Posts Tagged ‘scabious’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has visited Paris and thought she would take a picture of the Place de la Concorde as she thinks we all could do with a little concord at this time.


We had another sunny morning here, but once again the day was sprinkled with showers and predicting when they would arrive was tricky.

I went out into the garden in a sunny spell after breakfast and found that the rowan tree was a busy place.

A starling was having a look round…

starling in rowan 1

…and having weighed up the situation…

starling in rowan 2

…it got tucked into the berries.

starling in rowan 3

Other birds looked on…

thrush in rowan

…and a blackbird got in on the act…

blackbird with rowan berry

…and soon everyone was at it.

three birds in rowan

Still, there are plenty of berries to go round.

Rain was forecast for midday so after an early cup of coffee, I set off to do a few miles on my bike before the rain came.  Once again, there was a very brisk wind blowing, and as I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my slightly suspect knee, I settled for 17 miles with the wind behind me for the section with the most climbing.  I didn’t stop to take pictures as I wanted to be sure to be back before the rain started which I was.

As well as the rowan berries, there was more eating going on in other places in the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal, on her way out to a social lunch engagement, noticed that the nasturtiums by the back door were getting thoroughly nibbled and she spotted the guilty party, a cabbage white caterpillar.

cabbage white caterpillar

While she was out, I mowed the greenhouse grass and then took a walk round the garden to enjoy the colour…

six garden flowers

There was more berry action in the rowan tree.

starling with berry in beak

…and I went in and had a baked potato for my lunch as watching all the eating had made me feel hungry.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and immediately went off for a business meeting and I stayed indoors because one of the forecast rain showers arrived.

By the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned, the rain had stopped so we had a look at  the sky and went out for a walk.  We hadn’t gone more that a few hundred yards before it started to rain again.  However, we didn’t cry and as it looked as though it might pass quickly, we kept going and were rewarded by blue skies soon afterwards.

We were headed for Meikleholm Hill as there are no cattle or sheep on it at present so I was hoping to find some wild flowers about.

We saw fungus on the way up to the open hill and a rabbit when we got there (it couldn’t keep up with us)…

two fungus and a rabbit

…and we were soon high enough up to get a good view back over the town.  The rain clouds were disappearing over the back of Whita.

view of langholm from Meikleholm

My hope for wild flowers was realised and there were scabious…

scabius meiklholm


yarrow meikleholm

…and a host of things that might well be hawkbit.

wild flowers meikleholm

There was any amount of tormentil (which my camera can’t photograph at all well), as well as an interesting pink flower, lots of heather and an occasional fungus.

wildflowers and fungus meikleholm

I took a panoramic view when we got to the col at the back of the hill….

meikleholm panorama

Click to get te fuller picture.


…and a closer look at the Gates of Eden

gates of eden from meikleholm

..before we took the mountain bike trail back down the hill.

cycle track down meikleholm

The trail was steep and slippery in places, so we had to go very carefully as our days of skipping down hills like mountain goats are long past, but we got safely back onto a good track in the end.  As we hot the track, it started to rain and and we expected the worst, but in a few minutes we got the best instead.

meikleholm rainbow panorama

Another click will get a larger view.

As it turned out that the foot of the rainbow was obviously lying smack in our garden, you can expect Mrs Tootlepedal to be keener than ever on digging over the beds.

meikleholm rainbow

Once again, we were passed by some light traffic…

horse of meikleholm

…and as we came back down off the hill, there were more flowers and fungus to be seen.

fungus and knapweed meikleholm

We got back to the house just as it started to rain again.

Although it was only just over two miles, it seemed a lot longer with so much to enjoy on the way and with quite a bit of climbing and descending as well.  We felt well rewarded for our efforts.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday visit and Alison and I played a cheerful selection of music while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal sorted the world out.

