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Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who was spotted by a deer on one of his walks.

ant's deer

It was another grey day today but although it promised to rain for quite a lot of the day, we got nothing worse than a few spots every now and again.

I went off to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and was very disappointed to find that neither the  fishmonger nor the cheesemonger were present.  I made do with some stewing steak and honey and made my way home again.

As it wasn’t raining, I mowed the front and middle lawns and was pleased to find a fair amount of grass growing on both.  Then, following up a suggestion from the gardener, I went into the greenhouse to check on the argyranthemum.  It was a surprise to me to find that it has such a cheerful flower.

argyranthemum

I look forward to seeing it out in the garden in due course.

Things were generally looking quite cheerful in the garden in spite of the cloudy weather and the two and half inches of rain which we have had this week.

six flowers

I went out to look at the hedge along the road and found that it need trimming.  While I was there,  I looked back into the garden and saw the view which the passer by gets.

garden from road

I looked at some of the paler flowers…

four yellow and white flowers

…and went indoors to look at the birds and have lunch.

A pigeon was taking time out on a garden seat…

pigeon ion chair

…while the sparrows rushed busily about.

two sparrows incoming

After lunch, we went to a recital by our church organist Henry, seen here consulting with his page turner.

henry at the organ

He played the recital which he used for his degree examination recently.  Mrs Tootlepedal had heard him play it in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh last month but it was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The recital is part of a series held to raise money for the restoration of the church organ.  I hope that they succeed in raising the substantial funds required as the organ is a delight to listen to, very clear and mellow in tone so that the audience doesn’t get the battering that some of the bigger cathedral organs administer.

We enjoyed a cup of tea and some dainty cakes after the performance and then we went home.

Once home, I spent some useful time practising the songs for our Carlisle Choir concert which is coming up next week and then I checked the weather forecast as I was thinking about a cycle ride.  Unfortunately the forecast was very gloomy, promising heavy rain shortly so I gave up the idea of pedalling and sieved some compost instead and had another walk round the garden.

A rhododendron which has been threatening to flower for some weeks, has finally got its act together.  It was worth the wait.

late flowering rhododendron

And on every side, hostas are growing.

four hostas june

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t  rain so I decided to put a brolly in my pocket and go for a walk until it started.

The recent rain has put a little water into the rivers but they are still pretty low as this view of the Kirk Brig shows.

daisies beside Wauchope

Beside the Esk, I spotted a pair of ducks.  The male was looking very calm while the female was making a big splash.

drake and duck

I crossed the river and walked along the Kilngreen under the supervision of a black headed gull.

black headed gull on post

The clouds were well down on the hills round the town…

cloud on Timpen

…but on the Castleholm, a cricket match was in full swing.

cricket in prgress

I didn’t stop to watch the game and turned to admire an ornamental horse chestnut tree instead.

red chestnut

I continued round the new path and enjoyed the new growth all around me, both looking up..

cones and wildflowers castleholm

…and down.

It was gloomy in the corner by the two noble fir trees and female and male fruits had an air of mystery about them.

noble firs castleholm

There were flowers beside the path including a lot of crosswort…

wild flowers castleholm

…and an unknown (to me) yellow flower and a superb hawthorn.

As I walked over the Jubilee Bridge and round the Scholars’ Field, the trees were full of interest…

tree fruits castleholm

…and there was lots to see at ground level too.

four wild flowers scholars

When I got home, I was amazed at how many pictures I had taken on such an unpromising day.  I have bunged a lot of them into the panels in spite of the poor quality of many of them just to show what I saw.

I was also rather annoyed to find that as time went on, there was no hint whatsoever of any of the forecast rain and much as I had enjoyed my walk, I could easily have gone for a decent cycle ride which would have done me more good.

Still, the lawns are cut, the compost buckets are full and I saw a lot of interesting things on my walk so I should regard it as a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life even it didn’t have a pedal in it.

