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Posts Tagged ‘Warbla’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is visiting the Glasgow area and found himself at the start of the West Highland way in Milngavie.  He is not going to walk it though as it is 96 miles long.

west highland way start

I have always believed that the autumn equinox came on the 21st of September so it was rather a disappointment to find that this year, it will not arrive until Monday 23rd.  Today would have been a wonderful day to mark the end of summer, as the sun shone from dawn till dusk and there was not a cloud in the sky all day.

It was quite windy though so I was more than happy when Mrs Tootlepedal suggested an outing and this gave me a good excuse to leave my bike in the garage.

After a quick look at a couple of sunny flowers in the garden…

nastutium and gladiolus

…we set off in the Zoe to go to the ‘Hidden River Cafe’.

We had only quite recently heard about this place although it has been open for some years, so it has definitely been quite well hidden.

It  is not far from Longtown but the last few miles were done at a stately pace as we got behind a tractor on a very narrow road.  This was not as troublesome as it would have been if we were still in our old car.  One of the benefits of the electric car is that it is a pleasure to drive at any pace.

We found the cafe and enjoyed a coffee and a delicious slice of cake while sitting in the sunshine on their outdoor terrace.  We asked if we might take a walk round after we had finished and they were happy to let us explore.  Basically the the site is home to six log cabins for holiday lets.  They are well spread out on  the bank of the River Lyne and we walked along the access road.

hidden log cabins

If you want a holiday with full time peace and quiet, this is the place to go.

The cabins are substantial and made of big logs!

log cabin

One of the staff kindly showed us round a cabin and it was impressive inside.

This was the view from its patio.

river lyne

The site is part of a working farm and although we were serenaded by buzzards as we went along, and passed an oak tree laden with acorns…

log cabin wild life

…there were no wild flower meadows and no birds singing, just an occasional fungus and some straggly ragwort.

The lack of flying insects all around our area is getting worrying, perhaps caused by the the lack of wild flower .  This in turn may be causing a shortage of birds.  I wish that I knew more about what is going on.

Still, it was a beautiful spot and we are told that the cooking at the cafe is very good so we were pleased to have finally discovered it.

We took a diversion on the way home to visit a garden centre where Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a painted lady on the merchandise and I bought some sand to treat the lawns at home.

garden centre butterfly

We got home in time for lunch and then we went out into the garden to make some use of the good weather.

We had plenty of butterflies about but oddly enough, there were no peacock butterflies to be seen today when I was looking.

three butterflies

The sedums are the centre of attention just now as the buddleias are almost over.

bees in sedum

The orange hawkweed is in fine fettle…

orange hawkweed sept

…and the mountain of sunflowers seems to be getting bigger every day.

massed sunflowers

I did some more dead heading but my chief business was getting the grass cut before the rains come next week.    It was time to raise the cutters to their autumn height but looking at my records, this is easily the best the lawns have looked so late in September.

middle lawn equinox

I may have mentioned before that though it has been a funny year for weather, it has undoubtedly been a very good year for grass,

front lawn equinox

I take my hat off to the makers of the moss eating lawn fertiliser too as it has worked very well.

I mowed the green house grass but it has a different mower and is cut to a rougher standard.

green house grass equinox

The  I sieved a little compost from Bin D…

compost sieving

…and then, because it was really quite hot in the sun, I went in and had a sit down.

After a cup of tea and two iced buns, I had got enough strength back to try out my new shoes on a walk up a hill.

Once again, there was not much in the way of things to look at beside the track but I did see a pale fungus on a moss covered tree trunk and a lonely scabious.

fungus and scabious

I chose the track up Warbla for my walk as it has a gentle gradient and a good walking surface on a dry day…

Warbla track

…and some splendid views.  This one is looking up the Esk valley towards the Gates of Eden

warbla view gates of eden

…and this one, from the summit, is looking over the Solway plain towards the English hills in the distance.

solway plain from warbla

As Mrs Tootlepedal was busy cooking our evening meal, I didn’t hang about on the summit and after a look down over the town…

Warbla view of town

…I took the track back down the hill, turning off to cut down to the road at the Auld Stane Brig and passing this fine burst of haws on a hawthorn tree just before the gate onto the road.

hawrthorn berries

It was a three mile walk and my new shoes worked very well and my feet gave me little trouble.

