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Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

Today’s guest picture, the very last from Bruce’s Highland tour shows the photographer and his wife casting long shadows beside the Crinan Canal near Lochgilphead.

Lochgilphead

It was a miserable cold and wet morning about which the less said the better.

Some winter visitors appeared in the shape of a siskin…

december siskin

…and a brambling.

december brambling

Having ignored the morning, we set off for Lockerbie after lunch to catch the train  to Edinburgh and we were very pleased to find the the rain had eased off.  By the time that we got to Edinburgh, the day was dry although the light has already gone by the time we get to Matilda’s house at this time of year..

We had a lot of fun of fun.  Matilda spent a good deal of time shooting me with a bow and arrow and to be fair, I spent some time shooting her too.  She is a better shot than me.  We were well armoured with cushions to avoid any lasting injury.

After the bow and arrow session, Matilda obliged with a short ballet demonstration in front of the splendid Christmas tree which has appeared in her sitting room.

mde

The performance ended with an elegant bow and then we had a nourishing meal of soup and a two bean, pepper and chipotle sauce stew cooked by Matilda’s dad.

Once again a visit to Matilda provided us with first rate entertainment and a quality meal.  Who could ask for anything more?  Trains that run on time perhaps but that may be asking too much.

No flying bird today as it was too gloomy so two sitting chaffinches are standing in.

two chaffinches side by side

We might see a drop of golden sun tomorrow.

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The guest picture of the day is the last of the livestock which our son Tony encountered on his walk in the Wemyss Estate.

wemyss pigs

We had another wet and windy day today….

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…with occasional breaks in the rain.

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In one of the dry spells, I popped out to see how high the rivers were and was surprised to find them lower than last night….

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…and it was a treat to be able to see the monument clearly.

I didn’t stay out long and was soon safely back inside watching the birds clinging to the plum tree twigs in the stiff breeze.  The goldfinches like to perch at the very top of the twigs even in the most testing times.

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I filled the feeders and was rewarded with some cheerful visitors…

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…but it soon started raining again.

After careful research of railway websites and a look at the forecast, we decided that it would be safe to go to Edinburgh and more reliable to take the Borders Railway from Tweedbank rather than the West Coast mainline from Lockerbie.  This was mostly because the weather for driving to the station looked better going east than west and also because there are more trains running on the Border Railway so we would be less likely to get stranded in Edinburgh.

The drive to Tweedbank was fine, with even a little sunshine on the way but when we got to the station we found a sign saying that not only had our intended train been cancelled but the next one too.  This was not on account of the weather but because of ‘staff shortages’.

We were quite annoyed because we hadn’t seen any warning about this when we checked up earlier in the day.  We were sitting in the car muttering imprecations and considering strategies when a train arrived at the station.  We went over to look and were told that this was our train and it wasn’t cancelled.  We were pleased and particularly grateful that we hadn’t driven off in a huff when we saw the train cancelled sign.  We didn’t think that this was a very sound way to run a railway though.

The weather was surprisingly nice as we pottered up the line to Edinburgh and we were accompanied by this cloudy lady.

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When we got to Matilda’s, Mrs Tootlepedal wasted no time at all before getting down to some serious grandmothering.

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She and Matilda than cooked a sticky toffee pudding which we ate for our tea after a dish of onion and mushroom pasta knocked up by Matilda’s dad.  I must say that as well as the pleasure of Matilda’s company, we always eat well when we got to see her.

I was a bit alarmed when I looked at the rail company website after tea and found three evening trains cancelled but fortunately our train was not among them and we had a satisfactory journey back to Tweedbank.   The weather then let us down badly and we had to drive the forty miles home through torrential rain and strong winds, never fun at any time of day, but even less so at night with large puddles in the middle of the road.

Still, we did get home safely and I was glad that we had our winter tyres on as we skated over road surfaces running with water.

The rain is set to ease off tomorrow which will be welcome and the winds are due to lighten up a bit so I hope to get out for a walk.

The flying is a gloomy chaffinch battling into the wind.

