Glasgow Gallivanting: July/August 2019

Loch Long from Eilean Donan Apartments

There was no Gallivanting post in July because we were too busy gallivanting away from home. We stayed in three different places, and just look at the views we had! First, we travelled up the west coast to Dornie and spent a week in a beautiful apartment on the banks of Loch Long (see above).

On our way home, we stopped for a couple of nights at the Isles of Glencoe hotel. I think the view from our window here was even better (see below).

Loch Leven from Isles of Glencoe Hotel

After a few days at home catching up with friends and family we were off again, this time to the east coast just this side of the English border. When I saw the view below online it sold me the cottage we rented in Lower Burnmouth. This is our bedroom window – I admit when we got there I was disappointed to find that high tide that week would always be during the night while we slept and mid-afternoon when we were out. The view at low tide was much less picturesque because there is no sandy beach. However, towards the end of our stay we made sure we were home early enough one day to catch the tide, and watched mesmerised as it receded. Expect many, many more pictures when I finally get round to writing this up …

The North Sea from the Old Lobster House

When we weren’t away gallivanting, we managed to get a few walks in from home. I’ve posted about the Greenock Cut walk before (in April 2016) and nothing much has changed, except there wasn’t a cruise liner in port at Greenock last time.

We’ve also done the walk to Callander Crags and Bracklinn Falls before. However, that was pre-blogging which allows me to do a then-and-now gallery. Here’s 2008:

Followed by 2019 – I don’t seem to have taken any pictures of John, how remiss of me! The cairn is to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 with a small plaque added (and later defaced) for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

A new-to-us walk was Eglinton Country Park. The park has a really interesting history and I might do a full post on that later, so just a couple of photos for now.

In June I wrote about the Oor Wullie art trail, which has taken over several Scottish cities this summer, and posted a few of the Wullies I had snapped. I have many, many more but some people found them ugly or scary so I’ll only add one, Wonder Wullie. I’ve met several other weird figures over the past couple of months though! Joining Wullie below are a cow met outside a pub in Dalwhinnie; Nutkin, from another art trail in the Highlands; the Clyde Mascot from the Commonwealth Games in 2014; Elvis, who has not left the building; and Glasgow University’s Lion and Unicorn which I’ve featured before, but not with their new lick of gold paint.

Clyde and Elvis can be found in Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery which we visited in August to see the excellent Linda McCartney Retrospective (on till January). No photography was allowed in the exhibition but, as always, we came away with a new set of shots. The organ in the Centre Hall is extremely photogenic.

So are the Floating Heads (by Sophie Cave) which grace the East Court, and the Spitfire which flies over the West.

However, I can’t believe I have never properly looked beyond these to the stained glass windows at the end of each gallery. They are quite different, but both stunning (though I prefer the blue bird).

Some new murals by Art Pistol have appeared along the Forth and Clyde Canal at Firhill. Inspired by Mackintosh, one is based on his well-known work Roses and the other on the lesser known Sailing Ships. They’re under a bridge so hard to capture, but I tried. Again, I think I prefer the blue one.

Glasgow Women’s Library welcomed some Kenyan visitors recently. As part of a British Council funded programme the Library has partnered with a group called Book Bunk in Nairobi. Founded by Wanjiru Koinange and Angela Wachuka, Book Bunk aims to transform three public libraries in Nairobi, from throwbacks to a colonial era which excluded Africans, into inclusive spaces with heritage, public art and shared experiences at their core. Read the GWL blogpost about Wanjiru and Wachuka’s visit, watch the Book Bunk video and weep – and if your finger strays towards the Donate Now button, so much the better. Wanjiru, on the left of the picture, is also an author and read some extracts from her debut novel, The havoc of choice, which follows one family during the 2007 Kenyan election and its violent aftermath. It’s not out till next week, but I’ve pre-ordered a copy and can’t wait for it to arrive.

Finally, to two fabulously floral events! My friend Irene held a garden party at which she raised over £1500 for Pancreatic Cancer UK. Cheers Irene! We had a great time.

September sees the heritage festival Doors Open swing into action throughout Scotland. Glasgow’s turn isn’t for another few weeks, but in this 30th anniversary year a celebration was held last weekend in the city’s Govanhill Baths. Blooms with a View filled the old Ladies’ Pool with flowers and acted as a base for various events. We had booked tickets for a talk on Saturday which was unfortunately cancelled, but decided to turn up anyway because we wanted to see the Baths. Here’s the Ladies’ Pool in its “glad rags”.

