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Posts Tagged ‘Skippers Bridge’

Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda.  She is off school but obviously getting good art lessons at home.

matilda's wolf

Here, we had another dry day with a lot of thin cloud again.  It did get slightly warmer in the afternoon and may well have got into double figures at last.

We are limited in what we can do and where we can go so my first activity was to walk round the garden and admire the primroses.

primorses garden

We are allowed a shopping trip so I cycled round to the corner shop and passed the oyster catchers on my way home.  This one likes standing on one leg a lot.

oyster catcher one leg

Then I did a little compost sieving and followed that by making some potato soup for lunch, using chives from the garden for added flavour.

After lunch, it was time for garden action again.  Mrs Tootlepedal was clearing out the old strawberry bed.  We have decided that it makes more sense to buy the excellent strawberries produced by a local grower than use up a lot of space for a not very bountiful or tasty crop of our own.

I finished sieving the compost in Bin C and started turning out the contents of Bin B into Bin C.  I am taking this in gentle stages and did about a third of the pile before hanging up my fork and going for a walk,

Apart from shopping, we are allowed one excursion for exercise each day, and as it was far too windy for comfortable cycling, a walk was the choice for today.

In decided to visit the top of Warbla and as I walked up the track from the park to the Stubholm, a ray of sunshine brightened the day…

sun on trees stubholm track

…but it didn’t cut through the haze and the rest of the walk was pleasant enough but didn’t offer anything in the way of sunny views.

I saw horses…

two horses stubholm

…and the bench that my neighbour Liz likes to sit on when she takes her dog for a walk in the morning.

bench on warbla

As I got near the top of Warbla, a gap in the cloud let the sun pick out this blasted tree…

tree on warbla

…and when I got to the summit, I was able to take a quick shot over the town before the clouds  began to close again.

town and ewes cloudy day from warbla

I couldn’t stop on the summit as the wind threatened to blow me over the edge so I began to walk down the other side of the hill towards the cattle sheds which you can see below.

view down from warbla summit

This was an adventurous route for an old man with dodgy knees, crossing rough ground and finding gaps in old walls…

warbla wall

…but fortunately there was a reassuring sign telling me that I was going in the right direction.

walks sign warbla

Just as I was getting towards the bottom of the hill, I saw a cloud of sheep ready to head upwards…

sheep gathering below warbla

…so I had to make a diversion and was able to watch them heading uphill as I passed below them.sheep at skipperscleuch

I came to Skippers Bridge and the water was low enough to let me take a picture from the upstream side….

skippers March

…where I could enjoy the clear water splashing over the rocks…

esk at skipeprs

…and get a good view of the old distillery building.

distillery March

I walked home along the Murtholm.  There are not a great many hazel catkins this year but one bush is doing very well and when I looked more closely, I could see that it also had a lot of female flowers on it.  I have never seen three flowers together like this before.

three hazel flowers

The sheep were safely grazing…

sheep eating

…and I rounded off my walk by seeing a garden escape adding a little colour to the river bank above the Park Bridge.

colour at the park bridge

When I got home, I saw the familiar pair of piebald jackdaws on the path beside the dam. It  seems amazing that that prominent white feather has not fallen off.

piebald jackdaws

I passed a family party of four on the hill and a lone dog walker on the flat during my walk so I reckon that it was isolated enough to be fine.  If the weather stays good, I hope to have a cycle ride for my permitted excursion tomorrow.

Mrs Tootlepedal is crocheting a blanket to keep herself occupied during the shut in and I am waging a losing battle against my computer security suppliers which may well take me the rest of my life.  We are both keeping busy.

The flying bird of the day is not flying.  It is a jackdaw perching on the park wall.

jackdaw on park wall

For some not very clear reason, no birds are coming to the feeder at all at the moment so flying birds will be at a premium.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of our neighbour Liz’s morning walks with her dog.  They visited a lovely little waterfall on the Becks Burn.  As this involves quite a bit of scrambling, she deserves great credit for getting the shot.

waterfall becks burn Liz

I started the active part of my day by cycling round to the shop to get some milk.  I took the slightly longer route along the water side in the hope of seeing something interesting.

