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Posts Tagged ‘moss’

I have delved into my archives to find today’s guest picture sent by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia last October.  It shows a footpath that is not totally welcoming.

cows in the way

We woke to an altered view from our upstairs window.

whita fron befroom window

The snow hadn’t got down as far as the town though and I was able to walk to our corner shop on surprisingly ice free roads.

Sandy, who had missed the camera club last night, came down for a cup of coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal combined having coffee with us with putting more coats of gesso on the rocking horse.  The horse has been brought in from the cold and is enjoying life in our spare room.  More importantly the gesso is going on a lot better and by the end of the day, the horse was looking a lot smarter…

rocking horse gesso progress

…although there are several more coats to go on before it will be ready for painting.

When Sandy left, I did the crossword and kept an eye for action outside the kitchen window.

I got an unexpected chance to catch a regular visitor…

sparrowhawk on feeder

…which doesn’t usually sit quietly for long enough for me to take a picture.

In spite of the snow, it was a reasonably pleasant day with occasional bursts of sunshine and although the temperature was only 3°C and it had rained overnight in the town, we were mysteriously free from ice so I went for a walk half way up a hill.

I went up the Kirk Wynd and onto Whita, stopping before I came to any serious snow. The sun had been out when I started but sadly clouds had intervened and it was a pretty grey day.

trees on whita snow

Even on a  grey day though, there is usually something to cheer a walker up and there was a good show of lichen on a wall….

lichen on mossy wall

…and the view up the Ewes valley always lifts the heart whatever the weather.

snowy view up ewes

I was on the very edge of the snow line as I walked along the contour of the hill towards the Newcastleton road but the going was very good and I had sensibly taken my walking poles with me so I enjoyed myself.

whita track snow

And when I got to the road, I was rewarded with a sparkling display of moss among the snow on a wall…

moss on snowy wall

…and a wintry view through the pines.

pines in snow

Looking back up the hill, I was glad that I hadn’t been tempted to climb up to the monument as it looked decidedly chilly up there.

monument with frosting

I followed the road down to the A7 and walked along to the Kilngreen past this fine display of holly berries.

holly berries whitshiels

On the Kilngreen, the light seemed perfect for capturing the sinuous patterns of this picnic bench…

kilngreen bench

…and I was very happy to see Mr Grumpy on the bank of the Ewes Water.  I haven’t seen him for some time and was getting worried about his health.

heron

There was more agreement about the way to go among the mallards today.

mallards on esk

Looking back towards the Sawmill Brig and Castle Hill, it was hard to imagine that I had been walking in snow not long before.

kilngreen no snow

I got home and sat down to a nourishing plate of soup.  Mrs Tootlepedal returned from helping out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe and I watched the birds for a while…

january greenfinch

…being pleased to see a greenfinch and by accident I took a picture which shows how small our garden bird visitors are in the great scheme of things.

bird among the bushes

Whatever it is that is causing me to have discomfort when walking at the moment hadn’t been made worse by my walk so I decided that the roads were probably ice free enough to risk a few miles on the slow bike to see if that sort of exercise would help.

The sun came out…

snowy whita from wauchope road

…which was a bonus and I pedalled very gently for seven miles without meeting any icy patches or making my leg worse so I was very happy.  I will try a longer ride next time when the weather permits.

In the evening, the ever busy Mrs Tootlepedal laid down her crochet hook and went off to act as front of house for a screening of the Queen of Spades at the Buccleuch Centre and stayed to see the opera.  As Tchaikovsky is not my favourite composer, I stayed at home and did a little more work on learning the Carlisle Choir songs.  Like putting gesso on a rocking horse, this is a slow business.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day as the visit of the sparrow hawk didn’t keep the birds away from the feeder for long.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sharon, mother of Luke my flute playing friend.  She took this beautiful view of the Nith estuary from Glencaple near Dumfries.

glencaple view

It was a two choir day as usual on a Sunday and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  In church we sang several hymns with satisfying bass lines and then we had a short practice afterwards with promises of more enjoyable singing to come.

