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Posts Tagged ‘Moorland feeders’

Today’s guest picture is another from Gavin’s visit to Yosemite and shows a quite well known waterfall there.

yosemite

We had another chilly but dry day today.   This was a bit of a surprise as we had been promised rain.

Dropscone is going on holiday on the Isle of Skye next week so he came round for a farewell cup of coffee.  He completely failed to bring traditional Friday treacle scones with him but made up for this with several hot cross buns which did very well instead.

After he left, I spent some fruitless time on my computer.  National Savings had sent me a letter politely suggesting that I might like to register on line as I am a premium bond holder and this would save them the trouble of constantly sending expensive letters to tell me when I have won a prize.

This seemed fair enough, though they don’t send me many prize letters I can assure you, but having gone through the online process unsuccessfully a couple of times, the website ended up by telling me to print a form out and send my application to go on-line to them in the post.  I was mildly amused.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project Feeding station, she to see if there were any raptors about and I to look at smaller birds.

She did get a brief view of a passing hen harrier and I saw a lot of small birds.

greenfinch

This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about

chaffinch

And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.

woodpeckers

Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,

woodpeckers

And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….

jay

…and couldn’t miss this pheasant which stood right in front of me and stared me out.

pheasant

Two visitors came into the hide hoping to see a goshawk but left fairly soon and then more bird watchers with big binoculars and a telescope arrived and they did see a goshawk…

bird watchers

….but it was far too far away for me to see at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided that goats on the moor might be a better bet so we went up onto the hill and saw three or four goats wandering around some distance away trying to look like boulders or clumps of heather.

goats

We had thought that we had seen a goat or two near the Tarras Bridge on our way out so we had hopes of seeing some nearer to hand on our way home.

We were not disappointed.

goat

A clue

We parked the car and I walked up the road with my camera at the ready.  I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible but this was a wasted effort as the goats didn’t care how close i got to them.

wild goats Langholm Moor

They just kept munching…

wild goats Langholm Moor

…though they did give me the occasional glance.

There was a small group among the bracken.

wild goats Langholm Moor

It was a very peaceful scene.

wild goats Langholm Moor

People say that kids don’t climb trees any more but some do.

wild goats Langholm Moor

And others joined in.

wild goats Langholm Moor

Weighing up the job

wild goats Langholm Moor

All hands on deck

And then back to mum for a cuddle.

wild goats Langholm Moor kid

We left them chomping away in peace….

wild goats Langholm Moor

…and drove home.

It started to rain as we got back so we went inside and had a cup of tea.  It soon stopped raining but in spite of a temperature of 10°, it felt so chilly and unwelcoming outside that we left the garden to itself and found things to do indoors.

I had a look at our own birds.  They were still arguing.

goldfinch

And even this rather placid looking pigeon…

pigeon

…had chased another three away from under the feeder.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I tootled away merrily while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal watched Gardeners’ World on the TV.

The orchestra and I found some agreeable tempos for the trickier pieces and we had moments when things sounded really good but there were also moments which indicated that a little more practice might not go amiss.  Such is life.

After TV and music, we joined together and put the world to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my friend Bruce, who was on a trip to the east of the country. He had climbed all of the 132 steps up a dark, narrow, spiral staircase to get to the top of the  the Garleton Monument  and was rewarded by this splendid view of the country stretching out to the Firth of Forth.

lothians

We woke to a frosty scene with the temperature just about on zero but with a bright sun shining.  Under these circumstances I  forced myself to reject a very tempting offer of traditional Friday treacle scones from Dropscone and got myself organised to go for a walk instead.

I paused for a while to let the temperature rise to 2 degrees and while I waited, I watched the birds.

The feeders were very busy…

busy feeders

…and the finches flew busily around snapping up a spare perch or trying to bully the sitter off an occupied one..

chaffinches

It has been generally rather damp recently so I was worried in case the paths and tracks turned out to be icy.  It was still very chilly when I got to the park…

Park

…but for reasons that are not clear to me, there was not a spot of ice to be met anywhere on my whole walk.

There were plenty of other things to be seen though.

I walked along the Murthholm track, stopping to greet Mr Grumpy….

heron

…and then crossed over Skippers Bridge (many photos taken but none put in here today) and went down to the water’s edge.

