Glasgow Gallivanting: April 2020

Hillhead Primary
Hillhead Primary: a smile can travel 2m

I cut short my last Gallivanting post at the point when lockdown began on the grounds that there wouldn’t be anything further to report. Not strictly true! On our one approved daily walk, we look about us even more than usual and notice a lot of things in our own area that are worth documenting.

Rainbows and teddies

In common with other cities in the world, many of Glasgow’s windows have been decorated with rainbows and teddy bears. The rainbows, usually thanking NHS and other key workers, have also strayed onto fences and pavements. Although often created by children for children, I can’t help myself snapping away and now have a huge collection on my phone. Here are some of my favourites. Can you spot Elvis? And the one person who seems not to have got the right memo!

Chalking has also been used for things other than rainbows. We often see messages between those who can’t meet in person, and children seem to have rediscovered hopscotch.

Gartnavel

One of the quietest places to walk is Gartnavel, our local hospital. 1051 GWR is a restaurant on Great Western Road, just before you turn into the hospital grounds. Since it closed to the public it has been raising funds to provide free food to those in need, including NHS staff. So many businesses have transformed themselves during this crisis to provide what is needed, whether food, hand-sanitiser, PPE or hospital scrubs.

The hospital itself is in two parts, Gartnavel General, which comprises undistinguished buildings dating from the 1970s onwards, and Gartnavel Royal, an inpatient psychiatric unit which originated as a 19th century “lunatic asylum”. The Victorian buildings still exist as offices, though some parts are derelict, but patients today are housed in more modern comfort.

Dunard Street

I didn’t realise how colourful some of our schools are. This one in Dunard Street, Maryhill, has a lovely mural and colourful mosaic planters designed by the children on the street outside.

Spring

And, of course, the signs of Spring were everywhere. Nature continues to do what nature does, even if we don’t get the opportunity to appreciate it as much. Unfortunately, the kingfisher is a sad story: a couple of big thumps on one of our back windows and a dead bird on the conservatory roof below. It’s so beautiful, poor thing.

The last bit

So it seems it’s perfectly possibly to create a gallivanting post in lockdown. As the weeks go by, and we walk the same routes again and again on our daily exercise, the number of photographs will inevitably diminish. However, I still have plenty of themes to explore which should keep the gallivanting going. In the meantime, we just have to thole the current circumstances as best we can – thole being my Scottish word of the month. It means to endure patiently, to slog through tough times. I hope you are staying safe and well, everyone! I’ll be back next week with tales of last summer’s trip to Berwickshire.

Glasgow Gallivanting: March 2020

Maryhill Window Wanderland 2020

Many of you liked the photos I posted of the two Window Wanderlands we attended in February, so I thought I’d start with more of the same – Window Wanderland Part 3! As with the other events, Maryhill’s took place on a wet, cold night, but the colourful displays cheered us up. I think cheering up is what we all need at the moment, with so much closed down because of the coronavirus, COVID-19, so I’m going to show you lots and lots of windows and gardens in this post.

The top image has a musical theme with The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine on one side and Pink Floyd’s The Wall on the other. The Beatles cropped up again with Norwegian Wood, which included the song itself playing, one of two windows we found with sound effects. Round the corner, this seascape was accompanied by the sound of rushing waves.

The Wanderland took place on the eve of International Women’s Day (8th March) so we appreciated that one household had chosen to celebrate this. The nearby Be Kind message is also very relevant today.

Here’s a great big gallery for your delectation!

Finally, one householder had set up a cinema in his back garden, complete with popcorn and – because the film was Whisky Galore – a wee dram.

Stank Glen

Ben Ledi from Stank Glen

The last weekend before everything started to shut down was amazingly dry, and we got a couple of outings. A circular route took us up the forested Stank Glen, above Loch Lubnaig, and in the shadow of Ben Ledi. Dry it might have been but, after all the rain we have had, some of the paths were like small streams, and crossing the actual streams was tricky because any stepping stones, natural or otherwise, were submerged. Cue wet feet!

Snowdrops

That same weekend, we visited a couple of the gardens advertising snowdrops through Scotland’s Gardens Scheme. It was right at the end of the snowdrop season, and not much else was out, but it got us into the fresh air again at a troubling time.

