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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Common Riding’

Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile Tom in South Africa, who sent me this view taken on his morning walk.

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There was a threat of rain in the morning and the promise of sunshine in the afternoon, so Mrs Tootlepedal and I went shopping in Carlisle in the morning.  The rain came and went but we stayed dry as we shopped.  It rained heavily again after we got home and then, as promised, the day  improved and there were some pleasantly sunny moments.

I had time for a quick look round the garden in a dry spell before we went shopping.

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The privet is filling the garden with its scent and pulling in the bees in a wholesale way.

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I liked this knapweed.  It has a cheery air about it.

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I took two shots of poppies and friends.

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We got back to Langholm from Carlisle just in time for me to collect a camera and walk up through the town where people were gathering to watch the cornet lead a procession of horsemen  galloping up this steep hill at the start of the Castle Craigs ride out, the last of several rides out which take place in the week before our Common Riding week.  (By tradition, this ride out is a men only affair although other rides out and the Common Riding procession itself are open to all.)

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I didn’t stop to watch the riders there but headed on up the Kirk Wynd, past massed ranks of rosebay willowherb…

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…and onto the open hillside.

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I had time to admire the flowers on the hill…

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…before the cornet and his followers appeared below.

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They too left the wynd and headed up onto the hill.

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Henry, our cornet, is also the church organist and choirmaster so I was pleased that he had a moment to wave at me as he passed.

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The cornet is always accompanied by the cornets of the past two years who make up the ‘front row’ and they stopped to let the mounted followers catch up, and had a small refreshment as they waited.

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I admired the view until…

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…the company was united.

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After a short rest, they set off again…

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…following a track that would lead them..

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…up the hill and past a cairn.

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I was impressed by the colour co-ordination among the horses…

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The cavalcade made a fine sight as it snaked up the path towards the shoulder of the hill.

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The riders were pursued by some foot followers…

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…and an unfortunate horseman whose saddle had slipped further down the hill and who was now going up at his own speed.

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As the procession disappeared from sight on their way to visit the Castle Craigs on the far side of Whita…

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…I headed back down the hill, alarming some sheep…

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…and keeping my eye out for interest on the way.

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I arrived by a roundabout route at the Kilngreen where black headed gulls were jostling each other in an attempt to be recognised as flying bird of the day.

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The riders had got a grand day for their outing.

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Not having done much walking on the hills lately, I was ready for a sit down when i got home and once again, a stage of the Tour de France offered the perfect excuse.

When the stage had finished, I picked myself up, shook myself down and went for a 16 miles circular cycle ride.  It was a grand day for cycling as well as horse riding.

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When I passed Hollows tower near the end of my ride, I noticed that they have constructed an extensive new balustrade round the top of the tower, presumably  to allow visitors to walk safely there.

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In 1972, Neil Armstrong, the astronaut stood there when he visited Langholm.

from our collection

I got home safely and while I was in energetic mode, I mowed the middle and front lawns, picked some sweet peas and a few raspberries and strawberries and kept an eye out for small tortoiseshell butterflies.

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As I was now ready for another sit down, it was very fortunate that Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared a tasty evening meal for me to eat while I sat.

I apologise for the excessive number of pictures but I have tried to keep the text down to a minimum.

This was the black headed gull that won the prize for flying bird of the day.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who saw this all electric hire car getting a charge in a street the other day.

blue city car

It was warmer today but no less grey in the morning and we were pleased to get to church and back before it started to rain.  As I may have mentioned, our organist Henry was recently elected to act as the town’s standard bearer or cornet at our Common Riding at the end of July.  This means that he has many obligations and duties to perform in the weeks leading up to the great day so he will have little time to think of the church choir.  As a result, we are having a very quiet time as far as singing in church goes with a standby organist on duty again today.  As we are also short of a minister, there was rather a subdued air about the service this morning.

Thanks to the rain when we got home, it seemed like a good time to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so I did that.

The rain eased off and after lunch and I had a quick look at the bird. Once again, sparrows were the chief visitors.  Although they are common and often ignored, they are quite decorative in their own way.

decorative sparrow

Almost every time that I looked, there was  a sparrow looming up.

sparrow looming

I did see a single siskin…

sparrow and siskin

…and a great tit and a blue tit visited at moments when I didn’t have a camera to hand.