I met my occasional neighbour Ken as I got home.  He is the same age as me and has at least as many, if not more, medical problems than I have, but all the same he tells me that he is getting near to 5000 cycling miles for the year so far, twice as many as me.  I shall have to stop complaining  all the time and get working.  He is an example to us all.

I forgot about a flying bird of the day while I was preparing this post so there isn’t one.  It has flown.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s meal was worth hurrying down the hill for.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent walk.  When the walkers stopped for lunch, a local resident pestered them for a share of their sandwiches and got very hoity toity when they refused.

andrew's peacock

We had some welcome sunshine today but I had a busy morning  and the only part of it that was spent  on my bike was when I cycled up to the High Street.  I was there to do some archiving business and take some pictures which I had printed out for a fellow camera club member up to her.  As our new archive base is in the newspaper office and the camera club member works there, I was able to hit two targets with a single arrow.

I got home in time to entertain Sandy to a cup of coffee.  He bought with him some delicious home made muffins which a friend had given to him.  We were able to send him off with some rhubarb and potatoes in return.

When he left, we went out to do some work in the garden.

I mowed the middle and front lawns and then took time out to have a walk round.

The sun  flowers continue to attract customers…

sunflower witht wo bees

…and the buddleias are equally popular.

four butterfly panel

Since it was a sunny day, I looked for sunny flowers and found a lot, some of them in the vegetable garden.

six yellow flowers

The St John;s Wort is a little garden paradise all on its own.

st john's wort august

Although I intended just to take yellow flowers today, in the end I couldn’t ignore the reds.

fuchsia, cosmos, poppies

The rambler rose is producing some late flowers.

late rambler rose

And some of the poppies are soldiering on.

red poppy

This is a  sweet pea…

sweet pea

…and this is a sweet bean.

sweet bean

Actually, it is a runner bean but its beans tasted pretty good when we had them for tea.

Having had a rest, I put the push mower away and got out the hover mower to do the greenhouse grass. I had to put it away pretty sharply though because it started to rain heavily.

I had just about got inside when the rain stopped.  I went out and it started again.  This happened a couple of times and then I had an idea.  I said very loudly to Mrs Tootlepedal, “I am giving up the idea of mowing and I am going in!”

Then  as soon as the rain moved off to annoy someone else, I nipped out and got the mowing finished.

I made some soup for lunch using an onion and some potatoes that didn’t look as though they would store well and after we had had lunch, I settled down to work on the computer as the weather continued to be unreliable.

I got the charity return for the Archive Group under way.  This was only nine months late, but that makes it quite prompt for me as I hate filling in forms and always leave it till the last possible moment (and beyond).

I was just copying some music as a relaxation after the form filling, when Mike Tinker popped in for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit.

Not long after he left, my flute pupil Luke came and then it was time for tea. It had been a busy day.

The weather looked a bit settled by the time that we had finished our meal, so I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that we might try the walk that had been rained off yesterday. She thought that this was a good idea so we set off, armed with an umbrella this time just in case.

When you look at the size of the tree that was washed up on to the bank just before the Auld Stane Brig by last weekend’s flood, you can’t but feel that is was lucky that it didn’t go through the bridge and bang into it.

auld stane brig with tree

As we walked up the hill towards Hallcrofts, the sun came out and in typical fashion it also started to rain.  Luckily the sun stayed out and the rain soon went away, so that by the time that we had got to the track through the recently felled wood, it was a beautiful evening.

view down becks burn

Considering that the wood looked like this in February of last year…Becks wood felling

…the amount of new growth is amazing and instead of crossing the stream by a bridge surrounded by gloomy conifers, we walked among young ash trees and luxuriant grasses and plants.

becks burn bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t visited the wood since before it was felled and she was staggered by the changes.