I though that a one legged oyster catcher  counted as interesting…

oyster catcher one leg

…and the first riverside blossom of spring was actually exciting.

cherry blossom by river

When I got back home, it wasn’t long before Dropscone arrived for morning coffee bringing his trademark Friday treacle scones with him.

He has recovered from his recent holiday and is back in the golfing groove again.

After Drospcone left, I walked up the hill to visit Sandy who has three more weeks to go before he is mobile again after his foot operation.   He is suffering a bit from cabin fever but I think my visit must have done him good because he says he always feels more cheerful when I leave.

It was lunch time when I got back and I had a few moments after lunch to watch the birds.  The chaffinches were in a twisty mood today.

bendy flying chaffinches

It had been near zero first thing in the morning and in spite of some sunny weather, the temperature had only crept up to 6°C by this time.  All the same, new crocuses were out in the garden….

white crocuses

…the silver pear is getting ready to flower….

silver pear bud

…and a couple of frogs were relaxing in the pool…

frogs on pond

…so things felt quite spring like.  In spite of this, I had to wrap up warmly before I went out on my bike.  I chose a different route today as I felt that my legs might be up to a few more small hills than usual.

I embarked on a “four dale” outing by starting out along the Esk, stopping to show how calm the river was at Skippers after a dry week.

skippers bridge March

I then went up and over and back down into the Tarras Valley, where I followed the route of the old railway.

In a better organised world, I would have been cycling on a beautifully maintained cycle path from Langholm to Carlisle using the disused trackbed instead of trying to get a shot of the old railway bridge at Mumbie through a mess of fallen trees.

railway bridge at Mumbie 1

I got a better view of the bridge from above.

railway bridge at Mumbie

At Claygate, I headed over to Liddesdale on a very undulating road which made me grateful for excuses to stop and admire trees….

tree on claygate road (2)

…sunshine behind me over the hills round Langholm…

view of solway from Calygate road

…a tall bridge over the Archer Beck…

Archer beck bridge

…and a distant view of the Solway in sunshine behind the Gretna wind turbines.

view from claygate road

Happily, the sunshine caught up with me and picked out a final tree for me to photograph…

tree on Claygate road

…before I got to Harelaw and turned to follow the Liddle Water down Liddesdale to Canonbie and beyond.

After the Liddle had joined the Esk, I stopped to have a look at the railway bridge over the Glinger Burn.

railway bridge A7

I was standing on the main road bridge that Simon had been under when he took this guest picture that appeared in the blog two weeks ago.

simon's bridges

Like today’s guest picture, he must have done some good scrambling to get down there.

Having gone down stream in general on my ride, I turned off soon afterwards and headed back across country towards home.

I stopped for a snack and a drink at this bridge….

 

beck burn bridge

…which spans the Beck Burn.

beck burn

As a name for a stream, this lacks a little originality as it is like calling a stream, the Stream Stream as a beck and a burn are the same thing.

I had the light breeze behind me now and pedalling uphill towards Tarcoon was not as hard as it might have been with the wind against…

hill at Tarcoon

…and the clouds that had been there at the start of my ride had been blown away by the breeze so that the ride back to Langholm looked inviting.

view from Tarcoon

I was hoping to do 30 miles and my bike computer said that I had done 30.08 miles as I entered our drive.  I thought that my route planning had been pretty good.

I was glad to get inside as the temperature had dropped back to a chilly 3° in spite of the sunshine.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent a very busy day on community land purchase business but she still had the energy to cook a very tasty toad in the hole for our tea, and I was sufficiently invigorated by that to be able to play duets with Alison when she and Mike came round for their usual Friday evening visit.

As Alison says, it is always fun to play duets but I think it would be even more fun if I played better so I am resolved to try to make time for some serious flute practice next week.  The forecast is full of rain for the whole week, so it should be easier to find time than it has been in this past week of good weather.

I have made reasonable use of the good week and with a hundred miles of  cycling, I have done almost as much already in March as I did in the whole of February.

A sunny chaffinch makes a suitable flying bird of the day to sum up five days without serious rain.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  She is not in Manitoba at the moment, having left her -15 degree temperatures there for the roasting air of Queensland, Australia where she met these Boer cross doeling goats.