You might have noticed that underneath the flowers the pool is rather the worse for wear. Originally opened in 1917, the baths survived until 2001 when the city council decided to shut them down. Local residents were outraged and staged a 147 day occupation which saved the building from demolition. The campaign became a charitable trust and has so far raised about £7m towards refurbishment. Officially, the baths are closed again in preparation for work to start, so we were glad to get this opportunity to visit. We also sneaked a peek at the other two pools – the learners’ pool, which looked rather gross, and the main pool which looked rather better!

No Scottish words this month, I’m running out of time. Happy September!

Glasgow Gallivanting: September 2017

Forth Bridge View

Let’s start with the highlight! That has to be our trip to the top of the Forth Bridge, part of a charity event in aid of Barnardo’s. Here we are 361 feet above the Firth of Forth. In case of doubt, we are holding hands romantically, not clinging on to the rail for safety 😉

We had booked the sunset slot, hoping for colourful skies, but it had been a cloudy day so they didn’t materialise. However, we still got great views both on the ground and from the top. There are now three bridges crossing the Forth from South Queensferry to North Queensferry (where the event took place), each from a different century – full history on the Forth Bridges website, but here’s the potted version. Until the Forth Bridge opened to trains in 1890, the only crossing was by ferry. In 1964, a road bridge was added, but by the 21st century it was proving inadequate for the volume of traffic passing over it. This year, the new Queensferry Crossing has opened with the original road bridge now reserved for pedestrians, cyclists and, eventually, public transport. Unlike many public infrastructure projects, the new bridge actually came in under budget (by £245m). Well done Scottish Government!

We arrived early to look round the village of North Queensferry and admire all the bridges.

Then it was time to don our hard-hats before riding the shoogly hoist to the top of the North Cantilever. The hoist was a tight squeeze, but the viewing platform was surprisingly large and we had about 20 minutes to wander about and take photographs. Several trains passed underneath us, each producing another little shoogle.

Then it was back down to earth, and dinner in one of the local hotels before getting the train back to Glasgow – across the Forth Bridge of course!

Doors Open Days

For the week of 11th-17th September, many institutions in Glasgow which would not normally be open to the public threw wide their doors for tours and events. I took part at two venues myself – on Wednesday, I was part of a Glasgow Women’s Library event on the hidden histories of women and how we can uncover them through, for example, heritage walks and a database of monuments and memorials. On Saturday, I led a canal walk at Maryhill (and totally forgot to take any photographs).

Sunday was our day for exploring, so I booked a back-stage tour of the Citizen’s Theatre for the morning. Our guide, Martin, was fabulous and gave us a bit of history before taking us behind the scenes. Originally opened in 1878, what became “The Citz” is the second oldest operational theatre in the UK (Leeds Grand opened 6 weeks earlier). Once we got out of the 1990 foyer this certainly showed, and I can understand why the theatre is closing next summer for two years of much-needed redevelopment. It’s what I would call a bit of a guddle.

However, the Citz will not dispose of its historical artefacts. It has the most complete working Victorian theatre machinery in the UK, and is the only theatre in Scotland still to have its original machinery under the stage. We got to visit that – and also stand on stage looking out to the auditorium.

Another piece of history is the original Victorian paint frame which is still used today to paint backcloths.

The Christmas production of Cinderella is coming up, and we saw a huge clock in preparation, which presumably will chime midnight at the appropriate time.

Designs for Cinderella were also in evidence in the costume department. I somehow don’t think any of these shoes will be suitable to play the glass slipper!

After lunch, we visited St Columba’s Gaelic Church, and Scottish Opera’s HQ. This was of interest less for its current role than for its origins (1907) as the home of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, as illustrated in the splendid stained glass by Stephen Adam.

I really appreciate the work of the hundreds of volunteers across the city who make these days such a success every year.

Blogging news

A new badge has appeared in my sidebar! I was very pleased to be included in a list of Top 30 International Retirement Blogs 2017 by Maxwell Salo of WeLoveCostaRica.com – thank you so much! I haven’t had time to explore the other 27 yet, but I did spot two friends, Donna of Retirement_Reflections and Debbie of Deb’s World. If you don’t know them too, why not visit?

