Glasgow Gallivanting: February 2021

Frozen Forth and Clyde Canal, February 2021

So – another month of Covid restrictions meant we did not stray far from our front door, with the added frisson of a couple of weeks of snow and ice. Beautiful to look at, less good for walking in. Here are another few shots of the frozen canal – locals might recognise embedded in the ice a discarded bottle from the tipple of choice of a certain type of Glaswegian.

In my last post, I wrote that a chance viewing of a tweet from Glasgow City Archives took me to Anniesland and Temple to look for a particular clock. Two things sprang from that. First, despite having lived in the area for decades, while looking for the clock I discovered green space that I didn’t know about tucked away behind two busy roads. Temple Walkway and Anniesland Meadow both offer good views of Anniesland Court, a 22-storey residential tower block, completed in 1968, which holds the distinction of being the tallest listed building in Scotland, and the only tower block in Glasgow to have been granted a category A listing. (A listed building may not be demolished, extended, or altered without special permission from the local planning authority). Not everyone appreciates its architecture, but I think it has a certain presence and I’d love to see the view over Glasgow from the top.

The name Anniesland is something of a puzzle. The next-door neighbourhood is Knightswood, thought to be named after the Knights Templar who might have had a hospice in the area. Local writer Jack House suggested the name might therefore derive from annis, Gaelic for destitute. Alternatively, the Knights might have owned plots of land which they rented out annually. Or maybe the land at some point belonged to someone called Annie! I definitely prefer the last theory.

The other thing to spring from my clock post was that several people told me about their own favourite clocks, inspiring me to look for images online, and a couple even wrote their own clock posts. Here are the clocks in the order that the comments came in, with links to the bloggers who recommended them, or to specific clock posts. Thank you to everyone for the ideas.

Ali was prompted to write her own post full of clocks: Even a broken clock is right twice a day (which led us to discuss whether that phrase was even true anymore in an age of 24-hour digital timepieces).

Jude referred me to one of her previous posts which featured the iconic projected clock in Guildford, which in turn reminded me of the projected clock in Winchester which I featured a few years ago.

Birgit loves the astronomical clock in Prague, and by chance that popped up on Twitter a couple of days later.

Eunice mentioned the Irish Times clock in Dublin, another projection.

Su and Suzanne directed me to the splendid University of Auckland clock. (All images from here on are by Wikimedia Commons).

Top of University of Auckland Clock Tower

Hilary’s choice was the Corpus Clock in Cambridge, also known as the Grasshopper Clock.TaylorClock

Jessica relayed happy childhood memories of the giant cuckoo clock in Sugarcreek, Ohio.Sugarcreek Cuckoo Clock

Carol selected another astrological clock, this time in Rouen, France.Rouen Rue du Gros-Horloge 04

Finally, Kev included a section on clock towers in his latest post, Saturday Saunter: Clock towers, maps and virtual experiences. I hope I haven’t missed anybody! And to round off, in another coincidence, the Word a Day blog happened to feature the term Shrewsbury clock last week. I now feel I am an expert on clocks, and am grateful to have got two posts out of that at a time when new experiences are thin on the ground. Will March be any different? Unlikely, but at least Spring is in the air. Have a good month!

Time ticks on: clock towers

Time does funny things in lockdown. On the one hand it seems to go on and on forever. On the other, because every day is much the same, it seems to flash by. Another difficulty is finding places to walk when we are confined to our local area: I never thought I would say I was sick of Glasgow’s West End, but I truly am! So little things make a difference, and I was delighted to read this tweet from Glasgow City Archives.

A follow up thread explained that when the factory was demolished in the mid-1990s to make way for new flats, the developers rescued the clock and incorporated the timepiece into the new building. Sutcliffe Road is within easy walking distance – a new destination! So off I went in the snow and ice and, sure enough, there is the clock.

This got me searching through my phone for unused images of other clock towers. I assembled quite a few. At the eastern end of Glasgow City Centre, we have the Tolbooth and St Andrews in the Square.