Having crossed the bridge and walked up to the track on the far side of the burn…

becks track

…we walked home very pleased with our decision to go on our walk.  We stopped on the way to admire a rainbow…

becks track rainbow

…and the view of Warbla in the evening sun…

view of warbla from becks track

…and to chat to friends whom we met along the way.

While I photographed the bigger picture, I asked Mrs Tootlepedal to keep en eye out for smaller things of interest.  She spotted scabious,  a well nibbled fungus, and a good crop of crab apples.

scabius, crab apple, fungus, be cks track

We got home at eight o’clock, conscious that the long summer nights are coming to an end in a month and shorter days will be back again all too soon.

The flying bird of the day is neither flying nor early but it has certainly got the worm.

blackbird with worms

 

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Today’s guest picture appeared when I was looking through the archives and I found this one, which I think comes from Venetia.  It was too good not to put in, so here it is.

Deanery

We had a day with a lot of sun and no rain which in itself would have made it a very good day by recent standards but lots of good things happened as well.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting and I stepped out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine.

rododendron daisies tropaeolum peony

Everything had a smile on its face.

In the vegetable garden peas are flowering and beetroots are beeting…

pea beetroot foxglove with bee rose

…while among the flowers, the bees were busy again in the foxgloves and roses were beaming with delight.

Along the back of the house, the dam is lined with potentilla and musk, punctuated by the occasional bright poppy.

dam and yellow flowers

I went back in and I was just about to settle down to do the crossword when I noticed a mini digger by the back door…

mini digger

…and in no time at all a large lorry with three new electricity poles was parked in the drive.

big lorry with poles

It turned out that although we were told that the power company was coming to switch wires from our old decrepit poles to new ones tomorrow, the actual poles were to be put in place today.

It was done remarkably quickly.  The first pole was swung off the lorry, manoeuvred under the wires and dropped into a hole dug by a second mini digger.  Considering that it is nine metres high and weighs 210 kg, things went very smoothly.

the front pole

The second pole is in the middle of the vegetable garden and this required a very long arm to drop it in behind the fence…

the veg garden pole

…and a good nudge from the mini digger to get it into place.

digging in the pole

Mrs Tootlepedal’s mustard got a bit crushed in the process but the men made a very neat job of it.

the pole complete

The new poles have got two very decorative plates set into the wood to let the world know all about them

pole makers

If all goes well, the power lines will be transferred from the old poles to the new ones tomorrow and the old poles will be cut down and disappear as if by magic.

The birds kept their distance while the work was going on but they soon returned once the lorry and diggers had gone.

busy feeder on pole day

After lunch, I spread the chips which we collected yesterday onto a path in the vegetable garden and now the whole of the top end is looking well cared for.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy with a new project all day and I gave her a bit of help in working out how to get her new tablet to speak to my printer and then I set out to test the state of my rested feet by going for a walk.

After the miserable weather on my bike ride yesterday had prevented me from getting a view, I headed for the hills today with scenery in mind.

There were wild flowers about…

thre wild flowers warbla track

…but it was hills that I was after. I had an early view of them which I took in case the clouds covered the sun before I got higher…

veiw from stubholm track

…and I had another look when I was half way up the hill…

warbla panorama

A ‘click on the pic’ will show the bigger picture

…and yet another when I was near the top just in case…

view from near warbla summit

…but the sun kindly stayed out for my whole walk and I got a splendid view from the top of Warbla.

view from warbla summit

It was well worth the effort of the short climb.

view up esk valley from warbla

As there was a very stiff wind blowing on the summit, I didn’t linger but made my way back down to the town.

sahdt tarck to stubholm

I found Mike Tinker in the garden talking to Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home and we had a cup of tea and a biscuit.  He was impressed by our new poles.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we had a really excellent lesson.  I have learned a lot from my singing teacher, and as much of what she tells me applies to flute playing too, I have been able to pass useful advice on to Luke and he has listened and acted on it.

