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Posts Tagged ‘ragwort’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin.  He is visiting his son in California where he was impressed to see that every other parking space at his son’s place of work had an electric charging point..

Apple EV charging

We had an unusual day here today in that it didn’t rain at all.  People were walking round the town looking nervously at the sky and wondering what had gone wrong.

It was an early autumn sunny day though, being quite chilly in the morning and not warming up until later in the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the whole morning manning a stall at the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where she gave out information about the proposed community land purchase scheme.  I went along for the more mundane purpose of buying fish and meat.  I would have bought cheese and honey too, but the cheese man has stopped coming, and the honey will not be ready for another month or two.

When I got home, I prepared for a cycle ride by drinking coffee and doing the crossword until it got a bit warmer.

I went out into the garden to check the temperature and spotted not one, not two, but three butterflies, a peacock by itself, a red admiral with a small tortoiseshell, and finally all three together.

three butterfly panel

The Abyssinian gladiolus and the mallow were pleased to see the sunshine….

galdiolus and mallow

…but the pick of the flowers for me today was this cosmos.  It was very happy not to be bowed down with raindrops.

cosmos

I went back in and fuelled up on some haggis and finally got going just before midday.

For once, the wind was behind me as I cycled out of town and I had a most enjoyable time cycling through the peaceful pastoral countryside…

pastoral scene

…though the verges have been so heavily mown that there was not much in the way of wildflowers to be seen.  This ragwort was growing in a crack in the concrete on a motorway bridge.

ragwort and insect

My route took me down into England.  There are many good things about cycling on the back roads of North Cumbria; the generally excellent road surfaces, the lack of traffic and the absence of hills among them, but one of the things that I like best are the many lone pine trees that I pass along the way.

Some are tall and thin…

pine tree harker

…and others, shorter and stout.

pine tree 2 harker

After 30 miles with the wind being mostly helpful, there came the inevitable time when I had to turn into the wind to pedal home.  It wasn’t very strong so I made reasonable progress but I was happy to stop and look at the cliff beside the River Lyne where it is crossed by the Longtown road.

It is a strikingly coloured sandstone cliff, all the more surprising…

cliff cliff

…because it sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise gentle and flat  landscape

river lyne at cliff

Looking  from the bridge, I could see the Longtown windmills slowly tuning in the light breeze.  The fact that they were facing directly in the direction that I was going to have to pedal to get home was not encouraging.

longtown windmills

Still, as I say, the wind was not strong so I made steady progress.  On the longer rides, I like to stop roughly every five miles for a minute or so just to stretch and to make sure that I remember to eat and drink regularly.

My next stop after the bridge over the Lyne gave me the chance to look across the River Esk and see Netherby Hall, the site of Young Lochinvar’s daring feat.

netherby hall

On this occasion there was no “racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea” as I maintained what could charitably be described as a steady pace for the rest of my way home.  The journey was enlivened by having to listen to remarks made by  my legs on the lines of,  “Whose idea was this then?” and “Any chance of a cup of tea soon?” and “I hope you’re happy because we aren’t.”

I had to stop to talk to them severely at the bus stop at the Hollows and this let me enjoy some orange hawkweed and a hedge full of convolvulus.

hawkweed and convolvulus

I don’t know why my legs were reluctant to co-operate over the last few miles.  Perhaps the hilly walk yesterday had put them off.  Still, they got me home and 50 sunny miles had been completed so I wasn’t complaining (much).

Mrs Tootlepedal, with great forethought, was cooking a large heap of drop scones when I got in and half a dozen of these with some homemade raspberry jam soon made everything right.

So right, in fact, that I was able to go out and mow the middle lawn.  When I had put the mower away, I had a last look round the garden.

The verbena is looking very fine.  I wasn’t very taken with it when it first came out, as I thought that it was rather spindly and insubstantial, but it has got better and better as time goes on, and it is another of those flowers of which each head is a little garden in itself.  I like that.

verbena

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the gorgeous blue of the gentians which are growing in a pot beside the chimney.

gentian

The sedums were glowing in the evening sun and they had attracted several visitors.

sedum and insect

As well as flowers, the garden is full of flying things.  The starlings which live in our neighbour’s holly tree have taken to perching on our new electricity lines and there are often several to be seen.

starling on wire

The mint is still very busy with these bright green flies…

greenbottle on mint

… and every time you walk past it, there is a mighty buzzing as they all fly up into the air..