Boer cross doeling

It was so gloomy here, after another night of wind and rain, that we had to have the light on in the morning and that made looking at birds through the window a bit tricky.

light in window

When I did get a sight of them, I could see that it was still raining and the wind was blowing hard enough to making staying on the feeder quite a task.

goldfinch hanging on

The birds came and went in busy patches and disappeared to other feeders for long spells.

siskin arriving

Just like the school playground, there is always one person with no mates.

siskin no mates

Others could only stand and stare.

siskin on pole

I put on my coat and boots and walked along to the shop and back, and then, after coffee, I put them on again and walked along to the Buccleuch Centre where there was a well timed public display regarding the proposed flood defences for Langholm.

As usual with these affairs, everyone in the town knows exactly what should or not be done and the only people with no clue are the experts.  I had a very nice conversation with one of the experts, an Irish lady who seemed to know quite a lot, and learned a bit myself.  The proposed protection mostly consists of high mounds and walls which may protect the town from flooding but will certainly make the riverside less attractive so no one will be able to get everything they want.  The experts have a bold scheme to divert the course of the Wauchope so it will join the Esk on the other side of the church.   I would need quite a lot of persuading before I thought that this was a good way to spend money but I am open to persuasion.

When I came out of the meeting, I went to check on the river behind the hall just to see if the exhibition was in danger of being flooded itself.

esk at flood prevention meeting

There was a bit to go before that happened.

I went home and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and Evie.  The rain and wind were still going full steam ahead and for some curious reason none of the ladies wanted to join me in a walk, so like that lonely siskin, I went out by myself.

I was well wrapped up and it was reasonably warm so it wasn’t too bad.  The rain wasn’t very heavy but the strong wind made even light rain feel serious so I kept my head down and didn’t take too many pictures.

Most of my pictures featured water since there was a lot of it about.

becks bridge wauchope road

The Becks Burn goes under the road.

auld stane brodge

The Auld Stane Brig straddles the Wauchope Water.

flooding over road

The roads were running with water coming off fields and out of woods.

I didn’t take the opportunity to sit on this bench in the rain and contemplate the churchyard over the water.  I felt the day was grey enough already.

wet bench

I was standing on a new bridge at the end of Gaskell’s walk, taking a picture of this little cascade…

waterfall at Stubholm

…when I noticed some movement and saw the the bank was slipping into the water as I was watching.

landslip at stubholm waterfall

I thought it prudent not to linger on the bridge too long and walked along the track to the Murtholm.  The river Esk was rising.

trees in river

I got to Skippers Bridge and was impressed by this waterfall running down onto the road.

waterfall at Skippers

I was intending to go down to the water’s edge to take a picture of the foaming current swirling through the arches…

skippers on a rough day

…but a look at the situation made me decide to walk back to the other side of the bridge and take my picture from the safety of the main road.

skipeprs from upstream

As I walked back to the town, I reflected that there were probably some snowdrops down there.

no snowdrops

If the flood prevention scheme goes ahead, this path will be widened and have a 2m barrier between it and the river.  It will be safe but the river view will be limited.

path that will be walled

The river was full but not flooding when I got back to the suspension bridge.  There would be barriers along both sides of the river here.

esk in flood again

We had more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty brisket of beef for our tea and then after Evie had retired for the night, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday night visit.   It showed how miserable the weather was that they used their car to cover the 200 or so yards to our door and still got wet before they got into the house.

Alison and I enjoyed some good music making and when she and Mike had left, I walked down to the river to see if it was still rising.  The rain had stopped after a full day and the river was no higher than it had been at five o’clock.  The Esk is working overtime carrying all our rain away.

I emptied Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge today.  It had collected five inches of rain during the week.  Some places got that amount of rain in a day last weekend so it is no wonder that there has been heavy flooding.  Once again, we have been wet but lucky,

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He saw what looks like the narrowest tall building in the world on a visit to London.  He revealed that the secret of its narrowness is that it is triangular.  He found a good angle to take his picture.

Tony thin building

It was dry but still very windy here today and I nearly got blown off my bicycle on my way to the shop to buy some milk.  In a sign of the time, the shopkeeper told me that he is looking into the possibility of going back to glass milk bottles to cut down on plastic use.

