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Archive for the ‘Langholm’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  His son has got a scientific rain gauge and it had plenty of rain to measure this morning.

bruce rain gauge

There had been rain overnight and it was still raining hard after breakfast so I went down to the river to see what was what.

It was a grey day!

gloomy day

There was plenty of water coming down the Wauchope but not as much as I expected..

wauchope quite full

…and there was remarkably little coming down the Esk which was still running grey compared with the brown water coming out of the swollen Wauchope.

wichope brown, esk grey

I went home and got ready to receive a visit from our friend Sue who was going to brave the weather and come for lunch.  She arrived safely, having negotiated some rather soggy patches on the way, and we had just finished lunch when our neighbour Jane came round to ask if we had seen what was happening to the dam that runs along the back wall of our house.

We went to have a look.

flooded dam

This was a surprise and not a very welcome one as the water was above the level of the ventilators in our side wall.

Sue thought that this might be a good moment to go home and she left.  We were pleased to get a a phone call later on to confirm that she had arrived safely, only having to make one diversion where the main road to Brampton was flooded.  She did well to leave when she did, as the main road south out of Langholm was blocked by a landslide shortly afterwards and was closed for several hours.

It was obvious that the sluice controlling the flow from the Wauchope into the dam was not closed and it was lucky that Jane was able to contact a man from the business that uses the water from the dam.  He came with an engineer to see what could be done.

I went up to look at Pool Corner where our dam originates at a caul with the sluice. The caul couldn’t be seen at all and it was obvious that that the rain must have been very heavy in the catchment area for the Wauchope as it had risen a tremendous amount since I had checked earlier on.

wauchope spate at pool corner caul

The water was pounding round the corner and not just in the river…

flood at pool corner

…but along the road beside the river as well.

road flooded at pool corner

Looking at the flood wall which has the sluice in it, it was clear that the sluice was broken and not holding back the water at all.  Several sandbags were lowered to see what would happen and they were swept through the sluice in a matter of seconds.

sluice at pool corner

In the end a board was lowered and secured in place…

pool corner after repair

…and as unlikely as it looked, and in spite of continuously rushing waters…

spate over caul at pool corner

…the work did the trick and the dam level went down.

dam less flooded

You can see the water level on the wall of the house…

damp mark on house wall

…and we were grateful to our neighbour Kenny who provided an old table and helped Mrs Tootlepedal to fix it as a protection to our back door when the flood was at its height.

It was a close run thing.

back door protection flood

Kenny also paddled with me along the banks of the dam to the grid which stops rubbish getting swept into the culvert which takes the dam under our neighbouring streets, and he raked as much debris from the grid as he could.

When the water level had fallen, I went along again and cleared the grid again.

Luckily the heavy rain stopped while all this was going on and although it has rained again off and on, the levels have stayed well down and it is not due to rain heavily again until tomorrow afternoon.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that the temporary board in front of the sluice will hold up.

It didn’t help that all this took place on a Saturday afternoon and there will quite a few phone calls to the owners of the dam on Monday morning.

A blackbird kept an eye on the comings and goings…

balckbird om hedge

…and I noted the one cheerful item along the dam, this fuchsia which we passed on our way to clear out the grid.

fuchsia on flood day

It was a very warm and muggy day and when it stopped raining, the birds soon appeared in the garden.  The sparrows stayed in pairs…

two sparrow panel

…but the blackbirds stood alone.

blackbird on bench

Flowers had survived…

cle,atis on flood day

…and looked surprisingly well…

clematis flood day

..and there were even new flowers to be seen.

rudbeckia

We kept a nervous eye and ear out for signs and sounds of more rain but as I write this, things are calm and the dam has stayed quiet.  More rain is still forecast for tomorrow afternoon but we hope that it won’t fall in the same spot that it fell today.

The almost flying bird of the day is a blackbird taking a running jump rather than using its wings.

jumping blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who went to the Taunton Flower Show.  You can read about her adventures here. Sad to say, her favourite arrangement in the ‘At the Garden Gate’ class was disqualified for using artificial grass.