There are still quite a lot of peacock and red admiral butterflies in the garden, sitting for their portraits….

peacock and red admiral on buddleia

…but I was pleased to catch a white butterfly in flight and although it is not the sharpest picture in the world, I am still more than happy to use it as the flying bird of the day.

flying white butterfly

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent walk.  When the walkers stopped for lunch, a local resident pestered them for a share of their sandwiches and got very hoity toity when they refused.

andrew's peacock

We had some welcome sunshine today but I had a busy morning  and the only part of it that was spent  on my bike was when I cycled up to the High Street.  I was there to do some archiving business and take some pictures which I had printed out for a fellow camera club member up to her.  As our new archive base is in the newspaper office and the camera club member works there, I was able to hit two targets with a single arrow.

I got home in time to entertain Sandy to a cup of coffee.  He bought with him some delicious home made muffins which a friend had given to him.  We were able to send him off with some rhubarb and potatoes in return.

When he left, we went out to do some work in the garden.

I mowed the middle and front lawns and then took time out to have a walk round.

The sun  flowers continue to attract customers…

sunflower witht wo bees

…and the buddleias are equally popular.

four butterfly panel

Since it was a sunny day, I looked for sunny flowers and found a lot, some of them in the vegetable garden.

six yellow flowers

The St John;s Wort is a little garden paradise all on its own.

st john's wort august

Although I intended just to take yellow flowers today, in the end I couldn’t ignore the reds.

fuchsia, cosmos, poppies

The rambler rose is producing some late flowers.

late rambler rose

And some of the poppies are soldiering on.

red poppy

This is a  sweet pea…

sweet pea

…and this is a sweet bean.

sweet bean

Actually, it is a runner bean but its beans tasted pretty good when we had them for tea.

Having had a rest, I put the push mower away and got out the hover mower to do the greenhouse grass. I had to put it away pretty sharply though because it started to rain heavily.

I had just about got inside when the rain stopped.  I went out and it started again.  This happened a couple of times and then I had an idea.  I said very loudly to Mrs Tootlepedal, “I am giving up the idea of mowing and I am going in!”

Then  as soon as the rain moved off to annoy someone else, I nipped out and got the mowing finished.

I made some soup for lunch using an onion and some potatoes that didn’t look as though they would store well and after we had had lunch, I settled down to work on the computer as the weather continued to be unreliable.

I got the charity return for the Archive Group under way.  This was only nine months late, but that makes it quite prompt for me as I hate filling in forms and always leave it till the last possible moment (and beyond).

I was just copying some music as a relaxation after the form filling, when Mike Tinker popped in for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit.

Not long after he left, my flute pupil Luke came and then it was time for tea. It had been a busy day.

The weather looked a bit settled by the time that we had finished our meal, so I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that we might try the walk that had been rained off yesterday. She thought that this was a good idea so we set off, armed with an umbrella this time just in case.

When you look at the size of the tree that was washed up on to the bank just before the Auld Stane Brig by last weekend’s flood, you can’t but feel that is was lucky that it didn’t go through the bridge and bang into it.

auld stane brig with tree

As we walked up the hill towards Hallcrofts, the sun came out and in typical fashion it also started to rain.  Luckily the sun stayed out and the rain soon went away, so that by the time that we had got to the track through the recently felled wood, it was a beautiful evening.

view down becks burn

Considering that the wood looked like this in February of last year…Becks wood felling

…the amount of new growth is amazing and instead of crossing the stream by a bridge surrounded by gloomy conifers, we walked among young ash trees and luxuriant grasses and plants.

becks burn bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t visited the wood since before it was felled and she was staggered by the changes.

Having crossed the bridge and walked up to the track on the far side of the burn…

becks track

…we walked home very pleased with our decision to go on our walk.  We stopped on the way to admire a rainbow…

becks track rainbow

…and the view of Warbla in the evening sun…

view of warbla from becks track

…and to chat to friends whom we met along the way.

While I photographed the bigger picture, I asked Mrs Tootlepedal to keep en eye out for smaller things of interest.  She spotted scabious,  a well nibbled fungus, and a good crop of crab apples.

scabius, crab apple, fungus, be cks track

We got home at eight o’clock, conscious that the long summer nights are coming to an end in a month and shorter days will be back again all too soon.

The flying bird of the day is neither flying nor early but it has certainly got the worm.

blackbird with worms


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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She went down to the Thames a week or so ago to catch a boat and spent so much time taking its picture that she almost missed it.

