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Archive for Jul, 2019

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce who is in the north east of Scotland.  He had a warm and sunny day yesterday when he visited Haddo House, a Scottish stately home located near Tarves in Aberdeenshire.

Haddo House

We had a warm but far from sunny morning here as the rain made its presence felt.

I was happy to stay in out of the rain because I was expecting a call from an engineer who was coming at some time between eight and twelve to install smart meters in the house.  Life likes to play little pranks on unsuspecting old people so when the phone rang and I was expecting the engineer to answer, I was quite surprised to find it was the hospital.  I was even more surprised when after waiting three months for an appointment with the physio, they told me that they had had a cancellation and I could see the physio today.

Oh joy….but then, the appointment was for one o’clock and I couldn’t take it as, with Mrs Tootlepedal away in Edinburgh, I had to be present while the meters were being fitted and I couldn’t guarantee that it would be finished by one o’clock.  The charge for cancelling the meter fitting at short notice was £130.  Oh calamity….and then, the cream of the jest…. when the hospital had rung off, the engineer rang soon afterwards to say that he was on his way and in the end the job was finished before half past ten…but the appointment had gone.  How I laughed.

Still, Dropscone came round for coffee bringing with him a pile of his fine drop scones so life wasn’t all dust and ashes.

After Dropscone left (with added rhubarb), the rain continued and I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group website.  Finally things dried up and after a light lunch, I went up to the Laverock Hide to fill the feeders in my capacity as a fill-in feeder filler for friends who were absent.

I took this shot of the hide with its slightly tousled toupee and its eyes closed as I walked back up to it after filling the feeders.

Laverock Hide

I went in, opened a window and sat down but I might as well have left the window shut for all the birds that I saw.

A blackbird was slipping and sliding about…

blackbird moorland feeders

…and a chaffinch perched for a moment in front of me…

chaffinch moorland feeders

…but that was all the excitement for the day.

A beautiful orchid outside the hide cheered me up as I left.

Orchid laverock Hide

I walked round the garden when I got home, doing a bit of dead heading as I went and enjoying some raindrops caught on a fine web…

droplets on web

…and a very soggy bee hard at work…

soggy bee on knapweed

…and noting that the berries on the tropaeolum are turning blue.

tropaeolum blue berries

It started to rain again, so I went in and watched our own birds.

A greenfinch looked as though it thought very much the same as me about the weather…

glum greenfinch

…while a sparrow just concentrated hard on nailing the landing.

landing concentration

The weather lightened up and a jackdaw arrived to stock of the situation…

jackdaw under feeder

…while I went out into the garden again.

The sweet peas looked…

sweet pea in garden

…very pretty…

looking up to sweet pea

…and the Charles Ross apples are coming on well.

apples getting ready

When the sun came out, I went on a butterfly hunt and spotted a painted lady straight away.

painted lady butterfly on buddleia

If you want to know what a painted lady looks like from straight behind, this is it.

back view of painted lady butterfly

Later on, I had another look and saw a couple more.

painted lady butterfly panel

I even saw a peacock butterfly as well.

peacock butterfly

Then it was time for the main business of the day, a drive to Lockerbie Station to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the Edinburgh train.  My timing was perfect and I walked onto the platform as the train drew in.  Mrs Tootlepedal alighted and we drove home.

She had been watching Matilda dance in a competition in Musselburgh and reported that Matilda had done well.

When we got back, she noticed that the acidanthera which she is growing in pots have also done well and the first flower on one of them had come out while she had been away.  The internet tells me that this delightful flower is also called the Abyssinian gladiolus so it has come a long way.

acidanthera

Our new smart meters seem smart enough to let our electricity and gas keep working so that is a relief.  The little gadget that comes with the meters to let us monitor our consumption in real time doesn’t work yet so they are not that smart.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin threading its way through the rain to the feeder.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who met Aethelflaed, (daughter of Alfred the Cakes Burner), Queen of the Mercians standing in front of Tamworth Castle. He tells me that she led the successful military assault on Derby in 917, which was so decisive, that it resulted in Mercia being fully recovered from the Vikings.

