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Posts Tagged ‘moss’

Today’s guest picture comes from a Welsh correspondent Keiron.  He saw this fine tree in Ystradgynlais a day or two ago and thought that I might like it as I am fond of trees.

Ystradgynlais tree

It was a sunny day here today, but as it was also freezing when we got up, we were in no hurry to get the active part of the day going and sat and read the papers after breakfast until it was time for coffee.

The birds were not very active either, and the only birds that came near the feeder in the morning were a pair of chaffinches.

frosty chaffinch

Stimulated by our cup of coffee, we leapt gently into action and went for a walk.  We did think of a drive to a start point but we couldn’t think of one which we both fancied so we settled for the walk from the town up the River Esk to Potholm and back again.

We had done this walk three weeks ago an a very gloomy day so this time we decided to go round it in the opposite direction, starting by crossing the river by the Langholm Bridge.

There were plenty of gulls to be seen on the river when we looked from the bridge….

view from Langholm Bridge

…and I had my bird camera with me, so we stopped for a moment to enjoy the black headed gulls in flight and on the ground.

four gull panel

It was a grand day for a walk, and if you could get out of the chilly wind, there was even a hint of warmth from the sun.

Although we were walking a familiar route, it didn’t stop us enjoying the sights as we went along through the woods…

road to Holmhead

…over culverts….

bridge on Longfauld track

…and past tree plantations.

young spruce in winter

The views up the valley were delightful in the sunshine.

view of Milnholm

Rather to her surprise, Mrs Tootlepedal had read recently that beech tree leaf litter is slow to rot and does not contain much in the way of useful nutrients  and with that in mind, the clear ground under the beech trees which we passed was explained.

beech wood longfauld

I have always liked the openness of beech woods but I had never understood that the beech leaves themselves were probably suppressing the competition on the forest floor.

There was not a lot of fungus to be seen but I liked this colourful clump on a tree stump at Potholm..

tree stump fungus

…and this pale outbreak on a growing sapling near by.

fungus on sapling

As I had my bird camera with me, we kept an eye out for buzzards on the way.  The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted quite a few, but they were circling high in the sky and my 300mm lens could not get very close to them.

two high buzzards

At one time, we could see five at the same time, but all them out of range.

A robin in a tree at Potholm as we came down to the bridge was more co-operative and sang loudly to make sure that we didn’t miss it.

robin at Potholm

On the bank below the robin, snowdrops were talking about spring.

snowdrops at Potholm

We stopped at the bridge for a small snack…

potholm bridge

…and then we headed homewards along the road.  The fields were astonishingly green.

green fields milnholm

A  young cow regarded us with curiosity.

cow on potholm road

And the wall beside the road offered a feast of lichen.

six lichen on potholm road wall

At the end of the Potholm road, we joined the main road back into Langholm.  It is lined with concrete posts which hold the metal bars which stop errant cars falling down the steep slope into the river below.  Two of the posts caught my eye.

two concrete fence posts B709

We got home after 5.4 miles, quite ready for a cup of tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal had enough strength left to cycle down to the Co-op to do some shopping so that she could make a dahl for our evening meal and I had enough strength left to eat it.  It was very good and rounded off a peacefully pleasant day very well.

One of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day,

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s visit to Liverpool.  He bumped into a bunch of lads on the street but they  gave him the cold shoulder.

beatles

Just as I was going to bed (rather late) last night, I was tempted to look out of the window and a bright and almost full moon made me go and get my camera.

moon nearly full

It is a pity that the skies are not clear tonight as not only is the moon full but there is a lunar eclipse which would have been fun to watch.

Still, you can’t have everything and I did start the day off with coffee and treacle scones as Dropscone arrived bearing gifts.  He also brought a very sad tale with him.

He told me that he had lost nine balls in one round while playing golf recently.  I was shocked and worried that he had forgotten how to play properly.  However, it turned out that it wasn’t incompetence but a thieving crow (or crows) that was responsible for the mayhem.  The Langholm Golf Club has been plagued by crows brazenly stealing golf balls from the middle of the fairway for the last couple of weeks.

