Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

I am short of guest pictures and have had to fall back on another of the admittedly excellent pictures that my sister Mary took on her visit to the Lake District.

The next day I embarked on a fairly steep climb up from the lake

I had an enjoyable but unremarkable day today.

The weather remained good and it was a little cooler which was welcome.

I went for a 22 mile cycle ride in the morning and the wind was sufficiently noticeable to blow me  down the five miles back from the top of Callister into the town at an average of 22 mph.  This was most enjoyable as I didn’t even have to try very hard.

I stopped on the way out to look at a few things but as my Lumix refused to open at all today, once again I was reliant of my phone and several pictures, including one of a splendid orchid which had escaped the attention of Genghis, the grass cutter, didn’t come out.

These were the ones that did.

wild flowers

wild flowers

The insect in the bottom left frame was on one head of an umbellifer.  There was quite a mixed crowd on another of the heads.

umbellifer with insects

The 22 miles got me up to 300 miles for the month after a very slow start because of the high winds in the first week.  I might have derived a bit more satisfaction from this if our next door neighbour Ken, a man of my own age and the same weight, had not done 300 miles in the last three days while travelling back to Langholm from the south.   I bow to him.

I took a quick walk round the garden when I got back.

ginger syllabub

The Ginger Syllabub triggers a reflex action in my shutter finger as I walk past

rosa goldfinch

There is hardly any space on the Rosa Goldfinch for more flowers.

foxglove and lily

There are foxgloves and lilies all over the garden

allium and astrantia with insects

Plenty of insect action


A phlourishing philadelphus

There were no less than three blackbirds under the strawberry netting but they made themselves scarce in an apologetic manner when we approached and they had left a good number of berries for us to pick.


We put them in a handy box and took them off with us to Edinburgh in the afternoon as a gift to Matilda and her parents.

Mrs Tootlepedal took the bus from the station to Matilda Mansions but I walked just so that I could enjoy this view on my way.

Arthurs Seat

I often take pictures of this view but then when you get a view like this, why not?

We had an enjoyable afternoon with Matilda, full of dancing, singing, snap and pelmanism and with an added jigsaw this week.

The train home was punctual and comfortable and as it was still light as we drove home from Lockerbie, the whole visit was a treat.

It is late and I am a little tired so that is all there is to say about the day.

I have ordered a new Lumix.  I hope the zoom lens lasts longer this time.


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A brief report

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Bridlington and shows the British having fun in a restrained way.


This is a very brief report today as it rained all day so there was not much chance for photography and for once there is very interesting stuff to watch on the telly.

Did I mention that it was raining?


The morning was doubly brightened by the appearance of both Sandy and Dropscone (with scones) for coffee but that was its only redeeming feature.

I have just purchased a trio sonata for violin and bassoon by Telemann which will do very well for Mike and me on  flute and cello and it arrived this morning so I spent some time putting the accompaniment on the computer to help me practise.

Then I checked to see if it was still raining….

hosta in rain

…it was.

After lunch we drove through massive puddles and a steady downpour to Lockerbie to find our train to Edinburgh was 2o minutes late.  Still, we got there in the end and in the absence of Matilda, we enjoyed the company of a passing zebra.


We had a most enjoyable time as the zebra helped Mrs Tootlepedal with the cooking and then played snap with me.

The rain had finally stopped by the time that we got back to the station to catch the train home….

Waverley Station

…and there was even a train for us to catch tonight which was a relief.

We did have time to stare at the ceiling in the main hall of the station before we caught the train.

Waverley Station

The journey home went smoothly and we were preparing to go to bed and wake up in a glum mood when we read the election results in the morning  when out of the blue, the exit polls predicted a bit of a surprise so I am going to sit up for a bit to see if the polls reflect reality.


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Today’s guest picture shows the church at Kirkton of Rayne in Aberdeenshire.  The picture was taken by my friend Bruce and was of special interest to him and his wife because her great- great-uncle was minister there from 1875 to 1909.