I found a coal tit in the plum tree when we got back.

coal tit in plum tree

It was a pleasantly sunny, pretty still morning so with the temperature at 4°C, I set out after coffee and a ginger biscuit  to see whether a short walk would make my foot feel better or worse.  On the whole, it made it feel better.

I looked at moss while I was pootling along pondering on medical matters.  There is rarely any shortage of moss to look at round here.

There was moss steadily colonising a wall, reaching up from below to meet another patch reaching down from above….

moss at springhill

…there were various mosses massed in a mound on top of the wall further along…

mixed mosses

…and still further along, more moss stretching out fingers to grab new territory…

moss stretching hand

…and among the trees, a mini forest of  moss…

tall moss

…as well as moss mixing with peltgera lichen on a wall…

peltigera lichnee and moss

…and pincushion moss sharing space with more lichen.

button moss and cup lichen

My route took me along Gaskell’s Walk and it was as nice a walk as you could hope for though I thought that one walker whom I passed going in the opposite direction and who remarked that it was like spring, was getting a bit ahead of herself.

gaskells walk january

I looked around and saw colourful fungus on the end of a fallen branch…

tree end fungus

…and any amount of rosebay willowherb lined the track.

rosebay willowherb

The track was largely in shadow but as I came to the last hill before the Stubholm, the sun was catching the electricity poles that carry the power down into the New Town.

electricity poles gaskells

They may not be the most beautiful of structures but they do bring a lot of brightness into our lives, literally and metaphorically so I am always happy to see them even if they do spoil a view every now and again.

It was a grand day and I was sorry not to have the time or legs to walk further…

view of whita over stubholm

…but after a couple more stops to note eye catching sights….

decorative tree barkspiky plant

…and a final nod to the world of moss….

moss table gaskells

…I made my way home.

In the garden, the hellebores are beginning to show a bit of colour..

hellebore buds

Inside the house, a pot of soup was bubbling on the cooker, showing that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.

I had time to eat some soup, watch a pair of restful goldfinches nibble on the sunflower seed…

two goldfinches

…while some chaffinches get a lot more excited about the situation…..

busy feeder

…and then it was time to head for Carlisle and the community choir practice.

The sunshine had gone by this time and it was grey and chilly by the time we got to the church where we meet.

The practice itself was very satisfactory as a reorganisation of the tenors meant that rather than sitting on the end of a pew not being able to hear the rest of the section, this week I had a strong singer beside me and more behind.  Together with the work that I have done at home over the past two weeks, this meant that I was able to sing with much more confidence and relaxation than previously.  I hope that we keep this new set up.

We got home safely, had the last portions of Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetarian casserole and settled down to enjoy Les Miserables (as far as the subject matter permits of any enjoyment).

A chaffinch as flying bird of the day rounded off a day definitely entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony, proving that he can take in the bigger picture but not miss interesting detail at the same time.

tony's stone

Encouraged by the splendid picture of a loaf bread which our daughter Annie sent us, I checked the recipe which she had also sent me and decided that it might be within my capabilities to make a similar loaf.   It has an interesting method requiring no kneading at all and cooking in a Dutch oven so it was a journey into the unknown for me.

The result was pretty good for a first go and I would have had a picture for you if half of it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared already.  I can report that as it is made from what is virtually a batter rather than a stiff dough, it tastes much like a crusty crumpet and is very delicious, especially when it is still warm.  I will have another go.

I had plenty of time to look at birds this morning while I was cooking and for once, there were plenty of birds to look at…

busy feeder

…including another visit from our resident robin.

robin on chair

I liked these two goldfinches keeping a communal eye out…

two contrary goldfinches

..perhaps checking for siskins, one or two of which made a welcome re-appearance.

siskin

I did think of going for a cycle ride while the mixture was rising but a rather gloomy forecast persuaded me that a walk was a better option so I went along to check out the Becks wood.

