Glasgow Gallivanting: July 2018

Pollok House

As mentioned last week, we had a couple of boat trips in July – but where else did we gallivant? We enjoyed a sunny afternoon at Pollok House and gardens on Glasgow’s Southside. They spelt my name wrong on the potatoes though …

Dundee

I gallivanted off to Dundee with Women’s Library friends (Anna, Beverly and Mary Alice) to follow the Women’s History Trail. Basically a series of blue plaques, it was interesting but not especially photogenic.

More colourful were the comic characters around town created by publisher DC Thomson.

And there was one of those lovely public art trails – Penguin Parade in this case.

Finally, at Discovery Point we admired the new branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum which opens in September. It contrasts with, and also complements, RSS Discovery (Royal Research Ship), the last traditional three-masted ship to be built in Britain in 1901.

Irish and Highland Famine Memorial

A new garden and monument to commemorate those who died, or emigrated, in the famines of the 1840s (caused by potato blight) has opened on Glasgow Green near the People’s Palace. Some of the inscriptions on the upturned boat read “Even the birds were silent in grief” and “O, my native land, you are on my mind” – very moving, but rather spoiled by the amount of time we had to wait for three small boys to give up clambering all over it. There’s no notice asking people not to climb on it, but I feel there should be out of respect.

Close by are other monuments that I like – the peace memorial to those who opposed World War One, the International Workers Memorial (inside it says “Fight for the living ; Remember the dead) and the lovely inscription to mouser Smudge, the only cat to be a full member of the GMB Union!

Spotted around town

The longest Lego Bridge in the world is in St Enoch’s Shopping Centre. Who knew? Definitely not me!

Close by is an exhibition, presumably aimed at young people, on Civil Engineering. As well as photographs of current engineers it included some historic figures in superhero garb, and I was pleased to see some women amongst them. For example, Dorothy Buchanan who, in 1927, was the first woman to become a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Somewhere recently I read about Edward VIII pillar boxes. These are quite rare because Edward was king for less than a year (1936), but apparently Glasgow has several and three are quite near me. I thought I had saved the blog post / article or whatever it was – but if I did I can’t find it. If whoever wrote it is reading this, please let me know! Anyway, I was pleased to spot one in Hyndland (forgive the skinny picture below, it was surrounded by waste-bins which I’ve chopped out) and will keep my eyes open for the other two.

The shrouded figure sleeping on a bench is by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz. It’s in Nelson Mandela Place (behind St George’s Tron Church) and is called Homeless Jesus. There’s a serious message here, but I think it’s lost through an obscure location – and something it has in common with the pillar box is that it was difficult to photograph because of the rubbish bags behind it. Another case of lack of respect?

Black and White Challenge

You’re all probably familiar with the Black and White Challenge – “Black and white photos of your life for seven days. No people, no explanations.” It’s been floating around Facebook and WordPress for ages, but it was on Twitter that I was challenged this month. These were my selections. Some you will recognise! I liked the way they turned out, mostly. B&W disguised some unwanted background details (e.g. – guess what? – a yellow waste-bin behind the fireman gates) and highlighted the sky reflected in the windows of the terraced house.

The last bit

I am finally completing Kim’s Sunshine Blogger Award with the last three questions!

  • In one sentence, what is your life philosophy? You never know what’s round the corner – so seize the day.
  • What do you want to do tomorrow? Well, “tomorrow” as I am writing this will be quite a routine day. “Tomorrow” on the day this is published, I hope to be near the sea again. I’ll tell you about it later if I am.
  • What is your favourite dish to cook, and why? John is a better cook than I am. I joke that my strength is bucket cookery – bung everything in one pan and, depending on the herbs and spices, it might turn out to be pasta sauce, curry, chilli or couscous. I’m usually in a hurry because I’ve found something more interesting to do and lost track of time.

Some updates from recent posts!

  • The Mackintosh Building is currently being demolished brick by brick, though the Director of the School of Art thinks it can be rebuilt. Residents and business owners who live nearby have not been able to access their premises for 5 weeks and are getting restive. I don’t blame them.
  • Remember the big Moon hanging from the ceiling in the Mackintosh Church? After Glasgow, it went on display in Bristol and was then bound for Austria – but it got lost in the post! Seriously – you can read about it here.
  • John’s sore knee is still sore, and is now officially arthritis. 😦 That’s a good lead-in to a Scottish word of the month – I’m going for hirple, which means to limp or hobble. We’re hoping the hirpling ends soon.

