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Posts Tagged ‘Meikleholm Hill’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has visited Paris and thought she would take a picture of the Place de la Concorde as she thinks we all could do with a little concord at this time.

dav

We had another sunny morning here, but once again the day was sprinkled with showers and predicting when they would arrive was tricky.

I went out into the garden in a sunny spell after breakfast and found that the rowan tree was a busy place.

A starling was having a look round…

starling in rowan 1

…and having weighed up the situation…

starling in rowan 2

…it got tucked into the berries.

starling in rowan 3

Other birds looked on…

thrush in rowan

…and a blackbird got in on the act…

blackbird with rowan berry

…and soon everyone was at it.

three birds in rowan

Still, there are plenty of berries to go round.

Rain was forecast for midday so after an early cup of coffee, I set off to do a few miles on my bike before the rain came.  Once again, there was a very brisk wind blowing, and as I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my slightly suspect knee, I settled for 17 miles with the wind behind me for the section with the most climbing.  I didn’t stop to take pictures as I wanted to be sure to be back before the rain started which I was.

As well as the rowan berries, there was more eating going on in other places in the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal, on her way out to a social lunch engagement, noticed that the nasturtiums by the back door were getting thoroughly nibbled and she spotted the guilty party, a cabbage white caterpillar.

cabbage white caterpillar

While she was out, I mowed the greenhouse grass and then took a walk round the garden to enjoy the colour…

six garden flowers

There was more berry action in the rowan tree.

starling with berry in beak

…and I went in and had a baked potato for my lunch as watching all the eating had made me feel hungry.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and immediately went off for a business meeting and I stayed indoors because one of the forecast rain showers arrived.

By the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned, the rain had stopped so we had a look at  the sky and went out for a walk.  We hadn’t gone more that a few hundred yards before it started to rain again.  However, we didn’t cry and as it looked as though it might pass quickly, we kept going and were rewarded by blue skies soon afterwards.

We were headed for Meikleholm Hill as there are no cattle or sheep on it at present so I was hoping to find some wild flowers about.

We saw fungus on the way up to the open hill and a rabbit when we got there (it couldn’t keep up with us)…

two fungus and a rabbit

…and we were soon high enough up to get a good view back over the town.  The rain clouds were disappearing over the back of Whita.

view of langholm from Meikleholm

My hope for wild flowers was realised and there were scabious…

scabius meiklholm

…yarrow…

yarrow meikleholm

…and a host of things that might well be hawkbit.

wild flowers meikleholm

There was any amount of tormentil (which my camera can’t photograph at all well), as well as an interesting pink flower, lots of heather and an occasional fungus.

wildflowers and fungus meikleholm

I took a panoramic view when we got to the col at the back of the hill….

meikleholm panorama

Click to get te fuller picture.

 

…and a closer look at the Gates of Eden

gates of eden from meikleholm

..before we took the mountain bike trail back down the hill.

cycle track down meikleholm

The trail was steep and slippery in places, so we had to go very carefully as our days of skipping down hills like mountain goats are long past, but we got safely back onto a good track in the end.  As we hot the track, it started to rain and and we expected the worst, but in a few minutes we got the best instead.

meikleholm rainbow panorama

Another click will get a larger view.

As it turned out that the foot of the rainbow was obviously lying smack in our garden, you can expect Mrs Tootlepedal to be keener than ever on digging over the beds.

meikleholm rainbow

Once again, we were passed by some light traffic…

horse of meikleholm

…and as we came back down off the hill, there were more flowers and fungus to be seen.

fungus and knapweed meikleholm

We got back to the house just as it started to rain again.

Although it was only just over two miles, it seemed a lot longer with so much to enjoy on the way and with quite a bit of climbing and descending as well.  We felt well rewarded for our efforts.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday visit and Alison and I played a cheerful selection of music while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal sorted the world out.