It was reasonably warm but grey and windy so I resolved to try a few black and whites on my way.

bw bench

I thought that this old tree stump, entirely given over to moss deserved the full colour treatment….

moss covered stump

…as did this elegantly gesturing tree…

expressive tree

…but an old shack often looks better in monochrome.

shed bw

In among the hundreds of new trees in tubes in the recently felled Becks wood are some rather weedy looking survivors of the cull.  This one looked as though it was bending down to greet the newcomers.

bending tree bw

The wood has been thoroughly cleared of felled trees and brashings and the scale of the new planting is impressive.  Although some locals mourn the loss of the commercial conifer plantation, I for one look forward to the new deciduous wood and enjoy the much improved views in the meantime.

view down becks burn

I went through the wood, down the road and across the Auld Stane Brig before climbing up the lower slopes of Warbla on the far side of the valley.  I kept an eye out for interesting stones and was much struck by this one with lichens on it nearly as decorative as a Maori tattoo.

warbla stane with lichen

An old tree trunk posed for a picture.

rotting log

I had thought of taking the track to the top of the hill but when I looked around, I could see low clouds coming in from all sides…

mist coming down

… so I took a more direct route home through the Kernigal wood and along the Stubholm track..

bw wood walk

…before dropping down into the park and passing a favourite wall.

moss on wall

When I got back to our house, the snowdrops on the bank of the dam were out…

dam snowdrops flourishing

…as was much of the moss on the middle lawn which had been pecked by jackdaws…

lawn pecking

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had gone off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.

My timing was good as it started to drizzle as I got home and it kept it up for the rest of the day.

Left to myself, I baked the bread, did the crossword and settled down to trying to learn a Carlisle Choir song off by heart.  This was a thankless task because as soon as I had mastered one phrase, I found that I had forgotten the previous one.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and in the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for one of the highlights of its annual programme.   Fresh from touring China and playing in Inverness, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with 60 players, had come to play their Viennese New Year’s concert to a full house.  I cannot speak too highly of the privilege it is for us to get a full scale symphony orchestra playing in our town of 2500 inhabitants.  We sit so close to the orchestra that the experience is absolutely thrilling and the slightly dry acoustic, which the players find hard work, means that the audience can appreciate every note that is played by every instrument.

The conductor even told several very amusing jokes.

A grand night out in every way.

As we have a full singing day tomorrow, I am expecting the weather to take turn for the better.

Although there were a lot of birds, poor light made finding a good flying bird of the day hard work and this was the best that I managed.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has been suffering from a bad cold but has recovered enough to walk up to Kenwood House to have a coffee and a mince pie in the cafe.  She found a very fine day for her excursion.

kenwood house in sun

We had another calm and sunny day here today but we paid the price for a clear night by having a frosty morning.

frosty chaffinches

The chill encouraged a few birds to come to the feeder and it persuaded me to go for a walk rather than a cycle ride after coffee as the the thermometer was still showing a meagre 1°C at 11 o’clock.  This may have been too cold for pedalling but it was ideal for walking as the ground was nicely firm under foot when I got on to the hill.

I walked up the track to Whita from the town.

I was surprised to find a dandelion out as well as a garden escape on my way up the Kirk Wynd but the blooming gorse on the hill was no surprise as it is out all over the place.

dandelion, shrub and gorse january

There was no lichen looking cheerful on the wall at the top of the track but the moss was remarkable.  I don’t think that I have ever noticed it looking quite like this before.

moss heads

The view up the Ewes Valley did not disappoint and the weather seemed set fair for a stroll.

ewes valley from kirk wynd

When I got to the open hill, I didn’t continue straight up to the monument but turned right along the face of the hill following the old quarry track along the contours.