Kirkton of Rayne

I got up early again and put another week of the newspaper index into the database and have now caught up on the pile of outstanding weeks lying on my desk.  There will doubtless be a good many more lying in the Archive centre and I will get round to those soon.  The early starts to the day have gone well and I shall try to continue this practice in coming weeks.  It is much easier to get up earlier when the mornings are light.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland Project bird feeders where Mrs Tootlepedal had the pleasure of watching both male and female hen harriers quartering the moor through her binoculars while I filled the feeders (as a substitute for Sandy who is in Greece) and had a look at what was about from the hide.

There was very little about at all.  In fact I don’t think that I have ever seen fewer birds on the feeders.

There were a few siskins….


…a distant woodpecker…


…a blackbird hoping for time off for good behaviour….


…and an ingenious pheasant.


I don’t know where all the other birds are at all.

When we got home, I had a walk round the garden to look at irises.

There was no shortage.





I nodded to the lupins which are looking well…


…checked out the first of the Sweet Williams round the front lawn…

sweet william

They are very bright!

…saluted my favourite flower….


…and went inside to practise songs and get ready to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

The trip to Edinburgh went very well.

We walked down from the station….

Waverley Station

…which is in the heart of the city.

We looked down on a scene of great peace just behind the bustling Royal Mile….

Edinburgh burial ground

….peered through the trees at Arthur’s Seat…

Arthur's seat

It was looking a bit rusty as the gorse goes over

…and arrived to rousing welcome as we approached the house.

sheehy huttons at home

Matilda was in sparkling form and took us to the park to practise our football skills.  We also played on almost all the play equipment…

Matilda in the park

…although home-made fun was the best.


Although it threatened to rain, it didn’t and we got back to the house in time to play many games of Pelmanism and snap before an excellent tea of macaroni cheese.

The hours and minutes flew by and it was soon time for us to go back to catch our train home.  We were in plenty of time and all would have gone very well if there had actually been a train for us to catch.  Alas, for the second time in recent months, our train was cancelled and we had to be transported to Lockerbie by coach.  This adds an hour and bit to the trip and this delay is why I am sprinting through this post as quickly as I can to get it done before midnight.

Although long, the journey was painless and we got home safely.

I did get a fuzzy flying siskin of the day when I was at the Moorland feeders.

Flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit that my sister Mary paid to Kew Gardens at the beginning of the month.

Kew Gardens, near Queen Charlotte's cottage

Today was the final day of our holiday in North Berwick and naturally enough because I had got the car back and was ready to tour the beautiful countryside, the traditional east coast haar (a cold sea mist) arrived and stayed all day.

Although it wasn’t as bad as a haar can be, it excluded any hint of warmth and as a result we had a grey, cheerless day with no view worth speaking of at all and the car didn’t get an outing all day.

What we did instead, was to walk along the sea front to the harbour, stopping to look at flowers as we went…



Herb Robert

Herb Robert

…in order to pay a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Scottish Seabird Centre

This is run by a charity which does its best to help Scottish seabirds and it makes money from a good restaurant, a shop and an interesting exhibition centre where you can learn as much as you want about gannets and other local seabirds.

They have a very good system of remote controlled cameras on local islands and the Bass Rock so that a visitor can study the local birds from the comfort of the centre even more closely that can be done from a passing boat.

Scottish Seabird Centre

Each camera can be operated in real time by visitors using a little joystick and I had a good time picking out puffins on Craigleith Island….


…as well as a host of guillemots, cormorants, shags, razorbills, kittiwakes and gulls.  There was even a seal having a snooze on the rocks.

Being able to see individual gannets on the Bass Rock,  sitting on little seaweed nests was a treat.

Matilda enjoyed the thoughtfully provided soft play area too.