There are still quite a lot of peacock and red admiral butterflies in the garden, sitting for their portraits….

peacock and red admiral on buddleia

…but I was pleased to catch a white butterfly in flight and although it is not the sharpest picture in the world, I am still more than happy to use it as the flying bird of the day.

flying white butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz, who recently visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and came across this giant insect.

eden insect

We had another lovely day here and the flowers were looking very cheerful as a result, whether hanging over the edge of the dam…

aubretia

..or popping up in a flower bed.

ballerina tulip

New tulips are opening on all sides…

yellow and orange tulips

…and the euphorbias are growing ever bigger and brighter.

euphorbia

I had a close peer at the magnolia because a reader had asked me if it had a good scent, but sadly, it is scentless for all its handsome looks.

magnolia flower centre

I got out some magic granules that I had bought in a garden centre.  The packet says that they will perk up my grass and eat the moss on the lawn without the dead moss needing to be raked out.  This sounds far too good to be true but nevertheless, I measured and weighed carefully and spread them on the middle lawn as per the instructions on the packet.   I await developments (without holding my breath).

It was warm enough for a blackbird to do a little cooling down on one of the hedges…

blackbird sunning on hedge

…so I resolved to go for a walk to enjoy the sunshine and look for bluebells.

I found a charming red currant beside the river…

currant beside esk

…but soon came upon a good show of bluebells along my favourite bluebell path.

bluebells 5

They are not fully out yet but could still provide the blue ‘carpet’ that makes them so special at this time of year.

bluebells 3

I don’t know who was more surprised when we met, this pheasant or me.

bluebells 4

I walked through the bluebell wood…

bluebells 1

…and took the path the leads to Gaskell’s Walk.

blackthorn stubholm

Although the larches below it are very green, Meikllholm Hill still looks bare.

meikleholm hill from gaskells

There were several peacock butterflies warming their wings on the path as I went along.

Most of them flew off as I approached but this one settled down again for a moment.

peacock butterfly sunning

The path itself was very springlike, and I think that this is the best time of the year to walk along it.

gaskells in spring

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I took a couple of pictures to show that we are still waiting for the leaves to appear on many of the trees around us…

stane brig

…but the bridge is attractive at any time of year on a sunny day.

auld stane bridge with reflection

Sadly, by the time that I got home, it had become apparent that while wearing gel insoles might be very good for arthritic toes, it might also put a strain on an achilles tendon and my ‘good’ foot was so sore as a result that the rest of a lovely day was wasted in sitting around and moaning.

I did get outside enough to admire a pulsatilla…

pulsatilla

…but that was the extent of the excitement.

The foot situation is very annoying as things were definitely getting better.  I hope that a good rest over night will see things back to where they were as it is a pity not get a cycle ride in when the weather is so fine.  Today taught me not to get too adventurous.

Mrs Tootlepedal made fish pie and apple crumble for our tea and that brightened things up a lot.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who was at the Roxburghe Golf course when he came across a reminder of the strong winds that battered us last month.

roxburghe tree snap

There was a brisk wind here today but not as brisk as the one that had knocked that tree to bits.

I had time for a quick look at the birds after breakfast….

low flying chaffinch

A chaffinch trying to sneak past the window without getting its picture taken.

…before the wind  blew me down the road to Brampton as I went off in the car for a singing lesson from the lady who conducts the Langholm Choir.  I was a bit worried in case the car gave me warning messages again but the garage had done the trick and everything went smoothly.

Mary turned out to be an excellent teacher, patient, supportive and very clear in her suggestions.  It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks as the saying goes but she managed very well and I came away with a good idea of what to work at and a bit of confidence in my ability to sing which had been lacking before.  We are going to arrange another couple of lessons when time permits.

I had a meeting arranged in Langholm at midday so I couldn’t stay around to explore the surrounding area which would have been fun and found myself back home in time for lunch.

Two friends of Mrs Tootlepedal came to visit the garden after lunch and when I went out to see them, I noticed the butterfly of the day on a dahlia.

buttefly on yellow dahlia

When they left I had a look about.

Most of the dahlias have come to the end of their useful life but one or two still look good…

last dahlia

…and others still had bees visiting.