I had time for a quick walk round the garden after tea, and I enjoyed the sight of a siskin sitting on one of the wires which will be moved to a new pole tomorrow.

siskin on electricty wire

Then the members of our recorder group arrived for our monthly meeting and as Roy, our librarian, had produced a good set of music, we had an enjoyable time.  Sadly, Roy is not well enough to play at the moment, but he is still looking after us well in his choice of pieces to play.

Dropscone’s daughter, Susan is one of our players and as I had met her and her father when they were passing our house on a walk yesterday, I was pleased to discover that Dropscone had got round the walk safely without falling over and breaking any more ribs.

I don’t want to tempt fate, but my feet are still feeling well rested in spite of today’s walk.  Fingers are firmly crossed that they still feel alright tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a passing crow.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture, in the absence of any alternative, is another welcome to the sunny shore of Wemyss.  Tony certainly has a grand spot for walking his dogs.

wemyss shore sunny

It was quite frosty here this morning…

frozen plant in garden

…and it stayed below zero all day.  There was very little wind though and the sun was shining when we got up so it seemed like a good day for a walk after breakfast.

Once again, the roads, tracks and paths were miraculously ice free so I walked down one side of the Esk as far as Skippers Bridge and came back on the other side.

I was hoping for some frosty trees but there hadn’t been enough dampness in the air to make for spectacular shots….

dav

…and almost as soon as the sun touched a frosty tree, the ice melted.

murtholm hedge

I didn’t take yet another picture of Skippers Bridge when I got to it but I did enjoy the reflections in the river on the other side on such a still day.

refelctions in esk below skippers (2)

I enjoyed them so much that I took two.

refelctions in esk below skippers

I walked up the banking onto the old railway and made my way home via the old oak wood…

oak wood

…and Hallpath.

I took a lot of pictures without getting any good results but I did end up with freezing hands in spite of having a couple of hand warmers with me.  They are quite old and may have lost a bit of their potency over the years.

When I got home, I had coffee and scones with Dropscone.  His younger daughter lives out in the country and was unable to get to work today as they had serious snow where she lives so we have been lucky with our modest fall.

While we were sipping and chatting, I noticed a brambling in the plum tree…

brambling

…and got quite excited.  It was the only one though and when it didn’t visit the feeder and soon departed, I calmed down again.

The sub zero temperatures had brought more than usual quantities of birds to the plum tree…

many bords in plum tree

…but still nothing like as many as in years gone by.

A blackbird appeared.

blackbird in plum tree

There were enough  birds about to make for stiff competition for perches.

battling chaffinches

While Dropscone and I were refreshing ourselves, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with the gesso and the horse.  Here you can see her cleaning the eyes after the final coat of gesso had gone on.

dav

Several days will now elapse while the gesso dries and then it will be sanded and the painting will start.  It looks very promising.

dav

When Drospcone left, it was obvious that low mist was coming in over the town so I thought that this might be good moment to get to the top of a hill for a ‘mist in the valley’ photo opportunity.

I would have driven up to the White Yett, as speed is the essence in these situations, but before breakfast, I had taken the car up to the garage for a pre MOT check so it was not available.

Since it was walk or not go, I walked.

I headed for the track up to Warbla, the easiest of our hills to climb.