Taunton Flower show

We had quite a lot of rain and wind overnight and it was raining very heavily after breakfast when I had to go up to the Town Hall to inquire about getting a replacement bus pass.  It was a fitful sort of day though, and by the time that I came back, the rain had stopped.  That set the pattern for the day.

Dropscone dropped in with traditional treacle scones to go with a cup or two of coffee. He told me that he had been at a golf tournament earlier in the week and had only managed to get six holes in before the competition was called off because the course was flooded.  The dry spell earlier in the summer seems a distant memory now.

When he left, I looked out of the back door across a rainy garden to see the robin at the far end of the lawn…

sparrow at end of lawn

…and two birds on opposites sides of the great Brexit debate on a neighbour’s rooftop.

two birds not speaking

Badly painted blackbirds are all around…

badly painted blackbird

…though the painter’s work is improving.

better painted blackbird

When the rain stopped, I went out to have a look round and was impressed by Mrs Tootlepedal’s large lily.

bif lily

There are still new flowers coming out and the yellow crocosmia has just started to flower.

yellow crocosmia

The phlox has done so well, undaunted by wind and rain, that Mrs Tootlepedal plans to have even more  next year.  Who could blame her?

fiery phlox

A late honey suckle has come out on the vegetable garden fence.

late honeysuckle

I went back in and made some leek and potato soup for lunch with a leek and potatoes from the garden.  Together with a tomato and feta cheese salad (not from the garden), it made a tasty meal.

After lunch, it looked as though there might be a window in the changeable weather that would allow me to go for a short cycle ride, so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping, I set out to go as far as I could without getting wet.

It was sunny when I started but there was plenty of water running across the road up the Wauchope valley after the morning’s showers, and plenty of water in the little streams rushing down to join the Wauchope Water

bigholms burn

The powers that be have mowed every road verge in the district and there are now no wild flowers to look at, so my camera took a wider view today.

I went to the top of Callister and looked down the other side.

callister panorama

Click for the bigger pic (I may have put this one through a heavy filter.)

The dark clouds coming up from the left told me that it was time to turn and go home.

When I looked back towards the town from the top of the Wauchope Schoolhouse brae, I could see my sunny weather disappearing up the valley

Wauchope view

When I got back to the town, I thought of stopping while the going was good, but it was warm enough and it hadn’t started to rain, so I pressed on and crossed the town bridge and headed north.

 

three arches flood on Esk

I had walked under the near arch dry shod on Common Riding day when I wanted to cross the road which was full of horses.

I kept thinking of those grey clouds that I had seen on Callister and feeling that it would be wise not to go too far, but the road is well surfaced and it was still dry so I went a few miles up the road….

ewes panorama

Another clickable bigger picture.

…and the view is always worth looking at…

ewes view

 

…but I left it a fraction too late to turn round and within a mile of home, the heavens opened and I got wet.  As soon as I got home though, the rain stopped again. Those weather gods like a laugh.

The dry spell gave me a chance to have another walk round the garden.  I was hoping to catch a flying bird…

starlings on wire

….but the starlings stayed rooted to the electricity wire while I watched them and then all moved off in a body as soon as I turned my back for a moment.

A young dunnock tried out the fake tree but sat there quietly.

dunnock on fake tree

I gave up and went in to have a shower.

As we sat down for our tea, the sun came out and it was a glorious evening.  We agreed to go for a walk after our meal but of course, it started to rain again when the time came, so we stayed in.  Then the sun came out as the rain continued and to emphasise what a patchy day it was, when I looked out of the window at the back of the house to try to see a rainbow, I found that it wasn’t raining at all on that side of the house.

I went out into the garden and it wasn’t raining as I went out of the door but it was raining quite hard on the lawn only a few yards away.  I don’t think that I have ever seen quite such local rain.

We have two more days of this sort of weather to come and then, according to a reliable forecast, it is going to get cooler but drier.  It will be nice to be able to plan a day’s activity with confidence.