Let’s finish on a happier note – July was also my birthday month! How far can you stretch middle age out these days? A bit further than 61 I hope …

Have a great August!

2 Sundays 2 Sails

Four Glasgow icons: the Riverside Museum, the Armadillo, the Tall Ship and the Squinty Bridge

Doon the watter

For generations, families packed their bags for Glasgow Fair, the fortnight in July when all the factories closed, and took a boat doon the watter to one of the Clyde resorts for their holidays. The Waverley is a relic of those days – the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world. I hadn’t travelled on her since my childhood until John and I took a day trip down the Firth of Clyde one Sunday this month. As we set off, we left behind the view you see above: all of these Glasgow icons have appeared in the blog at one time or another.

The cruise, to start with, was a mixture of heritage and industry – sometimes both together, as below where the 15th century Newark Castle is almost dwarfed by Ferguson’s Shipyard at Port Glasgow.

We shared the river with other vessels – here a Clyde ferry is waiting at Wemyss (pronounced Weems) Bay.

And when we got into more open water, the view was dominated by the distinctive “sleeping giant” form of Arran.
The skies were quite grey, as you can see, and it was windy and cold on deck. However, fleeces and cagoules dealt with the temperature and we stayed in the open most of the day, only disappearing downstairs for a beer towards the end. That, and a delicious Thai curry on the way home, rounded off a great day out.

From the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of Forth

We enjoyed that trip so much that the following Sunday we headed to the other side of the country to take a trip on the Firth of Forth. The pier at South Queensferry lies just underneath the Forth Bridge from where we waited for our boat, Maid of the Forth, to come in.

We sailed under the bridge towards Inchcolm Island, passing several rocky outcrops populated by cormorants (which are doing really well this year, after some lean times).

We had 90 minutes ashore to explore the island and its abbey, the earliest parts of which are 12th century. We had booked a tour and our guide, David, was excellent.

After David left us, we climbed the bell tower (the narrowest spiral staircase I’ve ever been up, followed by a steep ladder) from where we could view the rest of the island, including some Second World War defences. Then we still had time for a quick walk where we saw lots more seabirds.

As the boat left, we passed “Inch Gnome” and some very relaxed seals before sailing under all three bridges – 19th century Forth Bridge (rail), 20th century Forth Road Bridge and 21st century Queensferry Crossing.

On top of the Forth Bridge, we could see the viewing platform we visited last year. It was raining slightly by this time, and most people stayed below (wimps!) leaving me space to get a selfie at the back of the boat

Finally, we returned to South Queensferry. Just opposite where we had parked the car was this lovely Nessie made by local schoolchildren.

Another fabulous day out! If you’d like to do either of these trips, check the links below for timetables and tickets. Even if you’re not in Scotland you could catch PS Waverley, as she also visits the Bristol Channel, the South Coast, the Thames and the Irish Coast later in the year.

PS Waverley

Maid of the Forth

Glasgow Gallivanting: June 2018

Miners’ Cottages, Wanlockhead

Wanlockhead is the highest village in Scotland. We took a detour to visit its Lead Mining Museum on our way back from our Lake District holiday at the beginning of June. It’s a lovely place! We started in the café (of course), then toured the mine and the row of cottages above. Each one was furnished in a different period – 1750, 1850 and 1910 (shown below).

Best of all – it has a library! Wanlockhead Miners’ Library was established in 1756 and is the second-oldest subscription library in Europe. And where is the oldest? Leadhills Miners’ Library, just a few miles up the road, which dates from 1741. We had hoped to visit it too, but spent so long at Wanlockhead that we didn’t have time.

Joining the Library was a privilege, and potential new members were subjected to a rigorous interrogation by the Librarian before being admitted – you can see this happening in one of the pictures above. Unusually for the time, women were allowed to subscribe: in 1784 it is recorded that there were 32 male members and 1 female, Isabella Rutherford. However, according to our guide, only one membership per household was allowed so Isabella lost hers when her nephew came of age. Boo!