Aethelflaeda

It was generally a rather grey, drizzly and miserable morning here which wasn’t made any better by the departure after breakfast of Mrs Tootlepedal on a two day visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh.  I was cheered up by some bright flowers in the garden…

three raindropped flowers

…and the arrival of Sandy for coffee.  We exchanged news, sympathised with each other’s foot problems (his are worse than mine) and talked Archive Group business.

When he left I was motivated by our archive talk to go and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This took some time because the edition was unusually full of content.

Before I sat down at the computer, I had a look at the birds.  The rain came and went every few minutes as I watched the sparrows.

sparrow on nuts

There are several sparrow families on the go at the moment.

sparrow feeding on feeder

This sparrow, using a sunflower as an umbrella, hadn’t noticed that the rain had stopped again.

sparrow with umbrella

I made myself some scrambled eggs for lunch and after listening to the news (nothing about Langholm on it today), I went out into the garden to check on the weather.

It was raining sparrows.

They rose from the ground in a cloud when I went into the veg garden and settled on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.

sparrows on Betty's roof

This was just a fraction of the flock.

The weather looked set fair for a bit and the forecast was good so I decided on a cycle ride.  The was a blustery wind coming from ENE and as my usual route starts by going west, this would have meant cycling home into the wind.  I therefore decided to head north today, hoping that getting a crosswind in both directions wouldn’t be as bad as pedalling straight into the wind for half my trip.

This proved to be a sound decision as the bends and twists in the roads gave me a nicely varied diet of cross, behind and ahead breezes and added variety to the journey.

I still went very slowly though as it is quite a hilly route…

Road to benty

…but going slowly can be a good thing if you want to look at the view and keep an eye on the verges,

harebells

Harebells

The ride is not short of views…

meeting of the Esks

The junction of the Black and White Esks

…and includes my favourite bridge, not so much for the bridge itself, which is neat but modest, as for its setting in the surrounding countryside.black esk bridge

Once over the bridge, I cycled along one of my favourite roads.  It has a reasonable surface, no traffic, gentle gradients, fine trees…

road to castle O'er

…and verges rich in flowers and with snacks available every so often.

Castle oe'r verges

The route is part of the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail and I passed three hill forts as I went along, Bailiehill, Castle O’er and Bessie’s Hill, which are all worth a visit if any local blog reader has not visited them before.

I didn’t have time to stop and visit today and I pressed on through the village of Eskdalemuir until I came to our little bit of Tibet in Dumfriesshire.

It comes as something of a surprise when you first see the statue of the god Nagarjuna in the garden of the Kagyu Samye Ling Centre but you soon get used to it.

statue at Samye Ling

There were some lovely water lilies in the pond surrounding the god.

lily at Samye Ling

And the stupa was as impressive as ever.

Stupa at Samye Ling

I had a close look at one of the flags beside the path.  Research on the internet tells me that the flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space.

tibetan flag at Samye Ling

There was plenty of wind today so perhaps we should put out more flags.  We need a lot of goodwill and compassion at the moment.

On my way up to Eskdalemuir, I had followed the west bank of the Esk so on my way home, I decided to cross the bridge at Eskdalemuir….

bridge at Eskdalemuir

…and follow the east bank back to Bentpath.

I was a little tired by this point on my journey as it was quite a hilly route, but I was nothing like as weary as this lot, flat out in a field beside the bridge.

tired sheep

I had a last look north along the Upper Esk valley…

views upper esk valley

…and headed south.

I stopped near Georgefield for this view of the river…

esk near Westerhall

…and had a final stop for some guava jelly and a drink at Bentpath.  I was very impressed by the lichen on the wall…

lichen at benty

…and this use of an old wheelbarrow.

barrow at Benty

I was aiming to do thirty miles to bring me up to four hundred miles for the month and ended up doing thirty two miles so I was very pleased with my ride.  Even a little shower of rain in the last mile or so did not dampen my spirits.