The poor light made getting a good flying bird picture tricky so I have put in a gender balanced pair of sparrows today.

twi flying sparrows

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison.  They are on holiday on the shore of Loch Feochan in Argyll and this is the view from their front window.  They have chosen a good week for their trip.

Loch Feochan

We had a day of perfect weather here too, although there was still some winter chill left in the breeze.  The recent spell of dry weather means that pollen has been very heavy recently and our shiny new car often ends the day covered in a fine film of powder. This doesn’t help my asthma and although it doesn’t leave me gasping in the gutter it may explain why I found myself trying to sing a different hymn from everyone else at one stage during the morning’s church service.  Still, I managed to get home safely after the service and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

Looking out of the kitchen window while I cooked, I watched our siskins monopolising the feeder again.

siskins

…or rather , nearly monopolising it, as the occasional sparrow did sneak in.

sparrow on feeder

I noticed something quite unusual going on beneath the feeder.  A greenfinch was diving in and out of a mini jungle of old daffodil leaves and guddling about furiously.  I don’t know what it was looking for at all.

greenfinch among daffodil leaves

When the stew was on, I had a short walk round the garden.  Pulsatilla Corner was looking quite exciting.

pulsatilla seehead

…and I spent quite a lot of time waiting for a male orange tip butterfly to settle down for long enough to let me take a picture.  It was too restless for me though and I had to make do with a female who did hang around for a few seconds.  Although the females don’t have orange tips to their wings, they are beautifully decorated all the same.

orange tip butterfly female

It was such a pleasant morning that I thought that I would try a little more gentle cycling therapy to stretch my sore ankle and took the slow bike out for a seven mile potter up and down the Wauchope road.

In spite of the efforts of the council to mow down every wild flower in sight, there are some about.

wild flowers up wauchope

And there were any amount of male orange tip butterflies too.  I kept on stopping to try to snap one but they kept on going and once again, I had to make do with more stable female specimens. As they were flying alongside male orange tip butterflies, I naturally assumed that they were females orange tips but when I looked at the shots on the computer, it became plain they they are green-veined white butterflies.

green veined white

This may explain why the male orange tip wasn’t hanging around.

To add insult to injury, a male orange tip actually came right up to my bicycle when I stopped at Wauchope Schoolhouse to take a picture of the locals there…

two bulls at schoolhouse

…and it actually sniffed at my front fork before heading off seconds before I could get my camera to focus on it.  I’ll get one, one of these days.

The trip back to Langholm was very enjoyable with the wind behind and the sun on my back.  I went down to the river before I went home and was happy to see an oyster catcher on the gravel beside the Esk.

oyster catcher by esk

I got back in time to have a plate of soup for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has been doing some heavy spring cleaning over the past two days.  Spring has a lot to answer for.

After lunch we had the pleasure of gliding down to Carlisle in the the zingy little white thingy and in the sunshine, life felt very good.

Our choir practice was good fun.  Our conductor is always cheerful and full of zest but the fine weather had topped up her energy levels to “extra high” and she was on sparkling form and drove us onwards and upwards.  Two of our more senior choir members got married this week and in celebration, they came out to the front and the choir serenaded them with the appropriately entitled “O Love”.  They were much touched.  We were moved too.

The journey home was as enjoyable as the trip down.  For some reason, the air, which has tended to be rather hazy in recent weeks, magically cleared up today and the views were every fine.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back and found flowers old and new enjoying the day.

four eveining light flowers

This is the  first allium to make it to a perfect sphere.

allium sphere

When we had finished disposing of some of the stew with parsnips for our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to spring cleaning and I went for a three bridges ‘walk’ on my slow bicycle to enjoy the evening light.

It certainly was enjoyable.

from Town Bridge evening light

And because the wind had dropped, it was still quite warm.

reflections in Ewes

I met a bunch of cyclists on the Kilngreen.  They were packing their bikes back into cars after a group outing.  They had just completed a hilly 102 mile ride round St Mary’s Loch.  I felt envious but a bit guilty too because we had done pretty well the same trip with Sandy not long ago but had needed a car to get round.