The other model represents the book checker (there might have been a more technical term, I can’t remember). Each returned book was checked page by page for damage – and the checker also had the power to visit a member’s home to search for missing books. Hmm – I could have done with that power in my working days 😉

Jessie Stephen

If you’ve been following for a while, you might remember that I’m part of a group promoting a Scottish Suffragette, Jessie Stephen, in this centenary year for women’s suffrage. June was a good month – three events!

On Sunday 10th of June, thousands of women in the four capitals of the UK (Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London) took part in Processions 2018. Although we walked about two miles, this was not a march or demonstration – it was an artwork. Women were issued with scarves in one of the suffragette colours (green for hope, white for purity and purple for loyalty and dignity) so from above we looked like one long suffragette ribbon. In theory, anyway! We took our Jessie Stephen banner, made by her great-niece Sheana (in the large black hat), who was interviewed live by the BBC.  Ours was the only double-sided banner I saw: it said Votes for Women on the back. Sheana is a stickler for detail!

I thought I had broken my jinx on walks – last year, I seemed to get soaked every time I acted as a tour guide. This year, I’ve done two walks for the Women’s Library, both in bright sunshine, and Processions was also a lovely day. My luck ran out the following weekend when my Maryhill Women’s History walk attracted the rain back. Despite that, all 15 participants turned up and stayed to the end. Jessie features in it too – here, I’m passing her picture around. (Though since I drafted this, I’ve done another Women’s Library Walk – yesterday, 1st July, which was scorching.)

The final event was part of another strand in the suffrage celebrations, EqualiTeas. A tea party was held in the Bowling Club near Sheana’s home and, once again, Jessie was celebrated – this time, with suitably decorated cake. Yum!

Museum of the Moon and other gallivants

It’s been a sad month for Charles Rennie Mackintosh fans, so here’s some more cheerful stuff. During the recent West End Festival, the Mackintosh Church at Queen’s Cross (the only one he designed which was actually built, and now home of the CRM Society) hosted an installation called Museum of the Moon. Created by artist Luke Jerram, this 1:500,000 scale model features detailed NASA imagery of the moon’s surface. You could walk under it through the body of the church, and view it from different angles from two balconies. It was also a good chance to get close to some of the Mackintosh details in the church and see an exhibition of his chairs.

As I walked into town afterwards, I noted that the local housing reflected the Mackintosh Style with its squares and angles.

And this was my next destination, the new Mackintosh mural on a gable end above the Clutha Bar. Created by street artist Rogue One, it was given to the city by a local Radisson Hotel to mark CRM’s 150th birthday – and unveiled hours before the fire at his masterpiece, Glasgow School of Art.

Reluctant to end my gallivanting just yet, I hopped on the Subway to Govan because I still hadn’t viewed the Mary Barbour statue without the hundreds of people surrounding it at its opening (as described in March’s Gallivanting post). On my way to the café across the road, I stopped to admire the cast iron Aitken Memorial Fountain and spotted a sign for the Govan Ferry so, on the spur of the moment, I crossed the river and had my coffee in the Riverside Museum instead.

After that, I caught the Subway from Partick Station, home of the GI Bride. Not very bonny, is she?

And because the information board mentions Lobey Dosser, and my dedication to your education about Glasgow knows no bounds, a few days later I trekked down to Woodlands to capture him for you. He is even less bonny. Spot the inadvertent selfie in the plaque here!

The last bit

Just because it made me smile!

My Scottish word of the month is not one I have ever used, but it illustrates a strange coincidence. My mum asked me one day if I knew the word skail. I didn’t, but the very next day it turned up on Anu Garg’s Word A Day site! It means to scatter or disperse, is of Scottish or Scandinavian origin, and dates from 1300. So that’s a new one for me to learn too.

Finally, I’m still working my way through Kim’s questions for the Sunshine Blogger Award. The next two are “What’s your favorite book?” and “What skill have you always wanted to master, but haven’t yet started on?”

Favourite book? Oh dear, where to start? I suppose the books I have read and reread more than any others are those by Jane Austen. I love her feisty heroines and acerbic style. Forced to choose just one, I would go for Emma with Pride and Prejudice a close second. Emma is just so spectacularly wrong about everything, and Mr Knightly waits so patiently for her to come to her senses. To me, he seems far better husband material than P&P’s Mr Darcy who, despite being softened by Lizzie, will, I suspect, always be rather haughty. I also suspect there is more than a hint of truth in Lizzie’s joke that she fell in love with him when she saw his large estate at Pemberley! Despite all that, I have never been swept away by any of the men playing Mr Knightly, but I certainly succumbed, with half the women in the country, to Darcymania during the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of P&P. The words “Colin Firth” and “wet shirt” can still induce a swoon.