River Esk

If you look closely, you can make out the circle of ripples in the middle of the river caused by a fish leaping out of the water a second before I got my camera in focus.  As a consolation, behind me on the bank there was a splendid outbreak of fungus on a fallen branch.

fungus

I scrambled back onto the road and there can be few better roads to walk down on a sunny morning in November than this one.

Tarras Road

As I turned the corner and started to climb the hill, the warmth of the sun was causing gentle steam to rise and catch the sunbeams.

Tarras Road

As usual the walls and trees beside the road here were full of interest.

Tarras Road

Beyond the entrance to Broomholm, almost all of the trees on the bank beside the road have been felled and what was previously a very dark and dank stretch of road is now completely transformed….

Tarras Road

…with a fine view from the top.

I had brought a banana and a coffee éclair with me for sustenance so I decided to visit the Moorland feeders where I could sit down and eat them in the hide while being entertained by the birds.

I enjoyed this view on the way….

View from Broomholmshiels

…and it wasn’t long before I  was nearly at the small wood that shelters the feeders.

Moorland feeders

There was plenty of action to keep me entertained while I ate my snack and I tried my best to capture it with the Lumix.

blue tit, great tit, greenfinch and woodpecker

I went back to the town by way of the track from Broomholmshiels and enjoyed the oak and birch woodlands on the way.  There was more fungus and lichen to be seen…

fungi and lichen

…and I picked up a few acorns on the way as Mrs Tootlepedal is going to try to get some acorns to germinate this year.

The track through the woods was very lovely in the sunshine…

Broomholmshiels track

…and I liked this last glimpse of autumn colour at Longwood.

Longwood

Any walk is enhanced by a view like this at the end of it….

Langholm Bridge

…but on this occasion, pretty well every step of the five miles had been rewarding.

In spite of the sunshine, the thermometer was still only registering 4°C when I got home just before one o’clock so I was glad that it had been an almost windless day.

I was able to refresh myself with a cup of tea from a brand new 2 cup teapot which had only been delivered this morning…

new teapot

…following the untimely demise of our previous pot.

I had time to take another look at the birds after lunch….

robin

…but even on a fine day, the light was already fading and the robin had to really stretch to get itself into the picture.

I was well entertained though, as Mike and Alison Tinker came round.  They are recently back from a most enjoyable holiday in New Zealand and are recovering gradually from jet lag so they came to see us in the afternoon instead of their customary evening visit on a Friday.   We should be back to playing sonatas next week which will be very welcome.

After they left, it wasn’t long before Dropscone arrived.  Instead of treacle scones and coffee in the morning, we had drop scones and tea in the afternoon today but we survived the shock pretty well.  He told me about the trouble he is having with his car.  The fan belt snapped and fell off and as a result he is currently going nowhere.

The leaf of the day is one of the golden box balls at the top of the front lawn.

golden box ball

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch about to give a blue tit a surprise.

chaffinch and blue tit

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Today’s guest picture is another from the Menger family’s Highland meander.  It shows the daughter of the house holding a cushion starfish which they met on on a fishing trip they took from Islonia, an island kingdom near Gairloch.

cushion starfish

For the second day running, I was acting as a relief feeder filler for the Moorland Feeders as for the second day running, the designated feeder filler had made a break for Edinburgh. The astute reader may notice a pattern here and it is probably connected with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Mrs Tootlepedal came up with me today and for the second day running, the bird hide was occupied when I got here. Fortunately on this occasion, the family left the hide shortly after I had finished filling the feeders and I was able to settle down to watch the birds while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for raptors from the comfort of the car.

She saw one bird of prey briefly but I saw a lot of small birds.  Among them were…

chaffinch

A chaffinch

four siskins

Four siskins

Great tit and robin

A great tit and a robin

blue tit

A blue tit (which came and went at speed)

tits on feeder

Two great tits and a coal tit

pheasant

A pheasant

woodpecker

And a woodpecker

In fact for almost the whole time that we were there, there was at least one woodpecker on each side of the clearing.

woodpeckers

The only time when I wasn’t watching birds was when Mrs Tootlepedal’s raptor flew over the clearing and the small birds cleared off.  They soon came back though.