I pedalled gently on and was submerged in a sea of green

trees in spring

It was balm to the soul and banished any negative thoughts from my mind.

trees on Castleholm

I cycled back along the new path and enjoyed the variety of shapes and colours among the pine and fir trees that I passed.

An elaborate candelabra on a pine…

pine candelabra

…and the incipient cones…

noble fir female

…and packed male flowers on the noble firs.

noble fir male

And the best thing of all about the day was the fact that the gentle cycling seems to have eased off my sore ankle a lot.  It is now only mildly painful and quite supple.  If this remains true tomorrow morning, I will be very happy indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, getting ready to kick a friend off the feeder.

flying siskin in attack mode

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine display of wisteria spotted by my sister Susan on her way to catch a bus.

london wisteria

We had a frosty morning here, followed by a fine but chilly day with a brisk  and biting north wind.  If you were out of the wind, everything in the garden was lovely and if you weren’t, you got out of it as soon as you could.

I started the day with some shopping at our producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where the essentials of life such as honey, cheese, haggis and fish were popped into my Canadian (courtesy of Mary Jo of Manitoba) shopping bag.  Then after another excursion to top up supplies from our corner shop, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to visit our friends Mike and Alison.  Their daughter Liz had arrived with her chainsaw to help Mike cut down the cherry tree at the front gate which had grown too big for its situation and which is due to replaced by a rowan.  They were making a good job of it but kindly broke off for long enough for Alison to offer us coffee and ginger biscuits (and a potted plant to take home with us)..

Later in the day, three bags of shreddings and sawdust arrived in our garden for which we will find very good uses.

When we got back, I took a walk round the garden in the sunshine.  A bee which should have been busy on the apple blossom was wasting its time on a dicentra, a new ranunculus, one of batch purchased at a very advantageous price by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking sublime and one of the last of the tulips was trying to open wide.

dicentra, ranunculus tulip

It has been an odd year, and I noticed when I looked back at a blog of a year ago, that we still had lots of daffodils out and the tulips were at the peak on this day then.

Now almost all the daffodils are gone and most of the tulips too.  We are in a pause, waiting for azaleas and alliums to appear.  I saw a very fine spider’s web, the sole rhododendron flower that is fully out, a hosta that is developing well and some mustard grown for green manure whihc is coming up in the vegetable garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal is very keen on mustard.

hosta mustard web and rhodie

In the absence of much bright colour, the greens are doing their best to keep me entertained.

fern and euphorbia

A pair of blackbirds appeared on the front lawn…

blackbird pair on lawn

…and a pond skater stopped skating for long enough for me to take its picture.

pond skater

Although my feet are still not co-operating properly, I felt it was too cold and windy for a pleasant cycle ride so I went for a walk after lunch.

There was plenty to take my mind off my feet as I went along.  Daisies and cherry blossom lined my walk along the bank of the Esk between the bridges.

daisies and cherries beside esk

And a pair of oyster catchers looked as though they might be setting up home on the gravel bank above the town bridge.

oyster catchers on gravel

In spite of the chilly wind, a cricket match on the Castleholm pitch reminded me that it is May and the season has well and truly got under way.

langholm cricket club

Sound defence with a straight bat was the order of the day.

LCC match

I walked on up the Lodge Walks with any amount of flowers to keep me company.

lodge walk wild flowers

I had met my friend Nancy as I was crossing the Langhom Bridge and she told me that she was going to check out the bluebells in the woods above the Lodge Walks because she is leading a visiting group of walkers on a bluebell hunt next week.  Taking the hint, I walked up a path through the wood.  She will have plenty of bluebells to show the visitors.

bluebells in lodge walk wood

It has been a good spring for bluebells.

bluebells above holmhead

As I went along the path at the top of the wood, I could see more bluebells mixed in with other wild flowers.

six lodge walk wild flowers

I came back down to the waterside and walked back along the bank of the Esk.  The paths are at their best.