As for skills, well the only way I can see myself mastering any new ones now is by the magic wand method – and that won’t happen any time soon!

Happy July everyone.

#RoofSquares 23-30: Glasgow edition

The final countdown …

For my last selection of roofs for Becky’s #RoofSquares Challenge I’m sticking to Glasgow, starting with St Mungo’s Cathedral (1136) seen here from part way up the hill of the Necropolis.

Another imposing building is the neo-Gothic University of Glasgow, but I’ve not chosen an external view this time. Above are the Cloisters, also known as the Undercroft. It’s graduation season at the moment and they are a-flutter with colourful gowns, but this shot was taken around Christmas.

Just look at the carvings beneath the roof of this building at 1 La Belle Place, Kelvingrove! Currently a Hindu Mandir, it was built as the Queen’s Rooms in the 1850s to be used to celebrate the arts and sciences. Of particular interest to me: it was the location of a Suffrage Celebration meeting (tickets sixpence) on Saturday 20th April 1918 after the planting of the Suffrage Oak on nearby Kelvin Way. I only learned this recently and it has made me look at the building with new affection.

I could call this next section “Turret Envy”! Moving on from public buildings, these are all private houses within a few minutes walk from my own home (which looks nothing like any of these).

The houses at each end of this terrace on Kirklee Road have a splendid round turret. The one shown, until recent years, was supported by concrete buttresses which made it very ugly, but it has now been strengthened and restored. I can imagine sitting in that bay window with a good book and a glass of red – though I’d love that even more in this next one.

This is Kensington Tower (1858). Wow, just wow! I would love to have that tower room.

If you think the roofline of Lancaster Crescent looks like a terrace has been bolted on to a standalone villa, you are correct. Redlands House was built in 1870-71 and originally stood in grounds of 24 acres. For much of the 20th century it was a women’s hospital before being converted back into residential accommodation. The terrace was added in stages between 1898 and 1907, which you can probably tell by the different windows at roof level.

The last house might be surprising!

Ayton House (c. 1859) was badly damaged in the Blitz in 1941, and by the 1980s was threatened with demolition. However, it was rescued by a developer who added a modernist penthouse flat. What do you think? It certainly divides opinion locally – but it’s another place I could imagine myself sitting, glass in hand, at sunset.

I walk past Ayton House often, but I had never looked round the back until someone dropped me a hint. This is what I found.

It’s an extension bearing the unmistakable hallmarks of Charles Rennie Mackintosh who designed it. Which brings me back to the sad subject of the Art School – the latest news is that it is likely to be partially demolished because some of the walls are in danger of collapsing.

On to happier things: as well as linking to Becky’s challenge, I’m also linking to Cathy’s Photography Intention invitation on ~wander.essence~.  All my roof-themed posts would fit, but I’ve chosen this one because I had a conversation with Cathy in the comments on one of her other posts about Victorian houses, and the differences between here and North America. (Turrets are a common feature, but ours are solidly sandstone as opposed to colourful wood).

Because of the way I’ve grouped my roofs on a Friday, I’m finishing a day early – but I just couldn’t stop myself. I suspect roofs will now be as addictive as benches are after Jude’s challenge a couple of years ago, so here are a few more I’ve gathered, again all close to home.
Many thanks to Becky for running such a great challenge. I’ve enjoyed participating.

Mourning the Mack – again

Mackintosh Building 22nd May 2014

This year is the 150th Birthday of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Glasgow should be celebrating – we were celebrating. There is a wonderful exhibition at Kelvingrove which I’ve seen and enjoyed (and intend to go back to) and just yesterday a new mural was unveiled which I’m hoping to see in person soon. But today I woke up to the news that Mackintosh’s iconic Glasgow School of Art has been hit by fire for the second time in four years. It’s devastating – restoration was going well and the building was due to reopen next year. There are no reports of casualties – thank goodness – but Glasgow mourns all the same.

The picture at the top of the post was taken the day before the first fire – I was one of the last people to visit the Mackintosh Library. I wrote about that experience at the time and was proud to be contacted by the restoration architects because “You have posted a beautiful photograph of the Library Windsor Chair that is really useful as it’s showing the reinforcements done to the original design.” My picture was to be part of their documentation!