We had a good lunch in the restaurant and then Matilda took her parents home while we had another look at the remote cameras.   A helpful assistant gave Mrs Tootlepedal a mass of interesting information about the nesting habits of the gannets.

When we left the centre, we walked out on the rocks at the end of the harbour.  It had been pointed out to me that the yacht “carpark” beside the harbour was the remains of the old open air swimming pool and the colourful doors at either end…

North Berwick swimming pool

…were the old changing cubicles, now presumably used for storage for boat owners.

There is a well made path with handrails along the rocks…

North Berwick rocks

…so we didn’t fall in and I was able to observe eider ducks going up and down.

eider ducks

Their heads always look to me as if they have been painted by a modernist potter.

…and a few brave souls going for a chilly and windy boat ride.

north berwick boat

There was not a lot of activity on the beach today.

north berwick

We got back and had a cup of tea and sit before heading off to the High Street for a last visit to some of its excellent shops.  I was able to stock up on leaf tea of good quality and just resisted buying some good looking cheese as well.

To our surprise, we found the redoubtable Matilda and her father bound for the beach when we got back to the flat and i went along to join them.  I built as big a sand castle as I could in a short time…..but with inevitable consequences.

Matilda with sand castle

Photos courtesy of Matilda’s father.

Matilda had great fun jumping off the castle, using it as a slide and knocking as much of it down as she could.  Her mother came down to join us and we had a merry time.  Her father had made a more structured castle based on the Roman fort at Housteads and Matilda gave that a good kicking too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made us another excellent meal so in spite of the gloomy weather we had good fun and ate very well on our final day.

I did catch a flying gull hanging around the seabird centre today.

berwick gull

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Today’s guest picture shows that Matilda is a chip off the Attila the Gardener block when it come to destructive power.  It was taken by Matilda’s mother Clare.

Matilda stamping on sand castles

We have been very lucky with our holiday weather.  It hasn’t been as warm as the sunny pictures would suggest, with the temperature hanging around the 12 degree C mark but if we could find a sheltered spot, it has been very pleasant and the views of sea, sand and sky have been perfect all week.

Today continued in the same vein but after the excitements of yesterday, we had a quieter day today.

I went out to get a newspaper and passed a well tended council flower garden which is a credit to the town.

North Berwick flower bed

While Matilda and her father braved the wind on the beach, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a cup of coffee in a very superior coffee roaster’s cafe.  It was hipster chic writ large but the coffee was very good so we were quite happy, if a bit out of place.

We walked down the High Street on our way back to the flat and I saw another example of how well the town is looked after.

North Berwick high Street

When we got back, Matilda had returned from the beach and snap and pelmanism were once again popular activities and this took us up to lunch.

After lunch, Matilda has a snooze so Mrs Tootlepedal and I got our bicycles out and pedalled off to visit a garden centre some five miles inland.

We passed a slightly surprised alpaca….


…and many substantial farm houses.

East lothian farm house

Compared with our own part of Scotland, this is well off country with really good agricultural land.  One benefit was the excellent condition of the minor roads that we cycled along.  Of course they don’t have large scale commercial forestry here so the roads aren’t pounded by enormous timber wagons which helps.

We reached the garden centre and made some modest but judicious purchases and then cycled back by a different route heading into the wind.  The country offers extensive views….

East lothian farm

…and it was a delight to pedal along the quiet roads.  The field of rape in the picture must have been in full flower because we had been able to recognise that it was there from over a mile away.  Mind you, the strong wind would have helped.

We were grateful for a substantial wall round an elegant park as we got near to the town…

Leuchie House

…as it provided much needed shelter from the cross winds.  By coincidence, the house in the park is a high quality respite care home and on this occasion, the respite was greatly welcomed by the elderly.

We enjoyed a final swoop down into the town.

After a break for a cup of tea, we went down to the beach with Matilda and her father.  The tide was very high and the wind was strong so there wasn’t much space or demand for castle building.  I got a call from the garage to say that our car had been finally repaired so Alistair drove me out to pick it up while Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda wisely dug a large hole in the sand for Matilda to sit in to get some shelter.