two castleholm paths

Looking across the field, I saw the sun pick out a small tree surrounded by larger specimens.  I liked the way that grazing cattle have kept the bottom of the tree looking so neatly trimmed…

castlholm tree

…and looking around, I saw that it was not the only one.

cattle cropped trees

I came back to the cricket ground to find the game still going on and watched a fielder at long leg doing what cricketers do a lot of, standing around.  He had found a good spot for standing around though, surrounded by fine trees and with the ruins of Langholm castle in the background.  He had plenty to look at if the game got boring.

outfileder and castle

A dandelion clock told me that time was getting on so I headed for home…

dandelion clock

…passing my favourite sight of the whole walk.  It was almost as though nature had taken up flower arranging.

saplings scholars

The wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field has a good crop of flowers growing out of cracks and crevices.  I saw ivy leaved toadflax, wild strawberries and corydalis.

wall flowers

I was ready for a cup of tea when I got home and then we got into our new little car and went off to collect some more wood chips.  On our return, we put the wood chips onto one of the paths in the remodelled part of the vegetable garden…

chipped paths

…and parked the little white thingy.  It hadn’t gone far enough to need charging.

renault

We had fish for our tea and I made some chips (potato not wood) to go with my helping. We finished the meal with the last of the lonely sticky toffee pudding.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin flaps down

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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, a keen fisherman.  Knowing that we have not got much water in our rivers at the moment, he sent me this view of the Einag Falls. They are on a tributary of the river Oykel in the Highlands where he was fishing three weeks ago.  He adds that he caught  two fish.

Einag Falls

After some showery days, the weather gods knew that we had a two choir day today so they arranged for a fine day with no rain.  How we laughed.

The flowers in the garden are having a difficult time with the changeable weather so some are starting to come out and then sticking and others are coming out a bit early and then going over more quickly than usual.

tulip and trout lily

The trout lilies are on the way out and I have dead headed tulips which should  only just be by now.

Still, there are plenty of promising buds just waiting for warmer and steadier weather.

clematis bud

And the trees have gone green in a rush.

My feet are still annoying me so after church, I went out for a cycle ride round my short three bridges walk as fortunately cycling is pain free.

Almost every tree beside the river is in leaf now…

river esk from suspension brig late april

…and the Lodge Walks are looking beautiful.

lodge walks late april

The Castleholm is surrounded by varied greens…

trees green castleholm

…and there is even a tinge starting to show on the hills behind.

trees and timoen

Spring is in full fling.

green growth castleholm

As I crossed the Jubilee Bridge, I could just see the Duchess Bridge behind the new foliage.

duchess bridge among leaves

When I got home, I inspected the Charles Ross apple on the fence…

Charles ross apple blossom

..and was very pleased to find a solitary bee hard at work,

bee on apple blossom

The Ballerina tulips are lasting well…

ballerina tulip standing

…and we are still waiting for others to open.

leaning tulip

We combined the trip to our Carlisle Choir with some shopping which included cheese, coffee and dates.  As the choir practice was enjoyable as well as hard working, this made for a good way to spend time even if it was indoors on a fine day.

The forecast is offering us a couple of warmer, dry days to come so we have forgiven the weather gods for their little joke.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds and for some reason, there weren’t many birds to watch anyway after some very busy days at the feeder.

This didn’t stop a siskin and a goldfinch going beak to beak….

siskin goldfinch eyeball

…but the flying bird of the day turns out to be a small white butterfly instead.

white butterfly

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who is back from Wales.  She found herself looking across the Thames and reflecting on how enormous the new buildings in London are when compared to the Tower of London which can be seen cowering on the extreme right of her shot.

London skyline

We had another dry day today and it is now so long since it has rained that Mrs Tootlepedal was heard to say (very quietly), “We need a bit of rain.”  She is right as things are starting to dry out too much.  But at least it was slightly warmer today with less bite in the wind and things are forecast to get warmer still over the next few days.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning and afternoon with things to do, including getting her hair cut  and then helping out at the Buccleuch Centre Coffee Shop, followed by doing the front of house duties at a screening of a film about the current big Rembrandt exhibition.