The account of my Mackintosh visit is on my long defunct blog Adventures of a Retired Librarian where there are more pictures of what was lost. Last time, a restoration fund was quickly opened up. Today is too early for that, but I’ll keep you posted.

#RoofSquares 2-8: Ayrshire edition

Squares 2-6: Darvel and Galston

The recent Bank Holiday Monday was, as we say, scorchio. This is unusual for Scotland – more often than not, a holiday is greeted by a downpour. We took advantage of the weather to head down to Ayrshire to do a couple of easy walks near the small towns of Darvel and Galston. There were meadows and forests aplenty, but I’d already decided to take part in Becky’s #RoofSquares challenge for June (though posting weekly rather than daily) so that’s what I was looking out for. (The roofs don’t have to be square, but the images must be!)

At the top of the post is John’s shot of the roofs of Darvel as we climbed up and out of the Irvine Valley. Below are a couple of houses we passed on the way. From a distance, I thought the first was a barn but on closer inspection it’s a newly-built house with a barn-style roof.

Not roofs, I know, but on this part of the walk we met some very cute pigs and cows! Can’t resist sharing.

After lunch, we did another walk from Galston which took us to a viewpoint where we could see as far as Arran (hazily). However, the roofs which caught my eye were in town: Barr Castle (flat but decorative underneath) and the local Catholic Church (amazing round turret, and I like the row of dormer windows too). These shots are both from my iPhone. I do contribute pictures occasionally, it’s not all John!

Roof Squares 7-8: Small Animal Hospital

I didn’t have quite enough photos from Ayrshire for a full week of square roofs, so to finish here are a couple of an unusual roof structure nearer home. The Small Animal Hospital is part of Glasgow University’s Vet School at Garscube Estate, and has a turf roof which you can walk right over.

We did just that! From the top we could see back to the glass part of the roof shown above on the right. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Now to hunt out seven more roofs for next Friday …

Glasgow Gallivanting: May 2018

Yes, we’ve been to Amsterdam again! I wrote extensively about the city after we were there in November, so when I get round to posting about this visit I’ll try to be briefer. It’s the first time we’ve been in warm sunshine and, wow, it looks good that way!

Inchmahome Priory

We actually had sunshine at home too – though not all the time. A visit to Inchmahome Priory at the beginning of the month was a bit grey. The priory (c. 1238) is on a small island on the Lake of Menteith, so you arrive by boat which is exciting. The island’s main claim to fame is as a haven for Mary Queen of Scots – she spent a few weeks here, aged 4, after Scotland lost a battle with the English in 1547.

Edinburgh

We had a sunnier day in Edinburgh. I wanted to visit the exhibition at the National Library to celebrate the centenary of Muriel Spark’s birth, and we caught it just before it closed. It was excellent. No photography was allowed inside for copyright reasons, but we took a few pictures in the entrance hall. I loved what they had done to their staircase.

We also managed to fit in two more exhibitions, and a wander through some of Edinburgh’s pretty streets.

Cairnhill Woods

If you go down to the woods today …

… you’re sure of a big surprise!

Surprise one was that I didn’t know about Cairnhill Woods, despite having lived within half an hour’s walk for thirty years, until a friend posted pictures on Facebook of his kids playing near some of the chainsaw carvings. Surprise two was that as I left the woods after my first visit, who should I run into but that same friend and his son? The carvings are the work of Iain Chalmers of Chainsaw Creations and have only been there since 2014, but even without them the woods are a lovely Sunday afternoon stroll, especially at this time of year when the bluebells and primroses are in full bloom.

River Kelvin

On a walk through Kelvingrove Park, two of the West End’s most iconic buildings can be seen peeking at each other from opposite sides of the river (Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and University of Glasgow).

I was pleased that George Wylie’s sculpture was in a complimentary mood, and even more pleased to discover small signs of growth on the storm-damaged Suffrage Oak. It’s hard to see against surrounding trees, but some of those leaves are definitely attached to the oak. There is hope!

Another day, I walked in the opposite direction along the Kelvin to the Garscube Estate, formerly the site of a country mansion and now home to parts of Glasgow University including the Vet School. Coming home via the canal I felt very lucky to have these two waterways almost on my doorstep.