The rain didn’t last and I was able to mow the front lawn when I got home and pick yet more sweet peas.  A reader asked for evidence about the great number of sweet peas I claim to have been picking, so here is the current collection.

sweet peas

Many bunches have been given to neighbours and many vases have been emptied and the dead flowers thrown away so this represents only a fraction of this year’s crop.

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I am having a very quiet night in.

The flying bird of the day is being shouted at in a very rude manner.

flying sparrow (with siskin)

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Today’s guest picture comes from my former colleague Ada and comes as a reminder of the Tour de France.  She tells me that she was sipping coffee in a cafe at the bottom of the mountain when her husband had this picture taken at the top of the Col du Tourmalet.  Hats off to him.

Tourmalet

I didn’t think of cycling in the morning here as it was a grey and drizzly day, and as it wasn’t a day for gardening either, we went off in the car to top up our supplies.

My requirement was for sunflower hearts for the birds as the siskins and sparrows have nearly finished my current stock.  Mrs Tootlepedal was after a little colour for the garden as her Sweet Williams are almost all over now.  Luckily we could combine both needs in a short circular tour and we were back home in time for lunch.

I filled the feeder with the last of the old seed and a sparrow took a very dim view of my camera’s intrusion on his meal.

staring sparrow

It was soon joined by more sparrows and the new seed will obviously be needed soon.

three sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal bought three boxes of flowers, begonias and dianthus, to plant out and left them out until she is ready to stick them in.

new flowers

She was busy in the garden after lunch and I lent a hand where I could and took the occasional picture too.

Another zinnia has come out.

zinnia

…and a new set of privet flowers have appeared.

privet

The first mallow has appeared.

mallow

I took pictures throughout the afternoon of various clematis and you can see that the rain stopped and things dried out as the day progressed.

four clematis

Some flowers seem to retain raindrops longer than others.   I took this poppy at the same time as the mallow above.

spotted poppy

As well as feeding the birds, I gave Zoe a top up feed too.

car with nosebag

There weren’t any tortoiseshell or peacock butterflies about but the garden had plenty of insects buzzing around.

two insects

And a rather scruffy blackbird hopped around while Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the hope of picking up a disturbed worm or two.

spotty blackbird

I went to sit on our new bench for a rest at one point and liked the picture made by a triple shoot of the verbena behind it.

three verbenas

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared some space in a border and planted out a new rose which she had bought in the morning.  This is part of her policy to get some less heavy headed roses into the garden.

two new roses

I was surprised to find runner bean flowers of two different colours on the vegetable garden fence but Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had bought a mixed bag of beans so that explained it.

two beans

The weather gradually improved as the day went on and I took the opportunity to top up my monthly mileage with another twenty miles round my Canonbie circuit.  There was quite a brisk wind and my legs were less keen on the whole topping up  business than I was so I had to work quite hard to get round and mostly kept my camera in my back pocket…

…but I did wonder what the tall tree had said to its friend to make it feel quite so crushed.

distant trees

My legs could have done with a rest but there is rain in the forecast for every day in the week ahead so I thought that I was well advised to take advantage of this dry spell.

I looked for butterflies when I got back but only saw a single white butterfly on the buddleias.  It is a problem of taking pictures with a pocket camera that it sometimes thinks that I am more interested in focussing on the leaves in the background than the glaringly obvious subject of the photo dead centre in the foreground.

out of focus butterfly

A couple of our main crop potato plants looked a bit unwell, so although it was too early, I dug the plants up.  The potatoes seemed sound enough and we had some with lamb mince for our tea.  They had a very acceptable taste.

main potatoes

It was not the most exciting day of the summer but the temperature remained at a perfect level (around 20°C, 70°F) and the rain was very light so we should count ourselves lucky.  All the same, there is no doubt that there is a slight feeling in the air that it is not that long till Christmas now.  Summers fairly whistle by these days.

One of the sparrows is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s grandfather Francis.  He was there to watch Matilda trying out Mrs Tootlepedal’s restored rocking horse a day or two ago under the watchful eye of her grandmother, Eileen.

