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Posts Tagged ‘Tarras’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who was on one of his outings.  It shows the Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye.

Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye

We had a very pleasant day here today with lots of sunshine but with a wind just brisk enough to make me think of several reasons why going cycling might not be my best option.

It had rained overnight and the plants in the garden were holding on to some of the raindrops.

willow and pulsatilla

Willow and pulsatilla unwilling to let go

There was plenty of buzzing to be heard in the garden…

bees

…and plenty of new flowers for the bees to visit.

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a short trip on our bikes up the Wauchope road might be worth while and so we went off to see the bluebells that I had noticed on my bike ride yesterday.  We left our bikes by the side of the road and walked up the hill.  The view down the valley without the bluebells was very good….

Wauchope valley

…but it was even better with bluebells.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

And there was no shortage of bluebells on the hill side for us to enjoy.

Up…

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…down….

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…and along.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

I could have filled a whole post with bluebells.

There weren’t a lot of other flowers among the bluebells but there were some of these tiny yellow flowers.

yellow wild flowers

As we cycled home, I stopped for a look at some fresh hawthorn blossom…

hawthorn

…and an orange tip butterfly which kindly rested for a moment or two on a bluebell beside the road.

orange tip butterfly

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, chatted to blackbirds…

blackbirds

…who were keen to share the lawn with me, enjoyed a whole hearted tulip…

tulip

…and then went off on an outing with Sandy.

We drove up past the bluebells but the sunlight was in quite the wrong place so we drove back through the town and went to visit the Moorland Project bird hide.  When we arrived, we found that others had beaten us to it so we left the car there and walked down the road…

Rashiel road

…to the banks of the Tarras Water.

Tarras water

We crossed the bridge and walked along the bank of the river for a few hundred yards and stopped to be amazed by a forest of horsetails which Sandy spotted…

horsetails

…growing in a very soggy patch beside the river.

I will have to come back and look at these again as they are interesting plants.

One of them had a friend.

horsetail

We walked back up the hill to the hide and found yet again that someone else had got in before us but this time we went in too and shared the viewing windows.

There was a lot of woodpecker activity and for the first time ever, I saw a woodpecker on the ground pecking away at the grass.  Of course there were plenty of pheasants doing that too.

pheasant and woodpecker

There wasn’t a great deal of other activity so we made for home and had a cup of tea and a couple of mini Jaffa cakes with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sandy went off and I mowed the middle lawn and had a look round the garden.

Alliums

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…

sparrows

One even sat on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bicycle handlebars

…but because the feeders are not up, it was hard to be sharp enough to catch them in the act.

I had a last look round…

Garden

…and went in to practice a few songs and look at the many, many pictures which I had taken on my outings and in the garden.  It is very hard not to take too many pictures in spring time.

I noticed that I had seen quite a lot of unfurling ferns here and there during the day…

unfurling ferns

…so I put some together.

I was feeling pretty tired by now and I let the chance of an evening bike ride slip through my fingers and settled for eating spaghetti with tomato sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and having a little snooze.

It is not a good picture but I feel that a flying bee of the day is the way to end this post.  It was a flying bee sort of day.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who is currently enjoying the bracing sea side at Scarborough.

Scarborough

We had quite a bright and pleasant morning, very calm and a few degrees above freezing, which was made better by the discovery that the water had now cleared and was I free to drink and cook from the tap.  After a late breakfast, I took a moment to see if there were any birds about.

Not many.

coal tit and goldfinch

A coal tit looking to see where all the birds have gone

There were a few cheerful moments….

robin

…as a pair of robins alternately posed and chased each other about.

robin

A sparrow got into the posing party.

sparrow

But in general the birds were notable by their absence.  We have building works going on over the fence so perhaps that is one reason why the birds are staying away.  We shall see when the works are finished.

I went out into the garden and was surprised to find this little flower on show.

white flower

I am open to suggestions, in the absence of the gardener, as to what it might be.