When I got home, I had time to watch the birds battling the wind too.  At times the feeder was very rocky…

swaying feeder

…and the birds got buffeted by the breeze as they tried to land.

buffeted chaffinch

I was a second too slow with my shutter finger  to catch a flying bird of the day as this one applied the brakes on landing.

chaffinch landing

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy preparing for the arrival of our  younger granddaughter tomorrow but she also went off to deliver the second curtain to the Archive Centre  so I had time to go round the garden.

hellebore, crocus, chaffinch

A little sunshine cheered things up.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then, ignoring the forecast possibility of rain, I went for a walk.

When I got to the park, I could see the tidemark left by Saturday night’s flood.

tide mark in park

Things have dried up well, helped by the strong winds, but there are still some good puddles in the fields, and plenty of water coming through the pipe at the old distillery and joining the rush down the river.

puddle spout and rapid

There was a good amount of water coming down the Esk but Skippers Bridge only needed one of its three arches to cope with the flow.

skippers bridge after flood

As I walked down the road beside the river, I reflected on the size of the chap who must have sat and rested on this fence.

bent fence

I left the road and walked up the track across the old railway.  The path through the oak wood was as enjoyable as ever….

oak wood walk

…but the path back to town through the birch wood was a bit tacky…

bierch wood walk

…though not as bad as I expected.

I passed several varied little streams in gullies as I went along, but only one was a stream of moss.

streams

I approached the Round House and took advantage of the bench…

roundhouse and bench

…to rest my legs for a moment and enjoy the view over the town.

view from roundhouse

It wasn’t cold but there are still a few patches of snow to be seen on our hills…

late snow timpen

…but to counterbalance that, there are signs of spring about too.

new buds

I was able to look down on Skippers Bridge from the path home, thanks to the power line which has meant that trees have had to be cut back.

skippers from above

Near the end of the  track, I had to duck.

bent tree

When I got to the town, I called in at the newspaper office which is home to the Archive Centre.  Here I was able to admire the second new curtain installed earlier in the day by Mrs Tootlepedal.

new curtain archive centre

The data miners are now curtained off like a Turkish Seraglio and can safely practice their arcane rituals unobserved….and more importantly, without inconvenient draughts.

I walked on to the Town Bridge and was able to spot an oyster catcher having a good stretch.

oyster catching stretching

The water in the rivers has turned from an angry brown to a sullen grey, with the Ewes on the right, being greyer than the Esk.

grey meeting of the waters

I have been asked by a couple of people if I can provide them with some cheerful pictures of local areas and this meant that I had to sit down and do battle with my picture filing system.  My method for filing involves the well tested “I’ll worry about that later” principle.”

This however was now that ‘later’ moment, but I surprised myself a great deal by being able to locate the memory cards on which photos from, 2012 to 2016 were stored. I was even able to pin down a particular picture from 2014.  Mrs Tootlepedal was very impressed.  I was quite impressed myself.

Then my flute playing friend Luke arrived and we had another go through our Quantz sonata with some satisfactory progress being made.  We have both resolved to try to practise a bit more if time permits.

After tea, I went of to the monthly meeting of the Camera Club.  Sadly Sandy was unable to be with us as he is still in hospital after his operation but seven members gathered and we had a varied and very enjoyable selection of photographs to look at, with pictures from all over Britain and the world beyond as well as many local studies.  There was tea and biscuits at half time as well,  so this was a very satisfying meeting.

The flying bird of the day is a rather morose looking chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  It is a horrible evening here so I was pleased to find his cheerful picture of life on the river at Chester last week.

chester

We were promised a visit from Storm Brendan later in the day so it was good to find a quiet, dry morning when we got up.

The birds didn’t seem very interested in getting some food in before the storm came though and all that was to be seen was a goldfinch on the feeder and a crow in the walnut tree.

goldfinch and crow

I cycled up to the town to do some Archive Group business and called in at our not so near corner shop of the way home to stock up on a few necessities.  Then it was time for a coffee and finally, I got out for a walk.

I did think about a cycle ride but the prospect of a strengthening wind made a 5 mile walk more attractive.

I had only got as far as the back wall of the house when I had to stop to note snowdrops almost out beside the dam.

dam snowdrops

I hadn’t got much further before I was detained by a dipper which was living up to its name by doing some vigorous dipping in the Wauchope above the Kirk Brig.

dipping dipper

They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.