John in China

For the third month in a row, John has spent time in China. This time, to make the travelling even more difficult for himself, he went to a conference in California first! It was a long journey from San Francisco to Chengdu, but at least he had a day to sight-see before starting work again. On my only visit to Chengdu, many years ago, I remember visiting this museum to Du Fu (Tang dynasty poet) with its replica of the thatched cottage he built in 759.

The last bit

Just because I liked them – two windows with a similar theme: the one on the left spotted in Southampton, and the one on the right in Amsterdam.

You might remember I’ve been answering Kim’s Sunshine Blogger nomination questions two at a time each month. Questions five and six are Who inspires you? and Why do you blog? For inspiration I could give many answers, but I’m sticking with my current project, promoting Suffrage Pioneer Jessie Stephen. The more I read about this woman, the more awe-struck I am. Next month’s roundup might well have more news about her. As for why I blog – it started as a personal record for myself, but now it keeps me in touch with all you lovely people who are reading it!

On that very subject, are you an (ahem) older blogger like me? If so, perhaps you could help Rachel at Write into Life by completing her short survey on why you blog and the benefits (if any) you get from it.

Finally, my Scottish words of the month which I’ve chosen to put together because they rhyme. If I said to you “A wee girl chapped on my door and asked if she could clap the dog” you might be puzzled – not least because I don’t have a dog, but please imagine I do. Why is this child applauding it? Well, she isn’t – chap and clap are words which confused me when I arrived in Glasgow as they had extra meanings I hadn’t encountered before. To chap is to knock and to clap is to pat or stroke. So now you know! If you have a real dog, please pass on a few imaginary claps from me.

So those were some of my happiest moments in May – how was your month?

The Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Kelpies

Easter Monday: cold, breezy and threatening rain – but we needed to stretch our legs so I suggested walking the stretch of Forth and Clyde Canal between the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel, a return trip of about 8 miles. We’ve visited both before: I haven’t blogged about the wheel, but my previous post about the Kelpies explains what they are and has more pictures, including some taken on a tour inside the heads. I do sound a little grumpy in that post. The Kelpies had only just opened and parking and catering were a problem which new visitor facilities have now solved, so this time we enjoyed coffee and a scone before setting out on our walk.

I have to admit the walk was a little disappointing. We really enjoy tramping the canal banks round Glasgow and feel there is a lot to see. This stretch was largely through industrial estates and the like, and I wouldn’t bother with it again. However, there were a few interesting sights including a series of metal sculptures representing local personalities and trades.

First up was the vinegar bottle – in 1854, McAuley’s Vinegar works stood close by. Vinegar was used as a flavouring and preservative – and to mask bad smells at a time of poor sanitation. The smells at this point were good – the building behind John is an Italian restaurant. It was too soon after our scones for lunch, but we had high hopes of visiting on our return. Unfortunately, as we discovered about 4pm, it closed between 2 and 5 😦

The next sculpture is part of a national artwork project called Local Heroes. Not being from Falkirk, I didn’t recognise Dr Harold Lyon, founder of Strathcarron Hospice in 1981, Reginald Adams who trained numerous Scottish swimming champions, and Robert Barr – although I’ve certainly heard of the latter. Barr’s Soft Drinks are a big thing in Scotland, producing its other national drink, Irn-Bru (made from girders, according to one of its advertising campaigns, and originally called Iron Brew in 1904).

Whisky bottles adorn the banks opposite the old Rosebank Distillery which stopped production in 1993. However, new owners have bought the site and trademark and it seems that a new distillery, but with the same name, will soon be rising like a phoenix from the ashes.

At Lock 16 two pubs faced each other across a large basin where the Union Canal from Edinburgh used to join the Forth and Clyde. Still anticipating out Italian meal, we let them pass.

From here, there was quite a long stretch with nothing much to see until the colourful canal boats suggested we were getting close to the Wheel.

And here it is! The Falkirk Wheel opened in 2002 and links the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals replacing the old link of 11 individual locks, which was dismantled in the 1930s. A boat enters one of the wheel’s gondolas, each of which holds 500,000 litres of water, and the turning of the wheel then lifts it up or down to the level of the other canal. You remain in the correct position at all times, this is not a fairground ride! You can just see a boat emerging in the second picture below.

