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Posts Tagged ‘River Esk’

Today’s guest picture is the second portrait of Tony’s dogs by Tash.  It looks as though the dogs had had a New Year’s splash even if Tony hadn’t.

Tony's dog

We were promised better weather today and we got it but it took some time to arrive as we were covered in mist for most of the morning.

I had an early start as I had to take our car to the garage.  It had been sending us intermittent signals of distress through the dashboard display recently.  Intermittent distress signals can be very annoying as they always disappear as soon as you take a car to the garage and that is what happened on this occasion.  The garage’s diagnostic machine though is very smart and can tell what a car was thinking yesterday as well as today so the garage was confident that they could get to the bottom of the trouble.

I walked home and had breakfast and then there was a pause in the day as I waited for the mist to go.  It was too thick for safe cycling and at 2°C, it was a bit chilly anyway.

This gave me a chance to do a tricky crossword and occasionally look out of the window.

The robin was upset by being substituted by a chaffinch in a recent post so it made sure I got its best side today.

robin

The other birds weren’t posing.  They were too busy trying to get at the seed.

busy feeder

Although the picture is not of good quality, I liked this shot of a siskin sizing up its chances of knocking a goldfinch off a perch.

siskin

The mist thinned enough after coffee for me to put my cycling gear on and get the fairly speedy bike out.  Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do some gardening and after putting away some bread and marmalade and a banana as fuel, I went off up the road, hoping that the mist would clear.

It took its time and while I was going along the valley bottom, things looked a bit gloomy…

Mist over the wauchope

…but as soon as I turned up into the hills, things brightened up and I got above the mist.

Misty windmills

Soon, I could look back and see the mist lying along the Wauchope valley that I had just cycled through.  It looked denser from above than it did when i was in it.

Mist in wauchope valley

Once I got over the hill and looked down into the Esk valley, more mist was to be seen.

Mist in Esk valley

And the windmills at Gretna were up to their knees in it.

Misty windmills gretna

Looking across from Tarcoon, Whita Hill was an island in a sea of mist…

Misty Whita from tarcoon

…and looking ahead to where I was going, a solid bank of mist lying along the Esk made it look as though there might be dangerous conditions for cyclists when I got down to the river.

Mist from tarcoon

But once again, the mist wasn’t as bad when I was in it as it looked from above and although my favourite trees at Grainstonehead  had a misty background….

Misty trees grainstonehead

…by the time that I had gone a couple of miles further, the mist had gone and the river was bathed in sunshine.

Esk at Byreburnfoot

As was the tower at the Hollows…..

Hollows Tower

…and the Ewes valley when I had cycled through the town and out of the other side.

Ewes valley

Having cycled a bit along all our three rivers, I felt that it was time to give my ice cold feet a break and head for home and a bit of warmth.  It was still only a meagre 3°C in spite of the sunshine.

When I got back, I had a look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s new path….

garden path

…and went in for a late lunch, pretty happy with 26 miles on such a chilly day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had got some useful gardening in while I was out.

I kept an eye on the birds while I had my lunch.

I could see seven blackbirds round the feeder at one time but couldn’t get them all in one shot so I took some individuals.

blackbird

One popped up onto a hedge to make things easier for me.

blackbird

The goldfinches had given up fighting and were concentrating on eating.

goldfinch eating

goldfinch

While Mrs Tootlepedal went and fetched the car from the garage (it got a clean bill of health), I had time for a shower and some singing practice and then Mike and Alison came round for their regular Friday visit.  They usually come in the evening but once again, we had something to do in the evening so an afternoon visit with music, conversation, tea and shortbread was arranged instead.  All four were very enjoyable.

Making music in the home is always a pleasure but in the evening, we went to the Buccleuch Centre and got real musical joy in spades.

It was the annual visit to the Buccleuch Centre of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for their New Year Viennese Gala.   We are incredibly lucky to get this treat on our doorstep as the Buccleuch Centre concert is their only appearance in the whole of the  south of Scotland, the other three appearances on this tour being in Dunfermline, Inverness and Stirling.

They don’t stint either, bringing a 60 piece orchestra to play a programme designed to bring joy to the hearts of a full house.

The orchestra’s players are not particularly fond of playing in the Buccleuch Centre because they find the acoustic dry and don’t get the feedback that they would wish but I love listening to an orchestra here because of the superb clarity of the music.  Sometimes a big orchestra just makes a big noise but you can hear every instrument in its place here and the excitement of having a 60 piece orchestra playing only a few yards away from you is immense.