We got home just in time for coffee but the rest of the morning was wasted on the phone as a result of an email from my internet provider telling me that they were “upgrading my service by removing my email provision”.  Some one should be arrested for this act of violence against the English language.

However, several phone calls later, I got my email account reinstated for a price which means that I will reluctantly after many years as a loyal customer move to another provider.  The nice lady on the phone assured me that the decision to remove my email facility without notice had been a commercial one.  What a surprise.

After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I made and ate some potato soup for my lunch.  Then I settled down to some work in the garden.

I started with a little compost sieving to warm up and followed up by mowing the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle lawn and the front lawn in that order.  In actual mowing time, this is not a long job but once getting out the different mowers required, pausing for heavy breathing, sitting down for a rest and just standing at the end of a row and looking around vacantly have been factored in, the job took most of the afternoon.

I did find time for a shopping trip to the High Street to acquire more coffee beans and two nectarines.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had considered the poppies in the garden during the day and we were struck by how various they are in colour and design.

poppies

poppies

poppies

Although they may look superficially alike, a closer look reveals all sorts of subtle differences.

The Rosa Wren is doing very well and comes up with a fresh replacement as each bloom fades.  It is hard to believe that these two flowers are from the same stem.

Rosa Wren

I made a visit to our corner shop after I had finished the mowing and purchased a smoked sausage, a pepper and some mushrooms and then with the help of an onion from the garden made them into a risotto for my tea.  It went down well.

In the evening, Susan appeared and gave me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle for our first play for several weeks.  Considering that we were all a bit rusty, we played well and enjoyed a varied selection of music from Hindemith and Gershwin to Palestrina and Farnaby with others in between.

Susan got us back to Langholm at exactly the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Edinburgh and as she had enjoyed her visit a lot, we sat down to watch the highlights of another interesting stage of the Vuelta in a very good mood.

The light in the morning wasn’t good enough to let me catch a flying bird at the Moorland feeders so once again, a flower of the day is all I have to offer.  But what a flower it is.

pink poppy

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Today’s guest picture harks back to my siblings’ visit at the start of this month and shows Skelwith Force in the Lake District.  It was taken by my sister Mary.

Skelwith Force

Skelwith Force

We had another day of mixed sunshine and showers here with some impressive cloudscapes.  Plans were once again slightly frustrated but the day worked out well enough in the end.

I was due to fill the Moorland bird feeders for some friends who are on holiday and since the light was good when I went up, I was looking forward to spending some productive time in the bird hide there.

However, when I had almost finished filling the feeders, a minibus full of school children drew up and the project leader told me that it was  a school visit.  Plan A went into the bin.

It was still quite bright when I got home so I decided to convert Plan A into Plan B and go and visit the nuthatches but by the time that I had made a pot of coffee for Mrs Tootlepedal and myself, it had clouded over and started to snow.  Plan B hit the bin too.

Plan C involved crosswords, catching up with business and making soup.  It worked well.

I did find a moment to admire an a gymnastic siskin….

siskin

…and watch a siskin and a redpoll circling warily round each other.

siskin and redpoll

After lunch, the skies had cleared.  Although it was still pretty chilly for April (6.5°C), the wind was much calmer than yesterday so I put on many layers and took my slow bike out to give the solid tyre another test.

Needless to say, it started snowing lightly as soon as I left our front gate but rather than junking Plan D, I kept going and was rewarded by a small pool of sunshine which very politely kept pace with me as I pedalled along.  All around there were showers and looming clouds…

clouds at the Kerr

…but for nine of the fourteen miles of my ride, I managed to keep away from them.

I didn’t stop much because it seemed a pity to risk being caught up by the rain but I did like the sight of this young Belted Galloway who was as curious about me as I was about it.

belted galloway

The weather to one side of the road smiled upon a pleasant prospect…

View at Ryehills

…but on the other side, more black clouds loomed.

Clouds at Ryehills

My luck couldn’t hold out for ever and as I ground up to the highest point of my ride, I was overtaken by a hailstorm.

Fortunately, the hail was the softest and most gentle that I have ever met so I was spared getting painfully pinged and because it was hail rather than snow, I didn’t even get very wet. To make matters better, I soon cycled through it and came out on the other side.

Since the sun was out again, I stopped at my favourite little cascade on the Wauchope to show that although the weather has been very cold lately, we haven’t anything serious in the way of continuous rain for several weeks and the rivers are very low.