I couldn’t dally long though, as I was due to man the Welcome to Langholm centre in the Market Place.  Fortified with some biscuits and a marmalade sandwich, the time was spent usefully by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group index on my laptop.  I did put out a little information too.

On my way home, I spotted two dippers side by side near the church bridge but I had the wrong camera with me so they got away unrecorded.

By the time that I got home, the light had faded slightly but rather than go for a hurried cycle ride before the light faded entirely, I gave Sandy a ring to see if he would like a walk.

Fortunately for me, he was in walking mood and drove me up to the Moorland feeders where we paused for a while in the hide….

moorland feeder birds

There was plenty to see

..before strolling along the road from the hide….

Rashiel road

…down to the Tarras Water.

Tarras

As we walked, we talked and looked around.

On the far side of the river, forestry work was evident…

Forestry

I don’t know whether the whole forest is going to be cleared or just this section

The valley has got very brown.

Tarras valley

We walked as far as Rashiel bur turned rather than disturb these sheep any more.

sheep at rashiel

There were naked trees to enjoy…

tree at rashiel

…and a lot of lichen to like (if you like lichen which I do.)

Lichen

We had to work a little harder to walk up the hill on the way back to the car but by dint of taking it steadily and distracting ourselves with conversation, we seemed to get there without trouble and were soon at home enjoying tea and biscuits.

No sooner had Sandy left, than Mike Tinker arrived so I had to have a second cup of tea and an extra helping of biscuits.  Life is very hard sometimes.

My flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and demonstrated some good sight reading skills and after tea, I went off to play with Mike and Isabel, where I should have taken some of the sound advice for myself that I am so ready to give out to Luke.

All three of us were a bit tired but we worked hard and had a good play.

The flower of the day is the winter jasmine, still looking good by the back door…

winter jasmine

…and I just got a flying bird of the day….by a millimetre or two.

chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows my neighbour Riley.  He took his friend Liz out for a walk in the snow last weekend.  He takes the job of looking after her seriously.

Riley

There was hardly any sign of any snow left today as the weather got back to being warmer, windier….

Wauchope in flood

….and wetter.

It had rained all night and it was still raining in the morning so I was happy to plug away at a tricky crossword and do a short stint cycling on the bike to nowhere in the garage.  I am trying to get a little exercise in each day without annoying my wheezy chest and setting the cough off again.

We also had a coffee and cheery conversation with our neighbour Liz, who had popped in with a nifty device for unblocking drains.  We might have needed this if Mrs Tootlepedal had not already unblocked our kitchen sink drain without it.  She is a woman of many skills.

The forecast said that the rain would ease off towards lunchtime so I looked out of the window.

chaffinch pair in plum tree

A matching pair of chaffinches

siskin and goldfinch

A siskin and goldfinch made a change from endless chaffinches…

chaffinch on feeder

…not all of whom hit the perch with absolute precision.

The forecast said that when the rain had gone after lunch, the sun would come out and it was right again so Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up to the Moorland Feeders where we lingered for a moment to see if we could see anything interesting.

Mrs Tootlepedal sat in the car and scanned the skies vainly for any signs of raptors while I sat in the hide and hoped for a woodpecker or two.

I saw a gentleman pheasant….

pheasant

…and a lady pheasant….

pheasant

…both looking pretty pleased to have dodged the shooting parties.

I saw lots of great, blue and coal tits on distant feeders….

tits

…and even a chaffinch….

Moorland chaffinch

…but no woodpeckers…

…so I gave up and we went for a walk down the hill to the Tarras.

Rashiel road

It was breezy but warm and gloriously sunny and it was a real pleasure to be out and about.  Our walk was accompanied by the sound of perpetually chattering streams as the morning’s rain poured off the hill and down to the river below.

stream

stream

stream

We left the road for a moment to stroll down through a wood…

Tarras wood

…but soon went back to the drier road and eventually came to the river bank.  All those little burns had certainly swollen the Tarras and it was racing by.

