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Posts Tagged ‘starlings’

Today’s guest picture comes from my cycling reader Paul. He lives in Lancashire and he sent me this picture of a reservoir to show that we are not the only ones having a dry time just now.

I am starting today’s post with a picture from yesterday. I almost always only use pictures in a post which I have taken that day as this blog is a daily diary, but I had this one ready to put in yesterday’s post when the new block editor made me forget about it. The blackbird had made such a good effort to pose nicely for me that I thought that it would be a sin not to reward him.

Back to today.

It was another day of wall to wall sunshine but with a brisker breeze to keep things a little cooler.

Neither of us had slept well in the heat last night so we had a quiet start to the day. Then, instead of street coffee, we enjoyed Zoom colour bingo event curated by our granddaughter Matilda. Through the wonders of technology, it involved all four of her grandparents, two of her aunts, a cousin, and her own parents (and three of the four countries of the United Kingdom). The rules were simple enough for even me to grasp and the method ensured the games ended in good time so we had space to chat and catch up as well as play.

After Zooming, we went out into the garden, where Mrs Tootlepedal did useful thinks and I wandered around, a bit at a loss to find something to do. In lieu of anything more productive, I looked at flowers.

There are new arrivals, an orange hawkweed…

…the first of many Sweet Williams…

…a beautifully dark pansy…

…and the first bud on a rose.

I was passing the bird feeder and noticed that a greenfinch was ignoring me. I didn’t ignore it and got the benefit of photographing a bird on the feeder in good light and not through a window.

I was happy even if it it was not.

Our neighbour Kenny, who gardens the far bank of the dam, has produced a really lovely lily there…

We went back in to have lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal took the sensible view that it was a good afternoon to sit quietly indoors out of the heat. I was restless and split my time by being bored indoors and doing nothing useful outdoors. As usual, when left with nothing better to do, I pointed cameras at things. The bright light was a problem so I looked for shady corners with Welsh poppies…

….ranunculus…

…and musk.

And I found an ornamental onion.

At one stage, I went for a shady sit down on our new bench and was joined for some quality time by a blackbird on a nearby hedge.

I checked to see what had captured the bees’ fancy today. It was chive diving.

I went back in to get set up for my second Zoom meeting of the day and while the computer was warming up, I looked out of the back door at the dam to see if any birds were cooling off there. Starlings were making use of the facilities…

…but they flew off in a huff when I got too close.

The afternoon Zoom meeting was the weekly Carlisle Choir virtual rehearsal with our energetic leader Ellen. Once again she was well prepared with a really good grip on the technology. All the same, the current technology will still not let everyone sing at the same time so it was more of a chance to get together and keep the spirit of the choir going than a great singing experience. About 50 members signed in and I enjoyed it.

There was another gap in the day now, with nothing much to do so I made a batch of 30 ginger biscuits as the last lot of 30 biscuits has mysteriously disappeared.

Then I had to time to check to see if there were more birds swimming in the dam. There were none but a white clover by the back door caught my eye instead…

…and I had to look out of the front window to see some birds. The feeder was half full and the bottom layer had been taken over by three greenfinches…

…who weren’t going to let any other bird get a look in. This led to some wistful flying birds, hoping for a perch but not succeeding in dislodging the incumbents.

And then it was time for the third Zoom meeting of the day, the usual get together with my siblings. My brother was absent but my sisters were in good form. I didn’t stay for the whole meeting as I wanted to get out for a cycle ride in the comparative cool of the early evening and still be back in time for our evening meal.

it was 25°C but the sun was down in the sky a bit and a cooling breeze kept conditions ideal for the elderly cyclist. I headed north up the main road out of town, hoping that there would be little traffic on the road and that the wind would be helpful as I headed uphill.

Both hopes were fulfilled. There was hardly any traffic and the wind was not only helpful up the hill but by some fluke of meteorology, helpful to me on the way back down again. As a result, I was home in plenty of time for a delicious meal of liver and onions prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I took two pictures just to show that I had been out. The first was soon after I had set off, and shows the Ewes valley at its best…

…and the second was at the head of the valley as the shadows were closing in on the road to Mosspaul.

I was passed by two cars in the ten miles back home. Cycling heaven.

Looking at my cycling spreadsheet when I got home, I see that I have cycled 15 times this month and covered 450 miles, my best month this year by a good distance. As I have gone for a walk on the other 16 days, it has been an excellent month for exercise.

The flying bird of the day is a duck who was passing over the garden while I was wandering about.