Looking across the town, I could see the Craig Wind Farm turbines rotating very lazily in the light breeze.  It was a pleasure to be out on such a day.

craig wind farm

I had a look at the trig points on the top of Warbla and Timpen.  In these days of digital mapping, they serve no useful purpose but I am glad that they haven’t been taken away as they provide a punctuation mark at the summits.  Both of them were dwarfed, the one on Warbla by the communications mast beside it, and the one on Timpen by a blade of a turbine nearly a mile away behind it.

two trig points

Three sheep pondered on my activities.

three sheep

When I reached the wall at the end of the track, I paused to look over the town.

town from quarry track

Below me, a field lined with tall trees vividly showed the difference between sunshine and shade.  I was glad to be in the sun.

shadowy frost

There are many photo opportunities round Langholm and this stile over the wall at the quarry is one of the most popular and I hardly ever cross it without stopping to take a picture.

quarry track stile

Today, this turned out to be slightly embarrassing for a gentlemen who was having a pee behind the gorse bush and hadn’t seen me coming.  He soon drifted out of shot though, muttering as he went.

I went diagonally down the hill towards the oak wood and followed the track through the wood down to the road…

oak wood round house

…passing an elegantly decaying tree trunk….

tree trunk

…and some fine hair ice on my way…

hair ice skippers

…to Skippers Bridge.  It was far too good a day to miss the photo opportunity there.

skippers bridge reflection

I walked back along the river without seeing anything exciting enough to make me stop again and got home after four miles just in time for lunch.

I was reflecting as I got back to town that I had just crossed moor and mountain and passed field and fountain and as it is Epiphany, I thought that  perhaps I ought to bring Mrs Tootlepedal some rich gifts.  I stopped at our corner shop and purchased milk and honey.  These would have been a pleasant surprise for her if I hadn’t met her cycling home from an errand just outside the shop.  She came in with me.  Still, she appreciated the thought.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw some sparrows.

sparrow eating seed

The males have rich colours on their backs which show up well in sunshine.

sparrow in sun

Once again, there were not many birds about so I let my lens stray towards the sedums round the feeder.

sedum

After lunch, I had an appointment with the speech therapist in Dumfries, 35 miles away but once again, thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to see and speak to her online which saved me a lengthy drive and a lot of time.  It is a very efficient system which has worked perfectly both times we have used it.  As a result of this week’s consultation, I will be humming down a straw into a glass of water for the next seven weeks.  She assures me that it will work wonders.

Later in the afternoon, I settled down to putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and finished putting the choir songs onto the computer.

This took longer than I expected and when I finally finished, it was time to cook some corned beef hash for my tea.

I have decided this year to keep a record of my walks as well as my cycle rides, partly to stop feeling that I should be cycling even when the conditions are not suitable and partly out of interest to see how far I walk.  I am only counting actual expeditions like today’s, not the ordinary pottering about house and garden.

As a result, I find that I have walked or cycled every day in 2019 so far, cycling 77 miles and walking 20.  That seems like quite a good balance.

I did find a flying bird of the day today as a chaffinch, some sunshine and a camera in hand all appeared at the same time for once.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows that she was in the right place at the right time to catch the sun illuminating a dogwood in Regents Park.

burning bush

December ended as it has been going on recently with a dry, mostly grey and reasonably warm day.  I was taking a break from cycling so I enjoyed the final coffee and scones of 2018 with Dropscone.  He had not lost any of his scone making skill over the holiday period so this was a good way to end the social year.

Along with Dropscone, we were visited by more birds than we have been seeing lately which was also welcome.

Goldfinches were queuing up to get a seat at the table…

many flying goldfinches

…and competing fiercely for the privilege.

flying goldfinches

Sometimes they let their good manners slip in their anxiety to snatch a sunflower heart from the feeder.

stamping goldfinch

And all too frequently, seeds went flying in the midst of all the excitement.

flying bird seed

Although it was pretty grey, it was a pleasant day so after Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk in the woods.  To give ourselves a good start, we drove a mile or so out of the town and parked next to a large fallen tree that had been sawn up and left beside the road.

