Posts Tagged ‘Tarras’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and makes the point that we are not the only ones with buddleias and butterflies.  The painted ladies did not stop at Langholm and have continued north.

ant's butterflies

As she went off to sing in the church choir this morning, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that when seen from an upstairs window, the front lawn looked good.  I checked.

front lawn diamonds

I like to mow in a different direction every time.

We had another lovely day today and the butterflies were about bright and early.

three butterfly panel

We had a walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from church and I liked the delicate colours of a hosta flower and the salvias.
hosta and salvia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new rose has settled in very well.  It is a pretty flower and the only thing wrong with it is its name, Rosy Cheeks.

rosy cheeks rose

Although I did not go to church, I did have a religious moment during the morning (religion – definition: a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion) when I mowed the middle lawn for the first time after giving it a dose of the fertiliser with alleged magic moss eating properties.  The fertiliser part certainly works well and I feel that the moss eating has worked too but we will see whether it has done lasting good when the winter comes.

middle lawn after buck up

I then edged the lawn to complete the effect.

We were having a cup of coffee after our walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal surprised me by asking if I felt like a ten mile cycle ride on hilly roads with some rough tracks to negotiate on the way.   This is not her usual choice of parcours.

There was a threat of a thunderstorm later in the afternoon but we had time to get round before it was due to arrive so I agreed, and we got our bikes out and set off, having fortified ourselves with a cheese toastie before we left.

It was warm and sunny and we went up the hill to the Moorland Feeders at the Laverock Hide in good order.  We didn’t stop at the hide, even though Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a woodpecker as we cycled past, but continued on along the narrow but well surfaced road that took us down to the bridge across Tarras water.

road to Tarras

There were things to see as we went along, including some of the first heather in flower, insects on ragwort and wild mint.

wildflowers broomholm road

Once we had crossed the bridge (which we did when we came to it), we cycled along the flat beside the river for a bit and I kept an eye out for a patch of horsetail which I knew grew somewhere beside the road.  When we got to it, it was hard to miss.

horsetail clumb

It was in very fine form.

horsetail detail

When we got to the end of the short flat, we had a steep hill to climb to get up to Cronksbank but we were rewarded with good views of the Tarras Valley…

view near Cronksbank

…and we could soon look down at the little farmhouse on the other side of the river.


Passing through Cronksbank and then Perterburn, we descended very carefully down a bumpy track to the Tarras Water.  This time there was no bridge for us to cross and Mrs Tootlepedal fearlessly led the way across the ford.

perterburn ford

Local readers may well realise that the picture above is slightly unsatisfactory as Mrs Tootlepedal is clearly cycling back towards Perterburn.  This is true and the picture is staged as I missed the first crossing and Mrs Tootlepedal kindly agreed to cycle back and re-enact the crossing.

The road up from the ford has some fine pine trees beside it.

pines at Middlemoss

The track from Middlemoss up to the tarmac road across the moor was in much better condition than we expected, and we were able to cycle most of the way up it.

Middlemoss road

It is steep in places though, and I was happy to stop to take a picture of bee hives, probably put out in anticipation of the heather flowering soon.

bee hives on moor

The heather is looking quite healthy at the moment but when we stopped to talk to a local naturalist and his wife who were walking on the hill road, he showed me a clump of heather that had been affected by the dreaded heather beetle…and he showed me the larva of the beetle which he shook from a dying plant.

heather beetle larva

It was interesting to see something about which I had read a lot but which I had never seen before.

It looked as though the forecast rain might be on its way, so we didn’t stay chatting for long but pedalled on towards the White Yett…

wall at white yett

…and the welcome sight of the road down the hill back home.

road down hill to langholm

In fact, the forecast rain didn’t arrive until later on in the day and our ride was a great pleasure.

We were not on mountain bikes (Mrs Tootlepedal was on her shopping bike and I was on my road bike) so progress on the bumpy tracks was slow and cautious and the narrow roads on the downhill sections called for a careful approach too, so we took some time to make the circuit but we were still pleased with our progress and thought that we had certainly earned our cup of tea when we got home.

Luckily we were able to watch the Ride London pro cycling event on the telly when we had had our cup of tea and that gave us a good excuse to do very little for the rest of the day.  They went a lot faster than we did.