By this time, the threatening rain was a downpour and we set off back towards the Kelpies, discovering the closed restaurant on the way. There was nothing for it but to take our cold, wet selves home and cook our own dinner!

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk which this week is in my native Northumbria.

Glasgow Gallivanting: April 2018

Provan Hall, Auchinlea Park

Well, April was certainly a better month weather-wise than March – we even had some sunshine, as proven by the picture above! But not every day, and the sweltering 29°C experienced in London did not make its way this far north. I think there has only been one day that could truly be described as taps aff.

Happy birthday, John!

April is John’s birthday month. You might remember that last month he celebrated our wedding anniversary by flying off to China. Well, he almost missed his birthday celebrations too. He came home for 9 days, went back to China for less than a week, and returned to Glasgow two days before his birthday. Phew! My gift to him was a visit to a local distillery where he chose a bottle of label-your-own Islay.

Places we’ve been

As well as the distillery, we’ve visited the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel – all to feature in later posts. We’ve had quite an arty month with concerts, galleries and a ballet. Seen in the second collage below: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum with added dragons for Glasgow International (contemporary art festival) which is taking place at the moment; looking up through the spiral staircase in the Theatre Royal; a yarn-bombed bench in the Botanic Gardens; and a screening of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

I’ve recently been very engaged with Miss Brodie, the 1930s Edinburgh school teacher from Muriel Spark’s 1961 novel. I attend a group called Drama Queens at the Women’s Library, where we spent a few meetings reading the play aloud, and then watched the film starring Maggie Smith. It was wonderful to see the reaction of a younger Drama Queen, who only knows her as the elderly Dowager in Downton, to Smith’s electrifying performance as a woman in her prime. She steals every scene.

The play and the film are both written by Jay Presson Allen, in 1966 and 1969 respectively, and differ considerably from the book, which I have since re-read. I was amazed how my memory had played tricks on me in confusing them! Normally, I prefer the book to the film, but this time? Not sure. Anyone else got any opinions?

Little things that made me smile

Spring flowers at last! But someone has subverted the city’s marketing slogan (People Make Glasgow, seen here above the unlovely Clyde Tunnel) on the current crop of hire-bikes. Puddles Make Glasgow indeed! That’s still true, despite the more Spring-like weather.

The Women’s Library has a new flag and banner, and the Suffrage Oak has a new ribbon to celebrate 100 years since it was planted in April 1918. I had hoped to spot some new growth since the beating it took in Storm Ophelia last year, but no luck yet.

A to Z Challenge

I’ve taken part in two A to Z Challenges myself, so I know how difficult it can be. Congratulations to all the bloggers I follow, listed below, who have completed the challenge this year. See a name you don’t recognise? Click on the link – they are all awesome!

I hope I haven’t missed anyone – and, as I’m writing and scheduling this a few days in advance, I hope that none of you fell at the last hurdle!

Sunshine Blogger

Last month, I started working my way through the Sunshine Blogger Award questions as set by Kim of Glover Gardens. Here’s another couple!

If you’ve experienced a time when everything stood still for a moment, and you realized in that split second that you would remember this event for your whole life, what was that time? I don’t think I have any split-second moments like that, but there are obviously important days that I know I will always remember: happy ones, such as the day we got married, and sad ones, such as the day my dad died. And like everyone else, I have those “I’ll always remember where I was when I heard …” moments. You can date a person that way: I can’t remember JFK being assassinated, though John, who is a year older, remembers his mother sending him out into the garden to tell his father. The first news story I remember clearly is the Aberfan Disaster in 1966, when a colliery spoil heap slid down a mountain in South Wales and engulfed the village school. It probably made a big impression because I could relate to it: the children who died were of a similar age to me and I was old enough to imagine myself in their place.

Where do you want to travel next, and why? This is an easy one! I look into my crystal ball and I see three trips in my near future. The first is to the south coast of England. Why? John is visiting a university and I’m going along for a short break. I lived in this area very briefly when I was young, and it’s also near the home of a blogging friend who I’m going to meet. Gold star to anyone who can guess where and who – though obviously if you are the blogger in question you will NOT get a gold star for answering.

The last bit

Lots of Scottish Words for you this month! Did you spot the expression taps aff in my opening paragraph? It’s said that a Glasgow weather gauge has two settings: taps aff when all and sundry (well, not me) take off their tops and expose their peely-wally (pale) bodies to the sun, and taps oan when everything (thankfully) gets covered up again. Here is a handy guide – and if you live elsewhere in the U.K. you can try it for your own town.

