Dancing attendance

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

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, novice photogrpaher

36 thoughts on “Dancing attendance

  1. Great photos and account of the day’s events. The pink poppies very beautiful and appropriate. Too bad the spectators can’t watch the Highland dancing! Very strange.

  2. I know you’ve explained what all of this is about several times but I can never remember and I won’t ask again. I see it as a kind of country fair much like we have here. Just a lot of people having a good time, but probably with ancient roots in your case.
    I hope Matilda was happy with her prize!

    1. It is more than a country fair I think as it expresses the deep roots that long time residents of the town have for the place. It serves no commercial purpose in itself though it does of course bring a lot of visitors to the town.

  3. Such a lot going on!
    Looking at your guest picture, I thought how extraordinary it was that a man should be wearing a tee-shirt with a WordPress logo – and then of course realised that he wasn’t.

  4. Wonderful timing of the photo of the 90 m. sprint! What a busy day, and (forgive my for repeating myself) an amazing testament to the community spirit in Langholm. I can’t get over how quickly Matilda is growing up!

  5. Two of my granddaughters used to compete in Highland Dancing before leaving the country with their parents. My younger son plays in a pipe band though which competes at various gatherings around South Africa.

  6. What a day! I felt as though I were right there with you. The picture of Matilda and Lola is fantastic. And I learned a new phrase from you: “Smart as paint.” I shall have to add that to “chuffed” to impress all my Maine friends. Finally, here’s a bit of alliterative praise: Lola looks lovely and lithe in her sailor costume.

  7. Congratulations to Lola and Matilda on their fine performances! Thank you for sharing a wonderful tradition with your readers.

    The pink poppies make a lovely ending.

  8. Action all round and captured with some wonderful photos. Such a splendid day for all to enjoy- love the dancing girls, the galloping horses, the runners – all of it- thank you.

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