I’ve only recently found out why so many clock faces are blue with gold numbers and hands. Apparently it dates from a decree by Henry VIII that, following God’s command to Moses (Exodus 39) to make Aaron the priest “garments of blue with gold bells”, church clocks should be “blew with the signs upon them gilt”. Here’s another blue one, this time outside what is now the Tron Theatre on Trongate. You can just see the Tolbooth peeking out again in the first image.

Elsewhere in Glasgow is the new(ish) Clydeside Distillery, built in an old pumphouse with a modern glass extension. With the latter excluded, as in the second image, I think it looks more like an old monastery.

Moving to Govan, these shots of the old Southern General are taken from the top level of the multi-storey carpark for the new hospital, which you can see in the final image. Not so attractive (and no clock), but probably much more functional for the 21st century.

Moving out of Glasgow, here is the beautiful clock tower on Paisley Town Hall, complete with bells.

From our summer walks in East Dunbartonshire, here are Bishopbriggs Library and the derelict High Kirk of Campsie in Lennoxtown.

And last, but not of course least, to Edinburgh, where we finish at the Tolbooth Tavern. Sadly, like all pubs in Scotland, it’s currently closed so we can’t pop in for a pint. But cheers anyway! Tell me about your favourite clocks and time facts in the comments – or even do your own post!

Paisley patterns

Anchor Mill, Paisley

During the current restrictions, one of the few reasons we are allowed to cross the city boundary is to visit Mum who lives in Paisley on Glasgow’s eastern border. It’s a historic town, and aspects of it have featured in posts before, but it’s never had a whole post to itself. Now, when I have no new travels to write about, is the time to pull together some of the photos we have taken there over the last few years.

Paisley became prominent in the 19th century as a centre of the weaving industry. By 1993 all the mills had closed, including the Anchor Mill, shown above, which is now housing.  However, the legacy lives on in street names such as Mill Street, Cotton Street, Thread Street, Shuttle Street, Lawn Street, Silk Street, and Gauze Street, and in the fact that the town gave its name to the Paisley shawl and the Paisley pattern from which I take my title. That’s the last you’ll hear from me about weaving though – I’m going to show you some patterns or themes that I found in the town.

The Abbey and around

Long before its weaving heyday, Paisley became prominent in the 12th century with the establishment of Paisley Abbey, an important religious hub. The smaller adjoining building is known as the Place of Paisley and is the sole remaining part of the extensive monastery associated with the Abbey.

Nearby is the Town Hall, seen here reflected in the White Cart Water, a tributary of the River Clyde. Still in the historic part of town, at the top of Church Hill is Oakshaw Trinity which, as a result of mergers, is part of both the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church.

Overall, Paisley town centre has the highest concentration of listed buildings of anywhere in Scotland outside of Edinburgh – these have been just a few.

Memorials

I have driven past the first three memorials in this section hundreds, if not thousands, of times but have only recently investigated on foot. As I drive into Paisley, the first memorial I see is this cairn to Marjorie Bruce, eldest daughter of King Robert I, otherwise known as Robert the Bruce.

The caption tells that she was fatally injured by falling from her horse near this spot in 1316. Her son, born posthumously, became Robert II, first of the Stewart Kings of Scotland. Why was he a Stewart, not a Bruce? Paisley Abbey was founded by Walter FitzAlan, the first High Steward of Scotland (the officer who controlled the domestic affairs of the royal household). His descendants adopted the surname Steward, which became Stewart, and later still was changed to Stuart. Marjorie Bruce married the sixth High Steward, thus her son was the first king of the Stewart dynasty. All six High Stewards are buried in the Abbey, as is Marjorie herself. The title of High Steward was merged into the crown with Robert II and is still held by the current Prince of Wales.

Further towards town is this statue of St Mirin, next to St Mirin’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. St Mirin (c563-600) is the patron saint of Paisley, and his monument was erected in 2003. He also gave his name to the local football team, St Mirren.