South Bank 002

We had another warm, grey, damp morning today but it wasn’t raining and I was able to take a look around.

The ginger syllabub rose has produced two or three late blooms and the mint is flowering.  I looked closely at the mint and admired the jewel like moisture on the tips of its flowers but I needed to hold the drooping head of the rose up for a ‘hand held’ shot.

mint and ginger syllabub

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the picture presented by the bed at the end of the drive and even on a gloomy morning, it has its charms.

end of the drive bed

There was no time to hang around in the garden though as we had been invited to lunch in England by our friend Sue.

She lives in Cumbria near the town of Brampton about 25 miles away from us and is most notable for having turned a shipping container into a garden room.

We drove south, enjoying the recently improved surfaces of the roads as we went.  We were likely to arrive a bit early so we stopped to look back down on Talkin Tarn, a man made lake near Sue’s house.

Talkin Tarn

Sue lets her container room out through Airbnb and has no shortage of takers.  Many of them have remarked on their enjoyment of the birds visiting the feeders outside the windows….

bird's eye view

This is a bird’s eye view of the feeders with the container room in the background

…and so she asked me if I would take a picture or two of birds at the feeders for her website entry.

The light wasn’t great but there was no shortage of birds to shoot, especially blue tits but with several coal tits and great tits too.

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

A strange rustling in the leaves heralded the arrival of a featherless visitor to the feeder.

A squirrel appeared, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth…

another squirrel

…but it didn’t take long before it was tucking into the bird food.


I had caught several glimpses of a nuthatch but it saw me and kept its distance.  In the end, I had to go into the container and shut the door before it would come forward.


Sue provided us with a delicious lunch and then took us for a walk round the neighbouring lanes.  There was plenty to see as the verges hadn’t been so cruelly cropped as ours and as I was accompanied by two wild flower enthusiasts…

Sue T and Mrs T

The experts getting down to business!

…I am able to name much of what I saw.

scabious, tansy, fungus, beech nut

From the top left clockwise: scabious, tansy, beech nut and unidentified fungus

bee, butterfly and rose gall

Co-operative nectar hunting and a twisted rose gall


The fungi are beyond me to name

umbellifer, deadly nightshade, honesty, corydalis

An umbellifer with at least six insects on it, deadly nightshade, a thriving corydalis (they like walls) and some honesty.

Mrs Tootlepedal thought that it was the best policy to collect a few of the honesty seeds so that she can try to grow some in our garden.

As well as the detail, the broader picture was delightful too.  The countryside there is full of little hills and hollows…

Talkin view 1

…but has wider views of the fells as well.

Talkin view 2

We walked down into the valley of the Gelt river and under this very tall viaduct, built between 1832 and 1835 for the Carlisle and Newcastle railway.

Gelt railway viaduct

We passed under the railway and over the river and walked up the other side of the valley, eating many deliciously ripe blackberries from the hedgerow as we went.

The amount that we climbed can be measured by this modest looking bridge…

railway bridge Gelt

…from which we were now able to look down on the railway.

Newcastle railway

We followed a path through a field, passing some really well stocked hawthorn trees…


…and admiring yet more wooded views…

Talkin view 3

…before finding ourselves back down by the Gelt River again.

We crossed it by a new footbridge…

Gelt footbridge

…and walked through a pasture in the welcome sunshine which had appeared…

Talkin view 4

…and then followed the lanes back to Sue’s house.

The walk was about three and a half miles in length by a rough calculation but had such variety of surroundings that it was thoroughly satisfying….as were the cup of tea and home made ginger biscuits when we got in.

It is always a pleasure to visit Sue and she is very clever at finding a good walk for us and if the sun comes out as it did today, it is hard to think of a better place to spend some time.

The drive home was smooth and uneventful and we settled down to our evening meal with the feeling of a day very well spent.

I even got a nearly flying bird of the day in Sue’s garden.

flying blue tit

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who came across this Jersey Tiger moth while visiting the garden at Greys Court in Oxfordshire.

Jersey tiger moth Greys Court

I had a strange visitor today.  When I looked out of the kitchen window, I found Dropscone measuring himself against the sunflower.

