Posts Tagged ‘Solway Firth’

Today’s guest picture is another look at the supersized crazy golf course in Nottingham.  My brother Andrew passed it on his way to classes at the university.

nottingham golf

I was hoping for a bright day today so that I could take some seaside picture when I went to visit my physio who lives on the Solway coast.  There has been a lot of loose talk lately about a ridge of high pressure with warm temperatures and sunny skies but wherever that was taking place, it wasn’t here.  We were stubbornly stuck in single figures, under very grey skies and blasted by stiff winds.

The opportunity to sit indoors in the morning and admire the birds at the feeder was scuppered by two fly throughs from the sparrowhawk with the result that birds were very few and far between…

chaffinch behind feeder

…and mostly hiding when they did arrive.

I walked round the garden but there was not a lot to see.  The winter aconites are trying to open out…

winter aconites

…and the new sarcococca is doing well.


But that was it.

In the absence of interesting birds or flowers, I went off and did some singing practice in disgust and then after an early lunch, we set out to combine the visit to the physio with some shopping.

I picked up a big bag of economically priced bird seed on the way to visit a garden centre near Carlisle.  Once we got there, Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some interesting seed potatoes and an azalea and I purchased a selection of cheeses.

Then we headed off to Annan where I had intended to do some more shopping and take a picture or two.  Unfortunately, the middle of the town was clogged up with road works so we gave up and drove out to Powfoot…

powfoot cotttages

…. to see the sea.  It was gloomy but a dog was having fun…

dog walkers powfoot

…which may have helped to account for the complete absence of any interesting sea birds…

solway on a grey day

…although the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal did spot a lone lapwing.

I missed the lapwing and took a picture of some seaside gorse instead.

gorse at powfoot

The visit to the physio was useful and interesting but did not in the short term do anything to ease my foot troubles.  She thinks the pain may well stem from injury to the tendons in my ankle as it is swollen.  She wiggled my foot in many directions and was unable to find any other cause so that may well be the right answer.  Unfortunately this means that I will have to wait for ‘time, the great healer’ to do his work but she did say that gentle but regular exercise is prescribed so that cheered me up.

She has put a tape down the back of my calf and along the bottom of my foot to give me some support so I shall try a little walk tomorrow and see how it goes.

I picked up a few walnuts in the garden today and found one or two ripe ones which Mrs Tootlepedal ate.  She said they were very sweet. It is a pity that I don’t like nuts with so many lying around.  This one seemed appropriate for St Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

walnut hearts

In the evening, I went off to the Langholm choir where we had an enjoyable evening of singing.  Our current set of songs are tuneful and not too hard which is just what I need at the moment.

While I have been idling about over the past weeks, Mrs Tootlepedal has been very busy.

She has got the first covering of undercoat onto the rocking horse….

rocking horse repairs paint

…and has been very busy with her crochet hook.

crochet blanket

The main body of the blanket is now complete and she is waiting to get the instructions for finishing it off with a border.

The winds are due to ease off over the next couple of days so I hope to get out on the bicycle again.  A little sunshine would help.

The supply of flying birds was very poor today and this was the only one that I captured on camera.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s guest picture is my final offering from Venetia’s American trip and shows more wildlife from Yellowstone.  This time it is a mule deer.

deer in Yellowstone

The forecast was for a dry sunny day here today and I had hopes of a decent cycle ride but the good weather came with a frosty morning so I had to wait to get going.

The frost had frozen the first clump of frog spawn in the pond…

frozen frog spawn

…and I don’t know whether potential tadpoles can stand being frozen and unfrozen.

The sun soon brought the early crocuses to life…

fly on crocus

..with added insect.

There weren’t as many birds about today as there have been lately so I only put out one feeder but traffic was brisk for a while on it.

busy feeder

Luckily, the ever reliable Dropscone was on hand with some traditional Friday treacle scones to help to pass the time over a cup or two of coffee and when he left….

…there were more crocuses to look at….



…and there were enough frogs in the pond to ensure that there should be fresh supplies of spawn soon.

frogs in pond

It was interesting to me that I had been able to take much better frog pictures yesterday on a duller day than I could in the fairly bright sunshine today.  It just goes to show how important light is to a camera.