Where the trunk had split, it was covered  in white fungus.

rotten tree

We walked up the track past the Longwood fields and passed many trees, some that stood proudly…

Longwood tree

…and some that were curiously knotted and twisted.

twisted tree

When we got to the woods, there was fungus, both big and small to be seen…

fungus in woods

…a dingly dell to cross…

dingly dell

…and a track through the old oak wood to follow.

oak wood

We were only out for a short walk so as soon as we got to the top of the oak wood, we headed back past a river of moss….

river of moss

…and made our return journey downhill through a birch wood that has grown up beside the oaks.

birch wood

We were going to take a diversion on our route back to the car by going along the old railway line, but fallen trees provided an obstacle….

old railway

….that was too low to crawl under and too high to jump over so we retraced our steps and went back by the path along the field.

This gave us the chance to enjoy the sight of a chestnut tree standing in a very neat pool of its own leaves.

chestnut with leaves

When we got back to the road, I took a moment to check out a favourite mossy wall…

mossy wall

…which was rich in interest…

lichen and moss on wall

…for those who like this sort of thing, among whom is numbered yours truly.

We had a walk round our garden when we got home and I was pleased to find that the sweet rocket had managed another flower or two, a single snowdrop was showing a touch of colour and a groundsel was growing in the drive.  The groundsel pleased me for its little patch of colour…

three late flowers

…but Mrs Tootlepedal was not so happy about it and it soon suffered from being comprehensively weeded.

After lunch, the last of the duck soup, a weak sun appeared for a while and illuminated a dove and a pigeon in the plum tree.

dove and pigeon

It also lit up the holly in our neighbour’s garden.

bright holly in garden

I did think of going for another walk to take advantage of the sun but I dithered a bit and by the time that I came to make a decision, the sun had gone and the clouds were grey again.

This was the moment that a robin came out.

robin on chair

I spent so much time thinking of things that I might do in the afternoon and so little time in actually doing anything useful that it was time for the evening meal before I knew it. Still ending the year on a restful note was no bad thing and I should be full of pep when 2019 arrives tomorrow.  Here’s hoping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the patient and forbearing readers of these posts over the past year for their company which makes writing and taking pictures very rewarding.  I would like also to express special gratitude for those who add their many kind, amusing and useful comments.

The honour of being the final flying bird of the year has fallen to this goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

I don’t usually end with a quote but I think think Robert Burns speaks for many when he wrote to the wee. sleekit, timorous mouse words which apply just as well to the politics of 2018 and 2019:

“But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

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Today’s guest picture is another from Joe and shows our daughter Annie crossing a bridge in the highlands when she came to it.

highland bridge

I was anxious to make up for the defect in my spreadsheet calculations by having a 30 mile plus cycle ride today so I was pleased when I got up to find that the temperature had stayed at a very temperate 9°C, the wind wasn’t whistling and the rain was staying firmly in the clouds.  Under the circumstances, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to represent the family in the church choir and set off to visit a well known bench in Newtown, twenty miles away.

I reached the bench without any undue excitement….

Newtown bench

…had a drink and a few raisins and set off back home again as it wasn’t a day to linger about taking in some rays.

I stopped at the bridge over the Esk in Longtown..

Esk at Longtown

….out of respect for my legs which were muttering under their breath at this point.

And got home in good order after finally (and definitively) reaching 4000 miles for the year.  My secret target had been 4200 but the pulled leg muscle in November put paid to that and 4012 miles will just have to do.

It was made up of 153 rides with 320 hours in the saddle, meaning an average distance per ride of 26.2 miles at an average speed of 12.5 mph.  As 827 of the miles were done on my slow bike while I was waiting for my new bike to arrive, the average speed for the new bike will be a bit higher than that but not a great deal.

It was still warm and dry when I got home so after a nourishing plate of duck soup and some bread and cheese, I went out for a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We chose a modest two bridge walk up one side of the river and down the other. Mrs Tootlepedal strode out bravely, ignoring the trees leaning over the path….

