Posts Tagged ‘RSNO’

Today’s guest picture is another from Tony, proving that he can take in the bigger picture but not miss interesting detail at the same time.

tony's stone

Encouraged by the splendid picture of a loaf bread which our daughter Annie sent us, I checked the recipe which she had also sent me and decided that it might be within my capabilities to make a similar loaf.   It has an interesting method requiring no kneading at all and cooking in a Dutch oven so it was a journey into the unknown for me.

The result was pretty good for a first go and I would have had a picture for you if half of it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared already.  I can report that as it is made from what is virtually a batter rather than a stiff dough, it tastes much like a crusty crumpet and is very delicious, especially when it is still warm.  I will have another go.

I had plenty of time to look at birds this morning while I was cooking and for once, there were plenty of birds to look at…

busy feeder

…including another visit from our resident robin.

robin on chair

I liked these two goldfinches keeping a communal eye out…

two contrary goldfinches

..perhaps checking for siskins, one or two of which made a welcome re-appearance.


I did think of going for a cycle ride while the mixture was rising but a rather gloomy forecast persuaded me that a walk was a better option so I went along to check out the Becks wood.

It was reasonably warm but grey and windy so I resolved to try a few black and whites on my way.

bw bench

I thought that this old tree stump, entirely given over to moss deserved the full colour treatment….

moss covered stump

…as did this elegantly gesturing tree…

expressive tree

…but an old shack often looks better in monochrome.

shed bw

In among the hundreds of new trees in tubes in the recently felled Becks wood are some rather weedy looking survivors of the cull.  This one looked as though it was bending down to greet the newcomers.

bending tree bw

The wood has been thoroughly cleared of felled trees and brashings and the scale of the new planting is impressive.  Although some locals mourn the loss of the commercial conifer plantation, I for one look forward to the new deciduous wood and enjoy the much improved views in the meantime.

view down becks burn

I went through the wood, down the road and across the Auld Stane Brig before climbing up the lower slopes of Warbla on the far side of the valley.  I kept an eye out for interesting stones and was much struck by this one with lichens on it nearly as decorative as a Maori tattoo.

warbla stane with lichen

An old tree trunk posed for a picture.

rotting log

I had thought of taking the track to the top of the hill but when I looked around, I could see low clouds coming in from all sides…

mist coming down

… so I took a more direct route home through the Kernigal wood and along the Stubholm track..

bw wood walk

…before dropping down into the park and passing a favourite wall.

moss on wall

When I got back to our house, the snowdrops on the bank of the dam were out…

dam snowdrops flourishing

…as was much of the moss on the middle lawn which had been pecked by jackdaws…

lawn pecking

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had gone off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.

My timing was good as it started to drizzle as I got home and it kept it up for the rest of the day.

Left to myself, I baked the bread, did the crossword and settled down to trying to learn a Carlisle Choir song off by heart.  This was a thankless task because as soon as I had mastered one phrase, I found that I had forgotten the previous one.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and in the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for one of the highlights of its annual programme.   Fresh from touring China and playing in Inverness, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with 60 players, had come to play their Viennese New Year’s concert to a full house.  I cannot speak too highly of the privilege it is for us to get a full scale symphony orchestra playing in our town of 2500 inhabitants.  We sit so close to the orchestra that the experience is absolutely thrilling and the slightly dry acoustic, which the players find hard work, means that the audience can appreciate every note that is played by every instrument.

The conductor even told several very amusing jokes.

A grand night out in every way.

As we have a full singing day tomorrow, I am expecting the weather to take turn for the better.

Although there were a lot of birds, poor light made finding a good flying bird of the day hard work and this was the best that I managed.

flying chaffinch





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Today’s picture, sent to Mrs Tootlepedal by her brother who lives on the banks of the Thames, shows the river steadily creeping towards his house up the lane that he usually walks down to get to the river.  He should be all right if the worst comes to the worst because he has a canoe.

marlow flood

Thoughts of flooding were far from our minds this morning as we enjoyed another sunny day.  The down side was the big zero staring at us from the thermometer.  This put paid to any idea of cycling as very cold temperatures don’t suit my breathing and I am unwilling to experiment with finding out how many icy patches I can cycle over before I fall off.