In the end, I had to go on and I walked through the town and along to the track to the oak woods and the Moorland Project bird hide.

It was muddy and slippery, so I had to keep more of an eye on where I was walking than interesting things but this fallen tree was large enough to attract my attention.

felled tree with fungus

And the oak trees are hard to miss when you get to them.

oak tree near jenny noble

I didn’t want to hang about too much in case the threatened rain came in before schedule so I pressed on to the bird hide.  I had heard at second hand that the hide was closed as a result of the larch disease which will lead to the trees at the hide being felled soon.  I wondered if this meant that the trees had already been felled but when I got there, the hide and trees were still there and the notice on the hide door read as follows:

laverock hide notice

I was in time, the hide was still open and the feeders had been filled by one of the volunteers.

I sat in the hide for a few minutes and was rewarded with a good supply of peanut eaters.

Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….

two coal tits

…two blue tits…

two blue tits

…and a great tit with a chaffinch with other things on its mind.

great tit and chaffinch

A green finch arrived and checked to see if the peanuts on the other side of the feeder were any tastier.

inquisitive greenfinch

There were plenty of puddles about and a pheasant was happy to use one as a drinking fountain.

drinking pheasant

There had been some sunshine om my walk out but the clouds were coming up from the west so I didn’t stop long and was soon on my way home along the road.

It is hard to convey the sheer pleasure that can be got from contemplating our hills while out on a walk and I don’t have the camera or the skills to do them full justice but even in the middle of winter, this is a very pleasant prospect.

view from Broomholmshiels

In hot weather, the sheep that you can see in the field in the foreground of the picture above often make use of the shade of a tree beside the road.  Looking at the exposed roots of the tree, I wondered if the sheep were responsible for these scratches.

sheep scraped root

On my side of the fence there was a good show of xanthoria parietina lichen.

xanthoria parietina lichen

I set off down the hill at a good pace and I wasn’t intending to stop again but when a cladonia lichen winks at you from a wall across the road, it would be rude not to stop.  This one was so big and bright that it looked like a flower.

british soldier lichen

The river had dropped enough to let me take a picture of Skippers Bridge when I got there.  As the light was dull, I thought that it would make a change to show the bridge at work instead of the usual still life portrait.

I feel slightly nervous when I see lorries of this size crossing the bridge as they seem vastly too big for it….

skippers bridge with lorry

…but the bridge has stood up well to fairly constant traffic for over 300 years and will doubtless outlast us all.

I got home before the weather broke and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She went out on business in the afternoon and was not as lucky as me, as it was raining very heavily by the time that she bicycled home.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and my flute pupil came in the early evening.  Mike got wet but Luke was lucky to find a gap in the rain when he came.

As I write this in the late evening, the wind is soughing round the house but the rain has stopped, temporarily at least.  Weather reports show severe gales on exposed western coasts but we are on the very edge of the storm so we are quite lucky so far.  Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is that dipper, pushing off low over the river to find more food.

flying dipper

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony.   Just to show that the sun doesn’t always shine in East Wemyss, he has sent me this lovely picture of one of his dogs on a walk in the dark.

burst

We had a chilly but not freezing day here, and as it didn’t rain, we looked on the bright side.

It was cold enough to persuade me that it might be a good idea to catch up on some archive work while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to stuff brochures with the spring programme of events into envelopes at the Buccleuch Centre.  The centre currently has 33 volunteers helping out, a testament to the value which the town puts on having such a good resource.

I added another parish magazine to the Archive Group website and then put a week of the newspaper index into the database.  This edition covered the death of Queen Victoria, a historic moment if ever there was one.

In between times, I watched the birds and was pleased to see a few siskins at the feeder.

two siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal left a few sunflower stalks standing near the feeder when the flowers were over, and the birds are very grateful to her because the stalks make a good place to stand and ponder, as this chaffinch is doing.

chaffinch on stalk

There were a great many flying birds at one particular moment but the reflections of a glimmer of sun in the window made the resulting picture look rather odd.

many flying birds

Jackdaws like the fat balls but don’t find it easy to get a grip on the feeder and get beak to ball.

jackdaw at fat balls

After lunch, I went out for a walk.  I could have gone cycling, as it was probably just warm enough not to have icy patches on the roads, but with a forecast of thirty mile an hour gusts and a very chilly wind, it wasn’t an attractive option.