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Today’s guest picture is another from the seasonal treats offered in Nottingham.  My brother didn’t just have the chance of curry, he could have had Belgian waffles too.

nottingham fun

It was my birthday today but since when you get to a certain age, just arriving at another birthday is a treat and a privilege, we didn’t make a lot of fuss about it and just enjoyed the day as it went along.

It was a colder and greyer day than ever today, with a touch of frost on the lawns when we woke up.  Under the circumstances, a brisk half hour on the bike to nowhere in the garage was the best way to start the day.

The morning was brightened up by the unexpected arrival of the Scott, our former minister, for coffee.  His coffee radar has obviously not been blunted by his weeks in his new parish in Glasgow.  We had a very interesting talk about the challenges his parishioners face  in one of the poorest parts of the city and we wish him well as he plays his part in trying to help people meet these challenges.

When he left, I spent a little wasted time peering out of the window to see if there was enough light to photograph a  bird or two.  There wasn’t really enough but I clicked away regardless.

There were birds to watch if I looked hard.

busy feeder again

And it was good to see a sparrow among the goldfinches.  The chaffinches always seem to be last at the feast when the feeder is busy.

busy feeder

A male blackbird was hard to pick out in the gloom…

male blackbird

…but a female stood out better.

female blackbird

After lunch, we went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  She welcomed me with a hug and a handsome handwritten birthday card and showed off a whirling light on a stick which was most impressive.

dav

Matilda treated us to a wonderful dance show to music by Tchaikovsky and Ravel and after tea, we played a family game of hide and seek.  Mrs Tootlepedal was the most successful hider.

The evening meal was worthy of anyone’s birthday.  A dish of crispy onion and mushroom dal with a coriander and ginger chutney, cooked by Alistair, followed by an orange and lemon chiffon pie, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and brought up on the train with us, provided a meal fit for a king.

On our way back to the station we passed rather bigger set of twirling lights on a stick, part of the Edinburgh Christmas fun.

edinburgh funfair

I was surprised to be able to catch a flying bird of the day at all today and even more surprised that it turned out to be a blue tit and not a chaffinch.

flying blue tit

I should add that Sandy has posted pictures of some of the people that he met on his recent Thai holiday.  You can see them here.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who came upon a horde of ladybirds on one of her visits.  This picture shows just a few of the insects that she saw.

Ladybirds

It was a bright but chilly morning here and I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen after breakfast before I could drive up to the Moorland bird hide to fill the feeders as a substitute for Sandy who is still on holiday.

There was a lot of mist about along the river and enough of it had spread up the hill to the hide to give me a rare treat when I got out of the car, a mistbow.

mistbow

It soon faded away and I set about filling the feeders and then lurking in the hide to watch the residents emptying them again.

I did a brisk business with tits.  Here are a blue tit and a coal tit taking in some peanuts…

blue tit and coal tit

…and here is a great tit waiting to take its turn.

great tit

I had to wait a while for a greater spotted woodpecker to arrive but when one did, it posed very graciously for me.

woodpecker

There is almost always fungus on the ground near the feeders at this time of year.

Laverock fungus

Coming out of the hide to go home, I found that the hide was in sunshine and the valley below in mist.

mist from Laverock

I plunged bravely into the valley and the mist and headed for home.

mist from laverock 2

Although the temperature was only 3°, the day was very calm and it felt much warmer than it should have done.  In the circumstances, it seemed too good a day to waste indoors so in spite of it being nearly coffee time, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed to come for a drive up the hill road on Whita.

We were soon back above the mist and looking down.

mist from hill road

It was well worth the effort.

misty trees hillhead

We drove up to the White Yett and looked back over the Esk and Ewes valleys.

mist from white yett

We parked in the car park at the MacDiarmid Memorial and  I walked a little further up the hill, passing this delight on the way.

dewy spiders web

From there, I could see the mist lying over the rivers below.

mist from whita

I would have liked to have stayed longer and to have taken innumerable shots in pursuit of the perfect mist picture but it really was coffee time by now so we headed back down the hill.

We stopped for a moment at the Kilngreen where Mrs Tootlepedal had been asked to say what she thought some bright red small fruits were in the garden there (amazingly deep red crab apples most probably was the verdict).