We had a leisurely breakfast, with time to look out of the window on occasion.  At this time of the day the feeders are still in shadow and the back border is brilliantly illuminated.  This is not very satisfactory from a photographic point of view but it is hard to complain about too much sun.

collared dove

The shadow gives a bluish tinge to a collared dove


I was pleased to see that a brambling had appeared again.


By an hour later, the sun had crept nearer to the house.

chaffinches shouting

It still hadn’t reached these arguing chaffinches though.


The chaffinches were in combative mood.

Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and I decided to make the most of the sunshine and set off round one of my usual walks along the river.  There was little bird action so our attention turned to the many trees around us.  Mrs Tootlepedal is always amazed by the weight that branches can bear as they stick out at sharp angles from trunks.

tree branches

We were particularly impressed by this moss covered limb reaching far out across the river.

moss covered branch

Now the leaves are off the trees, their full complexity is revealed.

tree with many branches

When we got home, we were forced to have several toasted tea cakes with our coffee.

I had time for a couple more looks out of the window.

First here are two black looks:


A jackdaw considers the feeders.


A blackbird does a little scavenging

And here are two sunny glances:


The sun had reached the feeder at last

two chaffinches in plum tree

Community sun bathing

Then it was time to take Annie to Carlisle to catch the train to London.  It has been very nice have her with us for a few days but she will be glad to get back to warmer parts of the country.  The sun was just as brilliant in Carlisle as it was in Langholm.


The citadel from which Carlisle Citadel Station gets its name, its usual brick red colour washed out by the sun.

When I got home, it was too late to go out again with the camera and too cold still to cycle  so I stayed in for a bit trying to take a killer bird picture without much success.


A chaffinch looking chilly as it chews a seed in the shade on a sedum


Two more sensibly finding some sun on a neighbour’s tree.

I took a bill for the Archive Group along to our treasurer, Nancy and she invited me in for a cup of tea.  I was introduced to a friend of her husband’s who was there. He remembered that I had refereed him in a rugby match at Annan.  Since that must have been about thirty five years ago, either he has an amazing memory or I must have been a particularly awful referee to stick in his mind that long.  I didn’t ask him which it was.

The last two pictures of the day came from staring at the sky above.

con trail

What we would call a vapour trail and what elsewhere I think is called a con trail. The pilot obviously had his foot on the accelerator.

Full moon

Full moon at tea time.

There is less the a month to the shortest day but that still means it will be three months until it is light at tea time.  (Tea: a cooked meal at about 6pm)

Mrs Tootlepedal went to work in the afternoon and when she got back she told me that while I was taking Annie to the station, she had given her metal detector a go in the garden.  She had got encouraging beeps but had not dug anything up.  I should say that we tested the machine yesterday at coffee time on Dropscone’s artificial knees.  they made a most beautiful musical sound.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went along to the Buccleuch Centre once again.  This time we were royally entertained by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra or at least their string section.  There were two  horn and two oboe players too but they only played in one piece and sneaked off home at the interval.

They dispensed with the need for a conductor and were lead in combination by the leaders of the first and second violin sections.  These players also appeared as soloists in Bach’s double Violin Concerto so they had a busy night.  The programme consisted of a Bach Suite No2 in B minor with a flute soloist, a Mozart violin concerto No1 in B flat major, the Bach double violin concerto, Greig’s Holberg Suite and Rumanian Folk dances by Bartok.  This suited me down to the ground.  The Buccleuch Hall has a dry acoustic and it makes for very detailed listening which was ideal for the music played.  The orchestra played with great zest and feeling  and the evening passed with never a dull moment, not something that you can say of every classical music concert.  As Mrs Tootlepedal remarked about the Buccleuch Centre and the programme it offers, ‘We are blessed’.  And only 200 yards down the street as I may have mentioned before.

The flying bird of the day was yet another chaffinch,
















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