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Posts Tagged ‘recorder playing’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who went with my sister Susan to visit the refurbished temperate glass house at Kew Gardens.  It was worth the trip.

Kew glass house

The big question, after a night listening to the wind howling round the house and rain battering at the windows, was would there be anything left?

We got off lightly with no structural damage and the electricity still working but the plants were not quite so lucky.  Tall thin plants did the worst….

foxglove collapsewindblow in gardenlupin collapse

…while flowers sheltered behind stout hedges did the best.

peonyLilian Austinrose

It all depended on your point of view.  I felt that we had done well with plenty left still standing for me to photograph while Mrs Tootlepedal, who of course had done all the work to get the flowers to grow in the first place, mourned those that were gone.

The wind was still blowing rather alarmingly in the morning even though the rain had stopped.  Indeed, it didn’t seem to have rained as much as the noise in the night would have indicated and the garden soon dried up.  By the afternoon, the sun had come out and if you could get out of the persistent wind, it was quite a nice day.  I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping.

I also took a look at the birds.  I saw this young blackbird sitting on a fence when I glanced out of the back window while passing through the sitting room.

young blackbird

Out of the usual window I could see that here were plenty of sparrows at the feeder today….

sparrows at feeder

…and Mrs Tootlepedal had put out a suet ball on the kitchen windowsill in the hope of attracting sparrows there too.  It worked.

sparrows on windowsill

I had used the gloomy morning weather as a motivation to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database but the afternoon looked good enough for an expedition so I got my new bike out and tested the wind.

It really is an excellent bicycle.  It turns out to be extremely stable in strong and gusty crosswinds and for some reason which is hard to explain, it is also almost a pleasure to cycle into the wind when riding it.  Whether it is the frame design and riding position, or the aerodynamics of the bike or the very user friendly gear system, or a combination of all three, riding into a strong breeze is not at all a discouraging experience.

This was lucky as the wind was certainly strong today, gusting to well over 30mph as I went along.

I stopped to see how much water was going over the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse after the overnight rain.

wauchope cascade

The answer was not a great deal.

I noticed a pretty yellow wild flower in the grass beside the river.  It is probably a meadow vetchling.

vetch

A bit of the roadside verge had become waterlogged through poor drainage during the wet winter. Now it is home to a small forest of horsetail.

horsetail

Because of the strong wind, I skulked about in the valley bottom and did two laps of the seven mile trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.   I cycled  through the town and down to the river when I got home and checked to see if the young oyster catchers were still at the water’s edge.

young oyster catcher

They were there with their fluffy feathers getting ruffled by the wind.

The parents were there too, rather indignant at my presumption in  taking pictures of their children.

oyster catcher

I surprised myself by really enjoying my 14 mile windy ride and I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.

In the evening, Susan arrived and we drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group. As we drove down there was a little rain but some sunshine too and this provided us with a splendid rainbow which we took as a sign that the stormy weather was over.

As always, some of the pieces we played went better than others but there were enough of the sound performances to make the evening good fun and the biscuits with the after-playing cup of tea  were very tasty too.

A flying bird of the day today, one of the sparrows at the feeder.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture  comes from my brother Andrew who is working his way back south after his visit to Langholm.  He took this picture of Morecambe Bay in the distance from the wonderfully named Hutton Roof.  By the time he got down to the seaside, the tide was out.

hutton roof

Our spell of excellent weather continued and it now feels as though we have had more good days this year already than we had in the whole of last year. Long may it go on.

My throat was still strangely creaky (but with no other ill effects) so I pottered about in the morning, looking at young birds….

blackbird and baby

Dad looks a little fed up with the incessant demands of the big baby.

baby dunnock

A fluffy dunnock looked a bit unhappy….

BABY DUNNOCK

…until it found a more secure place to rest.

…as well as supervising the hard working Mrs Tootlepedal, sieving a little compost and mowing the middle lawn.

And looking at some small flowers.

