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Posts Tagged ‘sparrow’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He just wants us to know that there are starlings in East Wemyss too.

starling wemyss

The forecast was for a reasonable morning with some rain at lunchtime and rising wind during the day.  I should therefore have gone out cycling as soon as possible and worried about other things later on.

As it happened, the idea of having a coffee and biscuit with Sandy proved more powerful than the idea of cycling so coffee and a biscuit (or two) it was.

When he left, there were birds to look at….

sparrow

…and a window to clean to make it easier to look at the birds.

A collared dove looked down on the cleaned window with approval.

collared dove

A blue tit eyed up the feeder…

blue tit waiting

…and having got there, took a seed and made off again.

blue tit with big seed

The sunflower hearts are too big for blue tits to eat, so they take them away to a tree where they hold them down with a claw and peck at them.

One chaffinch took a moment to rest on the plum tree before heading for the feeder…

chaffinch

…and another made sure to line up neatly with the other branches on Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree.

symmetrical chaffinch

A goldfinch appeared…

goldfinch

…and soon a small gang of them monopolised the feeder.

three goldfiches

I was hoping for a flying bird but unless you have a lot of time to stand and wait, you need more than a gang of three to turn up.  The feeder should ideally be fully occupied with non flying birds and then the flying birds have to hang in the air waiting for an opportunity to land.

In the absence of flying, I turned round and looked at the window on the opposite side of the room.  Pot plants make good subjects because they don’t suddenly dart off before you can get the camera focused.

pot plant

The expected lunchtime rain didn’t materialise, so after a healthy lunch of sardines, I got my bike out and went off for a ride.  I had the wind behind me as I started but as there were some unreliable looking clouds behind me too, I kept an open mind on where and how far I should go.

It was grey day and with the threat of rain about, I didn’t stop a lot but this colourful and neatly trimmed hedge at Mossknowe seemed worth a look.

hedge mossknowe

Just up the road, was an imposing tree with a good complement of leaves still on its branches.

tree with leaves mossknowe

When I got to the Annan road, I headed west.  I was planning to turn left and check to see if there were any migratory geese about near the border, but as the moment of route decision got nearer  so did the threatening clouds.

Looking to my right, the skies seemed clearer so instead of turning left, I went on a bit,  passing these leafy trees…

trees near milltown of sark

… and turned right at Chapelknowe.  I had gone about three yards up the road from the junction when it started to rain quite heavily.  I stopped and put my rain jacket on and about three yards later, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started.

How I laughed.

As I plodded up the hill, the day got darker….

grey tree neasr chapelknow

…so I kept my rain jacket on until I got so hot that I had to stop and take it off again.  About three hundred yards later, it started to rain quite heavily again but this time I was ready for it and pedalled on regardless.  I soon came out into the dry again.

I had chosen a route that would make the best of the wind and I had it generally behind me for the first eighteen miles.   The nine miles back home directly into the wind were harder work and I was pleased to stop at the bottom of Callister to photograph this well defended bridge at Falford.

falford bridge

Then it started to rain again and this time, it didn’t stop.  I was only seven miles from home though so I was quite happy to tuck my glasses in my back pocket, wrap up my camera and phone, and pedal along without putting my rain jacket back on.  The rain was not heavy and it was tolerably warm so in spite of the elements against me, I enjoyed the ride back.

I ended up doing just under twenty eight miles and because of the route alteration, I found myself going round some familiar roads in the opposite direction to my usual custom.  It is surprising how novel going the ‘wrong way’ down a road feels, no matter how often you have gone along it in in the other direction.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke arrived and we had another progressive session.  He has been practising at home and showed marked improvement which was very satisfactory.  Because no one showed me how to practice properly when I was young, I got very discouraged when I put in some time but didn’t seem to get any better, so it is good to see Luke getting value from the time he has spent.

In response to popular demand, the venison stew made a reappearance for our evening meal.

I didn’t have the patience to wait long enough for a flying bird at the feeder today so a dogwood across the garden, shot through the window while I was waiting hopefully, is the best that I can do.

dogwood

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s visit to Kedlestone Hall.  Looking over the reflective bridge, he could see the hall itself, as this very fine picture shows.