Having driven past the town centre, I take a right turn to head up to Mum’s house. At the corner is this Hygienic Fountain with its inscription from the Gospel of St John “whosoever drinketh of this water” … etc.

In the centre of town is Dunn Square, an open space presented to Paisley in 1894 by Sir William Dunn, MP for the Burgh from 1891 to 1906. His monument is this scantily clad woman with her back to the ubiquitous Queen Victoria.

On the railings nearby is a memorial I find far more interesting and poignant. A tree was planted in 2010 by the Renfrewshire Women’s Association and dedicated to the memory of all Renfrewshire women who “live in fear of violence and abuse, or have been murdered by their violent partner”. Next to the tree and plaque hangs a garland and it is always updated. In the gallery below, the trailing white ribbons are from 2012 and the other two are from February and Christmas 2020. It’s nice to know that the memorial is so carefully tended.

Street art

The Paisley First Murals Project has been created to help breathe new life into the town centre and uses only local artists. The most concentrated area is Browns Lane where street artists Mark Worst and Danny McDermott created a tribute to some well-known Buddies (the name for people coming from Paisley) including Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan of Stealers Wheel, the Cup-winning St Mirren Team of 1987, singer Paolo Nutini and local historian Ellen Farmer. John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix are definitely NOT Paisley buddies, but appear on the side of nearby music venue, The Bungalow.

The Kingfisher, also by Mark Worst, is on Johnston Street. It highlights one of the town’s relatively unknown sons, Alexander Wilson, who is credited with establishing ornithology as a science.

And Breathe by Duncan Wilson and Reborn by Kevin Cantwell are on Lawn Street and Lady Lane respectively.

The trail has inspired some of the businesses around town to create their own art, such as these murals on Japan Street Food on Renfrew Road.

Pub signs and ghost signs

I do love a good sign! The Tea Gardens Tavern sounds a lot more genteel to me than it actually looks.

The Belhaven Brewery is particularly good at designing attractive signs – The Tea Gardens and all but one of the signs below are by Belhaven.

And finally to ghost signs. I can’t remember exactly where these are from, but I think they are all around the Espedair Street / Neilston Road area. Wm Semple Son & Co. Ltd, Engineers and Smiths, is a definite ghost sign. I’m not sure if Alison Stuart, Florist, counts as she still seems to be in business, but it’s certainly a very old sign. I’m also not sure what the initials and date on a gable signify, but they look attractive.

And that’s the end of my whistle stop tour of Paisley, which is by no means definitive. Other posts which have featured Paisley include:

The Great Tapestry of Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, both of which took place in Anchor Mill, as shown in this post’s header, and have interior shots of its central atrium.

Glasgow Gallivanting March 2019 features Thomas Coats Memorial Church with one of the most fabulous loos ever, February 2020 includes another stroll round the town centre with a different selection of historic buildings, and June 2020 has the tale of Mrs Donoghue and the snail in the ginger beer.

Now to see what else I can recycle a post from …

Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2021

View from Gleniffer Braes, New Year’s Day 2021

The weather on New Year’s Day was fairly typical of January: cold and icy.  A steep path opposite the end of Mum’s street in Paisley leads up to the Gleniffer Braes from where we got the best view of the month. The Campsie Fells are to the right in the picture above, and the beginning of the Highlands, including Ben Lomond, can be seen to the left. A couple of zoomed shots show more detail.

We are still in a fairly strict lockdown, so otherwise have been confined to Glasgow. We have hardly any new photos because we are doing all the same routes that we did in the Spring, often in the dark after John finishes work. Thank goodness for weekends and the canal and river paths. Here’s a great view down the Clyde towards the Riverside Museum, including the tall ship Glenlee, and a swan admiring its reflection on the frozen canal.

