An uncommon day

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss. He came across a curious pattern in a field.

Today was Common Riding Day in Langholm, but the absence of three bands, a hundred and fifty horses and riders, and thousands of spectators left me with few photo opportunities. I decided to go for an uncommon ride on my bicycle to fill the day in a different way.

My plan was to ride down to Gretna and along the coast as far as Caerlaverock Castle and then come back more or less the same way. The plan started well, as I managed to get up, have my breakfast, get on my cycling gear, make two honey sandwiches, have a quick check on the sparrows on the bird feeder . . .

. . . and leave the house by ten o’clock.

I had had a look at the forecast before I left, and it suggested that as long as I avoided going into England to any great degree, I should be able to avoid any rain. However, by the time I had got to the top of the Canonbie bypass, it was raining gently and the view ahead did not look promising at all. Common sense dictated a change of route, so I turned right and kept to the higher ground as far as Annan.

Since I was going on a fairly long ride, I stopped every 10 miles or so to take a little refreshment and look about. By complete coincidence, my first stop coincided with my favourite pine cones.

The rain persisted as I cycled along, but it was so gentle that I didn’t need to get my rain jacket out, nor did I get wet. That is my kind of rain.

I did keep away from the coast though for as long as I could, and this took me through Kirtlebridge, over the Kirtle Water and under the railway viaduct.

The route was a little more hilly than I had planned, but by the time that I got down to Annan, I was on the flat lands beside the Solway Firth. The last time that I was in Annan, I stood on the new pedestrian bridge and took a picture of the old road bridge. Today, I stood on the road bridge and took a picture of the pedestrian bridge. I like a little variety in life.

The persistent light rain didn’t make for cheerful seaside shots, so I was pleased to see some horse riders on the shore when I got to Powfoot, and a little bit later I passed another set of horsey people. I stopped to take a picture with their permission when I had passed them.

I rested on a bench outside the Savings Bank Museum in Ruthwell to eat the first of my honey sandwiches. I mean to visit the museum one of these days, but it was shut today. I pressed on as the rain cleared, leaving me with a view of Criffel in the distance.

When I came to the little village of Bankfoot, I saw my first castle of the day.

Isle Tower is an early 17th century stone T-plan tower house, but it is not in good repair . . .

Caerlaverock Castle, a few miles further on, is in better condition (but only when seen from the front).

This was my turning point for home.

I found myself pedalling into the light wind on my way back, so I was pleased to stop at the Brow Well for my second sandwich and a rest.

They have installed a new bridge over the burn beside the well, and it is a stark contrast to the old one which I photographed on a sunny previous ride.

I saw an interesting plant while I was munching on my sandwich. It might be wild radish but if any reader knows better, I would be happy to hear.

On my way to Annan, I passed the oddest sight of the day.

A closer look when I got home, showed that they were not swallows or starlings but a great crowd of rooks.

I battled back through Annan and its busy traffic, and since the rain had eased off, I took the coast road to Gretna, stopping to lean on the wall at the Devil’s Porridge Museum while I ate a banana and had a drink of water. The fireless engine Sir James has had a coat of paint since I last went by. It looks like an undercoat for a new camouflage cover.

My final refreshment stop was beside the Longtown pond . . .

. . . where the light winds were leaving hardly a ripple on the surface of the water.

The very light rain continued to come and go as I went back up the hill to Langholm, but as it was still so light that I wasn’t getting wet, it didn’t bother me too much.

It might have done the garden some good though, as the front bed looked wonderful as I cycled into the drive.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been to a garden centre while I was out cycling, and she had acquired some nice begonias at an advantageous price. They had been planted out by the time that I got back.

She tells me that they don’t mind the wet.

After a cup of tea, provided by Mrs Tootlepedal, and a look at the birds – more sparrows and a rather indignant siskin . . .

. . . I went for a walk round the slightly damp garden before having a shower and a sibling Zoom.

For some reason, I felt a little tired in the evening, so I was happy to watch a bit of Gardener’s World before settling down to write this post.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow . . .

. . . and the joint flowers of the day are three sweet peas.

For those interested, I append a map of my cycle ride. A click on the map will show further details. It was a very flat route after the undulations brought about by my change of route at the start of the ride.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

33 thoughts on “An uncommon day

  1. Those flowers do look like wild radish. I saw some pink ones once and I’ve been looking for more ever since, with no luck.
    I’m trying to imagine what those Korean pine cones look like when they go to seed but I hope they don’t hurry. They’re beautiful just the way they are.
    And so is the front garden bed. That’s a nice looking begonia, too.

  2. I seem to remember you saying that your miles on the bike were a bit low this month. Perhaps not now.

    1. I crept over 400 miles for the month, but that is still low for a summer month. I had a week when I couldn’t bicycle so the score is not too bad under the circumstances.

  3. What a lovely day. And to be greeted by such a show in the garden on your return, how wonderful.
    I think your gathered birds – an amazing sight – counts as a ‘parliament’ of rooks!

  4. I had no idea that rooks gathered in such large numbers – for a moment I thought the swallows were gathering to discuss their travel plans for coming here! That shot of the front garden came as such a beautiful surprise after following your cycling journey – it is very pretty indeed.

  5. Once again a wonderful trip and managed to avoid the rain 🙂 I loved the cones and the Caerlaverock Castle. I did not know about The fireless engines, now I know that they excist. Have a nice weekend and up to your next bike ride.

  6. I’m overwhelmed by your front bed. Also stunned by your long cycle tour. Thanks for taking us along. Caerlaverock Castle looks still like I remember it.

  7. Our newspaper recorded today that there was no Common Riding- maybe they should have recorded your excellent cycle ride instead. The flower border is totally beautiful and proper summery- love it.

  8. I am fond of old castles and looked up Caerlaverock. It has been renovated a number of times of the centuries. I wonder what it would have been like to live in one.

  9. Another amazing tour. I wonder what the rooks were up to. Perhaps gathering before moving on to their communal roost – that’s the only “fact” I could find quickly on the Internet. I am enamored of your favorite pine cones and the front garden as well. The garden in particular basks in Mrs. T’s tender loving care.

  10. Rain that doesn’t get you wet, is what all tootlers and gardeners need. One problem for the rest of us, it’s only to be found in the borders lol. Got a free massage of my gammy left leg and knee joint, it worked wonders. Jo got my knee back to 90 degrees bend again and gave me more exercises to do every hour. That was last Friday, and I’m having another massage tomorrow (Monday). Cheers.

  11. Mrs T’s flower garden does look great. I wonder when you’ll be able to have the common riding again. Here, the festivals go on as if there is no pandemic, followed reliably by surges of the virus. Your town has more sense.

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