(Those wondering about Matilda’s hand gesture are obviously not familiar with Woody from Toy Story.)

dav

We have had several inches of rain this week, either in short, heavy thundery downpours or persistent rain like yesterday’s, so it was good to have a fine and mostly sunny day today.

I went out into the garden after breakfast to find that the bees had been busy visiting our poppies.

opium poppy

It was still very humid and singing in the church choir taxed my breathing skills to the limit so I was glad to have a sit down and a cup of coffee when we got home.

It didn’t take me long to perk up after the coffee and I went out into to the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

I helped her pick the last of our first crop of peas and beans and then I cut as many of the sweet peas as I could before my patience ran out.

Then I had a look round.

Poppies were doing their best to look presentable after yesterday’s soaking…

six pink poppies

…and there is plenty of growth still going on.   Buddleia and rambler roses compete for attention and Mrs Tootlepedal has filled the new bed by the new electricity pole with mustard as green manure again.  I may have remarked before that she is very keen on mustard.

roses, mustard, phlox, sweet peas

The sweet peas are growing faster than I can cut them and we have several vases on the go in the house.  And the phlox is phlourishing.

The garden is full of birds as well as flowers.  We have families of starlings in a neighbour’s holly tree and blackbirds have been nesting in the garden.  This one was standing on our neighbour’s shed roof…

starling and blackbird

…but the biggest gang of birds at the moment is made up of sparrows.

sparrow horde on gfence

After a couple of days of neglect while visitors and rain where about, grass cried out for care so I mowed everything, the front lawn, the middle lawn, the greenhouse grass and the drying green. The combination of warm weather and rain had made the grass grow but it also meant that things looked good when the mowing was finished.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious soup from the peas and beans that we had picked, together with a potato and an onion from the garden, and using some chicken stock that she had made while cooking a meal for our visitors.  This was a meal with food metres rather than food miles.

I had another look round the garden after lunch. I would have liked to go for a walk but my feet are not being very helpful so the garden is the limit for most of my walks at present.

I was pleased to see that the clematis along the back fence is growing well…

clemtais back fence

…and The Wren goes from strength to strength.

wren rose

It was not hard to find butterflies on the two buddleias by the back fence and I was happy to find a couple of peacocks among the small tortoiseshells.

tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies

There were probably more white butterflies flitting about than coloured ones so I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and waited to see if I catch catch one sitting still, or even better, catch one actually flitting about.  Patience paid off.

white butterfly panel

You can never rest on your laurels where grass care is concerned, so after the butterfly capture,  I spread a little of the fertiliser that contains the magic moss eating ingredient on the middle lawn.  I will be most interested to see if I can keep the lawns a bit more moss free over the winter than they were last year.

While I was waiting for the white butterflies to come along, I saw a siskin keeping a wary eye out.

siskin staring

When I went in and looked out, I could see why a wary eye out was probably the thing to keep.  The action was non stop again….

busy siskin panel

…and led one poor sparrow to bang its head against the feeder pole in sheer desparation.

headbanger sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal sat down to watch the final stage of the Tour de France and I went out for a short cycle ride in the real world.  I was a little worried that it might be too hot but luckily the sun went in and my ride was merely warm.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it rained in the garden shortly after I set off, but I missed that and had a dry run.

My cycling camera is playing up a bit but I liked this family cow portrait at the Bloch farm so I have put it in even though the focus isn’t quite right.

staring cows

I don’t think that I have had a picture of my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead on the blog since they got their leaves on.  They always look to me as though they are about to break into a wild dance.

three trees

New and bigger daisies are out on the Canonbie by-pass and ragwort is appearing all over the place.

daisy and ragwort

I pottered round my habitual Canonbie 20 mile circuit, worried about a brisk wind but finding it more across than against or behind for most of the ride so I was able to enjoy myself.

I had a last look round the garden when I got home and noted the first zinnia of the year..

first zinnia

…and a rather lonely fuchsia flower.

first fuchsia

It has not been a good year for our permanent fuchsias.