Dropscone and the sunflower

Dropscone is the taller but the sunflower is the more handsome.

Still, sunflowers don’t make treacle scones and Drospcone does so he was very welcome.

He had harrowing tales of golf disasters to relate but the scones and coffee eased the pain.

Before he arrived, I had had time to admire the flourishing fuchsia…


…take today’s poppy potpourri…


…and watch a busy bee in a sweetie shop.

bee on poppy

When he left, I mowed the middle lawn and sieved some compost and then had to leave the good weather outside to set about selecting and printing the photographs for the Westerkirk Flower Show which takes place tomorrow.

I shouldn’t have left this task so late as there is a lot of work involved and  it was a pity to waste a good day by being indoors.  Still, I made a selection and my new printer worked well.

After a late lunch, I got out into the garden again and was once again bowled over by the numbers of butterflies about.  They were all peacocks…

peacock butterflies

…and red admirals…

red admiral butterflies

…but there a lot of them.  It was hard to find less than two on a buddleia flower cluster and there were often three.

red admiral butterflies

I did find one by itself…

red admiral butterfly

…but that was on a Michaelmas daisy which only holds one butterfly at a time.

I looked at some spiky dahlias.


Mrs Tootlepedal wanted some pages printed for her Embroiderers’ Guild which is having an informal meeting tomorrow and when I went to print them out, the printer told me that it had a firmware update available and asked if would like to install it.  There are some invitations that are irresistible so I gave it the go ahead and all went well and encouraging messages were delivered.

Unfortunately, the update had ensured that my computer could no longer actually talk to the newly updated printer so a good deal more of a lovely day was wasted in muttered oaths, head scratching and a few well placed kicks.  Whether it was the kicks or some random button pressing I can’t tell but after a while order was restored and the print outs completed.

I went outside again.  It was such a good day that I decided to go for a walk up Meikleholm Hill.  I gave Sandy a ring to see if he would like to come too but he told me that he was relaxing in the garden with a cool beer and the crossword and was quite comfortable where he was…..but before I could put my phone back in my pocket, he had weighed up the beauty of the day against the charms of some cool beer and decided to come with me on the walk.  It was that sort of day.

The cattle are still off the hill and it is a wonderful place to walk at the moment, rich in wild flowers…

wild flowers on Meikleholm

…and golden with hawkweed and tormentil among harebells and others.

Meikleholm meadow

Along the path we took round the side of the hill was a new crop of blue flowers which I had come specially to see.


I couldn’t remember what they are called and had to look them up when I got home.  They are scabious but I couldn’t find any pictures of one surrounded with a little halo of leaves like this one…


…but it looks like the others so I think it must be  a scabious too.

There were hundreds of them on this particular part of the hill but very few elsewhere.  Curious.  Unfortunately they grew too far apart to make a carpet so I can’t give a very good impression of what it was like to walk among them.  You will have to take my word that it was very enjoyable.

When we got to the top of the hill, there were any amount of views to be had….

Esk valley

Looking up the Esk valley

Bigger hills beyond the valley

Bigger hills beyond the valley

View from Meikleholm

Looking across to the northern English hills

…and there were big skies too.

View from Meikleholm

On my way back home after leaving Sandy, I saw a small flock of homing pigeons resting on their loft.

homing pigeons

They too had been taking a little exercise.

Sandy and I agreed that it had been a walk worth worth getting out and about for.

My neighbour Liz’s garage was looking very colourful as I got back to the house….

Liz's garage

…and the garage owner herself was in the kitchen enjoying a cup of tea and chat with Mrs Tootlepedal.  I joined them and had a slice of another oat, ginger and plum bake which Mrs Tootlepedal had made earlier in the afternoon with the very last of our plums.

The plums have made excellent eating and we are waiting for the apples to ripen.  It shouldn’t be long now.

I added one of the views which I had taken on the walk to my entry for the Westerkirk Show and I had just finished printing it out when Mike and Alison came round.

Alison and I enjoyed playing Rameau, Telemann and Loeillet and that rounded off a busy and enjoyable day.

I even got a few flying birds when the homing pigeons obligingly did a fly past for me.


So far the weather in September has been very good!