There was a family of sparrows lined up on the house gutter and I was interested to see that as in all families, there was one that was sulking and refusing to get its picture taken.

sparrows on gutter

Mrs Tootlepedal rounded the day off by cooking some the fish from the morning’s market for our tea.  It went well with potatoes, turnips and beans from the garden.

Then we had the double pleasure of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  The Tour of Britain is in Scotland for a couple of days and it was nice to see the peleton on familiar roads.

The flying bird of the day is a mechanical one.  It passed over the garden in the evening and as it was carrying a big TV camera, I wondered if it had been busy photographing cyclists earlier in the day and was on its way to Kelso for tomorrow’s stage.

helicopter

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s northern tour.  He visited Newcastle-on-Tyne and sent me this picture of a castle.  He doesn’t say if it is the new one or not.

Newcastle castle

It was relatively cool and cloudy when I got up and although it had rained overnight, once again the amount had failed to register on my scientific rain gauge so I did a little watering and took a walk round the garden after breakfast.

The Crown Princess looked lovely surrounded by phlox.

crown princess among phlox

A new flower has appeared next to the front lawn but I cannot name it without Mrs Tootlepedal’s help.

mystery flower

I can recognise this astilbe which is looking charmingly  pretty in pink.

pink astilbe

The wind was still about but as it was rather calmer than recent days, I set out on my new bike with hope in my heart, aiming at 50 miles or more.

Unfortunately, it turned out that I might have had hope in my heart but I didn’t have much stuffing in my legs and my hopes gradually faded as I pedalled along.

I did enjoy myself all the same.

The ragwort is at its best…

ragwort

..but I have been unable to find any with the colourful caterpillars of the cinnabar moth on it yet.  These caterpillars love ragwort so there should be some about somewhere.

My route took me across country to Annandale.  There is no more water in the Annan than there is in the Esk….

Annan Water at Hoddom

…but I was still glad to have a handsome bridge to cross the river when I came to it.

Hoddom Bridge

There is a lot of Himalayan Balsam on the banks of the river and although it is very pretty…

himalayan balsam

…it is regarded as an invasive pest now that it has escaped from gardens.

I toiled up a hill after I had crossed the bridge at Hoddom and then scooted down the other side until I came to the Bridge at Brydekirk which crosses the same river a few miles downstream.

Brydekirk Bridge

Here I paused for an egg roll and a chocolate biscuit.  (My cycling nutrition is about as scientific as my rain gauge.)

I was sitting on a low wall which was covered in interesting lichen.

Brydekirk lichen

Leaving the river behind, I headed homewards, thinking that I might make a detour into England at Gretna to bring up my fifty mile target.  It was at this point that it became finally apparent that my legs weren’t really up to much more than forty miles and when I looked around and saw that recent rarity, a rain cloud…

rain clouds

…and felt a few spots of rain on my knees, any thoughts of England evaporated and I headed for home.  I had obviously been lucky to avoid being rained on as quite a bit of the road to Canonbie was wet.

I arrived home after 42 miles to find that it hadn’t rained in Langholm at all.  Boo.

It was the first day for weeks when the clouds were thick enough to make the day seem quite gloomy even though it was quite warm enough to cycle in shorts again.

I had some green soup for a late lunch, checked out the birds…

bee passing birds on feeder

…which were ignoring passing bees…

,..and then settled down to watch a thoroughly engrossing stage of the Tour de France.

After the stage ended, Mike Tinker came round and we had a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit.  Any day with ginger biscuits is a good day.

When Mike left, I saw that the birds had been busy while I was relaxing and the feeder was getting empty.

sparrows and greenfinch

I really liked the cool attitude of this greenfinch, looking for all the world like a regular customer leaning on the bar in a pub.

cool greenfinch

Filling the feeder led to more birds arriving in a rush…

sparrows on feeder

…and occasional regrettable outbreaks of sparrow stamping.

sparrow stamping on sparrow

I did some more watering and weeding and noted that Mrs Tootlepedal will have a few poppies to greet her when she comes home tomorrow.

poppies

And a lot of cheerful phlox.

phlox

The bed beside the front door is looking quite welcoming too.

front door bed

After a shower, some tidying up and a basic evening meal, I went off to the church for a practice with the choir.  It is the Common Riding service on Sunday so we will have to be at our best as there will be a large turn out of people who do not normally come to services.

