Posts Tagged ‘Pool Corner’

My South African correspondent, Tom, thought that it was time to make the blog more attractive to the wider public so he has sent me this delectable picture of bare flesh.  They have to put up with a lot of fine weather down there.


There was once again no danger of sunburn in Langholm as the temperature stayed near freezing all day.

I had to go back to the health centre to get the dressings on my scratches from the bike crash changed again.  Things are healing up very nicely though and I should be be clear of sticking plaster by the end of the week with luck.

After his own spell of illness, Scott, the minister, proved that he had got his coffee radar working well again and appeared for a visit just as coffee was on the go.  He is a keen cyclist and in view of the continuing bad weather, he has taken out a gym membership and had been spinning away in the gym before he came to see us.  I am thinking about the possibility of going to the gym.  But only thinking about it.

We had a look at progress on the dam bridge repair while he was with us.

dam bridge repairs

The concrete has set well and the big concrete beams were being lowered into place.

After Scott left, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and kept an eye on the birds while it was cooking.

Sometimes I wonder if there are more interesting things going on round the back of the feeder than at the front.


I have put out some ground level food and it is beginning to attract some customers.

blackbird and dunnock

A blackbird and a dunnock test out the new treat.

Two greenfinches arrived and showed magnificent disdain for the attempt by a chaffinch to unsettle them.

blacgreenfinches and chaffinch

And we were pleased to see a random great tit.

great tit

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set about stripping the old varnish off the dining room table and I went out for a walk.

I stopped at Pool Corner to show the sluice and caul that provide the water for the dam (and create the pool that gives Pool Corner its name)…

pool corner and the dam

…and while I was leaning on the wall and contemplating life, a dipper flew in and posed briefly for me.

dipper at Pool Corner

I walked up the Hallcrofts road to have a look at the progress of the felling at the Becks wood.  It is extensive.

Becks wood felling

You can click on the photo to get the bigger picture if you want.

A skilful combination of man and machine was adding to the already enormous pile of logs beside the road.


On a wall nearby, I studied a strand of moss and thought how much it resembled a conifer tree in miniature.

moss strand

I had checked the forecast before I had set out and it offered only a very small chance of any rain and I suppose it was right in a way as I had dry spells and I also went through a couple of heavy hail showers but it never actually rained.

sunshine and hail

Taken a twenty minutes apart

At least the hail stopped and looked good on some clumps of moss.

hail on moss

Although I am mostly thinking about moss, I haven’t lost my taste for lichens and fungus.

The lichen on the fence post at the Auld Stane Bridge was looking very healthy.  The red spots are so tiny that I didn’t see them until I looked at the picture on my computer.


And there was a good set of birch polypores beside the river as I went along Gaskell’s Walk.

birch polypore

After the hail showers, i would have been more appreciative if the sun had shone on me rather than on nearby hills…

sun on hill

…but at least it stayed dry for the rest of my walk.

Following some recent advice I looked at the sori on the back of ferns…

fern sori

…and following my own inclinations, I was impressed by the variety of moss within a square yard on the park wall.


The dam bridge repairs are now a spectator sport…..

dam bridge repairs

…and they are a subject of considerable interest in our neighbourhood.

I was a little tired today after all the excitements of going to Manchester yesterday so I was not as unhappy as I might have been to find that the usual Monday evening trio playing had been cancelled.  My flute pupil Luke came though and we had an enjoyable time working on a sonata so it wasn’t a totally tootle free day.

We noticed with sinking heart a telephone engineer climbing the pole outside our house in the late afternoon and were very relieved when he did what he had to do without cutting off our phone line this time.

When the workers had left, I popped out to record their progress on the bridge repair.  They and their machines had worked hard today.

dam bridge repairs

The forecast is for more strong winds, low temperatures and possible snow so I don’t think I am going to be able to test my cycling appetite and abilities for a few days yet.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in expansive mood,

flying goldfinch




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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, who sent me this fine shot of the bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross, one of the most spectacular roads in Scotland.

bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross

We had another day of frozen sunshine here, with temperatures at zero or below all day.  However, with stories of snow and slush in England, we certainly weren’t going to complain about a little tingle in the cheeks when we went outside.

It was still freezing hard when Dropscone came round (on his bike) bearing scones to go with our morning coffee.  He has just come back from seeing his eldest son in the south of England and had managed to avoid all the traffic chaos caused by wind, rain and snow recently so he was feeling quite smug.

After coffee, I tempted Mrs Tootlepedal out for a walk to enjoy the sun.

