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Posts Tagged ‘puddle’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who saw this pink elephant but swears that she hadn’t touched a drop of drink all day.  I believe her.

pink elephant

It is going to be a rushed post today as I went to Carlisle to sing with our Carlisle choir at the local music festival in two classes and as there were eight choirs in the first class and seven in the second, it turned into a long evening and I haven’t even had my tea yet.

I had two visitors in the morning, a frog in the pond among potential frogs…

frog and tadpoles

…and Sandy who dropped in for coffee and to give me advice on getting my printer to print satisfactory pictures for the forthcoming exhibition.

His advice was sound and I spent most of the rest of the morning printing out pictures, a very slow business.

I did have time to walk round the garden.  The daffodils are looking better all the time…

clump of daffodils

…and some of the fancy ones are coming out too.

fancy daffodil

There was a brisk traffic at the bird feeder.

busy feeder

After lunch I went for a walk on my slow bike by which I mean that I bicycled slowly along a route which I would normally have walked as I am trying to rest my sore foot.

Signs of spring are all around, with the ducks pairing up…

two ducks

…and daffodils nodding their heads at the vigorous ripples on the Ewes Water.

dafodils beside ewes

It was sunny but windy and there was occasional rain so I thought that this little scene on the Castleholm summed the day up well.

puddle on castleholm

There were more signs of spring as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge and headed home.

tree budsanother dandelion

I liked the way that the shadows of the playing field fence lay so neatly on the path.

scholars fence shadow

When I got home, I had time to cut a couple of mounts for my exhibition pictures before I left for Carlisle and the choir competition.

I had given myself plenty of time and I had a few minutes to walk round the city centre before going to the warm up.

I noted the old town hall, now a tourist information point…

dav

…the old guildhall, now a restaurant….

dig

…and the very old  cathedral which is still a cathedral.

burst

We sang well at the music festival but the competition sang even better so we  we had to relinquish our grip on the trophy that we won last year.  My heart sank a bit at the prospect of sitting through 13 other choir performances but in the event, it was an entertaining evening with lots of variety in the choirs (everything from a male voice choir to several school ensembles) and lots of variety in the musical offerings (everything from Bruckner to ‘Blame it on the Boogie’).

The winning choir, an all ladies ensemble, was sensational and well worth being beaten by.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with its eye on a free perch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Nottingham where my brother Andrew discovered another bridge which may be a little past its use-by date.

Nottingham bridge

I had a very quiet day today.  If I had had my fairly speedy bike to hand, I would probably  have made better use of some good weather but as the bike was in the bike shop, I managed to persuade myself to fritter the morning away doing some high quality idling.

I went to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and made some good purchases but was very upset to find the cheesemonger wasn’t there this month.  I had been holding back on cheese buying recently just so that I could stock up from his fine selection so I was rather put out.  However, I found out that he has had a recent operation so that is a good enough excuse and I will just have to buy inferior cheese elsewhere.

I didn’t even manage to look out of the kitchen window in a meaningful way when  I got home.   I put the camera up on a tripod and clicked away from time to time but when I came to look at the results, I found that I hadn’t adjusted the focus correctly and I had a small collection of worthlessly fuzzy shots.

I managed to take one siskin in the air by accident (it was nearer than I thought)…

siskin

…and one blackbird on the ground on purpose.

blackbird

I had one quick look round the garden and saw a Hellebore.  Hellebore pictures tend to be a bit of a lottery as I am too old to lie on the ground so I just stick the camera down and point it upwards while hoping for the best.

hellebore

The rain and frost have not been kind to it but it is surviving

Things perked up a bit after lunch when we went out into the garden again.   It was a really nice day by this time and I cleared the old raspberry canes away while Mrs Tootlepedal planted out some Sweet William.
I was distracted by the noise from the pond…

frogs

…where numerous frogs were very busy.  Mostly they dived for cover when they saw me coming but one frog kindly consented to pose for  me.

Frog

Mrs Tootlepedal was distracted by the unexpected buzzing of bees and when I went to look, I saw that there were quite a few bees enjoying the crocuses.

bees

We got some early bees last year but subsequent frosty weather set the bee popularization back quite a bit so we hope that these aren’t out and about too early.

The crocuses were looking very cheerful, if a bit battered by recent weather.

crocuses

crocus

I  find gardening, which involves a lot of bending, very hard work so I left Mrs Tootlepedal to her labours and went off on my slow bike to take the road less travelled….

Barngliesh road

…and some pictures as I pottered along.

As long as the sun was out, it was a great day for pedalling and I had been able to discard several layers which made cycling much more pleasant than the recent chilly and windy outings.