I am not entirely sure that my new asthma treatment is as good as it should be and this might account for my soggy legs when bicycling and certain lapses of concentration when singing.  It is useful to have something to blame of course.

The flying bird of the day is a grenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from former archive group member Ken.  He very kindly sent me this portrait of an unusual animal which he encountered in Newcastle.

green rhino

We had another warm (22°C at it peak), dry day today but not as hot as poor Mrs Tootlepedal is having to get used to in the deep south.   In fact, it was pleasantly cool after breakfast so I got a bit of dead heading and watering done before Dropscone arrived with the traditional Friday treacle scones.

And I took a couple of pictures, of course.

In one of those amusing japes which the horticultural gods like to play upon innocent gardeners, the poppies that Mrs Tootlepedal has carefully planted are very reluctant to come up, while the patch which seeded itself by the new bench…

poppies beside bench

….couldn’t look better.

The gardener smiles one of those inscrutable smiles.

After the excellent treacle scones had disappeared, Dropscone departed with what is very nearly the last of the rhubarb and I did a bit more watering and dead heading….and the crossword.

Mrs Tootlepedal was showing some of my pictures of the flowers to a friend yesterday and found that because I take so many close ups, it was difficult for her to convey the bigger picture…..so here are two bigger pictures.

middle lawn view

The drought is beginning to tell on the middle lawn.  The bed at the bottom right was a sea of orange hawkeed a few weeks ago.  The trouble with the long view is that the camera can’t do justice to all the greenery and the flowers at the same time.

There is a metal fence that divides the flower garden from the vegetable garden and it is home to four sorts of roses, a clematis and a honeysuckle.

fence

The runner beans are looking promising.  I must remember to water them too.

Tucked in on the garden side of that fence is a rose that Mrs Tootlepedal had to cut back so severely that she thought that it might never bloom again.  However, the Queen of Denmark turns out to be made of tough stuff and among the surrounding leafage, a flower has appeared…

Queen of Denmark rose

…with more to come.

A second day lily has appeared.

day lily

After a lunch of a large sardine and lettuce sandwich, I got myself organised and set off for a pedal.

I waited to see how I was going before finally deciding on a route and it turned out to be a day when my legs were not in a very co-operative mood so I settled for a dull thirty mile circuit of Gair, Kirkpatrick Fleming and Glenzier.   There is a lot of dust and pollen about in our dry spell and perhaps the noticeable wind  was blowing enough about to slow me down.

Still, I took things easy and enjoyed the ride.

Gair road view

It was warm but happily for me, the sky clouded over as I pedalled along and the wind kept me comfortably cool.  I stopped for the occasional drink and tried to find a place with some wild flowers to look at as I sipped.

There was plenty of ragwort along the way…

ragwort

…but this was the only one of these little white flowers that I saw.

white wild flower

There was a lot of rosebay willowherb too.

rosebay wiilowherb

And a thistle showed what a good  source of pollen it is.

thistle

Even at the slow pace I go on my bike, it is easy to pass things without seeing them.  I was thinking that I hadn’t seen any red soldier beetles this year but when I stopped to look for some orchids, I found that there were a lot of the beetles about too.

red soldier beetles

The same observation applied to the orchids.  As I was cycling  along the Canonbie bypass, I only noticed one or two but when I stopped in a handy lay-by and had a proper look, I found several within a few yards.

canonbie orchids

I’ll obviously have to cycle even more slowly (if that is possible).

In an echo of the morning scone scene, the unusually hot weather has melted the road surface in places on the back roads and I now have to watch out for sticky patches as well as potholes.

You will doubtless be interested to know that when I got home, I did some more watering.  I could easily spend the whole day watering but carrying watering cans is hard work and my arms are getting longer every day as it is.

I did have time to notice that the phlox is coming out.

white phlox

We will soon have phlocks of flox.

I picked some peas, beans and beetroot for my tea and went in.

I took too many pictures in the sunshine again today so I have packaged some up in panels.  I am test driving a new photo editor and have not yet devised a good panel macro so I apologise for the rough and ready framing.

poppies

Two self seeded poppies and one intentional poppy

calendula and cornflower

A calendula and the first cornflower bask in the morning sunshine

roses

I could fill a whole post with rose pictures.

The flying bird of the day was resting.

chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a walk on The Edge in Derbyshire which my brother Andrew shared with his walking group….and some cows….and some very nice weather.