Dropscone estimates that as many as 100 balls may have been pilfered.  Somewhere around the town, there must be a huge stash but no-one has been able to pinpoint its whereabouts yet.

I checked some of my informants.

This goldfinch claimed that it knows nothing.

goldfinch close up

And a green finch was insulted by even being asked about it.

greenfinch staring

And a dunnock ignored my questions entirely.

dunnock on kerb

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided on a walk.  It had been freezing in the early morning but the temperature had got up to 4 degrees C, too cold for worry free cycling but fine for a winter walk.  I had a stroll round the garden before we went, and liked the droplets on the perennial nasturtium.

nasturtium with droplets

Many of the hills round the town had low cloud down on them as we drove off in the car but when we parked near the top of Callister five miles away, there was sunshine to greet our walk along the forestry track.

westwater walk

We last walked along this track three months ago and this second visit was well worth while as the track is home to all sorts of interesting things, such as pixie cup lichen growing on flat ground, not a common sight…

pixie cup lichen on ground

…and self seeded Christmas trees along the verge…

self seeded xmas tree

….as well as some very bright red moss sporangia.

red moss sporanges

We had to look where we were going when we got to a shady section of the track higher up the hill as there was still some snow lying…

snow on westwater track

…but at least we were in the sunshine while neighbouring hills still had their heads in the clouds.

clouds on hills

We could see the Ewe Hill Wind farm on the horizon at our turning point…

ewes windfarm from westwater track

…where we paused for a moment and wondered whether we should go down a steep hill in the hope of finding a different way back to the road.

clouds and blue sky

As you can see from the picture above, there was plenty of blue sky about but you had to look straight up to see it.  We decided against going down the hill and retraced our steps.

There was a nippy wind blowing in our faces as we went back towards the car and I was pleased to have my new jacket with a capacious hood to protect me from the chill.   Mrs Tootlepedal kindly took a picture of the jacket in action in reply to request for a picture from a couple of readers.

new jacket

Although my ankles may look a bit exposed, they are well covered by water and windproof socks which do a good job of keeping my feet warm, and my shoes are waterproof too so I was very snug

Another wind farm at the Craig came into view on our way home and as the sun had down a good job of clearing snow from the track….

viw of craig windfarm from westwater track

…I was able to have a good look for lichen…

three sorts of lichen

…as we walked back into the sun towards the car.

Mrs Tootlepedal had her big coat on too.Mrs T westwater track

Although it wasn’t a long walk, it had felt very good to be out and about and we enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as the weather tomorrow looks as though it is going to be quite bad with rain and a gale, and not suitable for outdoor life at all.

After our long day yesterday, we were happy to have a quiet time once we got home and we let the rest of the day drift away peacefully.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my nephew Dan who is in Tromsø in Norway.  It rained so much that he and his companion had to take refuge in the Tromsdalen Church, sometimes called the Arctic Cathedral.

Tromsø Tromsdalen Church or the Arctic Cathedral

The forecast, which had suggested a sunny day and a temperature of five degrees by lunchtime, was partially right.  We did have a beautifully sunny day but the temperature  was still below two degrees at lunchtime, and the lawn was still covered in frost.

frozen lawn

Any thoughts of cycling had had to be abandoned.

Circumstances have not been kind to my cycling ambitions in November and December and after doing sixteen hundred miles in the four months from July to October, I have barely done three hundred miles in the last two months of the year.  I am hoping for no injuries and better weather next year.  I started this year hoping to do 4000 miles and have had to settle for a little bit over 3000 instead, but I have done more walking recently so I am reasonably content.

The roads were a bit icy in the morning so I did the crossword, had coffee and watched the birds.

They were looking cheerful in the sun.

sunny chaffinch

A dunnock tried to look like a heron…

sunny dunnock

…and a siskin tried to find someone to argue with…

sunny siskin

…while the robin made a welcome re-appearance after a few days of being invisible.

sunny robin

The bird that I was most pleased to see was this lesser redpoll, the first one that I have seen this winter.

first redpoll of winter

After lunch, I set out to make some use of the sunshine.  I still had to tread carefully while I was in the town as there were icy spots here and there, but once I got onto the track up Warbla, the going was good.

