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.

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 …

Glasgow Gallivanting: March 2018

In like a lion, out like a lamb? March certainly lived up to the first part of that proverb: in fact snow has been a feature of most of it. There were plenty of snowmen/women about, but this year igloos seemed to be in fashion too. This one is in the Botanic Gardens.

Neptune’s Steps

When it wasn’t snowing, it was often raining. Neptune’s Steps is an annual swimming and climbing event which takes place on the flight of locks on the Forth and Clyde Canal at Maryhill. This year, I was determined to see some of it despite the cold, wet weather. The races went on all day but we only caught two, the last women’s heat and the first men’s semi-final, before retreating somewhere that served hot coffee.

I was quite pleased to capture the belly flop above on my phone – I didn’t realise till I looked at my photos later that I had pictured the same woman attempting the climbing wall towards the end. For her, it was the end: a few seconds later she dropped back into the water and admitted defeat.

The gallery below includes some of John’s pictures. When I looked at the results later, I realised he had a portrait of the eventual men’s winner. I bet that hot tub at the end was welcome!

Women’s history

Two follow ups to things I have written about before. Glasgow’s fourth statue to a named woman was unveiled on International Women’s Day (8th March). Mary Barbour organised rent strikes in World War One when rapacious landlords thought they could charge anything they liked while the men were away fighting. Her campaign resulted in a law being passed fixing rents at pre-war levels. My pals Beverly, Mary Alice and Louisina were well prepared for the event!

(I haven’t yet been back to take pictures of the statue without hundreds of people thronging around, but Kev over at Walking Talking has a few good ones.)

Last month, I mentioned Jessie Stephen, the Scottish Suffragette whose life and work I am celebrating throughout this anniversary year of the first women in the UK getting the vote. This month, I travelled to Edinburgh to meet Ann Henderson, who had also nominated Jessie for the Suffrage Pioneers project, and she introduced me to Sheana and Kirsteen, great-nieces of Jessie. Over lunch at Sheana’s house plans started to be made – watch this space, you have not heard the last of Jessie.

For US friends, here’s a great list I found in Forbes: A state-by-state guide to the top women’s history landmarks in America. Anyone been to any?

A wedding!

After 23 years together, our friends Jayne and Mark decided to get married. We were very honoured to be asked to be their witnesses and enjoyed the intimate ceremony at the City Chambers with just the four of us.

Afterwards, we all went to Port Appin for the weekend. Although familiar to Jayne and Mark, John and I had never been before. What a treat! Airds Hotel was perfect and the walks straight from the door were beautiful, particularly the one to Castle Stalker. We were blessed with beautiful blue skies, but don’t let that fool you – it was freezing, and it did snow the day we drove home.

Although I joked that this was the first time I’d ever been invited to the honeymoon as well as the wedding, in reality the happy couple flew off to Athens for the real honeymoon a few days later! What a great way to get married.

Aye Write!

Glasgow’s book festival, Aye, Write!, has been running this month. I went to four sessions and, well, I might have bought a few books. Oops!

Sunshine Blogger

Do you know Kim from Glover Gardens (“A multifaceted blog for multifaceted people”)? If not, pop over and have a look at her mixture of food, gardens and travel. Kim has nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award, for bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community. Many thanks, Kim! I don’t advertise myself as an award-free blog, but I don’t always have time to follow awards and challenges up and when I do I usually break the rules. This time, I hit upon the wheeze of answering Kim’s 11 questions one or two at a time over several monthly gallivants. Here’s the first two!

What advice would you give to your younger self? Assuming I could talk to the angst-ridden teenager (that’s everyone, right, not just me?) I would simply say “Don’t worry! Everything’s going to be great!”

What’s your favourite food memory, a meaningful meal that you will never forget, and why? What was so special about it? Well, at the moment Airds Hotel, mentioned above, is uppermost in my memory. Unlike many fancy hotels and restaurants, which usually only offer one vegetarian choice, often bland, I had a whole menu to choose from and everything I ate was delicious. In fact, everything everybody ate was declared  delicious and dinner was a real event on both nights. As you can see, Mark and John were most definitely relaxed afterwards.