Mrs Tootlepedal gave the lithodora a severe haircut the other day but it seems to be thriving on this rough treatment…

lithodora

…and along with the more showy flowers on the back path, there are some nice clumps of sweet woodruff.

sweet woodruff

There were some grown up birds in the garden too.

rook

rook

Rooks are handsome birds.

Mrs Tootlepedal edged the lawn after I had mowed it and I took a picture in the late afternoon to show the effect that all this care had.

lawn with edges

I made some carrot and lentil soup for lunch and then, after a restful moment or two, I got the new bike out and went round my standard 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I did stop for photos today and after taking a picture of the road that climbs out of the Wauchope valley…

bloch road

…a pattern developed:

tree at Bloch

A tree

cows

Some cows posing

trees at grainstonehead

Some trees

highland cow

A cow posing

trees on esk at Hollows

Lots of trees.  The Esk is fully clothed at the Hollows now.

The pattern was interrupted when I stopped off at Irvine House in an effort to capture some orange tip butterfly pictures.  I succeeded after a fashion…

orange tip butterfly

Female on left, male on right

…but I would have needed to spend a lot more time to get good shots as the butterflies were in a flighty mood.

There was time for another walk round the garden when I got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse is full of plants waiting to go out….

greenhouse

…but there are quite a lot already in place in the vegetable garden with individual greenhouses.

bottle greenhouses

You may have heard of bottle green.  These are green bottles.

The drumstick primula in front of the pond was looking lovely.

candlestick primula

…and it is hard to pass the rhododendrons without the shutter finger twitching.

rhododendron

In the evening, Susan arrived and gave me a lift to Carlisle where we enjoyed a very entertaining evening of recorder playing with our group.  As an added bonus, we were treated to a very elegant new moon in the sky as we drove back.  Sadly, it was behind the hill by the time that we got home.

Although not a flying bird, the most interesting animal we saw all day was this amazing pig  in our neighbour Liz’s garden.

pig

It was having a rest on a journey from Corby to Aberdeen.

The actual flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder in a hurry when Mrs Tootlepedal went out to shut up the greenhouse for the night.

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture puts our recent snow here into perspective.  It was sent to me by Lucie from Manitoba and it shows an unwelcome late and heavy fall of snow which was making life hard for birds on her feeder.

snow in manitoba

We had another chilly day today but it didn’t rain and the sun came out for a while so we were quite pleased about that.

As Sandy is a bit poorly at the moment, I took his turn to fill the feeders at the Moorland Project feeder station.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me and while she sat in the car and scanned the skies in vain for hen harriers, I looked for smaller birds from the hide.

tits at Laverock hide

Great tit, coal tit and blue tit complete a set.

woodpecker

The one glimpse of a woodpecker that I got

_DSC2007

A male chaffinch

chaffinch

And another one

flying chaffinch

And one of a lot of flying chaffinches catching the morning sun

Mrs Tootlepedal may not have seen any raptors but she did get a good view of an impressive cloud behind Whita.

cloud

We got home in good time for a cup of coffee and a slice of walnut and banana loaf and then I did the crossword until the day had got warm enough to make for inviting cycling.

The garden birds were not as co-operative as the moorland birds had been and indeed, some of them indulged in behaviour that can only be described as very, very childish.

birds' bums

There is no need for that sort of thing at all.

I left them to themselves and went to look for frogs.  There were a lot in the pond.

_DSC2019frog_DSC2020

For some reason the light was perfect for reflections today.

Although it wasn’t very warm and the sun wasn’t very bright, the crocuses were responding to the better weather.

crocus
In the end, I ran out of excuses for not cycling and wrapped myself up as warmly as I could and set out to do a thirty mile circle avoiding as many potholes as I could.

I paused for a moment by a bridge not far from home to adjust a wrinkle in my many layers and was impressed by the variety of life to be seen on it.

lichen

There was still a lot of snow beside the back roads….

gair road

…and indeed there is more piled up there than in the neighbouring fields.

tree

But the roads were mostly dry and while the sun was out, it was a pleasure to be cycling.  Once the sun went in before the halfway mark, it was much chillier and I kept going rather than stopping to take a lot of pictures.