I drove the car back with a light heart (and an even lighter wallet) and went to the beach again.  Matilda’s parents had bought her a small box of flying objects earlier in the holiday and it included a very flimsy and small plastic assemble-it-yourself kite.

Her mother had assembled the kite and after some trial and error, I had rigged up the strings so we thought that we might try it out.  We had no real hope that the thing would fly at all but it surprised us by soaring into the sky at the first attempt.

Matilda's kite

Ready, steady….

Matilda's kite


Mrs Tootlepedal had bought a steak pie for our tea from a high class butcher in the High Street and the consumption of this rounded off our quiet day very well.

No flying birds today so I’ll cheat and show 150,000 at a distance.  I will miss the Bass Rock a lot when we go home.

Bass Rock

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie’s allotment.  She has been growing radishes.

Annie's radishes

We had a very windy day here in North Berwick today but it stayed dry and it wasn’t too cold in the morning even when it was cloudy. The sun soon came out and it turned into another lovely day.

I started the day with a trudge out to the edge of the town to visit a garage in the hope that they would agree to look at my sick car.  The walk was well worth it, as they agreed to take on the task and soon had the car towed away from the car park where it had been glumly resting since Saturday.

“It’s probably a sensor fault.” the mechanic said as he hitched up the car to the tow truck. “These petrol cars are usually pretty simple to fix.”

It turned out that in this case there were complications and the fuel tank will have to be removed and a fuel pump checked and replaced if necessary.  We may see the car again on Thursday but it will be ready for us when we go back to Langholm, which is the main thing.

Much cheered by having the whole matter in good hands, I enjoyed my breakfast when I got back and later on, we all went out with Matilda to visit the local play park.  We played in the park and then we hit the High Street ….

North Berwick High Street

…in search of coffee.  North Berwick High Street is a happening place even on a Monday in early May so we had no difficulty in finding a suitable cafe.

Needless to say, the sun started to come out as soon as we left the park and we passed a delightful bench, were I sat for a moment while some shopping was going on.

North Berwick

After coffee, the others headed directly for the flat and I made a detour to the sea front on my way.

North Berwick

I don’t think that I have ever seen such a symmetrical beach with waves

Although that looked quite calm, there were stormier waters on the rocks at the harbour.

North Berwick harbour rocks

As I walked home, the waves were not big but they were frequent.

North Berwick waves

While Matilda went for her afternoon nap and her parents took a well earned rest, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a stroll along the sea shore to the east of the town.

We stared by walking along path beside a sheltered wall where a local group had planted a batch of delightful flowers.

North Berwick waves

The pick of the bunch was a stunningly blue ceanothus.

North Berwick ceonothus

The strong winds and the strong light made taking flower pictures a bit tricky but the picture does give a suggestion of how beautiful this plant was.

When we got to the sea shore, the tide was still high and the waves must have been washing something tasty onto the shore because the gulls were interested…


…very interested indeed.


I was more interested in the swirling seas and the Bass Rock in the background.

north berwick

Our walk took us along the top of the cliffs beside the sea, following a path beside a golf course.

We saw quiet corners…

Glen bay

…wild flowers…

Glen bay wild flowers

…lots of eider ducks…

eider ducks

…gannets cruising the waves and fishing…


…fairways, tees and greens…

golf course North berwick

…and of course the ever present Bass Rock.

Our path passed quiet inlets…

North Berwick

…and turbulent rocks….

North Berwick

North Berwick

We could hardly have had a better walk.

And of course, if we lifted our eyes from the shore, there was the Bass Rock, glittering in the sun.

Bass Rock

It has to be remembered though that all that glitters is not gold.  In this case…

Bass Rock

…it is innumerable layers of bird poo.

Mrs Tootlepedal was particularly taken with a spot where the sea was coming round the rocks from two different sides.