The last bit

So if March came in like a lion, did it go out like a lamb? Well, not exactly. There was no snow, but it was certainly blowing a hoolie. On Good Friday (30th) we went for one of our favourite canal walks before climbing to a viewpoint above the old claypits at Hamiltonhill which now form a nature reserve. The whole West End was spread out before us. As we shivered, we agreed it was beautiful, and that we were thankful to be dry at least.

Easter Saturday was a little better – we took a ferry to the island of Great Cumbrae and had a lovely walk there, but that merits its own post later on.

Finally, for my Scottish Word of the Month I’ve chosen one I used in the comments on a previous post – remember the story of Miss Inglis and the dog? I suggested that Miss Inglis was a bit crabbit, i.e. grumpy or bad-tempered. I’ve been feeling a bit crabbit myself at all this March weather! Let’s hope April does better. Snow is forecast but has not yet appeared …

Glasgow Gallivanting: February 2018

Celtic Connections

Glasgow’s traditional music festival, Celtic Connections, runs from late January into February. As usual, we booked several gigs – Friday 1st February saw us at Òran Mór to see Kathryn Williams, a singer from the North of England. I first came across her many years ago in a documentary about Leonard Cohen in which she covered Hallelujah, and I’ve been a fan ever since. She didn’t sing that, but she closed with Bird on the Wire which brought a tear to my eye and sent me home happy (if that’s not contradictory).

Equally enjoyable was the support – not often I say that! The Brother Brothers, from Brooklyn via Illinois, had such delightful folk / bluegrass harmonies that I bought their CD on the spot. Charming young men too – real brothers, twins in fact, whose surname is Moss. I didn’t bother asking why they hadn’t called themselves Moss Bros, they’ve probably heard it before (might be a British only joke though).

What about the women?

“With” Jessie Stephen

I mentioned last month that I had two women’s history talks coming up in February – I’m pleased to report that they both went really well. The first one took place the day after the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, 1918, through which the first women in Britain got the vote, hence I’m proudly wearing my Suffragette rosette. Jessie Stephen, on the screen, is one of the women I feature – she’s one of the few working-class Scottish Suffragettes whose history we know. I recently nominated her for a scheme called Suffrage Pioneers and was delighted that she was accepted – now I just have to think of ways to celebrate her all year! As a start, I’ve guest-posted on The History Girls Frae Scotland where you can read more about Jessie if interested.

Another Suffrage Pioneer is Helen Crawfurd, and Glasgow Women’s Library currently has an exhibition, Our Red Aunt, by New Zealand artist Fiona Jack, Helen’s Great-grand-niece.

Some of the banners on the table read The world is ours, let us go in and possess it and What a debt we owe these women. Very true!

Mystical Gardens

Oo-err – strange goings on in the park! It’s part of an evening light show, Mystical Gardens, which we didn’t go to. These figures are scary enough for me …

A few days later (yesterday) the figures had gone and the slope they stood on was a winter wonderland.

A wintry Glasgow Botanic Gardens

And today, these are the views from my window.

Going nowhere!

Artist Textiles

Who do you think designed these silk squares? The first one is by Henry Moore, whom I usually associate with large sculptures, and the other is by Salvador Dali. They are from a wonderful exhibition we attended called Artist Textiles, so good that I think I’ll give it its own post later. I had no idea that at one time you could buy Picasso, for example, by the yard. Not only were the fabrics on display, but also dresses made from some of them. I loved it!

The last bit

It’s been a busy month, but not a very exciting one in terms of things to write about. As well as my talks, I’ve been up to my oxters in revisions and rewrites before the guided walk season begins.

What is an oxter, I hear you ask? It’s my Scottish word of the month, of course! 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!

I hope you’ve all had a good February too. Onwards to Spring at last!

Glasgow Gallivanting: January 2018

Mine Woods Walk

Hello, and welcome to Year 2 of my monthly Glasgow Gallivanting posts! January has been busy for various reasons, most of them not particularly photogenic, but we did get one lovely walk on a Sunday afternoon – even if it wasn’t the one we set out for. We wanted to climb a little hill called Dumyat in Stirlingshire (Doo-my-at and not, as I used to think, Dum-yat), but all roads leading there were closed. Instead, we walked through Mine Woods above the pretty little spa town of Bridge of Allan. Even though we weren’t as high up, the views were still great as you can see above.

