A virtual tea party

Cup and Saucer Vintage Tearoom

The lovely Su at Zimmerbitch is inviting us to a virtual tea party every month. I make no apologies for taking you back to my favourite Glasgow tearoom, The Cup and Saucer, which featured recently as part of Becky’s January Squares. You might recall that I arrived three hours early to meet my friend Esther, and had to go home and come back again! On that occasion, I was the first person in the tearoom when it opened at 11am, and I restricted myself to a simple black coffee.

However, here’s what Esther and I usually have when we meet – a full blown cream tea. Yum! I’ve even got a selfie in the teapot.

I do usually try to eat more healthily than that, honest. In Su’s post, Care to join me for a cuppa?, she reflected on her eating habits in a way which really resonated with me.

 … my food preferences are really a food philosophy. I want to “do good”; for my physical and mental health, for my bank balance, for small businesses, and for the environment. That means I eat home-grown where I can, buy as much as possible from local, preferably organic growers, avoid foods and manufacturers I believe to be harmful or unethical … and a bunch more considerations I won’t bore you with but which make trips to the supermarket time-consuming, frustrating and really difficult without my strong glasses to read the small print.

Funnily enough, when I met the aforementioned Becky, Queen of the Squares in Glasgow recently, we had a conversation on the very same topic. I’m a vegetarian, there are some countries I just won’t buy from on political grounds, and in the light of climate change I’ve also been trying to restrict the food-miles in my diet, because it seemed that every vegetable I bought was flown in from Spain, or even further afield. My trips to the supermarket can therefore be just as time-consuming as Su’s.

Becky has travelled much further down this road than I have, cooking with only vegetables grown in the UK. She recommended buying one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s vegetable cook books, which I duly did, and I’m now trying to do the same thing.

How’s it working out? Well, I so miss my Mediterranean diet of peppers, courgettes and aubergines, and I’ve had to rethink my approach to cooking which was previously what I called the bucket method. Fling some combination of the above vegetables into one pot and, depending on what else I added, it could turn into sauce for pasta or couscous, curry, chilli – you get the picture. Seasonal in the UK right now are root vegetables and brassicas and I’m finding that really hard – literally in the case of the root vegetables. I’d never prepared celeriac before, and I can tell you I never will again! However, I now have half a dozen suitable recipes in my repertoire and I shall persevere. It doesn’t do to get lazy in one’s choices, so thank you to Becky and Su for making me think.

Have you been thinking of food recently? (Silly question. If you’re like me you’re always thinking of food.) All contributions to the virtual tea-table welcome!

Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2020

Celtic Connections, 2020

Music lovers don’t get long to recover from the festive season in Glasgow: Celtic Connections, Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival, arrives in the last two weeks of January. This year there were over 300 events, 2,100 musicians performing, and 130,000 attendees. As usual we had a ball, attending six concerts at four different venues. We ended the month exhausted, in a happy sort of way, and considerably heavier given that before every concert we had a pre-theatre meal and sometimes a pint of Festival Ale.

Out and about

The weather has been dreadful – rain, rain, rain. Our only day out away from Glasgow was an exception – a bright, cold Sunday in Stirling. Some aspects of that day have already featured as part of Becky’s January Squares Challenge, and there are so many other photographs that I feel it merits a post of its own. However, we did quite a lot of wandering around Glasgow, always searching for interesting details. For example, I didn’t know before that the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) on Sauchiehall Street is housed in a ‘Greek’ Thomson building (Alexander Thomson, 1817-1875, so-called because of the many Grecian features of his architecture). It’s obvious when you look up!

Further along Sauchiehall Street, we came across ghost signs, angels, torch bearers and regimental flags.

Round the corner at Charing Cross are the magnificent Charing Cross Mansions and the drunken-looking Cameron Memorial Fountain. No longer in use, it was built as a tribute to Sir Charles Cameron (1843 – 1913), a much respected newspaper editor and Liberal MP. Some say its tipsy lean is due to subsidence from the building of the nearby M8 motorway in the 1960s, but apparently photographs from the 1950s show that it was already listing then.

Moving down to Argyle Street, I have long been fascinated by the Buck’s Head Buildings – also by Alexander Thomson (1863). I was glad John had his camera with him to get a close up of the buck itself, now sadly eroded.

We were on our way to Street Level Photoworks at Trongate 103 to see their Oscar Marzaroli exhibition (on till 15th March). Italian-Scot Marzaroli (1933-1988) photographed Glasgow from the 1950s to the 1980s, often concentrating on the poorer areas. Many of his images are very well known – I particularly wanted to capture Gorbals Boys, three young lads playing in high-heeled shoes, but it was in the corner by the window and the reflections were terrible. For comparison, see the sculpture by Liz Peden which reproduces the scene in today’s more modern Gorbals.