I noticed that another clematis had sneaked a flower out behind my back…

late white clematis

…and all three buds on the Lilian Austin had lived up to their promise.

triple Lilian Austin

The Japanese anemones are still out in numbers…

bright Japanese anemone

…and the last of the hostas have a few flowers left.

dark hosta

It was far too windy to make cycling a pleasure but it was sunny enough to make being outside a good idea so I went for a walk up Meikleholm Hill.

There is an old tree stump beside the track up onto the hill that acts as a fungus collection and it was well supplied with specimens today.

fungus on Meikleholm track

A bit further up the track, I came upon another casualty of the recent strong winds.

fallen tree on Meikleholm track

I was amazed by how shallow the root system was , being no more than a foot in depth and with no roots protruding through the banking that the falling tree had lifted up.

fallen tree roots on Meikleholm track

On the other hand, it was very wide.  It is wonderful that any trees stand up at all on our very shallow soils.

There were no sheep or cattle on the hill today so I had a peaceful walk on a rich growth of grass.  There were not many wild flowers to be seen….

yarrow

…because the sheep had made a good job of eating everything interesting before they left.  However, there were a great number of these small fungi scattered all over the hillside.

mushrooms on Meiklholm Hill

And of course there were any amount of views…

Esk valley from Meikleholm Hill

…with just a hint of autumn about them…

Casdtleholm from Meikleholm Hill

…though the hint was quite marked in places.

track on Meikleholm Hill

I caught the town lying below me in a sunny moment…

view of Langholm from Meikleholm Hill

…but as I walked back down the hill, ominous clouds rolled up overhead and I abandoned a plan to extend my stroll and walked back in the company of another camera club member whom I met on the way.

Needless to say, almost as soon as I had decided to go straight home, the clouds vanished as if by magic and it was a bright day again when I got back to the garden.

When I went in, I found Mrs Tootlepedal chatting to our neighbour Liz who most unluckily broke a bone in her foot recently and is now hobbling about on crutches.  She had told me about the fallen tree on the Meikleholm track.  She had seen it on one of her last walks before her accident.

When Liz left, Mrs Tootlepedal came out to join me in the garden and I took on the role of Attila the gardener’s henchman and dug up a lot of the worst affected dahlias in one of the front beds and shredded them.  I laid their shredded remains reverently on Mrs Tootlepedal’s new bed along the fence as a green mulch.  Life goes on.

Mrs Tootlepedal edged the lawns and then we went in.  I noted some cheerful colour on my way.

red flowers october

I made  baked eggs and spinach in a cheese sauce for my evening meal and picked some of our autumn raspberries for my pudding.

We had a quiet evening in.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the kitchen earlier on so I went to look at the birds from an upstairs window and from there took this picture of the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch concentrating

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wetherby.

wetherby

This post has double the usual amount of pictures for reasons that will become apparent for those with the time and energy to slog through them.  If you make an excuse and leave now, I will quite understand.

Our spell of good weather continues and it is a bit irksome that it is somewhat wasted on a grumpy old man with dodgy joints and a sincere wish that it would rain so that he can stop watering the garden. It is the best summer for 40 years.  And it is not even too hot any more.  After the excessive heat a couple of weeks ago, the temperature is nearly perfect and there are enough passing clouds to give an occasional break from the sun.  I should be running across the hills and swimming in the rivers.  Ah well.

There just isn’t any rain.  It has rained twenty miles away to the south and twenty miles to the north but not on us.  Still, not so long ago there were severe floods twenty miles to the south and twenty miles to the north of us but not here so we should take the rough with the smooth.

I started the day with a little watering and flower watching.

There have been quite a few white butterflies about in the garden but no coloured butterflies at all.

white butterfly

This is a small white (I think)

I have been watering the verbascum and it is thriving.

verbascum

The privet is thriving without any help from me.  It is usually loud with bees.

privet

Knapweed has appeared in one of the beds.

knapweed

And I think that this is a zinnia just coming out.

zinnia

It is pretty warm in the direct sunshine and this blackbird was having a puff and pant in the vegetable garden.

blackbird

I stopped watering and did a load of washing and hung it out to dry (a speedy process these days) and then went off to collect my new improved asthma puffer from the chemist.  I am expecting a miracle cure.