In January I would normally be reporting excitedly about all the Celtic Connections concerts we had been to. Not this year! The entire programme has been moved online. Nothing can replace live performances, but the upside is that we can watch everything: over 100 musicians and 19 days with at least one, sometimes two or three, concerts each evening. At only £30 for a Festival Pass, that’s an absolute steal. I suppose it is better for my waistline too, because we are also not going for all those pre-theatre dinners. Nor could we go out for Burns’ Night this year, but we improvised with John making a very good Address to a (veggie) Haggis.

The virus continues to rage (though vaccines are on their way – Mum has had her first one) and Brexit continues to have “teething problems”, but at least Trump has finally gone. I often include a Scottish Word of the Month in my gallivanting posts, but this month a Scottish video seems more appropriate. Here’s Iona Fyfe with a ditty called Donald whit a loser to the tune of  Donald where’s your troosers?

You’ll be sad to know that Iona is sometimes the target of vile abuse for daring to sing in Scots, as is Miss PunnyPennie who offers a Scots word of the day on Twitter. Here’s another phrase for you: the Scottish cringe – a feeling that anything Scottish is bound to be inferior. Do any other countries have a similar phenomenon? Or people who are so threatened by their own culture that they have to go on the attack to decry it? It’s bizarre and sad.

Anyway, let’s not end on a negative note. How about some graffiti ceramics? We first noticed these in the summer around Sydenham Lane in Hyndland, an area we often walk through. Lately, we’ve spotted some new ones even closer to home and I recently read an article (click the link for more examples) identifying the artist as Louise McVey. She says: “When lockdown initially hit … it became clear to me that this was what I could offer – to add something to the streets that may make a difference for people on their daily walks.” It has certainly made a difference to us – we love spotting them, and it’s very different from the usual type of street art.

So we’ve made it through January healthy and safe – I hope you all have too. There is no chance of our current restrictions lifting before mid-February at the earliest, but I’ll do my best to have at least a little bit of gallivanting to report on at the end of the month.

January Squares: Up

Becky has been running her daily Square Challenge throughout January with the theme of Up. I’ve been too busy completing my Fife posts until now, but I thought I’d chuck in a few ideas before the end of the month. A guest appearance, if you like. The first images are all Glasgow, starting with lit UP, above, which shows the lamps on Kirklee Bridge late on a winter’s afternoon.

Close by in Clouston Street I found strung UP. Did three people walk home shoeless?

Stepping UP to Maryhill we find Stair Street which is, literally, a flight of stairs and nothing else.

Also in Maryhill is this once fresh mural, now covered UP. The tweet below shows how it used to be.

Once UPon a time – this fairytale in Hamiltonhill is made UP.

Looking UPhill at Gardner Street in Partick.

Gulls lined UP on the railings at Glasgow Harbour.

Moving out of Glasgow, this view of Paisley Town Hall reflected in the White Cart Water is UPside down.

UP in the air on the Fife coast.

And finally, a beautiful memory from our Hebridean hop a few years ago: Scarista beach on Harris. John has his trousers rolled UP and is contemplating a paddle.

Fife Coastal Path: Lower Largo to Earlsferry

Birthplace of Alexander Selkirk, Lower Largo

On our final day in Fife last October we drove west to Lower Largo intending to walk the section of coastal path between there and Elie. It was a day of misjudgements, so we didn’t quite make it to Elie, but we enjoyed the walk nonetheless.

Lower Largo is known as the birthplace of Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721) on whom Daniel Defoe modelled his character, Robinson Crusoe. There is a memorial to Selkirk on the site of the cottage where he was born.

Lower Largo has many other picturesque houses and we wandered around for a while before setting off on the path. It also has some very quirky garden gates!

Our first miscalculation occurred here – there was one shop in Lower Largo open and, as we hadn’t made sandwiches, we thought about buying something for lunch. However, we were sure the café at the caravan site we had to pass through would be open, and didn’t. Instead, we set off on the first part of the path, the track of an old railway that used to connect Fife’s coastal villages, before descending through the dunes to Largo Bay. NB the oil rig is not functional, it is one of several anchored in the Firth of Forth due to industry uncertainty over oil prices, which have collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic.

