Today's guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz, who is down in the south at the moment. She visited East Carlton Park near Corby and came across this fine specimen. It made me think of Christmas for some reason.
After several windy days, we had a much calmer day here today with the promise of some warm sunshine to come. Under the circumstances this made it seem like a good day to try to cycle 100km. There is no particular merit in cycling 100km except that it is a nice round number and more interesting than aiming for 62.1371 miles which is the equivalent.
It did require me to get up reasonably early and get going not long after breakfast and I managed both these things, though the 'not long' part was a bit elastic. I even managed to have a look round the garden before I left, enjoying the fact that the flowers were standing comparatively still today.
It was cloudy when I left home and there was still enough wind about to make cycling into it a slow business for an old man, but all the same I was in the mood to enjoy a leisurely ride and the touches of autumn colour that I saw on my way to the wind farm to check on progress.
The autumn colour was good...
...but progress on putting the blades on the new tower at the windfarm was non existent so I pedalled on towards Eaglesfield, stopping beside the Kirtle Water...
... for half a banana and a KitKat.
From Eaglesfield, I pedalled up to Ecclefechan just to have the wind behind me for a couple of miles for a break, and then headed to Hoddom Cross, where I stopped at the ruined church.
The contrast between the old burned out church and the still very much in use graveyard is striking.
Juts for the sake of pedalling up a road which I have never used before, I went up past Knockhill, where Mrs Tootlepedal used to help out with the equestrian driving for the disabled, passing this example of the traditional local housing style on my way.
The diversion only added a couple of miles to my trip to Hoddom Bridge which spans the River Annan.
The nearside bank is awash with Himalayan Balsalm.
Having reached the River Annan, I followed its general course down to the town of Annan, but instead of going into the town, I turned right and went along the coast of the Solway as far as Powfoot. I met a more modest bridge there...
Powfoot is on the shore of the Firth but you would hardly have known it today. As always seems to be the case when I visit the seaside, the sea was out, far out, and it was very hazy so that not only could I hardly see the sea, but I could hardly see the scenery either.
I took some pictures as I ate a honey sandwich and the other half of that banana for my lunch.
The I pedalled on through a caravan park and onto the flat lands beside the firth. I was on very narrow roads, but traffic was light so I was able to stop to appreciate these fine cattle.
.before getting to the little village of Ruthwell, famous as the home of the world's first savings bank. The building is now a museum.
I have often cycled past it without going in, and as the museum is currently closed because of the virus, I did so again today.
I cycled through the village and then turned for home, using the old main road from Dumfries to Annan.
I was on flat roads with the wind behind me, so I made good progress back to Annan and on to Gretna and Longtown. Somewhere along the way, I stopped for another half banana and a bit of another honey sandwich and noticed an umbellifer covered in what I thought were big flies. Putting the picture on the computer when I got home, I found that the 'big flies' were in fact small moths.
I have never seen this before.
When I got to Longtown, I took the opportunity to go into the bike shop and remind them that they had promised some time ago to find me a new pair of pedals for my bike. They promised to check whether they had found me some, and I cycled home through Canonbie without stopping for any more pictures.
At 63.83 miles, the route was slightly over my intended 100km but in every other way, it had been a very satisfactory sightseeing outing. Those interested may click on the map for further details. My nutrition is scientifically calculated and consisted of two bananas, two honey sandwiches, two fingers of KitKat, two fifths of an apple and two dates.
As it turned out, the ride was not the high spot of the day. What made the day exceptional was finding the garden was full of butterflies when I got home. Small tortoiseshells and red admirals were everywhere and there were even occasional peacocks too...
...and if a flower didn't have a butterfly (or two) on it, it had a bee or hoverfly.
The sedum had really come into its own in the warm sunshine. I counted fourteen butterflies on its various flowers as well as many other insects at the same time. I realise that this doesn't quite match the millions of migrating monarch butterflies on the other side of the Atlantic, but it is still a lot for Langholm.
Other flowers were busy too. I don't think I have seen so many small tortoiseshells in the garden before.
Mrs Tootlepedal was out when I got home but she had been busy in the garden while I was away, first having coffee with Margaret and then rooting our more of the box hedge. She has got so much stuff to get rid of that she has booked a slot at the council waste disposal site for tomorrow. (I just mention this to annoy a reader down south who is going to have to wait several weeks to get the first available slot at his dump.)
When she got home, we sat on the bench in the garden enjoying a perfect late summer afternoon as butterflies flitted around us.
I got my macro lens out and had another go at the butterflies and bees.
.and some flowers too.
The day continued with a quick look at the birds...
.and a sibling Zoom meeting where my brother and sisters showed off some of the fine pictures that they have been taking in the good weather down south.
It ended with a meal of spaghetti with meat sauce and a tomato salad.
After our recent spell of indifferent chilly weather, this was a day to relish. Sadly, we are likely to be back to the cooler weather in a day or two, but we certainly enjoyed this late of burst of summer a lot.
After not getting a flying bird of the day yesterday, I got two today. I would normally have been quite pleased with this chaffinch...
...but it has to move aside for a starling, undoubtedly the outstanding candidate for the flying bird of the day today.