It was easy to see where the fields had been in shadow during the morning.

sheep in sunshine

Looking across the Wauchope valley,  I could see a favourite little ridge, Naze Hill, which is pleasingly symmetrical.

naze hill

I had to pay some attention to where I was walking as well as looking at the view because there were icy puddles on the track.

ice on warbla

I tried to avoid taking too many pictures because I posted quite a few shots of this walk not long ago when I came the same hill with Mrs Tootlepedal, but it was such a lovely day that I had to take one or two when I got to the summit.

view up esk valley from warbla

Holmwood and the Esk Valley

langholm from warbla

Langholm and the Ewes Valley

On this occasion, I did not go back home by walking down the way that I had come up.  I headed on down the far side of the hill, roughly following the line of the electricity poles which would take me down to Skippers Bridge in the end.

view of way south from warbla

It was rough ground but the frost kept things firm and made the moss look very festive.

frozen moss

Towards the bottom of the hill, I was on the shady side of the ridge and there was a distinct chill about.

two warbla trees

As I walked down to the main road, I was surprised to see some hair ice beside the path, but as I went on, I could see that there was a lot of it about.

hair ice

Wikipedia tells me:

In the year 2015, German and Swiss scientists identified the fungus Exidiopsis effusa as key to the formation of hair ice. The fungus was found on every hair ice sample examined by the researchers, and disabling the fungus with fungicide or hot water prevented hair ice formation.  The fungus shapes the ice into fine hairs through an uncertain mechanism and likely stabilizes it by providing a recrystallization inhibitor similar to antifreeze proteins.

The fungus must be spreading round Langholm because I see more hair ice every year.

I crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back to the town along the river bank.  There is a fine tree beside the river at the Co-op store.  It has some good fungus and a mysterious tag which has been nailed on to it.

tree at Co-op

I have noticed several trees round the town with these little tags on them and would welcome help from any reader who can shed light on what they are for.

The sun was still high enough to shine on me when I got back to the town so instead of crossing the suspension  bridge, I continued on to the Kilngreen and had a word with the gulls.  They were also enjoying the sun.

gulls on grass

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the bottom of the Castleholm, where the castle was doing a little basking in the  sun too…

Langholm castle in sun

…and went home via the Jubilee Bridge and our corner shop.  Our neighbour Liz was doing a little shopping there too so we walked home together.

I had done five miles and that proved quite enough exercise for me for the day.  I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing some creative sofa slumping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the blog over the past year, and in particular those who have added the always polite and often informative comments that make writing the blog feel worthwhile for me.

I hope that 2020 brings readers all that they might wish and a little bit more.

I personally am keeping my fingers crossed that our National Health Service can weather the storms ahead.  Our church organist Henry, who drives a bus for a living, recently had to wait three minutes to get an emergency call answered when a passenger had an epileptic fit on his bus.  When his call was finally answered, the call handler told him that as his passenger wasn’t actually dying, no ambulance would be sent out.  This is not very satisfactory.  Voters will have to learn that there is a crucial link between paying taxes and having a good health service and politicians will need to learn that leaving sick people lying beside roads at night is a matter of great shame in a civilised country. (Henry took the patient home in his bus.)

On that cheerful note, I end by wishing all and sundry a very happy new year.  I hope to meet you all again next year.

The flying bird of the day is a gull, disturbed by an elderly walker and heading for a fence post.

gull landing on post

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  I have seen many murmurations of starlings before but I have never seen one where the starlings murmured in the actual shape of a starling.   She was on the Somerset levels when she took this amazing picture.

Ham Wall on the Avalon Marshes

We had another morning of family fun with Matilda and her parents and then, after a light but creative lunch, Al, Clare and Matilda got into their car and drove off to Edinburgh.  There was no argument, it had been a very good Christmas, and we were sad to see them go.