John amused himself taking pictures of the circling gulls as we approached the Cocklemill Burn.

Crossing the burn, we arrived at Shell Bay Caravan Park where we expected to get lunch – but unfortunately the café didn’t open for takeaway until 4pm. Ah well, with stomachs rumbling we admired some of the colourful caravans and a small shrine to a couple who had presumably enjoyed holidays here. Then we pressed on over Kincraig Point.

This was another miscalculation because the winding, muddy path took us longer than expected, both upwards and downwards. But the views were lovely, back over Shell Bay to Largo and forward to Earlsferry and Elie.

This plaque, donated to the people of Elie and Earlsferry by Polish Paratroopers in the Second World War, is the only photograph we took of the picturesque village of Earlsferry. When we arrived it was mid-afternoon and obvious that we did not have time to explore or to continue the short distance to Elie in search of a very late lunch, otherwise it would be dark before we got back to the car. Nor did I fancy slithering back over Kincraig Point, so we plotted an alternative route.

According to our guide book, and more importantly, to Google Maps, if we put up with a bit of road walking we could pick up the other end of the railway path that we had started out on that morning. However, part way along we found that it had been obliterated by a new golf course which Google Maps did not yet show. With the help of some friendly golfers, and a bit of yomping over dunes, we found our way back to the path over Largo Bay and completed our walk in twilight. We certainly enjoyed our dinner that night!

The following morning we packed up and left for Glasgow. This lovely week in Fife was our last trip away from home and, given current regulations, it is likely to remain the last for some time to come. I’ve enjoyed reliving it while composing these posts – but what on earth am I going to write about next?

Fife Coastal Path: Cambo and Tentsmuir

Cambo Country House

We’ve visited Cambo Gardens in Kingsbarns, Fife, a couple of times before, but not since they opened their Visitor Centre in the old stables in 2017. When we went last October, the café was open with outdoor seating in the courtyard (fortunately under a canopy) and we took advantage of that to have coffee when we arrived and lunch before we left. Both were very good but, sadly for anyone wishing to visit now, all facilities are closed under current restrictions, though you can still tour the gardens. The walled garden includes some quirky sculptures as well as plants.

From the gardens we walked round the side of Cambo House. The  estate has been in the Erskine family for over 300 years and is currently run as a wedding business, holiday accommodation, agriculture, and housing.

From here we took the Woodland Walk alongside Cambo Burn. Reaching the shore, we met the Fife Coastal Path and followed it east past Kingsbarn Golf Links to a minor road.

We then returned to the Visitor Centre on muddy estate paths past Cambo Farm. On the way, we admired the Mausoleum and the dovecot (doocot).

This was a lovely half-day out – in the afternoon, we drove to Crail and did the second half of the walk described in my last post. A full day out to a part of the coastal path we had not visited before was to Tentsmuir Forest between Leuchars and Tayport. The name originates from the 1780s when some of the sailors from a Danish shipwreck pitched tents on the moor.

There’s a large carpark at Tentsmuir Sands where we were pleased to find the toilets were open. There was also a van selling crêpes which we didn’t expect and didn’t use because we had brought a picnic lunch – but they smelled good! Tentsmuir Sands are absolutely glorious.

From there we walked out to Tentsmuir Point and back on a combination of paths through both dunes and forest.

The coastline of Tentsmuir has shifted constantly making it the fastest growing natural landmass in Scotland. In the Second World War, concrete blocks were placed along the high water mark for defence, since when the shoreline has grown further and further away from them at an annual rate of about 5 metres. Other relics from WW2 include an observation tower and an old railway wagon which re-emerged from the sands in 2010.

The beaches and estuaries around Tentsmuir were once important for salmon fishing which has also left its mark. The March Stone, dated 1794, acted as a boundary for fishing rights, dividing the Shanwell and Old Muirs salmon fishing areas. The nearby ice house from the 1850s was used to preserve the fish before shipping it south.