I have been working hard in the last few months on doing exercises to improve my back and foot joints so I thought that instead of taking things easily after walking five miles in Saturday and three miles on Sunday, another briskish five mile walk today would be a good test to see if things really had got better as far as walking went.

I set out with the intention of not stopping until I had got out of the town but the sight of these severely cropped shrubs still carrying a good crop of berries made me pause for a moment.

berries on pruned bushes

Someone had told me that they had seen a lot of woodpeckers knocking about at the Moorland Project bird hide, so I thought that the hide would make a good target for my walk.  I had walked in much the same direction on Saturday but this time I went round the circuit in the opposite direction, and took the usual path through the woods instead of venturing onto the hill.

The path was muddy but fairly level so I made good progress…

track to round house

…and I especially enjoyed the oak wood from start…

oak wood near jenny nobles

..to finish…

end of oak wood

…not least becuase the sun came out.

When I got to Broomholmshiels, I turned left and walked up the road towards the bird hide.  You can see the trees where the hide is on the horizon.

road to bird hide

My informant may have seen a lot of woodpeckers on her visit but I didn’t see a single one on mine. I did see great tits…

great tit

…blue tits …

coal and blue tit

and coal tits enjoying the peanuts…

coal tit

…and chaffinches and goldfinches having fun at the seed feeder.

chaffinch and goldfinch laverock hide

I believe that the trees here are soon to be felled as they are larches and have got signs of a disease which means the compulsory clearance of trees affected so I took a picture of the hide, the clearing and the comfortable bench inside the hide where I sat to watch the birds.

laverock hide triple panel

I didn’t stay long in the hide because although the sun was out, it was already getting low in the sky.  Soon I was on the road that leads down to the Esk.

road above Broomholm

Once again, I pressed on, trying to give my feet a good workout, but the mossy wall can’t be ignored entirely…

pixie cup on mossy wall

…and I passed another of the little stone cairns which carry a welcoming message for walkers.

Buccleuich walking cairn

These welcoming signs have been overtaken by events as thanks to a recent law, one can walk anywhere one likes on open land in Scotland as long as you behave sensibly and don’t damage crops or interfere with the legitimate activities of others.

I couldn’t pass Skippers Bridge for a second time without taking a picture…

skippers bridge mid december

…and an old  friend and an interesting log detained me for a moment or two.

heron and fungus

Just as I was crossing the bridge, a motorist hooted at me and I was just going to scowl at the car for interrupting my peaceful walk when I saw that it was Mrs Tootlepedal returning from getting her new specs adjusted in Longtown.  I waved cheerily instead and walked home along the Murtholm.

The light had gone by this time so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures but the dying sun tempted the camera out of my pocket just as I got to our front gate.

sunset december

The walk was about five and a quarter miles and because I am boringly interested in these sort of things, I can report that it took me 43 minutes to walk the two and a half miles up hill to the bird hide and 53 minutes to walk the two and three quarter miles back down the hill to the town.   I should have been able to go back more quickly than I went out but the eleven minutes that I spent sitting on the comfortable but hard wooden bench in the bird hide made my feet hurt far more than the walking to get there.  A lesson learned; don’t sit down in the middle of a walk.

Mrs Tootlepedal had beaten me home and I had just made a pot of tea when the finely honed tea radar of Mike Tinker clicked into action and he appeared bang on cue to join us.  We sipped and chatted and not long after he left, my flute pupil Luke arrived and he and I had an encouraging half hour of musical enjoyment.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had been making a fish pie for tea and her fish pie is a thing of joy when it comes to an evening meal, the day finished on a very good note.

The only fly in the ointment was the news that the train company that takes us to Edinburgh on a Thursday had introduced its new timetable today with such efficiency and competence that half its trains were either cancelled or horribly late.  We just hope that things are going to get better by Thursday.

A daring chaffinch effecting a handbrake turn is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who felt that he could prove that East Wemyss has fine trees as well as seemingly eternal sunshine.

East wemyss

For a change, we had some sunshine here too today, but as it came hand in hand with a very gusty and nippy east wind and a drop in the temperature, it was not quite as welcome as it might have been.