On the down side, as is probably inevitable over the Christmas period, too much eating had gone on, and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt that a good walk was needed to help shoogle down some of the surplus calories.

We started off at two o’clock and it was already very grey as we walked up the road past Holmwood…..

P1010144

The camera needed its flash to record another concrete fence post with a mossy head.  This one looked as though it needed a hair cut.

P1010145

The ways of walls are curious.  This one beside the road was absolutely covered in moss until it wasn’t.  Why the moss had chosen to stop there is one of the questions that may never be answered.

P1010146

And just round the corner, the moss gave way to a huge collection of spleenwort.  The wall is covered with it for many metres.

P1010147

We turned off the main road and walked along the quiet back road to Potholm.  Even on a grey day, the country has its charms…

P1010148

…and the mist was rising off the hills as we went along.

P1010149

Our plan was to walk to Potholm along one side of the Esk, cross the bridge and walk back to Langholm on the other side of the river.  We paused to consider our options though when a furious fusillade of shots rang out across the valley.   A pheasant shoot was taking place along our route home.

Would it be finished by the time that we got there?  We thought that it would, and walked on.   There must have been a lot of pheasants about though because the shooting went on for ages and we were across the bridge at Potholm before it stopped.

I looked back from the bridge at Milnholm farmhouse, judiciously perched on a little ridge above the floodplain.

P1010151

I had been a bit worried that it might be dark before we got home and the forecast had been for a good chance of rain on the way, but it stayed dry.  It even got a little brighter at one moment so we could look back down the valley and the see the way that we had come.

Our road is hidden behind the wall that runs along the top of the fields.

P1010152

As we passed the lonesome pine, we could hear gamekeepers whistling to their dogs as they collected the ‘bag’ for the day.

P1010153

The shooting had finished by the time we got to the scene and we were able to walk past unscathed.

When we were passing the pheasant hatchery, we noticed another victim of the wet and windy weather.  Our trees grow in shallow soil.

P1010155

By the time that we got to the Duchess Bridge, it was too dark to take pictures…

P1010156

…but we were very pleased to get home while it was still light enough to be able to walk in comfort.  We had managed 5 miles in just under two hours and it had been warm enough for us to unbutton our coats and I had taken off my new Christmas gloves too.

The trouble about having a good walk to shake down too much eating is that it gives you an appetite.  I had two slices of Christmas cake with my post walk cup of tea. Ah well, I can always have another walk tomorrow.

It’s very quiet here with no-one to play Ludo and Snakes and Ladders with me.

The flying birds of the day are a small flock of gulls, disturbed by the pheasant shooters and looking for somewhere with a bit of peace and quiet.

P1010150

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gunta, a correspondent and fellow blogger who lives in SW Oregon.  Knowing that I like bridges, she has sent me this fine example, one of the most notable bridges in the Pacific Northwest.  It crosses the Rogue River near its mouth.

Rogue River

We are only a day or two away from the shortest day of the year and there was no mistake about that here as the weather varied from quite gloomy to very gloomy.  In two weeks time, things will start to look up again, but it couldn’t have been much darker than it was today.

I was hoping for treacle scones to cheer things up but Dropscone had been sent off by his daughter Susan to do some necessary seasonal shopping  and was unavailable.

I watched the birds instead.

Siskins are messy eaters.  I don’t know how they do it.  Food flies off in every direction.

messy siskin

Birds were flying off in every direction too.

busy feeder

We had mostly siskins and goldfinches again and when chaffinches tried to get a seat at the table, they were given a frosty welcome.

chaffinch visiting goldfinches and siskins

In general, I idled the morning away and eventually cycled round to our new corner shop with a camera in my pocket and hoping to see something interesting at the river side on my way.  Not a bird was to be seen.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have a lunch with her ex work colleagues and I contemplated a grey cycle ride while she was away, as it was reasonably warm and the wind was light.

Luckily she rang me up to remind me that my Langholm choir was due to sing carols at the old folks’ lunch at the Day Centre.  That put the kibosh on cycling and left me just enough time for a quick wander round Gaskell’s Walk.