I took the opportunity to look around.  It really was the most perfect day.

kilngrren sunny morning

And we were now….

mist on Timpen

…looking back up at the mist.

mist on Castle Hill

Coffee and ‘things to be done’ called us and all too soon we were back in the car after a light lunch and heading for Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

Matilda, her mother Clare and I went to the Botanical Gardens to feed the ducks…

Matilda feeding ducks

…but we were a bit slow off the mark and bells were ringing for the closure of the park almost as soon as we had got there.

Still the ducks got their rice and we had our fun and it was still a good day for a walk so we weren’t too unhappy.

Alistair, Matilda’s dad, is a dab hand at making tasty pizzas so we had an excellent evening meal before catching the train home with a tricky crossword to while away the time.

In all the going up and down, I had little time for the birds in our own garden but I did catch a flying chaffinch while the feeder was still in the morning shadows.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a swan which was spotted by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia while on a walk.  She notes that the magnifying effect of the water gives it enormous feet.

Venetia's swan

My day started not with swans but geese, as a large skein flew over the garden just after breakfast with a lot of honking to make me pay attention.

flying geese

A short while later, I took an impressionistic  picture of my favourite poppies…

poppies

…and went off to the Laverock Hide to fill the Moorland Project feeders for Sandy.  He is still in foreign parts and feeding elephants rather than chaffinches.

The light was very grey but it is almost always a pleasure to sit in the hide and watch the birds so I stayed for a while.

There were plenty of the usual suspects: chaffinches…

chaffinch moorland

…coal tits….

coal tit moorland

…great tits…

great tit moorland

…woodpeckers…

woodpecker moorland

…and of course, pheasants both males, in an argument….

pheasant debate

…and a female above such uncouth behaviour.

female pheasant moorland

When I got home, I had a cup of coffee and did some business on the computer but I found time to pick some raspberries, which are in fine form, and have a quick look round some flowers.

poppyastantialilian austin october

The garden is looking bedraggled.

A man came round to clean our gutters and I hope that he has done a thorough job because we have a couple of inches of rain forecast for tomorrow and Saturday.  This should give the gutters a good test.

I didn’t have long to hang about at home though as it was my day to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.  Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the train was late but I managed to walk down to the park near her nursery school in time to find Matilda playing with friends.

She was in a very sunny mood and gave me a big hello…

Matilda at Pilrig posing

…and made good use of the playground slide…

Matilda at Pilrig on slide

…and the death defying ‘Flying Fox’…

Matilda at Pilrig on flying fox

Wheeeee!

…before we went home for some snap, Pelmanism and railway building.

Alistair made a delicious  pasta with mushroom sauce for our evening meal and I caught the bus back up to Princes Street in a very satisfied mood.

I was early for the train so I took a picture or two.

My Lumix is very caring and if I get it out at night it says, “I know that you are old with a wobbly hand so I will see what I can do to help.”

I thought that it did quite well for hand held night shots.

national gallery edinburgh at night

The National Gallery

Bank of scotland edinburgh at night

The bank of Scotland building on The Mound

Walter Scott edinburgh at night

Sir Walter Scott looking rather ghostly as he sits under his monument.

The train back was late too but only by a few minutes so I got home in good time.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch at our own feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  As well as seals and curlews, his new house offers him fine sunrises as he walks his dogs.

Wemyss sunrise

We had a lovely crisp and sunny morning here, perfect for cycling if I had had any go about me.  Sadly, my go was gone and I was still having a light snooze after breakfasts when Sandy came round on Archive Group business and roused me enough to make a cup of coffee.  When he went on his way, I looked round the garden.

There were peacock butterflies all over the place, on the red buddleia…

butterfly on ref buddleia

…on a cosmos…

peacock butterfly on cosmos

…and on the main buddleia too.

peacock butterfly on purple buddleia

They were sunning themselves on paths and flitting about in a very butterflyish way all morning.