25 years ago.

We had an anniversary this month: in January 1993 we moved into our current house. I’ve worked out that in my 60 years I’ve had 18 addresses in 10 different towns or cities, so this is quite a big deal. Once we’d unpacked, we took a lot of photos in our new house, and here are a couple with 2018 recreations.

So, I’m older, heavier, greyer and I can’t see without my glasses now, but there’s one thing that’s the same about me in these pictures. Enlarge, and you might spot what it is. Answer at the end!

The Suffragette Oak

I’ve posted several times about Glasgow’s Suffragette Oak, the last time in November (first picture) when I reported the sad news that it had been damaged by Storm Ophelia. The second picture shows what it looks like now. As well as the tear on the trunk, around 30% of the canopy was lost and to make the tree safe the council had to reduce its height and rebalance it. Its health will be closely monitored and some of the offcuts have been given to Glasgow Women’s Library to make commemorative items. We still hope it will survive in this, its centenary year. (The first women in the UK got the vote in February 1918.)

What about the women?

Maryhill Burgh Halls, where I volunteer as a Heritage Tour Guide, currently has an exhibition of old photographs of Glasgow accompanied by a series of events, one of which is me talking about women’s history in Glasgow. I’ve been busy this month working out what I want to say – then cutting it down drastically – and creating a slide-show. The tickets sold out a couple of weeks ago (only 40, but still) and so I’m repeating it two weeks later. Eep! No pressure, no pressure at all. I’ll let you know next month how it goes.

The last bit

Did you spot the common factor in the 1993 and 2018 pictures of me? It’s the ear-rings! This was entirely unintentional. Just after we moved into the house, John went to a conference in Freiburg and brought them back as a gift (I have a fine collection of ear-rings from all over the world as a result of his travels). On the day we took the new photos I chose them because they reflected the diamond shapes on my top, and I only realised when I looked at the old photos again that I was wearing the same pair!

Finally, here’s a short (1 minute) promotional video about Glasgow which I think sums it up really well. You might even recognise some of the places from my blog!

Isn’t Glasgow braw? That’s my Scottish word for this month – it means beautiful. I hope you agree.

So those were some of the things that have kept me busy in January. How has your month been?

Hidden histories

Victoria, Dolores and Isabella

There’s a lot going on round here at the moment, and I don’t have a blog post prepared for today, so it’s lucky that a few weeks ago the lovely Donna at Retirement_Reflections asked me to write something for her series of guest posts and it was published yesterday! So now I can quickly point you in her direction and hope I get caught up for next week.

Donna and her husband retired in June 2015 from their jobs in Beijing, China, where they had lived for fourteen years. They moved back to Canada, and Donna’s blog is about the adventures, discoveries, and reflections she has made since then. Every Sunday, she has a guest blogger – usually, but not always, someone who is, like me, of a certain age. In our primes, in other words. I chose to write about the hidden histories of women in Glasgow, and challenged readers to tell me how women are commemorated in their home towns. Who are Victoria, Dolores and Isabella? Pop over to Hidden Histories to find out, and maybe stay to acquaint yourself with Donna’s blog if you don’t know it already.

 

Glasgow Gallivanting: November 2017

How’s this for a highlight? Andy Murray Live was a charity tennis event starring Andy himself and some mate of his called Roger Federer who seemed to be a pretty good player too. Our seats were far too high up to get good pictures, but I think this tweet highlights the spirit of the event. The cry which came from the crowd was not “Donald, where’s your troosers?”¹ but “Roger, where’s your kilt?” If someone found him one, said Roger, he’d wear it. Within a few minutes a woman was standing at the edge of the court (with her coat wrapped round her lower half ) brandishing a kilt. My goodness, he was good at swaggering in it (*fans self quietly*). It even toned with his shirt! Towards the end, Roger presented Andy with a parcel containing a Jimmy² wig – a tam o’ shanter with ginger locks attached, easily purchased in any tourist tat shop. I think he really suited that too.