The Edge

Our weather improved today but it was still pretty damp in the morning. I didn’t go out to take a flower picture until nearly midday.

poppies

Oddly, many of the poppies were facing the wrong way and I had to go out into the road and look into the garden from over the hedge to see these two pairs.

poppies

Yellow crocosmia have just started to come out and they should blend with the poppies if we get some warmth.  The dahlias also need warmth but the nasturtiums are doing very well in the cool and damp.

crocosmia, nasturtium and dahlia

Along with the weather, my back was quite a lot better too and I was able to trim a box ball and prune the espalier apples…

box and apples

…which are cropping well this year.

After lunch I did a bit more work in the garden and admired a hosta and an indefatigable Icelandic poppy which will keep flowering as long as I keep dead heading it.

hosta and poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal spent as much as time in the garden as she could but I went in to give my back a rest and watched a bit of the World Athletic Championships.  I was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal when it started to rain but the rain didn’t last so I went off for a walk to see how my back would hold up.

It held up well as I pottered down to Skippers Bridge and back, a distance of two miles which took me exactly an hour.

It wasn’t sunny but at least I could see the hills today.

Whita

There was plenty more to see on the way.

fruit

Fruits

flowers

Flowers present and past

Garden escapes by the river

Garden escapes by the river

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam

Skippers Bridge was looking as good as ever….

skippers bridge

The recent repair is holding up well at the moment.

I thought that the trees were starting to get an autumnal tint when I looked through the bridge.

skippers bridge

There was enough water coming down the river….

River esk

…to keep me well back from the edge.

On the way back there was more to see.

swallows

I hope that it not time for the swallows to leave already

leaf problems

Problems on the leafs of trees

fly on ragwort

A ragwort with visitors

It was almost sunny as I walked back…

Castle Hill

…and it was a very pleasant evening to be out walking.

I tried a black and white shot of the walnut tree when I got back to the garden….

Walnut tree

…as I liked the pattern of the trunks.

We are promised some sunshine tomorrow and that will be very welcome.  If we get it, I will try my back out on a short bike ride.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal.  She found a very prominent fairy ring on her brother’s lawn.

fairy ring

Mrs Tootlepedal is still away visiting her mother, whose hundred and first birthday is imminent.  This means that I am having to make up my mind for myself here with no assistance and this is quite wearing.  On top of this, I am getting rather fat because every time I wander into the kitchen to share an interesting thought with Mrs Tootlepedal, she isn’t there and I eat something instead.  Luckily she will be back next week and all will be well.

The forecast offered a dry morning and a wet afternoon so in an ideal world, I would get up promptly and go for a cycle ride and then do useful things indoors in the afternoon.

It turned out to be an ideal world.

I didn’t waste any time in the garden but got on the bike after breakfast and did thirty miles.  I stopped for one picture….

Esk at Hollows

…just to prove that I had been out.  The wind was lighter than of late but the sky was grey so it was not a day for views.

I did notice when I got home that I had a serious outbreak of helmet hair which I have decided to share.  Nervous readers should look away now.

helmet hair

I flattened my hair down and mowed the greenhouse grass, did some poppy dead heading, cut down some plants which were beyond their sell by date and had a walk round the garden.

The poppies had appreciated the dry morning.

poppies

This was my favourite poppy of the day.

poppy

The should be a mixture of poppies and cornflowers growing round the front lawn but they are both taking their time thanks to the cool weather. Still, there are a few cornflowers about.

cornflower

As I walked between the flowers and the compost bins during my tidying up, I couldn’t help but enjoy the jumble of white clematis and red rose on the arch through to the veg garden…

clematis and rose

…and the clematis growing along the fence too.

clematis

If every flower has the same number of petals, there must be three different clematis growing there as I can see flowers with six, five and four petals in the picture.

I am always interested in fruits and berries and so are the birds.  I am keeping an eye on the plums and the blackbirds are keeping an eye on the rowan berries.

plum and rowan

Those rowan berries are in a neighbour’s garden.  Ours aren’t quite as ripe yet.

My neighbour Liz kindly took a surplus turnip off my hands and I picked some more carrots and beetroot. I am eating the beetroot at golf ball size and they are absolutely delicious as snacks.

After lunch, the forecasters’ predictions arrived in the form of a persistent spell of rain which lasted several hours.   I caught up on my correspondence and packed up the camera lens which I am trading in, having been offered a very fair price by the company which will sell me my new lens.  I then braved the rain and took the parcel up to the post office only to find the that post office was closed.

I brought the parcel home again and did some muttering.

