiring day so I am looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

The flying bird of the day is one of those busy chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

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