As an ex schoolboy viola player myself, I took a particular interest in the viola players in the Roses from the South, a piece we played with our school orchestra.  It seems a bit extravagant in a way to bring a bunch of talented players down and then just make them go “rest, bom, bom” on the same note for bars on end.  But that’s orchestral music for you and it was wonderful to listen them all.

The flying bird of the day is a crowd.

busy feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture from Irving, taken earlier on,  shows the Black Esk reservoir, the source of our drinking water these days.

Black esk

After yesterday’s crisp and sunny weather, we could hardly have had a more different day today.  It was soggy, grey, cloudy and cold…

…but there were compensations.

snowy garden 2017

The view from an upstairs window in the morning

snowy garden 2017

Untrodden snow on the drive

It was a winter wonderland.  Or at least, it would have been a winter wonderland if there hadn’t been a persistent damp drizzle and if the clouds had lifted to reveal the hills.  As it was, it was somewhat of a damp squib of a day.

The birds really appreciated the feeder and there were dozens on the ground, on the feeder, on the plum tree and even more waiting off stage on the walnut tree.

snowy birds

Some birds seemed quite happy as more snow fell…

chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin

…but some just couldn’t contain their impatience.

chaffinches

I got out a shovel and cleared a path along the drive and some of the pavement outside the house and then after a look around…

snowy garden 2017

…went back in.

The day took a turn for the better when Dropscone came round with some traditional Friday treacle scones and my coffee blend worked out well.

We caught up on Dropscone’s golfing adventures and his family news and then he walked off through the snow again.

It had stopped snowing by this time so I thought that I ought to take a bit of exercise.  I strapped the Yaktrax to my wellies and set out to see where my fancy would take me.

It took me past the church…..

parish church snow

…with its details neatly picked out by the snow.

Then I passed the Meeting of the Waters, presenting a marked contrast to the sunny scene when we were here feeding ducks with Matilda a couple of days ago.

meeting of the waters snow

There was no golden winter light today and a rather ghostly scene appeared when I looked at the trees across the Castleholm.

snowy trees

Individual trees had been picked out by the falling snowflakes.

snowy trees

I met a jogger on the Lodge Walks.  She was running rather gingerly on the icy surface but remarked as she passed that the conditions on the track to Potholm further back had been more comfortable.

My fancy turned to the track to Potholm.

It would mean a five and a half mile walk in total but the lure of snowy scenes and good conditions underfoot led me on and I pushed ahead, ringing Mrs Tootlepedal first to stop her worrying about a longer absence than was expected.

The decision turned out to be a good one.

There were plenty of snowy scenes.

View of Potholm from Langfauld

And excellent walking on the track through the Langfauld wood.

Langfauld

The bridge at Potholm marked the furthest point of my walk.

Potholm Bridge

I met a second jogger coming towards me on the road from Potholm.

jogger on Potholm road in snow

The scene was white enough to make a sheep look quite grey by comparison.

sheep in snow

The snow and the grey sky made a good backdrop for this tree at the Breckonwrae.

tree in snow

And I finished up taking the same shot a the end of my walk as I had taken at the start of our walk yesterday.

Today:

langholm in snow

Yesterday:

View from Scott's Knowe

Both walks had been really enjoyable.

I got back in time to have a very late lunch and enjoy a robin in the snow….

robin in snow

…and a couple of the many blackbirds scavenging under the feeder.

blackbirds

Because the weather was expected to be rather inhospitable later in the evening, Mike and Alison came round for the usual Friday evening visit in the afternoon.  Alison and I enjoyed playing pieces by Rameau, Loeillet and Woodcock and then we sat down with Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal to a cup of tea, some excellent home made (by Alison) mince pies and a few ginger biscuits to dunk in the tea.  It was a good way to round off the Christmas holidays.

Now we are preparing for the New Year.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch once again.  They are very reliable birds if you don’t have a lot of time to look out of the window..

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, taken by Alistair, shows Matilda and her mother Clare enjoying a good book.

clare and matilda

The miserable weather gave us a break today and we even got a sunny spell.  It was quite a bit cooler but as it kept a few degrees above freezing, no one was complaining.

After some early dancing with Matilda at the keyboard and work at the keyboard while Matilda danced, I found a moment to fill the feeders and have a look at the birds.

The colder weather had brought them back in good numbers.

I can count thirteen waiting in the plum tree for a seed opportunity.