Footnote: As an experiment because I am using the new block editor, I have put the pictures in at a larger size than usual. I don’t know if this will make any difference but if it does for good or bad, I would be grateful for any feedback.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bill, a blog reader, who was pleased that we enjoyed his creative poppy plantation on our recent walk. Nature got a helping hand! He has sent me this picture of a ceanothus which rivals the cotoneaster as a bee magnet.

Our spell of dry, warm and sunny weather continued today, and it was, if anything, warmer than it was yesterday. On the hand, there was a stronger cooling breeze available so we were all pretty happy.

Our neighbour Margaret, the senior citizen in our socially distanced street coffee morning set, was the beneficiary of the slight loosening of the lockdown when her son and daughter-in-law visited her for coffee today, bringing their own seats with them. Mrs Tootlepedal and our other morning coffee neighbour Liz joined them but I, thinking that five was a crowd, went off to have coffee with Sandy instead.

He had acquired a new cafetiere so we sipped good coffee together and watched a pair of very industrious blue tits bringing food for the family to the nest box on his shed.

Judging from how busy the parents were, there must be quite a few nestlings in the box.

The skies have got busy too lately, and we watched a plane leaving quite a trail as it passed overhead.

Sandy has a handy flight tracking app on his phone and he was able tell me that this was an Airbus jet going from Aberdeen to London.

When I got home, the street coffee morning was just breaking up, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I went into the garden.

There was aerial activity there too, but this time it was two young starlings pestering a fed up parent for food.

A check on a rose that appeared in yesterday’s post showed me that the pink tinge was in fact the proper colour for this rose…

…and it was the early white flowers that were non standard.

Mrs Tootlepedal has discovered a single plum on the plum tree that was not killed by the frost, but we are keeping its location secret for security purposes. She is very pleased to see new shoots on the plum tree after the quite severe pruning we gave it.

I mowed the middle lawn and the weather has been so kind that I was able to run the mower over the grass without using the collecting box. This is good for two reasons, the mowing is quicker and easier and the grass cuttings act as a mulch to improve the health of the lawn.

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, again without the box on, and then we had a sit down on the new bench in the shade.

There was more starling action as a youngster perched hopefully on the top of the holly tree looking this way and that for someone to come and feed it. There were adults about but they didn’t seem interested in helping this particular youngster.

I filled the pond and while it was filling, I checked on the bees on the Limnanthes. They were diving in.

The tadpoles were very happy with the new water level.

The temperature was up to 25°C (77°F) by this time but the breeze was frisky enough to suggest that a walk might be good thing. Mrs Tootlepedal however felt that it was an afternoon for staying in, so I went for a walk round the Pheasant Hatchery by myself.

As I left the house, I noticed that more of the big red poppies had appeared along the dam.

There was a tremendous disturbance when I got to the suspension bridge. It turned out to be oyster catchers objecting to people coming to close to their nest. Further up stream, another oyster catcher was much calmer.

There were more people about than there have been lately, which not surprising considering that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, but it meant that I couldn’t hang about waiting to see wagtails on the Kilngreen and I crossed the Sawmill Brig and headed up the Lodge Walks towards the pheasant hatchery without delay.

The felling of trees along the Lodge Walks in recent years mean that it is no longer quite such an attractive scene for photographers but the trees on the other side of the Castleholm are always a treat at this time of year…

…so I took them instead.

Once I had got round the pheasant hatchery, the walk back along the bank of the Esk was delightful…

…with small pleasures on one side…

…and large ones on the other.

There is a good still pool in the river beneath the Duchess Bridge and I thought that I ought to be able to get a nice reflective shot but the banks are steep and tree lined so I could see half the bridge and half a reflection…

…or more of the bridge and no reflection…

..or more of the reflection and none of the bridge.

It was very frustrating. I needed a drone camera.

The picture above is a bit confusing but I am looking down past a tree straight at the river. You can see the tree and the stones on this side of the river at the bottom of the frame but all the rest is reflections in the water.

In the picture below, you can see the stones on the far bank and trees on the near bank. In between is the river.

It was good to be out on such a day.

I got back in time for a cheerful Zoom meeting with my siblings and after our evening meal (slow cooked stew with spinach from the garden and bubble and squeak on the side), I got a special treat. Mrs Tootlepedal invited me to go with her to collect some horse muck from a stable at the Stubholm.

The temperature was perfect by this point in the day, and while Mrs Tootlepedal collected a couple of buckets of the good stuff, I counted trees.

