Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin. He was up on Whita Hill at the crack of dawn to see the 2020 Common Riding. The semi jubilee cornet (he was cornet 25 years ago) with the right and left hand men took the town’s standard round the monument in a symbolic gesture and the proceedings for this year were concluded by 6AM.
It is the last Friday in July today, Langholm’s Great Day, and the whole thing was done and dusted long before we got up. It was typical of the weather gods’ sense of humour that we got a near perfect day, warm, dry and mostly sunny, when there was nothing to celebrate.
Faint echoes of what should have been happening floated across the town, as people had family gatherings in their gardens, small groups of bandsmen played the familiar tunes in other gardens, and recordings of past Common Ridings could be heard through open windows.
We had coffee in the garden with Margaret but we had to cut it short today because it was too hot and sunny for comfort!
While we were sipping and chatting, I leapt up from time to time to record the butterflies passing through the garden.
After coffee, I picked out a few floral stars…
…and some of the less spectacular supporting cast too.
The trouble with having a lot of garden time on my hands during the lockdown has been the temptation to take photographs of the same flowers day after day, and of course, the garden doesn’t change much from day to day. I apologise for returning to old favourites so often, but it is hard not to be struck by their continuing beauty. I could just take fewer pictures of course but then that would leave me with more time to watch the telly in the evening. This would be very bad as it just leads to me shouting at the programmes and upsetting Mrs Tootlepedal. Expect more flowers again tomorrow.
There were quite a few swifts skimming over the roof of the house but I wasn’t quick enough to catch any, so I had to settle for a cheerful chaffinch in the plum tree.
Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent some time picking out more pictures from trips to the Langholm Moor and Tarras Valley to send off to a group which is going to publish an article in their magazine about the moor. This fully tested my filing system but we managed to find some.
I watched the birds for a while. Sparrows were out in force and arguments were going on before they even got to the feeder itself….
…where queues were forming.
A pigeon perched on an old sunflower stalk.
It grew steadily hotter in the afternoon until it peaked at about 30°C. Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal was not too unhappy about making a quick visit to her manure mine and then having to wait in the house for a telephone call while I went for a longer walk. Fortunately there was a brisk breeze blowing and the temperature dropped as the time went by, so my walk was more comfortable than I had expected when I set out.
Although there was no procession through the streets this year, the crown maker has nevertheless produced a crown, and some of our roses went into the making of it. It is on display in a local shop and I passed it by on my walk.
Normally by this time of day, well over a hundred horses and riders and thousands of people would have galloped and/or walked up and down the Kirk Wynd but today it was unmowed and undisturbed.
I was quite upset when the upper part of the Kirk Wynd was savagely cut back not many months ago. I thought that the clearing had been excessive, but I am happy to admit that I was wrong and new growth has come more quickly than I expected. As I walked up past the golf course, there were plenty of wild flowers beside the track.
A sheep tried to hide behind a thistle when I got to the open hill…
…but I spotted it all the same.
When I came to the line of pylons which have recently had their cables renewed, I found that there was a neat pile of parts waiting either to be added or removed.
I looked up to see the monument, my intended destination….
…and set about reaching it by the tried and tested method of putting one foot in front of the other (very slowly).
I enjoyed the views as I went up…
…even though it was a rather hazy day.
When I reached the top of the hill, I walked thee times round the monument in tribute to the Common Riding, and then came back down the hill on the gentler gradients of the track down the fence and then the Birnie Braes.
The heather really does look as though it might put on a show this year after several very poor years…
…and I always enjoy passing the neatly constructed cairns along the track.
My route took me back to the top of the golf course, and rather than going back down the track that I had come up, I walked down the golf course itself.
It looked very inviting, with an added ringlet butterfly in the rough…..
…though the greenkeeper will probably not be as happy to see a small flock of rabbits beside the second green as I was.
I stood on the first tee and looked up the fairway…
…and remembered the many, many times that I had stood there with a totally misplaced sense of hope in my heart in years gone by.
When I got down to the High Street, it was hard not to feel sad at the lack of a stage for handing out the flag in front of the Town Hall, the lack of bunting everywhere, and the total lack of life on what should have been our busiest day of the year.
It was only a three mile walk but I felt that I had celebrated the Common Riding as best that I could in these subdued virus times.
After our day of warmth, the temperature is due to drop back down again tomorrow, and it has been raining outside while I have been writing this post. Today may have constituted the shortest summer on record.
The flying bird of the day is another sparrow.