In the end, I waited so long for the temperature to rise to what I considered a safe level that I had to have some lunch before I set out and it was early afternoon when I finally got going.

The trouble with the heaps of snow beside the back roads is that as they melt, they cover the road with water and if this freezes, it is impossible to avoid.  Thanks to my delayed start,  by the time that I was on the road things were safe enough….

Near Cubbyhill

…though a driver thought that this rather narrow avenue was just the place to pass me.  I don’t like to rejoice in the misfortunes of others but I wasn’t as sympathetic as I might have been when she ran into quite a deep pothole just after she had almost squeezed me into the snow.

I headed down to the flat country round Gretna as I find it hard to get my legs really interested in hills when the temperatures are low.  The wind had shifted a bit to the north west and was colder than yesterday so it was lucky that the sun stayed out to warm my old bones.

There were good views to be had.


I stopped regularly to have a snack, a drink and a breather for a minute or two and on one bridge, I found some unusual looking moss when I leaned on the parapet for support.

moss on railway bridge

It was a railway bridge and a train whizzed past underneath me as I stood there.

virgin train

The trains look exactly the same from either end so you have to know that trains drive on the left to realise that this one was going away from me by the time that I had got my camera focussed.

As I crossed the border between England and Scotland no less than four times on my short journey and each time on different roads of different sizes, I reflected that the airy politicians who talk of the Irish border being no trouble to organise just using technology are very optimistic to the point of stupidity. (And of course, we don’t talk about Gibraltar.)  My mind often wanders while I pedal along.

It was such a nice day that I thought that a trip to the sea side was in order and so I went down to the Solway shore  at Brow Houses where I found someone else enjoying the sunshine on a handily placed bench.

Brow Houses

It is only really the sea side when the tide is in.  On a day like today when the tide was far out, it is more just the estuary of the River Esk….

Esk estuary

…as it runs between sandbanks.

Still, I could see the Lake District hills on the English side…

Solway and Lake District Hills

…and some interesting water fowl on our side…


…so I was pleased to be there as I munched a banana and some prunes.   I was a bit too far away from the ducks to get a good picture but I think that they may be shelducks.

I have been short of bridge pictures lately owing to doing so little cycling during the winter so I stopped to admire this neat railway bridge carrying the Gretna to Annan railway…

railway bridge near Rigg

…before taking a pretty direct and wind assisted route home through Gretna and Longtown.

This gave me the chance to book the fairly speedy bike in for its annual service at the bike shop in Longtown and to consider buying a new bike helmet as the one I was wearing today has a serious crack in it after the unfortunate incident last month.

I am not intending to fall off again but then I wasn’t intending to fall off last time so one can’t be too careful.  There was a big item on the news last night about the benefits to the health of elderly people that a few hours a week on a bike brings but it didn’t mention the possible side effects for the careless pedaller!

I went through Canonbie on my way back as the main road was fairly humming with traffic and this gave me the opportunity, as I stopped for my final snack and breather, to get a sideways look at my favourite three trees…

trees at Grainstonehead

…and to enjoy the late afternoon sun catching the church and manse as I went through the village.

Canonbie Church

When I got home, I found that the gardener had been making good use of the fine weather by working on the new arrangements of lawn and flower beds.  She was taking a moment to view the work in progress.  Note the neat line of transplanted snowdrops/

gardener in thought

The man who made our compost bins came this morning to consult Mrs Tootlepedal about renewing some of her raised vegetable beds and he is also going to make us a new bench to replace the one on the picture, which is well past its ‘best by’ date.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been counting the frogs in the pond and told me that she had seen eleven at one time.   There were still several about when I looked.


After only managing 140 miles in the whole of February, I have done 112 in the last four days so it is not too surprising that I am feeling a little tired tonight.  The forecast says that there is a good chance that it might rain all day tomorrow so I might get an enforced rest.

The flying bird of the day was one of the early morning visitors.

flying goldfinch

For those interested, here is the map of my ride and a click on the map will bring up the full details.