I passed cows….

cow

…bridges…

Tomshielburn bridge

Tomshielburn

…large puddles…

puddle near Raehills

puddle near Raehills

…and a splendid tree of the day.

tree near Raehills

At the start or my trip, I visited my favourite little cascade on the Wauchope as I thought that the light might be quite interesting.  It was quite interesting but it turned out to be possibly a bit too interesting for the camera that I had with me.

Wauchope cascade

Near the end of my ride though, the camera coped very well with another dramatic light situation as the clouds came over.

Clouds over the Kerr

It looked quite threatening but it came to nothing and I got home in dry conditions.

Although my ride was only 14 miles, going on the slow bike and taking my time to look around as I went  made the journey very satisfying.

And that concluded the excitement for the day.  With the sun gone, it got dark quite early and I went back to quality idling and joined Mrs Tootlepedal, who had finished her gardening, in watching the European Indoor Athletics Championships.  We very much enjoyed the sight of Laura Muir scooting round the track to demolish the field in the 1500m.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  I don’t know how it got into focus at all.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s picture is another from Bruce’s cruise.  He tells me that they were enjoying a drink while taking in this view of the  caldera at Santorini, the site of a massive collapse in the Minoan era which caused a tsunami that may have been responsible for the story of Atlantis, the drowned city.  It looks deceptively peaceful now.

SantoriniWe had nothing to look at in Langholm this morning except pelting rain and the day was so gloomy that you could hardly even see the rain.  You could certainly hear both it and the heavy beating of the gusts of wind that came with it….not to mention the drips coming through our end wall.

I did wrap up well at one point and step out to see what the state of the river was.  It was well up but it wasn’t as exciting photographically as I had secretly hoped.

Esk in autumnThere was almost as much water lying in our drive at home.

Drive puddleWhile I had my umbrella up, I took a picture of a bunch of marigolds just to get a little colour into the day.

marigoldsThe rain kept going and this being the situation, I made the best of it by using my time to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database and practising some of the skills that the judge at the camera club had been talking about last night.

I even went to the lengths of shooting some of the birds at our feeder using the camera raw format, though whether using the raw format when the ISO is set to 4000 is a sensible thing is another question.

chaffinch approachingThe other point is that I put my pictures on the blog at 800px so the raw format provides me with far more information than I can possibly display and it will really come into its own for prints.  Still, it does leave me to do my own processing instead of relying on the camera’s own program and this provides me with a lot of interest.

People often say, “Oh I never do any of that fiddling about on my computer with my pictures,”  as though there was something a bit naughty about using a photo editor but of course every digital camera that produces jpegs does any amount of fiddling about on behalf of the user.  If they use different settings on their cameras, they are editing the photos whether they know it or not.

Here is another one which I took today where the camera did the decision making before I got to play with it….

flying chaffinch and sparrow…and here is the same shot where I did all the decision making.   (The camera recorded the same shot in jpeg and raw.)

flying chaffinch and sparrowThey may look exactly the same to you but they are subtly different, especially as far as the background goes.  Of course the camera processed shot might still be better than my effort because the processing program in the camera was written by very clever people.

We were visited by Mike Tinker in the afternoon.  He has come back from a holiday on the west coast of Scotland where the weather was uniformly awful for the whole week but he was very cheery all the same.

We became quite cheerful ourselves when we were also visited by our builder who told us that he really is making preparations to sort the famous end wall.

In the evening, the day cleared up remarkably and we even had a brief sunset.

sunsetThe down side of the this was a big drop in temperatures and by the time that Susan came to pick me up to go to Carlisle to play recorders, the temperature had fallen by 10°C since the morning and by the time we came home, it was bumping along at just a degree or two above freezing.  This meant that Susan had to drive in some quite foggy conditions and I was very pleased to be in her car which has good fog lights (and a keen eyed driver).

The recorder playing was most enjoyable, with another fine selection of music, much of it unfamiliar, produced by our librarian Roy from his seemingly inexhaustible supply.

We are promised a sunny day with light winds tomorrow so I am hoping that I won’t wake up to icy roads, as I need to get out on the bike.

Here is another flying chaffinch in the rain to end the post.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is the last that I have at present from my siblings’ visit to Barcelona.  My brother likes museums and art galleries.  This is the Catalan Museum.

Catalan Museum

The forecast was quite promising, the main features being no rain and very light winds so I was looking forward to a decent pedal.  The light winds meant that temperatures were too low to start pedalling after breakfast so I spent a little time peering out of the window at the mist filled garden.

ringed chaffinch

I was interested to see a ring on the chaffinch, the first I have noticed for some time.

I kept an eye on the thermometer and got quite excited when it hit four degrees C but less so when it it subsequently dropped back to 3 degrees.  I considered my options.

chaffinch considering options

A chaffinch meanwhile considered his.