As a bonus, I was allowed to carry one of the buckets of manure back home. The perfect end to the day.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow heading past the feeder pole with sunflowers seeds in mind.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward Winter.  He has a fine six inch wide tree peony flower in his garden which he thought that I might appreciate.  I do.

TreePeony2020

It was another grey, blustery and chilly day today here so once again there was no urgency in the getting up department.

Indeed, I got up so late that there was no time for a wander round the garden before our street coffee meeting, and it was only afterwards that I got to check to see if our peonies are out yet.

They are still trying.

peony trying

A quick check on the frost damage revealed that the Japanese azalea may have have enough surviving flowers to make a bit of a show at least.

japanese azalea

And to make up for the lack of azaleas, the first iris has put in a welcome appearance.

first iris

Tulips and poppies make sure that we still have some colour….

tulips and poppy

And thriving Limnanthes and Aquilegia will soon be joined by…

flowers old and new

…other promising flowers.

We are quite blue at the moment….

four blue things in garden

…in a delicate sort of way.

I mowed the front lawn in the hope that we will get some rain and warmer weather to make the grass grow again.  Mrs Tootlepedal got to work improving the soil in one of the beds along the lawn so I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C to give to her to add to the bed.

I didn’t watch the birds on the feeder in the morning as we were busying about but there were birds in the garden who weren’t bothered by us.  The blackbird and the thrush are both feeding young so they are often to be seen about.

blackbird an thrush panel

I did a little shredding of disused box bushes and then went in for lunch.

We had a Carlisle Choir Zoom meeting scheduled for mid afternoon at what would have been our regular choir practice time, so I sneaked out for a short walk after lunch.  It was grey and almost drizzly so I walked on at a brisk pace, hoping to get home before any rain started.

I was pleased to see that the big rhododendrons in the park seemed to have escaped frost damage, but the bluebells are fading away and going over…

rhododendron,bluebells and garlic

…leaving the wild garlic to cover the ground.

I walked along the Murtholm track towards Skippers Bridge, passing quantities of ribwort, lambs and spring things on leaves…

three things at murtholm

…and crosswort…

crosswort full

…at which I took a closer look.

crosswort close

I paused on Skippers Bridge to record just how low the river is.

low water in esk from skippers bridge

It will be interesting to see if we get enough rain to raise the water level noticeably as the ground is so dry that it will surely soak up anything less than a downpour.

I took a picture of this view a few days ago but it is still so beautiful to my mind, that I took it again today.

skippers bridge from north

As I walked along the river bank back to the town, there was plenty to admire.

six things beside the river

I saw two contrasting birds as I got up the suspension bridge, a very noisy thrush singing fit to bust on a rooftop on one side of the river and a very quiet oyster catcher sitting on her nest on the other side.

thrush and oyster catcher

When  I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had just about finished her work on the flower bed.

bed improvement

I like the big red poppy at the back of the house so I went for a look at it…

big red poppy panel

…before getting ready for the Zoom choir meeting.

While I was waiting for the meeting to start, I made a mixture for some chocolate biscuits and put it in the fridge to cool.

When the appointed time came, lots of choir members attempted to join the meeting but unfortunately, there was a glitch in the Zoom technology (not our fault) and the meeting had to be cancelled.  We are going to try again next week,

The fault, which also affected a government briefing later in the day, must have been partial as I had a one to one meeting on Archive website business with my younger son and a family meeting with my siblings later on with no problems at all.

After the failed choir meeting, I baked the biscuits and while they were cooling, our neighbour Liz rang up to say that a starling was feeding its young in her garden if I was interested.

I was interested and went out and leant over her wall to see the group in action.

liz's starlings

I took the biscuits out of the oven and left them to cool and then I had time to watch a blue tit coming to the feeder…

blue tit in garden

…before chatting to my brother and sisters with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We tried the biscuits after our evening meal.  There was an initial shock when they did not taste as we expected them to, but we enjoyed them enough to have another each.

The rain, which finally started shortly after I came home from my walk, has persisted in a mild and desultory way all evening.  There is some more in the forecast over the next two days but as it is only a few millimeters, whether it will be enough to do some good is still a moot point.

All the same, any rain, after two dry months when at times it seemed as though it might never rain again here,  is to be welcomed.

The flying bird of a day is a bee.

flying bee

 

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Today”s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He saw deer on one of his walks with his dogs.  The deer saw him but didn’t run away at once.