At 17 miles, I was thinking that I wasn’t anything like as fit as I would have liked to be but when i turned for home, I discovered that I had been so well wrapped up that I hadn’t realised just how strong the wind was.  It blew me home in a very satisfactory manner.

By the time that I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

I made a sausage stew for my tea.  That sounds a bit basic but if you dignify it with the name of sausage casserole or even sausage cassoulet (it had beans in it), it sounds a bit classier.  It tastes just the same though.

The reason that I did not go with Mrs Tootlepedal to Edinburgh was that it was a recorder day and in the evening, Susan came round and she drove us to Carlisle where we enjoyed a good evening of music with our recorder group.

This has been a rather perfunctory description of a very enjoyable day but it was quite late by the time that we got back from Carlisle and I am a bit tired so I apologise.

Because the garden birds were so uncooperative, I did think of using a frog as the flying bird of the day today just to teach them a lesson…

frog

…but I found that I had got a reasonable flying chaffinch from our morning visit to the Laverock Hide.

So here it is, the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from former Archive Group member Ken who has gone back to the east coast where he is celebrating the twentieth birthday of the ‘Angel of the North’.

angel of the north

It didn’t snow today.  This was quite unexpected but to make up for it, a shrewd and biting wind made going outside a bit of a trial.

I had to go out after breakfast for a final visit to the health centre for a look at the scratches and grazes on my arms from the bike tragedy.  Like my face, they have healed up well and I was pronounced fully cured and discharged.  Hooray, I can have a bath or shower at last.

It was sunny when I walked across the suspension bridge on my way to the centre and I spotted four white dots on the river gravel.  I only had my phone with me and this is what it saw.

oyster catchers

If you look carefully at the end of the gravel, you can just make out that the white dots are four oyster catchers, the first that I have seen this year.

To our great relief, the bridge builders returned and started work….

dam bridge repairs

…..and to our great amazement, a new tea shack and office appeared as well.

dam bridge repairs

Upon enquiry, it turned out that the junior worker had broken the key in the door yesterday and so great was the security of the triple lock that the whole container had to be taken away to get it opened up again.  Meanwhile, a substitute had been delivered.

On my way back into the house, I walked past a pile of stones in our back garden which had come from the repairs to our house wall three years ago.  It shows how well moss grows in our climate.

moss in garden

The roads were still icy in places so I stayed in and got my bigger lens out and peered at the birds through the kitchen window.

goldfinch

blackbird

robin

A lot of siskins turned up after a while and started quarelling.

siskins

Rather annoyingly, our water supply first reduced itself to a trickle and then gave up entirely.  Water is one of those things that you don’t realise how much you need until you don’t have them.

We naturally assumed that it was the bridge builders who had done it since they cut the pipe not long ago but they protested their innocence and it was true that the pipe looked untouched.  In the end, a water board man came round in the early evening and solved the problem by turning on a stopcock which a person or persons unknown had turned off at the end of our road.   First our phone and then our water.  Can we put out a plea for people not to turn off our utilities.

Anyway, while we were waiting for the water board man to come, I went shopping in the town and then took a diversion on the way home.

I got a rather distant view of a single oyster catcher as I went along the river.

oyster catcher

I was disappointed that the other three had gone somewhere else.

I am learning how varied mosses are and trying to find out what to look for in a moss so I was pleased to find a good example of two different sporangia side by side on the Castleholm wall.

moss  sporangia

The ones on the left, standing up and brown and the ones on the right, hanging down and green.    I still can’t tell you what the mosses are but it is a start.

There were ferns on the wall too.

fern sporangia in sori

This might be a broad buckle fern but there are a lot to pick from.

Later on, I saw some ferns on a tree.  They look similar but when you look again, you see that they might be different.

fern and sori

This might be Dryopteris carthusiana,  spinulose woodfern, but then again, it might not be.