Wauchope cascade

This was a different view taken last December after two solid months of downpours.

wauchope cascade

The low water let me get a close shot of the deformed rocks beside the river…

wauchope rocks

…and a look down stream to a more peaceful stretch.

Wauchope below Bessie Bells

The birds had been very busy at the garden feeders and I had to fill them when I got home.

As well as a bird on every perch and more waiting on the pole and in the plum tree, there was a huge squad of scavengers on the ground too.

scavenging birds

I can count thirty birds here.  There were often more than fifty in the garden at once

The garden was very pleasant, sheltered from the wind and bathed in occasional sunshine.

Flowers competed for attention.

pulsatilla

A pulsatilla

Drumstick primulas

Drumstick primulas

Mrs Tootlepedal had painted our back stairs in the morning and was busy in the garden in the afternoon so she was quite ready for a cup of tea after I had had a shower.

Dr Tinker, whose tea detecting system was working perfectly, arrived just in time to join us.  He is going to look after Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse plants next week while we are taking a short break from Langholm life.

As we sipped, we looked out of the window and saw some quite heavy snow so I was pleased with the timing of my ride.  The ground is warm enough and the snow showers short enough that we haven’t had problems with snow settling.

The sun was soon out again and when I was upstairs, I took the opportunity to lean out of an upper window and get a different angle on the birds.

goldfinches and siskins

I suppose that I was having a bird’s eye view from up above.

goldfinches and siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out her onions and is protecting them against the inclement weather with a row of cloches.  I could see them out of my window too.

onion cloches

In the evening, we went to sing with our Langholm choir and  had a good time getting some polish on pieces which we are going to sing in two concerts next month.

With four choral engagements, two with the Langholm choir and two with the Carlisle choir, in the next two months, we have plenty of homework to do.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches that I looked down on.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a stone which was so covered in colourful lichen that my neighbour Liz thought that it looked like a concealed tiger when she saw it deep in the woods.

lichen

After a busy day yesterday, I was quite happy to have a quiet morning today and so I was more than pleased after breakfast to welcome Dr Cat Barlow in for a cup of tea and a chat about moorland matters and bird life in general.

We were pleased to see greenfinches in the garden during her visit…

greenfinches

…even if one of them was a bit argumentative.

greenfinch and goldfinch

We watched jackdaws…

jackdaw

…and siskins too.

siskin

siskin

Cat is having a demonstration bird ringing session soon as part of the Moorland Festival so I hope to be there, as it gives me a chance to get closer to the birds than usual.

After Cat left,  Sandy and Dropscone came in for a cup of coffee.  Dropscone surpassed himself by bringing not only six scones but six special Friday treacle scones.  We had a feast.

The morning was shaping up very well with all this sociable activity and when Sandy and Dropscone left, I went out into the garden to see them off and was delighted to hear the gentle croaking of frogs in the pond.  They too had been busy at some social activity.

frogs and frogspawn

I made a good morning better by sieving some well rotted two year old kitchen compost which turned out so well that it would have been a pleasure to lie down and have a snooze in it.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy morning with a visit to Carlisle to buy paint followed by a coffee morning with ex colleagues from work.

After lunch, she got busy applying the paint to walls upstairs and I got the slow bike out and went for a photographic outing.

I started by visiting the Moorland Feeders bird hide and on the way, I saw an oyster catcher standing on a rock in the middle of the Esk.  I stopped the bike, got the camera out of the saddle bag, took the lens cover off and fully expected the bird to fly off the very moment I raised the camera viewfinder to my eye.  To my surprise, it stayed put and even straightened up a bit to get its photo taken.  A very rare occurrence.

oyster catcher

When I got to the top of the hill and went in to the hide for a welcome sit down, there were a lot of birds to watch.  Although the light wasn’t very good, I couldn’t resist a shot or two, or three.

coal tits

There were coal tits…

great tit blue tit

…and great tits and blue tits…

robin woodpecker

A robin and a woodpecker

pheasants

Any amount of pheasants

chaffinches

And even more chaffinches.

I didn’t stay for too long as I didn’t want my legs to seize up so I was soon on my way along the road to Claygate and then back down to the river Esk at the Hollows.