Tony's deer

To say that today was another uneventful day would be rather overstating the excitement.  The recent frost has put a damper on the pleasure of walking round the garden in quite a big way, and as it was another grey morning, there was not a lot of incentive to get up and go.

In the end, I managed to finish the crossword and get up in time for a walk round the garden before coffee.  The only photograph that I took was of these ill matched Icelandic poppies, and I couldn’t get a very good shot of them as they were blowing about in the breeze.

ill matched poppies

I don’t know why some of the orange poppies have white tips this year.

After coffee, I shredded more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s uprooted box bushes and then went inside.

I watched the birds through the window for a moment or two.

A greenfinch felt that I was intruding on its privacy.

sad greenfing

A sparrow watched while another greenfinch and a chaffinch arrived simultaneously, luckily heading for different perches.

greenfinch and chaffinch arriving together

And there was room for two sparrows too.

sparrow joining sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that I might like to try a recipe for a boiled cake.  This sounded very strange to me but on investigation it turned out that only some of the ingredients were boiled and that the cake was actually baked in a standard way, so I gave it a go.

It tuned out that it makes a small cake and the process was quite simple (which is probably why Mrs Tootlepedal suggested it).  You take butter, syrup, sugar and water, melt them together and add currants and sultanas and then boil this mixture very gently for a few minutes.  This is cooled and then added to flour and spices with a beaten egg and the whole thing is poured into a cake tin and baked.

Some time later, it comes out like this:

boiled cake

While it was baking, I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we had time to eat the soup before the cake came out of the oven.

After lunch, I had another walk round the garden and found a rhododendron flower which looks as though it might have survived the frost.

surviving rhododendron bud

The tree peony and the standard peonies in the flower beds are in a race to see which comes fully out first and at the moment, the tree peony is the slight favourite.

tree peony almost out

The alliums, unaffected by the frost, are going global.

global allium

In the absence of azaleas, I am probably going to spend more time looking at Welsh poppies than usual.  They have acquired some pinkish tinges this year, another mystery but quite pretty.

Sometimes the tinge is in the middle…

welsh poppy red middle

…sometimes in a line across the petals…

welsh poppy red stripe

…and sometimes round the edge.

welsh poppy red edge

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is damage of some sort.

She has completed her hedge cut back and you can see the more open view of the house that this provides.

hedge clipped

I will be interested to see how the planting changes to reflect the new vista.

There was a tremendous racket in the garden caused by baby sparrows demanding to be fed by their long suffering parents and this blackbird in the plum tree was joining in with gusto.

hopeful blackbird

It looks a little old to be needing to be fed but it wasn’t getting any attention and that didn’t suit it at all.

A starling had been doing some successful foraging.starling with food

I went in to change into my cycling gear and then went off for a short cycle ride.  Mrs Tootlepedal had looked at the clouds and brought the washing in ‘just in case’, but the forecast hadn’t got any rain in it so I set off with confidence of a dry trip round Canonbie.

My confidence was well founded and with the wind coming from a generally helpful direction, I enjoyed my ride and went a bit more quickly than recent efforts.

After taking far too many pictures in recent days, I resolved not to take too many today and was reasonably successful.  The theme of the ride was hedges and wild flowers.

The cow parsley is coming on well along the Tarcoon road…

cow parsely tarcoon

…and the tree over the hedge is now fully clothed.

tree tarcoon

A little further on, I was happy to find a beech hedge in very good condition.  My friend Nancy had sent me pictures yesterday of a beech hedge badly affected by the frost but this one was untouched.

beech hedge tarcoon

I stopped at Canonbie Bridge for a conversation with Simon, a Camera Club member who was out for a walk.  His normal work involves sporting events and international travel so he currently stacking shelves for supermarkets instead.   He doesn’t know when he will be able to go back to his real job.

When I got nearer Langholm, I found that the Pyrenean Valerian is beginning to line the roadsides.

pyrenean valerian clump

The boiled cake went down very well with a cup of tea on my return and the normal sibling Zoom and an excellent pasta dish for our evening meal rounded off another routine day of lockdown.

Looking at the forecast, I see that things are going to warm up a bit and there may even be a bit of rain in the next day or two but the promise of very high temperatures next week seems to have faded away, for which I am grateful as I don’t like it when it gets too warm.

We will believe in the rain when we feel it actually falling on our heads.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder.  It avoided the pole.