When we got to Pool Corner, we found the the Wauchope had completely frozen over…

frozen wauchope

…and it was definitely a good idea, where possible, to direct one’s feet to the sunny side of the street.


The sharp eyed reader will be able to spot Mrs Tootlepedal heading for a patch of sun.

I always like the combination of sycamore and cypress which line up so perfectly as you walk along the road here.

The absence of leaves, lets the lichen on the roadside bushes have its moment in the sun.


I try to keep an eye on fencepost tops on a day like this.

frozen fencepost

When we got to the Auld Stane Bridge, we could see that there was enough running water there to keep the Wauchope mostly free of ice.

frozen wauchope

We turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and I was looking for hair ice because this is a spot where it can often be found.  Unfortunately, a lot of the dead wood that grows the hair ice has been cleared and this small and not very exciting sample was the only bit around.

frost hair

On the other hand, there was any amount of decorative frost to be seen as we went along the track.

frosty leaves

I particularly liked two patterns which had formed on one of the small bridges on the track.  The Y shapes are wire netting which has been put there to improve the traction on the bridge on slippery days.

frost patterns

We were pleased to get out of the shady part of the walk and back into the sunshine…

Meikleholm Hill

…as even the low winter sun (10 days to go to the Winter Solstice!) had a bit of heat about it.

We had to keep our eyes down for quite a lot of the time as there were plenty of icy patches along the track but we made it up to the Stubholm on safety….

frosty bench

…and resisted any temptation to spoil the patterns on the bench there by sitting on it.

As we came down the hill to the park, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this fine crop of icicles…


…and this curious frozen formation on the track itself.


When we were out of the sun, it was a very blue day, chilly to feel and chilly to look at.

Langholm Church in winter

The benefit was the great number of interesting frosty things see.  This was some moss on the park wall.

frosty moss

And this was the frozen dam behind our house when we got home.

frozen dam

I made some warming potato and carrot soup for lunch and with the co-operation of our bread making machine, a dozen rolls, a couple of which we ate with our neighbour Liz who came round for tea later in the afternoon.  As she left, Mike Tinker arrived so we were well supplied with visitors today and this cheered up the cold late afternoon.

In between times, I looked out of the kitchen window.

I put out an apple and it disappeared into blackbirds in the twinkling of an aye.


This one looks as though he might have most of it.


The strong contrasts in the light and shade makes catching birds in the air tricky at the moment but I liked this dramatic scene.

flying chaffinch

Robins are easier to spot.


As are sitting birds.


My flute pupil Luke came in the evening and we had another go at our new sonata as well as working on the Quantz as well so he will have plenty do if he finds himself with an idle moment at home.  (I need to practise as well.)

Our Monday trio group is not going to meet again until the new year so although I miss the playing, I wasn’t entirely unhappy to have a quiet night in after travelling to Edinburgh and then having two concerts in the last four days.

I am hoping to get a few more cycling days in before the end of the month but the forecast is not optimistic.

The flying bird of the day is a chiaroscuro chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who was up in London to watch tennis at the O2 Arena. During a break in play, she ventured across the river on the Emirates cable car.

emirates air line

We could hear the rain pounding down overnight so it was no surprise to wake up to a dull and soggy day.  The heavy rain had eased off but there was a lot of drizzle in the morning.

This didn’t bother me too much as I was sat in the Welcome to Langholm office for two hours not welcoming any visitors at all.  This let me get completely caught up on my entries to the Archive Group’s  newspaper database so I regarded it as time well spent (though a visitor or two to welcome would have been welcome).

There was not much fun to be had in gardening or peering at bird feeders in the gloom so after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I braved a little light drizzle and went out on an expedition round Gaskell’s Walk.

I drew her attention to some exciting lichen just after we set out…


…but she was more interested in watching the overnight rain pouring over the caul at Pool Corner.

Pool corner

It must have rained a great deal last night.

I looked at larch trees which are gradually losing their needles but still offering a treat to the passer by.

larches at pool cornerlarches at pool corner

In a satisfactory way, they lose their needles from the bottom up and this seems to make them last longer as a visual delight than if they lost them from the top.

We are never short of moss round here.

moss on hedge and wall

The walk was a bit muddy underfoot when we got to the track but this was not a surprise when we saw how much water was coming down the Becks Burn to join the Wauchope.

Becks Burn

There is a little stream, usually no more than a trickle which runs under a bridge near the end of the track.

Gaskell's Bridge

It is very narrow above the bridge but has a deep and wide gully on the other side as it plunges down a steep bank.  Today we could see how it can have enough water on a wet day to carve such a deep trench.