The white cosmos are flowering freely…

white cosmos

…and after a slow start, poppies appear as if by magic on fine days like today.

four red poppies

As well as a lot of edible plums, we also have a silver pear on the silver pear tree.  You would need teeth of iron to eat one though.

silver pear

After a great rush of blackbirds earlier on, they have become rather scarce lately so I was pleased to see this one today.

blackbird

When I looked at the birds on the feeder, once again a blue tit was hanging about in the plum tree….

blue tit among the plums

….waiting for a chance while the sparrows played follow my leader round the feeder.

circulating sparrows

Beside the feeder, the accidental sunflower is going from strength to strength.

feeder sunflower

The main business of the day was going to Edinburgh to see Matilda and for once the trains were more or less on time and not too full so the journey was a pleasure and it is always a treat to see Matilda and her parents.

She took her father and me to the shops to get the ingredients for a one pot lemon and asparagus linguine for tea.

Matilda going shopping

(I have digitally scrubbed the graffiti off the board behind her as I don’t like to encourage  that sort of thing.)

Al and Clare are preparing their house for sale so while we shopped, Mrs Tootlepedal and Clare cleaned windows.  Then Al cooked the linguine and it turned out to be delicious so we went home in a cheerful mood.

The flying bird of the day is a strangely twisted sparrow.

twisted flying sparrow

(We are looking at it from behind and it has its head turned sharply to the right to check out the feeder.)

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s holiday on Arran.  He saw not only good views but some mighty fine rose hips.

arran rosehips

A brief report today as we have had another long day in Edinburgh.  This time we were visiting Matilda and her parents and we caught an early train and walked up Cockburn Street from the station…

cockburn street

…where we found a quiet pub and had lunch.

It was my intention to go up to the High Street after lunch and observe some of the fun and games there in connection with Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  The city fathers close the High Street to traffic and all sort of street performances take place.

Unfortunately, several thousand other people had had the same idea and it was so crowded that we soon gave up and walked quietly down the high Street into the Canongate.

We couldn’t help noticing that unique taste of Scotland that the visitors come to Edinburgh to enjoy as we went along.

high street cafes

We peeped into the White Horse Close which does give a taste of Old Edinburgh.

White horse close

When we got to the Scottish Parliament at the foot of the Royal Mile, I glanced up at Arthur’s Seat…

arthurs seat

…and thought that it looked a bit like our bird feeder on a busy day.  I just hoped that there wasn’t any siskin-like pushing and shoving on the top as it is very steep.

We passed the old Calton Graveyard…

Old calton graveyard

…and soon found ourselves at Matilda’s.

We briefly met her other grandparents before they went off to a show and then while her parents talked house buying business with an adviser, we took Matilda on the bus to Portobello beach…

portobello beach

…Edinburgh’s riviera.

Matilda was very excited to see a swan swimming in the sea…

swan at portobello

…and as always, I enjoyed the characteristic shape of North Berwick Law further down the coast.

north berwick law

We could look across the Forth to the Fife shore and imagine that we could see our older son’s house there.  We stood there last week and looked back to where we were now.

fife

It wasn’t particularly warm but people were having fun in a subdued sort of way…

portobello beach 2

…and I rolled up my trouser legs and ventured into the water for a paddle with Matilda.  I could swear that it was colder in the sea today than when we were paddling at North Berwick in May but that must just have been my imagination.

Some gulls looked on…

gull family portobello

…and a brave paddle boarder kept his feet well out of the water as he passed along the beach.

paddle boarder

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda put a lot of effort into building a sand car and Matilda jumped in and announced that she was going to drive to America to see Mr Trump.

Ally and Matilda at portobello

We stopped her just in time.

Mrs Tootlepedal saw a lady bird on a piece of wood and Matilda was very happy when it crawled onto her arm and wandered about.

ladybird portobello

The sun stayed behind some clouds so we adjourned to a beach side cafe and had cakes and ice cream and then caught the bus home.

Once there we offered a helping hand to Matilda’s parents.  Mrs Tootlepedal did some indoor tidying as they are preparing to sell their house and it needs to be got ready for viewing and I did some lawn care with the same thought in mind.

Then we had pizza for tea and caught the train home.

There was no time for a flying bird of flower of the day today.

 

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