I was able to have my evening meal and still be in time to watch the very final moments of the final stage of the Tour de France.  It has been one of the best tours to watch for some time and we will miss it now that it has gone.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch which appeared among the clouds of siskins.

flying greenfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and shows a rather desolate city beach in Derby.  He tells me that it was fully booked and occupied in the sunshine a couple of days ago.

Derby beach

There wouldn’t have been much demand for deck chairs in Langholm either today as it was just as wet and miserable here as in Derby.

We were very lucky to have got through Common Riding day with such kindly weather yesterday and personally, I was quite happy to have an excuse for a very quiet day today after all the excitement.

Matilda took her parents back to Edinburgh after lunch, but not before handing out a sound thrashing to mother, father, grandfather and grandmother at a game of Pelmanism.  However, to balance things up, she was a graceful loser at Beggar My Neighbour.

I did go out into the garden with her to pick a few beans for her to take home, but it was only a few because as soon as we started picking, the light drizzle turned into heavy rain.

It was very gloomy and not a day for garden pictures  as even the brightest flowers were a bit depressed…

lily wetdamp calenduawet gernaium

…and yesterday’s pink poppies were absolutely shattered.

pink poppy sogged

I filled up the bird feeder after our visitors left and a few sparrows turned up and tucked in.

pair of soggy sparrows

The new sunflower growing up beside the nuts can be clearly seen on the right of the nut feeder.

sparrow on nuts with sunflower

More sparrows arrived and a little drama played out.

With a female on the left hand a perch, a male had a look for a place…

sparrow raid 1

…and when he din’t find one, he turned and threatened the incumbent…

sparrow raid 2

…and even resorted to some ungentlemanly jostling.

sparrow raid 3

When then didn’t work, he gave up all pretence of manners and simply trod on the poor bird while eating seeds over the top of her.

sparrow raid 4

Just when we had plenty of time to spare, the Tour de France organisers severely cut the length of today’s final mountain stage  but it still remained exciting and we shall be at a loss as to how to waste time next week when the tour has finished.

We might see a little sunshine tomorrow as well as some more rain but the humidity is still very high so although things have cooled down, life is still not very comfortable.

After the great number of pictures yesterday, today’s brief post has been a bit of a relief for me and very probably for patient readers as well, but as another year in the Langholm calendar rolls by, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who take time to read the posts and/or look at the pictures, and in particular those who take the time to add the regular comments that enliven the blog.

A rather gloomy sparrow is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s ‘other grandfather’, Francis.  He took this shot of Matilda aboard the good ship Alistair, waiting for the horses to gallop up the Kirk Wynd this morning.

sdr

We were awakened by the beat of the big drum of the flute band pounding round the town at five o’clock in the morning as the band reminded us that it was Langholm’s Great day and called on us to join them in going up the hill to watch the hound trail, an invitation that we ignored and rolled over to go to sleep again.

We got up at a more normal time and Matilda greeted me from an upstairs window as I checked on the weather.

matilda at window

We were joined by Francis and Eileen, Matilda’s other grandparents who had being staying in Canonbie, and after a light breakfast, we all went along the road to see the procession of emblem bearers, the Town Band, the cornet and his mounted followers come down Thomas Telford Road to ceremonially circle the old pump there.

CR 2019 a

The Town band members go on foot…

CR 2019 b

…and the cornet and his followers on horseback by a slightly more circuitous route.

CR 2019 c

Once round the pump, the front three waited for the road to clear…

CR 2019 d

…and led the procession back towards the Old Town…

CR 2019 e

…crossing the river on their way.

CR 2019 f

I had lingered behind the rest of the party to take pictures and when I got to the far side of the bridge, I came up with Alistair and Matilda who were standing on the steps of the old church counting the number of horses.

Al and Matilda CR 2019

There was some argument about the exact number but it was as near 150 as made no difference.

Our party headed to the top of the Kirk Wynd to watch the cornet lead the gallop up out of the town and I left them there while I walked a little further up the wynd to make sure that I could get a clear shot of the riders without a hundred heads in between me and them.