I like to keep an eye on fences and I was impressed by the full head of moss on this concrete post at Pool Corner.

mossy fence post

Even in winter, a little valley still has charm.  This is the Becks Burn just before it joins the Wauchope Water.

Becks burn at wauchope road

A bit further on, a burst of red and pale green caught my attention.  The bottom half of the branches on a hawthorn bush were covered in lichen with hardly a haw to be seen and the top half was covered with haws with hardly a scrap of lichen about.  Nature is mysterious in its ways.

haws and lichen

Some vandal, trying to be helpful, had put a discarded welly boot over the top of a fence post at the Auld Stane Brig, doubtless thinking that the boot’s owner would come and rescue it.  As this fence post is home to a lovely little lichen garden, I was worried but when I pulled the welly off, I found that the garden had survived.

Indeed, it was looking very healthy…

lichen fence post garden

…but I didn’t put the welly back.

One of the advantages of winter walking is that when the leaves fall off the trees, you can see things better.  I enjoyed the swirling waters of the Wauchope rushing through a rocky ravine below the path.

wauchope from Gaskells track

The silver birches which have sprung up since the conifer plantation along the path was felled have turned a rather rich brown colour.

brown silver birches

There was no escaping the fact that it was a gloomy day though, unsuitable for taking pictures and with the clouds firmly clamped on the hills.

clouds down on Whita

The sheep looked up from their grazing as I passed.  We have a good variety of sheep around the town.

inquisitive sheep

As I came down the steps that lead to the park, I noticed that someone had cleared the path that circles the big tree next to the playground.

I thought that this resulted in a rather cinematic image and fully expected to see a beautiful but sad person, pacing slowly round the circle accompanied by mournful mood music.

park circle

No such person appeared and I walked on.

Even the trees looked sad today.

sad tree at church

When I got home, I saw a blackbird on a neighbour’s roof and a collared dove on a wire.

blackbird and dove

The only bright spot in the garden itself was some snowberries.

snow berries garden

I had just enough time for a bowl of soup before I went off to sing carols.  A good number of choir members had turned out for the occasion and we gave a lusty rendition of several favourite songs and were rewarded with a good round of applause when we finished….or perhaps because we had finished.  Sometimes it is hard to tell.

By the time that I got home, it was too dark to do anything outside so I sat at the computer and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group index and practised my flute, with the computer playing the continuo part, until Mrs Tootlepedal came home from yet another meeting of the proposed moorland buyout group.  They are working very hard on the project.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable play.  I wasn’t playing particularly well myself in spite of the earlier practice, but just making music is always a cheerful thing to do.

With Christmas fast approaching, I fear that there is no alternative but to go shopping ourselves tomorrow.  If the weather forecast is right, I might get a short pedal in before we go.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many goldfinches.  In the poor light, this was the best that I could do.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another of Paul’s Lake District delights.  Knowing that I like bridges, he sent me this one of a the bridge at Rosthwaite in Borrowdale.

Rosthwaite in Borrowdale used

We had a chilly day here, but as it was above freezing and dry, we weren’t complaining.  I thought that it was too cold for cycling though and I spent an idle morning indoors.  I didn’t shift myself until Mrs Tootlepedal went off to her annual embroiderers’ lunch.

I had a couple of slices of bread and marmalade for my own lunch and set out for a walk.  There was a brisk wind blowing when I got out of the shelter of the town that made my decision to avoid cycling feel sensible.

I am trying to get a bit fitter as far as walking goes so I set off down the track beside the river at a good speed and didn’t stop for a mile.

I wasn’t going to stop when I got to Skippers Bridge but a glance over the parapet revealed an old friend standing beside the river, possibly looking at the same turbulent little cascade that I like.

heron at skipeprs

I crossed the bridge and walked along the road on the other side of the river, still heading downstream, until I left the river and walked up the hill towards the bird hide.