I had intended to go cycling, but it wasn’t appetising, and I had  coffee and a ginger biscuit with Sandy instead.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning of meetings so when Sandy had left, I had a quiet time.  I did go to visit our translated corner shop though.

two shops

The new shop (on the left in the panel) is bigger, brighter and has a nifty new sign but the old shop was on a proper corner so I shall miss it.  Still, my cycle route to the new shop takes me along the river and I hope to be able to catch a few waterside bird pictures from time to time when I go to get my groceries.

The better weather brought more birds to the feeder….

busy feeder

…and the better light let me capture a pair of greenfinches coming and going.

flying greenfinches

Even occasional light showers didn’t put the birds off…

chaffinchlanding rain

..and flying chaffinches were ten a penny, rain or shine.

flying chaffinch panel

I made some leek and potato soup for lunch (leeks and onions from the garden but we have had to start buying potatoes again after 5 months of eating home grown).

After lunch, I went out for a walk, touring the garden before I went.

There is still a little colour, fresh from the jasmine, medium from the wallflower and faded from Rosy Cheeks…

jasmine, wallflower, rosy cheeks

…and some interesting greens too, the perennial nasturtium in the yew, unseasonable leaves still on a clematis and promise of flowers from a sarcococca by the back door.

yew, clematis sarcococca

I started out on my walk just after two o’clock and the sun was already setting behind the hill, so one side of the river was already in shade.

esk in November

I directed my feet to the sunny side of the street and went up a bit of a hill too in an effort to keep in the sun.

The wall, as I went up Hallpath had a good deal of interest with hart’s tongue fern, spleenwort and ample supplies of moss on some sections.

three wall hall path

I looked up from the wall and admired a lofty tree.  A man gardening nearby told me that it is a Wellingtonia.

wellingtonia

As I walked on, the sun was getting lower all the time and I had to walk tall to get my head warm as I passed between a wall and a beech hedge.

beech hedge hallpath

I took the track along to the round house and passed a tree which has been gradually eating a ‘neighbourhood watch’ plaque.  It looked like this in 2016…

tree eating notice…and it looked like this today.

tree eating sign

I wonder how long it will be before the plaque disappears entirely.

The sun had all but disappeared by the time that I passed the round house…

round house…and headed on down through the little oak wood….

oak branch mossy

…to the old railway and took the path back towards town.  There was a lot to see on the short stretch of old railway.  The green lichen was surprisingly bright and the script lichen on the tree was comprehensive if not comprehensible…

four thing son old railway fungus

…and the leaves came from a very young sapling but I don’t know whether the growth on the fallen branch was another lichen or a fungus.  I would happy if a knowledgeable reader could shed some light for me.

I passed Skippers Bridge by without stopping to take yet another picture….or maybe I didn’t and succumbed to temptation…

 

skippers bridge end of november

…and a sheep looked at me as I walked along the Murtholm track with a hint of censoriousness in its gaze as a result.

sheep murtholm

Perhaps I shouldn’t have dallied at the bridge because although I could see sunlight on Meikleholm Hill…

meikleholm evening sun

…it started to rain on me as I walked along.

It was patchy rain.  I could still see sunlight picking out a house on the hill to my right…

sun on house

…but I was in the patch where it was  definitely raining so I hurried home without taking any more pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal was in the garden when I arrived back so we had a walk round (the rain had stopped) before going in.

We discovered a Lilian Austin flower and there were a lot of buds still forming on the bush.  A cowslip was also flowering….

lilian austin and cowslip november

…but as we are due to have quite  sharp frost tonight, maybe that will be that for both of them.

Regular readers will perhaps be asking why we were not in Edinburgh visiting Matilda as it is a Thursday today and they would be right to ask.  We should have been in Edinburgh but half the children at Matilda’s school have fallen victim to the winter virus and Matilda is in the unlucky half.

As we neither wanted to catch the virus nor bring it back to Langholm, we wisely stayed at home.  An evening phone call revealed that Matilda, after an unhappy morning, was making good progress so we have our fingers crossed that neither she nor her parents will be too badly affected.

There was no hint of sun left by the time we had had a cup of tea so the rest of the day was spent indoors doing little tasks.

The sunnier weather did let me catch a much improved flying bird of the day even though it was raining when it flew past me..

flying chaffinch

 

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