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  It shows a view of her garden from an upstairs room.  She tells me that her grass is left long to encourage wildlife and it has been sown with wildflowers which she hopes will appear later in the year.

venetia's garden

After yesterday’s glorious warm weather, it rained overnight and today was colder and even windier at times than yesterday.  But it didn’t rain.

This didn’t discourage the tadpoles who are now into independent swimming.

tadpoles on lily leaf

The tulips weren’t very keen on opening wide though, but they still added interest to the garden along with a very pale fritillary…

six garden flowers

…while pulmonaria, lamium and berberis added more discreet colour.

We had a leisurely morning with a little sporadic gardening and time to watch birds, sometimes through the window, sometimes in the garden…

chaffinch, blackbird, sparrows, bee

…and sometimes while sitting in the warmth of the greenhouse like these two sparrows on the fence. Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the bee on the rosemary while we were in there too.

After some lawn edging, time wasting, music making, cooking, laughing at a poem which my friend the cello playing Mike had sent me and looking at promising tulips…

new tulip

…I went out for a late afternoon permitted walk.

The river is exceedingly low after weeks with little or no rain….

esk very low april

…but no one is currently wishing for more rain after February’s exceptional rainfall.  Or at least, not out loud.

I walked through the town and then up the Kirk Wynd and onto the golf course.  It is a good golf course because if you are playing badly, which I almost always was, there is a selection of fine views to take your mind off your foozled shots.

view f Potholm Hill ridge

The greens are getting some green back onto them after the greenkeeper’s dramatic treatment, and as there are no golfers on it, the course is looking very well maintained.

golf course green

I enjoyed a final view from the course…

view up ewes from golf course

…and walked out onto the open hill, passing gorse, lichen and fresh hawthorn leaves on my way.

lichen gorse hawthorn

From Whita Well, I followed the track along the contour of the hill.  It was a lovely day, although I couldn’t see the Lake District hills as the Solway plain was covered in mist.

track toi quarry

The lovely day got a little less lovely as I went along the track because the sunshine retreated up the valley….sunshine up the valley

…thanks to this annoying cloud which hovered straight above me, leaving sunshine to both the north and the south.

clouds over whits

Dropscone had been this way on a walk lately, and he told me that he would have sent me an arty picture of a pylon if only he had remembered to take his camera with him.

So this is for him.

whita pylon square

And this one too, as I didn’t know which angle he would have chosen.

whita pylonn diagonal

Looking  south from the pylon, I could only just make out the windfarm at Gretna which shows how hazy it was down there.

gretna windfarm from whita

That dark cloud over my head was soon blown away though, and I walked back down the hill  in glorious sunshine again as i went through a little birch wood that has grown up in recent years…

birch wood on Whita

..and the sun lit up the floor of the wood as I joined the main track back to the Round House and Langholm.

jenyy noble's wood

I turned down the opportunity of a sit down on the bench at the Round House…

roundhouse bench

…and walked down the track that goes through the little oak wood…

oaks below round house

…past this fine tree…

oak tree longwood

…and ontothe old railway line.  I got to the path that leads steeply down to the road at Skippers Bridge…

steps down walk 7

…and the bridge drew me into yet another photograph.

skippers bridge april

At this stage, I realised that I was going to be late for tea if I didn’t get a move on so I got a move on.

The tea arrived on the table just as I arrived home.

At about three and a half miles, it was another walk which packed a lot of variety into a short outing.

During the afternoon, I had prepared the dough for a set of lockdown teacakes. The supply of ginger biscuits has run out and we need something to cheer us up in these troubled times.

They went in the oven after our evening meal and came out looking like this.

lockdown tea cakes

We test drove one or two and they seemed pretty cheerful to us.

The flying bird of the day is a starling, whisking across the garden in the strong wind this afternoon. (Too fast for my camera.)

flying starling

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a member of the Archive Group.  Joyce enjoys visiting Bermuda where her husband was born, and who can blame her when the views are like this?  That is a spider lily in the foreground.

Coopers island beach with spider lily

After an active day yesterday, I was happy to while away another grey morning with breakfast, coffee and the crossword merging almost indistinguishably into each other.

There weren’t many birds to distract me.  In fact these two siskins were the only ones that I saw on the feeder all morning.

two siskins

We had to rouse ourselves at noon though, as it was the day of the annual lunch of the Archive Group.  I had very carelessly missed this event last year as the sun shone and I got so excited that I went for a cycle ride instead of going to the lunch and completely forgot about it.

I was reminded about that quite a few times today.

