Glasgow Gallivanting: March 2023

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon donating the Great Seal to Glasgow Womens Library: Scottish Government, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This was almost my event of the month! Scotland has a new First Minister, Humza Yousaf. Before demitting office the outgoing FM, Nicola Sturgeon, visited Glasgow Women’s Library to donate her first Seal of Office to our collections. This was a private event for staff (seen above) and volunteers, including myself, and Nicola conducted herself with her usual charm and approachability, speaking to everyone and posing for photos when asked. She really does have the knack of making you feel like the only person in the room when she is talking to you. Humza has big shoes to fill – he may not fit into Nicola’s stilettos, but I hope, for her sake, she can now kick those off too. A comfy pair of shoes is always the way to go!

March is Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is on the 8th, so this has been a busy month for me with a guided walk, a talk, a podcast recording (to be published in May, watch this space) and a couple more blog posts published for Gallus Pedals on Winnie Drinkwater (aviation pioneer) and Jessie Stephen (my favourite Suffragette). I still had time to go out and do my own thing though! We had a couple of gigs, both postponed from the end of last year and both taking place in one of Glasgow’s several old church venues: Dean Owens and the Sinners in Cottier’s (West End) and Frazey Ford in St Luke’s (East End).

We had a day out to Stirling. I really can’t do that justice in a Gallivanting post (and I’ve written about it several times before) so here are just a few castle shots.

We visited GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) to see an exhibition by Helen de Main and Mandy McIntosh, both artists I have met becuse they have worked with the Women’s Library in the past. The theme was strongly feminist, e.g. Helen’s thoughts on equal pay.

And of course, I/we continued to wander round Glasgow looking for the interesting and the quirky. Street art, for example: They can cut all the flowers but they cannot keep Spring from coming is at Kelvinbridge; the other two are in the city centre. The glamourous lady is on the hoardings at the old (and much-missed) Rogano Restaurant, and the boat overwhelmed by a wave of clothing, many garments still with price-tags on, is on Buchanan Street. It’s by Rebel Bear who always has a political statement – here, I’m surmising a protest against fast-fashion on one of the city’s main shopping streets.

You can’t get more quirky than penguins in Glasgow! These little guys have recently taken up residence in a wall opposite the old flint mill on the Kelvin: apparently they had to leave their home in Antarctica because it was getting too warm and decided to move to Glasgow because they heard it was so cool. This must be true, because I have it on the authority of their Twitter account, @GlasgowPenguins, which documents their adventures. Of course, I like the bookish ones best.

From penguins to seahorses: I have walked past the small public garden with this sculpture many times without noticing it. So cute! The rather attractive building houses the tea room at the Botanic Gardens which used to be almost completely hidden behind hedges. I love this more open view of it. And finally in this section – a new café! I first went to the West End Coffee House with my friend Lynne when I just had coffee, but on a later visit with John he tempted me with cake. After one bite of this chocolate orange cake I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I knew you would want to see it.

On a more serious note, and over in the East End, I saw for the first time the Irish Famine Memorial (An Gorta Mór) outside St Mary’s on Abercromby Street. Erected in 2021, it is dedicated to the memory of the Irish who died during the Great Famine or who who had to leave Ireland in search of food and work.

And, of course, you couldn’t expect me not to mention the canal! We’re used to seeing the swans, but recently we were lucky enough to see three deer at Claypits. Only one of them proved patient enough for a good photo though.

On a walk early in the month I was sad to see that the base of the viewing platform at the new bridge had been graffitied.

Stockingfield Bridge with graffiti underneath the viewing platform

I didn’t cross over to investigate that day, but a week later I did. The graffiti had been scrubbed off the main viewing platform, but the small top platform had been made into a shrine to somebody called Rydo. This is very sad and I understand people wanting to grieve for their friends, but I feel taking over such a public place is not the way to do it.

By my next visit, at the beginning of this week, the football shirts and other tributes had gone, though the paint was still there. However, a new artwork has appeared! This flower sculpture is by Louise McVey whose guerrilla ceramics have featured in previous Gallivantings. I think it’s fabulous.