Keddlestone Hall

We woke to a rather gloomy, occasionally rainy morning but we were able to cycle to church to sing with the choir, although once again, the bike seat needed drying carefully before I could cycle home after the service.

When I got home, I made a venison stew for the slow cooker and then drove off to our local recycling point to get rid of a small mountain of paper and do a little shopping. The weather had taken a turn for the better while I was cooking but by the time that I got back home after shopping, it had started to drizzle again, so I gave up any thought of going for a walk and mooched around drinking coffee and occasionally looking out of the window.

There was quite a bit of traffic out there to catch the eye.

A blue tit….

blue tit on bigus tree

…a goldfinch…

goldfinch

…and a chaffinch all tried the seeds.

chaffinch

It didn’t rain much and I had time for a walk round the garden where I saw the autumn colours of a self seeded rowan tree that is growing near the new bench…

new rowan

…and a selection of good looking black and white berries with some rather tired flowers.

berries and flowers november

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the Community choir.  After the fun of last weekend in Glasgow, it was back to the serious business of singing Christmas songs for our forthcoming concert today.  A potential new tenor had come to try out the choir but at the end of the practice, he told me that he wasn’t coming back as he couldn’t stand all this gloomy Christmas music.

Perhaps it was the way that we were singing them.

After the practice, we scuttled back home and I picked up my camera and walked back to the Langholm Bridge.

A group of enterprising people with the good of the town at heart have raised funds and organised a bonfire and firework display.  I could see that the bonfire was well alight by the time that I got to the bridge….

bonfire from bridge

…and I walked onward to the Kilngreen to enjoy a closer view.  It was an impressive sight.

binfire from kilngreen

A good crowd had assemble to enjoy the fun.

crowd watching fire

Someone told that when the pipe band had led the procession to the bonfire up the High Street to the Kilngreen, the High Street had been full from the bridge right back to the Town Hall.

I took his picture.

big dave at the binfire

After a while, the fireworks began.  At first, a modest display of cheerfully coloured but quiet illuminations set the scene…

first fireworks

…followed by some extravagant gestures…

fireworks 2019 1

…but soon things warmed up with some interesting cross fire…

fireworks 2019 2

…with enough smoke to make me glad to be standing upwind of the explosions.

fireworks 2019 3

The display had an excellent variety of effects from the traditional starbursts…

fireworks 2019 4

…to a loud and noisy section which painted the sky with dazzling flowers of light.

fireworks 2019 5

As well as big bangs and bags of sparkle, there was colour…

fireworks 2019 6

…and fountains…

fireworks 2019 7

…and curious curly whirly things.

fireworks 2019 8

There were trees of light…

fireworks 2019 9

…and spectacular lichens.

fireworks 2019 10

The show seemed to go for ever, though in real life I think that it lasted for about a quarter of an hour.  When it finished, the crowd gave a heartfelt round of applause to the organisers and the display designers.

If the purpose of a festival of fire at this time of year is to lift the spirits as we head into the winter months, this one certainly succeeded and I wish that I could have done it more justice with my camera.  It was a thoroughgoing treat.

Venison stew with boiled potatoes and Brussels sprouts was waiting for me when I got home as Mrs Tootlepedal was not so keen on rushing out to see the fireworks as I was.

The flying bird of the day is a rather impressionistic sparrow taken at the gloomiest part of the morning.

vague flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Australian correspondent Stephen.  He came across this striking flower on a walk in Sydney.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is a passion flower.  I looked it up and it is a Passion Flower caerulea – Passiflora.

australian flower

The original forecast for today had been for warm, calm and sunny weather but after some heavy overnight rain, the actual weather was warm, calm and wet.  Meatloaf sings that, “Two out of three ain’t bad,” but that was small satisfaction to one who had been hoping for a cheerful pedal.

As I went along to the monthly producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre, I heard a passer by describe the day as ‘dreich’ and I thought that he had hit the nail on the head there.

I filled my (Canadian) shopping bag with venison, liver, fish and honey and cycled home, drying off the saddle of my slow bike before doing so.