Kilbryde Castle has been home to the Campbell family since 1659. The current owners, Sir James and Lady (Carola) Campbell were out gardening when we arrived and greeted us from a safe distance. We had a rather slithery, muddy walk round the property.

We dropped into nearby Dunblane for lunch. The restaurant we chose, Allanview, had just opened the week before. What an unfortunate time to start a new venture: I feel so sorry for the owners. The food was excellent, but now they will have had to close like every restaurant in the country.

Things we noticed in Dunblane: I’ve posted Andy Murray’s gold post-box before (all home-grown 2012 Olympic gold medallists got one in their home town), but not since it had a plaque celebrating his special stamps, and I don’t remember his Wimbledon bench either.

We loved this quirky signpost.

And we also loved the mosaics decorating the bridge over the Allan Water.

Finally, on our way back to the car we spotted a ghost sign. This house is called The Old Bakery, and the ghost sign tells us why – Tea Room.

From Dunblane, we drove to our second garden of the day, Braco Castle. The oldest part of this house dates from before 1600, a rectangular tower built by the 3rd Earl of Montrose for his son, William Graham. It has been owned and adapted by several families since – judging by the surname, the current owners might be Dutch.

Braco Castle

The gardens were more elaborate here than at Kilbryde – still not much out, but there was more colour than just snowdrops.

The last bit

I gave my talk, Jessie Stephen: Scottish Suffragette, to the Drymen Lunch Club – the last talk for some time, and the first one to actually have my name on a ticket! I quite liked that. I also saw my talk in print for the first time in Gallus, the journal of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society, who hosted me back in September. They have made a clever acronym out of Gallus – Glasgow Ancestry Links the Life of Us. I’ve explained gallus before: in fact five years ago I did a whole A to Z Challenge on Gallus Glasgow – here’s the explanation if you don’t know what it means.

The week before Glasgow Women’s Library closed down (though we didn’t know that at the time) we had a tea party to say goodbye to one of my fellow volunteers, Eleanor, who is moving to Berkshire to live nearer her son. We’ll miss her – that’s Eleanor in the middle with me and Anna. The three of us comprised the Thursday morning cataloguing team.

As you might expect, all of these events took place in the first part of March before life changed utterly. I don’t expect anything worth writing about to happen between now and the end of the month so I’m clearing the decks and publishing early. We can still walk outside, and we’re lucky to live near a river and a canal – however, the banks are quite narrow and it’s hard to keep the recommended 2m distance from passers by. At least the weather is now dry. To illustrate the difference, here are two pictures taken across the Kelvin in February and March. In the first, the little seating area is completely flooded. In the second, the river has retreated to its natural level.

COVID-19 is already spawning its own art. Street artist Rebel Bear, who has featured here several times before, has contributed this mural on Bank Street.

And Twitter, which can be an absolute cesspit sometimes, has the lovely hashtag #COVIDCeilidh in which traditional musicians post videos of themselves performing to create an online ceilidh (a social event with Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling). You don’t have to be on Twitter to see it, just clink my link above. Here’s one of my favourites so far, Anna Massie of Blazin’ Fiddles, a band we’ve seen a few times, accompanied by her mum on the spoons. Watch for the head movements at the end!

Will there be another Gallivanting post when I can’t gallivant? At the moment I haven’t a scooby*, but at least I have plenty of backlog to keep up with, and I’m thinking of joining Becky’s latest Squares challenge in April, SquareTops, hopefully with a travel theme. Virtual travel is the best we can do at the moment.

*I’ve already had two Scottish words in this post, but Scooby is my actual Scottish word of the month – I didn’t realise it was Scottish, but it’s in my book 100 favourite Scots words so it must be! It means I haven’t a clue and is rhyming slang for the cartoon character, Scooby Doo. First found in print in the Glasgow Herald in 1993 apparently!

Stay safe everyone. As we practice social distancing, or self-isolate, our online buddies are even more important. Till the next time.

Glasgow Gallivanting: February 2020

Glasgow Cathedral

Rain, sleet, rain, hail the size of marbles, rain, howling winds – and did I mention the rain? February has been a terrible month, but there’s no point in sitting at home moping about it so there’s still plenty report. We visited Glasgow Cathedral where, although we’ve been there umpteen times, John always finds new things to snap, such as these grotesques and a poignant memorial which I’ve never noticed before.