I am having a lot of fun looking at mosses and ferns and lichen.

I realise that not all readers might share my enthusiasm but when you are retired, you have plenty of time to look around.

moss

Oh look, some more mosses, one creeping along the wall with stealthy fingers and one standing up straight with interesting cups.

It was pretty chilly….

snow on Timpen

….so I didn’t dawdle too much but I did stop for some snowdrops near the Lodge….

snowdrops castleholm

….and a hint of spring.

hazel catkin and bud

We were very pleased when our water came back on and we were able to do the washing up and make a cup of tea.

I went out as usual to take a picture of the bridge works at the end of the working day.  They are busy preparing to connect the bridge to the existing road.

dam bridge repairs

In the evening I drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  Susan didn’t come with me as she is preparing to go to Ireland with her father and some of her siblings for a holiday tomorrow.   I hope to get a picture of two from them while they are away.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable as Heather brought her keyboard round with her and we played sonatas for two or three players and B.C. instead of our usual consort music.

It made a refreshing change.

I was so busy peering closely at the birds today that I forgot to take a good flying bird of the day and this was the best that I could find when I looked on the camera card.

flying chaffinch

And I cycled two hundred yards to the shop and back, the first time I have been on a bike for a fortnight.  The shop was closed by the time that I got there but I enjoyed the cycle ride!

 

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Today’s guest picture brings a welcome ray of sunshine from London.  My sister Mary recently got a chance to admire her favourite form of London transport.

My favourite mode of transport - river bus

When we went to bed last night, it was snowing furiously….

snow

…so we were relieved to find when we woke up this morning, that we had avoided the worst and the snow was perhaps a little less thick than it had been yesterday.  Although it was still pretty chilly, it thawed slightly as the day went on, though it snowed again as well, and by the end of the day, with the main roads clear, it looed as though the worst may be over.

Judging by reports of power lines down and trees blocking roads and railways in the south after a gale had passed over that part of the country overnight, once again we have got off lightly here.

I hope that my correspondent Zyriacus in Germany has escaped the worst of the storm as there seems to have been quite a bit of damage there as it went further south.

Here we had a calm and occasionally sunny day….

snow

…and the hills looked very inviting.

snow

I would have liked to have been jumping around in the snow up there….

snow

…but my only outing was to the shops to get some provisions.

This was a good thing though as it meant that Mrs Tootlepedal has recovered her appetite a bit and we enjoyed a proper evening meal which she cooked.

I tried to have a very quiet day as I have been being nagged by my children for doing too much.  As far as I can see though, everyone seems to be making a very slow recovery from this bug so I don’t think I am being particularly careless.

Being nagged by your children to take care of yourself is a role reversal which is somewhat disconcerting….but cheering all the same.

I checked on the birds but once again, I didn’t spend long.

goldfinch and siskin in snow

I had hoped to catch a robin on some snow but I had to make do with blackbirds….

blackbird

…of all shapes and sizes….

blackbird

…until one finally obliged.

robin in snow

The male chaffinches are looking very colourful when they are perched in the plum tree.

chaffinches in plum tree

I put in some useful time preparing a couple of parish magazines for the Archive Group website.  One of them had been scanned  and checked by Sandy, which saved me a lot of work.

I felt well enough after my restful day to drive to Carlisle in the evening with my friend Susan to play with our recorder group.   The weather stayed just above freezing and the roads had been well gritted so the driving was quite comfortable and the playing was as enjoyable as ever.

The recorder doesn’t require a great deal of wind to make it sound and my chest stood up to an hour of puffing away very well though I am tired enough to write a very brief post today.

The flying bird of the day prefers to remain anonymous.

flying bird with head down

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is an owl spotted by Dropscone on his recent visit to Kent.  It was keeping an eye on things near a graveyard.

owl

We had another cold, grey and wet morning today with added icy patches so I was very happy to find things to do in the house.  The  ground is still rock solid and the rain was producing fine puddles on the lawn.

lawn puddle

Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and our neighbour Liz dropped in to recover with another cup of coffee from the shock of finding her drains blocked with water all over the kitchen floor.  Luckily, a plumber soon arrived and unblocked the pipe.