The event raised over £700,000 for UNICEF and a local children’s charity, more than double last year’s total. Good for Andy and Roger (as well as Jamie Murray, Tim Henman and Mansour Bahrami) – they did a great job.

Kelvin Way

A Sunday afternoon stroll down the Kelvin Way brought good and bad sights. Artist (and friend) Ash Loydon recently had an exhibition in the city centre created in partnership with The Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers and the Open Museum. Since it closed, the associated banner has shown up on various park fences, a great way to spread the word that “Everyone has the right to a home”.

Just across the road is the Suffragette Oak, planted in 1918 to commemorate the first women in the UK to get the vote. Long-term readers might remember that in 2015 I was part of a team from Glasgow Women’s Library which successfully nominated it as Scotland’s Tree of the Year (see here). There are big plans for next year’s centenary – but unfortunately, Storm Ophelia has pulled a great chunk of the tree down. It is hoped the oak will survive, and appropriate uses will be found for the damaged wood, but it’s so sad to see a hundred years of growth diminished.

Glasgow by night

On a brighter note, literally, a lot of November events took us into the centre of Glasgow at night and it is looking awfully pretty at the moment.

One of our events was a talk in the City Chambers, a Victorian edifice which features the largest marble staircase in Western Europe. Apparently it has “played” both the Kremlin and the Vatican on screen!

One disappointment was Nursery Crymes, billed as “A unique night-time experience exploring the dark themes behind our beloved childhood stories [and] the sinister side of nursery rhymes – the ideas of authority, morality and social indoctrination underpinning these simple stories for children.” A great idea which needs more development, but came across to us as a confusing mish-mash – sometimes we weren’t even sure which rhyme or story was playing out. Below are Rock-a-bye-baby, Bo Peep and – a large head? Who knows what that was about? Not me.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam at dusk

We’ve been to Amsterdam! A whole week at the end of November, beginning of December. More to follow soon.

The last bit

For this month’s Scottish words lesson I’ll explain some of the terms used in the first section above.

¹ Scots often change the vowel sound in words such as trousers and house to troosers and hoose. Donald where’s your troosers? is a comedy song made famous by legendary Scottish entertainer Andy Stewart. Hear him in the video below accompanied by a montage of men in kilts. Keep watching for an Elvis impersonation and a VERY cheeky ending!

²Jimmy wigs get their name from a generic term for a man, often heard in the phrase “See you, Jimmy!” For example, if a stranger knocks your elbow in the pub and you spill your pint, you might say “See you, Jimmy! Gonnae no dae that?” (“You there! Please don’t do that.”) On the other hand, I don’t advise it. It might invite aggression….

So here ends the eleventh Glasgow Gallivanting post. I never thought I’d keep it up for a whole year, but there’s only one more to go – how can it be December already? Have a great month.

Glasgow Gallivanting: October 2017

Canal House, Speirs Wharf

It’s been a quiet month for travel, for me at least – John spent a chunk of it working in China, so I don’t suppose he feels the same. Foul weather has meant I haven’t been very far afield, but I have tramped about Glasgow in between rain storms and have a few local buildings to show you.

Speirs Wharf

A Sunday afternoon stroll with John took us down the Glasgow spur of the Forth and Clyde Canal to Port Dundas. Here, Speirs Wharf has been a residential area since the late 1980s but originated in the 19th century as the canal’s headquarters and the City of Glasgow Grain Mills and Stores. As well as Canal House (above) we found other attractive reflections on our walk.

Temple

Forth and Clyde Canal at Temple

On a gloomy Sunday while John was away, the sun suddenly broke through about 3.30pm. I set off along the canal again, but in the opposite direction. I could almost have been in the countryside until Temple Gasometers came into view.

Temple Gasworks were built in 1871 and closed in 1968, but the two large gas holders, dating from 1893 and 1900, were still being used until a few years ago.

Historic Environment Scotland recently sought views on plans to schedule the structures as Category B Listed buildings. I don’t know the result, but the local paper reported divided opinion between those who wanted them conserved and those who would flatten them. I’d be in the former camp these days, though we used to live very close to the gasometers and I hated them then. Now, I can see their beauty as part of our industrial heritage (and I don’t have to pass them every day which helps).