I, in contrast, had a very quiet day involving a crossword, coffee, biscuits and bird watching and two very short spells on the bike to nowhere in the garage.

The birds at first were very excitable…

all action goldfinches

…but getting out a different lens slowed them down a lot until they….

still life goldfinch and chaffinch and siskin

…almost looked as though they were frozen in time.

still life goldfinch and chaffinch

We had another siskin at the feeder today.

sisikin april

In an effort to improve my brain power I had a sardine sandwich for lunch on the grounds that P G Wodehouse always claimed that Jeeves, who was a clever fellow, ate a lot of fish.

Then I went for a gentle walk.

I decided that it was time to go up a hill so I walked up the Kirk Wynd from the middle of the town and took note of some colour on the way.

There was a fancy garden escape just at the entrance to the golf course…

colour on Kirk Wynd april

And a native berry a bit further up but how such a fancy daffodil found its way all by itself even further up the track and far away from a garden is a mystery.

The noise of creaking and groaning as I got to the top of the golf course alerted me to the fact that elderly golfers were playing nearby.

Jim and George were basking in the glory of having won prizes in the winter competition which has just ended.

two old golfers

I went through the gate at the top of the track and walked on to the open hill.  It was rather misty so there was not much in the way of views but there was sea of gorse…

sea of gorse whita well

…and trees…

two trees above hillhead

…. silhouetted against the misty hills.

conifer above hillhead

These three trees are remarkable in that a closer look will show…

three trees whitshiels track

…just how slimly attached to reality they are.

wholly holey tree

I had crossed the Newcastleton road and I made my way back down into the valley by way of these sheep pens.

 

bw sheep pens

I walked back to the Sawmill Brig where I saw a dipper again.  It flitted away before  could catch it so I walked on round the bottom of the Castleholm on the new path.

There was plenty of variety in the conifers beside the track.

conifers blooming

And plenty of signs of life on all sides.

spring growth

I enjoyed the sight of this tree plainly stretching its back beside the river.

stretching tree

I know just how it feels.

I waited for a while on the Jubilee Bridge to see if a nuthatch might be using the nest site in the big tree there.  In the end, I was disappointed to see a blue tit popping in instead.

blue tit at nest

I met Mike Tinker and Mrs Tootlepedal when I was nearly home.  They were admiring Mike’s handsome new fence.  I walked home with Mrs Tootlepedal and we enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea and a biscuit or two.

Because I was going out in the evening, I put my pictures onto the computer straight away and then made a shepherd’s pie for tea.

While it was cooking, I walked round the garden and took a final picture.

yellow and orange tulip

After tea, I picked up my friend Susan and we went off to play recorders with our group in Carlisle.  I had missed last month’s meeting because of a clash of dates so it seemed a long time since I had last played.  As a result, the music was even more welcome than usual and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time puffing away on the bass recorder while Jenny, Sue and Susan played the more elaborate upper parts.  We had a good selection of music and some excellent biscuits to go with the after-playing cup of tea so the evening could hardly have been better.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch in full aerodynamic mode, heading into the wind.

determined flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another of my brother’s Derby insects.  He suspects that the face of this grasshopper might have been modelled on our prime minister after recent events.

grasshopper

We finally got a reasonably calm and occasionally sunny morning today and as it was a good day for gardening, it was almost inevitable that Mrs Tootlepedal should have had an all day embroidering workshop arranged.  To add to her misfortune, by the time that she returned home after the workshop, she began to feel a bit poorly and had to retire to bed and thus the whole day was wasted from a gardening point of view.

I was luckier and able to make the most of it as far as my unhelpful foot allowed.  Although it was quite chilly at a mere 5°C at 10 o’clock, I managed to get my cycling kit on and tested my foot by cycling 14 miles on my new bike.  I took a few pictures to celebrate being out and about as I went along.