I watched the birds when I got back and enjoyed a complete set of greenfinches on the feeder.

greenfinches

Somehow the morning seemed to slip away without much more input from me but after lunch, I leapt into action and walked up Meikleholm Hill.

There were still no orchids about but there things to be seen.

Meikleholm hill flowers

Harebell, tormentil and pineapple weed

But I hadn’t come to look at wild flowers or birds, though I enjoyed this meadow pipit piping away on top of a little tree…

meadow pipit

…and couldn’t resist one of my favourite views.

view of esk valley

What I was interested in was the first ride-out of the Common Riding fortnight.  It goes from the town…

View of Langholm from Meikleholm Hill

…across the hills to the village of Bentpath and back and is thus universally known as “The Benty Ride out”.

Looking over the edge of the hill, I thought that I could see movement on the town bridge…

horse cross bridge

…but I needed the big zoom on the little Lumix to see the cavalcade setting off from the Kilngreen….

benty rideout leaving kilngreen

…and crossing the town bridge.

benty rideout crossing bridge

The results are a bit fuzzy to say the least but as there was a brisk wind blowing and the horses were about a mile away, it is a tribute to the Lumix that it could pick them out at all.

I didn’t have to wait too long until the cornet, who carries the flag round the town on Common Riding day and leads the rides-out, came round the corner of the hill….

benty rideout cornet

…waved graciously at the cheering crowd (me)…

benty rideout cornet 2

…and cantered on to the top of the hill with his right and left hand men behind him.

benty rideout hunter's gate 1

(The right and left hand men are the cornets from the previous two years who offer experience and support to the current cornet in his many duties.)

Soon the other riders followed on…

benty rideout hunter's gate 2

…some at a good canter over the rough ground…

benty rideout hunter's gate 3

…until the whole group stopped for a breather at the gate onto Timpen (at just over 1000ft, Timpen would be  the highest point of the day).

benty rideout hunter's gate 4

An advanced marshall on a quad bike checked that the route was ok…

Timpen lead out

…and after some deliberation…

benty rideout hunter's gate 7

The cornet led the way…

benty rideout hunter's gate 8

…through the gate…

benty rideout hunter's gate 9

…followed by the other riders…

benty rideout hunter's gate 10

…and set off towards  the summit of Timpen.

benty rideout timpen 1

This was an opportunity for another canter…

benty rideout timpen 2

…and one or two minor upsets.

benty rideout timpen 3

…which led to a pause while loose horses were collected and reunited with their riders…

benty rideout timpen 4

…and then while those at the back caught up…

benty rideout timpen 5

.. the leaders sailed over the top of Timpen and disappeared along the ridge towards the Black Knowe.

The delay to catch the loose horses gave me the opportunity to walk up to the top of Timpen too and watch the riders for a little bit longer.

benty rideout leaving timpen 1

This is not country for the faint hearted rider.

benty rideout leaving timpen 2

…but on a day like today, it offers superb views of the Esk valley.

I liked the view of the cavalcade stretched out along the hillside with the Craig windfarm in the background, a pleasing blend of the traditional and the modern.

benty rideout leaving timpen 3The recent dry weather hadn’t made the ground too hard for comfort but it had done a good job in drying out many of the boggy bits that might dislodge an unwary rider.  It was wonderful underfoot for an elderly walker and I even ventured to run for a few yards to make sure I was in position to get that last shot.

The cornet waited for his followers to catch up

benty rideout black knowe

..and then as the procession disappeared into the distance…

benty rideout black knowe 2

…I was left to enjoy a last look up the Esk valley…

View from timpen

…and a stroll back down the hill in the company of two keen walking ladies who had also taken to the hills to watch the riders go by.

two ladies

This was the first time that the Benty ride-out has taken this particular route on the way to Bentpath and I was surprised that I was one of only four adults and two children who had come out to see this historic occasion, considering the good weather and fine views of the riders.  I suppose though that if you wanted to catch up with the riders again at Bentpath itself, it would mean a long walk back to the town to pick up your car to drive up to the village.