Garmin route 8 March 2018

If you bring up the route and look at the map, a click on the third button along on the top left of the box will give you the chance to choose the ‘satellite’ option.  This, if you zoom in, gives you a very dramatic view of the Solway Firth with the tide well out, just as it was today.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s walk along the Thames.  She saw these two unusual boats in a dock near Tower Bridge.  Not the usual rich people’s yachts.

A splash of colour

I have a wonderfully shiny bruise on my arm so I thought it might be a good plan to have a very quiet morning.  It had rained heavily overnight again so things had time to dry out while I lazed about.

Apart from a quick visit to the corner shop for milk, I didn’t poke my nose out of the door until after lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal summoned me out to see a red admiral butterfly on a marigold.

red admiral on marigold

I looked around and found that it wasn’t alone.  There were several Red Admirals and Peacocks on one of the buddleias.


One flew off to bask on a wooden plank.

It is very cheering to see the butterflies just when we were beginning to think that they might not arrive at all this year.


I looked at the greenhouse grass and decided that arm or no arm, it needed mowing and got the hover mower out and did some of it.  Mrs Tootlepedal offered a cup of tea so I left some still to do and went inside.

It was fairly sunny by now and Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip to the Langholm Moor to look for interesting birds and kindly finished the mowing while I collected my cameras.

We saw plenty of harrier and buzzard action when we got to the moor but they were in teasing mood today and would fly quite close to the road until we stopped the car at which point, they gently eased themselves into the middle and far distance, no doubt chuckling in a raptor sort of way as they flew off.


Not a bad day for binoculars but not much good for cameras.  I looked at the view down to the Solway instead…

Solway Firth

…but it wasn’t much better with a lot of haze and a curiously flat light.

The heather was looking good in parts and at one stage, we stopped opposite one of the peat banks which are cut for fuel.

Heather and peat

We were hoping to see goats but they were obviously well away from the road so we went down into the Tarras valley and parked for a while there.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a couple of harriers hunting across the hill while I went to look at the river.

I walked along the narrow road to find one of my favourite spots.

Tarras road

Tarras cascade

There was plenty of water coming over the cascade after the night’s rain.

In spite of a sunny appearance to the day, there seemed to be a hazy sky and the light was very flat indeed so I went back to the car, took a picture of the bridge….

Tarras Bridge

…and then we went home.

We stopped on the way back down to take a picture of Castle Hill where I had photographed the charity horse riders on Sunday.

Castle Hill

I walked up that ridge from left to right and considering how hard it is to climb, it looks amazingly gentle when seen from the side like this.

When we got home, I had a look round the garden.


The sunflower is enjoying the warm spell

new plants

Two of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new plants looking well set


The yew, which after yesterday’s pruning is mainly acting as a sort of clothes hanger for the perennial nasturtium.  It will come again.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal set about doing some major pruning to a rose so I helped out with the shredding and there was so much material that the box had to be emptied three times.  There is no doubt that looking after a flower garden takes a lot of doing.  I am glad that I live with someone who is not afraid of hard work.

From time to time, I checked on our blackbirds, hoping to get a shot of them eating the rowan berries.


Getting ready to pounce


Almost there

….but I was never quite at the right place at the right time.  Most of the berries have already been eaten so I may have missed my chance for this year.

I was tempted into using the colour picker on my Lumix to take an arty shot of the fuchsia.

fuchsia art

…but perhaps I should have resisted the temptation.

My arm was a little sore so I went in and caught up on my correspondence for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal finished clearing up after the rose pruning.  When she came in, I went out and mowed the middle lawn (very slowly and carefully).

I was tempted by the colour picker again….


…but I think that I like the full colour version of the clematis by the front door in the evening light better.


Mrs Tootlepedal came out to enjoy a sit in the garden in the sun while the tea was cooking and we were overlooked by a half finished robin.


In spite of the overnight rain, the weather at the end of August is looking a lot better than the first half of the month (no doubt because the children have gone back to school) but unless we get a very dry spell soon, everywhere is beginning to have that slightly soggy autumn feeling even on a sunny day.

Still, my back is much better and I have reached my minimum cycling mile target for the month so mustn’t grumble.

And a poppy in some sunshine is always a cheerful thing.