The flying bird of the day is the dunnock that we saw before.  By the time that I saw it again, it had flown up into the rowan tree.

dunnock in rowan

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair.  He knows that I like cascades, so he sent me this picture of the Calton Steps in Edinburgh today.

calton steps cascade

We had showers here today but nothing like they must have had in Edinburgh.  It was the sort of day when every time that you poked your nose out into the garden, it started to rain and as soon as you went back in, it stopped.

Nevertheless, it stayed dry in the morning long enough for us to cut back the climbing hydrangea and the clematis over the back door.

wall trimming

These two plants are very fine, but they will send new shoots up the wall and under the gutter every year so they have to be kept under control.

After we had cleaned up, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting and I walked round the garden to check on the flowers. There were enough bright blooms to offset the general gloominess of the day…

four flowers

…though I noticed that the bloke whose job it is to paint the blackbirds hadn’t got any better.

badly painted blackbird

As it was still dry, I got the mower out and began to mow the middle lawn.  It immediately started to rain quite heavily so I retreated back inside, taking the mower with me.

I put some pea and potato soup on to cook and as soon as the rain stopped, I dashed out and finished mowing the  lawn.  I noticed that we have had over 7 cm of rain recently and it is a tribute to how dry it was earlier in the year, that I could easily mow the lawn even after a sharp shower.

There have been no coloured butterflies about because of the rain over the past two days but the white butterflies are a hardier breed and there were several fluttering about today.

white butterfly on lily

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set about trimming some more of our low hedges and I put on the computer hoping to catch up with a backlog of work.  My hopes were dashed by one of those Windows updates when I switched on.  As this one took well over two hours, I had time on my hands so I went out into the garden.

It started to rain.

However, on this occasion, the rain was light and intermittent so I joined in the trimming business and turned a golden box ball back into a green box ball.

trimmed box ball

Then Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a break from our labours (and the rain), and sat on the bench under the shelter of the walnut tree and contemplated the phine phlox at the phar end of the lawn.

phlox at end of lawn

The geraniums have been flowering for months and today they were joined by the first Michaelmas daisy….

four more flowers

…while the calendulas and pink astilbes are providing some brighter colour.

The butterflies may have been put off by the weather but we had plenty of bees in the garden.  This one was visiting a hosta.

bee on hosta

And wherever you look at the moment, you are almost sure to see several sparrows.

crowds of sparrows

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.  He is dog sitting for his daughter and Alison and he had taken the dogs for a walk and just got home before the next shower arrived.  He was very cheerful about that.

After he left, I returned to my computer and found that it had finally finished updating.  This was a relief.

I had thought of going for a cycle ride before our evening meal, but I am glad that I didn’t because there was yet another heavy shower of rain and I would have got soaked.

After tea, the weather looked as though it might be better for a while so I went out for a short walk.

Down at the river, the habitually lone gull had been joined by youngsters….

gulls on the esk

…one of whom posed nicely for me.

young gull

My gull knowledge is extremely sketchy but I think this is an adult and two first year young.

Further along the river, the mallards had settled down for a snooze.

ducks at bedtime

By the time that I had got to the Kilngreen, the sun had come out and for the rest of my walk I enjoyed some late evening warmth.

sawmill brig august evening

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and took the new path round the edge of the Castleholm.  The trees beside the path were full of life…

four tree fruits Castleholm

..but the outright winner was the noble fir with its masses of enormous cones.

noble fir cones castleholm

It was a perfect evening for a walk and even the midges kept away.

new path castleholm

I walked round the Scholars Field, entertained by the merry cries of footballers practising on the artificial pitch and then, after a noticing a final set of cones…

larch cones scholars

…I made my way home as the low sun lit up Warbla.

warba august evening

It looks likely that there will be more rainy days to come so it was lucky that I got that long ride in when the weather was good last Friday.

On one occasion when I was out in the garden today, I looked up and saw half a dozen starlings sitting on the power cables but I was too slow to get my camera and catch them sitting in a neat line.