As it is getting late as I write this, I append them with the general comment that I enjoyed the views.

glencorf burn march

cleuchfoot gorse

cleuchfoot tree

bigholms tree

Bigholm farm

The cycling was pretty painless but I could feel my foot complaining if I had to go up any sort of a hill, so I kept to a low gear and took my time.

Just before I got home, I passed my neighbour Liz, who also has a troublesome foot.  She was walking her dog and I as I thought that we both might benefit from a cup of coffee, I invited her to drop in when she had got home.

I had time to get changed and make the coffee (and tidy the kitchen table) before she arrived.  The coffee was consumed to a background of really interesting foot conversation.   When Liz left, I had a quick scout round the garden and noticed that more of the fancy cowslip flowers had appeared…

three cowslips

…and the magnolia bud is developing but not flowering yet.

magnolia bud opening

I went back in to prepare some soup for my lunch and watched the birds while it was cooking.

There were a lot of siskins about again.

siskin in a hurry

I liked this chaffinch checking out the feeder spaces.

angelic chaffinch

The siskins are not above giving each other a hearty kick if they want a perch…

pre stamping siskin

…while some chaffinches may suffer from bad breath it appears.

female chaffinch blown away

A goldfinch kept an eye on proceedings in an avuncular way, maybe auditioning for a role as a wise old owl.

goldfinch pondering

The siskins kept nibbling.

siskin feederful

As my foot was a bit too sore for a walk but had not got much worse after my short morning cycle, I went for a flat ride on my slow bike after lunch, with plenty of stops to watch the oyster catchers on the Esk…

oyster catchers composite

…and to go on a very short walk up the track at Whitshiels to admire the moss…

mossy stone

…and a little glade.

glade at whitshiels

The larches are just about to come out and it will soon feel much more like spring.

I cycled back through the town, passing this sensational shrub opposite the Townfoot tollbar…

yellow bush

…and made my way down to the Penton road where I took the obligatory picture of Skippers Bridge…

skippers

..fighting my way past some recently fallen branches to get to the waterside…

fallen branches

…and then went further along the road until I got to the mossy wall.

mossy wall

Then I pedalled back home, stopping at the Co-op to purchase some fish cakes for my tea.

All in all, it was a very satisfactory five miles, though it has to be admitted that my foot was more sore by the end of the day than it was at the beginning so I will have to moderate my enthusiasm for cycling.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had arranged to go to Carlisle in the evening to hear our friend Sue singing in the Cathedral with the Cumbrian Rural Choirs, who get together once a year for a major sing.  Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t feel up to going, but as she was well enough to look after herself, I went off on my own.

There was a big audience and the best seat I could get was a hard wooden bench in the back of the choir stalls.  I sat under the blue sky ceiling of the cathedral and enjoyed the music.

mde

The choirs, complete with a very good professional orchestra and four excellent soloists, sang  the setting of The Seven Last Words of Christ by Haydn and Mozart’s Requiem.  As this amounted to nearly two hours of music sung in German and Latin, it was a tribute both to the composers and the performers, that I hardly noticed the uncomfortable seat at all.

I really enjoyed the Haydn, which I had never heard before.  There was a translation of the German in the programme and I always feel that it makes listening to church music much more enjoyable if you can get a feel of how the music and the words go together rather than just listening to some pleasant sounds.  The programme notes said that this piece is not often performed as it consists of seven adagios one after another, but I found it rolled on without dragging at all. It ends with a terrific earthquake.

The Mozart was good but the text was not so interesting as the Haydn and as the parts were often singing different words at the same time, it didn’t have quite the same emotional impact for me.  I sang it at a scratch performance a year or so ago and had more fun singing it then than listening to it now.  I don’t want to complain though. The performance was good and the music is lovely.  Also, it might have made a difference if it had been done in the first half of the concert while my mind and body were still fresh.

A flying siskin rounds off the post in the important position of the flying bird of the day.

flying siskin

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