I had time to admire the view of a rather misty but dry and warm day….

view CR 2019

…and count the blades of grass beside me…

grass CR 2019

…before the cornet and his right and left hand men appeared.  Henry was proudly flourishing the town’s standard.

CR 2019 g

Shortly afterwards the other 147 (approximately) riders came along too….

CR 2019 h

…and they were soon streaming out onto the hill, where they would visit the Castle Craigs and the Monument before descending back to the town.

CR 2019 i

I left them to it and went straight back to the town myself where I joined the townspeople and visitors in walking along the traffic free High Street (watching where we were treading with great care).

CR 2019 j

When our party assembled at home, we had a delicious brunch prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.  In a normal year, we might have gone back to the High Street to hear the fair crying or gone to the Kilngreen to watch the crossing of the water, but this year dancing was the major business of the afternoon.  Matilda’s cousin Lola had arrived with her mother Cathy, and Matilda and Lola were due to start dancing at one o’clock so as soon as brunch was over, we headed to the Castleholm where the dancing takes place.

Matilda and Lola looked as smart as paint in their Highland dancing costumes.

 

lola and matilda clare

Photo kindly contributed by Clare, Matilda’s mother.

Before the dancing started, we had time to watch the two entrants in the pony race whizz round the track in fine style.

CR 2019 pony race

And then I went to see the start of the 90m open sprint race.  These are top athletes and nine seconds later, the man nearest to us, far from landing flat on his face as might seem likely from this picture, had dashed down the track and was £500 pound richer.

CR 2019 sprint start

The foot races continued all afternoon, hotly contested…

CR 2019 sprint finish

…by athletes of all ages and both sexes.

CR 2019 sprint juniors

Owing to getting my camera settings very wrong, I totally failed to get a usable picture of Matilda  actually dancing.  In fact photographing the highland dancers is a tricky business as they spend most of their time facing the judges and with their backs to the audience, so you will have to taken my word that this is Lola at work getting some good height.

CR 2019 lola dancing

In between the dances, I was able to watch more handicap foot races…

CR 2019 athletics

…and enjoy the thrill of being close to horses and jockeys racing at a fearsome pace round the sharp corners of the track on the Castleholm.

CR 2019 racing a

There were good fields in all the races that I watched today.

CR 2019 racing b

I didn’t see Matilda dance but I did see her in the line up at the end of her classes (she is second from the left with her back to us of course) getting a presentation from the organisers.

matilda CR 2019 line up

I went right round to the other side of the dancing arena and peered over the judges’ shoulders to get a view of Lola in her next dance…

loca dancing CR 2019

…before going off to watch the start of the big race of the day, a hotly contested event with a first prize of £2000 pounds…

CR 2019 racing c

…which this horse won, having stolen a march on the rest of the field up the back straight…

CR 2019 racing f

…and hanging on as they chased him home.

CR 2019 racing g

While the horses had been racing, Alistair had bought Matilda a unicorn balloon.

CR 2019 matilda and balloon

She showed it to Francis.

CR 2019 matilda and balloon and Francis

Lola had magically transformed from Highland Dancer to Hello Sailor and was now performing a hornpipe with great gusto.

CR 2019 lola hornpipe

After the last dance, there was a chance to see one more horse race..

CR 2019 racing h

…and once again to admire the skill and courage of both horses and riders…

CR 2019 racing i

…before it was time to head for home and a cup of tea.   Then Lola and Cathy drove back to Edinburgh where they had another social engagement and the rest of us had a family meal.   After the meal, Francis and Eileen also drove off to Edinburgh and we were left to have a sit down to recover from the day.

Matilda and her parents go home tomorrow and we shall be very quiet when everyone has gone.

The Common Riding colours were pink this year so it is fitting to end this post not with a flying bird of the day but with six fine pink poppies in the garden this morning.

pink poppies

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She came across this artwork in an outdoor exhibition in a park.  It is called The Tudor Ball and it is by Lars Fisk.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have been an artist.