Then I did some ironing …and a bit more muttering until getting a bit of advice from the ‘Call Mrs Tootlepedal Hotline’.

I had corned beef hash for my tea and was pleasantly surprised to find that our new potatoes taste very good when mashed and fried.

Recently I have had a choir to go to on a Wednesday night but that has finished now so finding that the rain had stopped, I filled in the time by wandering aimlessly about.

The bed at the end of the drive gave me a cheerful farewell as I left the garden.

pot marigolds and nasturtiums

For some reason, the rather grey light seem to suit the church so I stopped being aimless and pointed the camera at it as I passed.

Langholm Parish Church

Our usual mallards have been joined by several darker ducks with bright white breasts this summer.

darker duck

A little research tells me that they are probably mallard hybrids rather than anything more exotic.

I exchanged a few words with Mr Grumpy as I walked down to the Kilngeen…

heron

…and thought that a bunch of ragwort on the bank of the Esk just above the Meeting of the Waters added a nice touch to the scene.

ragwort

I was pleased to find that there was still a banded snail or two on the stump of one of felled trees along the Lodge Walks.

snail

Although the evening was fundamentally grey and it looked as though it might well rain, every now and again a shaft of sunshine illuminated the scene….but always a little bit away from where I was.

sunshine behind trees

Like behind a tree….

sunshine on the Esk

…or round a bend in the river…

monument

…or on top of a hill.

But I got round dry and saw a most unusual thing on my way.

ragwort

A ragwort plant with no insects on it.

It was nearly seven o’clock by this time so perhaps all the insects had gone home to bed.

My last picture was a pleasing tangle of grasses.

grasses

No flying bird of the day but there is a very badly painted blackbird and a splashy sparrow.

blackbird

sparrow splashing

There were plenty of puddles to choose from.

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No guest picture today but instead, a picture of my guests; Matilda flanked by her mother and father and outflanked by her granny and grandfather.

Eileen, Al, Matilda, Clare and Francis

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, who is still visiting her mother, I was the chief cook and bottle washer of the party and as a result I was not as free as usual to flit about taking happy snaps.

I was woken at 5 o’clock by the boom, boom, boom of the big bass drum as the flute band perambulated the town, reminding the townsfolk that the hound trail would soon take place.  As it was pouring with rain, I was able to roll over and go to sleep again without feeling too bad about missing that part of the fun.

When I woke again, it had stopped raining and I made breakfast for Al and Clare and Matilda.  Then Al had to go out rescue Eileen and Francis who had got caught up in the road closures for the ceremonies and hadn’t made it to our house in time.

Matilda and her parents went off ‘to see the horses’ while I made breakfast for her grandparents.    Then we set off to join them.  By this time the youngsters had seen the procession of horses in the town and gone up the Kirkwynd to wait for the riders to ride up onto the hill.

We could see the crowd assembling there on the far side of the river as we walked along Caroline Street.

Kirk Wynd

It didn’t take us too long before we found the others and we too were part of the crowd waiting for the cornet.

Kirk Wynd

You might think that there was a good sized crowd on the hill but it is multiplied considerably when those who have waited in the Market Place for the first fair crying to finish, squeeze up the Kirk Wynd…..

Kirk Wynd

…..and annoyingly stand in front of the people who were on the hill first.

We could just see Cornet Murray over their heads as he rode past us in fine style….

Cornet Murray

…being enthusiastically cheered on by the crowd.

Kirk Wynd

About half the crowd are trying to take pictures with their phones of course.

The cornet is followed by the rest of the riders, about 150 today in number…

Kirk Wynd

…each one cheered to the echo by friends and family…

Kirk Wynd

…but there is always a head in the way.

After the riders had gone by, we went back home for refreshment, passing Mr Grumpy who was lurking by the river bank, probably wondering what all the commotion was about.

heron

When I got to the garden, I had a quick check to see how it had survived the overnight heavy rain.  The result was very positive.

poppy

poppy, buddleia, dahlia

The mounted procession returns from the hill and after a while, the riders cross the Ewes at the Kilngreen and assemble on the Castleholm.  Matilda had had enough outdoor activity for the morning so I took her grandparents along to see the riders crossing the water but we were a bit late and the cornet was already on the Castleholm when we arrived on the other side of the Esk…

Cornet's chase

…so we watched as he was led out to start the Cornet’s Chase where he takes the town standard round the racecourse and is pursued, at a decent distance, first by his right and left hand men (the ex cornets of the previous two years)…

Cornet's chase

…and then by the rest of the riders.