 

plum tree birds

There was no standing on ceremony at the feeder itself although as you can see there was some standing on chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

A starling got small reward for its visit.

starling

There was constant activity and the chaffinch rightly looked a little worried as a siskin bomb approached him.

chaffinch and siskin bomb

A dunnock wisely kept out of the way in a nearby bush.

dunnock in bush

Al and Clare took advantage of the better weather and went off for a walk and with Matilda politely keeping Mrs Tootlepedal engaged with some painting tasks, I took advantage of the better weather to go off for a bike ride.

I had to spend quite a bit of time before I left in cleaning my bike and getting rust off the chain.  The downside of winter cycling is the amount of maintenance a bike requires which is why many cyclists put their bike on a rack and retire to the gym at this time of year.

Still, I like fresh air and there was plenty of it about today after all the mist and clouds so I was happy to hit the road.

From the look of the hills, we had only just missed a white Christmas.

snowy hill

You might think from that picture that it was a rather wintery day but the more the camera pulls back to the bigger picture….

snowy hill

…the better….

snowy hill

…the day looks.

Wauchopedale

Although it was only 4°C, while the sun was out it felt pleasantly warm.  Sadly, the sun didn’t last all the way round but the roads were quiet and basically dry and the wind was light so it was a good day for a pedal.

I went round my usual loop to Canonbie and back and stopped at some familiar spots.

grainstonehead

Liddle viaduct

The viaduct is 1.2 miles away and proves what a good zoom the Lumix has.  The picture was hand held and is not cropped.

There was plenty of water coming down the Esk at the Hollows….

Esk at Hollows

..and plenty more joining it.

Esk at Hollows

I thought that if I cycled through the town when I got back and went a mile or two up the Ewes valley, I might get a snowy view of the hills but it was disappointing with only the highest hills in the distance showing white.

Ewes valley with snow

I managed to add 23 miles onto my annual total and I have now cycled more miles than last year which is satisfactory.   I have five days left to meet the target which I set myself at the start of the year but the forecast is not very encouraging with either frost or rain for the rest of the month.

In the afternoon, Al and Clare took Matilda off to visit the parents of Alistair’s best friend from his school days.  The friend now lives in California but his parents are always pleased to see Alistair and gave Matilda and Clare a warm welcome.

While they were out, I had another moment to bird watch and I liked the very smart reaction time of a chaffinch at the feeder.

chaffinch and siskin

The siskins were once again out in force.

siskins

We had an excellent evening meal of cold cuts, roast vegetables and small portion of sticky toffee pudding but only tiny inroads were made into the cheese mountain caused by some over optimistic purchasing by me.

I have had an email from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo which included a picture of the sort of clothing needed for a cheerful walk when the temperature is miles below zero and I have joined it to a picture of the sort of cycling gear needed when the temperature is only just above zero.  It is hard to tell who is the more elegant.

Mary Jo and me

All right, it isn’t hard.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin looking for a perch.

flying siskin

 

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Merry Christmas

Today’s guest picture is an adventurous squirrel making free with an athlete’s banana on the edge of a tennis court.  My sister Mary spotted it in Regent’s Park.

Squirrel in R. Park 001

Apart from the weather, we had a perfect Christmas Day.  Everyone got exactly the presents that they wanted and Matilda and her father spent most of the day playing with theirs.

Mrs Tootlepedal conjured up a very satisfactory midday meal indeed and we all tucked in, eating with great gusto but without eating too much, a tricky thing to manage.

For the evening meal, we ate cold this and that but topped it off with a helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s sublime sticky toffee pudding.

The day was delightful but the weather was frightful.  All the same,  Mrs Tootlepedal and I staggered out for a walk after lunch in the rain.

It was even less of a day for pictures than ever so I only took two.

River Esk

I thought they summed up our walk quite well.

Jubilee Bridge

We are promised a bit of sun tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He has been out and about enjoying the bright lights of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh

We had no bright lights here this morning.  In fact it was hard to discern any light at all as it was the gloomiest day imaginable, cold and wet and very miserable.

As we are on a break from our Carlisle choir, I decided to join Mrs Tootlepedal and sing with the church choir here.  The organist and choirmaster had extended an invitation to go and sing with them on an ad hoc basis so I was sure of a welcome.

Getting to church proved a tricky business as the cold rain on top of some very cold ground had made our roads and pavements into a sheet of ice and we tottered along very delicately, holding on to anything we could find for support as we went.

