Posts Tagged ‘winter jasmine’

Today’s guest picture is another from the eternally sunlit shore at East Wemyss.  Tony is making really good use of his dog walking time.

east wemyss seaside trees

We had a chilly (3°C) but kindly day with a very gentle wind and no rain.  The sun didn’t appear so it was dull but all the same we could have no complaints about this weather for a January day.

I am trying to get my foot back into working order and oddly enough, doing some hip exercises seems to be improving things a lot.  This proves the truth of the old song…The hipbone’s connected to the thighbone…etc, etc.

Sandy came round to combine a cup of coffee with some archive group business.  He has been suffering from sore feet and knees which is why we haven’t been on any walks lately but he tells me that he has got medical appointments in the pipeline so he is hoping for useful help.

When he left, I went for a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She pointed out this…

lichen on lawn

…which may look like a jungle but is in fact moss, lichen and some blades of grass in what passes for the middle lawn at the moment.

More lichen is available in every corner of the garden.

lichen on elder

Much to my surprise, the perennial wallflower has cocked a snook at the recent frosts and produced another flower…

perennial wallflower january

…and even more amazingly, one of the the ordinary wallflowers is in the process of producing a bunch of flowers.

first wallflower

The winter jasmine continues to flourish.

winter jasmin january

The birds were rather few and far between again today, with just the occasional chaffinch…

chaffinch landing

…and some of which at least had the sense to head for separate perches today…


…and the even more occasional sparrow.

sparrow on gfeeder

I had some sardines on toast for lunch and then tested out my foot on a very short, flat walk.

The gulls were taking things easily too…

gulls on posts

…while the mallards couldn’t agree on a common destination.

ducks diverging

Fed up with standing on fence posts, one gull took to a rock in the river.

gull on rock

It was, as one passer by remarked to me, a very plain sort of day and I didn’t see anything worth recording until I came to a football match on the Scholars’ Field.

Thanks to the dull light, it was easier to take picture while the players were standing around waiting for the ball to arrive…

football on scholars standing

…than it was when they were running around chasing after it.

football on scholars moving

Before lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had spent some time tidying out the garage and when I got home, I found that the rocking horse had taken up residence there.  This is so that Mrs Tootlepedal can cover it with gesso before painting it.   The gesso process which involves size (rabbit skin glue), is a smelly and potentially messy business so the garage seems the best place for it.

rocking horse in garage

For those interested, a description of the gesso process can be found here.

After a cup of tea and some music practice, we went off to Carlisle to go to the pictures.  We haven’t been to the films for some time so this was a treat for Mrs Tootlepedal who really likes going to the cinema.  We found that in Carlisle at least, ticket prices had gone down a lot since our last visit and at £5 each, the cinema chain must be making most of its money by selling its customers vast buckets of very unappetising looking food.  We went hungry.

The film we saw is called The Favourite and is about the court of Queen Anne in 1708.  It is described in Wikipedia as a “historical period comedy-drama”.  It was very well acted and the settings and costumes were impressive but since its message seemed to me to be that all women are either old and ugly and helpless or young, beautiful and horrible and that politicians are generally rather nasty selfish people, it seemed to chime with a rather Trumpian view of the world and I didn’t much like it.  It was extremely coarse which was amusing at first as an antidote to refined period dramas on TV but which got a bit wearing as time went on.  Finally, either ideas or money ran out and the film just stopped without any resolution.

Still, as they say, it was a day out and a change.

I just manage to collect a flying chaffinch of the day.

chaffinches landing


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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He sent it to me to show that his daughter Susan is not just a fine recorder player but a good cook too. This is her beef Wellington.

Susan's beef wellington

We had another warm and dry December day here but the 35 mph wind in the morning was a forcible reminder that we should not expect too much good weather in the winter.

I had plenty of time therefore to watch birds through the kitchen window as I idled the morning away but once again birds were in very short supply and no photo opportunities beckoned.

The wind eased off a little around midday and as my cycle stats spreadsheet told me that I only had twenty three miles to go to reach three hundred miles for the month and that at the same time I would hit a significant annual target too, I decided to get my bike out and battle with the breeze.

I thought that skulking in the valley might be the best policy so I started by cycling up to Cleuchfoot along the Wauchope road with a view to doing two or three repetitions in the valley bottom depending on the weather.