The second most common birds at present are jackdaws.

jackdaw looking keen

I had time for a walk round the garden.  The climbing hydrangea is gradually getting little specks of white all over it.  It should look very fine quite soon.

climbing hydrangea

There were some new flowers to be seen like this foxglove..

wet foxglove

…but generally, it was a day for spotting rain drops on roses…

wet yellow rosewet rose

…and geraniums.

wet geranium

…but no brown paper parcels.

The flowers beside the bird feeders, which I look at through the kitchen window when the birds have flown away, make a pretty picture.

flowers beside feeder

I didn’t have long to hang around as it was soon time to get in our little white electric thingy and go to Carlisle for a choir practice.  I had various reasons for getting an electric car but none of them were about what it would be like actually driving it, so it is a great bonus that it turns out to be a wonderful car to drive.  Just tootling along the familiar road to Carlisle at a modest speed brings me great satisfaction.

We had a new venue for our choir practice today, the large chapel of a local private school.  It proved to have very hard pews to sit on and quite an echoing acoustic so it took a bit of getting used to.  We are having our concert there next week and then using it as our permanent home when we start again in Autumn.  I may have to bring my own cushion.

When we came out after a really good sing, the day had miraculously turned from cool and grey to warm and sunny and there was a spring in everybody’s step as they went on their way.

It was still fine when we got home and I considered a bike ride but a very vigorous breeze and a rather overgrown hedge along the road…

hedge before trimmin June

…made me think that getting the hedge cut would be the best thing to do.  With Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, it didn’t take too long to get the hedge to look like this…

hedge after trimming june

…and the trimmings tucked away in the compost bin.

As I passed the front door, I couldn’t help stopping to note the clematis in the sunshine there.  It has lasted very well, possibly because it is in a sheltered spot against the wall of the house.

front door azaleas in sun

Turning to look the other way, I could see the azalea at the left hand end of the lawn which has spoiled Mrs Tootlepedal’s colour scheme by not coming into flower at all this year.

front lawn evening

Looking back from the far end of the lawn, it is only too easy to spot the large pale areas which are mostly moss..

front lawn looking back

…but considering that I seriously thinking of abandoning all hope of grass earlier this year, it has come on pretty well and the new moss eating treatment seems to be paying off.

As the sun was still out, I would have liked to take a few flower pictures but the wind was so strong…

windblown leaves

…that it would have been a waste of time to try.

I went in and we had a nourishing bowl of sausage stew with new potatoes for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is a male sparrow.

flying sparrow

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No guest picture today but a portrait of Cornet Little, who carried the town’s flag today.

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We had been promised all sorts of weather, thunderstorms, steady rain, occasional drizzle but in the end, we got a beautiful day for our Common Riding and it was shirtsleeve order until the very end of the day when rain arrived.

As a result of the sunshine, there are a lot of pictures in today’s post so I will try to keep the commentary to a minimum.

It couldn’t have been sunnier when I went along to meet the procession as it came down Thomas Telford Road after breakfast.

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The Town Band is hidden in the crowd there and I was surprised when they came into view to find that Scott the minister was playing the cymbals.

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The band moved on to take their place in front of the mounted procession, led by the front three…

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…before it went back down Thomas Telford Road, crossed the Langholm Bridge…

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…and disappeared down the High Street towards Townfoot.

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While they went on their way, I and a lot of the rest of the town and its many visitors headed up the Kirk Wynd.

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Most stopped there to cheer the cornet and his followers as they galloped up the steep hill.  I went further up the hill, passing Mike Tinker and family who had got into a good position earlier on near the Golf Club.

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I like to find a position where there are not two hundred people between me and the horses so I climbed a bit higher up the hill, found a secluded spot and admired the views for a few minutes…

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…before the cornet appeared , proudly carrying our flag up the hill…

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…followed as ever by the left….

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…and right hand men…

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…and then the rest of the 140 or so riders….

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…who cantered past me, kicking up a great dust on their way to the hill.

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While they continued to the Castle Craigs and the Monument before returning to the town, I went home to meet up with the rest of the family and had a restorative cup of coffee.