In February, my Scottish Word of the Month was oxter and I said:

It means armpit. It’s also possible to be oxtered up the road by your pals, maybe when a little the worse for wear. That has never happened to me, I can assure you, but it does make me think that some day I should run through all the Scottish words I can think of for drunk. That would certainly add colour to your vocabulary!

So, given I’ve been talking about whisky, now seems an appropriate time and here they are – all the Scottish words for drunk that I can find, having assiduously checked a variety of Scottish vocabulary sites on your behalf. I admit to being not 100% convinced about some of them, and Scottish readers might wish to take issue with me in the comments – or make some more suggestions. Feel free!

aff his/her heid, bevvied, blootered, buckled, fleein’, foo/fou/fu’, guttered, iled up, jaked, malkied, maroculous, mortal, paralytic, pished, puggled, rat-arsed, scuppered, steamin’, stoatin’, stocious/stoshious.

So I hope you’ve all enjoyed April, and here’s to a good May. Just watch you don’t get maroculous …

A walk on Great Cumbrae

Magnus the Viking

On Easter Saturday we decided to take a trip to Great Cumbrae, an island just off the coast of Ayrshire. Don’t be fooled by the name – the island’s circumference is only about 10 miles, but there’s also a Little Cumbrae so this one has to be Great!

We arrived at the ferry terminal in Largs and left our car under the watchful eye of Magnus the Viking. He appeared in 2013 to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Largs in 1263, an indecisive engagement between the kingdoms of Norway and Scotland.

The ferry ride from Largs to Cumbrae Slip only takes about 10 minutes, but the skies changed dramatically during the short journey. When the ferry arrived in Largs, all was blue. When it dropped us off at Cumbrae, the skies were grey and a strong wind was blowing. That set the tone for the rest of the day.

A bus meets every ferry and takes passengers into the main settlement of Millport. After a quick coffee and scone as fuel, we set off on our walk. As we climbed out of the town, first stop was the old cemetery, used from 1703 to the 1930s. John spotted the 15th century “jougs” on the gatepost for manacling prisoners.

The road we were following ended at a golf course, so we struck off along farm tracks and onto open hillside. The Gowk Stane is one of several in Scotland – it means Stone of the Cuckoo (or fool) in Scots.

The path then dropped steeply down to the far side of the island where we made a small detour to the Fintry Bay tearoom for a hot drink – at least, we expected a tearoom, but it turned out to be outdoor seating only, so it didn’t warm us up much!

The toilet facilities were basic, but charming. We had read in town that due to council cuts, public toilets are now community-run. It seems that Suki is doing a great job in Fintry Bay. (Apologies, Scottish readers, for the scatological pun.) Cludgie is probably self-explanatory from the context.

From here, we followed the perimeter road and coastal paths round the headland back to Millport. Next stop, the War Memorial.

The views across to the islands of Bute and the more mountainous Arran behind it were amazingly beautiful, despite the clouds.

The road back into Millport took us past some splendid Victorian villas and then more humble terraced housing.

What next? Well, it was either a very late lunch or a very early dinner. We headed for the George Hotel where we met a friendly band of pirates and were entertained by a band as we ate.

We could have got the bus back to the ferry from outside the George, but decided to walk a bit further. We spotted a conference bike for hire and The Wedge which purports to be Britain’s narrowest house – that’s it to the left of the café, barely wider than its front door. Garrison House, built in 1745 to house the captain and officers of the Revenue Cutter Royal George stationed in Millport, is now the town’s library and museum.

Turning left, we went back uphill to the walled, wooded grounds of The Cathedral of the Isles, the smallest cathedral in Britain. It dates from 1851 when it was built as a theological college for the Scottish Episcopal Church – it’s still possible to stay in the old college buildings and the cloisters house a pleasant do-it-yourself coffee shop.

Finally, we made our way back down to the seafront to see Millport’s famous Crocodile Rock – the Clyde’s fiercest stone since c. 1900!

From here, it was a short bus ride back to the ferry and home. Who would have thought we’d meet Vikings, pirates and crocodiles on a tiny Scottish island?

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walk – join her and her band of fellow cyber-strollers.