Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony who is working in Fife and took the opportunity to walk along the Fife Coastal Path from Anstruther to Crail today.

Anstruther to Crail walk

We had good weather on the south side of the Forth too.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent some of the morning on the beach watching Matilda proving that King Canute was quite wrong as she told the sea to go away and it went away.  In the process some first rate paddling took place.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I got our bikes out and went for a gentle pedal along the coast road towards Dirleton.  I was quite surprised to find a few poppies out along the road side near the town.


I had a visit to a castle in mind but we ended up at the walled garden at Archerfield instead.

Archerfield walled garden

The walled garden is enormous and a team of volunteers are putting about half of it back into order.  I liked the alliums which were out in full force.


We came back by a different and more inland road, crossing over the single line branch railway to North Berwick…

North Berwick railway

…and stopping to admire a fine show of “snow in summer” and a hill of gorse…

wall and gorse

…as well as a fine house and the remains of a windmill tower.

east lothian buildings

Our route back into the town took us past the foot of the Law and we could see people on the summit.

North Berwick Law

Mrs Tootlepedal climbed up it last year but is going to admire it from a distance this year.

We found Al and Clare on the beach when we got back from our ten mile ride.

Al and Clare NB

It was that sort of day.

Matilda had been given a kite for her recent birthday and her father got it flying well in the light breeze.


Then Matilda built a sand castle and Al and I built one too.  Matilda kindly posed by our castle looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth…

matilda castle stamping

…but old habits die hard and soon, Matilda the destroyer of castles was hard at work…

matilda castle stamping

… and Edward the First, the hammer of the Scots,  would have been proud of her work.

I went off to look at boat trip times and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda went down to the water’s edge.  The tide was far out and just beginning to come in again and when I got back, I found Matilda busy marooning Mrs Tootlepedal on a rock.

Ally and Matilda

I thought that Mrs Tootlepedal was very reminiscent of Ariadne on Naxos on her rock.   Matilda kindly allowed Mrs Tootlepedal to get free and began shifting as much of the sea as she could with a small spade.

Then it was time for tea.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal put Matilda to bed and I went for a walk past the harbour.

Once again, there was plenty to look at both above the rocky point….


…and below…

sailing boats NB

…and looking out to sea.

sun and sea NB

When i got back, we played Oh Hell, a fine card game without which no family holiday is complete.

Once again a passing gull obliged as flying bird of the day…

flying gull

…though I was tempted to have a paddling dog of the day instead.

dog on canoe



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Today’s guest picture shows an old bridge with more arches than water.  It came from my brother Andrew.  He tells me that it is the Segovia bridge in Madrid, over the river Manzanares. Completed in 1584, it is the oldest bridge in the city – the architect was ‎Juan de Herrera


The over night rain had stopped by the morning and I was able to get out for a standard twenty mile pedal down to Canonbie and back.  I hope that this will be the last on my slow bike for some time.

I wasn’t going to stop but my legs had other ideas so you can thank them for this view of bluebells in a roadside wood…


…and the first look at some wild geums and a marigold which was playing host to a lot of insects.

geum and marigold

I had a choice between a chilly early start and a warmer windier later one and chose the windier option which resulted in a very slow bike ride indeed.  Still, I was pleased to get again as it meant that my hand is not suffering because of cycling.  I don’t know what set it off last week but I hope that it doesn’t do it again.

When I got home, I found that our friends Bob and Nancy were helping to reduce Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure mountain by taking some of it away to their allotment.  That is what friends are for.

I went upstairs and looked out of the window.

front lawn may

The daffodils have almost disappeared and we are relying on tulips for colour until the azaleas and alliums come out.

middle lawn may

I took this picture of the veg garden before cycling.  It is looking well organised.

veg garden may

More is getting planted out in it every day.

The tulips are holding up well…


…though the very earliest to come out are now over.

Other things are coming along nicely.

lilac and solomons seal

It is nearly lilac blossom time.

Some flowers are so small that the camera finds it hard to pick them out.  This is berberis and rosemary.

small flowers

There was plenty of evidence of yesterday’s rain.


I had a few moments to watch the birds.  This sunny moment was before breakfast.


After my cycling, siskins arrived in force.

flying siskin

busy feeder

I had to refill the feeder before we went to Edinburgh.

After lunch, we set off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It rained on us as we drove across but the sun shone for our train journey and our stay in the city.

Matilda was in good form and came out to play in the garden.  Alistair had mowed the pocket handkerchief sized lawn just as we arrived and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to smarten up the edges while I played with Matilda and her mother Clare and snipped away at protruding meadow grasses with some shears.  Both the gardening and the playing were most enjoyable in the warm sunshine and we looked back down on the lawn as we went in for tea with some satisfaction.

Al's lawn

Apart from Matilda being offended when I remarked that she was a small person  (“I am not small.  I am four!”), the visit went well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked back to Waverley Station in beautiful early evening sunshine.

Arthurs seat

I hadn’t noticed before that the architect of the Scottish parliament building had intentionally or unintentionally echoed the line of the Salisbury Crags with his roof.

salisbury crag and parliament

Mrs Tootlepedal’s wildlife detector was working well and she spotted this rabbit in the gardens beside the road.

edinburgh rabbit

I like the way that this old churchyard has survived in a valuable piece of real estate…

Edinburgh graveyard

…but as in all the cities we visit, the cranes were very busy.  These ones were a few yards up the road.

