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Posts Tagged ‘Matilda’

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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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….

_DSC8835

…with occasional breaks in the rain.

_DSC8836

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….

P1150717

…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.

_DSC8837

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

_DSC8839

…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.

P1150720

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

P1150721

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.

_DSC8843

 

 

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