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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba and shows a rather strange extra rock under the tree in her garden.

newgarden rockOur run of really good weather continued today, although the temperatures are definitely getting chilly in the morning.

I was pleased to wake up at a reasonable time as I had set my alarm for first, three o’clock and then, half past four during the night in the hope of seeing the lunar eclipse.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I did wake up and see the eclipse but it didn’t seem to be quite as exciting as we had been promised.  This is what we saw around 3am.

Lunar eclipseThe camera saw more than we did.

Lunar eclipseMy second view at 4.30am was not much more exciting.

Lunar eclipseMrs Tootlepedal saw some much better shots on the TV news.

The cold morning kept me hanging about for an hour after breakfast before I set off on the fairly speedy bike to make the best of the sunshine.  The temperature was still in single figures C but the sunny weather kept me warm.  I was a bit pressed for time so I stuck to an easy route and a modest distance of thirty miles.  I took a couple of pictures of the quiet roads that I followed. One in Scotland….

Scotland…and one in England.

EnglandAnd a river too.


The River Esk at Irvine House

I hardly saw any traffic, either motorised or on four legs, so I had a very tranquil spin round the low country.

I had time for a shower, lunch and a quick look at the sedum before going off to do my stint in the Information Hub on the High Street.  The sedum was busier than ever.  I counted over a hundred insects on it today.

sedum and insectsAmong the bees and hoverflies, a lone butterfly appeared again.

butterflyMy two hours at the IH were far from boring today as I had several customers visiting the art exhibition there.  I even sold one of them a painting.  I also sold a copy of the Langholm Walks to a local resident who told us that he had had an excellent view of the eclipse last nigh from his house which is up on the hill above the town.  I was also entertained by a visit from Dropscone who had returned from  golf lesson in Carlisle so the time passed very pleasantly.

When I got home, I turned down an offer of a cup of tea with Mike Tinker and whisked Mrs Tootlepedal off to visit the scabious on the hill which I had seen a few days ago.

The fungus on the tree stump on the track up to the open hill had lasted very well….

fungus…but sadly most of the scabious had gone over and I wasn’t able to show Mrs Tootlepedal the full display.

scabiousWhat scabious there was still in flower was very attractive to insects and almost every flower had a friend.

scabious and insectsI was a bit disappointed but Mrs Tootlepedal was very amiable and the walk was a delight in itself.  There was plenty to see.

scabious and seeds

tortoiseshell butterfly

A tortoiseshell butterfly among the flowers


The hawthorns seem either to have hardly any berries or a great profusion.

It is always a pleasure to look down at the town tucked neatly among the hills.

LangholmI had another look at the tree stump with fungus as we passed it on the way back and saw that it had a different crop at the very top.

fungusWe got back in time for me to have a cup of tea before my flute pupil Luke came for his regular practice.  He is playing in a school concert this week so we ran through his piece for that and then we played some duets.

Once again, time was a bit short but I had time for my tea before going out to play trios with Isabel and Mike.  They had both got up to see the eclipse but had not been very impressed.  We had a good play though, in spite of the lack of sleep and there is a fair chance that several of the composers might even have recognised the pieces that we were playing.

In all the rushing about, I didn’t have time to get a good flying bird shot and this was my best effort.

flying bird

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Today’s guest picture, sent by her mother, shows Matilda cleaning a fork at the sink.

MatildaI had a day which didn’t go precisely to plan but which was mostly very enjoyable anyway.  It started well enough with a week of the newspaper index being dispatched into the Archive Group database, followed by a quick scout round the garden….

rudbeckia and sunflower

Sunflower and rudbeckia with friends

…and the pouring of a cup of coffee for Sandy who had returned from filling the Moorland bird feeders.

After that, things drifted off.  Sandy asked me if I had received my entry tickets for the Cattle Show photo classes this Saturday.  I told him that I had but when I began to look for them, they were nowhere to be found.  This was distressing enough in a mild way but Sandy compounded my confusion by asking whether I had the Archive Group sound recorder to hand as he wanted to use it.  I was sure that I hadn’t got it but he was equally sure that I had.