Leaving the others behind, as Matilda and Mrs Tootlepedal had been out in quite enough sun for the time being, I found a quiet spot on the bank of the Ewes Water just below the Sawmill Brig.

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It was very peaceful, with a few people and a row of attentive gulls hanging about.

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It wasn’t long though before the pipe band led a procession of children carrying heather besoms over the sawmill brig, bringing a lot of people with it….

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…and soon the banks of the river downstream were also filling up with spectators.

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Some foot soldiers, bearers of the spade, crossed the river on foot…

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…and they were followed by the cornet and his retinue.

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Once across, the riders assembled on the Castleholm…

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…and this took enough time for me to walk back to the town bridge from which I could see the last of the riders still crossing the water.

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I waited on the banks of the Esk until the cornet had been led past Langholm Castle to start the cornets chase…

Common Riding 2018 cornets chase

…and then went home for lunch.

After lunch, Matilda was ready for action.

Matilda

She was wearing sensible glasses and a serious hat and every available inch of skin was covered with sunscreen.  Thus armoured, she, I and her mother made our way to the Castleholm where we could watch runners…

athletics

Ready, steady, GO!!

…and dancers…

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…who must have been intolerably hot in their heavy costumes…

…and catch glimpses of hardy souls having fun on one of the rides at the fair on the Kilngreen.  (Though I use the word fun very loosely when you see it involves being twirled round upside down high above the treetops and then having to wait suspended in the air while new victims get aboard down below.)

fair

My chief interest as usual was the horse racing.  The organisers had been busy with an agricultural sprayer watering the track in the past week so the going was surprisingly good considering the lack of rain.

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I left Matilda and Clare at the end of the straight where they could see the horses thundering towards them and took my place at the bottom corner.

It was a six furlong sprint and the riders rocketed round the track at an alarming speed…

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“At full stretch”

…even the one bringing up the rear of the field.

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The Castleholm racetrack has tight corners and getting round them calls for a great deal of strength and skill.

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It doesn’t take a horse long to cover six furlongs and within a minute or so the field was slowing down as it came round the bottom corner again having passed the winning post.

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Before the next race, we were joined by Al and he came up to join me at the top corner.  This was the feature race of the day and worth a cool thousand pounds to the winner.

The runners paraded in the paddock…

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…before going down to the seven furlong start.  The starter got them off to a very even start…

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…and I could see them streaking up the back straight…

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…before rounding the top corner in style…

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…with the back marker once again trying as hard as all the others.

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Matilda was quite well enough cooked by now so we made our way home…

 

Clare, Al and Matilda

…accompanied by a new friend.

Our return was perfectly timed to catch the end of the last mountain stage of the Tour de France and after that we had a peaceful time for the rest of the day.

Matilda took Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden to do some experimental cycling on the lawn and followed that with some watering and frog spotting from our new garden bridge.

Mrs T and Matilda

This was the frog that they spotted.

frog

I was looking for peacock butterflies and found several of them on the buddleia.

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They were working in pairs today.

peacock butterfly pair 1

The Common Riding day ends with dancing, first on the Castleholm and then in the streets on the way back into town for the handing back of the flag.  Every year, I think that I will go up to the field and take some final pictures there and every year, my tired body thinks differently.

I had hoped to close the post with magnificent shots of a blood red moon and Mars but sadly after a sunlit day, the skies clouded over.

Instead of the moon, there is a continuous flicker of lightning around the hills to the north of the town and a distant rumble of thunder so I better send this post off before our connection gets broken.

Some bright flowers from the garden today will have to round things off instead of heavenly wonders.

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Today’s guest picture comes from the phone camera of our younger son, Al who took it while sitting on the new bench in our garden this afternoon.

Al's bee on calendula

It is a very smart device which not only takes the pictures that he wants but often takes one or two just before and/or just after he has pressed the button of its own accord and then it may politely suggest that its effort is better than his.  I need one of these devices.  Still, his effort was very good.

It was a hot and sunny day today but not as hot as it was in London as our daughter rang us up to point out.

The pest control man appeared before breakfast time and did his work so the painter was able to get on with his work too and this was very satisfactory.