I had considered a cycle ride after the ride-out but the brisk wind and stiff legs after coming down the steep hill to the town allowed me to imagine that watching some sport on the telly might be almost as good as taking exercise on my own account.  There was plenty to watch, with a sprint finish in the Tour de France, a deserved victory for Belgium in the third place play off in the World Cup and some entertaining tennis too.

I was quite exhausted by the time cooking my tea came along.  I added spinach, peas and potatoes (sautéed) from the garden to some very reasonably priced fish cakes for a nutritious and economical feast.

It was a beautiful evening as I finished my watering tasks.

garden in evening

 

 

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I do have a guest picture today as my sister Mary sent me this shot of a herd of art loving geese rushing to see Christo’s work in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park 21.06.18 008

While we were having our last spell of good weather a few weeks ago in late spring after a miserable few months, nobody dared to say that it was too hot.  Now we are having another spell of good weather and mid summer day has passed so I can confidently say about today that for me, it was too hot.

Still, it was a lovely day so perhaps I shouldn’t complain.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to arrange an exhibition of her embroidery group’s work in the Welcome to Langholm space and I took a walk round the garden.

On one side of the garden, roses were glowing…

two roses

…the day lily was gleaming…

day lily

…and my favourite iris was shining.

iris

On the other side of the garden, there were sparkling roses, Ginger Syllabub and Goldfinch…

two roses (2)

…and lots of bees on the cotoneaster.

bee on cotoneaster

The lupins were badly battered by the wind and rain and Mrs Tootlepedal cleared the main shoots away.  Now, the smaller side shoots have come into their own.

lupin

I put my camera down and picked up a mower and mowed the drying green and then welcomed Sandy in for a cup of coffee.

I haven’t seen him for a bit as he has been building a shed in his garden with the help of a friend so it was good to catch up with him.  He was busy again in the afternoon so when we had finished coffee, we put on sensible headgear and went for a walk up Meikleholm Hill, hoping that there would be a breeze to take the edge of the heat.

We were looking for orchids.

The down side of good weather is pollen and there was plenty of evidence of grass seeds as we went up the track to the hill.

grass with seeds

We enjoyed the cool avenue of trees just before the track goes on to the open hill….

gate onto hill

…and the views once we got onto the hill were compensation for the effort of getting there.

view fromMeikleholm Hill

And there was a light breeze.

Sadly, views were all we got as there were very few varieties of wild flower to be seen and only one or two scruffy orchids.  There was plenty of tormentil, buttercup and hawkbit which the sheep must not like.  The sheep had grazed off all the rest.

Still, the views made the walk well worth while for its own sake…

View from Hunters Gate

…and we will have to find orchids elsewhere.

As we came back down the hill, I really liked this little tree with a big view…

little tree with big view

…and well protected from the sheep by bracken, a foxglove poked its head up to give a little colour.

foxglove on Meikleholm Hill

We saw more colour on the walk down the track past Holmwood than we did on the whole of the hill.

herb robert and cornflower

rose beside track

It was a good walk but warm work and I was happy to get back into the cool of the house.

I did consider a bike ride after lunch but felt  that the walk, short as it was, was probably enough exercise for the hot day so I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database instead.

After that, Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her exhibition work and needed some supervision in the garden so I sat in the shade while she shifted and levelled some paving stones. I stopped supervising and did a little compost sieving but as it was about 30°C in the sun, we didn’t stay out too long and were happy to pause and have a cup of tea with Dr Tinker who appeared wearing a very sensible hat.

Then my flue pupil Luke came and we continued to make steady progress.  He has left school now and has just got a job but I hope that he will continue to come and play.

Next,  it was time to start watering the middle lawn and the vegetable garden and that took some time and completed our activity for the day.

I was going out to move the hose at one point when a strident shrieking from over head told me that swifts were about.  There has been a lot of talk about how scarce swifts are this year so I was happy to see a small flock swooping about over the house.

swifts

While I had the camera in my hand, I looked at our Scotch rose…

Scotch rose

…which always turns out to have a little black fly or two on it when I try to take a picture.