It was still cold…

frozen seed head

…and there was a mixture of sunshine and mist as I got on to the hill.

tree in fileld winter

Rather alarmingly from a photographic point of view, the mist seemed to be on top of the hills instead of lying above the rivers…

dav

…but I plugged on, propelled by my walking poles.  Although there was still mist above me, I could see blue sky above the mist so I was hopeful….

track up to warbla in mist

…but as I got near the top of the hill, I was still walking into mist instead of looking down on it…

track to warbla in snow

…and when I got there, the top of the communications mast at the summit was only just visible.

mist mast warbla

When I got to the trig point, all I could see below was mist and the photo opportunity was gone.  Still, as a consolation I did see a little mistbow right in front of me.  In fact it was so close that my camera couldn’t take it all in…

dav

…but I have crudely stitched two shots together to give an impression of what I saw.

dav

It was annoying to have no view when the blue sky was so close above my head and I waited in the hope that the mist would drop back into the valley.  I had no such luck and instead, more low cloud rolled in on top of me so I headed back down the hill before I froze solid.

The footing was amazingly secure but any chance of a landscape shot had gone so I had to be content with a sheep on a wall…

sheep on wall

…before I dropped back down the track into the park and home.

coming down in stubholm mist

I was very grateful when Mrs Tootlepedal heated me up a bowl of her fine mixed lentil soup for a late lunch.

My final walk of the day was to fetch the car back from the garage.  It will need a little work before it can pass its MOT so I will have to take it back again next week.

I ended my active day by cycling round to the corner shop to get some fishcakes for my tea.  It was -3°C so I wrapped up well even for this short trip!

The mist had totally enshrouded the town by this time and it was very gloomy so we pulled the curtains and had a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch looking keenly for a place at the table.

flying chaffinch

Note:  I walked five and a half miles today so although my foot, calf and knee are still sore they are obviously not that sore!

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Today’s guest picture from son Tony in East Wemyss goes to prove that you can find grumpy herons all over the place.

wemyss heron

It was a beautiful morning with a delicate sunrise but it was chilly enough at 4°C after breakfast to keep me from getting my bike out.  Instead, I walked up to the town where I did a bit of archive group business.  I asked Nancy, who was mining data in our new premises, for a suggestion for an interesting walk but she was unable to come up with one that hadn’t already figured in the blog.

Scratching my head, I went out into to the street and bumped into Mike Tinker.  He is a stalwart of the Langholm Walks group and suggested that I try Walk 5.  As this involves walking up steep rough ground and I hadn’t got either walking boots or my walking poles with me, Nancy and I hadn’t considered this.

However, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I resolved to take up Mike’s suggestion, trust to the ground being firm and the boggy bits few and far between and hope that I didn’t fall over on a slippery bit.

And, plucking up my courage, I headed out to try Walk 5

It starts with a stroll along the river out of the town and this led me past one of favourite bits of lichen which can be found on a fence just on the very edge of Langholm.  It is a grey and black lichen and so a black and white shot seemed like a good idea.

fungus on fence lands end

I crossed Skippers Bridge without taking a photograph and was soon walking up the track towards the hill.  I could see the mast on the top of Warbla (275m) in the distance and it seemed to be a good day to be up beside it so I pressed on.

distant view of mast on warbla

My hopes about the dry ground and lack of boggy bits were fully realised and though the hill is quite steep in places, I was able to stop and admire the view from time to time and get my breath back.

view from above skipperscleuch tarck

There was even some more lichen on a rock to detain me.

fungus on warbla

It wasn’t too long before I was able to look back down on the town, snugly tucked into its nest at the bottom of the hills.

langholm from walk 5

And then I was high enough to be able to look around at the neighbouring summits…

timpen from warbla

…and to look ahead to my immediate target.

approaching the mast warbla

When I got there, I was amply rewarded for the slog uphill across rough ground with superb views of hills streaked with sunshine and shadows…

view from warbla summit

…which I shared with a man and a dog who had reached the trig point from the opposite side of the hill.  We agreed that a better place to be on such a fine day would be hard to find.

man and dog on warbla

From the summit, I could look across the valley and stretching the zoom on the Lumix to its full extent, I could just make out the stile over the wall on Whita that I had crossed on a walk almost a week ago on another fine day.  It was about a mile away.

stile on whita from warbla

The hills looked just as good on the way down from the top as they had on the way up…

view from warbla

…and the track to the town was at its best.

green road on warbla

However, without my walking poles, I had to keep my head well down as I went along since there were plenty of opportunities to slip and slide on wet grass or slippery stones and I took no more views and only got the camera out to note this tree growing out of the top of a wall in a rather unlikely fashion….

tree on wall

…and got home safely with dry feet and no unexpected encounters between my backside and mother earth.