As always, walls and fence posts were rich with things to look at.

moss and lichen

This wall in particular is a favourite of mine as it is covered in moss and lichen…

mossy wall

…and ferns.  The ferns were covered in sporangia.

ferns on wall

I didn’t go as far up the road as the bird hide, but turned off at Broomholmshiels to head back home.

A bare tree caught my eye, and on this occasion, I didn’t mind the power lines behind it as they would be a help to me later on.

tree and power lines

Two sheep checked on my progress.

two blackfaced sheep

Normally, if I walk back to the town from Broomholmshiels, I  take a track that runs though oak and birch woods to the Round House, but there has been a lot of recent maintenance work on the pylons in our area and a new road has been built to give access to one of them.

You can see the woods for my usual route on the left in this picture.  I followed the new road up the hill to the right.new pylon track

On the open hill, the wind was very nippy and I looked around for a hint of sunshine.  it was brighter over there behind the trees….

bare trees broomholm track

…and there was a definite spot of sunshine straight ahead…

patch of sun

…but it remained grey where I was walking.  The new road soon ran out, and I followed the line of pylons on a well trodden walking path through the bracken.

path to pylon

It was refreshing to mind and soul to be out on the hill with good views and good conditions underfoot.  I was particularly pleased not to be over there….

stormy weather

…where they might have had sun but it looked as though there was a heavy rain shower too.

I lost track of the path for a while and found myself ploughing through heather and bracken for a few hundred yards.  This was hard going so I was happy when the town came into sight and gave me an excuse to stop and take a picture.

Langholm from pylon track

I caught up with the path again when I got to the stile over the wall at the quarries.  This stile is always welcome as not only it is a good photo opportunity, but it also signals that it is all downhill to get home from here.

stile on whita wall

Although it was a grey day, my walk wasn’t entirely devoid of colour as there was a mass of haws on the hawthorns near the quarry…

 

hawthorns on Whita

…and a good set of flowers on the gorse near the golf course.

gorse near golf course

I walked down the golf course passing the fifth green where the wind was bending the flagpole and extending the flag.

fifth green flag

I had taken enough pictures by now so I concentrated on not slipping over as I walked down the steep hill back into town and kept my camera in my pocket until I got to the Kirk Bridge where the Wauhope Water joins the Esk.

A year ago, this scene would have looked very different with all the water going under the left hand arch but a recent flood altered the deposition of the gravel and now both arches enjoy a share of the flow but with a good gravel bank dividing the water once it is through the bridge.

kirk brig

I had a walk round the garden when I got back and found that the St John’s Wort in the vegetable garden still has a good crop of berries on it.  I read that the berries are fleshy and not attractive to birds until they split and reveal the seeds.

st johns wort berries

When I went into the house, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had come back from her lunch and was watching horse racing on the telly so I sat down and watched a few races with her.

I was very pleased to find when I checked that I had walked five miles, some of it over rough ground and with quite a lot of uphill work in it too.  I had taken more or less exactly two hours.  This may not sound very far or fast, but considering that I was having quite a lot of difficulty in walking at all in the early months of the year because of sore feet, this was a great improvement.  Better shoes, good insoles and a regular routine of exercises have all helped the turn around.

All the same, I was quite tired and happily spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing nothing more adventurous than cooking corn beef hash for tea and watching the final of Strictly Come Dancing with Mrs Tootlepedal.

What with one thing and another, I was never at the right place at the right time to catch a flying bird today and there were very few birds about anyway, so this fluffy greenfinch is standing in for the flying bird of the day today.

greenfinch

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I have a rich seam of guest pictures at the moment, so thank you to all who have contributed.  Today’s comes from my sister Mary.  She went up towards the Greenwich Observatory and looked back behind her on the way.

greenwich view

The slight warming of our weather continued today and there was no need to use the handy pre-heating facility on the Zoe before we drove down to Longtown for a visit to the opticians.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was answering difficult questions about the comparative readability of this…or this…or this…or this…

…I went down to the riverside to have a look at the bridge over the Esk.  Some weeks ago we heard a rumour that the bridge had fallen down, but this turned out to be an exaggeration.  This was lucky as we had crossed it to get to our appointment.