Tudor Ball by Lars Fisk

It was even hotter today than yesterday and by the afternoon, the thermometer was showing 30 degrees C.  I took the day easily but my friend Ken is made of tougher stuff than me, and set off for a ride in the morning as the heat was building.

Ken

I walked round the garden (slowly).

The salvia was sticking even more snakes’ tongues out than ever.

salvia

In the vegetable garden, runner bean flowers are appearing…

runner beans

…and the biggest flower in the garden is the courgette.

courgette

The rosa complicata is doing its best to catch Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye with some late blooming…

rosa complicata

…and once again the garden was full of butterflies sampling different flowers.

four butterflies

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting in Hawick regarding funding for the proposed community moorland buy out.  Later in the day I spoke to another person who was at the meeting, and he remarked that when you meet potential funders, they are always much more keen to suggest other sources of funding than to commit themselves.  There will be a lot of work to be done if the dream is to be realised.

I stayed at home and watched the birds.

They were quite heated too.

two balletic siskins

siskin arriving

It made me tired just watching them.

sparrow arriving

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her meeting and we watched a very exhausting stage of the Tour de France where these giants among men scaled ever more incredible heights.

When the stage was over, we got ready to welcome Matilda and her parents Al and Clare, who are coming to stay with us for the Common Riding.  Matilda is dancing in a competition tomorrow afternoon.

We were somewhat dubious about whether it was a good idea to open some doors and windows to let some air in or to keep them all shut and keep the air out.  In the end we opened the back door onto the dam and I noticed a fine leycestaria growing just beside the door.

leycestaria

When we went out into the garden, I saw that a fine crop of poppies which I had photographed this morning…

poppies

…had completely disappeared by the afternoon.

no poppies

The heat had knocked off more heads than the wind and the rain.

The Wren rose doesn’t seem to mind the heat.  We have never seen so many flowers in good condition on a single stem before.  Usually one bloom starts fading before another comes to full flower.

rose Wren full

Mrs Tootlepedal has five different phloxes on the go so I took a picture of all of them but as I can only cope with two, three, four or six pictures in a composite panel on the blog, I have had to sneak in a ringer.

five phlox

Matilda and Co were held up by heavy traffic in Edinburgh and slow traffic on the way down so I popped out for a steady ten miles on my bike while we were waiting.  Because you make your own breeze while you cycle, it didn’t feel too bad while I was actually pedalling but I was extremely hot when I stopped.

Our visitors arrived safely in time for an evening meal.  This was accompanied by some growls of thunder, streaks of lightning and some rain.  The storm didn’t last long though, and while Matilda was getting ready to go to bed, I went up to the High Street where the Town Band had been playing a concert.  I was too late to hear the brass band play but there were still plenty of people on the street.  They were waiting for the Flute Band to march through the town.

high street flute band

This is an informal gathering of musicians who gather together at the Common Riding.  The band meets exiles returning to the town on the last train in the evening of the day before the Common Riding itself.

The fact that the last passenger train came into the town about fifty years ago has not stopped them from meeting it every year since.  We like our traditions.

flute band approaching

Henry, the cornet and our church organist was playing in the front row as they marched along the High Street…

henry in flute band

…and I could spot my flute pupil Luke puffing away too.

luke in flute band

The pink ties reflect the Common Riding colours which are always the colours worn by the winning jockey in the Epsom Derby  earlier in the year.

The band crossed over the Town Bridge and marched off down Thomas Telford Road followed by a large cortege.

flute band cortege

I followed the flute band along Henry Street and when they had reached the end of the road, I waited for a minute or two, turned round, and hey presto, another band appeared!

Watched by the traditional one boy and a dog, this was the Burgh of Langholm Pipe Band…

man and dog pipe band

…looking very smart.

pipe band henry street

The bands march and play to remind everyone in the town, as if they needed reminding, that tomorrow is Langholm’s Great Day.

There were more rumbles of thunder after the bands had gone and we are just hoping that the weather will be kind to us.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

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