We didn’t see any cattle, apart from this sculpture, but apparently a hungry herd grazes the dunes to keep them free from tree cover. Wind pumps keep the dune slacks (the natural hollows between dunes) from drying out, conserving the habitat for a variety of plants and wildlife. So although this looks like a natural wilderness, it is carefully managed and preserved by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Of all the places we visited doing our October week in Fife, Tentsmuir was my favourite. I have just one more post to complete the story and that will take us to Lower Largo.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk.

Fife Coastal Path: Cellardyke to Crail

Cellardyke bathing pool

On this walk (or actually, two walks) we left Cellardyke to the east, passing another of those old outdoor bathing pools. This one was apparently popular from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Nearby was the rather dilapidated looking East Neuk Outdoors – a few licks of paint needed I think.

This lady was gazing out to sea from her bench. Was she watching this little lobster fishing boat?

Or simply contemplating the view of the Isle of May, the Bass Rock, and North Berwick Law?

From here we looked back at Cellardyke:

There was bird life aplenty:

And as we neared Caiplie this rather large bull – fortunately behind a fence:

An unusual sandstone outcrop has eroded into Caiplie Caves (and arches) with early Christian crosses carved on the wall of the largest cave. We were fascinated by the shapes and colours here.

The distance from Celladyke to Crail is just under 4 miles and Caiplie is about the half way mark. On the first of these walks we had set out after lunch, and by the time we had finished exploring the caves it was gone 3 o’clock. No way could we walk to Crail and back to Cellardyke before dark (this was October) so we turned round here. A few days later, we walked out to the caves again, this time from Crail, another charming East Neuk fishing village which boasts one of the UK’s most photographed harbours.

We admired the village from its old houses (1632 is the earliest date I can read) to its topical take on the pandemic (masked garden ornaments).

So our two walks met in the middle which meant we had covered the whole section of the Fife Coastal Path from Cellardyke to Crail. Next time is also a tale of two halves with a garden and some glorious sand dunes.

PS in my last post, I mentioned the windmill and old salt pans at St Monans. I was interested to read a BBC article last week about Darren Peattie who aims to restore salt harvesting to the village, two hundred years after it ended, and also plans to reconstruct one of the nine old salt pan houses to turn it into a visitor centre.

Fife Coastal Path: Cellardyke to St Monans

Anstruther Harbour

The Fife Coastal Path passes right through Cellardyke, where we spent our October break. Every day, we explored a different part of it. Walking west from our front door we passed through the fishing villages of Anstruther, Pittenweem, and St Monans.

Anstruther

Probably the most notable features of Anstruther (pop. c 3,600) are the Scottish Fisheries Museum and the Anstruther Fish Bar, neither of which we visited. However, the window from which two faces are peering  in the gallery below is part of the museum. We did visit the Dreel Tavern (though not on the day of this walk) where a plaque on the wall commemorates the time that James V (1513-42) was carried across the Dreel Burn by a beggar woman because he was frightened of getting his stockings wet!

We also looked at the monument to Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), First Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, and later found his birthplace.

From Anstruther, we continued along the coast to our next port of call, Pittenweem.

Pittenweem

Pittenweem, with a population under 2,000, is much smaller than Anstruther. The name is said to mean place of the caves, and you can still see St Fillan’s Cave, dating from the 7th century, though in these strange times you can’t go inside. We admired the pretty houses, had a good lunch in the Clock Tower Café, and examined the poignant new Fishermen’s Memorial by sculptor Alan Heriot, unveiled in 2019. It depicts a fisherman’s wife and child scanning the horizon for the return of their loved one. The plaque reads “This memorial is dedicated to the men and women who make their living from the sea and to those who have lost their lives in so doing”. It is thought around 400 lives have been lost in a 28-mile stretch of the Firth of Forth off the East Neuk since the early 1800s, many of them never recovered.

From Pittenweem, we continued along the coast to St Monans.

St Monans

St Monans is even smaller than Pittenweem with a population under 1500. Before you reach the village, a restored windmill and the remains of a few pan-houses are testament to the area’s industrial history: the Newark Coal and Salt Works Company founded in 1771.