As a point of minor interest, the bread making machine and I made a set of rolls recently and since there were too many for us to eat at once, I froze a couple, something which I have never done before.  We let them unfreeze naturally today and they were as good as new.  I was was very pleasantly surprised and will definitely try freezing rolls again when I next make them.  I realise that this will not be big news to people who freeze bread regularly.

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The guest picture of the day comes courtesy of Mary Jo from Manitoba who asked her friend Lucie to send me this really stunning picture of a bison, with which Lucie had a close encounter in Riding Mountain National Park.


The forecast shows a lot of rain showers coming our way over the next week so it seemed like a really good idea to make the most of a very pleasant sunny day today by getting up early, putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before breakfast and hitting the road on the fairly speedy bike while the morning was still young.

No one was more surprised than me when this splendid idea came to fruition.

There was a light wind in my face on the way out and at my back on the way home and nothing occurred during the stately pedalling along a mainly flat route that was worthy of recording so I will just say that I managed 80 miles and enjoyed all of it.  I did stop  quite a lot to take pictures.

There were many almost idyllic moments.  Here are cows beside the Kirtle Water near Gretna…

Cows beside the Kirtle Water

…and here is the bank of the newly built M6 extension beside the service road which I use.

M6 at Gretna

It is rich in daisies and the first Rosa Complicata are just coming out

I passed many of the sort of umbellifers that always seem to have insects on them when you look.  These four pictures are of the same plant.


My route took me down the bike path beside the northern Carlisle by-pass.  The roundabouts as it crosses the railway line are a treat.

by pass roundabout

The bike path also had the first ragged robin that I have seen this year.

ragged robin

I left the by-pass and headed along the Solway shore.  I was hoping to see the sea but sadly, the sea was not at home.

Solway tide out

The only water showing was the outflow of the River Eden

It looked as though it would be easy to walk across the the Scottish shore where I was doing a similar pedal last week.  (It wouldn’t be)


Even if I couldn’t see the sea, there was plenty to please the eye as I travelled the coast road.

Drumburgh verge

But I couldn’t spend all my time looking at the views while I went along the salt marsh as I had to keep my eye out for traffic too.

Cows on road at Drumburgh

The cattle graze freely over the unfenced marsh.

I also passed a cute kid.

cute kid

It was rather too hazy for good long shots but I took one anyway.  This shows the Lake District hills, seen over the estuary of the River Whampool.


My ride took me round the very large masts of the radio transmitter at Anthorn which you can see in the background, behind a sturdy bull and a neat wooden bridge,

Anthorn and bridge

I didn’t come back along the shore since the sea was out and chose an inland route that was well surfaced and basically flat so I rolled along very cheerily but was stopped in my tracks by this very fine house in one of the villages that I passed through.


This is good farming country and there are a lot of well built fortified farmhouses around as well more modern country houses.

I went right round the by-pass on my way back and stopped at Gretna for a coffee and cake to fuel me up for the last few miles.  Needless to say I met a couple from Langholm in the cafe as it is a popular destination for a short drive for many Langholmites.

I had a last look at a large English country house before I crossed the border back into Scotland.

Netherby Hall

This is Netherby Hall which features in the well known poem, Young Lochinvar. by Sir Walter Scott.

Unlike Young Lochinvar, I did no racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea but continued at a steady pace until I arrived home quite ready for a cup of tea.

Those interested in the details of the ride can click on the map below.

garmin route 31 May 2017

I would observe that although the chart says that the temperature was a cool 54°F, and it was probably quite right when I set out, it was a great deal warmer in the sunshine.  A young lad to whom I talked while having a refreshment break said that his bike computer was claiming that it was 25° in the sun by mid morning.  He was planning a 130 mile ride but had had to curtail as he had got up late.  He had settled for 110 miles. Ah to be young again.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden to pick some spinach for our tea.


She is working on the usual ‘cut and come’ again principle with the spinach.  It was delicious.

The garden is moving from the age of azaleas to the era of irises…


…which I enjoy because they are a challenge to photograph well as they tend to sway about in the wind.

I also found a new plant beside the pond which Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is musk.


After tea, I went off to the last ‘Langholm Sings’ practice of the season.  We have a second concert this Friday and our conductor was busy tidying up one or two things which could have been done better in the first concert last Friday.  As this took two hours, you can tell that we should be better this week than we were last week….though people who were at the concert In Newcastleton say that they enjoyed it thoroughly.