By coincidence, I met Nancy just as I got back.  She had been dropping off some of the results of her data mining for me to enter into the Archive Group’s newspaper database.  I’ll have to hope for some wet and windy weather which makes entering data a sensible thing to be doing.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and found some bright eyed birds at the garden feeder.

bright eyed birds

After lunch, the temperature had risen enough to make cycling a possibility so I got into my cycling gear, got my bike and set off.  In an exciting fashion I rode round the block and was home again in about three minutes.  It had started to rain heavily much to my surprise and annoyance.  There had been no sign of this sort of thing while I was out walking.

However, I kept my cycling gear on and after only a few minutes, the rain had disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and I set off again.

It was a lovely day for a pedal!

cleuchfoot road

The days are still short though and I only had time for 23 miles before it began to get gloomy.  Because I was pushed for time, I  took just that one picture on my ride which was of the scenically dull ‘up and down the road’ variety.  It was enjoyable pedalling though and my legs only reminded me of my morning walk once or twice.

I got home in time for a cup of tea and some Garibaldi biscuits which we had bought in Carlisle yesterday.  While eating the biscuits, I was able to reflect that too much of my life has been wasted not eating Garibaldi biscuits, an omission which I will try to correct in the years to come.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been out doing some useful gardening while I had been pedalling so we were both quite satisfied with our afternoon’s work.

After the tea and biscuits it was time for my flute pupil Luke to come and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger and worked on a bit of one by J J Quantz.

After Luke went, there was time to enjoy a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty puy lentil, leek and feta bake for tea before I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  Here we played Mozart, Boismortier and Schickhardt so that rounded off a very good all round sort of day.

I even found a satisfactory flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch wings closed

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s recent encounter with the terrifying invaders of Derby.

derby militia

We had a really good sunny day today and with nothing on our calendar, I tried to make good use of it.

The down side of a bright and sunny morning at this time of year is that it tends to be pretty chilly and that was the case today.  Although it wasn’t freezing, it was only just above zero so I decided that a morning walk was a better bet than a cycle ride.  Having hit the deck last winter after meeting unexpected ice on a ride on a cold but sunny day, I am going to be more cautious this time round.

The moss on the wall at the park was gently sighing as I went past on my way to the top of Warbla.

breathing moss

The Stubholm track had delights of various kinds.

fungus and robin stubholm track

When I got out on to the open hill, I could look across the Wauchope valley towards the recently felled Becks wood.  The plastic tubes show that they are planting deciduous trees there rather than replanting the conifers.   I shall be interested to see what sprouts out of the tubes in the course of time.

new planting in becks wood

You don’t have to go far up the track to the modest summit of Warbla (275m) before you are rewarded with splendid views. (A ‘click on the pic’ should bring up a larger version)

panorama from Warbla

I cut up hill off the track and was taking the direct route to the summit when I was halted by this obstruction.

warbla web

I carefully made my way round it and was soon beside the mast looking down towards England where the mist was rolling along one of the river valleys.

mist in Engalnd

It was altogether more cheerful to look towards Whita and the town and I tested out my new phone on the bigger picture.

dav

Looking down at the New Town with the Lumix in hand again, I could see the Kirk Wynd heading uphill from the centre of the town.  This was the route that I had taken on our last sunny day.