It wasn’t a day for views at all…

Castle Hill in cloud

…but as it was about ten degrees warmer than yesterday, it wasn’t a bad day for a walk in November.

As we got near home, I saw some Hart’s Tongue fern looking very happy on a wall…

hart's tongue fern

…and a substantial outbreak of lichen on a tree stump which was striking enough to get Mrs Tootlepedal interested.


I took a picture from the Park Bridge to show the contrast between today and yesterday.

Yesterday was like this:

Wauchope in frost

And today was like this:


No one can accuse our weather of being boring.

It was too dark to look at birds when I got home so I went inside to pick some pictures to show at our Camera Club meeting later in the evening but Mrs Tootlepedal braved the drizzle and got some useful gardening done.

It has either been frosty or soggy since she got back from the south so the refurbished tiller is still in its box.

My flute pupil Luke came and gave more evidence of practice so we managed to play through a tricky Quantz movement with only one or two hiccups.  Next week I am sure that we will roll through it triumphantly.

In the evening, I went to our camera club meeting and there was a good turnout of members and once again we got an excellent selection of photographs from the members.  There was much to enjoy in looking at the shots and a lot to learn from the subjects and the techniques used.

In the end, a potentially very gloomy and dull day turned out to have been both useful and enjoyable and I can’t ask for more than that.

On a side note, our friend Mike Tinker turned up for a cup of tea in the afternoon and he was happily much recovered from a serious cold which has laid him low for several days.   Although he is still far from skipping and dancing, it was good to see him out and about at least.

I did manage one suitably gloomy flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch




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Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa and, appropriately enough since he is a great rugby man, it shows some springboks.


The first named storm of the year was visiting Britain overnight and we were warned that Aileen would bring heavy and persistent rain overnight and well into the morning so it was no surprise to find the sun shining when we got up.

It turned out that Aileen had stayed well to the south of us.

I went up to the town to do some business and then walked round the garden.  The variety of Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppies never fails to delight me.


And they continue to attract bees in numbers.

poppies with bees

And of course, some of them are simply beautiful.


As well as some good weather, the morning brought Dropscone, complete with a batch of excellent scones for coffee.  He has recently been to Aberdeen on golfing business so it was good to see that he had got back without losing another wheel on the way.  He had crossed over the new Forth bridge on his trip but told us that it was far less exciting to drive over than to look at from a distance as it has tall panels each side of the roadway which severely restrict the driver’s view.

When he left, I got the mower out and mowed the middle lawn.  After the overnight rain, the lawn was fairly squelchy and the mowing involved quite a lot of worm cast squashing as Mrs Tootlepedal kindly pointed out to me when I had finished.  All the same, if you didn’t look too closely, which I didn’t, things looked quite cheerful.

Middle lawn

Rudbeckia, lilies, cosmos, nasturtium and poppies are still giving the lawn a colourful border.

There are three colours of potentilla in the garden.  They are not all flowering freely but if you look hard, you can find them.


All through the day, sudden heavy rain showers interrupted the better weather….


The next shower lining up

…..and the gardening was a very on and off business.  In spite of quite a lot of sunshine, the rain was heavy enough when it came to make the garden soggier at the end of the day than it had been at the start.

Even so, the nerines round the chimney pot are doing very well.


We managed to repair the wires on the espalier apples and turn all the compost from Bin B into Bin C and then from Bin A into Bin B so we are ready to start the whole composting cycle again.

The wet roads and the constant threat of a shower put me off proper cycling but I did go out on the slow bike later in the day to see if I could see a dipper by the river.

I could.


It was on the same rock as last time.

I saw another even more patient bird while I was out.

carved owl

As the rain was holding off, I cycled along to Pool Corner and watched the Wauchope flowing over the caul there.

Pool Corner

It is very soothing watching running water but the road out of the town…..

Pool Corner

…looked inviting so I pedalled up the Manse Brae and along the road at the top….


…just far enough to be able to turn off and get a good view of Warbla and the Auld Stane Brig.


Those are grey clouds and not blue skies behind the hill so I didn’t push my luck and turned and pedalled back down the hill while it was still sunny.  I was not best pleased therefore when it started to rain quite hard out of a blue sky and I scuttled back home as fast as I could.

But……every cloud has a silver lining they say and this rain had a multicoloured bonus for me.

rainbow over Henry Street

I was happy.

After tea, I went off to the first meeting of the new season of the Langholm Community Choir.  There was quite a good turnout and some new music that I liked so it was an enjoyable evening and a good start to the new session.