Sandy had told me that there was a new sight to see just before the bridge so I kept an eye out but I wasn’t expecting this:

statue at Hollows

Not something you see every day.

That brightened my day up a lot and I cycled back up to Langholm in a very cheerful mood.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out this colourful corner to me.

colourful corner

It was slightly warmer today after a frosty start but a little sun would be a big encouragement for new growth in the garden.

Our sociable day continued when our neighbour Liz leaned over the garden fence and asked if we wanted any bluebells.

Liz

She had had a very hard day in the garden digging out an unwelcome crop of the devilishly persistent Spanish bluebells for several hours so we were easily able to decline her kind offer politely but firmly.  She was looking a bit fraught after the long battle with the bluebells so we invited her in a for a cup of tea and an iced bun.

The hours of deep digging had left her feeling very stiff and she went home after the refreshment with a view to a good soak in a hot bath.  A very sound plan.

Our social day was not over as Mike and Alison came over in the evening and Alison and I enjoyed some flute and keyboard work for the first time for several weeks.  This made the perfect end to an enjoyable day.  As I went out into the garden to see our guests off when they left, the frogs were still singing away in the pond, with one basso profundo leading the choir.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch clapping the brakes fully on.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He is lurking in the south of England while visiting his eldest son and took the opportunity to visit Chartwell, home of Winston Churchill.

Chartwell

The day started badly as we woke to the sound of heavy rain but I was not deterred.  After breakfast, I put on my waterproof clothing and went up to the High Street to get some money out of the cash machine and then went back down Thomas Telford Road to spend the money at our monthly producers market.

Being a man of habit, I bought fish, meat, cheese and honey and went home in a very cheerful mood.  Sadly, thanks to the recent bad weather, I won’t be able to eat any of this as I am getting very stout through lack of exercise.

Well maybe, I will have a morsel (or two) here and there.

When I got home, I collected Mrs Tootlepedal and we drove up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Feeders, where a tree planting session had been organised.  In spite of the wet weather, most of the trees had already been planted by the time that we got there but after a chat with the organiser….

Laverock Hide

…Mrs Tootlepedal planted two trees and I planted one while the rain relented for a while.

We were watched closely by a female pheasant.

pheasantThese hand reared birds are so tame that it is amazing to think that people pay good money to come from miles away to shoot them but it provides local employment so it has its supporters.

It was lunch time when we got home but I had time to peer out of the window at a good supply of birds visiting our feeder.

blue tit, coal tit and great tit

A blue tit, coal tit and great tit give a nicely co-ordinated display of perching style.

On the ground, a robin and a dunnock provide a change from the endless chaffinches…

robin and dunnock

…and the jackdaws pile into the pellets.

jackdaws

After lunch, the light seemed to get a bit better as the clouds lifted off the hills and although it was still raining, it seemed a much more cheerful day so we put our coats on again and went off for a walk.

This turned out to be a good decision as it was warm and calm and the rain often stopped as we went round.  The light was much better than it has been in recent days and we could even see  the tops of our hills.

Castleholm

Just the merest hint of mist over the river with the pheasant hatchery in the foregorund.

We had to keep our eyes down a lot as we walked as it was wet and at times slippery under foot but when we stopped and looked around, there was plenty of colour still left, both on the trees…

autumn leaves…and on the ground.

fallen leavesOur paths were carpeted by leaves and provided us with a variety of tints as we walked.

Autumn walking..but this moment was my favourite.

PathheadJust round the corner, we got a view of the town…

Langholm in autumn

…slightly marred as usual by the ugly scaffolding on the Erskine Church spire.

We kept an eye out for fungi and lichen but saw very little until near the end of our walk.

fungus

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these black strips under the bark of a tree are fungus.

These look more like fungi to me…

fungus…and the one on the right was so fresh and shiny that it was positively glowing.  There was dog lichen in good condition to be seen on a wall too.

dog lichen

There had been enough rain to fill a little man made cascade with water as we came down the hill to the saw mill.

saw mill cascadeAs we crossed the Castleholm towards the Jubilee Bridge, we hit another spell of rain.

Castelholm

During our walk we had heard some ferocious shouting and screaming as though a small war had broken out but it turned out to be only a football match on the shiny new artificial pitch on the Scholars’ Field at the school.