The Glencorf Burn never fails to please me as I cross over the bridge on my way to Cleuchfoot…

Glencorf burn

…and I was fully expecting to cross it again in a short while.  However, by the time that I got back to Langholm after eight miles, the wind had dropped to a very tolerable level so instead of coming back up the Wauchope road, I cycled straight through the town and took the main road north.

The sun was out and the traffic was light and I headed northwards in a cheerful mood.  It is a very scenic route and there is plenty to look at on the way.

I stopped at Ewes Church….

ewes kirck

…where the church bell hangs in a tree and not in the bell tower.

ewes kirk bell

Behind the church, one of several little glens winds up between the hills.

Ewes kirk vallwy

At the next gap in the hills, a stone tells of a vanished tower and an intrusive apostrophe.

little monument

This is the valley where the tower once stood.

Little valley

I went as far as the old toll house at Fiddleton….

Fiddleton toll

…and took a look round at the hills at the head of the Ewes valley.

To the east…

Fiddleton hills 3

…to the west….

Fiddleton hills 2

…and to the north.

Fiddleton hills 1

And then I headed back south to complete a most enjoyable 25 miles.

The only flower still in bloom in our garden is the winter jasmine…

winter jasmine

…but there are plenty of signs of potential flowers to come.

december green shoots

Once inside, I was happy to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had made another pan of duck soup so I had a late lunch and looked out in hope of seeing a few birds.

I did see a lone greenfinch…


…but it wasn’t in any danger of getting knocked off its perch by the crowd.

I was so pleased with getting to three hundred miles for the month and hitting  a significant annual target that after a shower, I sat down at my computer to put my twenty five miles into my cycle stats spreadsheet and do a bit of gloating.  The smug look was soon wiped off my face though as I discovered an error in a vital column which meant that although I had indeed hit the 300 mile mark for the month, I was still thirty miles short of my annual target.  Oh catastrophe!

Mercifully, the weather forecast predicts reasonable weather for tomorrow but it will be a shock when the legs find out that that they have to go out again.  I hope that they won’t complain too much.

Along with the lone greenfinch, a single chaffinch flew by and it takes the honour of being the uncontested flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to the west coast.  He has acquired a new pocket camera and as well as taking fine scenic pictures (more of them in later posts), he pointed it at a young buzzard on a pole.

Bruce's buzzard

We had another fine and sunny day today, though a bit colder than we have been getting lately.  After yesterday’s successful cycle and walk combination, I was quite happy to have a quiet day of singing today and let things settle down in the leg department in spite of the good weather.

We had one less hymn to sing than usual in church as our visiting minister unexpectedly burst into song himself between the readings. We had a good choir practice after the service to make up for the shortfall though.

When I got home, there was a little sunlight falling on the feeder…

coal tit and goldfinch…but very few birds actually coming to the feeder and those that arrived almost always managed to catch a shadow.

I had to look to the plum tree for clearer shots.

pigeon in plum tree

Some time ago Mrs Tootlepedal cut the head off the sunflower that unexpectedly came up behind the feeders but she left the stalk standing and it acts as a convenient perch for birds waiting to come to the feeder….

unshadowed chaffinch

..and a tweak to the camera settings produced a satisfactory result.

shadowed chaffinch

As the sun moved round, the feeder soon fell back into deep shadow so I went out into the garden for some sunshine.  Once again, the berberis was ablaze but it is beginning to lose its leaves and I fear that fire will soon be out.

blazing berberis

The winter jasmine is doing well.

winter jsmine

In spite of the sun, it was quite chilly outside so I didn’t linger long and went back in.

The bird watching was a wash out.

dark birds at feeder


We had another visit from a jackdaw with white feathers.

jackdaw with white

After lunch, it was soon time to combine a little shopping in Carlisle with our Community Choir practice.  Once again, our energetic conductor Ellen gave us plenty of work to do and by the end of the session my voice was feeling the strain a bit.  I must make sure that I do my vocal exercises conscientiously.

As it is now pitch dark by the time that we get back from choir in Carlisle, Sundays have become a short day from a photographic point of view but as I enjoy the singing, I can’t really complain about that.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird today and a visiting jackdaw was most unhappy about this failure.

jackdaw staring


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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  It shows Tony getting some sausage making tips at the ‘Bowhouse Food Weekend’ in St Monans yesterday.  Marianne tells me that they intend to eat the sausages that he made.  They are very brave.

Tony at St Monans

After two days of miserable rain and wind, the weather gods relented and laid on a calm, fairly warm and dry day today, ideal for cycling.  Of course they knew that I had choirs to go to both in the morning and the afternoon with no time for serious cycling in between so they must have laughed themselves silly.