I also joined in with Ishita of Italophilia and her #ItalophiliaPostcards project. Exchange a postcard with her and share the results on social media. Ishita’s card of Vienna has arrived here, but my card of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens seems to have got lost somewhere on its way. Maybe it will have arrived by next month’s roundup….

Family news

I’m sad to say that one of my uncles, Ian McKay, died in September, just short of his 89th birthday. Ian was married to Elspeth, one of my Dad’s three younger sisters, and although they settled in Brisbane before I was born I still had opportunities to get to know them on their visits back to Scotland. It was Elspeth who looked after Dad and me when Mum was in hospital having my baby sister and it was Ian who taught me to swim. The last time I saw them in person was on our only visit (so far) to Australia, in 2004 when this picture was taken. Ian will be missed.

On a much happier note, John has been presented with the prestigious Chengdu Jinsha Friendship Award for “foreign experts” in recognition of his role in the development of the relationship between the University of Glasgow and the University of Electronic Science and Technology China in the city of Chengdu. As you usually see him wearing walking gear (and now a hard-hat) you might not recognise him in this smartly turned out gentleman. Doesn’t he scrub up well? More info on the University of Glasgow news page if you are interested.

The last bit

And finally, on to Scottish words of the month! I’ve used three that might not be totally familiar. If you’re puzzling over Firth of Forth, it means the mouth of the River Forth. (Firth is pronounced the same but spelled differently from furth meaning outside, e.g. outside Scotland would be “furth of Scotland”.)

The shoogly lift and bridge were shaking, but I think shoogle is a much more evocative word than shake. The Glasgow Subway makes extensive use of it in its advertising. It is also used in the phrase “yer jaiket’s on a shoogly nail” meaning “your jacket is hanging on a loose peg”, i.e. you could be out on your ear at any time.

Earlier, I described backstage at The Citz as a bit of a guddle, which is my favourite word to describe a mess of impressive proportions. It’s also possible to guddle about, which I quite enjoy doing, or to find yourself in a bit of a guddle, or a confusing situation where you don’t quite know what to do. I enjoy that less.

Of course, guddle rhymes with puddle – plenty of those here at the moment, where the weather is getting colder and wetter and the nights are fair drawing in, as my Grandad used to say. Who can believe we’re into the last quarter of the year already?

Let’s see what October brings.

Doors Open in Govan

Last weekend saw Glasgow’s Doors Open Day and we headed for Govan which is on the south bank of the Clyde. It was a lovely sunny day, so the views back across to the north were glorious.

First, we visited the Govan Stones in Govan Old Church. This is a collection of sculpture from the 9th-11th centuries which were carved to commemorate the power of the Kings of Strathclyde. The hogback stones are Viking and the sarcophagus is the only one of its kind carved from solid stone from northern Britain. However, my favourite is top right in the gallery, the Jordanhill Cross, so-called because it was presented to James Smith of Jordanhill in recognition of his contribution to the design of the new church in Govan in 1856. James Smith’s estate was the site of the library I used to work in – however, the cross had been returned to Govan in 1928 which, I must assure you, long predates my service there!

The exteriors of the next two buildings featured in a previous post (Elder Park and Govan) and I was looking forward to seeing their interiors. The Fairfield Shipyard Offices were designed by John Keppie of Honeyman and Keppie, the firm of which Charles Rennie Mackintosh later became a partner, and have recently been turned into workspaces, with a small heritage centre about the shipyards. I thought it would be a lovely place to work and will definitely go back at a quieter time to look at the exhibitions again – it was just too busy to appreciate properly.

Finally, the Pearce Institute has served the community of Govan for more than a century. It has several large halls for events and also houses offices of charitable organisations. Although it could do with some upgrading in parts, its magnificence was still evident.

Doors Open Day is a wonderful idea, and I discover something new about Glasgow every year.

Glasgow’s Doors Open 2013

Doors Open Days happen throughout September in different cities in Scotland – this last weekend it was Glasgow’s event and we went exploring on Sunday, concentrating our efforts on the area near Glasgow Green between the City Centre and the East End.

Glasgow Green

It was a lovely day so we wandered round the Green first – it’s home to a beautifully restored fountain, the People’s Palace and the former Templeton’s Carpet Factory (modelled on the Doge’s Palace, no less). The latter is now an office block and also houses WEST Brewery, which proved to be an excellent stop for lunch. So it was almost 2.30pm before we got going on Doors Open proper. Oh dear….