Once home I was able to pass some time doing the prize crossword and watching  the second half of a rugby game where the main tactic seemed to be to kick the ball up in the air and chase after it in the hope that the other side would make a mistake.  In the end though two smart tries late in the game put a satisfactory gloss on South Africa’s well deserved win.

By the time that the game had ended and we had had a cup of coffee, the forecast had begun to look a little better and I walked round the garden noticing that we had still got colour from various sources.  Because I like alliteration, I like to think of this as bloom, berry and bush.

bloom, berry and bush

I could have gone cycling there and then but the early gloom had knocked some of the enthusiasm out of me so I heated up some soup and had lunch instead.  Then iIwas distracted by seeing six collared doves in a row along our power line.  I didn’t have my six dove camera to hand so had to settle for two of them together and an individual portrait.

collared doves on wire

Down below, the feeders were busy and I was pleased to see a greenfinch…

greenfinch november

…though a sparrow, waiting its turn on Mrs Tootlepedal’s artificial tree, seemed less pleased to see me peering at it.

sparrow in bogus tree

The sun came properly out and lit up a dunnock…

dunnock under feeder

…and a chaffinch…

chaffinch under feeder

…both scavenging for seed knocked out of the feeder by birds above.

sparrow and goldfinch

Two sparrows on the plum tree tut tutted about wasteful eating habits.

two sparrows chatting

I saw a blackbird on a garden chair getting ready for action…

blackbird fluffing

…and taking the hint, I got my cycling gear on and set off up the Wauchope road, where the larches were being picked out by the sun.

larches at Bigholms

A few days ago, I had seen the vehicle carrying the ingenious device which paints white lines down the middle of roads driving through the town and off up the Wauchope road.  I hoped that this might be a sign that a very bad patch of potholed and rutted road eight miles away had been resurfaced.

Because I haven’t cycled that way for a long time as the surface has been so poor, I thought that it would be a good idea to check if this was the case.

I cycled over Callister hill and down the other side and found a transformation.

new road near quarry

Where there had been ruts and potholes, now all was smooth and serene.

I stopped to admire the road and a tree which looks down on it from the hillside above…

bare tree near quarry

..before pedalling on a mile or two, passing this ruined cottage…

ruin at quarry

…and arriving at Paddockhole Bridge, where I paused for a moment.

paddockhole bridge

It was such a pleasant day by this time that I thought of crossing the bridge and taking the long way home but I had started too late and the days are getting shorter now so I turned and rather unadventurously cycled back the way I had come.

I was going to take a little diversion to Waterbeck on the way but the road was closed.  I hope that this means that this road too will soon be resurfaced.  I haven’t cycled along it since I fell off when I hit an unexpected icy patch on a water filled rut a couple of years ago.

Going over Callister from the west is a stiffer challenge than from the east and I am always happy to stop to admire the view up the side valley….

winterhope view

…so that I can have a breather before tackling the rest of the hill.

road up callister

There was a nice tree on the other side of the road  to admire while I was there.

callister tree

The wind was very light and although it was in my face on the way home, I still managed to cover the last 6 mainly downhill miles back to Langholm at 17 mph without trying too hard.  This made for a good finish to a most enjoyable outing.

I was welcomed home by a cheerful calendula.  It may not last too long….

calendula november

…as Mrs Tootlepedal is clearing the front beds and planting them with tulips for next year.

tulip bed

I did think of going for a short walk but the sun went behind a cloud and it got too dark to take pictures so I had a shower and practiced some hymns for church tomorrow instead.

We had fish from the producer’s market for our tea and then settled down to watch Strictly to round off a gently enjoyable day.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow on its way to the feeder.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He encountered a much needed moment of reflection in these turbulent times while on a visit to Keddlestone Hall.

keddleston Hall

After our spell of frosty mornings and dry cool days, the temperature rose to greet the first day of November but unfortunately brought a lot of drizzle and rain with it.  The dampness persisted all day and as it was very gloomy, I found other things than cycling and walking to do.