Still, the choirs were very enjoyable so I had no complaints.

After the church choir,  I had time to walk round the garden.

We have a little horizontal cotoneaster against the house with bright red berries and colourful leaves.

berries and leaves

Wet flowers were to be found. The striking clematis in the top row is is the only flower that the plant has produced all year.

Octcober flowers

We have our own autumn colour provided by the climbing hydrangea and one of the azaleas.

hydrangea and azalea in autumn

I looked at the birds while I attended to the tricky culinary task of preparing baked beans on toast for my lunch.

A collared dove appeared and didn’t start a fight.  This was possibly because it was the only dove there.

Collared dove at rest

There were several goldfinches only too ready to argue.

goldfinches sparring

I got the chance to catch  welcome visits from a dunnock…

dunnock Oct

…and a robin.

october robin

After my baked beans, I had just enough time to go for an amble round Easton’s Walk.

As I got to the Wauchope Water, I found that it had gone down enough to allow a dipper to do some dipping in the calmer current near the bank.

dipper dipping

The recent rain has encouraged the moss on the park wall.

spangles moss

I came down the track to the edge of the Murtholm fields….

Easton's Walk in autumn

…and enjoyed the colourful trees behind the farmhouse at the far end.

Murtholm in autumn

As I walked back along the river to the park, I spotted two ghostly fungi, one on a fallen tree…

white fungus

…and one unusually white one, part of a small bunch of fungi on the banking in the shadow of old tree roots.

very white gungus

The thorny hedge round the war memorial provided a resting place for water droplets.

thorn hedge with raindrops

When I got home, the sight of the winter jasmine in full flower at the back door  was a reminder of the march of the seasons.

winter jasmine

The weather gods had one last little joke to play.  The sun came out just as I was preparing to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir so I only had time for a glance out of the kitchen window to watch a siskin hanging about…

siskin depending

…and a chaffinch weighing up his options …

flying chaffinch in sun

…before I went off to Carlisle to sing, driving down the road in beautiful weather and muttering under my breath as I went.

Our new musical director continues to be very lively and amusing so we all worked hard for her in return and as a result, we had a useful practice.

I am hoping for some kindly cycling weather tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in torpedo mode as it heads for the feeder.

flying sparrow missile



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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my former colleague Ada and shows a very pretty view of Arkleton Lochan.  (She should come to the Camera Club if she has more pictures like this one.)

Arkleton Loch

It was a cold and mean day today and I resisted the temptation to go up to the Moorland Feeders with Sandy with less sadness than I might have felt on a better day.  I had things to do instead such as getting some fresh air into the car’s tyres and then going down to Longtown and fetching my fairly speedy bike after its service.

I did find a moment or two to look out of the window but the birds and I were out of sync and when I picked up a camera, they weren’t there.

Well, mostly they weren’t there and when they were there, my timing was off.


Though I caught a pair of chaffinches in the end.

chaffinches landing

His and hers landing styles

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to Lockerbie to catch a train to visit Matilda and I put on my thickest cycling gear and gave the newly serviced bike a test run down to Canonbie and back.  It was a theoretical 4°C but a biting east wind made it feel colder and I didn’t stop much on the way round as just taking off the gloves to get the camera out made my fingers go numb.  I did take a well bent tree…

tree at Tarcoon

…and I stopped three miles from home to watch in dismay as a sheet of snow threatened to engulf Whita.

snow at Whita

I was expecting a miserable end to my ride but curiously, the snow stayed away from the road until the last hundred metres and I got home dry.

The snow didn’t amount to much, being very dry and powdery so I walked round the garden to see if there was any colour.  There wasn’t much to see and the light was poor anyway.

winter jasmine

Possibly the last flower on our winter jasmine


In the evening, Susan arrived and we went off to play recorders with our group in Carlisle for only the second time this year.  We were a bit rusty but we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening with J S Bach, J C Bach, Haydn, Byrd and Scott Joplin among others providing us with music to play.

We are in for a spell of cold east winds so this might limit my enthusiasm for wandering around taking pictures.  We shall see.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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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 comes from Mary Jo Abbott, a Canadian reader, who must be visiting London as she sent me this picture of a Canada goose in Regent’s Park.  These Canadians get everywhere.

Canada Goose

Our day started very well as far as the weather went and the view from the bridge as I walked back from taking the car to the garage to get its winter tyres on might make you wonder whether winter tyres were necessary at all.