What with the visitors and the crossword (done to an accompaniment of Miff Mole and his Molers), the morning passed more pleasantly than it deserved.

It was soggy outside…..

goldfinch and siskin

…and the light was absolutely rotten so flying birds were out of the question.  The blackbirds were very much in evidence again…

blackbirds

…with the apples continuing to attract customers. I rarely looked out of the window and saw less than four blackbirds round the feeder and often as many as seven or eight.

Other birds dropped in too.

pigeon and dove

Finally, the weather took a turn for the better and the rain stopped.

chaffinch and goldfinch

I had to wait for the bread machine to deliver the dough for a batch of rolls before I could get out for a walk though and by that time, the light had begun to fade.

There was a hint of blue sky….

blue sky

…but the low and misty cloud that you can see in the picture above, persisted and it made sure that no sun came out to warm me on my way.

A glimpse of Mr Grumpy cheered me up…

heron

…and I enjoyed the duck in the foreground pretending to swim but sensibly keeping himself just out of the water by standing on a rock.

mallard

A goosander was quite happy to swim away as I came past.

goosander

It was still pretty chilly out but all traces of frost and snow had gone…

Meeting of the Waters

…and the morning’s ice had gone too, leaving me with a remarkably pleasant walk for a dull, cold day.

I passed the disused church on the Lodge Walks, reflecting that in its early life as a church for visitor’s to the Duke’s summer lodge, the ministers must have been chosen for their ability to play cricket as the first two appeared regularly on the pitch for Langholm Cricket Club matches.

Tin church

A flock of sheep found me interesting as I walked past them…

sheep and tree

The ram had his harness on.  It carries a block of paint which marks the ewes so that the shepherd knows which ones have had the benefit of his attention.

sheep and ram

As they were all facing me, I couldn’t tell if he had been doing his duty.

I was interested to see several protective cages with canes marked in red in them.

P1060033

These are an indication that replacements for the felled trees along the Lodge walks will soon be in place.

As always, there was lichen to look at.

lichen

And fungus too.

P1060035

Both of those were on the felled trees that are going to be replaced.

The light was fading fast so I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

P1060037

…and made my way home.

I met Mrs Tootlepedal, out on an errand, just as I reached Mike and Alison’s house and we dropped in to see if they would like to come round for scones and music tomorrow afternoon as we are busy in the evening.

This was agreed and while we there, we were entertained with nice cup of tea and several topless tarts.  (These were mince pies, which owing to a miscalculation of the available pastry, had been made without lids.  They were still delicious.)

As we left, I took a picture of this beautiful orchid on their kitchen windowsill.

P1060041

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we had a most enjoyable time.   The icing on the cake was seeing a shooting star flashing across the sky as we drove home.  A little research told me that this was one of the Geminids.

When I got back into the house, I went upstairs for a look out of the window. The sky was brilliantly clear thanks to the lack of any moon and Mrs Tootlepedal and I could see the Milky Way behind the usual constellations with the naked eye, a very rare thing for us.  Although we waited for a while, we didn’t see a shooting star.  The internet tells me that 2am will be the best time. That may be a bit late for me.

Owing to the poor light, no flying bird of the day today and owing to laziness, no inferior substitute either.

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Today’s guest picture shows the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon.  It was kindly sent to me by Mike Griffiths, author of the Wilden Marsh blog which is always an interesting read.  He is a first class photographer.

stratford theatre

It was a dry morning again.  Recently the weather gods have taken to raining in the night and leaving the days dry.  This is very welcome.  It was extra welcome today as I had to take the car to the garage first thing in the morning to get its winter tyres put on and then walk home.

After a light breakfast, I had to walk up to the town again to sit for a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I was filling in for an absentee welcomer.

There was not a lot of welcoming to do so I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database which I regarded as time well spent.