Tarras

It was a rare pleasure to be able to look up through the trees at a blue sky above.

alder

We dallied for a while at the bridge across the river but as we had bread cooking at home, we couldn’t stay too long and we made our way back up the hill to the car and drove away.

The fine weather not only cheered us up on our walk but made the afternoon much brighter than it has been of late and we had a walk round the garden when we got back and looked at a lot of promising snowdrops which should be out soon.

There was even a hint of a sunset later on.

sunset

It was a day to be thankful that the first month since the winter solstice is now behind us and we are on the road towards spring at last.

In the evening, Mike and Alison were out at a grand Burns Supper at the Buccleuch Centre so there was no Friday night music for me and I spent a little time trying to learn some choir songs instead.

While she has been recovering from her cough, Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy practising some embroidery ideas and techniques.  Here is a section of her latest sampler.  The bird is a hen harrier.

hen harrier embroidery

I see by the forecast that our spell of warm, wet and windy weather is set to continue for a few days while on the other side of the Atlantic severe snow is in the offing.  I will make sure not to complain about our weather under these circumstances.

A morning chaffinch in the garden is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinc

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Today’s guest picture is the last in the series of my sister Mary’s London park shots.  (I am now out of guest pictures and would welcome contributions from kind readers.)

Queen Mary's garden, Regent's ParkIt was another still and misty day when I got up but there was no chance of an early pedal as I had to take the pictures that had been brought in to our camera club meeting last night up to the Information Hub to add them to our exhibition.

I took a moment to nip round the garden in a bit of sunshine to make a note of some of the unusual amount of November colour…

garden flowers in November…before taking the pictures up to the High Street.

There were quite a few to hang but luckily, Sandy popped in after an early walk and gave me a hand so the task was soon completed.  The Hub is not a large room but it has been neatly painted and has good lights so it was ideal for our small display.

Camera club exhibition

Some of the exhibition with Lorraine, today’s curator, centre stage.

Sandy walked home with me with a view to having a cup of coffee and as we crossed the suspension bridge, the combination of sunshine and mist suggested that a photographic outing might be worthwhile.

Langholm Bridge in mistMrs Tootlepedal was up for an outing too so after coffee, we drove up to the White Yett and, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to explore the lower slopes with her binoculars, Sandy and I walked up the track towards the monument with our cameras.

The layers of mist were rather erratic and there a question as to whether the walk would prove to be a good idea but we soon emerged out of the mist and into a glorious day.

Whita mist

Mrs Tootlepedal was down there somewhere

When we started, we could see under and over the mist…

Mist in Ewes valley…but by the time that we got to the monument, the valley below had been filled to the brim.

Esk Valley in mistAnd to the south, England was hidden under a white blanket.

Cloud from WhitaWe had a good look round and could see both the Tarras valley….

Tarras valley in mist…and the Ewes valley full of mist.

ewes valley in mistThe mist ebbed and flowed and sometimes trickled over the col between the two valleys.

Whita mistWe weren’t alone on the hill…

sheep…and we were pleased to put up a covey or two of grouse as we walked.

grouseIt was pleasantly warm on the summit of Whita, especially for a November day but we thought we better go back down to find Mrs Tootlepedal.  As we went down the hill, the mist gathered…

mist on Whita…and by the time that we got near the road, it was all over us.

Mist on whitaMrs Tootlepedal had alerted us to the possibility of a ‘mist bow’ or ‘fog bow’ and we could see one faintly when the mist thinned as we got to the road.

fog bow on whitaThey are colourless rainbows caused by the sun hitting the very fine droplets in the mist.  I have seen one before but it was still a pleasure to see this one.  They are rather unearthly.

Mrs Tootlepedal was in cheerful mood having had a mixture of mist and sunshine for her walks along the road.  She had spotted a good collection of fungus along the roadside so we went to look.

whita fungusWith a final look at the McDiarmid Memorial in the gathering gloom….

