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Posts Tagged ‘sarcococca’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  His walking group took him on an eight mile  hilly and windy walk near Ashbourne.  As an additional hazard, he had to cross this very narrow bridge.

A windy walk near Ashbourne

After a night when my sleep was often interrupted by the theatrical sighing and moaning of the wind round the house, we woke to another grey and windy day.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and about early on, as she and her co-worker Margaret were (wo)manning a stall at the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre as part of the public consultation on the proposed purchase of the Langholm Moor.

She and Margaret had a very good day, enrolling considerable support for the project and having interesting conversations with interested people.

I went along later to buy honey, venison, fish and lamb.  I got the fish and some lamb for the slow cooker but the honey man and venison lady were not at the market, one through the illness of his wife and the other because she was too busy selling venison elsewhere.

This was a disappointment as the local honey is very tasty and the venison goes very well in the slow cooker.

I was perked up by the sight of an apparently well stocked cheese stall from a new supplier but then was dashed to find that it was all basically one sort of cheese but with many different things stuck in it.  I am not a fan of ‘cheese with bits’, being of the opinion that nothing can improve good cheese.  I bought a portion of his cheese without bits but as I thought that it was a little dull, I could see why he thought that it might be a good idea to put things in it.

When I got home, I had a coffee and did the crossword.  It told me that there was a 95% chance of heavy rain all afternoon so I went out while it was still dry.

In the garden I saw an early harbinger of many crocuses to come, the sarcococca….

crocus, sarcoccoca, rhubarb and rain gauge

….an indication of why everything is so soggy and an exciting hint of many crumbles to come.

Then  I went for a walk.

There were very few birds in the garden but when I left the house, I saw a blackbird having a bath in the dam…

blackbird bathing

…and when I got to the park, I saw a jackdaw on the wall…

jackdaw on park wall

…and another on a bench.

jackdaw on park bench

I often take pictures of individual lichens on walls but I thought that this corner of the Kirk wall deserved a picture of its own as it would be hard to find a stone with more lichen on than this.

lichen on church wall

I have taken pictures of the park monsters before but I don’t think that I have shown how they are cleverly carved out of two branches of a fallen tree.

park monsters

Looking at the bank behind the monsters, it seems probable that it won’t belong before more trees fall down beside them.

dangerous bank at park

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like to walk along the riverside path here because of the instability of the banking.  There are always little landslips going on and some of the trees look quite alarming.

dangerous tree Eastons

I like the walk, in spite of the conditions, because there is always plenty to look at as you go along.

moss and lichen eastons

I could even see the tops of the hills today as I walked back along the top track.

view of castle Hill from stubholm

My short walk brought me back down to the park and the wall was as full of fun as it always is.

lichen, spleenwort, moss park wall

While I had been walking along the river, the peace of the day was disturbed by the raucous calls of a pair of oyster catchers, the first I have heard this year, so instead of going straight home, I walked along the river to see if I could catch them at rest.

They were nowhere to be seen, so I settled for catching a very fine birch polypore on a tall tree stump in Mary Street.

birch polypore

It wasn’t hard to find as the whole stump was covered in them.

fungus on birch stump Mary St

I decided to call in at the Buccleuch Centre to see how Mrs Tootlepedal and Margaret were doing, and found them just ready to pack up  after a good morning’s work.  I was admiring some excellent woodwork on a stall when Mrs Tootlepedal turned up and bought a robin bird box.  Or to be more precise, she pointed it out and I bought it.  It will be interesting to see if our robin takes to it.

Mrs Tootlepedal gave me a lift home and I had some haggis for my lunch while she went for a pulled pork and chicken pie, both purchased from the market.

I took a picture of this very unusual house next to the Centre.  Langholm goes in for grey stone with the occasional white or grey rendered walls so this house really stands out.

BLUE HOUSE

Once home, I settled down, prepared for a very rainy afternoon alleviated by watching international rugby matches.

This was not a great decision as the Wales-Italy game was rather boring and the Ireland-Scotland match was the usual crushing disappointment.  To make matters worse, it didn’t rain heavily, if at all, and at one  point there was even blue sky.  I would have been better off going for another walk.

blue sky

Still, I fried a nice fillet of sea bass for my tea and no day with a lot of lichen in it is a wasted day.  And I didn’t have a dizzy spell.  One of the credit side of the great ledger of life in spite of any disappointments.

There were a lot of rooks applying to fill the post of flying bird of the day.

flying rooks

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was visiting Tunbridge Wells recently and admired the fine station clock there.  She didn’t arrive at the station by train though, as she had had to get there on a bus from Tonbridge owing to works on the line.  So, it is not just us who have a bad effect on the railways.