No time for any bird pictures today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She has strayed as far from Somerset as Madeira and sent me this picture from the Mercado dos Lavradores there.


After yesterday’s very dank and gloomy weather, it was a relief to wake up to some friendly sunshine this morning.  As it was combined with reasonable temperatures, it seemed like a good day for a cycle ride.

I didn’t get off as early as I should have done because I spent a little time watching the birds.


A greenfinch doing a little basking in the plum tree.


The goldfinches looked a lot better today.

I keep hoping that some waxwings will visit (they have been seen regularly in Dumfries 30 miles away) but there is no sign of them.  I had to be content with a blue tit above…

blue tit

…and a blackbird below.


I was further delayed by the need to have another go at repairing my mudguard.  This required the removal and then the replacement of the front wheel but I was pleased with the result as the wheel turned smoothly.

By then, I needed a cup of coffee but I got away at last, stopping to buy two filled rolls and a couple of bananas from out local shop on my way.

The sun was shining, the larches were golden…

Wauchope larches

…and all would have been perfect if my mudguard wasn’t still rubbing.  I decided to ignore it rather than go back and start again and I managed to live with the noise for quite a few miles before a halt and a rather desperate attempt to sort the problem actually succeeded.  The rest of the ride was trouble free.

I chose a route that would take me past yet another wind farm under construction near Gretna.

Gretna wind farm

Most of our wind farms are up in the hills but this one is down near the sea on flat land.

I wondered whether the famously large (but invisible) moon would have resulted in a high tide and when I saw that the tide was in, I pedalled down to the shore at Gretna to have a look.  The tide certainly was high…


…and was lapping at the very side of the road.  I took a minute to eat one of the rolls and a banana as I watched some very excitable gulls having fun.

gulls at gretna

You can see from the fence post in the middle of the water how high the tide was.

From a few yards further on, I could look out over the Solway…

Solway at Gretna

…which was gleaming in the low sunlight.

Solway at Gretna

I cycled through Gretna and on into England, keeping to flat roads.  I did less climbing in 45 miles today than I did in 30 miles on my last outing and as a result, my legs were in much better humour.

England was looking very pretty and I thought that this view near Rockcliffe might be the best of the day….

Rockliffe road

…until I saw this one a few hundred yards further along the road.

Rockliffe road

I made a loop that took me back to Gretna and then had to choose between a rather dull ride straight back up main roads with the wind behind me or winding back across country on a longer, more hilly and more adventurous journey.

Of course I chose the direct route and with the wind behind me,  rattled along very comfortably.

I made a quick stop to eat my other roll and banana beside the Esk near Longtown…

Esk at Longtown

…and then made only one more stop to enjoy some very pretty young larch trees on the new road just outside Langholm.

Larches at Auchenrivock

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy time volunteering to help with serving meals at the Buccleuch Centre while I was out and we were both quite happy to settle down for a quiet time for the rest of the day.

It was already getting almost too dark for looking at the birds though I did notice that the robin had been beaten to the fat balls in the cage by a dunnock.

robin and dunnock

Looking at the forecast, it seems that we will soon be back having chilly nights so this dangling poppy may well be the very last flower of the day…


…but I hope to see many more chaffinches as flying bird of the day over the winter.


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Today’s picture, taken with and sent from Granny’s iPad through a miracle of technology, shows my daughter Annie in her smart and self knitted winter hat.   She would brighten anyone’s day up.

annie's hat

It was a day that needed brightening.  I had gone to sleep with a howling wind whistling round the house and I woke up with rain hammering down.  I went back to sleep again.  By the time I eventually got up, the rain had stopped and the wind had died down quite a bit.   This was lucky as the wrong newspaper had been delivered and I was able to take it back to the paper shop and get the right one without getting wet or blown away.    Still, it was a grey and blowy day and I was grumpy as I wanted to enjoy some gentle cycling.