The church choir was very enjoyable, though trying to sight read a tenor part while following the words on the opposite page of the hymn book was testing.  Luckily, Mike, my cello playing friend, was standing beside me  and being a very sound singer, he kept me right.

After we got home, I peered through the rain to see if there were any birds at the feeder.

_DSC0069

They looked pretty fed up and who can blame them.

siskin

blackbird

Of course, there is one bird that never seems to be weighed down by life.

robin

I made some soup for lunch and kept an eye out for more birds.

There was a steady stream of chaffinches coming….

siskin, goldfinch and chaffinch

…and sometimes receiving an unfriendly welcome.

siskin and chaffinch

I very much liked a little cameo performance by a robin and a siskin.

siskin and robin

My turn………………………………..your turn…………………………..er….whose turn now?

We have blackbirds with yellow beaks and blackbirds with black beaks.

blackbird

I don’t think that our cat scarer is much good at cat scaring but it does make a nice perch for you know who.

robin

After lunch, I waited for the rain to stop and then got ready to go for a walk.  The rain had started again by the time that I got to the back door but I needed some exercise so I took a brolly in hand and set out anyway.

The weather had warmed up quite a bit and the roads were free from ice but a test walk on a rough path showed that every puddle concealed a skating rink so I turned back and stuck to the roads.

It was very misty when I got to the river…

misty church

…and there was no sign at all of any hills behind the town.

Whita in cloud

As I crossed the town bridge, a ripple in a pool below spread out and in the middle of it, a dipper suddenly appeared.  I spent a minute or two watching it live up to its name and dive down and reappear after a surprisingly long spell under water.

dipper

I saw it fly off and walked over the bridge and on to the Kilngreen where I was delighted to find the dipper again, this time perched on a rock and serenading me with full voice.

dipper

On a second glance, I found that I was probably not its intended audience.

P1060102

Whether it was trying to woo the second dipper or telling it to get out of its space, I am not qualified to say.

Nearby, the mallards were lined up on the river bank…..

mallards

…though there is always one who can’t obey simple instructions.

mallards

As I walked over the Sawmill Brig, the clouds began to lift from the hills and as the rain stopped too, I had a quietly enjoyable walk.

misty hill

The light was still rotten so there wasn’t much of a chance to take pictures…

tree

…though just as I was getting near the end of the stroll, a little blue sky appeared over the trees.

P1060111

Too late.

I walked home via the High Street and took the opportunity to show you the fine Christmas tree in front of our town hall.

P1060112

By the time that I got home, the light had almost faded and that concluded the action for the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal is continuing to try out new recipes so we ate baked squash stuffed with fruit and vegetables for our tea.  It was a curious but not unpalatable dish but the combination of flavours took me by surprise and it will take another go before I feel comfortable with it.

There was a little sticky toffee sauce left over and we disposed of it with some ice cream for afters.  I was very comfortable with that.

A flying bird of the day was hard to come by in the gloom and rain.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture, from my neighbour Liz’s recent holiday, was chosen as an antidote to our current miserable weather.

Liz's holiday

If yesterday was grey, today was greyer.

And wetter.

A lot wetter.

lawn puddle

As it was my birthday, I took this as a personal insult but I was greatly cheered up by the gift of a delightful plastic spoon from Mrs Tootlepedal, ideal for stirring porridge in the pan and which was, believe it or not, exactly what I wanted.

Further delight was added to an otherwise dreary day by the arrival of Dropscone and Sandy for coffee.  As Dropscone had driven down from Glasgow before making scones to bring with him, this was especially welcomed.

We formed a celebration scone tower to mark the great day.

scone with candle

I feel that even the Queen would be quite pleased to have that on her birthday coffee table (though her scones might not be of such good quality).

After Sandy and Dropscone departed, I took a little time to peer through the rain at the bird feeder.

A lot of editing was needed to get the birds to appear out of the gloom.

chaffinch and blue tit

Somehow the robins always manage to look very neatly turned out whatever the weather.

blackbird and robin

And the weather was very ‘whatever’ today as this great tit found.

Great tit

This didn’t help the finches temper at all.

goldfinch and greenfinch and siskin

Goldfinches are non discriminatory shouters.  They will abuse any bird.

goldfinch and greenfinch and siskin

I made some potato soup for lunch as Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sewing a costume for our community pantomime and then after we had eaten some of it for lunch, I put on my waterproof trousers, picked up a brolly and went for a walk.

In the rain.