Tunbridge Wells Station

It was another grey day today here with very low cloud again, but as it was calm and reasonably warm, I turned down a very tempting offer of treacle scones and the tale of a trip to Amsterdam from Dropscone and got my bicycle out instead.

There was a light breeze in my face as I set off but it wasn’t enough to blow the clouds off the top of Callister…

mist over Callister

…and it was thick enough on the top of the hill to make me wish that I had cycle lights.

However, it was not long before I was out of the clouds and safely  down the other side  of the hill.  The clouds were still pretty low….

misty pylon gair

…but at least I could see where I was going.

It wasn’t a day for stopping to take pictures and I didn’t take another until I was halfway round my route when a lichen on the motorway bridge at Harker caught my eye when i stopped for half a banana.

lichen on bridge Harker

I was spoiled for choice when it came to bare trees in a field once I had crossed the A7 and headed towards Scaleby.  This one was on my right at one point….

tree near scaleby 1

…and this one was on my left.

tree near scaleby 2

As you can see, the clouds had lifted a bit by this time but I was under slight time pressure to get my ride completed.  I had been pretty slow against the breeze on my way out so I had to keep going on my way home.

It was our 52nd wedding anniversary today and I was hoping to mark the occasion with a 52 mile ride but I miscalculated and ended up doing 53 miles.  Ah well, the route should stand me in good stead next year.

I called in at our corner shop on the way home for some milk and a packet of biscuits so it was a useful if rather elongated trip to the shop.

Garmin route 24 Jan 2020

Click on the map for more details of the ride.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden when I got home.   It isn’t the time for serious work yet and she told me that she had just been faffing around.  I had to check before using this word in a post as it sounds vaguely vulgar, but I find that faffing is a word of impeccable pedigree meaning to blow about indecisively in the wind.  Mrs Tootlepedal confirmed that this approximated to what she was doing.

I had a look round the garden and was rather depressed by a vigorous show of moss in the middle of a lawn.

moss on lawn januray

I like moss but I would also like to be able to see some grass at least.

Signs of life on a viburnum were cheering.

viburnum january

And I hope to get better light soon to be able to take a better picture of the Sarcococca at the back door.

sarcoccoa

The reason for getting the bike ride finished on time was the need to be ready to take Mrs Tootlepedal out to see a film called The Personal History of David Copperfield, which has been well reviewed.   Mrs Tootlepedal had checked the film timings and we arrived in Carlisle on the dot for the programme to start.  All would have been well if the cinema had not been closed because of a fault in their water supply, a secret which they had kept to themselves and not revealed to their website.

We drove home.

And had fish and chips as a consolatory treat for our anniversary tea, followed by plum crumble and custard.  It is not just railway trains that fall to pieces as we approach them.

At the end of the day the feeder remained as full as it had been at the beginning so there is no trace of a sitting let alone a flying bird of the day today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was visiting Nottingham University when he took this picture of the main buildings in the background behind the lake and a very interesting looking mini golf course with giant acorns.

andrew nottingham

We woke to a sunny day but as the thermometer had dropped several degrees and a very biting northerly wind was blowing, I wasn’t tempted to go further than the garden before church.  In spite of the cold, definite signs of spring are all about.

crocus, daff, sarcococca

The church choir, though small in number, sang away heartily at the hymns and a short anthem and at the practice after the service we agreed to try something a little more ambitious for Easter.  Time will tell if we have bitten off more than we can chew but our organist and choirmaster is so enthusiastic that it will be fun trying.

When we got home, I fortified myself against the chill with a cup of coffee and went for a walk. Yesterday’s day of rest had made my sore foot worse if anything so I thought that perhaps exercise might be a good idea.

I aimed for a route which would have the wind at my back when I was exposed and which would find me in the shelter of hedges and the valley on my way home.    This took me along the track to the Becks Burn and back along the road.  It worked out well.

When I read other people’s blogs, I often long for some context for their pictures and words so I took the chance to show Wauchope Cottage tucked into the heart of the new town of Langholm

wauchope cottage from scotts knowe

Our white front door can be seen in the centre of the picture with the walnut tree in front of the house.