After he left, I looked everywhere in vain.  I was getting slightly more than mildly distressed by all this evidence of functional incompetence when Sandy rang up to say that he had found the recorder tucked away in a cupboard at home and in a moment of inspiration, I took a look among yesterday’s discarded newspapers in the bin and there was the envelope with my show tickets.  Oh rapture.

Cheered up, I watched the birds for a moment…


A disgraceful display of male chaffinch chauvinism

…before setting off for a walk.

I had two aims in mind.  One of my correspondents has recently urged my to lay off the endless poppies and chaffinches and throw in a few more landscapes and my friend Nancy had told me that there were carpets of scabious to be seen on a hill above the town.  “Go to where you saw the orchids, ” she said.  I was off to kill two birds with one stone.  (Awards will be given out to anyone suggesting a better metaphor than this inappropriate anti-bird one.)

It was a bright day so landscapes were definitely possible.

View from MeikleholmView from MeikleholmI could look down on the Castleholm and see the tents ready for the cattle show on Saturday.

Cattle show tentsI found a scabious too.

scabiousIn fact I found quite a few, many with insects attached.

scabiousBut although I went to the spot where Mrs Tootlepedal and I had seen lots of orchids, I didn’t find a carpet of them.  I was mildly disappointed and thought that yesterday’s rain must have had a bad effect.  Still, there were plenty of other things growing on the hillside to enjoy.

foxglove and haw

harebell and white thing….and I mean plenty.

wild flowers on meikleholmOn my way back down the hill, I saw a good crop of translucent fungus on an old tree stump…

fungus…and some sturdy older stuff on another stump.

fungus…so instead of going straight back down to the town, I took a diversion along the Becks track to see if there were any more fungi about.

The woods, when I got to them, were full of fungus but the light was awful and I hadn’t packed a torch so taking pictures was not very satisfactory.

Becks fungiAfter I left the woods, the walk home was free from fungus but delightful all the same.

colour by the wauchope road

I saw these on the way.

When I got back, I rang up Nancy and questioned her politely about the lack of scabious carpet and it turned out that we had been suffering from a failure of communication.  She had told us at orchid time to follow the track from the water tank to find the orchids.  We had followed the track and found orchids.  However, this was pure luck as we had followed the wrong track, going right rather than left and finding the orchids was just a happy chance. I would have to go back and turn left next time.

I had a rest, ate some lunch and grappled with a recalcitrant crossword and was thinking of trying again when a very heavy rain shower came on and I thought that my walking day was done.  Once again though, things took a quick turn for the better and the rain passed and the sun came out.  I came out too.


The passing rain

Seeing a good gap in the clouds, I climbed the hill again and this time turned left.  There was a carpet.

carpet of scabiousIn fact there were several good patches and I followed the path until they ran out.  This gave me the chance of a couple more views.


Looking back

Craig windmills

Looking forward

Meikleholm gate

The gate was my limit.

It is amazing what a difference to the general colour of the country that pointing the camera in different directions makes.  Well, it is amazing to me at least.

This time, I went straight back down the hill with no diversions but I did stop to take many, many scabious pictures….

pink scabious

They come in pink as well as blue

…so many in fact that when I looked at my Pocketcam card, I found that I had taken 106 pictures on my two short walks.  My thanks go to Nancy for pointing the way to the scabious.

The number of pictures that I took gives you some idea of how delightful it was to be out on the hill in sunny weather and surrounded by beautiful flowers.  I nearly burst into, “The hills are alive…” but restrained myself.

It was lucky that I went straight home because just as I got there, it started to rain again.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spend the day visiting our granddaughter Matilda in Edinburgh and we didn’t have much time after she got home, before it was time to go out.  Once again, we were bound for the Buccleuch Centre, this time for a concert by Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, the incomparable accordion and fiddle  duo.  Not only are these two men very fine musicians but they have the knack of making the audience feel absolutely at home with them.  It comes as a shock when you see a DVD of a performance elsewhere and you find that they have done the same show to other people and it wasn’t all just for you.

In all the excitement of the day, I didn’t have the time or energy to get a decent flying bird shot so in deference to the call for more landscapes, I end with a panorama.

panorama from Meikleholm

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