November view of church

In spite of the sunshine though, it was pretty chilly and I had had to wipe the frost off the windscreen before taking the car out.  The Buccleuch Park looked at its best as I passed it on my way home.


It was too cold for a pedal as I am very anxious to avoid cycling in anything like icy conditions so I was very happy to wait in for Dropscone to arrive with the traditional Friday treacle scones.

He came early as he had to be back to wait for a parcel delivery and my vague plan was to think about a pedal when he had left.  However, it was still on the chilly side so I set about shifting compost instead.  Because it has been so dry lately, the compost is reasonably light to shift and I managed to shift all of Bin C into the recently emptied Bin D and even moved a little of Bin B into Bin C.

Then I needed a little sit down.

The garage rang to say that the car was ready so I walked up and got it and when I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal came out to admire it because the garage had kindly washed it for us and it was looking unusually smart.  While we were out, we did some more compost shifting, emptying a plastic barrel with some of the contents going straight onto a bed and some being added to Bin C.  I took the chance to shift a bit more of Bin B into Bin C and with luck should be able to finish the job tomorrow.

Then I needed another little sit down.

I managed to rouse myself enough to have a little lunch and a look at the birds.

blue tit

Blue tits can’t help looking cute


Greenfinches can’t help looking fierce…

chaffinch and greenfinch

…or surprised

I always like it if I can catch a bird in the act of landing.

chaffinch landing

While I was looking at the feeder, I noticed that the nerines below the feeder seemed to have lost their flowers and given themselves over to berry production and went out to look.


Checking the forecast and seeing that there was no rain predicted for a couple of hours, I popped upstairs and put on my cycling gear and came down again to find it was raining.  A look outside confirmed that there was a lot of very grey cloud about so I went back up and took my cycling gear off.  I came back downstairs, looked outside and found that it had stopped raining.  How I laughed.

It still looked very gloomy so I picked up an umbrella in one hand and a camera in the other and went for a walk, planning to keep going until it started to rain again.

I needed the umbrella on occasion to help me keep my balance when scrambling about beside the river but I could have left it at home otherwise as I walked for just under three miles with the skies getting ever darker but with no sign of rain at all.

My Lumix peered valiantly through the gloom as I went along.

I walked through the park and along the Murtholm track…

Murtholm track

….admiring a pretty umbellifer and some brilliant holly berries…

umbellifer and holly

It’s a bit early to be thinking of Christmas.

…before stopping to look at Skippers Bridge from the town side for once.

Skippers bridge

The damage from last winter’s floods looks a bit alarming…

Skippers bridge

…and we are all surprised that the road authorities haven’t done any repairs during this recent dry and settled spell.

The view through the bridge was delightful even on such a grey day.

Esk at Skippers

I went over the bridge and down to the river on the far side and saw one salmon leap out of the water twice (or perhaps two salmon leaping once each) but couldn’t get my camera focussed in the right place at the right time to record this.  I hung around for a while in hope and then, thinking that I might as well try to get home while it was still dry, gave up and  walked up the steps onto the old railway…

Old railway

…and came home via the Round House and Hallpath.

There were some fine birch polypores in the woods to see on the way.


Big ones on one tree…


…and bigger ones on another

There was the odd flower to be seen too….

flowers in November

…as well as neat hedges…

hallpath hedge

…and a good view over the old Waverley Mill.

Waverley Mill in autumn

It was so dark that it felt as though it was quite late in the evening when I got home but it was only three o’clock and a reminder that I will need to get started promptly if I am going to cycle in the afternoon now.  I haven’t got a proper set of lights for pedalling on country roads in the dark.

I put in some time practising songs for our Carlisle choir as we have got quite a lot to prepare for our Christmas concert and then rang up the Archive Centre power company with some meter readings.  They offered to tell me what our account balance was but sadly but predictably they were unable to work it out and said that they would write to me.  I put the phone down quickly before I got angry again and did some more of that sitting down which is so attractive when you get to my age and have to deal with utility companies.

In the evening, I made some more apple fritters, which went down very well with Mrs Tootlepedal (and me) and then sat down to watch the telly for a bit.  There was a good programme on the Scottish countryside (which included a brief visit to the spot where Dropscone and his daughter were recently on holiday) and this was followed by some live track cycling from Glasgow so it was a better evening than usual on the box.

The flower of the day is a winter jasmine outside our back door….


…and the flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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