A little further up the hill, I could now see the new town in the foreground with the old town behind and Whita Hill providing the backdrop.

view from scotts knowe

I noticed a healthy looking polypody fern on a wall near Holmwood.

fern front and back

If you could get out of the wind and into the sun, it was a pleasant day for walking.

becks track

Although the fields along the track are still fairly green…

becks track field

…the rough pasture on the hills is losing its colour and we won’t get our green hills fully back now until May.

warbla from becks track

The felled trees in the wood provided some pretty patterns.

felled tree stump

I was passed by a jogger after I had crossed the Becks Burn and was impressed as he sped up the hill on the far side.

jogger in becks wood

The road back down into the valley was richly dressed with catkins in the hedge…

catkin panel

…and when I got down to the Wauchope road, I had a good time looking at various very healthy lichens on the walls.

four lichens

I filled the feeder when I got home and watched the birds for a while.  Two male chaffinches showed off their fine colouring in the sunshine…

two colourful chaffinches

…while a female looked unavailingly for a free perch.

chaffinch approaching goldfinches

This goldfinch had found one and was keeping a close eye on it as he approached.

goldfinch looking for a perch

Another goldfinch had a friend who was kindly keeping the sun off him as he ate.

slave goldfinch

After lunch, we drove down to Carlisle in glorious sunshine to attend our community choir there.  The wind was gusting at 40 mph so for once I wasn’t at all unhappy not to be cycling on a sunny day.

Unlike the church choir, the Carlisle choir was very well attended with about 100 members enjoying an excellent and productive practice.  My time spent trying to learn the songs for our Manchester competition paid off and I found that I was fairly confident in the two that we sang today.  It was lucky that we didn’t sing the third one, as I have a lot of work to do on that still.

We paused outside the chip shop in Langholm on our way home for long enough for a poke of chips to insert itself into the car as if by magic and eating the chips with the last of my tapsi flavoured sausage stew brought a satisfactory day to a close.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, applying the brakes and looking keenly for a free space at the feeder.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows the River Severn in good form at Worcester.  My brother Andrew was there yesterday celebrating his birthday on an outing with two of our sisters.

river severn at Worcester

I was a bit tired after a busy day yesterday and so I was very pleased to have a good excuse not to go rushing out in the morning in spite of some dry weather.

The excuse arrived for coffee bringing some of his excellent treacle scones.  Dropscone had walked round as his car is getting repaired.

After he left, I spent a little time looking out of the window but cloudy weather and several intermittent and unsuccessful fly-throughs by a sparrow hawk limited my chance for taking photographs.

I settled for a couple of portraits of sitters.

goldfinch

chaffinch

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help serve the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre and I considered life for a while but eventually got up the energy to ignore a strong wind and grey skies and go out on my fairly speedy bike.

With the breeze gusting at over 20 mph into my face, my progress up hill for the first five miles can best be described as very steady and I was pleased to have the excuse to stop and take a picture of my favourite winter tree.

tree at Bloch

There is just something about its shape and position which really appeals to me.

It was quite a battle to get down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass but at least the wind stayed consistent and helped me back to Langholm.

I was more than a bit disappointed when it started to rain but unlike yesterday, the weather gods were just having a joke today and it stopped without really getting me wet at all.

I was able to enjoy a fine clump of snowdrops at the road side near Canonbie…

snowdrops in Canonbie

…and it shows what a few miles south and a small drop in height will do as some of them were fully out unlike ours at home.

It was too grey to take landscape pictures but I did take one more tree shot on the old A7 near Auchenrivock.  I liked the contrast in styles.

trees on old A7

After she had served the lunches, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone to a screening about a Cézanne exhibition at the Buccleuch Centre.  Dedicated to the portrait work of Paul Cézanne, the exhibition opens in Paris before travelling to London and Washington so she was lucky to be able to get a peek at it here.

In her absence, I had a walk round the garden.

It was cheering to see the leaves coming out on the honeysuckle…

honeysuckle

…and I was interested to see that a new plant, a sarcococca, is in flower.

sarcococca

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it has a very fine scent.

I did think of going for a short walk as it was still dry but it was so gloomy outside that I discarded the idea and did some pro relaxing instead.

I managed to stir my stumps enough to put an edition of the Langholm Parish Church newsletter of 1966, scanned and formatted by Sandy, onto our Archive website and I also put in some much needed learning practice on our Carlisle Choir songs.

Regarding the Archive Group website, I was interested to receive a report from Google today on our performance.  There was a pleasing number of clicks for such a specialised interest but some of the stuffing was knocked out of my modest pride when I checked for the search terms which  had brought visitors to the site.

I am not sure that the person who was searching for “second hand cars in Langholm” will have found what he wanted!  Some of the other search terms made me wonder why our website had turned up in the search results at all.  Still, some of the people who had arrived were definitely looking for answers that we could provide so not all was lost.

It is still cloudy as I write this in the evening and the forecast for tomorrow is terrible, full of wind and rain and snow so I don’t think that we are going to be able to see the much talked abut “blue moon” tomorrow night.    I shall keep an eye out just in case there is a break in the clouds.

No flying bird in the gloom today so a robin is sitting in instead.

robin

 

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