I passed an extremely severely pollarded tree on my way to the river.

lopped tree Longtown

No compromise with beauty there.

As you can see the bridge is still standing with all its arches intact…

Longtown bridge

…and fortunately the section that fell down was underneath a pavement on the approach to the bridge and not under the road itself so traffic has been able to keep crossing in a single lane on the far side.

Longtown bridge collapse

The arches themselves look well enough constructed to last for another hundred years at least. Longtown bridge piers

I learn from the Undiscovered Scotland website that “the Reverend Robert Graham inherited the family estate of the Grahams of Netherby. He began by building Longtown Bridge, which crosses the River Esk on the line of the Edinburgh to Carlisle road in 1756. The bridge was widened and strengthened in 1889 and again more recently.”  It has stood the test of time.  I take it that it was the recent alterations that have fallen down.

I walked up onto the bridge approach and looked down at the damage.  Quite a bit had fallen off.

Longtown bridge rubble

Then I went and had my turn with the difficult questions.  My eyes are so different that I can read the very small bottom line of the opticians chart with one eye and only the very big letter at the top with my other one.  However, I get good glasses from Mr Hagen so I don’t bang into things too much, though this may explain why I was hopeless at sport when I was young.

The most important thing is that my eyes were passed as perfectly fit for driving.

We drove back to Langholm and I dropped Mrs Tootlepedal off at home before taking the Zoe into the local garage to get a slow puncture fixed.  This was a nervous business for me as there is no spare wheel and no jacking points on the car and the battery lies flat along the bottom of the frame.   The garage was equal to the task of getting the wheel off without electrocuting themselves and an intrusive nail was removed and the tyre satisfactorily plugged.

I got back to find our ex-minister Scott having a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal.  I was deeply surprised that his scone radar had not told him that if he had come yesterday, he would have got a teacake to go with it.

It was good to catch up with his news.

When he had gone, I looked for birds on the feeder.  They were few and far between.  I captured a lone siskin and that was it for today.

SISKIN

We had lunch and then I went out for a walk as it had got too late for a cycle ride by this time.

December is supposed to be the official start of winter, and I think it is fair to say that my walks have definitely become wintery.

beechy plains december

I passed reminders of last summer..

seed heads murtholm

…and hints of next spring…

buds murtholm

…as well as a selection of trees, both complicated…

tree skipperscleuch

…and straightforward.

tree on track to kernigal

The track took me into a spruce plantation with no views…

kernigal track

…but further along, the spruces have been felled and there were prospects of hill…

whita from kernigal

…and town.

town from kernigal

And of course, there is always moss.

moss in kernigal

The writing was on the tree trunks…

script lichen on trunk

..in the form of script lichen.

script lichen

I finished my walk with two bridges, one natural which I went under..

fallen tree hungry burn

…and one reflective which I crossed.

reflective park bridge

Early in the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to do front of house volunteer duties and after I had had a bit of choir song practice, I went along to see the show.

The occasion was not the usual entertainment at all but a recording of two programmes for Gardeners’ Question Time, a long standing and much loved BBC Radio 4 series.

The audience were asked to submit questions in advance and mine was among those chosen.  Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that my question related to plant photography and the panel gave some very good answers.  But whether it will feature in the programme when it is broadcast is unclear, as they almost certainly recorded more material for the two programmes than they needed.  The programmes will be broadcast in January next year.

Kathy Clugston was in the chair and the expert panel were Matthew Wilson, James Wong and Christine Walkden.  Ms Clugston was very composed and charming and the panel were extremely knowledgeable and helpful so it was a treat to be there.  Radio is a marvellous medium and the lack of fuss and egos throughout the recording was very marked.

The team had come to Langholm at the invitation of the Langholm Chilli Club, a very enterprising group which grows huge amounts of chillis in the town and surrounding neighbourhood.  You can find out more about them here if you want.

My friend Sue Toon kindly sent me this picture of the panel which was taken by Roddy. of the chilli club.

GQT

None of the panellists have wings but this is the flying bird of the day!

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