No words can do justice to the greatest guest picture of the day ever. It comes from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona who is in the Netherlands and it is a view that just can not be surpassed.
It was cloudless and chilly when we got up but the sun warmed things up and Mrs Tootlepedal was soon out in the garden trimming hedges for all she was worth.
I went to look for butterflies. They too were up and about early in the day.
A painted lady posed for me on the buddleia.
As the forecast was good, my plan was to go cycling but after I had waited for the temperature to get into double figures and then joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the hedge trimming frenzy, it was later than I had planned before I got under way.
As it was a Saturday, I set off south down the main road, letting gravity and a mildly helpful wind speed me through the first fifteen miles in an hour. I nearly managed to keep that speed up for thirty miles but after that, things slowed down.
My first stop was for the level crossing on the way to Rockcliffe. I was not the only cyclist held up.
The fellows on the far side were cycling from Penrith to Dumfries, a distance of 61 miles by the national Cycle Route 7 and their intention was to go back to Penrith tomorrow, a very pleasant way to spend a holiday weekend.
I went round the Carlisle by-pass and found myself on the south side of the Solway, riding along the flat ground between the sea and the Lake District Hills.
My target was to go round the vast radio station at Anthorn….
…which is on a promontory with the River Whampool’s estuary on one side…
..and the Solway itself, looking towards the Nith estuary on the Scottish side.
The road is extremely flat but a noticeable wind made the going quite hard until I had rounded the tip of the promontory and was heading back towards Carlisle.
Once I had got to Bowness on Solway, I stopped for a snack on a handy bench beneath this helpful road sign.
Although the sign is part of the tourist business surrounding Hadrian’s Wall (an early effort to keep the English out of Scotland), it does make the point of how far the Roman influence stretched from the seat of government.
As I cycled on, I could look straight across the Solway to the Scottish shore and it was good to see some water between the land on both sides.
The tide wasn’t fully in though and there were a great number of birds on the shore. It would have been good to have had the time and the camera and lenses to look at them more closely.
The long black line of birds on the picture below…
…turned out to be oyster catchers, hundreds of them…
…and the indistinct white blob in the foreground looks like an egret to me.
The zoom lens on the Lumix could see more birds on the Scottish side and some rough water in between.
I think that the rough water may have been caused by the incoming tide meeting the outflowing rivers Esk and Eden.
I noticed a group of people looking at the shore further along. There were a lot more birds there but I made such a bad job of photographing them ….
…that I am not sure what they are.
They may well be sandpipers. Kindly readers point out that they are probably dunlin.
I know that these are swans and you can see the wind turbines at Gretna in the background…
…about 7 miles away as the seagull flies but 16 miles for me on my bicycle to get there.
I had to negotiate a bit of traffic on the road across the marsh on my way.
All went well though and I returned by pretty much the same route as I went out, stopping to note this view of Netherby Hall through the trees just before I got back into Scotland.
My trip came to a neat 75 miles and it would have been a bit further if my legs hadn’t objected. Perhaps I went a bit too fast at the start of the ride or perhaps they were still feeling the walk up Warbla yesterday but for whatever reason, after about 45 miles they made it very plain that straight home was the only way to go.
It was lucky that the sun was out for most of the time because when it went behind the clouds, it was a bit chilly. With only a month to go to the autumn equinox, we may have to come to terms with the winding down of this year’s splendid summer warmth.
Mrs Tootlepedal arrived at home at about the same time as me. She had spent the afternoon visiting a walled garden at Artkleton, a few miles up the road from Langholm. It has been opening on a Saturday for visitors and she went up with our neighbour Liz and two other friends and they had a very good time admiring the garden and its flowers with the added bonus of having a cup of tea with cakes as well.
As I sat in the kitchen recovering from the ride, I saw a nuthatch outside the window but once again, I was in the right place but without the right camera and it had flown off before I could catch it.
I had to make do with some sparrows.
Mrs Tootlepedal made a tasty cheese flan for our tea and that rounded off a good day all round.
You can find a flying sparrow of the day if you look hard enough among the flock.