Cornet's chase

It was an impressive sight as the cavalcade thundered onto the racecourse.

We retired for lunch and then Eileen and Francis returned to their car and drove off on other business.

As Matilda has a siesta after lunch, I took the opportunity to walk over to the Castleholm to see the horse and foot racing which takes place there.

While I waited at the bottom corner for the first horse race to come round the track, I noticed that the castle ruin has sprouted some ragwort on its topmost turret.

Langholm Castle

Because the going on the racecourse was very heavy, there were only four runners in the race but it was still a stirring sight as the hurtled round the bend towards me.

Langholm Common Riding races

The small field was less impressive as it headed up the back straight.

Langholm Common Riding races

The next race also had four runners and I went to the opposite side of track to see the start.  It was a tense affair.

Langholm Common Riding races

The riders were soon up to full speed.

Langholm Common Riding races

As they came round the top corner on the way to the finish, I could clearly see the advantage of being in front of the field on such deep going.

Langholm Common Riding races

The air was full of flying mud and the rider at the back was covered in it.

On my way up the track between races, I had passed the Highland Dancing tent…

Highland dancing

..where the piper was playing and kilts were swirling.  We had hope to see Matilda’s cousin Lola dance again this year but in the end, she didn’t come down.

In the athletics field, I could see the floral crown in its place of honour.

Langholm Common Riding Crown

Our roses are in there somewhere.

Further up the track I took a picture which epitomised the fun to be had at a soggy Common Riding field.

stick in the mud

It was a wonder that the horses were able to race at all.

The ever present threat of rain had not discouraged a good crowd for the racing though.

Langholm Common Riding races

As I walked along, the sun came out and my eye was caught by a brilliant yellow ragwort beside the course.  It was a busy plant.

ragwort with bees

I took a closer look.

ragwort insects

In between watching the horse races, I watched the foot racing from both ends of the track.  Almost all the foot races are handicaps and I watched the start of one sprint event.

Common riding athletics start

On your marks….

Common riding athletics start

Get set…

Common riding athletics start

Go!!

The back markers may seem to have a lot of ground to make up but the handicapper knows what she is doing, as I could see when I went to the finish end of the track for a couple of later races.

Common riding athletics finishCommon riding athletics finish

The races often need a photo finish to see who has won.

The great beauty of events on the Castleholm is that there are always some lovely views to admire if the action gets a little slow.

Castleholm ViewCastleholm View

I stopped long enough to say hello to Sandy who was there with his family and then went back to see about making tea for my visitors.

While I was cooking, Matilda was getting on with her first novel.

Matilda

It turned into a very pleasant evening as the wind dropped and the sun came out but it was too late for us as it was soon time for Matilda to go to bed.  She may not have had the full Common Riding experience but she has certainly ‘seen the horses’ as she wanted.  I wonder if she will remember her first visit to the great day.  I will remember it.

I was very sorry to have not been able to share the day with Mrs Tootlepedal and I hope that both she and Matilda will be present next year.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s tour with Justin.  They visited Sizergh Castle near Kendal on their way to Langholm.

Sizergh Castle

The forecast had suggested that today would be calm, dry and occasionally sunny, a perfect day for mowing grass.

Mowing the grass was was tempting but the lack of wind, a very rare thing round here this year, made cycling even more tempting.  Mrs Tootlepedal got me up promptly and provided breakfast and for once I managed to avoid any footling around and got off at about nine o’clock.  The days are still long so I had plenty of time for pedalling.

It was quite cool when I set out but it got warmer as the day went on and it turned out to be, just as the forecast had predicted, a perfect day for cycling.

I had chosen a relatively dull route, a simple out and back mostly up the old Glasgow road from Gretna and so I was a bit dashed when I got to Gretna to find a “Road Closed ” sign across the Glasgow road.  They were applying gravel top dressing.  I was joined by another cyclist and we enquired whether two cyclists might sneak through and were relieved when we were given the all clear.

The other cyclist turned out to be a Norwegian, who was doing the Land’s End to John  o’ Groats route with the excellent scheme of pedalling for the morning and early afternoon and then finding a TV screen where he could watch the Tour de France.  I was able to tell him that a Norwegian cyclist, Edvald Boasson Hagen, had won a stage of the Tour of Britain a few years ago by riding at terrific speed down the very road that we were cycling up.  He was impressed.

