Posts Tagged ‘Staplegordon’

Today’s guest picture is the ZurichSee, taken this morning.  It was sent me from Zurich by Hilary, Dropscone’s niece, my Zurich correspondent.


The weather in Langholm could hardly have been more different as it was an absolutely foul day, temperature in low single figures, intermittent heavy showers and a cruel and ruthless wind making life far less than joyful.


The birds were in subdued mood


A redpoll, seeing the perches full, chose to go elsewhere rather than start a fight

As such it was a disappointing day to be meeting three charming Americans, Theresa, Teri and Barbara who had come to Langholm to do some family history research.  They had enlisted the help of the Langholm Archive Group and I had sensibly recruited my friend Brenda, a proper archivist and family historian to be on the team.

I picked them up at the local B & B where they were staying and we walked along to the Archive Centre where Brenda presented them with impressive folders of the results of her research.  After some conversation, we drove off to visit Staplegordon graveyard to try to find the gravestone of one of Theresa’s ancestors.

The weather was at its worst and the graveyard, being in an exposed position, gave the wind and the rain every opportunity to find cracks in our defences.  Theresa had sprained her ankle the day before, which didn’t improve matters at all but they battled on.

crossing the field at Staplegordon

Brenda was able to pinpoint the gravestone….

Brenda at Staplegordon

..which also provided a little relief from the gale.

Theresa and Teri

Theresa and Teri posed for the record

We didn’t linger too long as it really wasn’t pleasant at all and we were soon on our way to the Wauchope Graveyard to visit another grave.  Mercifully the rain had let up by the time we got there and after a little looking around, the stone was identified.

Menzies grave

It was beautifully engraved.  This was one time when I could have done with a little less lichen.  Our visitors were very pleased to have found both stones.

Wauchope Churchyard with Theresa

And they coped very well with the hostile weather conditions, only mentioning the contrasting weather in California every ten minutes or so.

We dropped Brenda off (she had business to attend to) and I drove on to visit other spots which were of interest to our visitors as they had appeared in a memoir of Langholm in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century written by an ancestor.

We visited Broomholm…

mossy wall Broomholm

…Skippers Bridge (site of childhood exploit involving an owl)…

Skippers Bridge

…where in spite of the rain, the water was low enough to allow Teri and Barbara and me to get right down to the waterside to photograph the bridge.

I liked the view through the bridge.

Langholm Distillery

I pointed out to Teri that it was illegal for a person with a camera in hand to cross the bridge without taking a picture of the distillery and she duly obeyed this iron law.

Langholm Distillery

We ended our short tour by visiting the Duchess Bridge, which was looking very elegant in spite of the weather.

Duchess Bridge

I took the visitors back to the Eskdale Hotel and dropped them off there for lunch and said goodbye to them.  I would have liked to have had more time to spend with them but I had a good deal of organising to do with Mrs Tootlepedal at home as we are off for a short holiday ourselves tomorrow.

I had a moment to bird watch…


Two chaffinches had sneaked in among the goldfinches.

…but mostly it was nose to the grindstone.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a short and not entirely successful go at a couple of sonatas.  She has family coming to visit tomorrow so perhaps we both had our minds on other things.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows an elegant Egyptian goose  spotted by my sister Mary in Regents’s Park yesterday.

Egyptian goose

The temperature stayed comfortably above freezing and, for the most part, the rain stayed away too so it should have been a good day for cycling.  A nippy north wind made me very ambivalent about the delights of getting out on the bike though and fortunately I had enough pleasant distractions to stop my bike averse behaviour upsetting me.

For a start, I went off to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where I was able to obtain all sorts of good things,  coffee beans, fish, venison, honey and some superlative goat’s milk cheese.  This made for a very up beat start to the day.

I had just got home when my older son and his partner arrived from Edinburgh for the purpose of personally delivering a bouquet of flowers to Mrs Tootlepedal in anticipation of Mother’s Day.  She was much touched.

They had brought one of their three dogs with them.  He is called Mylo.  He is the one on the left in the picture below.

Mylo and Tony

Mylo was full of beans so after a coffee, we went off to the park for doggy fun.




Getting dirty…


…and getting (fairly) clean again.

Tony , Marianne and Mylo stayed for lunch and then set off back to Edinburgh, where work called.

After they left, the weather got a bit worse so we watched some of the Davis Cup tennis and occasionally looked out of the window.

blackbird and sparrow

The Murray brothers were in good form and that helped to keep my mind off not cycling.

Things brightened up so Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do some gardening and I put on a warm jacket, thought about cycling and went for a walk, reckoning correctly that a well sheltered walk might be more fun than a battle with a brisk north wind out in the country.

I looked around the garden before I left.  The crocuses are getting on well.


The five mile walk turned out well.  It started with the usual sighting and disappearance of the oyster catchers…

oyster catchers

Now you see them, now you don’t….

…but finally, one obligingly posed for me and I was able to walk on.

oyster catcher

They have given up on oysters and mostly survive on worms I am told.

I saw the first sight of some new blossom and a good show of the long lasting snowdrops as I strolled along…

cherry and snowdrops

…through occasionally sunlit woodlands….


…with many opportunities for views.


My walk took me to Potholm where I looked across the river…

Clark Fell

…visited the site of an old castle…

Staplegordon Tower

The motte is all that remains.

…nodded at a sheep in passing…


…and went down to cross the river Esk by the new bridge.