It’s hard to tell what’s natural and what isn’t in the rocks! There’s a swimming pool created in the sea, as in many of these villages. Much too cold to try out!

As with the other two villages, there was a harbour and some pretty, colourful houses to admire, this time with the added attraction of a Welly Garden. It was raining quite hard by this time, so stealing a pair might have been a good option!

Rain or no rain, from St Monans we had to turn round and do the walk in reverse to get back to our holiday home in Cellardyke: 7-8 miles in total. In the next post, I’ll turn east from our front door and take you along the coastal path to Crail.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk.

Glasgow Gallivanting: December 2020

December, eh? A dark, dreary month for the most part, only enlivened by watching the Christmas lights appear in houses and gardens on our after-work walks. Like most people, we had a Plan B Christmas. Months ago, when things still seemed to be improving, I booked a cottage in the Scottish Borders for Mum, John and me. Of course in the end we weren’t allowed to travel, but we’ve postponed our booking rather than cancel it – fingers crossed for Easter! Tonight, we will also have a Plan B Hogmanay because we can’t celebrate with the friends we usually go out with.

When we visited Scotstoun’s Living Advent Calendar last year, I knew immediately that I wanted to use the photographs on my blog this December. The first lockdown gave me the time to prepare most of them and I’m now looking at a bare drafts folder for the first time in months! Thanks to everyone who followed daily. A couple of you, I think Carol (The Eternal Traveller) and Jude (Travel Words), suggested a gallery of all 24 windows, so here they are. Best viewed by clicking on the first one and scrolling through as a slideshow if you have the time or the inclination. Scotstoun has some very artistic and ingenious residents as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Many of my blogging friends have been busy with the 10 Days / 10 Travel Photos challenge in the last few weeks. Thanks to Su (Zimmerbitch) and Andrew (Have Bag, Will Travel) who both nominated me, though I declined at the time because my Advent Calendar was ongoing, and to Geoff (TanGental) who nominated me a couple of days later. Instead of a day to day version, and because I really don’t have much else to say about December, I thought I’d include a gallery here of 10 photos, fairly randomly selected, which featured in the first couple of years of my blog when I knew very few people, though some images are obviously much older than that. Arranged in date order (with links to the relevant posts) you can see:

  • Florence 1992, the only Christmas we have spent abroad. We loved it: much more understated and tasteful than the homegrown version. I also loved that tartan coat: I bought it for £10 in a second hand shop and spent another £10 replacing the torn lining.
  • Havana, 1999. We were sitting on a café balcony from which this man saw us watching him as he delivered oranges and tossed one up to us. John caught him at just the right moment.
  • Mount Teide, 2006. We spent our Silver Wedding anniversary in Tenerife. There’s a lost luggage story attached to this.
  • Grand Canyon, 2009; Bryce Canyon, 2010; North Carolina, 2011; Peggy’s Cove, 2012; Acadia National Park, 2013. Part of a run of North American road-trips which may, or may not, happen again.
  • Berlin, 2012, and Dublin, 2013. Both involving large beers, and both destinations planned for the same purpose: a concert by the late, lamented Leonard Cohen.

All happy memories!

One positive thing about December to report – I have another article published about Jessie Stephen, the Suffragette I have been studying for the last few years, this time in the journal Scottish Labour History. Woohoo!

In December I take a peek at my stats, and I note that my page views have more than doubled this year. I don’t take from this that I am any more popular, just that I’ve posted an awful lot more, sometimes daily – my Advent Calendar, for example, and some of the lovely Becky’s quarterly Square Challenges. (Follow the link to discover what she is up to in January.) As I said earlier, my drafts folder is now empty, so I’m expecting those stats to plummet any time now! It doesn’t matter, I appreciate every visit, especially this year when I think we have all valued our online friends more than ever. So thank you to everyone who has read, Liked, or commented, and may our friendships continue into 2021 and beyond. Happy New Year!