The upside of this is that I have a flying bird of the day today, even if it was by accident.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who was taking some refreshment in Russell Square when she noticed that she was being watched.

Susan's owl

We had a day of almost uninterrupted sunshine and light winds, ideal for pottering about the garden so this is what I did.  I thought of going for a bike ride from time to time as it was also a perfect day for cycling but by the time that I had pottered about the garden all morning and a bit of the afternoon too, the heat of the day had rendered me too melted to pull myself together enough to go cycling.

Through the day, flowers caught the eye, both singly…

four bright flowers

…and in clumps…

four bright clumps

…and they caught the eyes of insects too and the garden was loud with buzzing.

bee and hoverfly on poppy

In the face of hot competition, this was my favourite single flower of the day…

calendula

…though for a knock ’em dead effect, it was hard to ignore the phlox…

phlox phlurry

…which is phlourishing greatly.

another phlox phlurry

I kept an eye out for butterflies while I was picking beans and digging potatoes in the morning.

We had a good selection today:

A red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…a peacock…

peacock butterfly

…a painted lady…

painted lady butterfly

…and a small tortoiseshell…

small tortoisesgell butterfly

…and lots of plainer butterflies too.

white butterfly

There were several of each variety and it was hard to miss the butterflies as they flew about the garden.

It was pretty warm in the sun so I had to go inside from time to time just to cool down.  Not being able to stand the heat outside at one point, I went into the kitchen and made some soup for lunch using potatoes, beans and an onion from the garden.

Later, I spent some time inside watching the birds and was pleased to see a few goldfinches about.

goldfinch sparrow siskin

The number of siskins has decreased lately so they must be moving on but the goldfinches still had to wait for a free perch…

goldfinch perching

…. because there are a great number of sparrows about and they are very boisterous…

sparring sparrows

…very boisterous indeed.

squabbling sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at a series of meetings in the morning but she buckled down to some serious gardening in the afternoon and only paused when these three wise men appeared at our gate.

three old men

Gavin, Mike and Charlie had been out on the hills checking on one of the Langholm Walks routes and replacing marker discs on the guideposts where necessary.  Their voluntary work is valuable as the walks bring many visitors into the town.

I mowed the front lawn and then I did some compost sieving.

As I found that I had emptied Bin D when I had finished, I shifted the compost that hadn’t gone through the sieve and which had been resting in Bin C back into Bin D and then, after a short sit down, I shifted the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

This is exciting work but I needed another sit down after it so I took a camera in hand and sat on a chair beside the front lawn.  I was greatly entertained as I rested by the persistent demands of a young blackbird to be fed by its long suffering parent.  One worm was never enough.

blackbird feeding young

Then I went in and made incessant demands of my own until Mrs Tootlepedal made our evening meal.

I haven’t done much walking lately, as I am trying not to make my feet worse but it was such a lovely evening after tea, that it seemed a crime not to go for a short walk, so I went.

A reflection in the dam caught my attention as I crossed the bridge when I left the house.

dam reflection

The park and the river beside it were full of children swimming in the river and cycling round the park so in Langholm at least, the idea that all children these days spend their time sitting inside staring at their screens is obviously not true.

The park was looking at its best.

 

Buccleuch Park

Several of the poplar trees along the river bank had to be cut down in recent years but the ones that remain look good on a day like today.

Poplars in Buccleuch Park

I walked nervously past two monsters…

two monsters Buccleuch Park

…and through the wood until I got to the Murtholm.

murtholm

It was such a lovely warm night that I was tempted to walk along the river bank to Skippers Bridge and back on the far side of the river but good sense prevailed and I turned back and walked home along the track on the top of the bank above the river.

easton's walk

This is the last post for some time in which birds on the feeder will appear, as the warm wet weather and the tendency of siskins to spill seeds when they eat has made the feeder area too smelly for comfort and I am pausing the feeding for a while.  There is plenty of other food for the birds about.

So the flying bird of the day today is a farewell sparrow.

flying sparrow

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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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