View of kirk wynd from Warbla

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal to tell her, “I made it,  top of the world, Ma” but it was no good waving as our house is in the part of town that is tucked under the hill out of view.

View of town from Warbla

I took the track on my way back down…

track down warbla

…and was surprised to find that it was still reasonably firm under foot in spite of the rain.  It was slippery in places though and once again, I was glad that I had taken my walking poles with me.   They are helpful going up hill but indispensable when going down wet grass.

track down warbla with tree

Once again, I looked across the valley to the Becks Wood and could see a major operation in progress as a digger was lifting up great chunks of cleared brashings and dropping them into a large chipper from which they were being taken up a conveyor belt and fed into a lorry.  It was a noisy business.

jenkinson timber lorry

I decided to come home  by a different route and left the track and dropped down onto the Wauchope road where I was hailed by a passing cyclist who stopped for a chat.  It turned out to be my old friend and ex colleague Nigel, who was also enjoying the good weather.  He was on an electric bike and told me that it was going to let him go up hilly routes which he couldn’t have managed under his own steam as he has not been in the best of health lately.

He thought that I might rather scoff at an e-bike but I am totally in favour of them as they extend people’s cycling life and range.  Which is better: getting a little help or sitting at home wishing that you were out on a bike?   It is as they say, a no brainer.  I wished him well and he went off to climb the steepest hill that he could find.

Nigel

I walked home past Pool Corner where an elegant set of catkins caught my eye.

catkins pool cornee

Nigel and I were not the only ones enjoying the sunshine.

two sunny goldfinches

greenfinch in plum tree

The temperature was not exactly climbing to the heights as it was still a meagre 4°C when I got back from my walk but as there had been no sign of ice anywhere, i decided to have lunch and go for a bicycle ride in the afternoon.

It took a bit of time for my legs to throw off the morning walk (going downhill really tests them) and to get used to the chill but after a few miles I began to enjoy myself and cycled happily round my standard 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I had already taken 50 pictures while on my walk so I didn’t stop too often to add to the total as I pedalled along but these two belted Galloways were irresistible.

belted galloways

Shortly after I passed the cows, I encountered Nigel on his way home from his hilly ride,  Considering that he had been out for well over two hours, he looked very cheerful.

I was so pleased to be out on  a familiar route that I took a picture of my old friends at Grainstonehead…

three trees grainstonehead

…and the Hollows Tower was tempting too.

Hollows tower

The sun gets low really early now so I couldn’t hang around and pressed on home, feeling the chill when I entered the shaded road along the banks of the river Esk as I headed back into town.

A cup of tea and a slice of toast were just the thing to revive me and after a shower, I sat down at my computer and checked out a set of pictures which I am showing at a lunch in the Buccleuch Centre tomorrow.

I finished that just in time to welcome Luke for our weekly flute session.  Once again, we had an entertaining time playing duets and we worked at getting a little more speed into our playing.  I don’t know if it is helping Luke but all this work is certainly helping me.

The usual Monday evening trio playing was on hold this week and while I always enjoying playing with Mike and Isabel, I was quite pleased to have a quiet evening in as after having had the whole of November off, I am finding that walking and cycling are harder work than they used to be.

I tried to find a flying gold or green finch of the day but I couldn’t get anything nearly as satisfactory as this chaffinch so once again a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

It is going to freeze hard tonight they say so I am glad that I got a tootle and a pedal in today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who is a railway enthusiast and was present at the unveiling of a plaque by Captain Chris Smith at the spot where the Hawick railway station would be if it was still here, which it isn’t.

The Jellicoe Express ran between Euston and Thurso.  Hawick on the old Waverley Line.  Hawick was a station where the Express called in one direction for coal and water and now is the only location that no longer has trains. The Express was the longest rail journey in Britain and ran during both world wars transporting mail and navy personnel

Many local people cherish the hope that the station will reopen in the not too distant future.