After a leisurely breakfast and an entertaining crossword, I started the active part of the day with coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone.  After coffee, he kindly gave me a lift up to the town, where I did some Archive Group work.  Someone researching their family history had asked the group for a printout of an article concerning a woman from Canonbie who had died at the age of 96 with 158 living descendants.

I found the article and was much struck by the fact that the editor, faced with this potentially very interesting story, had chosen to use it as a chance to take a poke at Bishop Colenso instead of telling readers anything about the family.

canonbie woman

I hadn’t heard of the bishop but he turns out to be an interesting person who was very much in people’s minds in the 1860s.  I read about him here  and understood why he had upset the editor.  I cannot discover what the reference to the Natal Zulu method of counting signifies.

As I left the newspaper office where I was doing my research, I passed this recently installed elegant artwork on the wall of the building.

wall writing

The missing word at the end of the quotation is ‘heart’.

It was written by famous poet Hugh MacDiarmid, born and bred in Langholm,  and the full quatrain is:

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet—and breaks the heart.

The flowers in our garden may be past their best but Mrs Tootlepedal has been nurturing an African Violet on a windowsill inside the house and it has repaid her care.

afrian violets

Once I had done a little shopping and paid my bill at our corner shop, I made some onion and potato soup, using Mrs Tootlepedal’s homemade chicken stock, and while it was cooking, I looked out of the window to see what was going on in the garden and was delighted to find that the finches had finally found the feeder.

A small group of goldfinches were the pioneers…

first goldfinch of autumn

…and once they had got started, other birds began to eye up the feeder too.

sparrow

A collared dove looked down from above…

collared dove on wire

…and a blackbird wondered whether there would soon be fallen seed to scavenge.

blackbird on hedge

The feeder got quite busy for a while…

goldfinch on pole

…as a chaffinch joined the goldfinches.

chaffinch

A house sparrow preferred the nuts…

sparrow on nuts

..but a hedge sparrow (or dunnock) liked the seeds.

dunnock on feeder

The weather got steadily worse so I took this shot of a sparrow perched on Mrs Tootlepedal’s artificial tree….

sparrow on false tree in rain

…and after lunch, I was very happy to spend some useful time adding more of our index to the local paper to the Archive Group’s database.  As it was this online index which had sparked the enquiry that I had followed up in the morning, it was gratifying to know that our work is useful and appreciated.

After that, I sorted out my Carlisle Choir music folder which had been disturbed by our Glasgow trip and these simple tasks managed to comfortably fill the afternoon.  There was quite a bit of sitting down and reading papers and magazines too.

When the time came, I made a mild chicken curry, sweetened with sultanas and apple, for our tea and then depressed myself by watching the news of our election campaign creaking into action.  However, as President Trump has been kind enough to tell us who to vote for and what to do, we will have no need to think for ourselves at all.

It looks as though we might have a calm, warm and sunny day tomorrow.  This will be very welcome and I might get some sharper pictures of the birds if they come back to the feeder.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, zipping through the gloom and drizzle on its way to the feeder.

flying blue tit

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He is a great walker and recently walked with his walking group through a wood.  The substantial size of the trees can be gauged by noting the size of the walkers who can just be seen at the bottom of the frame.

Andrew's wood

I had another poor night’s sleep and it was raining again when we got up so I was doubly happy to have a quiet morning in.  For want of anything better to do, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping in the car, but it had stopped raining by the time that Dropscone arrived to brighten my morning coffee break with conversation and the traditional Friday treacle scones.

He told me that there are signs of toadstools appearing on the golf course.  I will have to go up and investigate.

In the meantime, I went out into the garden after coffee to see what I could find there..

The temperatures, both day and night, are remaining very constant at the moment so flowers are quite happy to keep flowering.

rudbeckia, campanula, dahlia and poppy

This calendula was the brightest star this morning.

calendula

There are no feeders out at the moment but there is no shortage of birds in the garden.