A panorama of the Ewes Valley, taken from the White Yett is the metaphorical flying bird of the day.


ewes valley panorama

Click on the pic for a wider view if you want.


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Today’s guest picture is another sunny shot from my sister Mary.  She was walking along the Thames path when she met this wonderful view.

From the Thames Path at Canary Wharf

From the Thames Path at Canary Wharf

It was only just above freezing when we woke up this morning but the upside of a cold morning at this time of year, is the clear skies that go with it.

It took me a bit of time to get going after breakfast but a strong cup of Kenya coffee roused me and since Mrs Tootlepedal was taking advantage of the good weather to do some gardening,  I rang Sandy and we agreed to drive down to Rowanburn and walk along the old railway to take pictures of the Liddle viaduct.

This was an excellent plan insofar as it went but sadly it didn’t go very far.  We were still in the town when we remembered that the road south out of Langholm was closed for repairs.  Foiled, we turned and drove out of the town to the north before turning to drive up to the White Yett and down the other side of the hill into the Tarras valley.

We decided to drive up river and parked at a handy bridge, where we could take a forestry track up into the hills.

There are plenty of hills to go up in to.

Tarras hills

These ones were on the opposite side of the valley to our track.

If you want to plant commercial conifer forest plantations these days, you have to agree to plant some deciduous trees as well and this leads to sights like this…

deciduous tree planting

…which are probably not going to create quite the sort of native woodland that some people hoped for.

Our track climbed at a very steady and comfortable gradient for one and three quarter miles and we strolled along on high good humour, enjoying the sunshine and not missing the viaduct at all.

The views are very fine on a sunny day and constantly changing as you gain height.  We were able to get quite a different view when we looked back across the valley after we had climbed a bit…

tarras track view

…and other hills came in to view as well.

tarras track view

This is Arkelton Hill, at 521m, among the highest hills in our immediate neighbourhood.

tarras track view

We passed a rather tattered tree….

tarras track tree

…and this very peaceful pond…tarras track pond

….on our  1.75 mile, 100m climb from the Tarras water to the col between the Tarras and Ewes valleys.  The views down into the Ewes valley made the walk well worth while.

ewes valley from above Arkletonewes valley from above Arkleton

And we could look south west and see the wind farms on the hills beyond Langholm.

Craig windfarm

Although we kept our eye on the bigger picture during our walk, we didn’t entirely neglect the world of small things.

fungus on Tarras track

There were a lot of lichen covered boulders to be seen and we came across a curious white thing near the car.  I think it might be white jelly fungus.

lichen and fungus

The forestry track that we followed was in excellent condition and was a pleasure to stroll along so we felt that we had got brilliant value from a relatively short and undemanding walk.

As we came back down to the car, the sun got swept up in some light clouds and looking down the valley and over the Solway towards the Lake District…

Lake district

…it looked as though we had had the best of the day for our walk.

Sandy on Tarras Bridge

We are quite happy to visit the viaduct another day.  In fact we so enjoyed our walk that are thinking of asking Mrs Tootlepedal to drop us off at the bridge one day so that we can walk up the hill again and this time, continue over the hill into the Ewes valley and catch the bus home back down the main road.  A little snow on the hills might make it even more picturesque.

I had intended to go for a short cycle ride in the afternoon and I had that in mind when turning on the Scotland rugby match on the telly to record it while I was out……but then I made the fatal mistake of sitting down to watch the first few minutes of the game before getting changed into cycling gear and I was still in the armchair when it was time to think about cooking our tea three hours later.

Still it was a good walk.

In fact it was probably just as well that I didn’t add any cycling to the walk as I felt a bit poorly in the evening which accounts for my failure to do full justice to our walk either in photographs or words.  It’s an early bed for me tonight.

The flying bird of the day is three greenfinches.

three greenfinches

“What about the wild goat chase of the title?” you ask.  Well, we were hoping to see wild goats on out walk but the nearest we got to any was this little group, too far off to photograph properly.  This was the only disappointment of the day.

wild goats

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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…


…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.


Wauchope valley with bluebells


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…


…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…


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


…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.


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.


Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…


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…


…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.


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….


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


A sparrow got into the posing party.


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.


As we walked, we talked and looked around.

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


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.)


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.



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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.


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….


…and a lady pheasant….


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

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


…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.




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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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