Glasgow Gallivanting: April 2023

Women’s history

I’ll start with this month in Women’s History. The 10-minute video above appeared a couple of weeks ago, almost exactly a year after I gave the talk. It was the first talk I had done in over two years and the first ever via Zoom, so I wasn’t very happy with my performance at the time. I’m still not comfortable when I don’t have an audience to interact with – I like to move about, wave my hands a bit, and make eye contact. However, I’ve got better and, actually, the recording is not as bad as I had feared, though I’m clearly not relaxed. What did embarrass me was the quality of our camera so it spurred us on to do something we’ve been meaning to do for years: buy a new computer!

I’ve also done three guided walks, two for Glasgow Women’s Library and one for Maryhill Burgh Halls, a Story Café on Scotland’s witch trials for GWL, and another Gallus Pedals blogpost, this time on suffragette Dorothea Chalmers Smith whose minister husband was told by the church to control his wife or divorce her.

John’s birthday

In other news this month, John had a birthday! We had a fabulous day, first of all visiting the Japanese Garden at Cowden. As you will see in the gallery, the garden has a lovely café where we had lunch. To end our visit we crossed the carpark to the Woodland Walk. Here we found a delightful little village made from trees damaged by the notorious Storm Arwen of November 2021.

Our next stop was Dollar where we intended to climb the steep glen to Castle Campbell. Well, we did, but unfortunately we parked the car next to a new (to us) patisserie, Troy-Ann, and we just had to sample its wares.

Still, the climb to the castle must have done us some good, surely?

I hope so, because at night we were out eating again at our favourite Chinese restaurant, Lychee Oriental. Cheers to the birthday boy!

Bar and Croy Hills

This walk has appeared several times before: it’s a favourite. Starting at Auchinstarry Quarry, we go along the canal, up and over Bar and Croy Hills, and back via the forest path on the other side of the canal. Both hills are sites of Roman forts on the Antonine Wall, hence the big head of Silvanus. Can’t explain the Skull and Crossbones though!

Five ferries

Five ferries route

A couple of solo adventures now. John got a gorgeous day for an outing with his cycling pals, the Weegie Wheelers. He took the train to the meeting point at Ardrossan in Ayrshire from where their first ferry was to Brodick on Arran (bottom right of the image where the red line of the route starts). The first cycle of the day (for him) was north to Lochranza where they caught another ferry to Claonaig (Kintyre) and then cycled to Tarbert. From Tarbert they boarded the ferry to Portavadie and then cycled via Tighnabruaich to Colintraive. At Colintraive there is a very short ferry ride onto the island of Bute where they cycled south to Rothesay (red line ends here) to catch the final ferry to Wemyss Bay and the train home. Some people actually cycled to and from Glasgow as well, or left their cars at Ardrossan and cycled back there at the end. John felt he had done enough!

Ferry 1

Ardrossan to Brodick.

Caledonian Isles at Ardrossan
Ferry 2

Lochranza to Claonaig.

Ferry 3

Tarbert to Portavdie.

Ferry 4

The long cycle from Portavadie to Colintraive and the ferry to Bute.

Ferry 5

Rothesay to Wemyss Bay. John’s bike is on the right in the first photo. What an adventure!


My solo adventure was not so spectacular. I went to Edinburgh to meet three friends who hadn’t all been together in person since pre-Covid, two having since moved away from Glasgow. As you can imagine, much chatting took place over coffee and lunch, but we did have time for a little culture with a quick visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Things to catch my eye this time included the thistle mosaic outside, a view of the balcony through a doorway, two very different representations of poet Jackie Kay and, of course, the Library.

Street (and other) art

What would a Gallivanting post be without some Glasgow street art? Although, let’s start with river art. Some of you were intrigued last month by the Glasgow penguins down by the Kelvin. A lot has happened! Some new friends appeared on a fence by the river.

Then disaster struck! According to Twitter, the penguins disappeared – and this made several local news-sites. Then they reappeared, thanking us for our support.

Now, I’m not sure if they were genuinely stolen and returned, or whether the artist is trying (successfully) to create a popular narrative. Whatever, the penguins add more and more activities to their repertoire. I’m sure this story will run and run …

And there’s more! Back on the Antonine Wall theme, a new mural has appeared in the garden at Lambhill Stables.

A mosaic in Thornwood by Wilma van der Meyden and a fish by Frodrik on a derelict building in Maryhill.

Alma Mater by Jephson Robb at the University of Glasgow. Donors’ names appear on the bottom plinth.

By the canal we were lucky enough to catch the ceramicists at work on the new bridge. Although we didn’t find it till mid-month, The Elephants of Maryhill Locks was been one of several April Fools plaques mounted by Glasgow Information and Kultural Identity Taskforce, or GlaIKIT for short. If you know, you know …

The bench in the Botanic gardens which is yarn bombed every Spring in memory of Rita McGurn has its 2023 outfit on. I hadn’t realised till last winter that there was a plaque underneath it all.

Finally, we visited the Hillhead Bookclub with friends. It’s a restaurant, where we had a delicious lunch, and it originated as a cinema so I’m not sure where the bookish identity came from but, of course, I’m not one to quibble with it.

So those are my highlights for April. What will May bring? Happy May Day!


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