The starlings love the top branch of the holly tree and take it in turns to perch there.  The rowan tree is popular too, in spite of the fact that all the berries were eaten long ago.  The sparrows peck busily at the branches so there must be insects to be found.

starling, dunnock, sparrows

When the sun comes out, the sparrow families like to rest on the felt roof of our neighbour’s sheds, though the youngsters find the slope a little challenging.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back in time for lunch and scattered a few crumbs from our bread tray on the lawn.  This immediately attracted a gang of jackdaws, but most unusually they were joined by a black headed gull as they strutted round the crumbs today.

gull and jackdaws

We very rarely see a gull in the garden.

It rained lightly over lunch but soon cleared up and as it was a calm day, I got my bicycle out and went for a pedal.

My bike camera is old and tired and it found it hard to pick out the red haws against the brown background of the hillside along the Wauchope road, but there were plenty of haws about…

 

haws on wauchope road

…even though some of the hawthorns were almost totally bare.  It has been a very uneven year for the hawthorns as they were all well covered in blossom in the spring.

When I got to a point where the was route choice, I considered the weather.  The rain clouds were behind as I looked back towards Langholm….

clouds down wauchope

…and a safe distance away as I looked north…

clouds and turbines

…so, as it looked potentially sunny to the south,…

sunny road ahead

…I headed that way and went round my Canonbie route.

The wind was very light and for once I didn’t have to start a ride by battling up hill and into the wind so I enjoyed myself and kept pedalling as fast as I could for as long as I could without stopping.

In the end, a monkey puzzle tree at Canonbie looked so inviting that I stopped…

monkey puzzle

…and I stopped again a few hundred yards later to check on the autumn colour beside the Esk.  I fear that it is going to be a disappointing season as the colour is just not developing and trees seem to be going straight to brown on the whole.

esk at byreburn brown trees

There was more colour in a garden on the other side of the road.

garden at byreburn

While the sun was out, which was most of the time, it was warm and pleasant, but in shady spots when the sun went in and the roads were still damp, it felt quite autumnal.

old a7 damp

I like the way that the roadside vegetation is slowly reclaiming the old main road here where very few cars use it.  It won’t take too long until it is only wide enough for a cyclist.

The sun came out again and I propped the bike up against a fence and walked down to the river bank to enjoy the view of Broomholm Island.

broomholm island esk

It was a delightful place to spend a few contemplative moments.

esk near broomholm island

When I got back to the road, I took a picture of the mixed broad-leaved and conifer planting that the road builders put in when the built the new road…

trees on new A7

…and pedalled home as fast as I could.

That is not very fast these days but the near windless conditions let me get round the twenty miles at over 14 mph, a heady speed for me and nearly seven minutes faster than my last effort on Wednesday.  I would ask for more windless days but our electricity supplier uses a lot of wind generated power so I had better just put up with the breeze when it comes and keep my head down.

One of the things that Mrs Tootlepedal bought this morning was a supply of builders’ sand and while I was out cycling, she cleaned and refreshed her cold frame and we put the sand into it to make a clean base when I got back.

cold frame witrh sand

While we were out in the garden I picked a couple of the Charles Ross apples…

big apples

…and we ate them baked and stuffed with sultanas and brown sugar for afters at our evening meal.

I had another look round and was pleased to find a new daisy out, together with a flourishing Sweet William, some yew berries and a very out of season foxglove.

daisy, sweet william, yew berries, foxglove

But once again, the star of the afternoon floral display was Crown Princess Margareta.

Crown princess margareta rose

Whenever we are out in the garden, we try to pick up more walnuts.  They are falling from the tree in a steady stream and Mrs Tootlepedal is making a jolly good effort to eat them all.  They are mostly in good condition this year.

walnuts

According to the Norwegian weather forecasters, the present spell of reasonably warm but changeable weather now seems set to extend to the end of the month, so be warned that there may be a lot of flowers pictures still to come in future posts.

I don’t suppose that I will be able to find many more gulls to be the flying bird of the day though.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo.  She escaped just in time from the Manitoba snow storm and arrived in London to find that it was raining a lot instead.  In the end the rain stopped for long enough for her to visit Kew Gardens where she encountered these  splendidly prickly plants.

kew

After our short spell of better weather, the weather gods had decided to bring us back down to earth today and it was raining heavily when we got up.   Mrs Tootlepedal bravely cycled off in the rain on business after breakfast while I did the sensible thing and stayed at home and arranged to have coffee with Sandy and Dropscone.