Potholm Bridge

The day couldn’t quite make up its mind as to whether is was a fine day or not. There were spots of rain, dark clouds and bursts of sunshine, sometimes all at the same time.  The walk along the road past Milnholm was a delight.

Milnholm fields

Milnholm fields

Milnholm fields

And I was pleased to get home both dry and warm.

I might have spent the evening feeling bad about being too lazy to cycle just because of a little chilly wind but fortunately, the World Indoor Cycling Championships were available for discerning viewers on the telly and the action was quite exciting enough to make me forget all about my own cycling or lack of it.

That and regular nibbles of delicious cheese.

And a great sunset.


A five mile walk and a twenty mile bike ride take me about the same time but for some reason, the bike ride always seems like a much better piece of exercise than a walk.  I don’t know why this is but there is no doubt that cycling makes me feel well and walking makes me feel tired.    I think it might be about load bearing.

I didn’t have much time to look out of the window today so one of the fleeting ouster catchers is the (fuzzy) flying bird of the day.

flying oyster catcher

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture, in the absence of any up to date contributions, is a charming bridge near Buttermere, which was crossed when he came to it in August by my brother.

Leaving Buttermere, I headed over an ancient bridge

In spite of beautifully sunny and calm conditions, or perhaps because of the beautifully sunny and calm conditions, the temperature stayed resolutely below three degrees Celsius all day and a large ice covered puddle outside the back door persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal and myself that cycling might be a bit risky on roads that had been quite wet last night.

She went off to church to sing in the choir and I was about to settle down for some superior quality idling when I was mugged by my camera and dragged out for a walk.  Having already been up Warbla and Whita,  the camera was hungry for change and took me up the third of the four hills of Langholm, Meikleholm.

It was worth the walk.

meiklehom track

The track from the town onto the hill.

gate onto meikleholm

The hill ahead.

Unaccountably, the hill had got a bit steeper since I last climbed it and I was forced to stop to admire the view quite often but I made it to the top (265m) and looked at Timpen (326m) in front of me.

timpen from meikleholm

The legs said stop and the camera said go on.  I went on.  The frosty conditions made for good walking on the boggy ground and I was (fairly) soon at the top, looking back over the Ordnance Survey trig point at the mist covered Solway plain to the south.

mist and trig point

To the far north, I could just make out the first snow covered hills of the year on the horizon.

snowy peaks ettrick

Because of the steep climb and the still conditions, it was positively balmy on the top of the hill.   There were good views to be had as a reward for climbing.

tinnis from timpen

Tinnis hill seen in the distance.

Milnholm from Timpen

The Esk winding its way north past the farm of Milnholm with Craigcleuch house in the foreground.

I was enjoying the views so much that I took many more shots but when I went through them later on, they all looked much the same.  I walked back down the hill by the way that I had come up and stopped for a couple more pictures on my way down.

Castle hill from

Castle Hill seen from the mini summit of Meikleholm Hill

As usual, the direction of shooting compared with the position of the sun produced some very different colours.

Langholm from Meikleholm

The town below.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from church by the time that I had got back.  I offered her the chance of a pedal but the ice was still on the puddle outside the back door and her needle calls her as insistently as my camera calls me.  She is making herself a jacket.

The sun wouldn’t shine on the feeder but the plum tree was glowing gently.

perching chaffinches postcard

Two chaffinches posed decoratively for me.

It was too good a day to sit inside so I rang Sandy to see what he was up to and it turned out that he was up for the short drive north that we meant to take yesterday.  He had been for a walk in the morning too and had seen a shot which he liked so we drove into the centre of town first.Langholm Bridge (3)

He is busy preparing prints for a stall at a forthcoming craft fair so he may not have time to put them on his blog as well but I hope to see some of the pictures he has been taking soon.

We left the town and drove to Milnholm, the very spot which I had photographed earlier on the day from the top of Timpen.  The farmers were hard at work in the fields.

Milnholm crops

All around them, the trees were glorious.

Longfauld trees

We crossed the river and parked the car before walking along the track to Staplegordon.  This gave me a view of my favourite picturesque cottage at Henwell.


Even the barns at Potholm farm looked good in the light of the low sun.


Although a single house and a graveyard are all that is left of Staplegordon now, this used to be the centre of the district and I took a  photo of the motte, all that remains of the motte and bailey Barntalloch castle which once guarded the spot.  There are no traces now of the wooden Norman castle that stood there first or of the stone tower that succeeded it.


When we got home and had enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea, I noticed that somewhere along the line, I had left a pair of gloves behind.  I might possibly have left them beside the river in the town or more probably up at Staplegordon but as the river in the town was nearer, I decided that I must have left them there so after finishing my cup of tea, I walked down  to find them.  As I got nearer, I was more and more convinced that I must have left them at Staplegordon and I was only looking at the riverside because it was nearer.  However, it had been a good day so far and my luck held as I found my gloves lying beside a wall where I had dropped them.

I had my phone in my pocket and took another picture of the bridge to show the same view in the fading light.

Langholm Bridge

Our days really are getting shorter.  This was taken at twenty past three.

I walked back over the bridge in the picture and took this picture from it looking upstream.

Langholm Bridge

You could call this the end of a perfect day as far as the weather went.

Mrs Tootlepedal rounded off a top notch day by cooking a feast for our tea and then we settled down to watch the worst two dancers in Strictly meeting in the dance off.  Sometimes even the thought of the gas bill can’t spoil a good mood.

In between all the rushing about, I found a moment to catch a flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch (118)










Read Full Post »