It was too grey to take good photos so I took a general shot for the record…


I kept on expecting the rain to start again as had been forecast but it didn’t so I pulled myself together, threw off the grumpiness, tucked my trousers into my socks and set off to do a bit of bicycling.  I was pedalling along, stopping to take the odd photo….

blasted tree

…when I got to the four mile mark and the forecast rain arrived.  I didn’t want to get soaked as my cold is still lingering on so I turned for home, fortunately with the string wind behind me now.

I took my wet clothes off, got changed and was just sitting down for a really good grumpy afternoon in the arm chair when the phone rang.  It was Sandy, suggesting a quick trip to the Moorland feeders.   I looked out of the window.  The rain had stopped of course now that I had finished cycling so I agreed and a few minutes later, he arrived to pick me up.    This really cheered me up as otherwise I had been looking at a wasted afternoon.

We got to the feeder station, got the cameras out and it started to rain quite heavily.  We got back into the car and spent some time looking at birds out of the car windows.  There were plenty of birds to watch.

great tit

A great tit perched on a nearby branch.

We could hear the pheasant shooters banging away not far off but this lady pheasant seemed unconcerned as she scuttled about picking up seed dropped from the feeders.


It is hard to know what pleasure can be got from shooting hand reared and  regularly fed birds driven towards you by beaters but it is big business so someone must enjoy doing it.

As we sat rather sadly in the car, we could see a lightening of the cloud cover down towards the coast and on a whim, we set off to search for a sunset near Gretna.  We aimed for Browhouses which is right on the shores of the Solway.  It is definitely a wide open space.

The view from Browhouses

Looking across the water, we couldn’t see the Lake District hills but we could see an exceptionally fine range of clouds sitting firmly on top of the them.

solway clouds

They came in various shapes and sizes.

solway clouds


solway clouds

solway clouds

Changing colour as the sun went down.

solway clouds

I had hoped for a sunset and we certainty got one.

Browhouses sunset

As the sun sank, we set off for Gretna in the hope of seeing a starling (or two).  On our way back to the main road, we stopped to admire an enormous puddle in a field.

Browhouses puddle

It was more like an inland sea than a mere puddle.  As I was admiring it, Sandy tapped me on the should and said, “Look at that.”  I looked.

starling pylon

It was a starling covered pylon.  Then he said, “Look at that.” Once again, I looked.

starling wires

More starlings.  We didn’t have to go to Gretna, the starlings had come to us.  We had a wonderful half hour enjoying a completely different view from our previous visits.  The birds were covering a field directly in front of us and every now and again they lifted off like a magic carpet.

carpet of starlings

The air in front of us was full of flight.


More birds came out of the west.

starlings and clouds

The cloud kindly pointed them out to us.

Even to old starling watchers likes ourselves, this was a fabulous experience and we enjoyed every minute of it.


browhouses starlings

Other starlings were joining in from the east and soon there was the usual cloud of birds doing their aerobatics.

browhouses starlings

We saw them fly off to roost and headed on to Gretna, not to watch starlings this time but to purchase inexpensive headgear from Gretna Village shopping outlet.  We were both in the position of having lost perfectly good woolly hats lately so we didn’t want to spend too much on a replacement and we found just the thing.    It was lucky that we had gone sunset hunting because there were very few starlings in the place where they had previously been gathering near the shops and where we would have looked for them.  Then, thoroughly satisfied with our excursion, we headed back to Wauchope Cottage for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.

Sandy kindly agreed to help me deal with the turkey mountain by staying for tea so I bodged up a quick curry, which made quite a dent in the the turkey supply, and we sat down to eat it.

Sandy eating curry

The perfect dinner table: a curry, a glass of wine, three photographic books and two cameras.  What more could you want?

After tea, we posed for the phantom cameraman to show off our new headgear.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Tweedledum and Tweedledee showing themselves to be fashion icons once again.

When Sandy got home, he rang me to say that the clouds had cleared over Langholm and a full moon was to be seen.  It was true and I went out and saw it.

full moon

It didn’t last though and it was raining again before I finished typing this.

I haven’t put a flying bird in today as we have had thousands already and too many photos.  In the end,  a day which had promised to be a real stinker turned out to be an absolute cracker and it was all down to Sandy ringing up at exactly the right moment.  That’s what friends are for.  Not only that but tomorrow is going to be a full minute longer than day.  Whoopee.