Dropscone brought his usual supply of good scones and we sconed, sipped and chatted away as the rain fell.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the town and we squeezed another cup from the pot for her.

After coffee, I had time to do the crossword and start a tarte tatin off before we had lunch,  After lunch, the rain finally eased off and I was able to get out into the garden.

There were birds posing for me all over the place.

The rather scruffy male blackbird is looking better…

blackbird improving

…even though the female doesn’t think much of him yet.

fierce balckbird

The sparrows often have a bath in the dam behind the house and then, like this one, flit up up onto the lilac to have a flutter and a shoogle to get dry again.

fluffy sparrow

A bird skulked in the shadows on the fence…

dunnock on fence

…before flying up into the rowan tree to reveal that it was a dunnock or hedge sparrow.  It is obviously a bit slow in learning the difference between a fence, a tree and a hedge.

dunnock in rowan

As you can see, the sun had come out by this time, so I took a quick look at some clematis…

two clematis

…and a fuchsia which is coming out ridiculously late for the first time this year, together with a dahlia which is hanging on very well after looking as though it was well past it.

fuchsia and dahlia

Then, as it was too good a day to miss by now, I got my bike out and checked to see how my legs were feeling after two busy days.

It turned out that they were feeling fine and they carried me round my customary twenty mile Canonbie circuit slowly but without complaining.

There is a spot along the way where the grass always turns golden brown at this time of year.

brown hillside Kerr

I didn’t stop for many pictures as this is a well documented ride already but I needed a breather after 15 miles so I took a look up stream from the Hollows Bridge…

view from hollows bridge october

…and a bit later on was much struck by the golden colour of some bracken on the old A7

bracken old A7

The sun is getting low in the sky all day now and the trees on the far bank were casting interesting shadows on the old distillery building as I crossed Skippers Bridge.

Distllery from Skippers october

When I got home, I turned out the tarte tatin and while Mrs Tootlepedal made a pot of tea, I cut a couple of slices of the tarte to go with it.  I added some ice cream to my slice and in my view, it would be hard to find a better after-ride refreshment.

I was so refreshed indeed that after I had had a shower, I went out for a short walk.  I was motivated partly by the tarte, partly by the lovely evening light and mostly by the fact that my physio has told me to walk more.

It is not long until the clocks go back so evening walks at this time of day will disappear for some months so I was pleased to able to enjoy such a beautiful light today.

The shadows were falling fast but I had time to enjoy some gentle autumn colour on my way.  The pictures speak for themselves, I think.

tree at church

Esk in evening light

looking up esk

trees by A7 kilngreen

lodge october evening

By the time that I had crossed two bridges and was approaching the third, the sun was ready to sink behind the hill and the shadows were lengthening…

castleholm october evening

…until the monument was in the sun but most of the New Town was in the shade.

Whita in sun town in shadow

I swept  a lot of walnut leaves off the front lawn when I got home.

We had courgette fritters for tea and then I went to sing with the Langholm choir.  Because of some illness going round, we had a select turnout, but we had a most enjoyable sing all the same.

As the sun went down on my walk in the afternoon, it began to feel a little chilly and I was wondering if we would have a frost tonight.  However, it was still quite warm when I walked home from the choir and when I looked at our thermometer a moment ago, it said that it is 9 degrees C.  The forecast claims that it won’t get lower than 5 degrees overnight.  We have been very lucky to have kept our flowers for so long and it looks as thought they may still be there tomorrow.

No flying bird of the day today but I was happy to see a starling back perching on the holly tree again.

starling back on holly

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I was looking through my files when I found today’s guest picture.  It shows a Liverpool gull hoping to get Bruce to open his hotel window and give it a snack.  It was taken before Bruce went off to Helsinki.  He gets about a lot.

Liverpool gull

It was sunny and windy here today but as there was no rain all day, we liked the sun and ignored the wind as far as we could.

I had a generally relaxed day with coffee and conversation in the morning, a battle between bicycle and breeze in the afternoon and some top quality blues music in the evening.