Finally, the thermometer edged back to 3.9 so I piled on as many clothes as I could wear and still cycle and set off up the Wauchope road after a quick stop to buy some fuel for the journey from John’s shop.

First signs were a bit gloomy…

wauchope in mist

…but I pedalled on hopefully, turning left over the hill and eventually getting onto the Annan road.  I stopped in Annan after 22 miles for a cheese toastie and a cappucino and then headed out to the road along the Solway shore.  By this time, the mist had gone and the sky was blue.  It was still chilly but the splendid row of very out of character houses at Cummertrees looked at their best.

Cummertrees

I quote from the Dumfriesshire Companion of Haig Gordon:

There were brash new beginnings at Kinmount when the Yorkshire businessman Edward Brook took over the estate in the 1890s (adding it to his other big acquisition, Hoddom estate near Ecclefechan). He had plans for creating a vast seaside resort between Cummertrees and Powfoot. The scheme never took off but at the east end of the village a flavour of what he had envisaged remains in Queensberry Terrace, a row of properties originally intended as holiday apartments – ‘like a cross between Blackpool and Chelsea’, commented one architectural historian.

Anyone who has seen the mud flats along the Solway shore at Powfoot will not have to think hard as to why this grandiose scheme failed.

I was soon through Cummertrees and Ruthwell and looking across the flat fields towards Criffel and the mist covered Nith Estuary.

Criffel

The skies are big here.

I paused for a moment at the Brow Well…

Brow Well

…a not very appetising looking mineral spring.  It has a claim to fame though as a notice suggests.

brow well

The notice doesn’t add that the poet died shortly after his visit.  He drank the chalybeate waters and was dunked in the icy Solway near here in an attempt to cure his misdiagnosed gout.  I prefer the pills I get for my rheumatic arthritis and feel thankful in this case for the march of medical science.

I enjoyed a little bridge beside the well.

Brow well bridge

This stretch of road is genuinely flat and a great pleasure to pedal along.  My target was the small village of Bankend…

Bankend

…where, in spite of the lovely day,  the bridge had a lot of water flowing under it.  This is the Lochar Water.

Bankend bridge

I would have to liked to have my long lens with me as there was an interesting tower a few hundred yards up stream.

Bankend tower

Isle Tower is an early 17th century stone T-plan tower house, founded by Edward Maxwell of Isle.

I turned for home at Bankend as the days are still quite short and I didn’t want to be caught in the gloaming still pedalling.

As well as big sky, the Solway shore had some big puddles in the roadside fields as well.  This was the biggest of the day.

puddle

You can just see the real sea in the background.

I stopped at Ruthwell to eat my fuel from John’s shop, an egg roll, a banana and a very sticky tray bake.  There was a convenient bench there but it had been designed by someone with very short legs and I kept banging my chin as I ate.

ruthwell

Leaving Ruthwell, I pedalled on tiny back roads down to the shore at Powfoot.  The last time Mrs Tootlepdal and I had been here, a very high tide and angry seas were threatening to overwhelm the car park. Today it was playing host to a group of keen bird watchers.

bird watchers

Once back through Annan, I took the road to Gretna and enjoyed the last of my food on a bench opposite the Old Blacksmith’s Shop at Gretna Green.

Gretna Green

This is just one of three marriage rooms in Gretna and marriage is big business there.  It was the nearest place to the border where English couples could get married under Scottish law and was popular as a destination for eloping youngsters.  Mysteriously, to me at any rate, it remains seriously popular still and is a bus tour destination.

My literal mind looked at the sign on the side of the blacksmith’s shop….

Gretna Green

…and wondered what colour it had been before 1754.

From Gretna, I took a winding trail that led me down to Canonbie and a return to Langholm by the morning run cycle route.

The sky had clouded over by the time that I got home and the temperature was still only a meagre 6 degrees but the light winds had meant that I had enjoyed a very good day out on the bike.   Details of the ride may be found  by clicking on the map.

garmin route 28 Feb 2014

Not by coincidence but by design, my Garmin device recorded exactly 72 miles as I reached my house.  This corresponds with my age and it is my intention in future years to keep cycling at least once a year as far as I am old for as long as possible.

The ride brought my total for February up to 500 miles which is well above target and gives me a little leeway in the month to come.

Mike and Alison, Maisie’s and Frances’ grandparents have arrived back from New Zealand and came round for their customary Friday evening visit.   I enjoyed playing some sonatas on flute and recorder with Alison at the keyboard while Mrs Tootlepedal heard from Mike of their adventures down under.  I hope to have some photos of their trip, which included a visit to Singapore, in future posts.

I did just manage to get a flying bird picture in the morning mist before I left the house.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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