Jellicoe Express

The weather here was a lot better today as I could judge for myself when I crossed the Esk by the suspension bridge…

dav

…on my way to meet Dropscone at the now ex-archive centre where we read the electricity meter and I passed over the door key.  On my way home, I popped into the garage to pay my bill and then went into the Welcome to Langholm office where our local art club was holding an exhibition and bought a painting.

When I crossed the suspension bridge on my return home, I enjoyed the view  downstream.

sdr

I didn’t have long to wait once I had got in before I was re-joined by Dropscone who had been cooking some of his traditional Friday treacle scones while I had been busy.  They were excellent as usual and added to the general cheerfulness of the day.

When the scone eating ceremony was completed,  Dropscone cycled home and I walked back up to the town to collect my art purchase.  Coming out of the Welcome to Langholm office, I couldn’t help noticing that workmen were well up to the job of putting the decorations on the enormous Christmas tree outside the Town Hall.  Rather them than me.

dig

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been out having coffee with friends, came home just after I got back and I was able to present her with the painting.  I had bought it as a secondary birthday present for her to go with the light bulb.

The painting is by a local artist, Margaret Walty who does the most beautiful and detailed work.  The panel below shows the whole painting and a section of it enlarged.

Margaret Walty

To give an idea of the scale at which Margaret works, the breast of the robin is less than 1 cm across….and she works in acrylics without using a magnifying glass.

I turned from art to nature and watched the birds for a while.  Two goldfinches were enjoying the seed today without being battered by the rain.

bookend goldfinches

A dunnock hopped about on a chair beside the feeders.

dunnock on chair

I made some vegetable soup for lunch.  We still have plenty of potatoes left from the garden but after I used one of our onions, there are now only two left.  Still to get to December with our own onions is not too bad.

It was pretty windy in spite of the sunshine so I decided to go for a walk after lunch instead of a cycle ride and this turned out to be a good decision as I had a most satisfying stroll.  I have declared my leg officially cured so I ventured up the Kirk Wynd and on to the open hill.

I had a look round the garden before I left.

strawberry and sweet rocket November

Ornamental strawberry and sweet rocket.

As I passed the golf club, I couldn’t help noticing these very bright yellowy orange flowers on a shrub beside the track.   It might be a pyracantha or cotoneaster but whatever it is, I was surprised to see it flowering.

november flowers kirk wynd

As I got further up the track beside the golf course, the hills came into view.

View from Kirk Wynd

As the brisk and chilly wind was coming from behind me, there was just enough heat from the sun to keep me comfortable and I could enjoy the play of light on Castle Hill with the dark clouds behind.

castle hill November

Luckily the clouds were being driven up the valley and although the sun was low in the sky, the views were delightful.

sunshine and shadow ewes

I had taken Mrs Tootlepedal’s advice and had my walking poles with me.  They are a great help when going up hill and I soon got to the top of the golf course where a good crop of British Soldier lichens can be found…

soldier lichen

…and headed out onto the open hillside.

I didn’t go any higher up the hill but walked along the contour….

two trees abive Hillhead

…until I came to the road to Newcastleton.

Up ewes

There has been a lot of tree felling on the far side of the road and I could now see the sheep pens and buildings which have been hidden by the trees for many years.

sheep pens

The sun dropped below some low clouds behind Warbla at this point…

warbla late november

….but the road down the hill is well sheltered…

 

copshaw road

…and my walk back to the town was no problem.

I took the little path along the Lamb Hill and was greeted by some gorse in flower.

november gorse

I reached home after just under two and a half miles in harmony with nature and enjoyed a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from a visit to the hairdresser.  Everything was good.

Mike and Alison are busy babysitting their daughter’s dogs at the moment so there was no Friday night tootling but I employed the time in practising singing for Sunday’s choirs so it wasn’t time wasted.

The flying bird of the day is roughly the 120th chaffinch to have had that honour this year.  I will have to try to get out more.

flying chaffinch

 

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