Between the hot weather and the need to prepare the house for visitors, there was not a lot of opportunity to do useful things in the garden but I did manage to trim some of the hedges round the front lawn and take a few pictures.

Not just one…

red cosmos

…but two more cosmos have come out.

another red cosmos

And there was a new dahlia of the day.

red dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal planted two gaura in her new bed in the spring.  One succumbed to the miserable weather but the other has continued to flower in a very satisfactory way.

gaura

The bed is edged with lobelia and they have often appeared in the background behind other flowers.  I thought that they deserved a picture to themselves.

lobelia clump

Like many other flowers, a closer look is interesting.  They turn out to have two car headlights each.

lobelia headlights

There were a few peacock butterflies about but they were hard to catch.  Here is one on the red buddleia…

peacock butterfly on red buddleia

…and another on a pink phlox.

peacock butterfly on phlox

They weren’t very keen to settle down and open their wings and this one on the other buddleia remained firmly closed.

peacock butterfly on buddleia

It wasn’t idle though. It was getting stuck in.

peacock butterfly sipping

The white butterflies are still about in numbers and I caught this one in mid air by happy accident.

flying white butterfly

The sunflowers are reaching up to more than 10 feet in height.

sunflower heart

Our son Al with wife Clare and daughter Matilda arrived in the late afternoon after a very hot drive from Edinburgh.  Matilda’s first business was to walk three times round the outside of the house with me.  As the dam runs right along the back of the house, this involved crossing our new bridge at one end of the house and then the stepping stone in the dam at the other end.  Then we went in for a drink and a biscuit.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared an excellent evening meal for the party and after Matilda had paid another visit to the stepping stone with her father…

matilda at the dam

Out with a helping hand…

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…and back unaided.

…we ate  it with great appreciation.

Langholm Common Riding always takes place on the last Friday in July, which is tomorrow.  The day before, Thursday, is known as Simmer Fair Night and it is celebrated by the three bands in the town.

First, the Town Band plays a programme in the Market Place and then the flute band goes down to the site of the old railway station to greet exiles returning to the town on the last train.  Although the trains stopped running about fifty years ago and the station has long since disappeared, the flute band still turns up.  Then they march through the town….

Langholm Flute Band

…followed by a considerable procession, doubtless some of them being returning exiles.

flute band procession

A town bandsman looked on with the satisfaction of knowing that he had already done his duty.

Calvert, town band

Almost as soon as the flute band has passed on its way, the Langholm Pipe Band  start a march round the town.

Langholm pipe band

It looked for a moment as though their march pace might speed up a bit as some  heavy drops of rain began to fall from a menacing sky but once again, the rain came to nothing and the march continued in good order.

We are looking forward to celebrating Langholm’s Great Day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the swifts that traditionally scream  across the sky  on Simmer Fair Nicht.

swift

 

 

 

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Today’s picture is another from Anne’s visit to Elgin and shows what is left of Elgin Cathedral which was founded in the 13th century.

Elgin Cathedral

We had another pleasantly warm day with a cooling breeze, only spoiled by the complete absence of any rain.  These are not words that have appeared on the blog before!

Mrs Tootlepedal and I found time to visit the garden after breakfast.

I was happy to see the first dahlia flower of the year as I had been tasked with keeping the potential dahlias healthy while Mrs Tootlepedal was away.

first dahlia 2018

A new clematis, lurking in a philadelphus shrub has arrived as well.

clematis

While the dahlias and clematis are coming, the delphiniums are going.

philadelphus

They have stood up very well this year but the colour is fading fast.

I may not have thinned the plums quite as well as I should have.

plum cluster

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with the variety of calendula she chose this year as it has a brownish outside which makes the flowers look interesting both as they develop and fade.

calendula

Combined with the bright red poppies, calendulas surround the new bench with colour.

new bench with flowers

We have had a lot of bee visitors in the garden lately…

bee on knapweed

…and these brightly coloured bumble bees have been very busy on the stachys, making the best of the last of the flowers.

bee on stachys

My bumble bee knowledge is rather vague but these visitors may be common carder bees.

We didn’t have too long to enjoy the garden as it was the day that the cornet visits the church for a special service and the choir was going to have to be at its best with a large congregation expected.