Nearby, the very first flowers on the delphiniums appeared today.  I hope that  they don’t get damaged by strong winds as often happens.  Mrs Tootlepedal has tried to get them in  more sheltered places this year.

delphinium

The flower of the day is a blue allium.  They have been sitting outside promising to come out but not actually coming for what seems like weeks.  One got knocked over by the recent winds and has found living indoors in a vase is more to its taste.  They are small flowers, about the size of a ping pong ball.

blue allium

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  She got down to sea level in Madeira and brilliantly caught this Atlantic spotted dolphin in mid leap.

Atlantoc spotted dolphin

Our spell of great weather is coming to an end but we are being let down gently before rain and gales blow in tomorrow night and we had a calm, warm but rather grey day today.

The iron pills have not worked their magic yet and I am still feeling a little tired so I was happy to spend a quiet morning doing a little business and paying bills after breakfast and then doing some aimless wandering around in the garden.

I said to Mrs Tootlepedal the other day that we seemed to have a lot of philadelphus in the garden and she rather thought that I was exaggerating but when she looked round, and counted, she found that there are at least nine…

philadelphus panel

A small selection

…and as they are pretty well all out, the garden is full of blossom and delightful aromas too.

I kept my eye out for new flowers and spotted the first of many Martagon lilies.

martagon lily

Mrs Tootlepedal is getting very excited by some small but perfectly formed blue alliums which are just about to come out.

blue allium

I was pleased to see a couple of red tailed bumble bees back on the chives.  They are very striking and an ornament to any garden.

red tailed bumble bee

I pulled myself together after a cup of coffee and set about putting some liquid fertiliser on the front lawn. The front lawn is still very mossy and I thought that what grass there is needed some encouragement.  As the fertiliser is applied by watering can, it is a labour intensive activity and kept me happily occupied for some time.  I did a bit of the middle lawn too.

I took time out to do the crossword and watch the birds.  The feeder was quite busy today.

greenfinch

A few greenfinches turned up…

flying siskins

…but mostly it was siskins and some goldfinches again

I was thinking about a gentle afternoon pedal but a few drops of rain put me off the idea and I went for a walk instead.  It seemed like quite a time since I had been up a hill so I went up our nearest one, Meikleholm Hill.

The rain held off as I walked up the track to the hill, admiring the many grasses on the way.  There was a splendid variety…

garsses

…but the star of the grass show when I looked at them on the computer later on, was this colourful spray with added visitors.

grass with insects

Just before I got to the gate onto the open hill, I noticed a few rabbits in the field beside the track.  Most of them scampered away but one remained, pretending to be a blade of grass.

rabbit in grasses

I always like this gate just before the top of the track…

Meikleholm gate

…but I was glad to be finally out on the open hill and looking back across the town towards Whita Hill on the other side of the valley.

View of langholm from Meikleholm

Even on a grey day, it is a view to lift the heart.

There were plenty of wild flowers to look at as I followed the track which curves up round the side of the hill…

tree on meikleholm

There was a lot of tormentil which I failed to record properly and quite a bit of bird’s-foot trefoil and various hawkbits too.

trefoil and hawksbit

I was hoping to see some early orchids too and wasn’t entirely disappointed as there were a few small flowers to be seen.

orchids

There are sheep on the hill and I don’t know if they will nibble off the orchids or not but there should be a lot more flowers as the summer goes on.

They sheep probably won’t eat these marsh thistles though.

marsh thistke

I was considering an extended route when I got to the top of Meikleholm Hill but a look to the north….

rain over Potholm

…and the south….

clouds over solway

…persuaded me that the straight route home might be the best bet.

No sooner had I made up my mind than the rain started and I had to skip down the hill as fast as my creaky knee would let me.

I did stop for one last photo opportunity as the racecourse on the Castleholm looked very attractive but that was the only stop as I was getting quite wet and didn’t have a coat with me.

racecourse castleholm

The rain eased off without entirely stopping as I got down to the town so I was happy to get home without getting soaked through.