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Today’s picture shows Whita Hill at eleven o’clock this morning.  The long shadows show how low the sun sits in our sky at this time of year, even when it is nearly noon.

Whita in November

On the plus side, at least the sun was actually out.  It was a nearly windless day with the temperature well below freezing. Mrs Tootlepedal was just about to go to the Health Centre to do a little catching up with the files when the joiners arrived to start the final stage of work on the new kitchen.  We had a hurried breakfast to get out of their way and then I retired to sit as near to a radiator as I could as the house was rather cold because of the open doors that the joiners needed.

There was no chance of bird photos because their van was parked slap outside the kitchen window so in the end, I put on some warm clothes and went out for a walk.  I wasn’t sure where I would go as I wanted to see how icy the paths were but an early test showed that they were quite walkable in safety and I set off up the track to the top of Warbla.  As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, it was a sparkling day.

I was quite snug in woolly hat, scarf and cycling gloves but the sheep in the fields looked a bit chilly.

Sheep on Warbla

They were catching the sun as best they could

As I walked up the track, my eye was caught by the few solitary trees left on the bare hillside.

Tree on warbla

Tree on warbla

The hills have lost the green colouring of spring and summer and are now showing various shades of purple and brown.  Mrs Tootlepedal loves this colour as  much as any other time of year.


I ploughed up the track wondering if I had enough steam to get to the top but in the end found that I had.  I was very glad that I managed to reach the summit because the view on the other side was as breathtaking as it was surprising.  This was what I had been seeing so far.

Langholm and Ewes

Looking north, back the way I had come.

And this is what I saw from the top.

Lake District

Looking south across the Solway towards the Lake District

The whole of the Solway Firth between the hills on the opposite side of the water and me was filled with mist.

Solway mist

There could hardly have been a greater contrast between north….

Ewes hills

…and south.

Across the solway plain

To the south, a flat sea of mist with islands…

Solway mist

I like the little puff of man made smoke poking through the natural version on the right of the picture.

To the north, a rolling sea of hills.

Ewes hills

Looking down from the hill, I admired the huge new pond created by the incessant rain of summer in the field below.

Murtholm pond

I got ready to go back down the hill but I couldn’t resist one last look to the south.  This was an occasion when a wide angled lens would have helped to give a better picture of the scene

Solway mist

Beside me on the top of the hill stood the mast that brings TV to Langholm as well as providing mobile phone connections and who knows what else.  If function is beauty, this is beautiful.

Warbla mast

I am still learning about the best way to use my camera and before I left the top of the hill, I took a photo of the march fence disappearing into the distance.  It is not very striking in itself but it does have a better depth of field than I usually manage.

Warbla fence

In keeping with my love of mossy things, I took a picture of this old trough at the side of the track up to the Stubholm on my way home.  The running water shows that it was cold but not terribly cold.

Stubholm trough

Not long after I got home, the joiners went for their lunch and the birds got a good look at the feeder at last…and  I got a chance to look at a few birds.


They were soon queueing for places at the feast


A brambling toppling into action while a chaffinch waits

greenfinch and bramblings

Two bramblings hoping the the greenfinches in position will let them have a go.

I had to look twice at the next picture to work out what was odd about it.

reverse chaffinch

It looks curiously like an illustration out of a book.

The chaffinch in the centre has turned its head so far round that it seems to be flying towards us but this is not the case.  We are looking at the back of its body and wings as it is facing away from us.  You can see the difference by looking at the bird on the right which is facing towards us.

brambling and chaffinches

A brambling and a female chaffinch wait on the plum tree while a male chaffinch sets off in the hope of a seed.

When the joiners had finished for the day, Mrs Tootlepedal at last went to work and I went up to do a little housekeeping at the Archive Centre.  We cycled up and Mrs Tootlepedal said that she found the complete silence from my belt driven bike as we went along was rather creepy.  I liked it.

In the evening, I drove Susan down to Carlisle and we played with our recorder group.  One of our members was off at a jazz club so we played quintets with variable success.  The fact the two of our players had forgotten their music glasses may have had something to do with this.  It was very enjoyable none the less.

The flying bird of the day is a brambling.

Flying Brambling

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