The coffee and conversation was in the company of Dropscone who had brought some treacle scones with him in a traditional fashion.  He had been playing golf yesterday but as he missed a one foot putt rather carelessly at one point, he was not as happy about that as he might have been.

When he left, I had a walk round the garden and was pleased to see a bee visiting.

october bee

The butterflies have gone but there are still occasional bees.

I picked up quite a lot of walnuts.  They are not hard to spot.

walnut on ground

Then I sieved a little compost and while I was in the vegetable garden I dug up a good sized leek and took a picture of a chive…

chive flower

…and I looked up to see a starling on the holly tree,  I like the way that starlings look as though they are covered in hearts.

hearty starling

I went to inspect the middle lawn and noted the number of fuchsia flowers still waiting to come out in the bed beside the lawn.  We have got another week before a frosty morning is forecast so they still have time.

potential fuchsia

The middle lawn looked as though it might need a cut as the grass has started to grow again after I thought that it had decided to stop for the year.  A sparrow caught my eye as I went to get the mower out…

sparrow behind twig

…and there turned out to be enough grass to make it worthwhile to mow the lawn.  I sat on the new bench and admired the result.

mown lawn october

As I sat there, a bee visited a nicotiana beside me but it got stuck in so thoroughly that there was no trace of it when I looked.  It came out too quickly for me to catch but then flew down on to the ground in front of me and posed for a picture.

nicotiana and bee

There is a small but colourful corner next to the bench.

colourful corner lawn

I went in and used the leek to make some soup for lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal had made some wholemeal bread yesterday and it went very well with the soup and some cheese.

After lunch, I went out for a cycle ride.  I had ambitions for a ride of thirty or thirty five miles in the sunshine but after spending half an hour battling into a wind gusting up to thirty miles an hour, I turned left and headed down to Canonbie for a twenty mile circuit with the wind mostly across or behind.

This was a good choice as it took me 31 minutes to do the first five miles and 64 minutes to do the next fifteen.

I was too busy pedalling to take pictures until I got the wind behind me at Canonbie.

Canonbie road

Apart from the breeze, it was a lovely day for a pedal and the trees along the Esk at Byreburnfoot looked very seasonal.

Esk below hollows

There is a little patch of grass where I stood to take the picture above and for some reason, it is a great place for fungus every year.

fungus at byreburnside

I often wonder what is buried beneath it.

My Canonbie route takes me along two sections of the old main road.  This section at Hollows was by-passed when half of the road fell into the river nearly forty years ago.

old a7 hollows

And this section at Auchenrivock was bypassed more recently when another section of the road slid into the river.  I took a poor picture of it but have put it in anyway to show local readers that they are cutting trees down here and the tarmac is seeing the light of day for the first time for ages.

old a7 irvine house

The tree felling is near Irvine House.

irvine house october

I stopped at Skippers Bridge and thought that the steps that the Langholm Walks Group put up for Walk 7 looked very inviting..

steps at skippers

…but I didn’t walk any further than down to the waterside to look through the bridge at the old distillery.skippers and distillery

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal grappling with a very intractable website which required several codes to be entered to gain access to it.  Unfortunately, however many she put in, none seemed to be able to unlock the door so she gave up in despair and made me a cup of tea (and a slice of wholemeal toast) instead.

I went out for look round the garden and decided that the front lawn might need a mow too, so I mowed it.  It turned out that it didn’t really need a mow as it get less of the sun as it gets lower in the sky than the middle lawn and I didn’t get much grass off it at all.

I took a picture of one of our most long lived flowering plants, the ornamental strawberry which has been in flower since the beginning of June…

tame strawberry

…and then went in to have a shower.

After a meal of ham and eggs, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to watch Gardeners’ World and walked down to the Buccleuch Centre to attend a concert of mostly blues music sung and played by Maggie Bell and Dave Kelly, veterans of the British music scene.

It was a most enjoyable evening and I especially admired Dave Kelly’s guitar playing.  (You can hear a sample of his work here if you wish.   It sounded much better when he played it live tonight but it gives you an idea of his skills and style.)

The flying starling of the day is not showing off its wings for once.

flying starling

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