Riverside path with Mrs T

…and the ones that had leaned finally and fatally in the woods along side.

fallen trees beside the river

This bank of the river spends a lot of its life in shade and the trees are very mossy to say the least.

mossy tree

But they are very much alive and the catkins and buds on a birch beside the Duchess Bridge were looking very healthy.

birch catkins

We crossed the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess Bridge

…passed a fine show of ferns…

ferns

…and walked onto the Castleholm track through a gate with a garden of moss on the gatepost.

moss on gate close up

Looked at more closely, the moss seems rich and lush.

moss on gate

Further on, the trunk of a Scots pine showed evidence of wear and tear…

pine tree trunk

…and a fallen birch was playing host to a splendid set of birch polypores.

birch polypore

To my eye, this tree on the bank of the river had the look of a samba dancer with a skimpy backless costume of fern.

tree with ferns

We crossed the Jubilee Bridge and took the track behind the school where we came across what looked at first sight to be a shrub in full flower…

pernettya bush

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eye noticed that the colour came from berries and not from flowers….

pernettya berries

…and she correctly identified it as a pernettya, presumably a garden escape.

Although it was still quite early when we got home, the gathering gloom made taking pictures of birds on the feeder impossible so I didn’t even check to see if there were any about and it wasn’t long before the curtains were drawn and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked gammon and egg for tea and it was very satisfying to have a serving of home grown marrow on the side.  The marrows were picked a long time ago and have survived very well in a cool place with no special care required.

In the absence of a garden bird, the non flying bird of the day is one from the Castleholm.  It sang very loudly and continuously as we walked down the path but it was too far away for a good identification.  We wondered if it might be a blackbird or a thrush.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

singing bird in tree

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Today’s guest picture from Joe comes from his Highland holiday with our daughter Annie and shows a deer taking a breather before getting ready to pull Santa’s sleigh.

Joe's deer

In a contrast to yesterday’s wall to sunshine, we got wall to wall mist today…

Christmas day view

…so it was lucky that it was Christmas Day and there was feasting and general jollity indoors to pass the time.

While preparations were being made for roast duck and all the trimmings, I cast occasional glances out of the window.  It was far too gloomy for good pictures but I could record the welcome visits to the feeder of an occasional siskin and greenfinch…

siskin and greenfinch

…and although we couldn’t run to a partridge in our pear tree, we did at least manage the nearest thing to two turtle doves that is available round here.

pair of collared doves

After a Christmas lunch that could best be described as very full filling, I decided that if I was going to eat any more, I needed a walk.

It was very gloomy indeed outside…

black day from park bridge

…and I needed my flash to show the moss on a tree trunk along the river side.

moss with drops

I walked up the track to Stubholm and was surprised to see a fallen tree.  I didn’t think that we had had bad enough weather to cause a collapse like  this.

fallen tree on Stubholm track

Once at the top of the hill, the views were even more circumscribed, with ghostly animals and buildings in the fields….

view of field from stubholm in mist

…a very limited view of the town….

view of town from stubholm in mist

…and no view of the hills at all.

view from stubholm in mist

Once again my flash came to the rescue and added a little colour and seasonable sparkle to my walk…

park wall grass baubles 2

…as the park wall once again held items of interest to the passer by.

park wall grass baubles 1

I got back in time for afternoon tea with tasteful canapes, ginger biscuits and Christmas cake in company with Mike and Alison.  Alison’s shoulder is recovering slowly but it will be some weeks before our Friday evening music making is resumed.

There followed traditional sofa slumping in front of the telly and as we had eaten very well already, the evening meal was abandoned for selective grazing of left overs with a modest helping of plum pudding to round things off.

Thanks to the wonders of telephony, we had conversations with family members all over Britain so we were not short of seasonal good wishes and all in all, it has been a very satisfactory day.

There is no flying bird of the day today because of the gloom but at least a seasonal robin popped up to pose for the occasion.

robin on back of seat

 

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