Quite a lot of the rain had got  into the river…

Esk in mild flood

….and the turtle was struggling to keep its head above water.

turtle

The river must have been washing some good stuff down because a couple of ducks were busy feeding.

ducks

The Sawmill Brig was a fine sight, paddling up to its knees in the water.

Sawmill Brig

But all in all, it wasn’t much of a day for taking pictures so I didn’t take many.  There are only so many ways of showing a bit if rain.

the new path

rain drops

I caught up with my correspondence when I got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal cooked me a splendid dish of scrambled eggs on toast with added tomatoes for my birthday tea.

In the evening, I went off to Langholm Sings, our local choir, and found the organisers standing around with very long faces when I arrived.  It turned out that with very few practices left before our concert, our conductor and accompanist had been unable to get to Langholm because of flooded roads.  The organisers feared that the practice would have to be cancelled as a result.

All was not lost though, as someone suggested that I might be able to help them run through a couple of things.  As I love conducting choirs and never get the chance to do it, I leapt at the opportunity and with the aid of one of my very unreliable fingers on the keyboard, we had a full practice and did some useful work.  The singers were very sympathetic to the lack of a pianist and put in their best efforts.

I don’t know what the choir thought but I had a lovely time.

It was still raining as we walked home but oddly enough, the river had gone down a bit.  There are reports of flooding to the south of us with four inches of rain in South Cumbria.

Once again I was really struggling to get a flying bird and I couldn’t manage one by itself today.

flying chaffinch

Note:  I naturally assume that all the gentle and well disposed readers of this blog wish me a happy birthday so it can easily go without saying and this will free me from the task of trying to provide a different response to the same message many times.  Those readers who don’t wish me a happy birthday can kindly keep their thoughts to themselves.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son and shows a pleasant reservoir near Edinburgh round which he walks his dogs.

reservoir

After yesterday’s warm, calm and sunny weather, today was rather chilly, always grey and sometimes rainy.  It came after yet more heavy rain overnight so everything is decidedly damp.  It got me down a bit and I had a indifferent day, largely wasted.

I did make some soup for lunch but that was the only noticeable activity of the morning apart from a dahlia census….

dahlias

…which I conducted because Attila the Gardener is threatening to have them all up any day now.

I checked on the poppies too.

poppies

Alert readers will realise that one of the poppies is a rose but five is an awkward number for a frame so it got included to make up numbers.

It has been so frost free that odd unseasonal flowers keep on appearing.  Today I noticed two blooms on the Weigela.

weigela

I did put the camera up at the kitchen window and there was continuous activity at the seed feeder.

busy feeder

Sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches competed for spare places at the feeder

goldfinch

Leading to some face to face confrontations

sparrow and goldfinches

A sparrow gives a goldfinch a hard stare

sparrows

Another one actually assaults a fellow sparrow

There were some peaceful moments though.

A chaffinch tries to remember what he came out for.

chaffinch

A collared dove displays very fashionable bootees.

collared dove

A robin practices his “Rod Steiger as Napoleon”  pose

robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who is pretty well recovered now, went off for an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I sieved a bit of compost and mowed the drying green.  Both these tasks were made tricky because of the general sogginess so I stopped gardening and rang Sandy to see if he fancied an outing.

He did.

It was really too grey for a proper walk so we went to the bird hide at the Moorland Feeders for a while.  I saw coal tits, blue tits and great tits….

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

…sometimes at the same time.

coal tit and great tit

There were lots and lots of chaffinches too…

chaffinch

….but it was chilly sitting in the hide and no unusual birds turned up so we drove back down the hill, stopping at my favourite spot…

Skippers Bridge

….which was also looking rather grey today.

There is a bit of colour in the trees along the river here….

River Esk at Skippers

…but in general, the trees seem to be losing their leaves without putting on much of a display for us.

We drove on down the river and stopped again.  There were spots of colour to be seen…

autumn colour

…and some impressive roots on a river side tree….

riverside roots

…but there seem to be as many bare trees about as trees with leaves on.faded autumn colour

We might have explored a bit more, as it was the sort of day when fungus might be found but some persistent rain persuaded us that home was the place to be.

Sandy dropped me off and I spent some useful time practising songs for tomorrow’s rehearsal with our Carlisle choir.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting which had been very successful (and well supplied with delicious cakes) and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

In spite of the much heralded arrival in Britain of Storm Brian, the forecast for Langholm tomorrow is quite cheerful.   I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches having an argument.

flying goldfinches

 

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