Also at Temple are Locks 26 and 27. The pub Lock 27, which you can see in the background of the portrait image, used to be our local. It’s still handy for a post-stroll pint but wasn’t open on this day.

Jordanhill

At Lock 27, I left the canal and headed for Jordanhill. Some of you might remember this is the University Campus I used to work at. I swore I would never go there again after my last visit a couple of years ago when it was so sad to see the semi-derelict state of it (the campus closed in 2012 and has now been sold for housing), but that’s where my footsteps took me. Nothing has changed – there is some controversy with the development and local people are protesting about the number of homes to be built with little or no improvements in infrastructure. The handsome red sandstone David Stow Building is one of three that will be kept. The other picture is not pretty, I know, but that’s the entrance I used for work every day.

I found it funny to see the bright blue library book drop still there: locked – I checked. I probably locked it myself five years ago. On the door is a notice informing users that the library closed on 1st June 2012, telling them where to take their books in future, and thanking them for their custom over the years. I know I wrote that and put it up and I’m amazed no-one has ever taken it down. I’m just glad I can laugh, it’s all bygones now. I have no regrets.

Down by the Riverside

Another reason that October has been constrained is that I have been fighting with a broken-down boiler which took 6 visits from 4 different workmen to fix, so I have spent a lot of time hanging round the house. One visit was supposed to be on the Sunday afternoon in the middle of the saga, but the engineer phoned to say that he was still waiting for parts and would come on Monday instead. So we set off down the River Kelvin Walkway and then along the Clyde.

The last time we visited this former pumping station it still showed signs of having been a restaurant (first picture below). Eighteen months later, the restaurant’s conservatory has been replaced with a glass still-house for a new whisky distillery. Exciting!

On the other side of the river, we spotted the Waverley (the last ocean-going paddle steamer in the world – red funnels) and Queen Mary (the only remaining Clyde-built turbine steamer which is now being preserved as a museum ship – yellow funnels). We crossed over to have a look.

Both ships are berthed by the Glasgow Tower, a rotating structure which you are supposed to be able to ascend but which spends more time inactive than not. From its podium, we got a good view of the Glasgow Science Centre and some of the other weird buildings by this part of the river.

The last bit

I came across this piece of street art near Glasgow University. It’s by an artist new to me, Pink Bear Rebel, who focuses, I’ve read, on anti-Trump protests and rebelling against the ‘meaningless of life’. I’ll be on the look-out for more.

And the boiler? Well, as of last Tuesday we have heat – just as well, because overnight frosts have returned. It also gives me this month’s Scottish words lesson because it’s been a sair fecht to deal with (sore/hard fight; something problematic).

I hope your October has NOT been a sair fecht!

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 databases 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.

Glasgow Gallivanting: July 2017

Over the last few months, I’ve been taking part in a project at Glasgow Women’s Library to research the women associated with the Belvidere Fever Hospital in the East End of Glasgow around the time of the First World War. There isn’t much detail in the records, so the idea was to use our imaginations to create a series of dramatic monologues around our chosen women. On the 4th of July, this came to fruition with a performance and a book, both called Voices from the Belvidere, bringing to life fascinating stories of laundry maids who ran away, nurses who caught fever after fever, and the rare women doctors who followed their calling against all odds. My contribution was called The Zombie Ward: some day, with more time, I might tell you its story. In the meantime, here’s my protagonist, Nurse Watt, who caught my eye smiling in the centre of the picture above.

Happy birthday to me!

60th birthday in Jasper

My birthday is in July, and 2017 was a big one. 60! I can’t quite believe it. I celebrated on vacation in Canada, and here I am with some of my cards – from the three people who managed to send one in advance, and John who made me stand outside a shop in Canmore, Alberta, while he selected his.

Lake Louise

As I spent most of July in the Canadian Rockies, including Lake Louise as seen above, and I intend to blog much more about that later, it doesn’t leave a great deal of Glasgow Gallivanting to write about. So that’s it for this month – except to say that I hope you’ve had a great July too.