North Berwick

When we got to the far end of the golf course, the path ran out and we returned by the way we had come.  I had to lock my camera in my pocket to stop me taking another hundred views on the way back.

I got the news about the car when we returned and Alistair kindly drove Mrs Tootlepedal and me to the garage where we recovered our bicycles from the back of the car and  cycled back to the flat.

In between all this activity, there was a lot of snap, pelmanism, playing with balloons and other assorted fun with Matilda.

I was quite tired by the time that evening came.

The tidbits that the gulls were picking up gave me the opportunity to catch no less than four flying birds of the day.

flying gulls

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Today’s guest pictures come from my son Tony who was given a flying lesson by his partner Marianne as a present.  She took this picture of him beside his little aeroplane….

tony flying

…and this picture to prove that he got off the ground.

tony flying

As far as the weather went, we had a day of two halves on our holiday today.  A typical east coast misty morning and a lovely sunny afternoon and evening.

We weren’t deterred by the slight gloom in the morning and headed off to the beach, which was understandably not very busy  on a grey Sunday morning.

North Berwick

This left plenty of room for Matilda to enjoy herself in the traditional manner.

North Berwick Matilda

I had a look at some rocks as we went past.

North Berwick

After we had had fun on the beach, Matilda and her parents went back to the flat and Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out to climb up North Berwick Law, a volcanic plug just behind the town.

North Berwick Law

It wasn’t the best day for views but there were plenty of flowers to enjoy as we scrambled up the path.

North Berwick Law

When we got to the last section to the summit…..

North Berwick Law

…which involved walking very close to a steep drop, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to bag the glory and sat and waited on a handy bench.  I had time to look inland….

North Berwick Law

…and out to sea….

North Berwick Law….without being able to see very much in either direction.

I was entertained by a jackdaw and impressed by a gorse bush growing out of what looked like solid rock…

North Berwick Law

…before the intrepid explorer returned from the summit and we pottered back down the hill, taking things very carefully on the rocky and steep bits.

When we got down, I had one last look back at the summit…

North Berwick Law

…where I could see a ruined cottage, the famous (now plastic) whalebone arch and a curious structure that Mrs Tootlepedal said might have been from the Second World War.  I would have liked to have been up there myself but vertigo is vertigo and I just can’t cope with steep drops.

We walked into the town and were mildly peeved to see breaks in the clouds and hints of blue sky so soon after we had left the hill.

North Berwick

The weather got better and better and soon after Matilda had had her post prandial snooze, it was time to hit the High Street to see what the town had to offer.


W hat the welled dressed shopper is wearing these days

Purchases were made and Matilda and her parents headed for home to try out a new game and some small toys while Mrs Tootlepedal and I found a bench on the sea front and enjoyed the views of and from the West Beach while we ate a pain au chocolat each.

North Berwick

The sea was quite busy too.

rib boat and eider duck

But that was nothing compared with the huge number of birds circling above the Bass Rock.

rib boat and eider duck

This is one of the most important gannet colonies in the British Isles.

We enjoyed an excellent evening meal, prepared  by Mrs Tootlepedal, and while Matilda’s father Al put Matilda to bed, her mother Clare and I went for a walk along the Glen Bay in the evening sunshine.

The wind had got up but it was milder than we expected and the walk was delightful.

There were wild flowers to see….

wild flowers North Berwick

…and some moderately wild waves too.

waves North Berwick

As you can see, the Bass Rock looked quite close in the evening sun.

Bass Rock

And even the Isle of May, far out in the middle of the Firth of Forth was clearly visible…

Isle of May

…and I remembered seeing thousands of puffins there this time last year when we were on holiday with Matilda on the other side of the Forth.

The sun was going down as we walked back to the flat.


North Berwick

I am hoping to see about getting out car fixed tomorrow so fingers crossed.

No flying bird but a perching gull in the setting sun instead today.


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