Marzaroli was a friend of artist Joan Eardly, and I loved the portrait shown below of some of the Samson children whom she often used as models. Another comparison – check this link for an example of Eardley’s painting and a picture of two of the Samson children as they were in 2016. Bonus image – a smiling John in the gallery complex at Trongate 103.

Street art

At the beginning of January, I noticed that many of the Big Heids seen around town had been upgraded to Christmas versions, and some of them had acquired wee pals.

Where’s a bench challenge when you need it?

Can it really be 5 years since Jude was looking for our benches? My eye was caught by this one in George Square, set up in memory of a long running equal pay dispute with Glasgow City Council. 163 women died while they were waiting for their claims to be settled, a disgraceful statistic.

 

Burns Night

We were out at a concert on Burns Night this year. However, John was invited to a Chinese Burns Supper (not painful!) a few nights before which looks to have been a glorious cultural mix. On the same night, I was out at a party at the Women’s Library to celebrate the installation of their new boiler. I don’t have a boiler suit so couldn’t dress the part, but several people did, including my friend Anna. I’m happy to self-identify as an Old Boiler without labelling myself as such!

The last bit

So after many false starts, the UK finally Brexited at 11pm on 31st January – sort of. There’s a transition period till the end of the year so not much will change till then. There were some celebrations in Scotland, but mostly sorrowful vigils – this country voted to remain by 62%. In Glasgow that figure was almost 67%, and in typical Glaswegian fashion Wellington’s traffic cone was updated to suit the occasion.

So those are my January highlights – better late than never! Happy what’s-left-of-February to you all.

January Light: reflection

I was going for reflected-light today to describe this shot of St Andrew’s RC Cathedral in Glasgow. Then I realised that the pesky lamp-post ruining the view allows me to use lamplight or streetlight, thus finishing January Squares within the rules – words ending in light – without relying on a hyphen. Woohoo!

All that remains is to thank the wondrous Becky for hosting such a fun challenge. During the month I came across this quote by novelist Edith Wharton (1861-1937):

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Becky is our candle and we have all been little pieces of her mirror.

#JanuaryLight

January Light: churches

Two churches in Glasgow’s West End, both with spectacular floodlight. Above, Wellington Church (Thomas Lennox Watson, 1883-4) with its splendid Corinthian columns. Below, Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church (James Sellar, 1876) modelled on the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

Linked to Becky’s January Squares challenge – words ending in light.

 

January Light: The Lighthouse

No, not a lighthouse, The Lighthouse – Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture. Formerly housing The Glasgow Herald, The Lighthouse was the first public commission completed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I’ve included it because I love the lamplight on its atrium and the bluelight on its escalators.

Linked to Becky’s January Squares Challenge – words ending in light.

January Light: light canopy

Lots of different kinds of light here in Royal Exchange Square. On the left is the back of the Gallery of Modern Art, the cupola of which I showed you yesterday, and on the right is an Italian restaurant. Both buildings have floodlight. There are Christmas-lights in the buildings facing us, reflected-light on the rainy pavements (this is Glasgow, after all) and fairy-lights in the light canopy above. The canopy is there all year round, it’s not just for Christmas. Ashton Lane near my home also has one, and here you can see what it looks like in daylight.

Linked to Becky’s January Squares Challenge – words ending in light.

January Light: cupolas

The cupola above adorns Holmwood House in Glasgow’s South Side. Now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, Holmwood is a unique villa designed by Glasgow’s second most famous architect, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, and built in 1857-8 for James Couper, a local businessman. Its skylight is perfect for Becky’s January Squares Challenge – words ending in light.

I originally intended to use the cupola from Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, this part of which was built in 1778 as the townhouse of William Cunninghame, a wealthy Glasgow Tobacco Lord who made his fortune through the triangular slave trade. However, I showed it to Becky on her recent visit and she got in first by including it in the challenge herself! But what the heck – here it is as a bonus skylight.

January Light: Kelvin bridges

Today’s theme is lamplight, specifically on bridges over Glasgow’s River Kelvin. Above is one of the lamps from Kirklee Bridge. Below are two views of Kelvinbridge, in daylight and at twilight.

Finally, the most ornate bridge is probably the one on the Kelvin Way near Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. Some additional streetlight on show here too.

Linked to Becky’s January Squares challenge – words ending in light.

PS Apologies to anyone disappointed because they thought my title was Kevin Bridges 😉.

January Light: City Halls

In Glasgow, the City Halls contain a number of concert venues rather than the seat of municipal government – that’s the City Chambers. The grand hall, above, opened in 1841 and was extensively renovated about 15 years ago. The beautiful chandeliers supply roof-light, there’s some spotlight, and also a bit of projected-light on the back wall showing the orchestra’s name. On this occasion, we were awaiting the delight of a performance of Mozart’s Requiem. Linked to Becky’s January Squares challenge – words ending in light.