We had set several alarms to remind me about the lunch today and walked across to the Eskdale Hotel with Sandy who was passing our gate as we left.

There was a good turn out of  members and partners and we enjoyed some good food and conversation, although we were distracted for a moment when someone saw a lion roaming about the street outside the hotel.

Langholm Rugby Lion

It turned out to be taking part in a video shoot to publicise the rugby club so we weren’t too alarmed.

After lunch, we returned home for a snooze in front of the horse racing on the telly but then, alerted by another alarm, we drove up to collect Sandy and went down the road to Longtown with him.

When we had passed through the town yesterday on our way to not watch a film, we had noticed what seemed like a possible murmuration of starlings so we thought that we ought to investigate this further.

As soon as we parked, we could see a lot of starlings overhead…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 1

…and small murmurations soon formed.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 2

They reamined disappointingly small though and a lot of the birds flew down to a pylon…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 3

…and sat on it.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 4

After a while, there were signs of action on all sides.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 5

In our experience of the murmurations at Gretna in past years, the starlings gradually gather into one huge flock but at Longtown today, they stayed stubbornly in many smaller groups.

There were one or two larger groups though and one of them gathered over the High Street.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 6

There weren’t enough in the group to produce the striking patterns that photographers hope for but some good shapes did form and dissolve.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 7

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 8

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 9

Things did not develop as we hoped and we could still see many separate groups of birds in almost every direction when we looked around.

It was a very cloudy day and it soon got quite dark as the street lamps came on.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 10

All the same, it was great fun watching the starlings above the roofs getting ready to go to their roost and I took a lot of pictures in the gathering gloom.

A few more birds did join the crowd…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 11

…and it became quite an impressive collection…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 12

…swooping and swerving above the houses.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 13

Strange shapes appeared…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 14

…maybe resembling a giant fish…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 15

…or a dove of peace…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 16

…or perhaps just looking like an impressive amount of starlings in one place at one time.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 17

The show lasted 25 minutes and we intend to come back again if we can get a fine evening. We will try to find a better viewpoint if we do return.

For some reason there is no flying bird of the day today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce.  On his recent trip, a driverless electric bus kindly stopped for him at a pedestrian crossing in Oslo.

Copengaen

I managed to get out for a 16 mile cycle ride this morning and enjoyed the sight of larch trees turning to gold both on my way up to Callister…

larch wauchope road

…and on my way back.

larch wauchope road (2)

I had intended to to do 20 miles but a friendly farmer engaged me in conversation for quarter of an hour on the way so I ran out of time.

When I got back, I had a quick tour of the garden to add another set of flowers to the record of the remarkable number that are still out this late in the year.

Some are a bit more part worn than others but they are all definitely out.

nicotianasedumviolasweey williamsunflowerphloxwhite daisiesweigelacosmosjapanese anemoneastrantiamichaelmas daisy

It was our day to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and we usually drive the 20 miles to Lockerbie and catch a Transpennine train from Manchester to Edinburgh which stops at Lockerbie. Luckily I looked at the Transpennine app and it told a sorry tale of trains being cancelled, and others only getting as far as Carlisle before stopping and, in the case of the one we would normally catch, not starting from Manchester at all but starting at Lancaster.

The reason given was shortage of drivers.  I suspect that this may be because drivers are being trained to use the new trains which are due to arrive on the route soon.  If this goes on, they may have new trains and well trained drivers but the passengers may have all got fed up and disappeared.

We didn’t risk waiting to check to see if our intended train had actually started from Lancaster but drove the 40 miles to Tweedbank instead and caught the train to Edinburgh from there.  (This turned out to be a good plan because the train from Lancaster didn’t start at all in the end.)

The drive up, in sunny conditions, was a treat in itself, with lots of delightful autumn colour along the way.  The traffic was light, the station car park provided a space and the train was on time so the whole journey was an unqualified success.

The journey back was not quite as good as the main road south was closed again for overnight repair work and we had to take a 45 mile less familiar route back home in the dark.  Still we got home safely, a bit later than planned, but cheerful enough.

We had had a very good visit.  Clare, Matilda’s mother, has been in hospital but is now at home and recovering well, and Alistair, Matilda’s father, cooked us another delicious meal.  Matilda herself had a very good time beating me at a game called Carcassone.  As she pointed out to anyone who would care to listen, she beat me three times.  I am going to have to make some improvements to my strategy if we play again.

The flying birds of the day are three starlings resting in the holly tree from their aerial exertions.

starlings

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