The Pipe Factory

As with Templeton’s above, this building features intricate and ornate brickwork. I’d never heard of it before – this was its first outing in Doors Open – but it was originally a clay pipe factory (nothing to do with bagpipes as I thought it might be) and is now home to a group of architects, writers and artist who are turning it into studios. The group has kept the Pipe Factory name.

Barrowland Ballroom

As we left the Pipe factory, I overheard a young woman excitedly telling her friend about another Doors Open she had discovered just round the corner: an old ballroom. I thought to myself “new student, not been here long” because the Barrowland is a Glasgow legend. It’s now a rock venue, and as seedy as they come: even during the day, entering the black, windowless bar felt like descending into hell! This was a rare chance to see backstage – and to discover that the stars don’t enjoy much more luxury than the punters. I think the pictures flatter it (the exterior shot at night is from a previous visit). If all this sounds as though I hate it, I don’t, I love it. Our next date with Barrowland is next month (Nick Cave).

The Barony

The Barony, formerly a church, completed in 1890, is now the ceremonial hall of the University of Strathclyde. Despite having worked for the University for 20 years I had never been in, so this filled a gap in my education. By this time, everything was starting to close so we wended our way home to rest our weary feet.

Stained glass and puppets

We’ve lived in our present house for nearly twenty years, and every time we leave it we pass this at the end of the road, yet we’ve never been in:

20120915-194714.jpg

Doors Open Day seemed a good chance to rectify this so we visited on Saturday morning. The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre has existed since 1981 and has been in its current premises (an old council cleansing depot) since 1989. It’s a lot more attractive inside than it looks from the outside! They do puppet shows, birthday parties, workshops with schools, exhibitions, training and much more – check the website for details. We met founder Malcolm Knight, manager Sarah Lee and Ken Barnard who, at 90 years old, is still carving marionettes in the workshop. Definitely worth a visit, especially for those with small children.

The Theatre and the masks on its walls:

20120915-200636.jpg

20120915-233840.jpg

20120915-233858.jpg

The Café and exhibition area:

20120915-234005.jpg

20120915-234154.jpg

In the workshops:

20120915-234324.jpg

20120915-234414.jpg

20120915-234859.jpg

20120915-234916.jpg

20120915-234930.jpg

After this, it was on to Maryhill Burgh Halls, which I blogged about on an earlier visit. This time they had special events on for Doors Open Day and we went to a talk by Alec Galloway on the stained glass, old and new. When opened in 1878, the halls had 20 stained glass panels by Stephen Adam, depicting the trades then carried out in Maryhill. It must have been a hive of activity. Ten of the panels are now back on display – here are a couple of examples, the Iron Moulders and the Calico Printers:

20120916-125727.jpg

What surprised me is that there seems to be no documentation from the time to identify the exact locations and the people depicted in the panels, and no pictures of them in their original positions in the Hall. Research has come up with some likely possibilities and there’s an interesting booklet you can pick up to read about it. There’s also a display in the foyer of miniature replicas of all 20 panels set against a map showing roughly where the businesses were that they are thought to represent. What is known, is that they were ahead of their time, as most stained glass at this time was in churches and showed religious subjects. I think their simplicity is modern too, and you would not be surprised if you were told these were the new designs.

Alec went on to talk about the new panels which he designed and created. The brief was to reflect Maryhill as it is today, but not to replicate the style of the original glass. After much research and workshops with local people, not to mention time spent in Jaconnelli’s café, ten themes emerged for the panes. Techniques used included screenprinting photographs onto the glass with fascinating results – as with the original glass, you can pick up a booklet in the halls to find out more. Here are the Space Age and Regeneration panels:

20120916-230635.jpg

The first has a QR code in the corner, which actually works, making it possibly the first interactive stained glass panel in the world.

Because we had other things going on over the weekend, that was all the Doors Open we had time for this year, but we made the most of what we had and learned a lot from both visits as well as enjoying them.

Doors Open Glasgow, 18 September 2011

So, day two of Doors Open and, in contrast to yesterday, a lovely sunny afternoon. I’d planned a route with seven sites, but in the end we only managed five. We had to fit lunch and cake in, you see!

We set off walking from home and called in at Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church. Like yesterday’s visits, this is somewhere I have walked past hundreds of times but never gone in.