McDiarmid Memorial in mist…we set off back down the hill to the town.  It seemed grey and dreary down there after the brilliance of the views from the hill.

In fact that was the last we saw of any sunshine for the rest of the day.  Although I did get out for a short bike ride after lunch, I didn’t go far as Dropscone, who had been to Dumfries, had rung up to warn me of thick fog on Callister and even when I stuck close to home, it soon got too gloomy for safety.

It had even got too chilly and dark for Mrs Tootlepedal to continue gardening.

I didn’t go to Carlisle for recorder playing in the evening as Susan was away on holiday and one of our other members was absent too.  This was not a bad thing, as I had far too many pictures to look through after such a good walk.

One of my favourites was this panorama from the top of Whita taken with my phone showing the mist in the two valleys.

panorama

Click on the picture for an enlarged view

In the midst of all the excitement, I managed to catch a goldfinch in flight.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is a fine mossy roof spotted by my daughter on her recent jaunt to Hampshire.

Mossy roofThe forecasters had promised us a sunny day but there was little chance of a suntan and a reasonable chance of getting wet  in the morning.  I timed my visit to our corner shop with such precision that I caught one of the showers.

Still, I put some of the time spent indoors to good use by using the bike to nowhere in the garage.  I am not working very hard on it but I did increase the time spent pedalling and even going gently, my legs knew that they had been in action after quarter of an hour.  I think it is going to be harder than I thought it would be when I get out on the roads again.

There was a steady supply of small birds at the feeder and I was pleased to see two or possibly three redpolls.

redpolls

Having varying success at dealing with big seeds.

One got quite fierce and tried to cow another.  I take it that they are both young males!

redpollsA pigeon turned up to lend a hand with clearing up the fallen seeds.

pigeonAs well as staring out of the window, Mrs Tootlepedal and I continued the work of clearing all the stuff out of our front room.  We took the opportunity to throw a lot of ancient possessions out as we did so.  This is always a wrench but the chances of us ever watching Grease on video again are very limited so we didn’t cry too much.

After lunch, the weather looked a bit more promising so I drove up to the moorland feeders to see how the hide was coming along.

Moorland hideThe team have obviously been working very hard.

I stepped inside and took a view through the window and found a blue tit near at hand.

Moorland hideNear the hide, the team have created the Ritz of bug hotels.

bug hotelI can understand why there are no tits in our garden as they all seem to be up at the moorland feeders.  Even when I strolled down the centre of the glade, they were not put off.

great tit and blue tits

A great tit and two blue tits

The weather seemed not too bad with high clouds in one direction….

clouds at Broomholmshiels…and blue sky in the other…

Tinnis…so I decided to give my knee a little hill work and set off down the road to the banks of the Tarras water.  The first part of the trip was through open country and even in winter, there was colour to be seen in the trees.

Tarras treesI soon came to birch woods and the road took a turn downwards.

Tarras roadIt was quite steep going down but a lot steeper coming back up again.  The birch woods were a delight with lichens to be seen on every tree.

lichens

Sometimes to excess

On the other side of the river, commercial conifer planting sweeps inexorably down the hill.

Tarras treesI reached the flat beside the Tarras Water and stopped a while to enjoy the rippling sound of the river…

Tarras water…and to have a little rest before tackling the uphill section back to the car.

I had to stop to take a picture or two as I went up the hill as I was anxious not to overdo things.  A lichen on a slender tree trunk made me think of my knee for some reason.

lichenAnd I stepped into the wood to snap a mossy clearing with a mysterious boulder.

boulderI managed to go slowly enough to get back to the car without difficulty and was very pleased with how well my knee went.

Later in the day though, my muscles in both legs felt as though I had walked miles rather than a few hundred yards.

