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Posts Tagged ‘RNSO’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sydney correspondent Stephen.  As he came out of the Sydney Opera House after a performance of Carmen yesterday, he saw this striking tribute to the many volunteer firemen who have been battling the blazes in Australia.

sydney opera house firefighters

After a restless night disturbed by strong wind and heavy rain,  we got up to a continuing gale and more rain.

It was so dark at midday that this was the best that the camera could do when peering out of the window.  The fact that the feeder was swaying madly didn’t help.

siskin in gale

It was a day fit for nothing outside but perfect for making marmalade indoors.

I made marmalade.  If it turns out well, a picture may follow tomorrow.

The wind calmed down as the afternoon went on and the light improved enough to enable the camera to get a glimpse of some hardy birds who had defied the conditions and made it to the feeder.

feeder afetr gale

But making marmalade is a lengthy business so I wasn’t bored.

Our friend Gavin ventured out while there was still some light and took this picture of the Wauchope Water just sneaking under the Kirk Brig to join the Esk.

gavin's wauchope in flood

Luckily, the rivers didn’t get any higher than this and the rain stopped in the evening.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent fry up of black pudding, liver, mushrooms and tomatoes with a side order of mashed potato for our tea, a suitably cheerful meal for a rotten day.

And then the day got better.

It was warm and dry as we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre for our annual treat, the appearance of the RNSO, Scotland’s national orchestra.  This is not some mini outreach programme  for the provinces but the full orchestra of 60 players on the last leg of their national (Perth, Inverness, Dumfermline, Langholm) new year tour with a Viennese Gala.

RNSO 2020

You can take it from me that getting to hear a 60 piece symphony orchestra in a packed 300 seater hall  is quite something and I sat in the back row beside Mrs Tootlepedal with tears of joy running down my cheeks as they played Suppé’s Overture to Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna to get the concert rolling.

And roll on the concert did, with popular orchestral favourites interspersed with songs from the Richard Tauber repertoire sung by a very pleasing tenor.  As he sang “You are my heart’s delight” while I was sitting beside Mrs Tootlepedal, the programming couldn’t have been better planned.

Tinayi Lu, the conductor, took some of the pieces along at such a speed that you feared that the whole hall might explode with the accumulated energy generated.  I am not a great fan of the modern tendency to play everything as fast as possible but the acoustic in the Buccleuch Hall is so clean that you can hear every note no matter how fast they are played.  And it was decidedly exciting.

She also introduced the audience to an ingenious Chinese pun and a very delightful musical dialogue between Chinese  tunes and western orchestral style by a composer called Bao Yuankai.

By the time that we came out of the concert and strolled home, the terrible weather of the day was just a fading memory and all was peace and harmony.

No flying bird of the day today for obvious reasons but I wonder if this goldfinch was as happy as we were by the end of the day.

soggy goldfinch

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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 is another from my sister Mary’s portfolio of London’s parks.

regent's park

With the thermometer at 2°C, it was warm enough for yesterday’s snow to be melting slowly but cold enough to keep me off the roads on my bike.  As a result, I girded my loins and did ten very boring miles on the bike to nowhere in the garage.

I am using a low cost magnetic resistance trainer on top of which the back wheel of my slow bike sits.  On the plus side, this gives me a sensible riding position but on the minus side, there is no inertia at all and as soon as you ease off the pressure on the pedals, it slows down instantly.  It is like pedalling through porridge.  There is no free-wheeling and none of the helpful spinning of a flywheel which you get with a gym model.  The result is like cycling constantly uphill and it makes an hour seem like a lifetime.

I was pleased to get off and look out of the kitchen window.

chaffinch

Chaffinches looked down….

chaffinch

…and up

chaffinch

…and all around

You can see that by lunch time,  it had started to rain and sleet.  This didn’t make the siskins any more well disposed to other birds than usual.

siskin

It eased off not long after it started though and that was a blessing even if it left things looking distinctly soggy.

chaffinch

By the time that we had finished lunch, it had stopped entirely and after going nowhere in the morning, we thought it would be nice to go somewhere in the afternoon.

We combined the need to put a little petrol in the car and get some shopping done with an excursion to Canonbie for a walk on less snowy tracks.

Though it is only six miles away, the path through the Byreburn wood was almost snow free…

Stream at Hollows

…though the lack of snow was made up for by plenty of water.

The walk up past the Fairy Loup and back down the road turned out to be a sociable occasion as we met the owner of the Archimedes Screw at the Hollows Mill on the way.  He was walking with his wife and tiny baby but was happy to stop and tell us about the workings of the Screw.  He invited us to come and have a view and we will certainly do that at the first convenient time.