We arrived in time for a warm up and were soon joined by the cornet and a good number of followers.  We were assisted by several additonal singers who had come specially for this service and it was a pleasure to sing in a well balanced and strong choir.  We sang the Hallelujah Chorus again and it went as well as we could hope.

We had a moment for a little gardening and a light lunch when we got back before it was time to take our singing clothes off and put our cycling clothes on.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been tempted by the offer of a cream tea at the Waterbeck village hall, ten miles away.

The joy of the potential cream tea was slightly modified by the cooling breeze which from a  cycling point of view was in fact a brisk head wind and the prospect of cycling up and over Callister Hill on the way.   However Mrs Tootlepedal was strong and both these obstacles were surmounted and we had a very good tea at Waterbeck which gave us strength for the return journey.  Although we had to go over Callister again, at least the wind was helping us this time.

I had my camera in my back pocket and stopped on the outward journey when Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out an orchid.

orchid

It shows how useful it is to have another pair of eyes on a ride as I had passed the orchid several times on recent rides without noticing it.

As we left the hall after our tea, I noticed a gathering of future suppliers of cream for teas.

Waterbeck cows

I had read an article in a newspaper recently about the use of recycled plastic in road surfacing so I was interested to see this sign on a farm road.  It looks like a good use for recycled plastic…

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..and according to the company’s website, it might even reduce the number of potholes if our council decided to use it on the public roads.

I stopped to take a view as we cycled up Callister on the way home and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to put the hammer down and leave me for dead.

Mrs T on Callister

This was the view I was looking at.

Winterhope view

She did stop and wait for me further up the hill and I had time to look at wild flowers.

callister flowers

As we got nearer Langholm, the clouds broke up a little and it became a perfect day for a pedal.

wauchope schoolhouse road

There is another cream tea opportunity at Waterbeck next Sunday (they are raising funds for their church) and I hope that the weather will be kind enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal out again.

There was time for a little watering and garden wandering when we got back.

buddleia

The first buddleia flowers are out and I hope that they will bring some coloured butterflies into the garden.  We have lots of white butterflies but peacocks, red admirals and small tortoiseshells are more photogenic.

The first runner beans of the season were included in our evening meal and not content with my cream tea, I had strawberries and cream for my pudding.

Then the day ended quietly with some sofa sitting in front of the sporting highlights of the day on the telly.

I didn’t manage to find a flying bird of the day so a standing collared dove will have to do.

collared dove

Perhaps I should have gone for a bright flower of the day instead.

bright flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my cello playing friend Mike’s trip to the north.  His wife Anne has kindly sent me some pictures which she took on the holiday,  including this one of Abraham in the biblical garden of Elgin Cathedral.

Elgin cathedral

 

It was another pointlessly drizzly morning here today with just enough rain to annoy but not enough to do any good.

wet wedding rose

It was quite warm though so I was happy to get my new bike out after breakfast and go for my regular 20 mile circuit to Canonbie and back.

I had to put my rain jacket on shortly after I left home but I was able to take it off again three miles later, though there wasn’t much opportunity to take shots of the wonderful views while I was stopped because there weren’t any views at all.

Bloch road on wet day

It brightened up a bit as I went round and by the time that I got to Canonbie…

Canonbie Church

…it was a cloudy but pleasant day.  My good mood was greatly enhanced by a friendly wind which let me cover the last fifteen miles of the route in exactly an hour of cycling time.

Steve, the man who makes our benches, has also provided us with a new bridge for the pond.  He delivered it today and Mrs Tootlepedal and I installed it.  I selflessly gave Mrs Tootlepedal the honour of testing it out.

new bridge

It held up very well.

I didn’t have time to do any gardening so after a quick smile from my favourite sunflower…

sunflower

…I picked up my other camera and set off to walk up the Kirk Wynd onto Whita Hill.

There were plenty of wild flowers to give me an excuse for a stop on the way up the hill…

wild flowers kirk wynd

…and I was particularly pleased to see some heather out.

heather

I needed the wildflower stops because, as you can see, it is quite a steep walk up from the town.