When I got back, we had another go at the front room and made very good progress.  My back had been much better ever since I got up and I was a bit worried about annoying it but the worst seems to be past and a little light lifting hasn’t done it any harm that I can feel yet.

I have been able to cut down my painkillers to a few paracetamol a day which is a great relief and if things go as they are, I should soon be able to do without them too.    If I could just get a good night’s sleep, I would be a happy man.  But then I wouldn’t have anything to complain about so I would be sad.

In the evening, Sandy took me across to Newcastleton where we attended a Liddesdale Camera Club meeting.  The visiting adjudicator was commenting on our entries in the “Colour” competition.  He was very complimentary about all the entries and I think that the prints in particular were of a good standard.  In view of that, I was not too unhappy to fail to catch his eye when the prizes were dished out and correspondingly, Sandy was very pleased to get a well deserved second and a third.

The flying bird of the day is a very vocal chaffinch.

chaffinch

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Boxing clever

Today’s guest pictures come from my elder sisters’ Christmas visit to my younger brother.  As you can see, like all old people today, they are obsessed with technology and traditional games like charades have flown out of the window.

Christmas with AndrewAfter yesterday’s glut of eating and walking, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took things more easily today and settled for light meals and a single walk.  I didn’t do much looking out of the window either because it was really a day for perching birds only.

chaffinchAs it was so gloomy in the town, we drove up onto the moor after our cup of coffee.  Looking back, you could see why it had been so glum.

Langholm in the mistLooking north, each little valley had it own portion of mist.

Ewes in mistWe continued on over the ridge and down into the Tarras Valley where we parked and embarked on a short walk.  There was no wind at all in the shelter of the hills and it was very pleasant to walk along the Tarras, listening to the music it makes as it tumbles over countless little rapids.

TarrasTarrasThe road leaves the river bank for a while….

Tarras road…and we could look back down at the river….

Tarras…and ahead at one of my favourite places.

House at TarrasIt’s a bit bleak in the winter but a little paradise on a sunny day in summer.

On the hillside behind the house there is a network of walls which must have been for collecting and sorting sheep.

wallsWhen we reached the top of the hill, we turned and walked back to the car.  I admired the abundant lichen on the wall at the car park…

lichen…and was bowled over by this lone tree beside the road in the middle of nowhere on our way home.

TreeWho says that grouse don’t have a sense of humour?

Our walk was brilliantly timed because it started to drizzle as we passed the Christmas tree and it was raining hard by the time we got home.

Some cold cuts and a very superior version of bubble and squeak made for an excellent lunch and once again we reflected that one of the joys of a good Christmas dinner is the number of tasty meals it provides (with a little imagination) over the subsequent few days.

Then we settled down for some serious relaxation for the rest of the day.   Mrs Tootlepedal has got stuck into some new stumpwork embroidery techniques so that kept her happy and I need no excuse for idling so I was happy too.

We are promised several days of sub or near zero temperatures so walking may not be the simple proposition that it should be for me.  If it does get really cold, I am hoping that my knee will bend enough to allow me to get on the exercise bike, at least for a few minutes at a time.  Fingers crossed.

I managed to catch a single flying chaffinch in the morning mistiness.

flying chaffinch.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent trip to Spain.  Santillana Del Mar is a Spanish village 20 kilometres from the Bay of Biscay, which has scarcely changed from Medieval times.

Santillana Del Mar

After the thunderstorm overnight, today was sunny and much brighter as the haze had been swept away by the rain.  It would have been good to have had this bright weather for our trip yesterday but we made the best of it today.

Dropscone was busy and the wind was very brisk so I took the opportunity to give my legs a rest.  After a leisurely breakfast, I went up to the town to do some business.  This would have been more useful if the shop that I was going to visit had been open and the person whom I wanted to see had been in.

I spent a lot of time walking round the garden at various times during the day.

Euphorbias

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different varieties of Euphorbia in different places.

astrantia and aquilegia

I like this colour combination, probably a happy accident.