Edinburgh cranes

Our journey home was smooth and uneventful and as a mark of the passing of the months, we got home in the remains of daylight for the first time this year.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin


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Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile Tom.  He sent me this delightful view, taken on his morning walk in South Africa.

Tom's walk

There are far too many pictures in today’s post but when the sun shines after so much gloom, it is hard to stop the shutter finger clicking.

It was a beautiful day in Langholm today…

Beautiful day in Langholm

…so it was a bit sad that I had volunteered to spend most of the morning in  the Welcome to Langholm office, especially in view of the fact that I had no visitors to welcome.

When I got home, there was time to mow the front lawn, hunt for tadpoles…


…note signs of spring (plum tree on left and sliver pear in the middle)…

signs of spring

…check out the growing river of grape hyacinths…

hyacinyth river

…applaud the first tulips of the year….


…capture the daffodil(s) of the day…


…and go in for lunch.

There were birds about, both peaceful…

chaffinch and goldfinch

…and excited.


All too soon, it was time to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to visit Matilda, her parents and her other grandparents in Edinburgh.

The train journey was the only time all day when the sun didn’t shine….

Tinto hills

Tinto Hills shot from the train window.

…but it was sunny in Edinburgh when we got there.

Matilda and her parents were visiting her other grandparents who were visiting from Cambridge.  They  have a pied a terre in Edinburgh, with a fine camellia by the door.


Matilda was waiting for us and it only took the addition of a mask to turn Matilda from a small serious child….


…into superhero Ladybug.   She saved us from innumerable evils with great aplomb.

It was a day for a walk but Matilda had already been to the Botanic gardens which are not far away so she turned the offer of a second visit and the grandparents made an excursion by themselves.

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh,  free to enter, is a treat.  It was ideally suited today for a gentle grandparently stroll in the sun.

Botanic Garden

Mrs Tootlepedal, Eileen and Francis take the air

I took too many pictures and I have put a selection of them here.  As well as catkins….

Botanic Garden catkins

…and exuberant flowers…


…and more modest flowers…


…there were well designed corners…


…plentiful signs of spring…

botanic gardens

…and Chinese gardens with streams and bridges.

botanic gardens

And there were other interesting things too, like a magpie and a tree creeper…

magpie and tree creeper

…which was obligingly creeping up a tree when we saw it…

…and a grey squirrel.

botanic gardens squirrel

We didn’t have long, although it would have been easy to have spent hours enjoying the sights…

botanic gardens

The prettiest flowers of the tour

botanic gardens

This bed was a mystery

…did I say that there were catkins?

botanic gardens

…and we had reluctantly to drag ourselves away from the garden to go for our evening meal.  Matilda’s aunt and cousin who also live in Edinburgh came to join us so nine of us sat down for a family meal.  It was rounded off by a serving of Mrs Tootlepedal’s sticky toffee pudding which we had brought up with us on the train.

With the aid of a handy app, Alistair was able to get us out of the house in perfect time to catch the bus back to the station and we walked along Princes Street to the station in the evening sunshine.  Arthur’s Seat formed a backdrop to the city and…

Arthur's seat

…a good crowd were enjoying the view from the top of the hill.

Arthur's seat

Our journey home went well and we arrived back, tired but happy after a busy day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch in the sun.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another form Irving’s Highland fishing trip.  As well as an old bridge, he caught a new one too.

oykel bridge

After some days which have had hints of spring about them, we had a return to cold weather today.  As the sky was blue and the sun was out, this was a bit of a disappointment and I had to waste quite a lot of the glorious sunshine while I waited for the temperature to get up to a measly 4°C before I could go out for a quick pedal.

I managed 14 miles and this happily just took me just over the target distance of 350 miles for a calendar month.  I am still well behind my annual target but at least March didn’t make things worse.  I have cycled 200 miles on the slow bike since the demise of the fairly speedy bike and this is a tribute to the surprisingly good ride provided by the solid back tyre even on our bumpy roads.

All the same, I am looking forward to the new bike.

In spite of the chill, it was a lovely day for a pedal…

Arrisgill Burn

…but I couldn’t stop often as I was pushed for time.  I was looking out for alder catkins but it looks like a bad year for them and they were rather sparse.   These ones look healthy enough but they were quite lonely.

alder catkin

I made the most of the catkin stop by looking across the road at the ruined cottage.

blochburnfoot cottage

I have been told that it is home to a barn owl family and is being left undisturbed for that reason.

And I always like to look at a wall while I am in pause mode.

lichen on wall

I got home in time for lunch and a quick look at the birds….

goldfinches and siskins

Siskins and goldfinches in harmony today

chaffinches at feeder

Chaffinches coming and going

….but soon it was time to go out again, this time by car to Lockerbie Station to catch the train to Edinburgh for our weekly visit to Matilda and her parents.

The visit went well and included a trip to the park (well wrapped up) where we played football, hide and seek and some of us enjoyed a vigorous go on the swings.


“Push harder, Granny”



Once again we had a delicious meal before catching the train home and the only fly in the ointment was overtaking the gritting lorry just before we got back to Langholm.  There is a hint of snow in the forecast for tomorrow morning.

I hope that it is only a hint as I have got to take Mrs Tootlepedal to Carlisle tomorrow to catch another train.  We have had quite enough winter this year without getting any more at this late date.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch



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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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