And finally – why did I say meeting Nicola was almost the event of the month? We’ve been to Amsterdam! In fact, that was a whole series of events, but the two main ones were visiting the wonderful Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum and celebrating our Ruby Wedding – well, sort of. Our Ruby (40th) anniversary was actually two years ago when we were still in lockdown and had to celebrate at home. Last year we went to Glencoe, but this year we decided to do it properly and go back to the place where we had our honeymoon, as we have done on several significant anniversaries since. In total, I think we have visited 9 times together so we are almost like locals! We had a wonderful time and no doubt I will write about it eventually, but here is a little postcard to be going on with.

So that’s it for March. Have a great April!


  1. Congratulations to you both on 42 years … while visiting Amsterdam must have been just lovely with many happy memories. Meeting Nicola looks to have been fun … while two major events in the month of March … you’ve had lots going on … so pleased to see them all. Cheers and Happy Spring! Hilary


  2. Wow, you had an impressive month! Congrats on meeting the First Minister! And on your trip to Amsterdam. We were there in 2019, and saw their Vermeer exhibit…it was impressive. (I really wanted to see it after reading “The Girl with the Pearl Earring.”) Thanks, as always, for sharing your adventures with us. PS: I love street art, but graffiti on public property, not so much. You’re right, there is a difference!


  3. It’s very cool that you got to meet Nicola Sturgeon, she’s been an impressive First Minister and we’ve been big fans of her here in Wales. It will be interesting to see how Humza fares, as you say, those are some big shoes to fill. I love the penguins in the wall, they’re so cute, and your photo of the deer’s fantastic.


  4. Learned a new word: demitting (even spellcheck isn’t familiar with it). I never get tired of castle photos. We just don’t have such things around here. I like the Equal Pay fiber art piece very much!

    Now, you struck gold (blue ice?) with those penguins. They’re terribly clever, as I s your introduction of them. I’ll have a slice of that cake, please. Your deer looks funny with those tiny ears. Our locals are mule deer, so called for those big satellite dishes on their heads!


    • I don’t know who is behind the penguins, but they are very clever. We found some more yesterday, so they might appear next month. They’ve been there a few weeks and I’m really surprised no-one has stolen them yet!

      We’ve been hearing the word demit a lot lately – even so, I double-checked before using it that I’d got it right.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It must have been a wonderfully inspiring experience for all of you to meet your ex-PM, Anabel. Ultimately, she is a woman like us all in many ways, with added stress or a lack of it now and more political drive. I smiled when I read the street art regarding cutting all the flowers, and spring will still arrive. Love it.


  6. I was thinking while I was reading you actually did have a very busy month – and then I got to the Amsterdam part! How exciting. It must have been interesting to meet your outgoing First Minister. I don’t know much about her but have seen news stories about her at times.

    We went to Stirling Castle in 1999 and the great hall was just being renovated. The stone work was all new and sparkly clean. It’s interesting to see how it’s aged since then.

    And, we’ve just got back from a trip which included penguins! Real live penguins, at Phillip Island in Victoria. They are tiny little fellows, only 30cm high and are so cute. I’ll be writing about them sometime soon.


    • I was glad to meet Nicola before she left office. I do admire her, and it was nice to be able to tell her so. I remember when they first painted the Great Hall at Stirling ochre. It was such a shock to the system after being used to grey stone all the time! But that’s what it would have looked like at the time, and now it just seems normal. Looking forward to your real penguins!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Fascinating post, wonderfully illustrated. You HAVE been busy! We rarely get the chance to do as much as we’d like in Glasgow, because we primarily visit family with small children. It is such a vibrant city but, sadly, it does seem to be getting dirtier. I need to see the memorial to the Irish famine – looks astonishing. I’m not a huge fan of Nicola’s politics, but she is certainly admire her as an operator. It will be interesting to see how the new First Minister fares.


  8. I’ve not got much time for most modern era politicians but N.S. was different and was one of the very few I was still keen on even after 8 years in the top job . Like the murals and the sculptures, big and small. Given where
    it is situated it was always on the cards that location would be vandalized, sadly.


  9. What a rich post.
    I very much liked Helen’s thoughts on equal pay. There were too many delights to mention them all but the penguins figured high on the list.

    Mrs T met Nicola at a meeting when she a mere health minister and was very impressed by her then.

    I missed having an eightieth birthday party because of the lockdowns so I might mention Amsterdam to Mrs T in a casual way.


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