Langholm

I wasn’t alone on the hill though, because not long after I found a good place to stand, the cornet and his right and left hand men came cantering up the Kirk Wynd and onto the hill too.

CC Ride-out 8

It was the last Saturday before the last Friday of July so it was the day for the Castle Craigs ride-out.

I liked the fine horse that carried Stuart, the right hand man, up the hill.

CC Ride-out 7

The ‘front three’ were soon joined by other riders….CC Ride-out 5

…and there was a general gathering for a moment’s rest…

CC Ride-out 4

…which gave me an opportunity to admire this beautiful horse…

CC Ride-out 6

…before the cornet led the cavalcade off up the hill…

CC Ride-out 3

…twisting and turning over the many hillocks and dips…

CC Ride-out 2

…before disappearing over the shoulder of the hill on their way to the Castle Craigs and Cronksbank.

CC Ride-out

Other eager pedestrians were following the horses on foot but I had had enough exercise for the day (and no lunch) so I headed back down through the town, got home, collapsed on the sofa…

…and let the heroes of the Tour de France take my exercise for me for the rest of the afternoon.

When the stage had finished, I went out into the garden to find that it was a lovely evening.  I noticed that a professional weeder had been at work…

weedy wheelbarrow

…and my scientific rain gauge had been put to good use.

Mrs Tootlepedal was doing some work in the vegetable garden and was surprised by just how dry the soil in the beds is.  The soil in the top six inches is basically dust if you turn it over and under that, there is a layer of hard, dried, fissured earth.  It is amazing that there any flowers thriving at all.

nasturtium, rose and poppy

But there are.

cornflowers

They must have deep roots.

We were able to supply the evening meal with many good things from the vegetable garden.

There was a scarcity of birds  when I had a moment to look at them and I was rather taken by this siskin which was much more interested in posing for the camera than eating seed,

siskin posing

Both I and Mrs Tootlepedal have been watering and there seems to be no immediate end in sight for this task as we have no rain in the forecast until the last day of the month, ten days away.

We are singing the Hallelujah Chorus in church again tomorrow so I had a final practice before settling down to write this post.  It will be good to have Mrs Tootlepedal back in the choir.

The flying bird of the day is half a chaffinch (the best that I could do)

flying chaffinch mostly

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wetherby.

wetherby

This post has double the usual amount of pictures for reasons that will become apparent for those with the time and energy to slog through them.  If you make an excuse and leave now, I will quite understand.

Our spell of good weather continues and it is a bit irksome that it is somewhat wasted on a grumpy old man with dodgy joints and a sincere wish that it would rain so that he can stop watering the garden. It is the best summer for 40 years.  And it is not even too hot any more.  After the excessive heat a couple of weeks ago, the temperature is nearly perfect and there are enough passing clouds to give an occasional break from the sun.  I should be running across the hills and swimming in the rivers.  Ah well.

There just isn’t any rain.  It has rained twenty miles away to the south and twenty miles to the north but not on us.  Still, not so long ago there were severe floods twenty miles to the south and twenty miles to the north of us but not here so we should take the rough with the smooth.

I started the day with a little watering and flower watching.

There have been quite a few white butterflies about in the garden but no coloured butterflies at all.

white butterfly

This is a small white (I think)

I have been watering the verbascum and it is thriving.

verbascum

The privet is thriving without any help from me.  It is usually loud with bees.

privet

Knapweed has appeared in one of the beds.

knapweed

And I think that this is a zinnia just coming out.

zinnia

It is pretty warm in the direct sunshine and this blackbird was having a puff and pant in the vegetable garden.

blackbird

I stopped watering and did a load of washing and hung it out to dry (a speedy process these days) and then went off to collect my new improved asthma puffer from the chemist.  I am expecting a miracle cure.

I watched the birds when I got back and enjoyed a complete set of greenfinches on the feeder.

greenfinches

Somehow the morning seemed to slip away without much more input from me but after lunch, I leapt into action and walked up Meikleholm Hill.

There were still no orchids about but there things to be seen.