There was plenty of brown water rushing over the waterfall at the Fairy Loup…

Fairy Loup

Further up the track, we met two more friends, parents of children at Canonbie School when I was teaching there, and we had another good chat with them.  Their daughter, a grand athlete in her primary school days, has taken to running very seriously and ran 1500 miles in the course of last year.  It made my knees hurt just to hear about her efforts.

We walked on beside the leaping stream….

byreburn

…until we got to the top of the track and then we headed back to the car by the quieter road.

For a day that looked quite cold….

ice

… and grey….

Hollows hill

…the walking was very kindly.  The unusual absence of anything but the lightest breeze made for perfect conditions for a January stroll.

We filled the car up on the way out and managed our shopping on the way home . When we got back, we enjoyed a welcome cup of tea and a sit down.

We didn’t have all that long to wait though before we were off again.  Our target this time was the Buccleuch Centre, where the RNSO were presenting a New Year Viennese Gala.

The hall was packed and so was the stage, with 60 musicians ready and willing to give us a seasonal treat.  There was nothing unexpected in the concert but the sheer delight of having 60 accomplished musicians playing live music in a good humoured way to an appreciative audience banished any thoughts of rain and snow completely.

As a bonus, there was a sparkling soprano too and when she sang Vilia, Oh Vilia as an encore, you could almost hear the physical and mental strain of the many amateur opera singers in the audience trying desperately not to sing along with her.

The RNSO, our national orchestra, is on a new year tour of some of the most notable towns in Scotland outside the big four cities.  They are visiting Dunfermline (pop. 50,000), Inverness (pop. 46,000), Stirling (pop. 36,000), F0rfar (pop. 14,000) and Langholm (pop. 2,301).  It’s hard to work out but we don’t ask, we are just grateful.

There was a flying bird in action during the morning snow today too.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is Mike’s phone photo of the Fairy Loup taken a few days ago when there was more water about.  It is a technological triumph as his phone sent it to my phone and my phone sent it to my computer.

Fairy Loup Mike

Although it wasn’t Sunday, it was a day of rest today as rain and strong winds made the thought of cycling or even walking not a very attractive proposition.  The morning was brightened by the appearance of Sandy and Dropscone for a cup of coffee, aided by the fact that Dropscone had brought some of his special Friday treacle scones with him.

Apart from that and a swift visit to our corner shop, the morning was spent in unconstructive idling.  I did try to catch the birds on the feeder but the fact that it was very grey and the feeder was swinging violently to and fro in the wind made it hard.

Robin

This robin was not impressed by my efforts.

Chaffinches

I clicked a millisecond too soon to catch this chaffinch booting an unsuspecting female off the feeder.

The afternoon was not much of an advance on the ironing but I did put in some useful time thinking about a triptych for the next camera club competition.  This is one of my first efforts.  It is made up of three separate pictures of Buttermere but I think that they go together quite well.

buttermere triptych small

When you look at the picture, you are doing the physically impossible and looking in two directions at once.

The day took a turn for the better in the evening when we went to the Buccleuch Centre for a concert.  It was given by the RNSO and once again we were suitably grateful to be able to walk a few hundred yards from our door and listen to a 53 piece professional orchestra.

The RNSO played a cheery mixed programme of foot tapping favourites (with some traditional new year  Strauss thrown in) which we enjoyed a lot.  The best feature of the evening was a tremendous young Scottish soprano who matched great power with fantastic control.  Her name was Nadine Livingston and I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a lot more is heard of her in the future.  Listening to her soaring voice as she stood in front of 53 musicians, all assiduously scraping and puffing away behind her, brought a tear to the eye.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at me during the day to get in the car and go down to sea to watch the very high tides and strong winds that were featuring on news broadcasts but I wouldn’t go, saying that there would be nothing much to see.  Very annoyingly, we met our friend Gavin at the concert and he wouldn’t stop going on about how exciting it had been watching the flood tide at Annan.  He even had photos on his phone to prove it.  Hm….and the people sitting behind us were telling us of the grand walk to the top of a big hill in the gale that they had had….Hm again.

Tomorrow we are crossing the country from coast to coast to pick up our daughter from Berwick-on-Tweed and as the possibility of snow is forecast, I hope we get back safely and I can post as usual in the evening.  Once again for my directions, I shall be using that sophisticated guidance system known as Mrs Tootlepedal

Two goldfinches, one flying,  finish off today’s post.

goldfinches

 

 

 

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