Instead of a flying bird of the day, I am showing two pictures of butterflies.  There were plenty of them about today between showers.  I don’t know where they go in the rain but it can’t be far away because they appeared almost immediately after the sun came out. It was  day for red admirals.

This one may have been drying its wings after a shower.  The symmetry is astonishing (to me at least).

red admiral

This one was getting stuck in.

red admiral butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to the east coast where he visited the picturesque harbour at North Berwick.

North berwick harbour

We had our coldest morning of the year here with the thermometer showing below zero when we got up.  It was dry and sunny though so I was able to walk up to the town with no problems when I went to check on our car at the garage and talk to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, who was working in the Archive Centre.

The car was just on its way for a test run so after chatting to Nancy and printing out more record sheets for the data miners to fill up, I took a month of completed sheets with me, topped up my supplies of beetroot at our greengrocer’s shop and walked home again.

I put some of the beetroot on to cook and looked at the feeders.  There was no shortage of birds to look at.


Goldfinches being unnecessarily rude considering that there were empty perches.


A blackbird, probably a winter migrant, looking a bit nonplussed. The berries are from the nerines. I don’t know if they are edible.

I was keeping an eye for the two robins and I soon saw one perched on the bench…


…but the other one must have been nearby….


…and this one flew off at speed very crossly.

A few minutes later, one was back perching but whether this one was the original one, I don’t know.


Robins have the magical property of being able to change from slim to round in an instant.

The feeder action continued…

greenfinch, chaffinch and goldfinch

A finch carousel

…but I had to leave them to it and go to fetch the car.  The test drive had proved satisfactory and no leak or engine malfunction had been discovered so we are going to monitor matters for the time being and hope for the best.

When I got home again, it was time for lunch and I enjoyed a delicious plate of liver and bacon.  The liver was a present from Dropscone who had acquired it at a very reasonable price on his shopping trip on the way to pick me up yesterday.

While I was cooking, one of the robins turned up again, this time disguised as the hunchback of Notre Dame.


After lunch, the temperature had risen to 2.5°C, too cold for me to fancy a cycle ride but pleasant enough for a walk, especially as a marked deterioration in the weather was forecast for the end of the afternoon.

Almost all the leaves are gone and the larches are the last providers of colour now.

larches at Pool Corner

Bare branches were reflected in the water at Pool Corner.

Pool Corner

 There were still interesting things to see.

tree garden

A little tree garden among the twigs


Lichen tipped with colour


And another little garden on the Auld Stane Bridge parapet.

When I got onto Gaskell’s Walk, the path was icy in spots and I had to watch where I was going quite carefully but I was able to lift my eyes up to the hills from time to time.


Meikleholm Hill – I liked the subdued layers of colours

At the Stubholm, a sheep seemed to be finding my camera a bit of an intrusion.


I had a choice then of going straight home or extending the walk but a flurry of rain persuaded me to take the direct route…

Stubholm track

…down to the park.  The park wall provided interest as ever…


…but the frost had finished off all the fungus on the river bank.

I settled down to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database but I hadn’t finished when visitors arrived.  Nancy had come to discuss the group’s accounts for the year and when we had finished, we joined Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker who had arrived in the justified hope of conversation and a cup of tea.

We caught up on all the news that was fit to hear and then when our guests had left, I went back to the database for a while before my flute pupil Luke arrived.  We had a very satisfactory time with a lot of progress being shown and we were both pretty happy at the end.

After a quick tea, it was time to go off to our monthly camera club meeting.  I had been a bit worried about a poor attendance as several members were unable to come but in the event, we got a good turnout of regulars and no less than three new members, two of whom were youngsters.

The range and standard of pictures on display was very enjoyable, with one or two good enough to raise a collective gasp.  This was our last meeting of the year and we will start again in January full of hope and optimism.

The leaf of the day is a variegated willow….


…and the flying bird is a chaffinch.


As I finish this, the wind is howling round the house with bad weather forecast for several hours.  I got my walk in in good time.

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my daughter Annie.  It is a puzzle picture to see if you can work out what film festival she is currently working at.  (She was in Venice last week.)

Toronto sign

We have had a few drizzly and gloomy days recently but today was a change.  Far from drizzling, the rain was coming down in buckets and even looking out of the back door meant a soaking.  Under the circumstances, I did my photographing through the kitchen window.

blackbird and blue tit

A clematis brightened up the view.


I took the opportunity to put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have now cleared my personal backlog though Sandy, who has been doing most of the work recently, tells me there are plenty more weeks waiting to be put in. The forecast offers plenty more rainy days to come so progress should be made.