I picked up the car from the garage, complete with its winter tyres, and drove home in sunshine.  It was such a nice day that I rang Sandy up to see if he would like a walk after lunch. He was keen so we arranged a time and almost immediately, it began to rain.  It was only teasing though and it soon stopped and the sun came out again.

We decided to visit Rowanburn and walk to the viaduct that links Scotland and England, the route we had planned to follow last Saturday when we were foiled by the road works.

There was no let or hindrance today and we parked in the middle of the village…

Rowanburn

…just beside a tribute to its past existence as a home for coal miners and a coal mine.

We set off down the path to the old railway line from Langholm to England, passing through a coal and timber yard which looks as though it has more demand for timber than coal these days.

Rowanburn timber

Although the timber may look a bit dull, it turned out to be a treasure trove of fungi.

Every tree trunk seemed to have its own crop.

Rowanburn timber fungi

And I mean, every tree trunk.

Rowanburn timber fungi

This was my favourite.

Rowanburn timber fungi

The sun wasn’t out when we started the walk and everything is still wet after a soggy autumn so these cows with their feet in the mud summed up the situation rather well.

Rowanburn cows

It is enough to make a cow thoughtful.

Rowanburn cows

We walked on, along the disused railway bed…

Rowanburn railway track

…and entered the woods.  We thought that we would be in the woods until we reached the viaduct….

Rowanburn railway track

…but great tree felling has gone on and most of the track is now in the open.  This was made more welcome by the reappearance of the sun…

Rowanburn railway track

…and we enjoyed good views up the Liddle Water valley over the felled area…

Liddesdale

…until we came to the viaduct.

Liddesdale viaduct

It has a big new fence across it to stop me and Sandy walking on to it.  I could just poke the Lumix lens through a gap in the wires.

That is England on the far side of the bridge.

I was quite pleased not to be allowed to walk on the viaduct because it is a lofty structure as we could see from below when we had scrambled down a bank onto the road…

Liddle viaduct bridge

…and splodged through some very muddy fields to the waterside until we found a place where we could look back up at the viaduct.

viaduct

It is a rather frustrating structure to try to do justice to with a camera.  It is impossible to get a position where all the arches can be seen at once and its curved construction is very tricky to capture.

The skill of the men who designed and built it is manifest when you look up at the arches.

viaduct

The trackbed crosses the supporting pillars at an angle and on a curve and all this was done with a bit of string and a piece of chalk (and a lot of sound mathematics) and not a computer in sight.  My respect for engineers is unbounded.

I walked down the river a bit to try to get a better shot of just some of its many arches.

liddle viaduct

I enjoyed the peaceful water above the bridge too.

liddle water

Sandy didn’t fancy the splodge back through the muddy field so he clambered up a very steep path to the end of the viaduct but I took the longer way round and met him on the track.

We walked back to the car with one eye on a rainy looking cloud and got there just as a light rain started to fall.

We had stopped to looked at a few things on the way back…

fungus and hips

..so we were very pleased with our timing.

We went back to Langholm and Sandy entertained me to tea and a chocolate biscuit or two before I headed home.

It was too dark to do anything other than go in and look at the pictures that I had taken on the walk and practise a song which I have to re-learn by heart  for our Christmas concert with the Carlisle choir.

Generally speaking, my cough was much improved today and I really am quite optimistic that I may have seen the last of it soon.

In the evening, Susan arrived and she drove us to Carlisle for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.

Because I had got the winter tyres on the car, I was expecting a long spell of warm and dry weather but it was near freezing as we drove back so maybe the winter tyres will come in handy.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable as was the cup of tea and chocolate biscuits that followed it.  Two cups of tea with chocolate biscuits in the same day is a very good thing.

I didn’t have much time to look out of the kitchen window today so the flying bird of the day is a non standard one….but quite striking all the same.

flying chaffinch

Sandy has produced a record of our walk with some very nice pictures on it.  You can see it here if you would like.

 

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