Dicentra, lilac and anemone

Dicentra, lilac and anemone all enjoying the sun

The back path

The back path, a riot of growth.

Walnut tree

The leaves are just coming out on the walnut, one of the last trees to come into leaf.

We are too far north to get a crop of walnuts but there is at least one flower  this year as you can see.

The number of visitors to the feeder has gone down sharply and if this continues, I may even stop putting food out this year though I generally feed right through the summer.  Looking out of the kitchen window is less of a full time occupation as a result but I still take the occasional peek.

two sparrows

Two sparrows

redpoll and goldfinch

Redpoll and goldfinch

I am still in the process of turning the compost heap into a new bin, doing a couple of wheelbarrow loads at a time to try to preserve my joints.  We have a small shredder which works very well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I try to shred as much of the garden waste as we can with the result that the compost rots down very quickly and takes up less space than a conventional three year system.  Mind you, we still have ten compost bins  dotted about the vegetable garden.

After lunch, we went out to make good use of the sunshine.  We started with a visit to the Langholm Moor and we were lucky to see a hen harrier fly past.  It was too far away for the camera but well in range of my new binoculars.  The were several other people out with binoculars in hand as well as us.  As an added bonus we were serenaded by larks as we sat and watched.  We moved on in search of wild goats and soon saw some not far from the road.

Wild goats

They were near some of the peat banks which locals still use to cut fuel for their fires.

peat bank

The peats are laid out to be dried after cutting.

The banks are cut and the top layer is replaced behind the cutting so that the trench advances across the moor by a metre or so each year, leaving a reinstated surface behind it.

Two peat cutters arrived while I was watching the goats and set to work.

peat cutters

After drying flat, the peats are tipped up into little pyramids to dry further.  Peat cutting is very hard work and my back is still suffering from my efforts cutting peat nearly forty years ago.

I took two pictures of the Tarras valley before we headed back to Langholm.  The hills are just beginning to ‘green up’ after the winter months.

Tarras

Looking up the Tarras valley

Tarras wood

Looking across the river.

When we got back to Langholm, we went in search of a nuthatch.  We didn’t have to look hard because there was a nuthatch hanging at the entrance to the nest when we arrived. There was no shortage of photo opportunities in the next few minutes.

nuthatches

We didn’t stay too long as the garden was calling to Mrs Tootlepedal and walked back across the Castleholm to the car, enjoying the beautiful day as we went.

Timpen Hill

Castleholm trees

Lodge walks

The Lodge Walks

We had to watch ourselves as we crossed the race track as a sheep race was in progress.

sheep on race track

Mrs Tootlepedal kindly allowed me time to stop at the Kilngreen on the way back to the garden.  We enjoyed an ice cream from the Pelosi’s van there and I strolled along the waterside.

The heron was posing for the camera beside the car park….

Heron

… but obligingly flew off to a more photogenic spot after a while.

heron

Beside the Ewes, a little wagtail was leaping up into the air to catch insects.  I managed to get a quick shot of it before it shot off to feed its young.

wagtail

Once back in the garden, we turned our attention to mending the main compost bin which was made out of the old surrounds for small raised beds and like its owners, is showing the ravages of time.   With a bit of skilled bashing of three inch nails, it should now last for another few years.

I shifted another two barrowfuls of compost and then  retired indoors for a cup of tea and a snooze while the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal  worked away outside.

I am getting trigger happy on the camera these days and had to throw away a lot of pictures but even so I have put more than my daily ration into this post for which I apologise.

In the evening we went to our Langholm Sings choir practice and had to put up with an AGM for half the practice.  AGM are necessary evils but they aren’t half as much fun as singing.  Ominously, we were bitten by midges as we came out.   If there is one drawback to life in Langholm it is the midges.  Last year was very midge free after the severe winter.  This year’s mild and wet winter may make for a very midgy summer.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, snatching a seed and making off at speed.

blue tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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