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Posts Tagged ‘recorder playing’

Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my Highland correspondent.  We have been having some good sunrises here and may be there is something in the air at the moment because she had a spectacular one too.

Highland Sunrise

It was another cold day with the thermometer hanging about the 5 degree mark at best but a nipping and an eager air made the wind chill factor a neat zero.

Under the circumstances, I was pleased to get out on my bicycle, if not early, then at least before I had sat down to waste time over coffee and a biscuit, my usual delaying tactic.

I took a simple out and back route to avoid any long effort cycling straight into the chilly wind though I did take a short diversion up to Cleuchfoot…

Cleuchfoot glen

…where I stopped to take a picture of a tiny valley that runs down to the road.  It looks as though it might lead somewhere exciting but in fact it only leads out onto a boggy and featureless moor.  Once I was back on the Lockerbie road, I was very pleased to see men and machines hard at work at the site of the recent landslip.

mending the Lockerbie road 2

No one had expected work to start so promptly.

I passed them and cycled on to the top of the hill at Callister where I was passed by half a dozen quarry lorries who were busy at the site of the new wind farm there.  There is no sign of the turbine towers yet so they are either improving the access road or building the bases.

I stopped at the road works on my way back and was very impressed by how well they have sorted the problem.

mending the Lockerbie road 1

I was curious about the black plastic pipes sunk into the surface of the works and one of the men told me that they are going to be holders for the new fence posts. He said that he thought that the repair was sound and would last well and as he turned out to be one of my ex-pupils, I have every confidence that he will be right.

On my return to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out of the other side and since the sun was now fully out, I stopped to record my favourite view up the Ewes valley….

Ewes Valley

…and the neighbouring farmhouse.

Terrona

I clocked up twenty miles and was quite happy to stop before I got chilled.

I had a quick look at the birds and was shocked to see a male chaffinch being beastly to a female…

cahffinch misogyny

…but pleased to see that our lone siskin was back again.

siskin

I made some soup for my lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

Fuelled by the soup and a couple of tomato rolls, I went out for a walk.

I started off along the riverside path and then headed uphill through the Kernigal wood.  There has been a lot of wind blow lately and it was good to see that someone had been out with a saw and done some tidying up.

kernigal wood tidying

Perhaps this is because I was walking along the track you can see on the right of the picture below which is much used by local mountain bikers.

kernigal wood

It is very welcome for walkers as it provides a good path through a tangly bit of forest.

I came out at the top of the wood and walked back down the track towards Skippers Bridge.  I didn’t have my thinking head on when I chose my route and I was rather upset to realise that if I had been walking on the other side of the valley, I would have been enjoying a sunny day.

winter sunshine on whita

In fact when I looked around, I found that almost everywhere was bathed in sunlight except where I was walking.

winter sunshine on Castle Hill

When I got down to the main road, I found that winter had cleared enough foliage away to give me a view of the large bridge for a small stream which almost all motorists probably pass over without noticing as they leave the town for the south.

Culvert at Skippers

I didn’t dilly dally on my way home as it wasn’t getting any warmer but I did stop to check out the black smudge on the fence at Land’s End which turns out to be this very attractive lichen, still in excellent condition…

fungus on fence at lands end

…and to see if the fungus on the tree at the Co-op had survived the cold weather.  It had and was even bigger than when I saw it last…

fungus at Co-op

…and it too looked to be in good condition.

fungus gill

As I walked back along the river bank, a glimpse of brightness among the gloom on the far bank caught my eye.  It was an old friend disguised as a twig.

heron in shadows

Back in the garden, I found a little remaining colour on the leycestaria…

leycesteria

…but there was nothing else of note so I went inside and did the crossword.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had taken our car away and my friend and customary chauffeur Susan was on holiday in Glasgow, I had no way of getting to Carlisle and back for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.  They are kind people though and on the Mohammed and the mountain principle, since I could not get to them, they came out to me and we had a most enjoyable evening of music making.

We were just having our post-playing cup of tea and biscuit when Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely from Edinburgh and that rounded off a cold day very warmly.

I didn’t find a moment with both good light and a flying bird in it so that is the reason for a very scrappy flying bird of the day picture.

flying chffainch

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Today’s guest picture is another blast of sunshine from the past.  This time it is a pleasant valley scene from one of my brother Andrew’s Derbyshire walks in early October.

derbyshire

After a rather restless night, I got up to a sunny morning and a much improved interior economy and after a quiet morning, I was back to normal by lunchtime and able to eat without any ill effects.

I didn’t take any risks though and did nothing more energetic than have a walk round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

The berberis was positively glowing….

BERBERIS

…and the special Grandma was having a final fling.

special grandma

The display of rose hips is easily the best that I can remember and many roses that don’t usually have any are covered with them after the good summer.

rose hips

There is no denying that we are well on the way to winter though.

red leaf

It is good to have blackbirds back in the garden as they have been pretty scarce since July.

blackbirds

I didn’t stay out long and when the sun went in so did I, and I was soon back in the kitchen looking out of the window.

It was an extremely quiet day for birds.

lonely chaffinch

I haven’t been able to work out why the feeder can be mobbed one day and deserted the next.

Even the sight of plenty of available perches didn’t discourage some uncouth pushing and shoving.

pointless violence

After lunch, I tested my constitution and my leg by going for a short walk over three bridges.

As I came to the river, I could see glowing trees in a garden on the hillside opposite…

yellow trees

…and golden willows below me on the river bank.

willows beside esk

Wherever I looked on my walk, there always seemed to be a defiant patch of colour among the leafless branches.

autumn colour November

I was impressed by the careful relaying of turfs on the site of the big bonfire on Sunday.

bonfire patch

After I crossed my second bridge, I met a fellow camera club member walking his dog and spent my time chatting rather than snapping and it was only when we went our separate ways that I took the camera out again to record a little more late colour.

Lodge tree

I crossed my third bridge and made my way quietly home…

duchess bridge tree

…only pausing for a wild flower on the edge of the Scholars’ Field.

november wild flower

My leg is working but still sore and there is no chance of getting on my bike for a while yet but my constitution was unruffled by the walk so I was happy.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy watching a YouTube video on sharpening woodwork tools so I realised that she had left the garden and gone back to rocking horse restoration.  I settled down to put a couple more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  My lack of cycling may be regrettable but it has let me catch up (a bit) on the backlog of data.

My friend Susan wasn’t available to come to our monthly recorder group meeting today so I had to drive myself to Carlisle.  The effort was very worthwhile as we had an excellent evening of music.  One of other members was unwell so we were a quartet  tonight and this made for a change with some different music to play.

Having been 150 miles ahead of my mileage schedule at the beginning of October. I am now 200 miles behind and with no hope of catching up, I am officially abandoning any targets for the year and will take any miles that I can squeeze in as a bonus.

Once again there are two flying birds of the day, this time goldfinches, one with wings in…

flying goldfinch in

…and one with wings out.

flying goldfinch out

Variety is the spice of life.

 

 

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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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