We cycled together as far as Lockerbie, where he stopped for coffee and I pressed on.  His company had been invaluable as it kept me to a sensible speed over a hilly section of the ride and it provided a pleasant diversion during one of the duller bits of my route.

I stopped for a snack at 40 miles.  The route follows the main railway line and motorway up the Annan valley but the motorway was pretty quiet as I ate my roll.

Motorway

To be fair it was mostly a bit busier than this!

The views of Upper Annandale as I went along were very enjoyable.

Annandale

My next stop was at Beattock, home of a very pretty church….

Beattock Church

…where I visited a pub and enjoyed a half pint of good beer and my cycling staple, a plate of egg and chips.

With fuel on board, I set off to pedal up the ten mile climb to Beattock Summit.  I think that it is my favourite piece of cycling road.  The verges were filled with wild flowers (which my phone refused to photograph properly), the surface is mostly reasonable and very good in places and the gradient is so steady that once the correct gear has been selected, progress is regular and painless.

In this way I arrived at the 1000 ft summit very smoothly and took a moment to look around.  This is a world of massive windmills…

Clyde Farm windmills

…and large amounts of them too.

Clyde valley windmills

The wind was so light that most of them were stationary, a very unusual occurrence, but there was a light breeze just beginning to persuade a few to get started.  By the time that I came back on the return journey, most of them were turning.

I had come so far, that I was now in the upper Clyde valley….

Clyde

…and the River Clyde, which starts not far off, will flow through Glasgow before it gets to the sea.

My turning point at 60 miles was marked by a fine hedge of roses beside the road.

Crawford rose

I was a bit worried by the fledgling breeze but it proved more of a  help than a hindrance on my way back down to Gretna and I rattled along very comfortably.  I stopped at 80 miles to eat my second roll and my phone camera worked well enough to spot a hoverfly…

hoverfly

…on a striking ragwort plant beside my resting place.

ragwort

I had failed to pack a couple of bananas which I had bought specially for the trip so I stopped in Lockerbie to buy a large ice cream, a bottle of juice and a bar of chocolate to help get me home.  Together with regular nibbles of a guava energy bar, they did the trick and at no stage of the journey did I run out of steam.

To avoid the new top dressing on the road to Gretna, I turned off at the church in Kirkpatrick Fleming…

KPF Church

…and took a back road down to Gretna.  My satisfaction with this cunning plan was slightly dented when I ran into some newly laid top dressing at Glenzier.  I had seen the warning sign when I passed in the morning but didn’t think that they would get there when they had been busy at Gretna.  I was wrong…but it was only a short stretch and there had been sufficient car traffic to flatten the gravel  out enough to make it safe for an elderly cyclist.

The wind was not so helpful now and I was happy to see this sign…

Kerr road sign

…which showed that I was nearly home.

It didn’t tell the whole truth though as I had had a mathematical revelation as I pedalled along.  Without thinking too hard, I had roughly calculated that 120 miles would give me a distance of 200km.  This seemed like a nice round number and that was why I had turned at 60 miles.  However, a little more thought revealed that I would need 125 miles to hit the 200km mark  (125×8/5=200) so I had to cycle through the town and out of the other side to make up the missing five miles.

This was no problem though and I pleased and surprised myself in equal measure by finding that I was fit enough to do this distance, the furthest that I have ever cycled in a day, with no great trouble at all.  I felt that I could have gone quite a few miles further if needed.  The secret was taking things slowly and steadily.  That is not to say that my knees are not complaining quite a lot as I sit and write these words though.

Once again, I took sufficient care of my eating and drinking that I weighed exactly the same at the end of the ride as I did at the start.

I had enough energy to walk round the garden in delightful evening sunshine when I got home.

ligularia

There is a new knautia out…

knautia

…and pink phlox have come to join the white.

phlox

What I call marigolds but what I should call calendula I am told are popping up all over the place.

calendula

The rambler roses are doing wonderfully well…

rambler rose

…but they have probably bloomed too early to be any use to the maker of the crown of roses which is carried round the town on Common Riding day on the last Friday of this month.

I retired for a meal of sardines, garnished with new potatoes, turnips and broad beans from the garden and this drew a very satisfactory day to a close.  The grass looked as though it needed cutting badly though.

For those interested, further details of the ride can be gleaned by clicking on the map below.

Garmin route 11 July 2017

A thousand foot climb doesn’t look much when it is spread over forty miles!

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