Meikleholm hill flowers

Harebell, tormentil and pineapple weed

But I hadn’t come to look at wild flowers or birds, though I enjoyed this meadow pipit piping away on top of a little tree…

meadow pipit

…and couldn’t resist one of my favourite views.

view of esk valley

What I was interested in was the first ride-out of the Common Riding fortnight.  It goes from the town…

View of Langholm from Meikleholm Hill

…across the hills to the village of Bentpath and back and is thus universally known as “The Benty Ride out”.

Looking over the edge of the hill, I thought that I could see movement on the town bridge…

horse cross bridge

…but I needed the big zoom on the little Lumix to see the cavalcade setting off from the Kilngreen….

benty rideout leaving kilngreen

…and crossing the town bridge.

benty rideout crossing bridge

The results are a bit fuzzy to say the least but as there was a brisk wind blowing and the horses were about a mile away, it is a tribute to the Lumix that it could pick them out at all.

I didn’t have to wait too long until the cornet, who carries the flag round the town on Common Riding day and leads the rides-out, came round the corner of the hill….

benty rideout cornet

…waved graciously at the cheering crowd (me)…

benty rideout cornet 2

…and cantered on to the top of the hill with his right and left hand men behind him.

benty rideout hunter's gate 1

(The right and left hand men are the cornets from the previous two years who offer experience and support to the current cornet in his many duties.)

Soon the other riders followed on…

benty rideout hunter's gate 2

…some at a good canter over the rough ground…

benty rideout hunter's gate 3

…until the whole group stopped for a breather at the gate onto Timpen (at just over 1000ft, Timpen would be  the highest point of the day).

benty rideout hunter's gate 4

An advanced marshall on a quad bike checked that the route was ok…

Timpen lead out

…and after some deliberation…

benty rideout hunter's gate 7

The cornet led the way…

benty rideout hunter's gate 8

…through the gate…

benty rideout hunter's gate 9

…followed by the other riders…

benty rideout hunter's gate 10

…and set off towards  the summit of Timpen.

benty rideout timpen 1

This was an opportunity for another canter…

benty rideout timpen 2

…and one or two minor upsets.

benty rideout timpen 3

…which led to a pause while loose horses were collected and reunited with their riders…

benty rideout timpen 4

…and then while those at the back caught up…

benty rideout timpen 5

.. the leaders sailed over the top of Timpen and disappeared along the ridge towards the Black Knowe.

The delay to catch the loose horses gave me the opportunity to walk up to the top of Timpen too and watch the riders for a little bit longer.

benty rideout leaving timpen 1

This is not country for the faint hearted rider.

benty rideout leaving timpen 2

…but on a day like today, it offers superb views of the Esk valley.

I liked the view of the cavalcade stretched out along the hillside with the Craig windfarm in the background, a pleasing blend of the traditional and the modern.

benty rideout leaving timpen 3The recent dry weather hadn’t made the ground too hard for comfort but it had done a good job in drying out many of the boggy bits that might dislodge an unwary rider.  It was wonderful underfoot for an elderly walker and I even ventured to run for a few yards to make sure I was in position to get that last shot.

The cornet waited for his followers to catch up

benty rideout black knowe

..and then as the procession disappeared into the distance…

benty rideout black knowe 2

…I was left to enjoy a last look up the Esk valley…

View from timpen

…and a stroll back down the hill in the company of two keen walking ladies who had also taken to the hills to watch the riders go by.

two ladies

This was the first time that the Benty ride-out has taken this particular route on the way to Bentpath and I was surprised that I was one of only four adults and two children who had come out to see this historic occasion, considering the good weather and fine views of the riders.  I suppose though that if you wanted to catch up with the riders again at Bentpath itself, it would mean a long walk back to the town to pick up your car to drive up to the village.

I had considered a cycle ride after the ride-out but the brisk wind and stiff legs after coming down the steep hill to the town allowed me to imagine that watching some sport on the telly might be almost as good as taking exercise on my own account.  There was plenty to watch, with a sprint finish in the Tour de France, a deserved victory for Belgium in the third place play off in the World Cup and some entertaining tennis too.

I was quite exhausted by the time cooking my tea came along.  I added spinach, peas and potatoes (sautéed) from the garden to some very reasonably priced fish cakes for a nutritious and economical feast.

It was a beautiful evening as I finished my watering tasks.

garden in evening

 

 

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