FootballThis wasn’t a match involving our local team and I am sure grass pitches would have been unplayable in the wet so it was good to see this new pitch being used.

When we got home, a honeysuckle in flower in November emphasised just how odd our weather has been.

honeysuckleIt should have been all berries by now.

Considering how wet it was in the morning, we felt very lucky to have been able to enjoy such a pleasant walk with only occasional umbrella work needed.  Walking on soggy paths had been quite hard work though and we were very happy to spend the rest of the day relaxing.

The better light did let me get a reasonable flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was taken by Bruce on a visit to Sheffield.  He thinks that the car owner may have forgotten where he parked the car.

sheffield carWe had to put up with yet another  boringly fine and dry day today but we bore this with great fortitude and hardly complained at all.

Once again it was pretty chilly at breakfast time but at 4°C we were frost free and the garden continues to have some cheerful flowers.

I started the day by going up to fill the Moorland Bird Feeders as a substitute for Sandy who is on holiday in Majorca.

Apart from a large number of pheasants, who nearly knocked me over in their rush to pick up any spilled seed, there were very few birds of any sort about today.

The pheasants are learning new skills.

pheasantsThe females are less gaudy but very charming.

pheasantsI put out some seed on a stump near the hide which attracted a chaffinch…

chaffinch…but that was the limit of my photographic activities.

I got home in nice time to enjoy a scone and coffee session with Dropscone and then I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

The poppies are not at all concerned by the chilly mornings and are looking as good as ever.

poppypoppyI put some of the pink pellets out on the lawn feeder and these two starlings broke all records by landing before I had even got back to the house.

starlingsIt didn’t take long before they were joined by their pals and I must say, there is something about starlings on the feeder which is strongly reminiscent of boozy nights at the pub.

starlingsThey were soon put to flight by a jackdaw.

jackdawAnd in turn, the jackdaws made way for a rook.

rookI like the colourful show on and round the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.

chimney potNext, I did a little shopping that involved milk and honey….and coffee and more pellets.  Unfortunately I was a bit too early and the coffee supplies hadn’t come in but to show you what a great place Langholm is, the kind shop owner called round unprompted while we eating lunch and dropped the coffee off.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off for a cycle outing to Enzieholm Bridge and back.  We stopped at the top of the first steep hill to allow Mrs Tootlepedal to remove a layer of clothing as it wasn’t quite as cool as we had feared.  This gave me a chance to show the autumnal colour on the hillside above the road.

Peden's ViewWe stopped again on the bridge over the Esk at Bentpath to show the interesting planting on the far side of the river.

BentpathThe view upstream from the bridge is one of my favourites.

BentpathWe passed a field with a pig and some alpacas but they were too far away for my phone so we made do with a shot of the newly refurbished bridge at the Glendinning road end.

Meggat water

It spans the Meggat Water

We reached our objective, the bridge at Enzieholm….

Enzieholm Bridge…stopped for a minute and then pedalled back down the other side of the river to Bentpath again.

BentpathBy this time, a large dark cloud had appeared and it looked for a moment as though it might rain.  In the event, we outran the cloud and were soon back in sunshine, looking over the Esk valley as we neared home.

Esk valley at PotholmWe managed our fifteen mile trip in just under two hours and were more than ready for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit when we got back.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made some meringues with some surplus egg white left from a caramel custard so we ate those as well.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a live screening of Hamlet from the Barbican Centre in London.  This was a celebrated production starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the great Dane.

He was very good.  In spite of some cutting and rearranging,  I thoroughly enjoyed the powerful first half of the production which took us up to the point where Hamlet was packed off to England with cracking pace throughout but I was very disappointed with the second half.  Partly this was to do with the excessively gloomy lighting and very bizarre staging and partly because the acting and diction in some of the smaller parts was unintelligible.  It seemed as though the director hadn’t been able to sustain a coherent line of development through the whole play and it ended with a whimper.  Perhaps the cast were just having a bad night.

Still, it was a great treat to be able to see such a prestigious production at all so I shouldn’t grumble too much.

I was tempted to use this strangely headless half-inch as flying bird of the day….

chaffinch…but I plumped for a jackdaw making off with a beakful of  pink pellets instead.

jackdaw

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