The memorial below is to Thomas Hutcheson (1590-1641) who, along with his brother George, bequeathed money to found a hospital for the elderly and a school for poor boys. The school is still operating today, although fee-paying and co-educational, as Hutchesons’ Grammar School. The original Hutchesons’ Hospital was replaced between 1802 and 1805 – this building still exists and now houses a fancy restaurant.

Peter Lowe or Low (c. 1550 – 1610), whose memorial is on the left below, was a surgeon and founder of the institution now known as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The image on the right is at the entrance to the churchyard, with the Museum of Religion behind it and two lampposts featuring Glasgow’s Coat of Arms.

Some interior shots below include the Martyr’s Memorial which commemorates nine Covenanters executed in Glasgow between 1666 and 1684. Covenanters believed in the Presbyterian form of worship. Scotland wanted to keep its church independent from the English episcopal church headed by the monarch, and this led to a political crisis as signing the Covenant was seen as treason. In the 30 years up to 1690, around 18,000 people died in battles and persecutions.

In the two shots below, you can just see at the edges the reason for our visit – a Historic Scotland exhibition called Romantic Scotland through a lens which explores life in 19th century Scotland through HS’s photographic archives (on throughout March).

The explanation is here if you want it, but life did not look very romantic to me! Blood, sweat, toil and tears sounds about right.

However, I enjoyed the exhibition – some of my favourite images are below. My great-grandfather would have been a ploughman around the same time as this man, portrayed c1890.

Across town at GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) we visited a couple of good exhibitions this month (both now finished). The thought-provoking Everyday Racism documented ten micro-acts of racism. Though the photographs are staged, the incidents are all true, for example the story of Simone’s hair. It doesn’t matter how “micro” the action, the effect of such depersonalisation can be huge.

Domestic Bliss explored “domestic labour and feminism, public and private space, intimate relationships and historical narratives”. I liked the faux-domestic setting of some of the exhibits, and the interesting juxtapositions from different periods, such as this bathroom cabinet containing early 20th century shaving mugs by Jessie M King and pefume bottles by Niki de Saint Phalle (1982).

Paisley, the town my Mum lives in, is about half an hour’s drive from us. We don’t often act as tourists there, but it’s well worth a wander and we took advantage of that on one of the few dry afternoons of the month. Paisley town centre has the highest concentration of listed buildings anywhere in Scotland outside Edinburgh, plus a great selection of street art, but I’ll keep that for later. Let’s start with churches:

The Coats Observatory and Paisley Philosophical Institution:

The Peter Brough District Nursing Home, now private accommodation:

Old weavers’ cottages:

The Town Hall and the Coat of Arms on a nearby bridge:

A selection of statues:

The recently refurbished Russell Institute:

And some faded grandeur to finish. I think the ghost sign on the left says Royal Bank of Scotland. The building on the right is the Paisley Trophy Centre.

In February, we went to not just one Window Wanderland, but two. Window Wanderland is a scheme in which communities brighten up winter by transforming their streets into an outdoor gallery. Govan joined in for the first time this year – there were some good windows, but they were very spread out and as it was a cold, wet evening we didn’t explore the whole thing.

Govan’s buildings looked splendid by night, as did the statue to Mary Barbour, leader of the Rent Strikes in the First World War (you can also spot her in the Govan Gals window above).

Another of my sheroes appears in the window gallery – 19th century philanthropist, Isabella Elder “a true woman, a wise benefactress of the public and of learning”. One of the buildings she gave to Govan, Elderpark Library, is in the gallery below. We also visited the early medieval Govan Stones in the Old Parish Church – it was a relief to get out of the cold for a while.

The second Window Wanderland was in Strathbungo, which we also visited last year. It was an even colder, wetter night, but this was a more compact site so we persevered and saw most of it. Red Riding Hood is my absolute favourite of all the windows we saw over the two events. It’s simple on the surface, but so clever.

There were many, many more: below is a flavour of the ingenuity on show. Some householders even put on performances, and we were very grateful to the lady who came out with a tray of mulled wine. That warmed us up for a while.

I’m running out of time, so on that colourful note I shall wrap up February – here’s hoping for a warmer March!

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.