That was my last excursion for the day, though I did get as far as the back door later on to take a final picture of the day.

colourful corner

Mrs Tootlepedal finds colours and textures in flowers, grasses and shrubs and mixes them all together in a most harmonious way in my view.  I am very lucky to be the beneficiary of her skills.

In the evening, she went off to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of Swan lake performed by the Royal Ballet.  I stayed at home because although I admire the wonderful skills and fitness of the dancers, I keep waiting for something interesting to happen and as nothing does, I get easily  bored.

The flower of the day is one of our foxgloves.  Some gardeners may turn up their noses at these common wild flowers but I am glad that Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t.

foxglove

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the pre Christmas fun in Edinburgh.  He saw salmon being smoked.

smoking salmon

We had another frosty but bright day today with the temperature once again struggling to get above zero.

Most of the morning was spent getting everything packed and ready for the departure of our guests who were heading back to Edinburgh after lunch, hoping to get the best of the driving conditions for the trip.

Among all the action, I didn’t get much chance to look out of the kitchen widow until Matilda and her parents had gone but perhaps I wouldn’t have seen much as Alistair spotted the sparrowhawk paying us a visit and picking up an unfortunate small bird on its way.

Once we had waved our guests off and shed a sorrowful tear, I did a little robin spotting….

robins

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off to see how the felling of the Becks wood was going on.

It was still really chilly as the frost in the garden showed….

garden ice

…but it was a glorious December day for a walk….

View from Scott's Knowe

…and as long as we stayed in the sunshine, it even felt quite warm.

The felling of the Becks wood is going on apace.

Becks wood felling

We were able to watch the skilled operator cutting trees, lifting them up and snedding and slicing them with ease.

Becks wood felling

It won’t take him long to clear the whole wood.

We obviously couldn’t go through the wood so we turned back and walked down to the Wauchope road through the field, taking a party of visiting walkers with us.  They had been hoping to do the Becks walk and were pleased to get some guidance on an alternative route.

When we got down to the road, Mrs Tootlepedal headed for home and I crossed the Auld Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig

…and headed for a track up the hill.

On my way I passed a curious frozen puddle with a translucent centre….

frozen puddle

…and yet another example of hair ice.

hair ice

It was cold in the trees and I was pleased to come back into the sunshine when I got onto the hill.

There were trees to be seen at the bottom of the hill….

trees

….a sheep on sentry duty on the track further up…

sheep on warbla

…and a blasted hawthorn, survivor of many gales.

tree on warbla

I could see snow on the hills just outside the town….

Snowy view

…and the moon hanging in the sky above the track.

Moon over warbla

I could look back across the Wauchope Water and see the wood which is being felled.  I don’t know how much of the wood will go but it will be missed when it is gone.

Becks wood

When I got to the track back down to the Stubholm, I noticed a strange black line down the centre of the roadway.  A second look showed me that it was my shadow and I stood with my legs apart to take a picture of it.

long shadow

It is not every day that I find myself on a gently sloping track with the sun low and  dead behind me so this might well be my only chance to prove that in the right conditions, I can have a fifty yard long shadow.  (I paced it out.)

As the sun got lower, the light got more golden.  We may not have had a very colourful autumn this year but we are getting some enjoyably colourful winter afternoons now on the days when the sun shines.

Meikleholm Hill

Whita in winter

I walked down the hill with care as there were some icy bits to avoid but I was able to keep my eyes open enough to see some fungus on a tree on the Stubholm track….

fungus

…and some lichen on the park wall.

lichen

It is a constant source of wonder to me that two stones in the same wall, just a yard or two apart should have different lichen on them.

The house seemed very quiet when I got back.

A look at the forecast in the evening revealed a very confident prediction of snow for tomorrow and I am not so old yet that I don’t consider the first snow of winter to be an exciting event so I hope that we do get some.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving a siskin the hard stare.

flying chaffinch and siskin

Here is a little video of the three eating machine for those with 20 seconds to waste.

 

 

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