20110918-201954.jpg

If you think the outline looks familiar, it might be because it reminds you of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris – the plans for the church (completed 1876) were modelled on it.

An interlude for lunch then followed. Wudon Noodle Bar on Great Western Road was perfect – quick, friendly service and tasty food. We shared edamame beans to start then I had veggie noodles. Scrumptious – it’s not the number five Glasgow restaurant on Trip Advisor for nothing then.

Stop two was the Red Hackle Building on Otago Street, the former headquarters of Hepburn and Ross whisky company:

20110918-230319.jpg

Red Hackle was one of their blends. The building is now a carpet shop, but you can still see the heraldic ceiling and the frieze of famous Scots painted for Mr Hepburn by Alex McGregor in 1952.

Next up – Lansdowne Parish Church (1863). You can see its spire in this view of Great Western Road (the nearer spire is St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral).

20110918-230624.jpg

Off all the churches we saw over the weekend, this was the only dilapidated one – a charitable trust has been set up for its restoration. You can get an idea of its potential magnificence by going up to the balcony:

20110918-230941.jpg

20110918-231121.jpg

A couple of stops on the subway took us to the next church, St Andrew’s Cathedral, which, in contrast, was the most splendid. Originally built in 1816, it has recently been renovated and is light, airy and magnificently decorated. It also boasts Peter Howson’s portrait of St John Ogilvie. The lighting made this hard to photograph without glare, but I’ve included the picture anyway.

20110918-231739.jpg

20110918-232119.jpg

20110918-231758.jpg

20110918-232143.jpg

20110918-232154.jpg

Finally, we went to Sloans. This has been a Glasgow institution since 1828 – three floors of venues: pub, tearoom and ballroom. Again, I’ve passed the entrance many times without going in, but this time I was a little disappointed. The ingredients are all there: vaulted ceilings, marble fireplaces and stained glass, and you get the impression that the layout hasn’t changed much over the years so it’s quite atmospheric, but it seemed quite shabby and in need of some tlc to restore it to its former glory. I did like this ceiling though, and the tiling on the Argyll Arcade entrance.

20110918-232714.jpg

20110918-232723.jpg

So that was our day – apart from the cup of tea and cake before we wended our weary way home. We saw some of the best of Glasgow, but we also saw the worst. There was an Old Firm match today and we were unfortunate enough to share a subway carriage with two foul-mouthed, bigoted “fans” singing sectarian songs. I exclaimed many times over the weekend about how lucky we are to live in such an amazing place, and I refuse to let boneheads like that spoil it. I hope nobody else does either.

Doors Open Glasgow, 17 September 2011

Doors Open Days have been taking place in Glasgow since 1990. They are a fabulous way to see buildings, or parts of buildings, you might not normally get into and we’ve taken part most years. Occasionally we’ve booked tours (Scottish Ballet last year was particularly good) but usually we just wander round and see what takes our fancy. This year, I had been invited to a party on the Saturday afternoon so we needed some local visits to do in the morning, i.e. In the West End. We found two good ones.

St John’s-Renfield Church is just up the hill from our house and I’ve walked or driven past it many, many times but have never been in. It dominates the skyline in Kelvindale:

20110917-184623.jpg

The church was built between 1929 and 1931 and is light and spacious inside. It is not terribly ornate apart form its beautiful stained glass windows. I particularly liked the series of small side windows by Gordon Webster, an elder of the church, which date from the late 60s and early 70s. My favourite is this one dedicated to the church’s women:

20110917-185306.jpg

Next port of call: Anniesland College. Every day on my way to work I stop at a certain set of traffic lights and stare straight up the hill at it. I watched as it was rebuilt a couple of years ago and have been dying to see inside ever since.

20110917-190803.jpg

We had tours from two different guides. Nicola took us round some of the more unusual classrooms, such as this one for practising the skills of an air steward (no drinks were served unfortunately.)

20110917-191257.jpg

We also saw the library, which was of particular interest to me, and I discovered that as a local resident I can join it for free.

20110917-191521.jpg

Finally, Paul took us round the different workshops – joinery, painting and decorating, engineering etc. Here, my favourites were the musical instrument and car workshops.

20110917-191736.jpg

20110917-191758.jpg

We spent so long there that I had to rush home to change to go to my friend’s and didn’t have time for lunch. But hey, there was cake at the party, so who’s worrying?