I also spent time on some singing practice as last night had showed me just how much work I needed to do after the summer break.  I even got my flute out as well so the rain brought some good things into my life.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal braved the elements and set off for Lockerbie en route for Edinburgh and a visit to Matilda and her parents.  She told me later that the driving was more exciting than she would have liked with the ever present danger of aquaplaning on rain sodden roads.  She got home safely though.

When she had gone, I settled down with a good conscience to watch the Tour of Britain and when it had finished, the rain had stopped too.  It was still very windy so I settled for a short and sheltered walk.

I was surprised by how much the rain had swollen the Wauchope.

Pool Corner in floo

Old Stane bridge in flood

…but the paths were dry enough for walking and I hadn’t gone far before there was even a sign of blue skies…


…and glint of sunshine on the hill.

So naturally, I took a black and white picture of Stubholm.


I wasn’t short of refreshment as there were a lot of ripe brambles as I went along…

bramble and acorn

…and a full sized acorn as well (although the branch was swaying so violently in the wind that I couldn’t get a good picture of it).

I walked along the top of Stubholm bank and looked over the town towards Castle Hill.

View of Castle Hill from Stubholm

I could see the spot beside the river where I often stand under the trees and try to catch wagtails flying.

River Esk

When I got to the Buccleuch park, I visited a likely tree stump in search of fungi.  I wasn’t disappointed.

fungi in Buccleuch Park

The River Esk was up a bit but it wasn’t as full of water as the Wauchope had been so the rain must have been quite local.

River esk

I enjoyed this fine set of flower baskets just before I got home.

caroline Street flower baskets

I had taken the liberty of putting a few fat balls out in a feeder while Mrs Tootlepedal was in Edinburgh and I was rewarded by a visit from a robin while I was getting ready to cook my tea.

It didn’t stay on the feeder for long but constantly flew up and down from the ring below…

flying robin

…so I was pleased to catch it in a still moment.


A young blackbird sat on a pot below and weighed up its chances of getting on to the feeder…


…but it flew off without trying.

In the evening, Susan arrived and we went to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.

By the time that she drove us home, the rain had started again and the day ended in as miserable a fashion as it had started.

The flower of the day is a nerine, which has just come out under the bird feeder…


…and the flying bird is that robin just above it.

flying robin

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my son Tony.  Being the proud owner of a tradesman’s van himself, he was amused by this inscription on the back of an Edinburgh ambulance.


It was a day of strong winds and continuous rain so I was happy to invite Sandy round for a cup of coffee and a dainty biscuit to help brighten the morning.

After he left, I needed full rainwear just to go round to the corner shop for a bottle of milk.

After lunch, I got the rainwear on again and went out to buy a new daylight light bulb for Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her old one had ‘popped’ and she needs one of these for embroidering on gloomy days.

When I crossed the suspension bridge, the river Esk was showing where all the rain was going.

River Esk in flood

While I was out, I extended my trip to the High Street by going round the Castleholm to admire all the lovely water that was to be seen on every side.

The Ewes and the Esk

The Ewes and the Esk compete.

Langholm Bridge

The Langholm Bridge does a little surfing

Kilngreen seat

No takers for a seat with a view today

Looking down the Ewes

The view from the Sawmill Brig. Not many tourists about.

Even when I got away from the rivers, there was still plenty of water.

Castleholm tree in puddle

This often had the effect of giving me two trees for one.

trees in puddles

I came back by way of the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess Bridge in flood

…making sure that I kept well away from the river bank as I went along the slippery path beside it.

Esk in flood

I wasn’t really looking out for small items of interest as I battled against the rain and wind and hopped the puddles but I couldn’t help noticing this thriving bit of moss on a tree stump.

moss beside Esk

When I got back to the town, I made a diversion to Pool Corner….

Pool Corner

…before heading in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

It is hard to remember that this was the view at Pool Corner nine days ago.

Pool Corner in snow

I had made some sour dough bread in the morning and for once I left it to rise for long enough instead of getting impatient and I have ended up with a tasty looking loaf.  There will be plenty of time to eat it in the days to come as being indoors looks like a good option for most of the rest of the week.  We may see the sun tomorrow though.

My friend Gavin, fearing that I might be bored on such a miserable day, kindly gave me the books of a club for which he is the treasurer and asked me to do a quick audit for him.  This is what friends are for and with the help of Mrs Tootlepedal, I passed a happy hour or so untangling his accounting.  It all added up very well.

No flying bird in these conditions but at least I did spot a perching bird of the day.


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